Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Water Cooler VII: School Memories - Bullying

Humboldt-St. Vincent School, like any other school, had its share of bullying and bullies...

Michael Rustad: I remember when Dave Boatz sang the Beatle's song, "He is a real nowhere man." He adapted it to Walter Petruska. "He's a real no-hair man!" Dave was a comedic genius. When we were altar boys together, he did his best to get me to laugh at the most inopportune times. He would have a running commentary on the qualities of the tongues at communion time. When Mrs. Friebohl (Grandma) and Toots Ryan went for communion, he had me in stitches with his descriptions!

Dave was never mean-spirited but did these pranks always in a spirit of fun. Ok, he went a step too far in dropping cherry bombs in the boy's toilet or putting Elmer's Glue in Martha Roberts lotion bottle. Martha would often use moisturizing cream and then wipe with her hanky She did this by habit not realizing that Dave had substituted glue for lotion! The class did not dare laugh, but did after class. He would also pick vegetables and flowers from neighbor's gardens and then with his angelic smile try to sell them back! I can tell you so many stories about Dave. Dave had a moral compass in always sticking up for any person with a handicap,. His brother Stevie was profoundly developmentally undeveloped and I think that his love for his brother was key in being empathetic. Randy Younggren, who as deaf and had difficulty speaking, was a case in point. Dave was so good to Randy and he had Randy drive out to our farm on his motorcycle nearly every evening. He was just happy to see us and it did not matter whether he could not speak many words.

Steve Ritter: No Way! Dave never did any of those things! Lol! Dave is one of the best...He has a heart of Gold!

Michael Rustad: I also think that Velma Isely did a great deal to stand up for those being bullied. There was bullying in Humboldt. When we moved to the farm when I was 7, I had to ride the bus and it was an ordeal. They took my stocking hat, did not leave a seat open, etc. It was relentless until around 6th grade. I could name each of the bullies and some were older girls with no moral compass.

Trish Short Lewis: You are so right, Mike. I was bullied a LOT by both peers and older kids, when I was little and up until junior high. My mom went to bat for me, but she also told me to ignore them, which was very hard but I did it so they had no satisfaction. To cope, I withdrew into myself, humming tunes, saying words or phrases over and over, closed my eyes, plugged my ears, read books, etc.

Michael Rustad: Our school bus was parked outside the Post Office and everyone was picking on Barbara Norberg. Mrs. Isely boarded the bus and essentially told everyone how ashamed she was and gave a long speech about compassion. She eluded authority and people stopped bullying her after she deboarded the bus and were off to Lake Bronson. I remember well how I dreaded the bus because Tony and I were bullied.

Steve Ritter: I think when we're young we all say things a little quickly. I am certainly not innocent. Sometimes it's a misunderstanding between young kids. Sometimes the physical side is how many of us have learned to deal with issues. I know that some of the meanest things I've heard came out of the mouth. I remember recesses when I was young being tormented by older kids. Being dogpiled and being on the bottom of several. It was not as much fun as people would think. I finally stood up and took on one of these people. I knew it would let my parents down if I got into a fight because my father and mother didn't believe in physical violence of any kind. But I'd had enough. I did get in trouble and was grounded for a period of time. but no one bothered me again. No one dogpiled me again. It's too bad people treat others in a negative fashion but sometimes and for whatever reason it happens. Most of the time it happens just straight out of ignorance and sometimes pain. Mrs Isley was a wonderful person!!

Trish Short Lewis: I agree with *most* of what you say, but I also think some people are just plain mean. Many who are mean got it from their role models, i.e., their parents. Either their parents are authoritarian, or abusive, or both. I wasn't perfect - I was a chatty girl who never knew enough to keep her mouth shut sometimes (not always) and that would get me in 'trouble' - it wasn't being mean, it was being inappropriate, interruptive, and/or loud. I definitely feel that is a LOT different than saying unkind and downright mean things to someone, or physically hurting someone, etc. That's a horse of another color entirely. So the bullying I and others suffered was mean and wrong. Period.

Monday, July 09, 2018

PROFILE: Captain John A. Vanstrum

I present to you, one of St. Vincent's early pioneers - John A. Vanstrum. A veteran of the Civil War, he became very civic-minded, serving the town and later Kittson County, in many positions. One of his longest-held was as Sheriff.  Serving at roughly the same time, he was Sheriff Charley Brown's counterpart across the river!

