Sunday, December 30, 2007

St. Vincent New Era: Oct 1, 1920

I recently received some items in the mail from a Gamble family member (a family who must be packrats, bless their hearts and lucky for us), which included not simply a copy of, but an original issue of, the ST. VINCENT NEW ERA!

Some news from this issue...
WEDDED: Miss Eliza Stranger of this village and Mr. Gail Short of Angus, were united in marriage at the Cathedral at Crookston on Thursday evening of last week. The bride was attended by her sister, Miss Christine and the groom's brother, Mr. Estell Short, performed the duties of groom's man. The bride is the daughter of Mr. Joseph Stranger and Mrs. Delma Stranger of this place and is a popular young lady, whose many friends wish a long life of happiness. The groom is a prosperous young farmer of the Angus section. The young couple left for the Twin City immediately after the ceremony, on a short honeymoon trip. They will reside in Angus.


Directors W.G. Ahles and W.R. Turner of the Fair association were chosen superintendents of the stock exhibit today and exhibitors will find them on hand at the Fair grounds to direct the placing of the stock in a manner convenient for judging and for inspection by the public. Supt. Tri of the Humboldt High School, assisted Mr. Clow in the arrangement of the vegetable exhibit at the hall yesterday as well as helping out in making the display in all departments.

The Alter Society of St. Vincent will provide caffateria lunch at the dance at Reid Hall tonight (Friday).

Vivian Walker Sundayed at home.


Pembina Undertaking Establishment
J.R. Moorhead, Proprietor
Hearse, in connection, furnished free

G.H. Leathers
Veterinary Surgeon
Office at Residence, Phone 65
Pembina, ND

C.B. Harris
Physician and Surgeon
Pembina, ND

Fresh and Cured Meat
Salt Pork, Lard etc.
The best possible service and the best procurable meats is our object.
A.F. Scrimshaw, St. Vincent

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bicentennial Calendar Photos

I recently obtained a copy of the Pembina Bicentennial Calendar (1797-1997) thanks to one of my readers (thanks, Dan!) Click on the photo above and you'll see more!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter XV

It was nearing the end of January when Dr. Appel, the physician at Fort Pembina, became concerned about the wife of Frank LaRose. LaRose, who lived just nine miles south, had come to Dr. Appel's office on a Monday morning. Knowing of the man's reputation, the doctor was skeptical and noted with distaste his whiskey breath and dirty, unshaven face. The thought came to mind: Doesn't this man ever wash? I'll make short thrift of him!

"Is it possible that you might be going south today, Doc? My wife is mighty poorly and sickly. She can't do much."

"What seems to be her problem? What are her symptoms?"

LaRose looked perplexed. "Can't say, she just acts funny."

Appel looked at his assistant. "Are we tied up this afternoon, Ira?"

"No, we should have everything finished by noon. This afternoon I'll care for the two men in the infirmary."

The doctor was brief, "LaRose, I'll do my best to get out there this afternoon. The weather seems fair; I should make it by three o'clock."

"Thanks, I'd feel better if you checked her over."

As he left the office Appel's assistant jokingly pinched his nose, he was smiling. "That man stinks to the high heaven."

"He does, doesn't he? However, it isn't too cold outside and it'll be a nice change to go out in a sleigh this afternoon."

Using a cutter from the barn, Appel and his driver attended Mrs. LaRose that afternoon. Except for the furtive and cringing looks the woman gave her husband, who stood nearby, his examination proved fruitless. His only concern was that she was very thin.

"Have you any pain, my dear?

"None to speak of, just a sore throat and a slight cough."

"Let's have a listen to your lungs and heart." After thoroughly checking her over for long minutes, he thumped her back, listening for ominous sounds. He was puzzled, her heartbeat was strong and regular, and her lungs seemed clear of any congestion. Noting the bruises on her arms and her scraped cheekbone, he turned to her husband scornfully. "Treat her with kindness and treat her well!"

The obsequious look LaRose returned fooled Appel not one bit. He realized LaRose was both a heavy drinker and a wife-beater. When he returned to his sleigh, the final look LaRose gave him was of pure hatred. The man's demeanor had changed dramatically, and he said caustically, "She's a lazy bitch, wants to sleep all the time."

Appel was succinct. "Your wife is badly run down physically. She needs good food and rest. Her cure should be on your conscience. I can find nothing life threatening or debilitating about her."

The next afternoon a teamster came in from the south with news that Mrs. LaRose had passed away during the night. Stricken with remorse, Dr. Appel pondered on how he had failed her. Still, many bizarre things had happened in his lifetime. Remembering the strange action of her husband, of his asking for the examination of his wife, and his remarks, Appel became suspicious. Two days later he could no longer restrain his feelings; he decided to approach Captain Collins and relate his misgivings.

The captain listened attentively to Dr. Appel's concern, but was puzzled because of his lack of authority over civilians. "I have no legal power to pursue the matter, but something must be done; the consequences are just too gross to contemplate." He summoned Lt. Walker to his office. "I want you to contact the sheriff at Pembina and request he come to the fort immediately. I'm not sure if Sheriff Brown has returned from Detroit as yet, but he no doubt has appointed a deputy to be in charge."

After a long hunt Walker finally tracked down deputy Bill Moorhead at the St. Vincent elevator.

"I've been looking everywhere for you, Bill. Judas, you're a hard man to find! Captain Collins has a problem and wants you to contact him as soon as possible. I don't know what's going on, but it concerns Dr. Appel."

Moorhead tugged out his watch. "It's nearly four o'clock. Tell the captain I'll be there before supper." He smiled, "Maybe I can bum a meal from your mess."

Walker grinned, "Heck, Bill, you'll be welcome -- that is, if you can stand the grub."

It was after 5 p.m. when Moorhead arrived at the fort. The Officer of the Day immediately had the Charge of Quarters summon both the captain and Dr. Appel to the orderly room. An incensed Appel briefly explained the circumstances, and then asked, "Mr. Moorhead, what action can you take?"

"Well, I know he's a scoundrel and it's suspected he did away with a young girl some years ago, but there was no proof. I'll arrest him tomorrow morning and charge him with the murder of the LeRoque girl. Then I'll consult with the county commissioners to find out what action they want to take." Inwardly, Bill was smiling, knowing it would be his opportunity to work on LaRose.

"I guess that's as far as we can carry it at present," Collins said.

"I think we should carry it even further," Appel said firmly. "Mr. Moorhead, would you advise the county commissioners that I recommend Mrs. LaRose's body be exhumed for an examination at our fort hospital. I am at a loss to explain her sudden demise. Something is wrong!"

"I can contact two of the commissioners tonight, also Kneeshaw, our coroner. One of the commission members lives out of town so that'll take time. It's too late in the day now, so I'll pick LaRose up in the morning."

At 8 a.m. the following morning, Moorhead, accompanied by a backup officer, confronted LaRose at his home. "You're under arrest Frank, better come along to Pembina peacefully."

"Arrested for what?"

"You know darn well. Killing that LeRoque girl in '73."

"That's all bullshit and you know it! Her body was never found. She just wandered away -- probable got herself eaten by wolves. You've got no proof. 'Sides that, you bastards you have no authority over me!"

"I'm serving as sheriff while Brown's away -- you got something to hide?" His voice hardened, "You can come the easy way or the hard way! We'll accompany you inside your house to get your clothes, and then you're going to Pembina with us. Make up your mind, we're both armed."

"All right! I'll go back with you, but you're wasting your time, you'll just have to turn me loose. You have no proof of anything."

Two hours later they arrived in Pembina where the barber, Captain Bob, was roused to build a fire to heat the jail. He also was assigned to stand guard over the prisoner until relieved by a night man.

When Moorhead contacted the county commissioners, it was decided that the responsibility for the investigation rested with Coroner Kneeshaw. Kneeshaw immediately ordered Moorhead to have the body exhumed and delivered to the Fort Pembina hospital for examination by Dr. Appel. Captain Collins cooperated by sending an ambulance, together with a detail of soldiers to fetch the body. Fortunately it had not been interred due to the frozen ground. The men brought the crude wooden coffin to the fort in the early afternoon.

After the retreat formation, and the sunset cannon had been fired, Captain Collins entered the dispensary. He found the surgeon consulting a reference book as he prepared some chemical agents.

"Are you equipped for an autopsy?"

"Yes, I'm just preparing for some tests tomorrow afternoon. Mrs. LaRose's body is frozen solid. I doubt we will be able to proceed with the autopsy until late tomorrow, perhaps even the next day. I'll need one of your officers present as a witness in addition to my assistant. Once we get started it shouldn't take long to determine what caused her death. Frankly, I suspect she ingested some sort of poison. If so, the tests shouldn't take long. The stomach, liver and kidneys will tell the story. There is a remote chance of a heart problem, but I doubt that. When I examined her, she seemed quite normal. The only hitch as I see it, is whether she was subjected to a poison, or if she took something voluntarily. LaRose mentioned she had been taking medication provided by the drugstore in Pembina. We might run into some embarrassment."

