Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"Teddy" the Bear

"I remember the bear quite well - it was the talk of the town [Humboldt], it used to ride in the car with them. My dad told me of one time when they were going somewhere in the car, it got its collar hung up on the turning signal lever and almost ripped it off...
- Donald Reese
"Teddy" the bear...
He called her his "playmate".

Bob Bockwitz - whose family had the famous Humboldt bear - shares:
"The bear was one of three orphaned cubs that were adopted by individuals. (Things were a little different in those days) The two people in the picture are my dad Virgil, and my brother Rodney. When dad brought Teddy home (yes, for want of a better name, we called her Teddy) she was about the size of a football and snuggled into his jacket. She was bottle raised, and lived in the house until, as she got pretty good sized, my mother said 'OUT!' In most respects she was similar to having a dog. She rode with Dad in the pickup, and loved attention. She grew to be quite an attraction in the area and was a regular at meetings of what in those days was known as the 'Conservation Club'. She was still fairly young when this picture was taken, and did get considerably larger than shown here. There are so many stories that it would be impossible to tell them all. Some are hilarious. The question was asked what happened to her. That is best left unanswered. I will say that in a manner of speaking, she is still with us. It really amazing that her picture sparked so much interest."
Virgil Bockwitz (his son Rodney behind him...) with "Teddy"

Bob also shared:
"Only once did she ever get out of her cage and go 'visiting'. It's not known where her adventure took her, but it is known where she decided that she was tired and wanted to go to sleep. It happened to be about 5:00 in the morning when she found herself outside a trailer house inhabited by an unnamed individual who had probably returned home shortly before and was apparently sound asleep when the bear joined him on the bed. It's not know how long she was there before the gentleman woke up, but what IS known is that at some point they both realized something was not right. The gentleman ended up in the yard and the bear was headed for the safety of home. I'm sure that only those who are my age or older would have any recollection of that "adventure", but it's the type of story that can't be made up. What has been really interesting over the years, is hearing the various renditions of this story, as told by old-timers."

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Radio Interview!



Tonight, Christian Cassidy of the West End Dumplings - The Radio Edition, will be interviewing me about the St. Vincent Memories history blog.

In his own words...
...my guests are: Trish Short Lewis of the blog St. Vincent Memories; U of W history prof Dr. Jody Perrun and Susan Algie of the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation. Join me at 7 pm on 101.5 UMFM. Only three episodes left! If you want to listen: Since UMFM can be heard in Winnipeg at 101.5 UMFM but it doesn't go much beyond city limits, people can listen online or, tomorrow there will be a podcast generated. The link will be in a companion post for this episode.
An alternate permanent link to the interview can be found here...

Monday, December 28, 2015

NOTICE: Your Subscription - Changes

FYI to all readers of this blog who subscribe via the "Google Friend Connect" on the right-hand sidebar on my blog:

Starting the week of January 11, Google will remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, they will remove non-Google Account profiles.  I don't want to lose any of my subscribers, and I'm sure you don't want to lose your subscription to the best, award-winning local history blog regarding northwest Minnesota!
If you use a non-Google Account to follow my blog, you will need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow the blog. With a Google Account, you'll get blogs added to your Reading List, making it easier for you to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs you follow.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lyceum: Syrian Yankee



"...Humboldt always had outside presentations called lyceums. One lyceum featured three black singer singers. Another lyceum displayed a computer. The computer was about the size of a refrigerator (I still call refrigerators ice boxes which shows my age.) Another lyceum was by the author of Syrian Yankee. This autobiography was about a Syrian trader who came to the US to make a fortune. Shortly after the Syrian Yankee presentation, a man came to Humboldt and claimed to be the cousin of the Syrian Yankee and wanted to start a business processing straw in Humboldt. He came to our farm and asked my dad if he was interested in making an initial investment in the project in return for stock. I often wonder whether area farmers were defrauded by the project or whether it was a legitimate effort to industrialize Humboldt. Door-to-door investment schemes do not enjoy a good reputation in this county..."