Captain John A. Vanstrum, register of deeds for Kittson county for the past decade, a pioneer citizen of the great northwest and a valiant soldier of the Civil War, is now a resident of Hallock, Minnesota, where he enjoys the esteem and confidence of a wide circle of friends and admirers. His portrait [seen here on right], will be appreciated by his host of friends. Captain Vanstrum was born in the province Gustaf and Elizabeth Vanstrum. The parents died in Sweden, their native land. Captain Vanstrum received but a limited education in his boyhood, having to assist his father in a paper mill from his tenth to his sixteenth year. On June 22, 1855, in company with about two hundred emigrants, he left his native land, sailing from Gutenberg on the vessel Ann Washburn, commanded by Captain Winchell. The vessel was heavily laden with Swedish iron for Boston merchants. He arrived in Boston harbor August 6, 1855, and proceeded to Chicago, thence to Batavia, Illinois, where he spent the winter of 1855-6, working for his board and attending school. In September, 1856, he went to Minnesota, via Dunleith, now East Dubuque, Illinois, thence up the Mississippi river, and located at Redwing. Minnesota, where he engaged as clerk in a store.

At the breaking out of the Civil war Captain Vanstrum was residing at Redwing, Minnesota. He immediately offered his services and assisted the late Colonel H. Mattson in recruiting Company D, Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and was mustered into service in October, 1861 at Fort Snelling. The Captain went to Chisago county, Minnesota. where he raised some thirty volunteers (Swedish) for Company D. These men he transported in wagons all the way from what was then known as Center City via Taylor's Falls, Marine Mills and Stillwater, through St. Paul to Fort Snelling, where they arrived October 18, 1861, and on the following day were mustered into service. Captain Vanstrum was appointed sergeant of Company D in October 1861, was promoted to second lieutenant March 30, 1862, first lieutenant May 30. 1862, and Captain of Company D August 2. 1862. He re-enlisted with the same company as a veteran, under the veteran enlistment act, at Little Rock, Arkansas, early in January, 1864. He was honorably discharged with his regiment at Fort Snelling September 17, 1865. His record in war, as it has continued to be, is that of a brave and fearless defender of the Union and the old flag. In 1879 Captain Vanstrum went to Kittson county, Minnesota, and located at St. Vincent, where he was postmaster from 1879 until 1885. In the latter year he resigned his office and during that period the post office at St. Vincent was of more than ordinary importance. It was the international exchange office for all registered mail matter passing between the United States and the northwest Canadian provinces. All registered letters are re-registered at the St. Vincent office. From 1879 to 1885 this office ranked third in volume of registered mail from Minnesota.

Captain Vanstrum was sheriff of Kittson county from the date of its organization, April 8, 1879, to January, 1889, and is at present register of deeds of said county, having held that position continuously since the fall of 1891. Politically the Captain is an uncompromising Republican. He is a member of the I.O.O.F., and is one of the representative men and pioneers of the northwest. (International Order of Odd Fellows)

Source:  Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Vol. IV (1913)

Thursday, July 05, 2018

History of the Kittson County Bench & Bar

"The term was finished in two and a half days, and the balance of last day, awaiting the arrival of the train south, was spent fishing by the court and attorneys, after each catching his own frogs for bait. To the younger members of the bar it was rather an amusing circumstance to see Judge Stearns, then well up in years and of a very dignified and patriarchal appearance, lay aside his judicial dignity and pursue the diminutive amphibians with an agility which surprised them all."
And such were the salad days of early Kittson County law!

To learn more about it, read on...
_______________________

Bench and Bar of Kittson County
By Peter H. Konzen

Foreword by
Douglas A. Hedin, Editor
Minnesota Legal History Project (April 2008)

The article that follows is a highly personalized history of the bench and bar of Kittson County written by Peter Henry Konzen, a prominent attorney. After devoting two pages to early terms of the district court, Konzen announces that he will avoid “the monotony of legal routine” by describing two amusing trials—the prosecution of Kate Rafferty before Ozora P. Stearns, a legendary judge of northern Minnesota, in 1883, and a civil suit for damages for the killing of a dog, in which he represented the plaintiff, in 1888. Konzen’s client was awarded an amount somewhat less than he sought.

