Saturday, November 30, 2013
This week, as many celebrated Thanksgiving in the USA, I would like to say how thankful I am to have been born in St. Vincent, Minnesota.
While there are many places in the world where people care about one another, and people hold these places just as dear to their hearts as I do St. Vincent, this is my hometown, and thereby all of you (meaning those born there also, or in the neighboring area) are part of my extended family. You are all part of the rich and amazing tapestry that is my life.
You who taught me, who scolded me, who teased me, who quietly helped me when I didn't even know it, who served me behind a counter, who waved at me as I rode past on my horse, who gave me a first job as a young girl, etc. - to all of you I say thank you. Thank you for being you, and I love you all...
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
|A lost family portrait is found!|
Recently, Ed Merck posted an intriguing entry on the Kittson County Historical Society website:
A kind lady contacted me about a picture she found in a California antique mall. Fortunately, she found my website about the Jerome Family and offered me the picture for her cost. It is in excellent condition. What a find! Based on the apparent size of my Uncle Julius, the boy in the photo, I estimate the picture was taken around 1904-5.
There are comments on the backside written by an unknown descendant of the Smith-Jerome families. I include them here:
Back Row: Elizabeth Smith Burk (mom's sister), Anna Smith Irwin (Mother) 14 yrs., Angeline Jerome Parenteau (mom's aunt)(sitting), Marie (Mae) Smith (Panshab, Whiteside ) (Mom's sister), Roger Jerome (mom's uncle), James H Smith (mom's father) ((Hiram – Elizabeth Smith) mom's grandparents)(sitting), Martin Jerome (mom's uncle)
Front Row: Andre Jerome (mom's grandfather), Julius Jerome (Napoleon's son), Margaret Gooselaw (orig. spelling: Goselin) Jerome (mom's grandmother) (Her mother McKay King), Napoleon Jerome (mom's uncle) (his wife was Elizabeth Renville), Margaret Jerome Smith (Mrs. James Smith) (mom's mother)This is the only picture I have of my grandfather Napoleon in his younger years. It shows him with the athletic appearance I pictured him having. I had heard stories when I was a kid about how he and his brothers raced across the Red River, swimming with their hands tied behind them. Andre had a homestead on each side of the Two Rivers where it joins the Red River, so I imagine that is where those races were held when they were young. Grandpa was a great 'buddy' to me when I was a kid when he would spend a few months a year in our home at Ada and Argyle. Unfortunately, I never knew Grandma.
Andre lived just North of Emerson on land given him by Hudson Bay Company, near the fort. In early census listings they were included in U. S. census because of confusion over border. That was before he was arrested and tried for treason against the Queen following the Fenian raid. Stories say he, and his brothers or sons were in the dray business and carried supplies for the raiders. He was imprisoned by the British in the 'Stone Fort' at Winnipeg; the trial ended in a hung jury so he was returned to prison for the winter, then tried again, and once again it ended with a hung jury. Following release, he moved to a homestead west of Hallock.
At one time, Napoleon bought and lived on what had been Fort Pembina, which they called the 'fort farm' and my mother spent several of her younger years there. Amos (Napoleon's son) and his family lived in Pembina and some of his family lived in St. Vincent at one time or another...Joe Rolette's wife was Angelique Jerome, but I think they lived in Pembina (I'm not sure of that because Pembina County included much of what is now Kittson County...) Angeline Parenteau was a Jerome. Her son Mark became a noted artist. I accidentally met him when I was going through flying training in the Rio Grande Valley in 1957, so we became friends and I have a portrait he painted of me at that time. He spent winters there with his sister. I remember visiting him and his mother in St. Vincent when I was very young. At that time he was a teenager and I was impressed with the soap carvings he had whittled.
I just checked the 1857 census for St. Vincent, Pembina County, Minnesota. It lists several Jerome families including Andre, his father Martin, and some of Andre's brothers as well as Joe Rollette.