"Truthfully, her death doesn't fall into the realm of my command, but since you are the only doctor in the area, I guess we can cover it. Let the chips fall where they may." Collins seemed resigned.

Late, on the second day, after the body had thawed, the doctor, his helper and Lt. Walker were shocked to see the many bruises on Mrs. LaRose's body that had been concealed by her dress. Ira, the doctor's assistant, expressed his disgust. "I've heard he was a son-of-a-bitch, but what sort of a man would beat his wife like this?"

Appel hissed vehemently, "He's not just one of a kind. Many heavy drinkers are wife beaters. Some men don't drink -- they're just mean as hell! We'll start by examining the stomach; I doubt we'll have to go much further." He questioned Ira. "What common poisons do you know? Mind you, there are only a few available to civilians in the area."

Ira's face lit up. "How about arsenic? Cripes, you can get that anywhere. Most farmers use it to kill wolves."

"It's quite possible. It is a metal whose salts are poisonous, yet it can be applied medicinally. It's odorless, but it has a metallic taste. However, there's also strychnine. It's readily available to all. The sheriff will have to look for any witnesses who may have been present at her death."

"Why so?"

"To find out if she had convulsive fits when she died. I'm guessing strychnine was used. Large doses of it cause convulsive fits and a tightening of the muscles, accompanied by a feeling of suffocation. If that's what killed her we'll find it in her kidneys."

After an hour of methodically testing the contents of her stomach, liver and kidneys, the doctor turned to Ira and Lt. Walker with a grim look. "I guessed right! She's loaded with strychnine, enough to kill more than one. How did he get it into her, or did she take it herself?"

"She could have committed suicide," Ira concluded. "Living with that scoundrel may have led to it."

Appel shrugged, "I saw her only days ago and she did show a definite fear of her husband. Somehow, I suspect he tricked her into taking it. As I said, it has no smell but a bitter taste that could have been concealed as a medicinal application. It's a shame that trappers use it so freely, because it turns in a deadly cycle. When a predator is poisoned, other birds and animals feeding on the carcass will die from the same poison. It repeats itself. In fact it's almost the same as arsenic in that respect.”

"Ira, pack her organs with ice and fill her abdomen with cotton batten, then sew her up. I'll walk over and give the captain my report if he's around."

Appel found the captain in the orderly room involved in a conversation with the 1st Sergeant. After being apprised of the situation, Captain Collins advised, "Let's store the body in the warehouse, but keep your findings a secret. We'll pretend we're puzzled until we can notify the sheriff and county commissioners. You say you've retained the stomach and other organs for future reference?"

"Yes, I've had Ira store them on ice. We'll have to await the commissioner's decision as to their wishes. I imagine they'll arrange a coroner's jury, with the aid of the county coroner."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Trouble in River City

Seen this week in the "Days Gone By" section of the Kittson County Enterprise:

1907 - 100 Years Ago - The grand jury last week continued its crusade against the saloons in the county and before it adjourned last Friday night indictments were found against three saloon men in Hallock, two in Lancaster and two in St. Vincent including some restaurant keepers in different parts of the county, who in ignorance of the law made use of cards and dice in their business. The fines imposed by the judge ranged anywhere from $25 to $85 and cost swelled the treasury of the county to nearly $600. The judge expressed himself with much certainty regarding those who sell cigarettes, tobacco and snuff to minors, and added that saloon men were not the only ones violating the law, that sooner or later others would get into the clutches of some officer.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I created the one-page flyer above this past fall, to share at a genealogical conference. I'd like to share it with you, my readers now, with this favor to ask...

If you have found this website valuable for local history - or any other reason - please consider printing the flyer, and distributing it where you think appropriate. Alternately, you could save it and send as an attachment to an email to someone with a connection to this region that hasn't visited the site, to let them know what it's all about. Many thanks in advance; some of the information presented here has been found by just such networking!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

St. Vincent Brewery

We have seen him before in the history of St. Vincent.

From Land of Amber Waters:
St. Vincent (Kittson County)
Raywood & Company (Raywood & Lennon) (1879-1880?)
Location: Fourth Street and Atlantic Avenue

Raywood and Lennon (spelled Lemon in Salem's List) began work on their brewery along the Red River in July 1879. According to the Pembina Pioneer, in 13 days they had the brewery building completed and the first batch of ale underway. The staff of four men was headed by George Raywood, a 38-year-old English native who had previously been a brewer in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

After two brief mentions in the Pioneer, the brewery largely disappears from the records. It is listed in the Polk 1880 Gazetteer, but the Pioneer ceased publishing in 1880 and no information about the end of the brewery is known.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gamble Letter: 'New' One Found

Another 'Gamble Letter' has been found! Lori Bianco, Great Granddaughter of the writer, recently found it among her familiy's papers; it had been given to her by her grandfather Neill Alexander Gamble, Lillie's son...

Lillie Maude Griffith Gamble, wife of William Neill Gamble wrote this letter to Margaret Neill.
St. Vincent, Minn.
Oct. 28th, 1917

Miss Margaret Neill
Beaverton, Ont.

Dear Aunt Maggie,

It is a long time since I have written to you. But although I don’t write often. I think of you just the same. We are having an early winter here this year we had snow now for two weeks & guess it is going to stay. Sammie has sold his farm & personal property & has gone to Wyoming to locate. Mrs. Forster has come to St. Vincent to live & Grandpa stays with her. Her husband is a traveler & don’t be home very much. Grandpa comes out to the farm every other day. It seems he cant stay away from the place any length of time.

Allan & Lewis are both going to High School. They are getting to be big boys now. I have a little boy 4 months old. William Leslie he is not very big but is commencing to grow now I think. I have no girl & it keeps me busy with eleven of ourselves & two hired men. Well since I heard from you we are all in the Big War. We had a second call for Liberty Bonds last week & St. Vincent was supposed to give $5,000, & they made $6,000. That wasn’t bad the Gambles, Lapps & Griffith girls put in $13.00. Thirteen boys have enlisted from St. Vincent & about six were drafted.

We had a good crop this year although we didn’t have much in as he has a lot of summer fallow. We do quite a bit of Red Cross work here. We have completed 14 sets of sweater, wristlets pair of socks and a muffler, and have started on 14 more. Besides making hospital shirts & pajamas.

How are you getting along I suppose the weather is fine down there. I think I will quit writing as you will be tired reading this scribble. I hope you are well as we are all well here. With love from all I will say Goodby. Write sometime.

I remain
Yours lovingly
Lillie M. Gamble

"Sammie" = Samuel Moses Gamble, youngest son of Alexander & Mary Ann, and brother to William
"Mrs. Forster" = Alice Gamble, daughter of Alexander & Mary Ann, and sister to William
"Grandpa" = Alexander Gamble -- would have been in his 80s by then
"Allan & Lewis" = the two oldest sons, would have been teenagers
"William Leslie" = youngest son

Monday, December 17, 2007

Before Minnesota

John Smith's Map of Virginia (1612)
My apologies on the quality of this image; it was the best I could find of this particular map, which shows what would one day be Minnesota, as part of the vast Virginia Charter of 1609. Note that the Gulf of Mexico was at this time known as the Virginia Sea, and the delta areas were much out of proportion.

From Parke S. Rouse Jr.'s Planters and Pioneers:
Although Virginia shared the Back Country with other colonies, she claimed the lion's share because Virginia's 1609 charter defined her boundaries as "from sea to sea." For this reason, the Old Dominion fought off all claimants to the Northwest Territory until she reluctantly ceded it to the Union in 1784, to form Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota...
Of course, that 'other part' of Minnesota, surrounding the Red River Valley, still had a strong connection to the British, and despite boundary surveys by this time, would go back and forth between Minnesota and Dakota Territories until the states formalized themselves.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Profile: Norval Baptie

I came across this blog entry about Norval Baptie, born in Ontario but raised in Bathgate, ND, and it intrigued me that once again, greatness can come from anywhere, and here was one in our midst that I never knew about until now.

Baptie won his first world speed skating championship in 1895, and went on to many other amazing accomplishments. And it all started in Bathgate, just down the road from Pembina.