In the style of most county legal histories of this period (it was published in 1909), Konzen includes biographical sketches of eight lawyers who practiced in the county, the longest being of himself. Apparently finding the opportunity irresistible, he wrote, Mr. Konzen is recognized as one of the ablest and most prominent attorneys north of Crookston, and during his residence at Hallock has amassed a snug little fortune, besides building up a professional and business reputation of which he may well be proud. He has helped in an eminent degree to shape the destiny of his city, and when the history of Kittson shall be written he will appear as one of its most conspicuous figures.

There is an ironical footnote to this flattering self-portrait. Konzen died on July 15, 1935, twenty-six years after the publication of his article on the county bench and bar. His death was headlined on the front page of the Kittson County Enterprise on July 17, 1935. The newspaper described not only Konzen’s final days but also, under the subheading “Biography,” his youth, education and early years in the county. Almost all of that “biography” was taken verbatim from Konzen’s earlier self-portrait. Thus Peter Henry Konzen was placed in the unusual position of writing much of his own obituary.

Passes To His Eternal Reward
Peter Konzen, Pioneer and Highly
Respected Citizen Passes Away
After Long and Useful Service
to City and Community

Peter H. Konzen
Today Hallock mourns the passing of one of her most outstanding venerable citizens and townsmen. Peter H. Konzen, who died at his home in this city on Monday, July 15th at the age of 78 years, one month and 18 days—he has gone his reward. Hallock never had a finer citizen and more devoted father.

Quiet, unpretentious, wonderfully human and amazingly competent, he represented the best that a city can expect from its citizens. His more than half a century of life in our city was a precious gift to his fellows. He had done much good and was ready day or night to serve the needs of anyone who called on him. He never made any fuss about living—he just lived, which is a priceless legacy to those of us who are inclined to philosophize.

He was a man of quiet, retiring disposition and minded his own business, both with reference to himself and others. In his youth, he was of good physique, but of late years had suffered afflictions incidental to advanced years, which at times confined him to his bed and home. About a week before his death he again became afflicted and gradually and slowly sank, growing weaker and weaker, with but little pain until about three days before his death when he became overcome with chills. At the last, however, death came peacefully and quietly, and while apparently in sleep, his breath came slower and slower, until the last. All of his family were at his bedside excepting a daughter, Mrs. F. V. King, who in a race with death across the continent failed to arrive in time to see her father alive. During his final illness he was watched over by members of his family and friends and a special nurse.

The funeral services were held from St. John’s Episcopal church Wednesday afternoon with Rev. S. J. Hedlund officiating. The cortege was the largest ever gathered in Hallock, which testified to the high esteem in which the deceased was held in the community. The active pallbearers were members of the Kittson County Bar Association of which the deceased, was a member. They were: A. D. Bornemann, Wm. L. Peterson, J. E. Sundberg, C. J. Hemmingson, John Matt Brendal, Lyman Brink. The honorary bearers were twenty pioneer citizens of the town. The district bar association also sent delegates to attend the funeral. These were: L. S. Miller, Martin O’Brien, Wm. P. Murphy, W. E. Rowe, F. A. Grady, Crookston; H. O. Chommie, C. M. Bishop, Theodore Quale, Thief River Falls; Judge B. B. Brett, W. O. Braggans, Oscar Knutson and Rasmus Hage, Warren.

The remains were laid to rest in the family lot at Greenwood cemetery, beside those of his wife who preceded him in death several years ago, and thus has passed away another of our old timers—they are passing away and soon only their memories will be left. May they all leave as pleasant recollections as does our friend and venerable townsman—God rest his gallant soul.

Biography

Peter H. Konzen was one of the pioneers of Kittson county, having located here in the spring of 1881, when a young man of 24 years. He was born on the 27th of May, 1857, in Chickasaw county, Iowa, on a farm now embracing the site of the village of Lowler. His parents emigrated from Germany in 1852 and the following year located on the farm upon which deceased was born. He was the third child of a family of five, all of whom have since passed away, excepting one, Mrs. Kate Buchholz living at Forest City, Ia. He was educated in the public schools of Lawler, afterwards attending an academy at Bradford in that county and completing his education at the University of Iowa City and at Boyleer’s Mercantile College at Keokuk, Iowa. His boyhood life was spent upon the farm until the age of 17 when he began teaching while completing his education.