Saturday, November 02, 2013
|"Music bubbles out of me..."|
[Poster created by Nancy Ansari]
Cleo Bee [Wang] Jones is a St. Vincent native. Cleo's grandmother was a Lang, and her mother was a Turner. The Langs and Turners, much like the Gambles, left big footprints on St. Vincent and its history. In her own right, Cleo became more than the little village could contain. Rightly so, she went out into the bigger world and shared her gift - her "Great Voice"...
[The following is an excerpt from a 2012 HaywardWI.com article]
Cleo Bee has something to look forward to: On Sept. 9, 2012 she will be inducted into the South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame. This will be her second such honor — she was inducted into the Minnesota Rock and County Hall of Fame in 2007.
Cleo, 72, was born in St. Vincent, Minn. (population 64) and sang all over the country before she moved to Hayward with her husband, when he retired in 2006. She has a voice and a talent — and most of all, a love for song.
Her gift became apparent in second grade when her teacher asked the class if they knew what a four-leaf clover was. Before anyone could answer, Cleo stood up and said it was a song. Then she sang “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover.”
“I sang and they clapped and that’s all it took to start the whole thing,” said Cleo, who has never had a voice lesson in her life.
In high school she sang in a dance band, recalling Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” But she said she was most influenced by the powerful voices of Kay Starr and Mahalia Jackson, before rock ‘n roll arrived on the music scene.
Also while in high school, she said she was snuck in the back door of the Eagles Club to perform onstage with a group that was there from Arkansas. She was 16.
Cleo won a talent contest that year and went to New York City to audition for the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. Her two aunts traveled with her. There were about 500 contestants, she said, and she waited for hours before it was her turn to get onstage where she sang “Mr. Wonderful” and “On the Street Where You Live.”
“I didn’t make the cut that night,” she said, but shortly thereafter she won third place in the 1957-58 finals Amateur Show sponsored by the Associated Canadian Travelers and held in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Cleo said she was the only winner from the U.S.
Cleo married, had two daughters and moved to Minneapolis, where she soon became a popular singer.
Her big break came in 1968 when she joined the Sherwin Linton Show, entertaining in ballrooms, nightclubs, lounges and touring the country in the band bus. The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas was often their venue.
Cleo said that over the years she worked with George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Dottie West, George Hamilton, Tex Ritter and Buck Owens.
In 1977 Cleo wrote a song and sang some of her favorites, along with duets with Linton, on a cassette, which was later released on CD. Some of the selections were recorded live at the South Dakota State Penitentiary on Aug. 9, 1971.
When she left the Sherwin Linton Show, tired of the travel, Cleo became the featured singer at Louie’s Inn in Dresser, Wis., and the house band was soon named “The Honeycomb.”
“No more buses but we sometimes performed six nights a week,” she said.
Cleo kept that pace for four years and then remarried and moved to Rochester, Minn. She stopped singing in 1980 and said she missed it terribly.
“It was horrifying. I would sing in the car on long trips, in the house, anyplace — it drove my husband nuts,” she said.
Twenty years later she performed again with the Sherwin Linton Show and repeated those performances a few times in cities in Minnesota and North Dakota.
She said one of her most memorable performances was at her mother’s memorial service which was scheduled on Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists attacked New York City and the Twin Towers fell.
“Mom wanted me to sing at her funeral, and after all that had happened that day, I sang ‘America the Beautiful.’ There wasn't a dry eye in the place,” she said.
|Cleo Bee, as she is today...|
Music has made her life rich, she said, through travel and meeting wonderful people.
“Music and opportunities — that’s who I was and who I am. Music bubbles out of me,” she said.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
The little border town of Emerson, Manitoba, was a surreal place to be in April 1997. Behind the permanent dike that had been doubled in height with the addition of a temporary structure of plywood and sandbags, Emerson was a dry island in the vast sea of the Red River, which had burst its banks. All the inhabitants, with the exception of a few who had been left behind to fight the flood, had been evacuated. The electric power still worked, so that at night the island of Emerson was ablaze in a strange white light. Deer and hares and other smaller animals had gravitated to the town to escape the ice cold waters of the raging river. They stood, frightened sentinels, in the white light of the ghost town.
