Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Off to the Races!

Metis Rider; note the beaded saddle blanket...
...The following month, the annual horse race known as the Dufferin races, was held in Emerson. Participants included the Irish Catholic proprietor of a livery stable in Emerson, J.F. Tennant, and two local Metis horsemen, Joseph Godon of Deux Petites Pointes, in Montcalm, and Roger Gosselin of St. Vincent, Minnesota. At such events social boundaries were more fluid.

- The Limits of Rural Capitalism by Kenneth Michael Sylvester

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Monday, September 08, 2014

The Dead of Fort Pembina

Some of the graves that were originally in the Fort Pembina Cemetery.
In anticipation of Fort Pembina (1870-1895) closing, the graves were  
disinterred and reburied at the Custer National Cemetery in 1892.

___________
When Fort Pembina existed (1870-1895), it was in a sense its own town, almost entirely self-sufficient. That included having its own cemetery.
As Fort Pembina's time was winding down, the U.S. Army knew it would need to find a new home for the graves at the Fort's cemetery.  It was determined they would be disinterred, then transferred for reburial, to the Custer National Cemetery.  This was accomplished in 1892.
I recently became curious about whether the Fort had its own cemetery or not, and that's when I learned about the above after doing the initial research.  That wasn't enough for me - I had to know more.

I eventually learned that prior to Fort Pembina's establishment, the people of Pembina demanded protection due to the recent Dakota Uprising of 1862 in Minnesota.  To fulfill their request, the government formed a special unit which eventually became known as Hatch's Battalion.  Mustered in 1863, the battalion was ready to head to Pembina, Dakota Territory in early October; they arrived - after many challenges and losses of stock and supplies - on November 13th.  They encamped over the winter, building as best they could log buildings for the 300 men that comprised the battalion.  Their main objective was to hold back the hostile Dakota that had retreated across the boundary into Canada.  [In the end, they captured over 300 Dakota; the prisoners were remnants of the 1862 uprising that had been hiding 60 miles north of Pembina...]

Hatch received orders in April to transfer the Battalion to Fort Abercrombie.  In that same letter, dated April 26, 1864, he was ordered to put one company on patrol duty, up and down the Red River of the North between Fort Abercrombie and Pembina, "...to protect the route to Pembina, and keep open communication."  The immediate threat had passed, but an eye would be kept on the situation with the patrols.  Meanwhile, communications and plans were coming together, to obtain authorization for what would become Fort Pembina. In 1869 Major General Winfield S. Hancock, commander of the Department of the Dakota, recommended the establishment of a post near Pembina. Lobbying by citizens and local area politicians had worked.  With General Hancock's recommendation to the War Department, the fort would finally become a reality; "...danger from the Sioux and construction of two railroads" were cited as reasons for providing military protection to the area.

During the time prior to the fort's establishment in 1870, two soldiers with Hatch's Battalion were the first to die while stationed in Pembina:

- Joseph Gague (Co. C, Hatch's Battalion) D. 24 April 1864
- John Munger (Co. A, Hatch's Battalion) D. 8 March 1864

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fighting Back



One of the reasons I began writing this blog was because I saw my village, even as I was growing up within it, declining before my eyes.  My mother bemoaned the same observation, even moreso in her case, going from a thriving, vibrant town with many families, businesses, social events, and promise, to one in obvious decline.  I had known nothing but decline.

It is a story being observed all over Minnesota and beyond.  And that, Dear Readers, is one of my main reasons for my posts here:  To document what was here before even the town, to learn how the town came to be, what it was through the years, and yes, even viewing it as I pass it by and it passes me in turn.

Everything has a time. And then...it's gone.