In 1878 he began the study of law, first in the office of Judge H. H. Potter at New Hampton and afterwards under the direction of John R. Geeting, a gentlemen who later rose to considerable distinction as a criminal lawyer in the city of Chicago. Mr. Konzen first came to Minnesota in 1879 and entered the law office of a Mr. Parker at Sleepy Eye, where he remained until the fall of that year when he again returned to Iowa to enter the newspaper business, editing the Lowler Herald until the spring of 1881, when he sold out and returned to Minnesota and locating at Hallock, then a hamlet numbering not more than half a dozen buildings, where he opened a law office, and in the words of the immortal Horace Greely, “grew up with the country.”

In the fall of 1881 Mr. Konzen was elected superintendent of schools for Kittson County which position he held for several years, having been three times re-elected. He had since held various public offices, as County Attorney, president of the Kittson County Agriculture Society and in 1898 was the Republican nominee for member of the state legislature. Although defeated by the tide of populism at that time, he received a creditable vote and conducted a model campaign. In 1916 he was again the nominee for his party for member of the state legislature and this time was elected by a comfortable majority. Mr. Konzen was one of the most progressive and public-spirited citizens in Kittson county. He was for many years a member of the Hallock school board, and it was chiefly owing to his push and perseverance that this thriving little city can now boast of a high school second to none in the state. Mr. Konzen was elected mayor of Hallock in 1897 and held the office for a dozen or more consecutive years to the eminent satisfaction of her people. He had also served as a member of the state drainage board, probate judge and in his time had filled various town and village offices, so that he had helped in an eminent degree to shape the destiny of his beloved city and community.

During his early career in Hallock, he was associated in the law business with W. H. Alley, now deceased, and in 1901 Mr. Konzen and J. D. Henry formed a co-partnership for the purpose of conducting a real estate, loans, insurance and collection business in connection with the law business. Mr. Henry is not a lawyer but handled the insurance, loans, collection and real estate business of the firm and was very successful, especially in the sale of real estate. Konzen’s article appeared first on pages 944 to 951 of the second volume of History of the Red River Valley. It has been reformatted. Page breaks have been added. His spelling and punctuation have not been changed.

Bench and Bar of Kittson County
From:

IN
HISTORY
OF
THE RED RIVER
VALLEY
PAST AND PRESENT


Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns
Villages of the Valley from the Time
of Their First Settlement and
Formation
BY VARIOUS WRITERS
IN TWO VOLUMES
VOLUME II
__________________

ILLUSTRATED
__________________

HERALD PRINTING COMPANY
GRAND FORKS
C. F. COOPER & COMPANY
CHICAGO
1909

Bench and Bar of Kittson County.
By P. H. Konzen.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pembina County at 150: Ferries & Bridges

Last year, Pembina County celebrated its Sesquicentennial.  In celebration of this, local historian Jim Benjaminson wrote an ongoing series of historical essays for the local newspaper entitled Pembina County at 150.  Jim has shared some of them with us here on St. Vincent Memories before.  Today we're sharing one on a subject we've been discussing on our Facebook page recently...


Ferries and Bridges

To the fur traders of the late 1700's and early 1800's the Red River and its tributaries were their “highways”. As permanent settlers began infiltrating the area establishing farms and communities, the rivers were at first an asset – but as more and more settlers took up permanent residence further away from the main streams, the rivers began to take on a new persona – they began to be more of a hindrance than anything. As trails became roads, crossing rivers and streams became a challenge and a chore. From 1859 on, as steam boats began to ply the Red the movement of goods was made considerably easier, despite the fact river travel consumed over 395 miles from Breckenridge to the International Border despite land routes that totaled under 200 miles. But river travel wasn't always dependable. For at least 5 months of the year, the river was frozen over and in other years, the water level was too low to allow passage of the steamers between river communities.

Amazing as it may seem, crossing the Red into Minnesota meant at least a day's journey to either Winnipeg or Grand Forks even as late as 1910. The pages of the early Pembina County Commissioners books are filled with requests from county residents “praying for funds” to establish either a road or a bridge crossing in various locations of the county. But there was at least one other option – establishment of a ferry service between the two states.

At least three ferry franchises were authorized by the County Commissioners over the years. One of the earliest references found in the Commission records is dated April 13, 1872 which granted D.F. Brawley a ten-year franchise for a ferry at Pembina, for which Brawley agreed to pay Pembina County $26 a year for the privilege; G.F. Keney was awarded the Grand Forks ferry franchise at $50 a year. Ten years later, on page 60 of commission records, Robert Tweedlie of Drayton was granted a three-year franchise, effective October 2, 1882 through October 2, 1885 paying a franchise fee of just $10 per year to the county – by late August of 1883 the Pioneer Express was running the following: “Wanted, a good man to run the Drayton Ferry”!