A remarkable crew made up of town employees, a detachment of troops from the Canadian Forces and local Mounties kept the town of Emerson itself dry and secure. As the river rose to a critical level in late April, with no firm prediction on how high it would get, the struggle to maintain the wall around the town was in deadly earnest. Coordinated out of the Emerson Town Hall, the beleaguered warriors filled sandbags and directed them to potential weak points on the perimeter. So close is Emerson to the U.S. border, that a portion of the dike actually crossed into the small neighboring community of Noyes, Minnesota, protecting a U.S. Customs office and several nearby homes on U.S. soil. As residents noted at the time, what they were calling the "Red Sea" did not make distinctions between one side of the border and the other.[The writer returns five years later, and talks to survivors in both Emerson and Pembina of their ordeal during the 1997 flood, then goes to the border to travel to Grand Forks to interview survivors there...]
In the large new Canada Customs post at the border- built since the flood of '97 - I meet two tall, muscular customs officers who have recollections of the mayhem...When asked about the purpose of my trip to North Dakota by a U.S. Customs official with grey hair, I tell him I am going to Grand Forks to talk to people on the fifth anniversary of the flood of '97. Not bothering to ask me for ID, he comments sardonically, "Why not go to Pembina? They know at least as much about the flood as anyone in Grand Forks."
I follow his advice and drive into the little town of Pembina, two minutes south of the border. The town had been British territory before it was handed over the U.S. with the adoption of the forty-ninth parallel as the border across the Prairies in 1818. On the east side of Pembina, there is a high earthen dike to protect the town from the Red River. It is the same on the other side of the river in the tiny hamlet of St. Vincent Minnesota. This April the Red is tame, but the dike is there for protection against future floods.
On the main street of Pembina, I find an old preacher and his young disciple out trying to win converts. I ask them if they were in town for the great flood of '97. In reply, the old man hands me a pocket-sized pamphlet titled, "A Preacher of the Old School." In our conversation, Mr. W. Seed and I are at cross-purposes. He is trying to save my soul from a flood of biblical proportions while I am in search of memories of a mere earthly flood. I manager to get Mr. Seed onto my line of inquiry, and he tells me of the long series of floods that have afflicted this community - in 1897, 1950, 1966, and 1979. In 1997, he says, the dike held and the town was saved.From: The Border: Canada, the US and Dispatches From the 49th Parallel
Wednesday, October 09, 2013
|Not 1879, but same directory|
This growing town of 500 inhabitants is the state terminus of the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway, and also of the St. Vincent branch of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is situated in the extreme northwestern point of Kittson county and of the State alike. The Red River of the North, is 390 miles from St. Paul, and the seat of the county of Kittson. A regular line of steamers make daily trips on the Red river from St. Vincent to Winnipeg, Manitoba, carrying passengers and freight and making connection with the arrival and departure of trains. St. Vincent has a steam elevator of 90,000 bushels capacity, a bank, a brewery, a brickyard, a hotel, a newspaper named the Herald, three general stores and a district school, while a church is being erected...Daily mail over the St. P., M. & M. and Canadian Pacific railways. D. F. Brawley, postmaster.
Brawley D F, brickmaker.
Buie John, livery and sale stable.
Flynn & O'Keefe, General Store.
Gooding C J, railroad agent.
Head Felix G, justice of the peace.
Head Felix G, Publisher St Vincent Herald.
Lowery Robert W, general store.
Nobles L, express agent.
O'Keefe Wm M, register of deeds.
Provouchoe John, saloon.
Raywood George & Co, St Vincent Brewery1.
Red Wing Mill Co, grain elevator.
Rich J H, cashier St. Vincent Bank and manager, Elevator Co.
St Vincent Bank, J H Rich cashier.
Shepard J W, lumber and building material.
Stewart John W, proprietor Pacific Hotel.
Vanstrom John A, Sheriff Kittson County.
Vanstrum John H, real estate agent.
Winter J B, general store.
1 - Later, George Raywood and Charles Thorson opened the North Arm Brewery in South Vancouver; after that, in 1900, George built the Cedar Cottage Brewery on Gibson Creek in South East Vancouver.