A settler to Pembina County (and Bathgate) had this to say about Norval: "...He kept Bathgate in his heart. Jim never turned away anyone from Pembina County. He kept track of the Bathgate “boys and girls,” who remained young to him, and took personal satisfaction in their accomplishments. One I remember was Norval Baptie, the French-Canadian speed and figure skater, who Jim claimed had perfected tubular shoe skates, which he tested on the Tongue River." From I,Witness to History

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Laughing Over the Fence

Who are these two women?

I'll tell you who...

They are my grandmother, Elizabeth (Fitzgerald) Fitzpatrick - known to most as Liz - and her mother-in-law and my great grandmother, Margaret (Berry) Fitzpatrick.

Note in the background, is the St. Vincent School; it still had the school bell AND the bell tower at this point in time.

Although I don't know the exact date, it was not long before my great grandmother died, meaning it was the late 1920's.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Local Museum/Society Wins Scholarship

The Kittson County Historical Society has been chosen as one of the 6 pilot sites for an AASLH Small Museum Scholarship.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the staff and volunteers of our local historical society and museum. Congratulations!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Minnesota @ 150: The Pembina Trail

Delmar Hagen during 1958 Minnesota Centennial oxcart trek
"Why don't you do the same in 50 years?" - Delmar Hagen

Orlin Ostby, who will be making quite the trip this coming year, has opened a website that will be documenting it all.

Orlin has been thinking about this trip for 50 years, inspired by a neighbor who did the trip in 1958.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

1882 Emerson Stereoview

A stereoview shows the bustling town of Emerson hit with a catastrophic flood, taken on April 25, 1882. Floods like this was one factor that caused Emerson's boom to bust around this time...

Source: Archives of Manitoba, Emerson 63, N16080.

Friday, December 07, 2007

1950 Flood Memories

A reader recently submitted a scan of an article looking back at the 1950 flood, mentioning a St. Vincent resident. I can only assume, but I'm thinking that the 'nursing home' the article mentions, is probably my grandmother's...

I'm wondering if the last name of the person mentioned may have actually been Dorion, and not Doran?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter XIV

It was nearly 7:00 p.m. when Paul arrived at the Grant home. He was in a jubilant mood, for he had made his decision that afternoon. Since his college days he had been a thorough thinker, never jumping into any proposition without checking every detail. He had known women intimately during his school years, yet he had never desired a permanent relationship. Now he realized he was deeply in love with Marguerite. This evening, when the proper moment came, he would ask her to marry him. He sensed she had been involved in some manner with the sheriff, still he felt that attachment had gone nowhere. He was confident he could win her love and acceptance.

Drawing up in front of the house, he stepped from the cutter to snap the lead of the iron weight to the horse's bridle. As he walked through the gate, now shy of the warm buffalo robe in the sleigh, he realized the unrelenting cold. His boots made crunching sounds on the path to the door, a path faintly illuminated by moonlight and rays escaping from nearby windows.

His brief knock resulted in the door opening to disclose an attractive woman. Although she was a bit shorter than her daughter, the resemblance was unmistakable; she had to be Marguerite's mother.

She stepped aside to say, "You must be Paul Evans, please come in! Marguerite is nearly ready, she'll only be a few moments." Closing the door as he entered, she added, "I'm Marguerite's mother. Please call me Annette."

Her figure was trim and her face uniquely attractive. Her cheekbones were high and a bit plumpish, her eyes piercingly obsidian, her lips full, but not overly large; her chin was small but firm, complimenting her oval-shaped face.

"I hope I'm not too late. It's about seven and I know Marguerite wanted to be in time for the grand march at the ball."

She smiled, "Oh, it's only a half hour ride to Emerson; you'll be there in plenty of time. Pass me your coat and we'll have a cup of coffee. It's so very cold outside." She looked up at him mischievously, "After all, since you are escorting my daughter to the ball, I have the right to get to know you." Placing his coat across a chair, she beckoned, "Come, we might as well sit in the kitchen until Marguerite comes down."

Leading the way she casually reached to the middle of the kitchen table to turn up the wick roller on the kerosene lamp. While she tended the stove he glanced around the room to note the smooth log walls of the cabin and the carefully cut trim around the window nearest him. The high ceiling of the room was finished with tongue and grooved unvarnished white pine boards. From above he could hear faint sounds of movement, no doubt Marguerite's footsteps as she made preparations for the dance.

"Unfortunately, my husband is not here. I'm sure he would like to meet you." Annette placed a cup and saucer before him. "He left to visit neighbors this afternoon and hasn't returned." She smiled wanly, "He's no doubt having sport and has forgotten the time. Marguerite tells me you are engaged in selling farm machinery. Are you on the road a lot?"

"Yes, much of the time, but I hope to settle down in the near future. I've been traveling a good deal these past three years and although it's been a learning experience, I realize that it's time to quit the road." Suddenly aware of the over-warm room, he thrust a finger under his tight fitting collar in an effort to loosen it. The odor of fresh baking hung in the air, as did the pungent odor of burning kerosene oil from the lamp.

Sitting opposite him, she daintily sipped at the hot coffee. "I understand you've met my daughter Susan and her husband, Ian. Marguerite mentioned that you were at the Christmas party at the hotel."

"Yes, I was. You have two lovely girls; both are exceptionally beautiful. To be very frank with you, Annette, I want to pursue a closer relationship with Marguerite. In fact, I plan on asking her to marry me."

Annette's face froze at the intemperate announcement; it had come as a complete surprise. Then she relaxed, realizing this man was blunt and honest. Still, she knew that her daughter's choice, either this Paul, or Charley, was Marguerite's decision and hers alone.

"You must realize that this is between you and Marguerite. I'll not attempt to influence her in any way. She is a country girl, raised without the niceties of a big city. To be perfectly frank, I don't know how well she would adapt to city life."

Their conversation was interrupted when they heard Marguerite's steps as she came down the stairs to the living room. "I heard you arrive, Paul. Has Mom been pumping you?" She smiled, "She's been anxious to meet you."

Paul stood as she approached, his eyes taking in her narrow waist and lithe figure. Her long, yellow silk dress seemed to swirl around her legs. It was apparent he was captivated at the sight of her, his delight obvious.

"You look gorgeous!"

Smiling, he turned to Annette, "I'll be fighting off ardent swains all evening."

Annette said nothing, but smiled. Finally she arose from her chair to say to her daughter. "I'll get your coat." Then she turned to Paul, "I hope you have blankets or warm robes in the sleigh. It's so very cold outside; fortunately there is not much wind."

Paul nodded, "I brought two robes and a heavy wool blanket. We can sit on the one robe and cover ourselves with the other. We should be plenty warm."

Annette helped Marguerite with her long overcoat, tucking her daughter's scarf snugly as Paul donned his coat. Marguerite briefly hugged her mother as they reached the door. "Don't wait up for me, Mom. We'll probably be quite late."

Annette looked at the couple shrewdly, "Have a good time. At my age I have no intention of waiting up for you. I just hope Joseph comes home soon."

Finally outdoors, Paul helped Marguerite into the cutter, solicitously tucking the robes firmly around her. Detaching the iron weight from the horse's bridle, he placed it on the cutter floor. Then, stepping up, he rearranged the blanket and robe with Marguerite's help. Untying the reins from the whip socket he urged the horse to a trot. The small sleigh rode lightly on the hard packed snow, sometimes sliding sideways over the irregular icy surface with hissing, scraping sounds. Shifting the reins to his left hand, Paul reached under the robe to slip his arm around Marguerite's waist. Pulling her gently but snugly toward him, he looked down into her eyes. "It's much more comfortable this way, don't you think."

Once on the north road to Emerson the horse trotted rhythmically, requiring only an occasional encouragement. As the animal slowed briefly, the acrid odor of horse apples hung momentarily in the air.

"Where is the dance to be held?" Paul asked.

"Oh, Paul, you've bought tickets and don't even know where the dance is to take place. It's at the Masonic hall of course. There's a large room with plenty of space for dancing. We can go directly there -- people won't bother checking into the customs port tonight." His closeness brought a feeling of warmth and security, nearly lulling her into a lethargic state.

He could feel her warm breath on his face as she spoke and turning his head he nuzzled his face into her hair. The faint odor of scented soap came to him -- Lilac, he thought.

Long moments of silence followed, broken only by an occasional slap of the reins to encourage the horse to maintain a steady pace. Finally the outskirts of Emerson appeared and windows emitting faint light began to drift by.

"Turn right at the next street, the lodge is in the next block."

Rounding the corner Paul exclaimed in surprise; both sides of the street were lined with sleighs. "Gosh, everyone in town must have come to the ball. I'll drop you off in front of the door, then find a place to tie up."

"Tennant's stable is just ahead, only a half block. He's a friend of ours. You can leave the rig there, they keep a night man."