Friday, August 08, 2014

News from the Past V: Brown & Moorhead

Pembina Pioneer Express masthead
[Courtesy:  Pembina County Historical Society]
Jim Benjaminson recently shared some excerpts from old local papers.  There is a reference to Sheriff Charley Brown in one story, and in another we even find out the likely reason for a well-known local man's nickname...
Northern Express – Drayton (R.H. Young, Editor; Weekly, published on Fridays - $2 per year)
December 9, 1881 Vol. 1 No. 1 is the first issue
(Becomes the Pioneer Express April 20, 1883 at Vol. 3 No. 38)
____________________ 
December 23, 1881 Vol. 1 No. 3 
The train loaded with some $2,000 worth of goods which Ricard Bros. sent out from here the 7th to Turtle Mountains was captured by Indians and half-breeds at or near Pembina mountains. The Indians claim the land as their own, and say that no one has the right to cross it, and therefore appropriated the goods to their own use. Sheriff Brown of Pembina was out there yesterday and found most of the goods, but could not get them as they refused to give them up. They were too many for him, so he returned for help. We understand he has gone out today with a squad of soldiers from Fort Pembina. We will give full particulars tomorrow. – Independent (Emerson, Manitoba) 
February 10, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 10 
Announcement – We announce this week our intention to remove the Northern Express to Pembina, at which place the next issue will be published. (page 1) 
February 24, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 12 
Amongst many drawbacks and inconveniences incidental to the removal of our business and the enlargement of our paper we lay before our readers this week as good a paper as we can under the circumstances.

Townsite Auction Bill
March 24, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 16 
[Indian Title to Dakota Lands – page 1]
The St. Vincent townsite company have sold their interest in that town to a Winnipeg syndicate. St. Vincent has invested $200 in a hook and ladder truck with other fire apparatus. This is a wise move which should be a reminder to this town of its duty in the promises. Of course when Pembina takes hold it will be on a larger scale. 
March 31, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 17 
Quite a number of our citizens went over to St. Vincent on Tuesday evening to attend the auction sale of town lots.

April 21, 1882 Vol 1. No. 20 
The unmistakable double-toned whistle of the steamer Selkirk was heard on Tuesday evening for the first time this season. Passengers from various points on the river improved the opportunity of making a business trip to Town and taking in interesting features of the flood along the way.

The Selkirk has had a lively business the last two days carrying freight across from St. Vincent.
The ice made a new door into the engine room of the St.Vincent elevator last Sunday. At St. Vincent the situation is becoming somewhat unpleasant. Several of the streets are covered with water. Around the Northern Hotel it is nearly a foot deep, but the higher portion of town is dry yet. 
April 28, 1882 Vol. 1 No. 21 
Moorhead has had several bets at stake including a town lot and a suit of clothes, that the water would not rise to the level of his saloon floor. He has won the bets with just a quarter of an inch to spare. 

Now we know how William Moorhead got his nickname, “High Water Bill”...!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Water Cooler IV: Short's Cafe Memories

Circa the late 1940s/early 1950s @ the Short's Cafe...

'The food is not Stranger and we are never Short on customers'

Not long ago, Cleo Bee Jones' photo taken of Short's Cafe not long before it was torn down, triggered a thread on Facebook; in this thread, people shared their memories of Short's Cafe in St. Vincent...

Cleo Bee Jones I took this picture [NOTE:  See Cleo's photo at bottom of this post] of Short's Cafe when I was in the area singing at the Hallock Fair one year...

Deborah Kopylov It's strange to see this old place and that sidewalk knowing that years ago I walked that sidewalk and went into that Cafe that had so much life!!

Trish Short Lewis ‎Deb, I know what you mean. It sure brings home the passage of time as it relates to one's own life...

Eliza "Liza" Stranger Short
James McC Ah, yes...I have many memories of this building. Known affectionately as simply "Ma Short's".

Margie L. White I had my first orange soda float at Ma Short's. What a treat that was!

Cleo Bee Jones I always feel nostalgic when I see this pic, taken the night before I last sang at the Hallock fair...I was at my Aunt Ruby's and walked down by there with my camera in hand and glad that I did.

Trish Short Lewis I'm very glad you did it also, Cleo. It's just a memory now...

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Noyes Customs Building Up for Auction

While nothing was really mentioned of the history of the depot, it was difficult, yet good to read this article about Noyes today.  A very sad article about Noyes generally, and the old Customs building specifically. There was a beginning, and this is the beginning of the end.

It will be interesting to see who buys it and what they do with it. I could see turning it either into a very interesting residence (granted, it would take a lot of internal remodeling with all that ugly government modernization they did over top of the original early 1930s classic look, i.e., the paneling and indoor/outdoor carpet...), or a Bed and Breakfast with a border theme.  Who knows - it could just end up being a storage shed. Obviously someone wants it for something. Bidding started in May at $5,000 and it's already up to $30,000 with 4 bidders so far, and three weeks to go despite what the article says; there is a notation on the listing that the time period for bids may be extended, which is evidently has been...

Chris Misson, chief Customs and Border Patrol officer, stands in front of
the former Customs and Immigration Station at Noyes, Minn. Wednesday.
The station, closed several years ago, is being sold on an online auction.

[Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald]

Old Noyes, Minn., border station for sale, reminder of closed crossing

By Kevin Bonham (Grand Forks Herald, July 10, 2014)

NOYES, Minn. — When Mary Delaquis first arrived at what then was the U.S. Customs and Immigration Station in Noyes as a customs inspector, her daily commute took her just across the international border to a motel in Emerson, Man., where she lived that first summer in 1984.

Customs and Immigration Station in Noyes as a customs inspector, her daily commute took her just across the international border to a motel in Emerson, Man., where she lived that first summer in 1984.

That wasn’t unusual.

The Noyes border station — located along U.S. Highway 75 but just a 15-minute drive from the Interstate 29 port of entry north of Pembina, N.D. — was more of a neighborhood crossroads than an international port of entry.

“We didn’t see a lot of commercial traffic at the port,” said Delaquis, now Pembina Area Port director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations.

“It was an opportunity for locals to use the facility, she said. “They could move more quickly through the border.”

Canadians living in Emerson, Letellier and other nearby Manitoba communities would cross the border to get their mail, buy gas or to buy groceries.

Noyes-area residents, in turn, would drive across cross to eat, have a couple of beers, or to take their families swimming at the pool in Emerson.

“We saw a real local flavor at the border crossing,” said Delaquis.

The Border Patrol building, now closed and up for online auction, is an empty reminder of the past activity.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Water Cooler III: Further Down Memory Lane


This time, the water cooler chatter turned to our neighboring town - and good friends - Humboldt, MN.

Michael Rustad My Mother, Pat Carrigan Rustad, would have been 88 today. She died in 1989 at age 63.

Dan Ducharme So young

Cleo Bee Jones For sure, way too young

Donald Reese I think your dad was one of my closest friends.  I think he passed haway younger than that. I don't remember at what age...

Michael Rustad Dad passed away in 1986 at age 63.

Connie Lang Fowler I've already passed my mother's death by 16 years as well and all of the above died young as they say!

Maury Finney She and your Pop were super people!!! Great Humboldt memories!!

Michael Rustad Dad loved everyone in Humboldt. I remember him taking me to hear your Mom play the piano in the town hall. We actually had pretty vibrant town hall parties where everyone danced, roller-skated, played basketball. I think my Dad was just in love with Humboldt and everyone in the community. In all of his years, I never once ever heard him say anything remotely negative about anyone. Think the best of people was his watchword or his motto.

Cleo Bee Jones Sounds right...the more one thinks about it all, up there, the more one misses that way of life, my eyes leak so much when I remember all the people, friends, relatives, and just the life style and all...

Michael Rustad I was speaking last night with Aunt Norma and she told me that they would clear out the living room and have a house party with 50 or more. Everyone brought food and BYOB. She said she misses those house parties and where you can talk to your neighbor.

Maury Finney I really think when and where we grow up, we are so influenced by the community around us...Your mom and dad along with so many in Humboldt mentored a positive attitude and kindness. We were so fortunate to get our start there.

Donald Reese You're on-the-job education in a little community like Humboldt, including the surrounding farmers, really could be used for a foundation for your future,  I remember being interviewed at my workplace for an apprenticeship in maintenance job and was asked where I got my mechanic ability; my response was you don't grow up on a farm in Minnesota without knowing which end of the wrench to use. I got the job.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

St. Vincent Inventor: William Thedorf

Drawing submitted for Patent
[Click to Enlarge]

My grandparents moved from the homestead to uptown mainstreet of the village, in their later years. They bought a very cute little home with many beautiful appointments - gingerbread woodwork on the steep roof peaks, cream-coloured narrow wood siding, with shingle-like wood siding from the eaves to the peaks, painted in a dark red. It was quite a pretty little house, with its large front sitting room window, including a stained glass pane; very striking with the afternoon sun shining through it. There were gorgeous, wide framing throughout the house around the doors, windows, as well as foot-tall mop boards, all of it stained and varnished, showing off the beautiful wood grain. It was all carved, too, especially the top finials. Each room had hanging brass light fixtures, with the old-style push-button wall switches. The front porch had a storm and screen door, as well as an inner door opening into the parlour, the top half which was plain glass. My grandmother had an old-style oil cloth roller shade there, to provide the option of privacy.