Apparently the Pembina franchise was worth considerably more than the Drayton franchise, as commission records show (on page 90) James Airth of Pembina agreed to pay Pembina County $75 per year for three-years, effective January 1, 1883 through January 1, 1886 – placing his ferry in service April 23, 1883.

Exactly when Pembina County relinquished issuing franchises in favor of the cities (and how the franchise was honored from the Minnesota side of the river) is unclear. D.F. Brawley, a St. Vincent resident had been awarded a ferry franchise which was revoked by the Minnesota Legislature in January of 1878. Brawley would be involved in other dealings with the government when he sued the military over a contract he held for supplying cord word to Fort Pembina (he lost the suit). At the Pembina Council meeting of April 1, 1889, tenders to operate the ferry between Pembina and St. Vincent were offered by P. L. Messareur [Note from Trish:  Could this be a misspelling of Philip Le Masurier's name?] for $160 for the year of 1889; Wilbur Kerns tendered an offer of $156 per year for three years while Alex Airth offered $169 per year for three years. The franchise was granted to Airth.

Although details are lacking, Pembina County jail records record that William O'Keefe was arrested and jailed January 19, 1881, as was James L. Fisk for “establishing, maintaining and running an illegal ferry in North Dakota”. The next day, January 20, J. Rich was also arrested and charged as was W. W. Nicholas on January 21st. Whether these men were interlopers from Minnesota or just trying to worm their way into the ferry business has not been discovered – nor has any court disposition! One has to question why they were arrested in January when there obviously was no ferry service!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day: Edkins Brothers

Percy's grave is in the
St. Vincent Cemetery
Sgt Major Percy John Edkins
U.S. Marine Corps
On May 18, 1917, the Selective Service Act was passed authorizing the President to increase temporarily the military establishment of the United States.  In 1917, all three Edkins brothers enlisted, trained, and went into the war.

Percy Edkins, born in St.Vincent, worked as an assistant cashier at St. Vincent's Farmers' & Merchants' State Bank at the time he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

Once he got home, Percy married a Gamble descendant  (Alexander Gamble's granddaughter), Alice Griffith.

Percy is listed as a cashier at the St. Vincent Bank; 
Roy DeFrance was the Local Draft Board's Registrar
At the bottom of this post is a page from a book listing all known Kittson County veterans; the book is held by the Kittson County Museum.  This particular page lists the Edkins brothers including their military record...

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Guest Essay: The Story of West Lynn

West Lynne, Manitoba townsite, today.
The Story of West Lynne and the First Customs House in Western Canada 
by James McClelland

To  say that the oldest federal building in southern Manitoba had a diverse and chequered past would be an understatement. According to the old Winnipeg Telegram, this building was originally built in the 1850s. The design and architecture were similar to buildings found in the Acadian region of Canada. The article describes the building as "20x26, and made from hewn oak timbers, dove tailed at the corners." Later this building would serve as a symbol of Canadian sovereignty and a floodgate against Yankee commerce.

Today it sits just 500m north of the border it guarded for so long.
The line separating the United States from British territory had always been vague and tentative. Agreement that the 49th parallel would record the western boundary was established as early as 1818, but its exact location tended to shift each time a party had been sent out to survey it. Between 1823 and 1870 three different boundary lines had been drawn; all of them controversial.
In the 1840s, agitation began to develop along this line between the free traders from the Red River Settlement and the Hudson Bay Company officials at Fort Garry. In 1843, the first regular cart service between Pembina and St. Paul was opened. This provided easy access to the American markets. This bickering heightened as more Red River traders sought the higher American prices. It intensified in 1845 when Norman Kittson, an American Trader, opened a store just a scant 4km south of British Territory, at the junction of the Red and the Pembina Rivers.

The door of American commerce was beckoning. In fact, Kittson offered such good prices for fur that the ensuing rush of illegal trade from British Territory was referred to by the HBC as "Kittson’s Fever". As a counter-move in September of 1845, the Hudson Bay Company opened a post called North Fort Pembina. It was located on what they considered their side of the line. The Company put John Palmer Bourke, a retired officer living in the colony, in charge of this new frontier post.