- Michael Rustad

Friday, November 27, 2015

Another Tragic Family Saga Continues: Fire

Interior of Garner garage, still showing signs of accident to this day
[Photo Courtesy:  Kris Baldwin Ohmann]

This from a witness of the accident, Ron Cleem:
"I was nearby when it happened and rushed over when it started burning. 
"Frank was welding in the garage when the accident happened.  He tried to save the garage by running out of the building with a pan of oil or fuel that had caught fire.  He ended up being severely burned doing it, and died as a result of his burns. His wife Helen just died this last year I think, and she always hated seeing that building which bought up tragic memories. Frank lost a brother in 1954 when the drunk driver hit a group of kids in St. Vincent, and a sister who was in high school,  in a car accident in 1955. So much tragedy, like Lena Paul Fitzpatrick Nordstrom experienced, so much heartache for his mother..." 
Obituary:  Frank Willard Gardner, Noyes, Minn., passed away at the Emerson, Manitoba hospital Tuesday, March 5, 1957, following an accident when a gasoline tank he was working on exploded, showering him with burning gasoline. He was 30 years, 5 months and 4 days of age.

The accident occurred shortly after 4 P.M. Monday, March 4 to the rear of his father's home at St. Vincent in a garage. He died the following day at 2:15 P.M.

Deceased was born September 29,1926 at Neche, N.D. He attended Grade School at St. Vincent and also the Pembina, N.D. High School, Pembina being located just across the Red River from St. Vincent.

He was married April 26,1947 to Miss Helen Louise Graves, at Auburn, Washington. To this union two children were born, Frank Willard, Jr., age 4 years and Robyn Kathryn, age 3 years.

He is survived by his wife and children and parents. Six sisters, one brother: Mrs Lorraine Hosch of Noyes; Mrs. Leonard Jerome,Hallock; Mrs. Glen Davis, Greenville, SC; Mrs. Wayne Copeland, Harian, Iowa; Mrs. George Dennis, Humboldt; Jacquelyn at home; Arnold at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Illinois.

He was preceded in death by a brother and sister, Gloria and Martin, both of whom figured in accidents which took their lives. One, in the McGovern accident a few years ago at St. Vincent, and the other in connection with the Slator hit-and-run driving accident at St. Vincent, also.
Mr. Gardner lived in Seattle, Wash., from 1947 to 1948, returning to St. Vincent in 1949, remained there until 1950. He traveled two years through Southern states with Anderson Bros. Pipe Line Company. He also spent six months in Montana and then moved to Noyes, this county where he purchased the Border Café1 and operated the same until his death. He also did some commercial trucking.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Reclaiming a Lost Cemetery


On September 19th of this year, Kim McAllister Anderson and I took a trip up north, into Manitoba, Canada. Emerson, to be exact. Town of my birth, and much more. But that aside, we were on a mission: To locate, by rough map, an old almost-forgotten cemetery.

Thanks to Wayne Arnesy, former Mayor of Emerson, he and some other helpers reclaimed the old gravestones they could locate and now it is roughly maintained annually. It is in a grove of oak trees in the middle of a farmer's field, not far from a marsh-like slough. A trail leads to it, which can be traversed in a 4-wheel drive off-road vehicle. Or if you're up to it, hiked a half mile from the street that ends at the current cemetery - closer to town and on higher of ground to prevent flooding.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pembina Ferry Command Video

Although mislabeled, the video below is indeed a very brief clip of a Ferry Command operation, towing planes across the US/Canadian border at Pembina ND/Emerson MB.  We didn't know it existed until recently.  A real treasure of a find!

The man in the long coat at the beginning of the film is Harry Wood, of Pembina ND, as identified by his granddaughter, Lori Wood Goertzen.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Excellence in Local History Award


Wonderful news arrived in today's mail.  The work here on this blog has been recognized and awarded the Excellence in Local History award by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

It is an amazing honor to be chosen for this award.  It is my hope that this award will bring further recognition to the amazing local history of my hometown, its neighbors, and the surrounding communities which are so interrelated.  The individuals that make up these communities are related by blood, marriage, and culture, and their shared histories deserve not only to be recognized, but remembered...

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Obituary: William H. Moorhead


Apprentice Carpenter. Land Agent. Indian Trader. Trading Post Clerk. Buffalo Hunter. Undertaker. Farmer. Tavern Keeper.

Below is the obituary of an extraordinary man, one of our area's true pioneers.  I have left all the spelling as it appeared in the original article of the newspaper just as I found them, to give you a flavor of how common it was.  Some of the errors may have been due to misspellings or incorrect typesetting, but just as often there was no consistent agreed-upon spelling conventions for some words - Sometimes they just had to make their best guess!