My grandmother told me of neighbors they once had named the Thedorf family - what they did and what they were like - all of which has receded in my mind now, sadly.  But I do remember that their home eventually burned down, well before my time.  Evidently it was also a very beautiful home.  From what I can tell, the oldest homes, including some of the most grand, were built near the river, then eastward.  It was a common way to build out a town in the late 19th and early 20th century in the Red River Valley, despite the fact they always faced flooding sooner or later.

This post is about a discovery I made today, about my grandparents' long-ago uptown neighbor. Unbeknownst to me, the Thedorfs had amongst them an innovative inventor!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Water Cooler II

In this edition of the "Water Cooler", St. Vincent natives recall the simple pleasures of curling and ice skating.

I am younger than those in the conversation, but even I remember the curling rink when it *was* a curling rink (the building still exists), as well as the outdoor rink at Pembina. I even remember trying to go down those "creepy" steps once, as a 6-year old little girl. By then, the steps were getting a bit rickety, as well as being very steep; I chickened out! But I recall seeing others skating on it, especially at night with the string of bulbs that seemed to float above the ice. The rink was down a steep embankment, right alongside the Pembina River.

When the 1966 flood came, it was the end of the rink forever...

St. Vincent Curling Rink


Tess Dissmore THERE WAS A CURLING RINK IN ST.VINCENT ACROSS FROM THE GARDINERS. WE USED TO WATCH THEM PLAY , MY BROTHER -IN-LAW MANUEL GOOSELAW WAS PLAYING THERE ONE NITE AND THRU THE ROCK AND DIED OF A MASSIVE HEART ATTACK. , HE WAS MARRIED TO LEONA CAMPEAU. I BELIEVE IT WAS 1959 OR 60.

Ginny Grumbo-Mcallister Eva and Frank Gardiner were my aunt and uncle Dave Geddes In the late 1920.s when I learned to skate Pembina did not have a indoor rink.

Dorothy Barber Ted Ryan used to skate on a small rink that someone made sort of under - to the north - of the Pembina bridge.

Tess Dissmore WELL I WAS AROUND TILL 1957 AND WE ALWAYS WENT TO PEMBINA TO SKATE AND I DO REMEMBER TED RYAN.  SOMETIMES WE WALKED AND SOMETIME WE GOT A RIDE BUT IF WE HAD TO WALK HOME WE HAD A LONG TREK, IT SEEMED, BUT WAS SCARY TO GO OVER THE OLD BRIDGE. MANY GREAT MEMORIES SKATING ON OPEN RINK BY PEMBINA BRIDGE. TED RYAN, I REMEMBER HE WOULD THROW HIS HAT ON THE ICE AND HE HAD LONG BLADES ON HIS SKATES AND HE WAS A VERY GOOD SKATER AND WOULD COME AROUND FAST AND PICK UP HIS HAT W/ HIS SKATE. WE HAD A SHOW FOR US...ENJOYED HIM.

Cleo Bee Jones I loved going into Pembina to skate at the rink, the last time I skated there was 1958! Memories, la da da da da da da da da

Trish Short Lewis No one alive now has memories of the 1897 INDOOR skating rink in Pembina, but it evidently once existed...

Tess Dissmore THERE WAS A SKATING RINK IN ST. VINCENT RIGHT NEXT TO THE CURLING RINK, BUT I JUST DON'T REMEMBER SKATING THERE A LOT; JUST DON'T KNOW WHY NOT?

Donald Reese I remember the curling rinks, but not the Skating rink, the curling rink had wooden bleachers up on one end so you could watch them curl, and of course the brooms were different then. those old curlers could really make those old broom whisk. [Note:  In the early 1960s, I once sat on those bleachers myself.  It was towards the end of the building's use as a curling rink, and I was there to watch my grandfather play one of his last games...]

Delphine Mundorf yup those old brooms were like the old straw brooms we use to have. Watched grandpa use one in Bemidji in a tournament. He also threw the stone at different Times.

Betty Jeanne Short Thorsvig Sharon and I used to skate A LOT on the Pembina rink. She was a better skater than I. My memories of the Pembina Skating Rink are: how cool it was way below the city, made on an open plain above the river. When you entered to go down the creepy (steep) stairs off the main street, there was like a hundred wooden steps to even get down to it. They would play music. There was a wooden shack where you could borrow skates if you didn't have any. Wooden benches to sit and put on your skates and a stove to keep you warm. I also remember skating on Lake Stella and also Dad would clean off a spot for us on our land where was a pond. I LOVED winter as a kid!! Wish someone would have pictures far and near of that rink.