During the winter of 1845-46, Robert Clouston, an employee from the Stone Fort visited this place. In his journal, he described these Spartan surroundings.
"Mr. Bourke has a rough log house, the walls of which, inside and outside are plastered with clay, and the roof covered with earth - it is floored with rough logs: the men live in the same house, with merely a partition between them - a mud chimney in each room and a door opening from Mr. B's apartment to his trading room"
The following day Clouston visited Kittson's store. The uncertainty of the exact spot where American and British authority met is noted in his diary:
"About quarter of a mile above the house (the HBC store) we saw a post planted by Major Long - marking the boundary at a place called Monroe’s Encampment some wag had pulled up the post of demarcation and placed Uncle Sam's initials toward British territory." 
Clouston later reported that Kittson's store was about 3 kms farther south. Here, between Kittson's store and the HBC post, the log house was originally located.

From these squalid beginnings the HBC post at the border continued to develop. A sketch from 1858, shows several log buildings surrounded by a sturdy log palisade.

However, the strip of land between North Pembina and Kittson’s store quickly developed into a "no-man's land." Other buildings sprang up and an unsavory frontier community known as Huron City was born. A few years later the Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba would complain to Ottawa about the rowdy brawling atmosphere and the flourishing trade in whiskey smuggling that was going on in this "Whisky Post". By this time, the log building, had been turned into an inn.

Unquestionably, many travelers passed through the doors of this establishment, but two guests in particular played a very important role in the creation of Manitoba. In the autumn of 1869, the Hon. Wm. McDougall, the Governor designate of Rupert's Land, stayed here briefly after he was denied entry into the Red River Settlement by Louis Riel's metis guards. In December, McDougall would return to the deserted post and read a Proclamation declaring himself the official lieutenant-governor of the region. Ironically, in August of the following year, Louis Riel himself found momentary refuge in the same building after his hasty escape from Fort Garry.


On July 1, 1871, F. T. Bradley arrived to become Collector of Customs. The log building, empty at the time, became Manitoba's first regular Customs House. It also served as a telegraph, express and postal office. Yet, in October 1871, one of the most bizarre events in Canadian history had yet to unfold on these premises.

Friday, April 27, 2018

The Litchfield Brothers - "...Minnesota beckoned them in 1862"

Electus Backus Litchield
"Flagrantly & monumentally impudent"
How did the St. Vincent Extension (which was the rail line between east St. Cloud and St. Vincent) get made?  Well, it so happens that St. Vincent had its own version of "Hell on Wheels"... 

In the course of his various "business enterprises", E.B. Litchfield is said to have bought many an elected official. Except for one: Populist Congressman Ignatius Donnelly of Minnesota. While Donnelly worked for all the railroads in Minnesota at one time or another, he refused to continue working for E.B. Litchfield and the First Division St.P&P RR.

While lobbying Congress to expand the St.P&P RR land grant to 10 sections (square miles) per mile of track built, E.B. needed the help of members of Congress. Railroads would sometimes hire sitting members of Congress (and other elected officials) to serve as their "legal counsel".

In 1868, Donnelly wrote to E.B. regarding his $1,000 "retainer" and position as legal counsel to the First Division: "The matter has given me no little uneasiness of conscience. I have been laboring under the fear and dread I might instinctively be willing to do more for your company as attorney than I would if I did not hold that relation to it." Donnelly even offered to return the $1,000 or perform some actual legal services for the money.


Electus was just one of five Litchfield brothers, all involved in one way or another with the railroad business.  Their main involvement: Investment.

Edwin Clark Litchfield was put in charge of the First Division.  He agreed to finance the branch line from St. Paul to St. Cloud.  To the Associates1, he was a greatly vexed investor, "a wary old bird".  The Associates had trusted allies in Horace Thompson and Edmund Rice, who promised to "leave no stone unturned to bring about a reconciliation" between the contending parties.  If they failed, the Associates had contingency plans "to handle, with or without gloves on," Litchfield, Becker, Farley, and anyone else who got in the way.  They had not come this far only to lose the much-coveted land grant from St. Paul to the Canadian Border.

Source:  Google Books
A second act, one of the many "special acts" of the Minnesota legislature appropriating funds to further build out the railway lines, provided for another land-grant line - an extension branch from St. Cloud to Minnesota's northern border at the town of St. Vincent.