Friday, September 13, 2013
|St. Vincent School and grounds|
"A visitor on our Facebook page has kept after us to visit St. Vincent..."That would be me.
I had been encouraging the guys from GhostsofMN.com to visit my hometown, and recommended that they look at posts from this blog to give them an idea of what it once was, what it meant to people (and still does), and that it was a perfect candidate for their project.
I am very happy they finally made it up to St. Vincent on August 20, 2013. They missed a few things in town that I wished they had documented, but in the end, I'm pleased for St. Vincent to be acknowledged, however humble.
Thursday, September 05, 2013
|The early spur track into St. Vincent went down to the river,|
then followed it some ways north. In this stereoview, you
can see Pembina in the background looking west, and the
Pembina River tributary (Date Unknown)1
[Click to Enlarge...]
Three things defined St. Vincent from its beginning: The river that ran by it, the land that surrounded it, and later, the railroad that was built through (and by) it.
I wanted to share the story of how the railroad came to St. Vincent. No one that lived during that time is left to share that story with us, so we must go to the records of history and pull the story out, to shed light on it, to let it tell us why it happened, how it affected us, and what the legacy of it once being here is.
Please, dear Reader, read on! This is just the tip of a much larger iceberg, a tiny paragraph of a much larger story of how the iron horse not only changed St. Vincent, but our entire country!
Source: Boosters Hustlers and Speculators: Entreprenurial Culture and the Rise of Minneapolis and St Paul, 1849-1883, by Jocelyn WillsIn 1857, the Minnesota and Pacific Railway Company was formed with the goal of constructing a mainline from Stillwater to Breckenridge...and a branch line to St. Vincent near the mouth of the Pembina River
After the mainline was completed, the Northern Pacific began construction on the St. Paul and Pacific branch line to St. Vincent, but 1872 witnessed a sluggish market for securities. This decline was compounded by the Panic of 1873, and the NP was forced to relinquish control of the St. Paul and Pacific. It went into receivership in August 1873 to a Jesse P. Farley.2
NOTE: During this time, there was a much economic instability in the country, and deep concerns by investors, resulting in the Minnesota legislature enforcing conditions of repayment and investor lawsuits. This resulted in the Associates stepping in...
The Associates2 raised finances, rights to routes, and secured Dutch bonds, thus making it possible to lease the St. Vincent Extension from Farley [in September 1876], and the contract for completing the line to the Red River and Manitoba. The St. Vincent Extension [into St. Vincent itself] wasn't constructed until 1878, and was required to be finished by the end of that year. December 2, 1878 saw the final spike driven in the Extension, and four days later first train of the St. Paul & Pacific travel from St. Paul to Winnipeg via the St. Vincent Extension.
|The first Minnesota railways going east to west, south to north...|
[Click to Enlarge]
But, Farley initially resisted. The Associates worried because they perceived Farley as being slow in getting the work done. "Alert to the possibility of losing the land grant, Hill traveled often to the end-of-the-track with Farley, whom he regarded as dilatory and inefficient. Under stern pressure from the Associates, Farley finally agreed to let Hill and Kittson take over responsibility for construction of the St. Vincent Extension in September 1878."
Yet, rather than being controlled, the work seemed to do the controlling. Suppliers lagged in delivering materials; October floods covered land and track; construction trains were delayed when locomotives were deprived of water because balky windmills failed; workmen drifted off the job; and snow, with extreme cold, came early.
Despite frustrating delays, the First Division met the legislative deadlines in 1878. The nearly 105 miles added in one year was more new track than had been laid by the St. Paul & Pacific companies for some seasons...Soon track-laying was completed from Warren to St. Vincent...and on November 10, 1878, the first train from St. Vincent pulled in to St. Paul.
The line from St. Vincent to the St. Vincent Junction was removed in 1952. Railway Service to St. Vincent was over..._______________
1 - The photograph that was used to create this stereoview was taken by Jacob Skrivseth. In the fall of 1879, Skrivseth became a partner of O. E. Flaten in Moorhead, Minnesota. The two men built a traveling wagon with a built-in darkroom. Flaten stayed in Moorhead, and Skrivseth traveled throughout the Red River Valley shooting town and farm scenes. Flaten & Skrivseth also were the official photographers for the St. Paul, Minneapolis, & Manitoba Railroad (which later became the Great Northern Railway...)