PIONEER DEAD
William H. Moorhead Died Yesterday Morning at His Home In Pembina.
HAD BEEN ILL SIX MONTHS
And Underwent a Surgical Operation Here About Two Weeks Ago
Mr. Moorhead was One of the leading Characters in the Early Settlement of the Valley and was a Typical Frontiersman —"High Water Bill" was the Name by which He was Best Known— The Funeral Occurs Tomorrow.
Pembina, N.D., July 3.—(Herald Special)— William H. Moorhead, better known during later years as "High Water Bill," died at his home in this city this morning, after an illness extending more or less over the past six months. This sobriquet he gained by his numerous prophecies as to just how high the water in the Red river would rise each year, and, be it said, his predictions were usually not far astray. As an incident in this line - it is said that this spring, before the snow melted, as he was lying in his bed on the lower floor of his house talking "high water" to a visitor, he reached down about half way on one of his bed posts and said. "You'll see the water up to this spot when the snow melts," and his prediction was verified. He refused to be carried upstairs until the water came in on the floor.
Floods had been known to fill the Red River Valley with snowmelt runoff. The earliest pioneers remembered the flood of 1861. That spring, the Red River Valley was under so much water that it was called the “largest body of fresh water in the world” – for a few weeks, anyway.   -   North Dakota Studies, FLOODS
Wm. H. Moorhead was born in Freeport, Pa., Sept. 26, 1832. He left Pittsburgh where he received a common school education, April 1, 1852, and arrived in St. Paul, a month later, where he worked at his trade—that of a carpenter—for two years.

The summer of '54 and the following winter he spent at Sauk Rapids trading with the Winnebagos, when they were removed to Blue Earth county. He then returned to St. Paul and organized a company to lay out paper townsites in northern Minnesota and Red River Valley.

In August, '57, he came to Pembina in company with Joe Rolette to build a store building for a trading post for St. Paul parties. He completed the building and remained as clerk to February, '58, when he made a trip to St. Paul with a dog train, not seeing a single house between the two points. He returned to Pembina soon after, having some fearful blizzard experiences on the way.

On June 8th of the same year he left Pembina on a buffalo hunt and returned in August with 15 Red river carts laden with furs, hides and Pemican.

After the high water of '61 which was the flood, according to his tell, he moved out to Walhalla. Here he lived on very friendly terms with the Indians until hostilities broke out which ended in the Minnesota massacre and because he refused to sell ammunition to the hostiles, he had to leave. He moved near Devils Lake and pursued his trading.

In 1862 he married Lizzie Rivier, who with her five children still survives him. About this time he moved to Pembina, where he has since resided.

Source:  Google Books
Mr. Moorhead has long enjoyed the distinction of being the second oldest white settler in the valley. Hon. Chas. Cavileer, of this city, being the oldest having come in 1841. When the Historical society of North Dakota was created in 1895, Gov. Allin appointed Mr. Moorhead a member of it and he has collected considerable information for it since.

Mr. Moorhead was a typical frontiersman and a general favorite. The history of the Red River Valley would be far from complete without an interesting reference to a man who was known far and wide for his genial good nature, and interesting stories of the pioneer's life in the northwest.

Mr. Moorhead has been a member for years of Pembina lodge No. 2, A. F. and A. M., and the funeral, which will take place Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock, will be under the auspices of that order.

[July 04, 1897, Grand Forks Herald]

Sunday, June 14, 2015

1878 Photo of St. Vincent & Pembina





VERY large scan of an 1878 stereograph of St. Vincent and Pembina, taken from Minnesota side of the Red River of the North.

Note the two railroad tracks merging into one, going along the the high bank of the Red River of the North.  This is on what is the far west side of town, as the river curves north.  There is no slope or erosion as there is now, let alone river woods all up and down the banks as we're used to, today. And take a close look at Pembina in the background - Click on the image to open, then click on it again to maximize it, to see as much detail as possible.

This is the earliest known photograph of our St. Vincent and Pembina that I am aware of.  I am hoping to print this in the size of a stereograph and view it in one of my stereoscopes, in hopes that seeing it in 3-D might bring further clarity to the details...