Stopping in front of the lodge, Paul helped Marguerite from the sleigh. She was smiling, "Don't be long. They should start shortly."

"Don't worry, I'll be back as soon as I care for the horse."

When Marguerite entered the hall she was surprised at the huge crowd and the volume of noise. The practice tuning of orchestra instruments added to the seeming confusion. A roguish group of men were gathered around the punchbowl. Studying them, she suspected that several were already well into their cups. Mrs. Traynor, the owner of the local millinery shop approached her.

"Oh, Marguerite! I'm so glad to see you here tonight. Where is Charley?"

Marguerite felt embarrassed, but forced a smile. "I'm not with Charley this evening. My escort is Paul Evans, a recent visitor to Pembina."

"Well, where is this young man?"

"He'll be in soon. He's putting our horse away."

At that moment a woman called to Mrs. Traynor, "Come, Emily! We've got to find seats before all are taken." As Mrs. Traynor hastily waved goodbye, Marguerite turned to the room set aside for the ladies; a private room designated for the storage of coats and other final preparations. Hurried greetings were exchanged in the crowded room as she hung up her coat and hat, then she sat to remove her over-boots. Briefly she stood to gaze into a mirror, checking her hair. Then she entered the ballroom just as Paul came in the front door.

"I'll just be a moment, Marguerite. I'll be with you as soon as I find a place to hang my coat."

Smiling, she took his arm, "I'll show you the cloak room reserved for the men. It's also reserved for the many bottles they hide there too." Impishly, she added, "Don't you dare allow anyone to entice you into partaking."

He squeezed her hand. "I'm already drunk with the sight of you. I sure don't need anything more." As he hung up his coat, he asked. "What's next, when does the ball begin?"

The orchestra was still tuning up in a rear corner as Paul and Marguerite moved toward the hors d'oeuvre table. Men standing nearby moved aside to allow them access to the punch bowl and tidbits. George Newcombe, the Dominion Land Titles agent, greeted Marguerite with a bow. "Miss Grant, it's good to see you again -- and who is this gentleman escorting you?"

"George, this is Paul Evans. He has been visiting in Pembina for a few days." As the two men shook hands she introduced Paul to other acquaintances nearby. Newcombe looked at Paul jokingly, "Evans, if I were 30 years younger and single, you wouldn't have a chance with this lovely lady."

Jerry Robinson, another merchant, spoke up. "George, if we were all younger, you'd have to stand in line."

From they’re jocular but attentive manner; Paul could see Marguerite was well respected. He could barely conceal the sudden feeling of pride that came. Filling two cups with punch from the bowl, he handed one to Marguerite, then touched his glass to hers. Boldly, in front of the other gentlemen he proposed a toast, "Here's to our future, may it be grand and glorious!"

Although she smiled back at him, a feeling of disquietude clouded her mind. Apprehension set in, and she knew instinctively that this evening Paul was going to propose. What should I do? How should I respond? I like and admire him, but I'm not in love with him. And what about my feelings toward Charley? I Love him! She knew the turmoil of emotions she felt would remain with her the entire evening, perhaps even for days. She felt totally at a loss to cope with her problem.

A skirl of pipes was heard as a Scottish piper appeared; couples began forming for the grand march. The founders of the town of Emerson, Messrs. Carney and Fairbanks, together with their ladies had been honored to lead the march. Pairs hastily formed immediately behind them. Several of the men near the head of the column wore military uniforms, complete with colorful decorations. Others wore Scottish and Irish tweeds of their clan, a few even wore regalia of wars long past.

Paul and Marguerite quickly joined the end of the line as the piper began to play MacCrimmon's Sweetheart on his bagpipe. Formally striding down the center of the long room, the couples solemnly split apart at the end, men going to one side and ladies to the other, to rejoin together at the next circuit of the room when finally the piping suddenly ceased. At that moment the orchestra swung into the haunting strains of Strauss's Blue Danube Waltz.

Snug in Paul's arms Marguerite murmured, "I forgot to pick up a dance card at the table."

"Then you have to dance every dance with me."

"It would be nice, but I don't think it's going to work that way."

As the first dance ended, men clamored for her attention; several men instantly surrounding her. Smiling agreeably she filled in a hastily obtained card, reserving several dances with Paul.

When they began their second waltz of the evening, Marguerite said, "I'm going to introduce you to some of my friends when this set is over. Perhaps you'll find one of them interesting."

"No chance! I'll dance with them dutifully, but I won't flirt with them. I'm a one-woman man." He drew her snugly to him.

She almost groaned in frustration. He was holding her so close it was almost embarrassing. Thrusting back, she whispered, "Paul, I like you very much, but you're holding me far too intimately. Everyone is watching."

"Let them, I've nothing to hide. I'm in love with you and I don't mind what other folks think."

"There are proprieties even in Emerson. This isn't Chicago."

He began to smile, then held her away at arm's length. "Fine, do you prefer this?"

She moved a bit closer, smiling nervously. "Well, I'll meet you halfway."

When the dance ended Marguerite steered Paul aside, introducing him to Annie and Julia Jasper. They were conversing when Marguerite's new partner claimed her for the next dance. Paul was left to fend for himself. Marguerite was never alone after that -- she whirled, swung and swayed to the gay music with occasional laughter, facing a hubbub of excited talk.

By the time midnight arrived, Paul felt stymied. He realized the crowded dance floor and the jovial atmosphere was not furthering his cause. Marguerite seemed content to match his movements in a dream-like state, which discouraged all meaningful conversation. He felt his frustration building, knowing there was little chance to propose until the dance was over and they were on their way home. The groundwork he had planned to discuss; a future home in Chicago, and his parents approval, all would have to be reviewed on the short trip back to her home.

Because of the large crowd in the hall the temperature had risen and people were perspiring freely. He rued the heavy wool suit he wore, finally realizing relief when someone opened a rear door allowing a cold draft to circulate into the room. Running a hand through his damp hair he realized he must rouse himself out of this sullen disposition into which he was drifting. He must bide his time, then attempt to get Marguerite into an intimate conversation while on the way homeward.

Marguerite enjoyed the affair, dancing every dance until it seemed she would drop. Slow waltz steps changed to reels, then to square dancing, some steps slower, others vigorous and athletic.

Nearly each dance with Paul was a waltz and she eagerly accepted his arms in a languid, romantic fashion. Often she danced with men who smelled of questionable breath, holding them at arms length. The roving hands she slapped off laughingly, but with a warning glance. The Scottish piper who claimed his dance swung her clear off the floor during the square dancing while the crowd smiled at his antics. For a small orchestra they were innovative, for they played many old-country ballads. The three violins carried dreamy melodies, sometimes almost melancholy, and at other times gay and daring. When a reel was called the entire building seemed to shake from the wild antics of the revelers.

Lunch was served at midnight, a crowd-pleasing buffet that again gave Paul no opportunity for serious conversation. It was nearing three a.m. when the orchestra finally broke into Auld Lang Syne. Paul reached to tilt Marguerite's chin up for a kiss. At first the kiss was gentle, but a growing passion grew that found both of them clinging tightly. Sensations arose in Paul and he felt tenderness, yet a surging desire to fully possess this woman. For long seconds the kiss was held, then the magical moment passed, for Marguerite suddenly attempted to draw back -- afraid of the hurt that could come, of not knowing Charley's love and arms again, a feeling that was still lacking for Paul.

He could feel the sudden coolness of her ardor and released his hold, finishing the dance in total silence. People began scurrying for coats at the finale, but Paul held back. "Let the crowd thin out a bit, then I'll get the sleigh and pick you up at the door."

"That's not necessary. I'll get my coat and boots and go along with you to the stable."

He looked at her questioningly, "If that's what you want, so be it."

While Paul entered the barn to get the horse, Marguerite rearranged the robes in the sleigh. It took only moments to hitch up the animal, and bundled snugly they turned back down the street. As they left the outskirts of town Paul brought the trotting horse to a walk and turned to Marguerite.

"I've serious things on my mind. It may not sound very romantic since it's so darned cold, but I've got to say them. I love you and want you to marry me. If you say yes, I'll stay a few more days to settle matters." He pleaded, "I've tried all evening to tell you my feelings but there was no opportunity."

"Paul, I hardly know how to say this, but you've only known me a few days. I like and admire you, but a week is hardly sufficient time upon which to build a solid relationship. I know so little about you, your desires, your thoughts and ambitions; why, I don't even know your parents."

"What have my parents got to do with it?"

"I'm part Indian, you must know that by now. I'm scorned by many of the people both in St. Vincent and Pembina because of my mixed heritage. If I married you, you would probably be jeered as an Indian lover, or even worse, called a squaw man."

"That has nothing to do with it; I know my Father and Mother will love you, regardless."