1867 was the year the British North America Act granted Canadians their political independence.  "Knowing that newly independent Canadians would soon embark on their own transcontinental railroad schemes, SP&P directors held a special stockholders meeting to map out ways to pull northern wheat-growing riches down a proposed Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) branch line from Winnipeg to the international border, through St. Vincent, and then down into St. Paul.  On the strength of this scheme, the state legislature gladly renegotiated the land grants, rescheduling their completion for 1878."

The plan was for SP&P to construct a northern extension, connecting first with the NPR main line near Fargo, then with the proposed CPR branch line at St. Vincent.

Elisha Cleveland Litchfield
One of the brothers who swooped in, bought up several
railroads,  and sold them for profit as fast as possible. . .
Erasmus Darwin Litchfield - genially called "the old rat"...was "ornery" and "obstreperous")

Egbert Savage Litchfield (youngest brother) - Sent to St. Paul at one point to oversee and manage the brothers' investments in the railroad.  In 1868, Egbert became James J. Hill's early partner.  Soon, Hill began emerging as a businessman in his own right.

"The Litchfields' capital propped up the railroad's coffers and accelerated construction into the the state's already populated agricultural regions," and towards the Red River Valley (which the state legislature had recently approved a special act securing $3 million in bonds for railway construction projects...)

TriviaNP used contractors to build the St. Vincent Extension.

To break it down to its simplest terms, the Litchfield brothers simply "went where the money was". [See the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association's incredible article about the slippery Litchfield Brothers, and their particular involvement with the building of the railroad that eventually included the St. Vincent Extension...]
Question: Where did all the money the Litchfields stole from Brooklyn go? 
Answer: To an attempt to take over the lands and railroads of the northwestern United States (Minnesota) via federal railroad land grants and other financial tools, and then mortgage this wilderness property to unwary European investors (the Dutch) at vastly inflated sums.
No doubt E. B. Litchfield used his brother E. Darwin Litchfield, then a London banker, to launder the money hijacked from Brooklyn to acquire all the stock of the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad First Division, their new land and railroad speculation entity in Minnesota, which already owned 307,200 acres (480 square miles) of federal land grants. The Brooklyn loot was likely used as seed money to construct more track in Minnesota, thereby leveraging more massive federal land grants, which in turn enabled E. B. Litchfield to issue more St. Paul & Pacific securities in Holland with these land grants used as collateral.
It should be noted, that the activities of the Litchfield brothers, as well as that of governmental officials, was quite the norm for the time period. In fact, "Robber Baron" business practices as well as "Urban Machine Politics" are considered to be two of the three "antecedents" of Organized Crime in the United States. (See Organized Crime by Howard Abadinsky, 1997, pg 39-69.)

Trivia: The construction of the St. Vincent extension was promptly put under contract, and large quantities of rails and fastenings for track were imported from England. These were of iron, weighing 30 pounds per linear yard, and went from Buffalo to Duluth by lake. Their cost at the latter point was reckoned at about 90 per ton. Construction proceeded with vigor, and, for the methods of those times, with rapidity, until shortly after the financial collapse in 1873. [Source:  Minnesota Historical Society, James J. Hill Papers "The Great Northern Railway System"]

1 - The Associates were George Stephen, Donald Smith, James J. Hill, Norman Kittson, and E.S. Litchfield. Hill enlisted the support of Donald Smith and his equally wealthy cousin, George Stephen, of the Bank of Montreal, in getting control of the steamboat business on the Red River, the route to Winnipeg. Their syndicate, “George Stephens and Associates,” comprised Stephen and Smith, as the financiers, Norman Kittson, The Hudson’s Bay Company’s Minnesota agent, operating the steamboat line, and Hill, their St Paul freight forwarder. Once in control of steam navigation on the Red River, the Associates then went after the bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific Railroad which they intended to complete to the Red River and a connection with Kittson’s steamboats.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Jefferson Highway: North-South (1916-1926)

"We can talk good roads," he continued, "until we are blue in the face if there is not that great highway running between the hearts of the people of the country which binds them together in one common cause. The people hunger after comradeship these days, and, after all, the real test is that after this sacrifice that we are great enough to be conscious of one thing — to act as brothers. We must get away from that which tends to draw away one community from another. A road ought to be a binding tie between the communities through which it passes, and only when men pull apart is it that their problems cannot be solved." 
- Said at State Meeting in Little Falls, MN on October 9, 1917; Delegates and Commissioners from all the Counties along the Jefferson Highway participated in the Great Little Falls Convention
According to the Jefferson Highway Declaration, much of the Jefferson Highway north of Wadena all the way to the Canadian border, was paved only with gravel. This was due mainly to the rural nature of that geographical portion of the road together with the financing available thereof.