2 - Jesse Farley had two decades of experience in railroading, but he also had liabilities...He had next to no political influence in Minnesota,...he was nervous, jealous, and often tactless. Farley nevertheless worked hard to carry out an almost impossible task. The northern 104 miles of the St. Vincent Extension were a great worry. Earlier, the First Division had laid track from south of Glyndon, where it crossed the NP, to north of Crookston, ending there in "...an uninhabited prairie with no human habitation in sight." [Source: The Great Northern Railway, by Muriel E. Hidy]
3 - The Associates were Donald Smith, James J. Hill, Norman Kittson, and George Stephen
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
|Burton Cummings, Edd Smith, Ronn Savoie,|
Derek Bylyk (Blake), and Bruce Decker.
|Release day, November 1965.|
of "Blue Is The Night" (Deverons)
[Burton Cummings in his living
room, Photo taken by his mother...]
By this time  the band had become one of the hottest commodities in Winnipeg, and had toured sporadically throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and into Minnesota, even though they were all still 17. - Canadian Bands
|Circa 1966-67, shortly after Cummings|
joined The Guess Who...
Friday, August 02, 2013
I'm pretty sure you can trace the historic failings of the University of Minnesota sports teams to their choice of name: Gophers. In Minnesota lingo, at some point the teams started being called the "Goofers". I think the football team last won the Big 10 championship and got to go to the Rose Bowl in about 1963, and I'm pretty sure they lost. Basketball, baseball, wrestling, swimming, soccer -- quick, name me one national title the U of M teams have won in the last fifty or sixty years, even when they had Dave Winfield on both the basketball team and the football team ... .
I thought so.
I'm pretty sure the Goofers could win a Foosball championship if the NCAA sanctioned it. Those long winter nights, indoor activities fueled by camaraderie and beer, have definitely produced some bad-ass Foosball players. Hit me with your best shot.
Gophers are not really vermin, but they are pests. They don't spread disease to humans, but they still wreak havoc. They build these complex subterranean family homes, and spread the dirt in piles all over fields, gardens, and lawns. They're kinda small, have nubby little tails, front feet with nails on the paws for scratching and digging, and goofy little curved yellow teeth that curl out of their lips -- also, I guess, for digging holes and tunnels and tearing up roots and destroying gardens. One of their admirable qualities is industriousness, which is why they are also a bane.
|Cute? Do not be fooled!|
My dad hated Gophers. Not as much as he hated Dick Cheney, but still, when he was creating his picture of the perfect hell for Dick Cheney I'm pretty sure there were gophers in there to torment the guy.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
|Controlled Burn: |
Older section of school
Classes don't come any smaller than in Humboldt-St. Vincent. It's a school with 65 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, including one fourth-grader. The average grade has five students.
That's too small for state officials, who see nothing romantic about the arrangements and are happy that the school district is finally ready to close shop. For Education Commissioner Gene Mammenga, the tiny school in Kittson County is a prime example of public education gone awry.
Humboldt-St. Vincent, 410 miles northwest of the Twin Cities, ranks as the state's smallest K-12 school district and spends $11,381 each year to educate a single student. That's the highest of any K-12 district in Minnesota and more than twice the state average. A state study called the spending astronomical.
[Click to Enlarge...]
"It's a waste of money, but more important than that, it's a waste of human potential, with young people who had a limited academic experience," Mammenga said.
Those are fighting words for those who farm the flat, rich land of the Red River Valley.
"Typical bureaucrat sitting in the white ivory towers, totally removed from the realities of rural America," said Humboldt Mayor Curtis Miller, who grows wheat, barley and sugar beets on 2,100 acres. "The way of life in rural America is very sacred to us."
That's why these are sad days in Humboldt, where farmers need rain and school ends for good on May 30. It's the end of a long era that began in 1882, when the district was created.