Marguerite remained silent for long seconds, and then she said, "Paul, we may have a life together, but it's not in the immediate future. We've both got a lot of thinking and soul-searching to do. I'm Catholic and I'm sure you're not since you haven't once mentioned going to church." She shook her head slowly, "The difficulties we would face could be tremendous."

"Yes, but I'm willing to take the chance. Why aren’t you?"

They were entering St. Vincent when she finally answered. "It's too risky now. I've got to have more time." She peered up at him, "We can correspond regularly can't we? Let's see if you still want to marry me after a few months pass. Truthfully, I don't know my own feelings. I don't know if I really love you. Give us both some time and we'll see."

Arriving in front of her home he escorted her to the door. "Since I'll be leaving on the train early tomorrow morning I won't see you, but I'll write every few days. My feelings won't change, darling."

Their final kiss was tender and long, but when Marguerite entered the house she felt a curious sense of relief. While undressing in her room she puzzled, have I done the right thing? Have I extended a false hope to him? Have I thrown away a chance at happiness? Attempting to sleep, her thoughts turned to Charley. Why hasn't he called on me this past week? Has he lost all interest in me? I certainly hope not.

The sense of relief Marguerite felt after Paul returned to Chicago soon changed to a nagging worry when Charley failed to contact her during the first two weeks of January.

Although Paul's glowing letters began to arrive in the mail, her frustration over Charley's apparent lack of interest in her was almost overwhelming. Gathering courage she entered Charley's saloon in the early morning hours of mid-January, early enough to hopefully avoid any early drinkers.

John was surprised to see her, but broke into a smile. "This is a welcome surprise! It must be the first time a woman has crossed this threshold since we opened."

"John, I'm looking for Charley. I haven't seen him since Christmas. I'm concerned, where is he?"

"Well now, there's a problem. He took that horse thief, Jackson, to Detroit just after the New Year. Three or four days later I received a telegram saying he had become sick. Honest, Marguerite, I haven't had a word from him since. I'm just as puzzled and concerned as you."

"Isn't there somewhere we could telegraph to find out where he's staying?"

"Detroit is a big city. It's hard to tell where he is, or if he's still there. He could be anywhere, even on his way home by now. Hold on, I'll get you the telegram he sent, it's in the back office." Returning momentarily with the wrinkled copy he handed it to her. "Doesn't say much, Charley was never very loquacious, evidently he's not much of a letter writer either." Looking at her suspiciously, he asked, "Say, did you two have a falling out?"

"Not really. I haven't done anything wrong. We were to go to the New Years ball at the fort together. Then things fell apart and he avoided me, so I went to the Emerson Ball with Paul Evans."

John looked at her accusingly, "Yes, and you went riding with that same gentleman on Christmas day too. White, from Huron City, blabbed to Charley, said he saw the two of you drive past his place -- said you didn't come back either. That's probably what set him off."

Marguerite became defensive, "Yes, we drove to Emerson and had a brief lunch, and then he took me home on the east side of the river. That's all there was to it."

It was obvious to Marguerite that John didn't want to become involved in her problem, for he said, "Well, I'll keep you posted if he contacts me again. Hopefully he's not in any serious trouble."

Turning to leave, Marguerite said, "I'd appreciate it if you would, John. I'm worried, it's not like him to leave us both in limbo."

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Spooky House

This photo was taken in the early 1970's in front of the house of one of the people in the photo. The house was located directly east of my parents' home, across a field with a slough in it. I often looked across at the house at night, especially on nights with a full moon, because the moon would reflect each time in the upstairs' window of that house, making it look even spookier than it already did...

My Great Aunt Hannah wrote on the back of the photo: "Margaret, Eli Gooselaw, and I - we used to herd cattle with brother Charley when we were kids...the house is STILL not painted, and black!" [Margaret (Balderson) Diamond was her niece, her sister Lil's girl...]

Friday, November 30, 2007

Wallace Feedback

I love to hear from my readers, and this morning I had an email from Lori, a Gamble descendant, sharing this with me...
I enjoyed your article about Ada Wallace. I know when my parents were first married in the early 1960s, they lived in small apartment in a house in Emerson on the main street along the river (which was torn down when the dike was built) which belonged to a lady named "Mrs. Wallace," and we've always referred to as "Mrs. Wallace's house." I can remember my mother saying there was a doctor's office in the house, although I don't recall her mentioning that Mrs. Wallace was a doctor herself. I will have to ask.

However, I did notice, near the end of the 1948 article, there was this line: "She prescribed treatment for John Kohut, will with pneumonia five miles from town. The messenger took the prescription and instructions back Sunday, and Monday the sick man was improving." Funny to see his name pop out at me like that. I will have to ask my dad if he remembers his dad being sick. He would have been 7 at the time.
I myself remember the buildings that had to be sacrificed for the new dike, but never knew until now that one of them had been the Wallace home and offices...

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Indomitable Wallaces

Over a year ago, I posted a profile on Dr. Ada Wallace. My grandmother was one of many people's lives she and her husband touched in their lives' work. I asked at that time, that if anyone knew her and could tell me more about her, to please get in touch with me. Recently, someone did just that, and an amazing story it is; please note that our area is only part of the story, but I think you'll find it's well worth reading it in its entirety...

The Indomitable Wallaces

An autobiography of Doctors Ada and Harry Wallace as told to Beth Thornton during the spring of 1981

Published by Ryerson United Church
Vancouver, British Columbia

What a pair! Marching together through the 20's and 30's and 40's and 50's and 60's, steadfastly pursuing their mutual goal of expressing in actions their concern for service and social justice for all persons under their care - especially the underprivileged. And all this by the grace of God and with a fine sense of humour.

Harry was born on February 16, 1890, in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, where he attended the public school until the age of 13. He was then invited by a town's lawyer to become his law clerk - a tribute to Harry's sound character and specialized handwriting. At this point Harry's "Double life" began! For six years he not only worked at County Court activities by day but studied at the Academy by night. Then there followed several years at Castle Wellan in charge of a branch law office, then a term at Waterford City as Session Clerk for a firm of lawyers, and as County Court Clerk as well.

Here in Waterford Harry prepared for the Courts, every three months, debt cases which involved clients many of whom were poor and liable to imprisonment for non-payment of debts. This work was distasteful to Harry, as Southern Ireland was debt-ridden at that time. Inevitably, the day came when one client was to be sent to jail for non-payment of debts which in this case had been contracted by a teenage son. Harry was so disturbed at this prospect for his poverty-stricken client that he went out for a walk during which he met the new minister at the Waterford Presbyterian Church. The minister, a former college professor, mentioned to Harry that he had just received a letter from the Presbyterian Church in Canada asking him to recommend a suitable young man as a student for the mission field in Canada. Would Harry be interested? After considering the matter for a few days, Harry accepted the proposition and was duly accepted as a student for the Presbyterian ministry on the Canadian mission fields.

Subsequently, in the spring of 1911, at the age of 21, Harry Wallace, deep Irish brogue and all, boarded the steamship "Lake Manitoba" in Belfast Harbour bound for St. John, New Brunswick. After passing through Immigration Offices in St. John, he took the train to Winnipeg, the wheels on the rails singing a monotonous litany, "For ever and ever, for ever and ever, for ever and ever...," and Harry mused on the fact that his boat passage and train fare together had cost the Presbyterian Church all of forty dollars. At the Winnipeg office of the Presbyterian Church Harry learned that he had been assigned to the mission fields of Saskatchewan - specifically, the Dirt Hills area beyond Estevan. A stranger in a strange land, fresh from his years in law offices in Ireland, Harry became missionary-at-large to the settlers in Southern Saskatchewan. A long, hard year of purchasing his own conveyance (buggy, cutter, two Indian ponies - all debited to his account by the Home Mission Secretary of the Presbytery), finding his own lodgings (sometimes a deserted cabin), procuring his own food (sometimes a prairie chicken), buying his own "suitable" clothing. Heat waves, prairie tempests, food poisoning, blizzards. But the villages and schoolhouses were located, and good Presbyterian sermons delivered.