From the Warren Sheaf (September 5, 1917):

The Hallock newspapers are belaboring their constituencies and the County Commission for a favorable sentiment toward the appropriation of public money for the building and maintenance of the Jefferson Highway through almost inaccessible swamps and sand dunes in the southeastern part of Kittson county. Marshall county authorities saw the foolishness of routing the Jefferson road.in that part of their county, and have refused to do anything with it. Kittson and Pennington counties are asked to do this work for Marshall county.

The "Soo Line" Jefferson road boosters are determined to "work" Kittson county for a big appropriation to strew along this so called highway, which is only laid out and fit for travel in SPOTS. When next spring the KING'S HIGHWAY is completed from Galveston, Texas, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, the traveling public will forget the Jefferson road to absorb the appropriation of public money. Kittson county people will certainly not stand for any appropriations to be thrown away on the Jefferson road along the 'Soo'.

The above article taken from the Kennedy Star is indeed, misleading to the reader, who is not acquainted with the conditions as they really are. To think that a newspaper editor would try to make his readers believe, that there are sections in this county and in Marshall county, in which there are only sand dunes and swamps! What a poor advertisement this article would be for prospective settlers or tourists to read. The other day we drove over the highway in this county and along the road we found well stocked and equipped farms. Surely this does not bear out the Star's statement.

Sometime ago the Sheaf criticized the highway association because of the route chosen but that was because of the fact that it did not enter or benefit even one town in the county. Had the highway chosen a route passing through the towns in eastern Marshall county or through the towns of western Marshall county, it would have been better off, as far as securing the support of this county is concerned. Now that the route is chosen, we do not believe, the territory through which it passes should be advertised as sandy and swampy country, Just because of petty selfish reasons.

That the Jefferson Highway through Marshall and Kittson counties will ultimately be changed to follow the identical route of the scenic King-of-Trails, is possible, and desirable of course, on account of economy in construction and other advantages, but there is no need to speak slightingly of any portion of the two great counties. After all, Brother Estlund, we believe you will agree with us, when we say that the best form of criticism is that of a constructive nature, rather than a destructive method.

Commissioners of Kittson Report Progress
On "Pine to Palm" Projects

The following letter was received by the state convention from the County Commissioners of Kittson County:

"The members of this board find that their individual affairs will prevent their attendance at the Little Falls meeting on the 9th instant. Notice of the meeting came to our notice too late to permit the necessary arrangements being made.

"This county has about fifty-five miles of Jefferson Highway. Of this nineteen miles have been so constructed as to provide a very reliable all-weather summer road. Thirteen miles more, now under construction, will be completed this fall. The remainder of the Jefferson Highway is all graded up, according to state specifications, and is an excellent road, except in wet weather. It should be hard surfaced.

"We are now contemplating improvement next spring of sixteen miles — Federal aid specifications. We believe the Jefferson Highway Association has been, and is highly instrumental in arousing popular interest in permanent road work, and we sincerely regret our inability to be present at the Little Falls meeting."

REYNARD ANDERSON,
THOS. COLEMAN,
A. HANSON,
C. A. YOUNGGREN,
County Board, Kittson County, Minn.

The excerpt below, from the October 1917 issue of the Jefferson Highway Declaration, goes into further detail on the rivalry-laced insults in the Karlstad and Kennedy newspapers concerning the new Jefferson Highway routing in Kittson County...

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The St. Vincent Depot Interviews

Photograph of St. Vincent depot, as described in the article below...
One of the great things about our readers is how they participate in discovering and sharing our local history.  

I was recently contacted by such a reader, who found an article written by Maribel Berg for the Scribe Tribe, published by the Kittson County Enterprise in 1976...


Monday, January 15, 2018

Map of Abandoned Railroad Lines: The St. Vincent Extension

This is a working map primarily of abandoned railroad lines across North America, with layers to include abandonments in other countries, interesting railroad sites, abandoned towns, and interesting or unique railroad crossing signals. 
St. Vincent's abandoned extension line has been added to Andrew Grigg's North American Abandoned Railroad Rights-of-Way Map (I submitted it along with supporting documentation...)  I'm pleased to see this bit of transportation history acknowledged in this wonderful historical railway map on Google!