Fortified now with funds towards tuition at Manitoba College of Arts and Theology, Harry resumed his "Double life", a busy mix of mission fields in summer, study at the College in winter. Summer after summer for seven years Harry served as missionary and preacher at Prairie Grove, Manitoba, at Elmwood-Transcona at Springfield, Hedley, and at Middle River, Minnesota. Highlights of those winters at Manitoba and Wesley Colleges were many and varied. In 1913, Harry won a Gold Medal for Oratory offered by University of Manitoba and all Colleges participating. He assisted in the organizing in Winnipeg of Associated Charities (still actively functioning) meeting personally with all parents of families needing that assistance. He served on the Board of Regents for several years during the uniting of Wesley College and Manitoba College of Arts and Theology under the new name of "United Colleges," and being an alumnus of both Colleges was especially effective in forging strong alumni ties. On one memorable occasion on campus, Harry attended a Theologs' party for Medicos during which he was introduced to a serene brown-eyed medical student, Miss Ada Wilson from Gladstone, Manitoba. In April 1919, Harry graduated from the Manitoba College of Theology. The first charge to which Harry was assigned after graduation was the Presbyterian Church at Kenton, Manitoba, where he served for two years. Then in 1921, he received a call from the Presbyterian Church at The Pas, Manitoba, and was advised by Presbytery to accept for the need was urgent and the north country was opening up. Harry took up the challenge, went North, and plunged into his work in a frontier Church. Soon he was resuming studies as well, resulting in a Bachelor of Divinity degree from St. Andrews College, University of Saskatchewan, in 1925. During his second year at The Pas, Harry began his "triple" life! In August 1922, he married Ada Wilson, M.D., the daughter of Magnus and Ellen Wilson of Gladstone.

Ada, daughter of a resourceful, creative brick - maker - cum - landowner - cum - horticulturist father born in the Orkneys, and an artistic, meticulous, musical mother, had attended the Glasdstone school as a girl. There she had studies at the foot of her favourite painting, "The Doctor," yearning to be a physician some day and save lives, too. At home, Ada had read the Wilsons' big Doctor Book from cover to cover. During summer holidays she had often gone to stay with friends at a nearby lake, and from afar had worshipped their family doctor whenever he and his wife had visited at the lake, too. At home, Ada had been her father's helper, and had loved to nurture their apples and strawberries, and had even tried her hand at brick-making as well. In the house, she had helped her mother, and had learned the mysteries of art and music and hardanger (an intricate Scandinavian embroidery). But by the time her senior years at school arrived, Ada had made up her mind to study Medicine although her parents would have preferred that she chose a life at home with them, and avoid the hardships of study and practise. But Ada had prevailed. She had applied for entrance to the Manitoba Medical College and had been accepted. To her delight, she found herself registered for 3 years of Science followed by 5 years of Medicine. Until her final year at College, no other woman was registered in Ada's class along with the 30 male medical students. The young Ada, destined to one of the first lady graduates of the Manitoba Medical College, experienced no discrimination because of her sex or age, and participated fully in all study sessions and all laboratory sessions throughout the 8 years at the College. During her final year at Medicine, Ada, along with two male medical students from her class, was invited to intern at Misericordia Hospital in Winnipeg at the same time continuing and successfully completing her studies at the College. In May 1922, Ada graduated from the Manitoba Medical College complete with a beautiful bouquet of her father's special tulips from Gladstone.

After the Wallaces' honeymoon at Herb Lake, Manitoba, during which Dr. Ada was called out on three cases, the bride and groom arrived in The Pas to being their four decades of devoted service in the West to parishioners, patients, family and communities. Teamwork all the way.

There was plenty to do in The Pas, where may an adventurer lost heart at finding no gold or silver, and became a social and moral problem. Harry and Ada, too, were busy assisting and advising these persons, as well as protecting the youth of The Pas from unwholesome influences. This early social service work for the Church, says Ada, was fitting her for her work later on as a country doctor. Harry organized Associated Charities for needy families in The Pas, just as he had done in Winnipeg. In 1921, he joined the Masonic Lodge at The Pas, and began a lifelong service to the Masonic Order. In his spare time he wrote articles for several Sunday School periodicals, and established friendships with surveyors, bush-pilots, trappers, teachers, geologists, and undertakers. Above all, he preached and served his Church.

In Harry's personal diary are many stories of people of the Northern Frontier in the early 1920's including this account of a funeral which he conducted: "Accidents on lakes, rivers, in mines and lumber camps made necessary many trips to the cemetery. The only suitable ground for internment was a sand and gravel mound about three miles from town. There were two ways of approach. You could walk dry-shod along the railway track, or risk getting your feet wet on the muskeg trail through the bush. The local hearse consisted of a democrat pulled by a single horse. As that was the only vehicle in town, the minister had the privilege of sitting on the spring seat with the driver, and holding on to the casket as the democrat bounced over stumps and logs. Mourners and friends walked some distance behind. Strange things sometimes happened on these unpleasant journeys. Indeed, on one occasion I lost the corpse. I was engaged in conversation with the driver and failed to attend to my duties. When we came to within half a mile of the graveyard, I looked back to see if the mourners and friends had kept pace with us, but they were not in sight. I then thought of the casket and found myself looking down into an empty vehicle. The tail board of the democrat was gone and the casket had fallen out! As I ran back over the trail, the driver unhitched his horse in order to turn around. At each bend in the trail I expected to meet the mourners carrying the casket. Then suddenly I saw it lying by the side of the road where it must have fallen. I picked up one end of it and dragged it around the bend onto the soft muskeg. The driver appeared on the run and between us we got the casket placed in the democrat just as the first group of mourners appeared in sight. No questions were asked, and I did not feel it expedient to reveal what had taken place..."

The "Diamond Queen" was a noted character that most visitors to The Pas in the 1920's wished to meet. Harry writes about the day when Ada and the "Queen" met each other: "The 'Diamond Queen' was purported to be one of the three famous May sisters, actresses of London, England. In her younger days she had toured South Africa with a road show, and had been greeted on one occasion with a shower of diamonds, hence the scintillating nature of the name which had stuck to her through the years. The 'Queen' and her husband Gilbert Le Croix, kept a stopping place at Mile 81 on the Hudson Bay Railway. She was very polite, and when sober almost timid. A few glasses of liquor, however, turned her into a boisterous female ready to fight anyone against whom she had a prejudice. During out honeymoon trip to Herb Lake I told my wife about some of the escapades of the 'Diamond Queen' and Ada expressed a desire to meet her. We arrived at the stopping place at Mile 81 around noon, and the 'Queen' received us most graciously. Indeed, my wife was so impressed by her ladylike manner that she doubted the truth of my stories. Later in the day a prospector presented the 'Queen' with a bottle of whiskey. What a transformation took place. Ada and I were preparing to portage across to Herb Lake when the 'Queen' rushed out of the door with the cash box under her arm. She shouted to me, 'Here, hold this until I knock the hell out of so-and-so!' And the man in question beat a hasty retreat with the 'Queen' in hot pursuit. He was no match for the 'Queen'. He reappeared with a black eye..."

In 1925 came Church Union at which time the Wallaces, at the request of the Settlement Committee, left The Pas to serve the former Methodist and Presbyterian Churches at Belmont, Manitoba. Harry's six years at Belmont passed swiftly as he organized the building of a brand new United Church, coordinated both groups of young people into a Young People's Union also a Dramatic Society (Harry played the part of the Private Secretary one evening in a production of "The Private Secretary"), and preached in outlying schoolhouses.

The Wallaces' 1922 model Ford finally had to be replaced, which pleased their garage man. I his diary Harry sets down the reasons for this: "It had been the garage man's task each Sunday morning during the winters to start the engine within a blow torch underneath the oil pan. If the engine refused to go at the first swing, he would take time off to turn the air blue with his language. One Sunday his blasphemy was extremely loud, and I suggested that he put on the 'soft pedal' as folks were passing on their way to Church. He turned to me angrily and demanded 'What would you expect me to do - sing hymns?!'"

The Depression Years were settling over the prairies as Harry accepted a call to Knox United Church in Russell, Manitoba, in 1932. By now the Wallaces were proud parents of two daughters, Isabel and Kathleen, and one son, Gordon. And by now Harry had received a Master of Arts degree in 1930. Still pursuing their service and social justice goals, Ada and Harry moved into their seven busy years of compassionate stewardship and service in and around their new Church and community. Everywhere communities were felling the pinch of poverty; some districts north of Russell had suffered five crop failures in succession. Harry was appointed Chairman of the local Relief Commission, using the large Manse as headquarters. Ada and Harry helped personally in the distribution of "relief" clothing and fruit and vegetables - freight-car-loads of gifts from United Churches in Eastern Canada. The Town Council controlled the flow of money to be distributed for other necessary groceries and clothing for the needy, and at one troublesome confrontation between the unemployed and Council when "relief money" was about to be cut off, Harry produced a more equitable schedule of distribution which was acceptable to both the recipients and Council. A Fall Carnival which Harry named "Vanity Fair" was organized by the Relief Commission to raise extra money for the needy. "Vanity Fair" has now become an institution in Russell and is sponsored by the local Elks.

And now the pace accelerates! In 1939, Harry, Ada, and family moved to a new charge, the United Church in Emerson, Manitoba, and here the War years were soon upon them. Emerson at this time was a chief Port of Entry to and from the United States, bordering on Minnesota and North Dakota. Harry and Ada soon found themselves deeply involved with not only the people of Emerson but also with the people of Pembina, ND and St. Vincent, MN; with tourists from railway, highway, and river, with Customs and Immigration officials, sometimes with soldiers and airmen in transit.

There were six doctors resident within an 1-mile radius of Emerson when the Wallaces first arrived but within several months two had died and the others had enlisted in the fall of 1939, so the number dwindled to one - Dr. Ada! The Wallaces family was scattering: Isabel enlisted with the Wrens, Kathleen attended boarding school in Winnipeg, and Gordon enlisted in the Navy. Dr. Ada found patients arriving at the Manse door in need of medical help, and soon she and Harry decided that this was her long-awaited opportunity to practise medicine full-time. With the consent of the Church Board, Dr. Ada opened her first medical office in the Manse on the first floor. Harry's study was one storey up. Dr. Ada's patients arrived on the veranda or in the Manse living room in increasing numbers, and she served them in her office or else in their homes, by day and by night. She travelled to her patients by car, truck, tractor, boat, buggy, sled, passenger train, freight train, stoneboat, Red River ferry, and even on foot! Dr. Ada never refused to answer a call at any hour, summer or winter, fair weather or foul, and all this over a wide area which included Emerson, St. Vincent, Pembina, and the two rural municipalities of Franklin and Montcalm, as well as Roseau Indian Reservation with its 300 families. The nearest hospital was 30 miles away. Hired help was scarce or frequently non-existent, but Harry willingly helped his wife, often driving her in their one car on winter nights, often assisting her in her office with her patients, keeping records, consulting, assisting at inquests where his law experience was of great help and when four copies of each case had to be made out for the Coroner. Sometimes a patient's visit to the medical office would end up in the minister's study. Their partnership meant "preaching" and "practising". Their motto was "We get you coming and going!"

Over their ten years in Emerson, Harry's work was preaching to and serving two large congregations - the United Church in Emerson and the Presbyterian Church in Pembina, ND His pastoral calls, weddings, baptisms, funeral services, social service work in the community, his dedicated service to the Masonic Order, all continued unabated. Added to this, of course, was his frequent assistance to Dr. Ada. In 1946, the United Colleges *University of Winnipeg) granted Harry an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree for distinguished service.

Very soon after opening her medical office Dr. Ada was appointed Medical Health Officer for Emerson, Pembina, St. Vincent, and the two rural municipalities mentioned; also Medical Health Officer for the Department of Indian Affairs for the 300 Indian families on the Roseau Reservation; also Medical Representative for the Department of Immigration and Customs at the Port of Emerson; and Medical Representative CNR Emerson Division. Along with all these responsibilities and her work as a family doctor to scores of residents - urban and rural - Dr. Ada was appointed in 1942 to the Office of Coroner of the South-East District, after special legislation was passed by the Manitoba Legislature to allow her to do so! She has the distinction of being the first woman in the Province of Manitoba to take over this semi-legal Office of Coroner.

Dr. Harry says of Dr. Ada, "I can recall scores of occasions when her condition seemed worse than that of the patients. But she seemed to thrive on hard work and sacrifice, for during the whole of the ten years she practised in Emerson she never had a serious illness." On month, he estimated, Dr. Ada travelled 1400 miles and served 250 patients. About 50% of her medical work was on the American side of the border. In order to facilitate travel back and forth each day, a special border permit was given to her by the US authorities so that there was no delay night or day. In fact, Immigration officials took messages for Dr. Ada and usually knew where to locate her in an emergency. The Governor of North Dakota made provision for all the gasoline that Dr. Ada required in that State.

Dr. Ada's diary is especially revealing of the difficulties (and rewards) of carrying out her duties as Family Doctor, Medical Health Officer, and Coroner in those War Years. She writes of one worrisome trip: "On winter's day I received a call from the Indian Agent at the Roseau Reserve asking me to locate a sick Indian child at Neche, ND, some twenty miles distant from my office. I located the family in a shack at the Ball Park. The door consisted of a couple of bags. The two year old child was ill with pneumonia. I wrapped her in my fur robe and returned to the highway enroute to St. Boniface Hospital, Winnipeg, where most of the Indians were hospitalized. This would add another seventy miles of travel. On my way to Winnipeg through Emerson, I called in at my office and found another message from the Indian Agent saying there was a very sick child at the Roseau Reservation as well. I promised to go back and examine the little one, and subsequently decided to take this child with me, also. Fortunately for all, my husband was the driver of the car, for on the journey I was obligated to pick up one of them, then the other, to help restore breathing. A doctor and nurses were waiting for me on our arrival at the hospital at 2:00am. The children were able to return to the Reserve in three weeks time. Our round trip on 175 miles had not been in vain. Indian women usually waited until the confinement was about to take place before asking the Indian Agent to notify me, some twelve miles distant. Pre-natal or post-natal care meant little or nothing to them. The first notification I would receive was when the child was on the way. Several children were born on the back seat of my car. On one occasion the Ferry-man paused in midstream to turn the ferry light on my car late at night while I cared for a mother and delivered a new babe. Another confinement took place on the busy highway at noon. I parked my car on the side of the highway and set to work, while tourists sped quickly on their way."

Dr. Ada describes a different but no less memorable call: "It was impossible to secure the services of another doctor or a nurse during war time. The majority of my confinement cases were in the homes. A neighbour would be called in to help. I would instruct her in the use of the anaesthetic, for example. One case I recall was that of a woman who lived in a caboose during the summer. When winter approached, they decided to rent the caboose and move it into town. The caboose was propped up on four blocks of wood about 18 inches from the ground and was banked with snow for warmth. A week prior to her confinement I was called in and immediately suggested her removal to hospital. Both husband and wife refused. They had made up their minds that the baby would be born in their on-roomed caboose and that was that. Three previous children had died in childbirth and they were sure that this one would meet the same fate. I tried to assure her that the child id not have to die. My efforts were in van. When I arrived for the confinement, the local priest was already established behind a curtain in a corner of the room. A neighbour was called in to help me administer the anaesthetic. The expectant mother lay on a set of springs propped up on blocks of wood. A piece of wire was attached to the upper part of the springs and fastened to the wall for additional support. In a moment of excitement the neighbour leaned against the springs. At the most critical moment the supports under the springs gave way. The would-be nurse and mother and baby lay in a heap on the floor. The priest rushed from behind the screen and began to look for his Crucifix which had been placed in the hand of the expectant mother. The husband heard the noise from outside the caboose, and knew from experience what had happened. He came in with four large blocks of wood in his arms, and soon had the springs in their accustomed place. Fortunately, no one was injured. I picked up the mother and the new-born baby from the floor. The husband turned to me and said, "Doc, it's hell to be poor!" I was tempted to reply, "It's sometimes hell to be a doctor." In spite of its rough and tumble entrance into the world, the baby lived an was the joy and pride of his parents."

Dr. Ada's duties as Coroner called for investigations at the rate of 10 to 20 per year. Here is her description of one such autopsy: "My most unpleasant experience as Coroner was in performing a post-mortem in a barn in order to escape the burning sun. The temperature was around 80 degrees. The body had been found, buried in a manure pile for several weeks. Murder was suspected. Of the two young Police Officers present, one had to be assisted out of the stable, and the other very wisely assumed duty as close to the door as possible. When I had finished the post-mortem, I handed to the officers a bullet found in the brain of the deceased. They lost no time in returning to their detachment."

In her memoirs, Dr. Ada writes of an "experience" one stormy night in December 1947, when Dr. Harry drove her to answer a call to a sick child in Pembina, ND about 5 miles across the border. Snow was swirling across the highway. On both sides the ditches were level with snow. Several cars had been abandoned on the road. The temperature was low: "Each of us travelled with head out of the car window in order to see any car that might be stalled in the snow banks. With great difficulty we arrived at the entrance to the town. The patient's home was on the outskirts along a road that was completely blocked. We left our car as close to the edge of the highway as possible and set out on foot - a distance of a quarter of a mile. We walked along in silence shielding our faces from the storm and drifting snow. I turned my back to the storm and spoke to my husband; there was no answer. I retraced my steps and called again. There was a faint answer from a distance. He had failed to notice a slight bend in the road and was on his way to the local cemetery. He took off the belt of his overcoat, and we held onto that for the balance of the journey. Although the call was supposed to be urgent, the parents did not expect to see me in the storm. I found the child quite ill with pneumonia, and stayed until there were signs of improvement. The father accompanied us with a lantern back to the highway. He was very apologetic and said, "Doc, you have looked after my family for a long time and I have never paid any bills. Tomorrow I will see that you are paid." But 'tomorrow' never came. The return journey home was uneventful."

But the acceleration of activities for the Wallaces reached its peak in the spring of 1948. For fifty years floods had come and gone without devastation. In 1948 it happened! The Red River was in flood again; the water rose slowly and inexorably up and over the banks, up and into the towns. Main streets in Pembina and in Emerson were soon three to four feet deep in flood water. Storekeepers placed their wares high up on shelves; residents moved to the up storeys of their homes. Boats arrived from the Provincial Red Cross office in Winnipeg and were assigned to all areas of Emerson. A resident could hail a passing boat, and enter it from his door or upstairs window, whichever was more convenient. The Mounted Police provided a power boat for Dr. Ada's use; the US Army provided an amphibian for her five-mile voyages to Main Street in Pembina on American calls. Dr. Harry and Dr. Ada wore hip waders for days, as did numerous other residents. On the flood waters floated bodies of dead animals, boards, manure, barrels, and sewage. The chief danger was an outbreak of typhoid fever. Dr. Ada went everywhere inoculating victims of the flood. On one banner day, Dr. Ada, with the help of one nurse and several High School students, inoculated 1000 persons. For 10 days she had little more than 12 hours sleep. Dr. Harry supervised the building of a raft using a couple of oil drums and the side of a piano box. It was dubbed the "Queen Mary", and proved often useful to both the Wallaces. As the flood water gradually receded, Dr. Ada assisted in plans for fumigation and disinfecting of the flooded areas. She was named "Flood Heroine" by the Associated Press.

Dr. Ada was eulogized by Gordon Sinclair in the Winnipeg Free Press on Tuesday, April 27, 1948:

Lone Emerson Doctor lauded for her work

EMERSON, Apr 27. A grey-haired woman doctor has disproved for us any theories of the female being the weaker sex. If there is one person deserving to be singled out of the scores who have aided in the salvage of this water-ravished town it is Dr. Ada Wallace. The only doctor in a 30-mile radius, she has worked night and day on an international basis since the flood broke ten days ago. Monday afternoon after completing 75 typhoid inoculations for townspeople in a two-hour period, she took time out to outline the work of a country doctor during a flood. Dr. Wallace was called from her home during a heavy rainstorm last Saturday night, to rush aid to a seriously ill woman across the river in West Emerson. A 4-mile trip by auto and boat was required to reach the home of Mrs. Hunter Storms. The return trip was a race against time. Dr. Wallace won, and the woman was lifted aboard a Winnipeg-bound freight train to receive emergency treatment in a city hospital. Another trip made since the floods began took the Doctor to the farm home of George Johnston. Minutes after stepping out of a boat into hip-deep water, she had diagnosed measles for two of Mr. Johnston's children. A third emergency call took Dr. Wallace to Pembina ND, five miles from here. During the trip she was initiated into the intricacies of the U.S Army 'Duck", an amphibious vessel. "It was a lot of fun," the doctor smiled. "We had quite a ride in it." Treatment by remote control is another of Dr. Wallace's specialties. She prescribed treatment for John Kohut, will with pneumonia five miles from town. The messenger took the prescription and instructions back Sunday, and Monday the sick man was improving. Dr. Wallace was planning yet another mission, the transporting of the town "handy-man" to the Hallock, Minnesota hospital.
And now the Second World War was over, and many doctors and ministers were returning home to Canada. The Wallaces both yearned for a warmer climate, bade farewell to Emerson, and spent a winter in Florida. The following May 1949, they moved to British Columbia, where Dr. Harry had been appointed by the Superintendent of Home Missions to a term as pastor of the North Kamloops United Church, and as well, of the North Thompson Mission Field whose parishioners were strung out along a 160-mile trail from Kamloops to Blue River. Together the Wallaces undertook a week's "survey" of the latter area, a hazardous car-and-tent trip over a rough, narrow, gravel road that jutted like a rocky shelf halfway up the mountains, with the North Thompson River foaming far, far below! Dr. Harry and R. Ada met Scottish people at Barriere - some worked at the power plant there; scheduled services in a large Community Hall at Little Fort; Church at Bi4ch Island (and visited a hermit who claimed to live there happily for $6 a year); used a schoolhouse for meetings at Avola; and chose quarters in the temporarily empty Red Cross Hospital at Blue River. Thereafter, once a month Dr. Harry, and usually Dr. Ada, held services, conducted Sunday Schools, and made pastoral visits in each of these isolated congregations, travelling by car-and-tent until October. In winter Dr. Harry continued his monthly services to the five settlements, travelling by freight or passenger trains, alert for possible landslides. For the remaining 3/4 of each month, Dr. Harry devoted his energies to serving the congregation of North Kamloops United Church.

Dr. Harry's one-year term in the Thompson River Valley ended in the summer of 1950, following which he and Dr. Ada drove to Montreal. From there they sailed to Liverpool to explore by car Northern Ireland, Eire, England and Scotland from Land's End to the Orkney's. On their return in November, Dr. Ada and Dr. Harry settled in Vancouver near their daughter, Kathleen. Dr. Harry continued his service in the Masonic Lodge, and in June 1964, was appointed Grand Chaplain of the Masonic Order for BC and the Yukon. From 1951 to 1961 he served at Ryerson United Church as Associate Minister. In 1974, a biography of Dr. Ada was published in a prestigious Canadian book, "The Indomitable Lady Doctors", by Carlotta Hacker. On his 90th birthday in 1980, Dr. Harry's name was enrolled on the Honour Roll of the United Church of Canada.

"We must never let the traffic gradually smother with noise and fog the flowering of the spirit." - Stephen Spender

"I am happy to have served as a Country Doctor." - Ada Wilson Wallace, M.D.

"Life is still for us 'not a goblet to be drained, but a measure to be filled...'" - Harry B. Wallace, D.D.

Dr. Harry and Dr. Ada Wallace, the Ryerson Church family salutes you! God bless you both...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rural Kittson County Churches

I came across some wonderful rural photography by a person named Stephanie...
In the fall of 2006 I was finishing up my last semester of college and my classload was pretty light. It was probably a combination of visiting the church I'd attended when visiting my grandparents and stumbling upon the Preservation ND website that sparked my interest in photographing all these churches.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Old Maps

I am fascinated by maps and what they can tell us. I ran across the maps below of my hometown area and surrounding lands from the past - 1879, 1906, and 1952 - and they tell a story just like words and photographs do.

On the St. Vincent Township map (at bottom), I see the land belonging in 1952 to my mother's brother, my uncle John Fitzpatrick. This was two years before he died, and 7 years before I was born. There was a terrible story1 behind his owning that land; here, it is just some squares on a map with his name on them. At least now I know where the land was...

NOTE: First map is from 1906, second map from 1879, and the last two from 1952.

1 - To make a longer story shorter, my grandparents put their farm in their son's name during the second world war. He was married and had a family, but to ensure he wouldn't be drafted, they did this. It worked, and he stayed home safe and sound. But the deal was to put the farm back in their name, although he could work it and make a living out of it. It was to be their insurance for old age. However, he refused, causing a lot of bad blood amongst the family...but that, is another story...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Porous Border

I had the privilege a few years ago to hear Randy William Widdis speak at a local family history workshop. I had come to the workshop for several reasons, including him. Why? His topic was "The Porous Border: Migration Back & Forth Across the Canadian/U.S. Line". As you might imagine, that got me VERY interested, with my own family history following that path on my mother's side. It was a theme common to many early settlers to St. Vincent and indeed throughout Kittson County.

Widdis did his dissertation on seven counties in New York and five in Ontario on migrations patterns back and forth. One county he did it in was where Syracuse, NY is. Some immigrants went to Watertown, NY, some to Syracuse, NY.

Some highlights:

- He found patterns where certain counties in Canada went to certain counties in NY. The same was true for those Ontario emigrants coming to St. Vincent, i.e., coming from the same towns.

- He found that those that went to NY migrated in increments, whereas those that went to our area came directly here.

- Those that went to urban areas tended to be single men, while those that went to rural areas tended to be families.

- Canadians that migrated to NY tended to retain their Canadian citizenship, while those that came to our area tended to give it up and become American citizens.

- He found that our area was more embracive to the Anglo-Canadian immigrants than the NY communities were.

Land was the big draw to our area, and when land was opened up and advertised far and wide, the Anglo-Canadians (a great many who were Irish) flocked to our area. English/Irish/Scot Canadian surnames made up a majority of early settlers in St. Vincent. Although outnumbered by Minneapolis/St. Paul's Irish community, percentage-wise, we led the way.