Monday, July 30, 2007

WW II Planes Cross Border by Pembina

Joe Wilson, farmer near Emerson, Manitoba, hauls a Lockheed Hudson bomber across the border at Pembina, circa February 1940.

My Mom - along with many other St. Vincent, Pembina, and Emerson locals - witnessed this event. It was big news and brought a lot of pride into the communities to be involved with this important war effort. She took photographs of the planes, and wrote down her memories on them, and years later shared them with me. I always wanted to find out more, so I started digging...

Transcription of above article:

Robert E. Gross, president of Lockheed Aircraft Corp., described yesterday the manner in which his firm is delivering warplanes to the Canadian government.

“Lockheed Aircraft,” he said, “has purchased for $5,000 a sizeable piece of acreage on the northern outskirts of Pembina, N.D., adjoining the international boundary. It will be immediately converted into a modern airport with runways and the necessary hanger facilities, as the field is being used for the delivery of a fleet of Lockheed planes consigned to the Canadian government at Ottawa.

“The shipment consists of 16 bombers, part of 200 recently ordered by the British Air Ministry. Since the invocation of the Neutrality Act, eight of this group have been delivered.

“Method of delivery in all respects strictly complies with the existing neutrality ruling. A Lockheed crew, consisting of pilot and mechanics flies each plane from Burbank to Pembina with stops at Albuquerque, N.M. and Omaha, Neb. At Pembina, a landing is made on the American side of the line, where title is passed and customs officers verify the transaction as in accordance with neutrality laws.

“The pilot then taxis the plane up to the border, where a Canadian representative attached a tow line and hauls the plane across the boundary.

“Acting with the express permission of the U.S. State Department, the Lockheed pilot and mechanics then fly the airplane to Winnipeg where it is turned over to another Lockheed crew which flies it to Ottawa and turns it over the Royal Canadian Airforce, after which the American crew immediately returns to the United States.

“All the flights by American pilots in Canada in connection with these deliveries have the approval of the U.S. State Department.”

Lockheed said the Pembina airdrome would be available to other American firms for similar purposes.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hallock Fair, 1926

How many times did I walk through this midway? Sometimes with friends, sometimes alone. Sometimes in the day, and sometimes in the night with all the colored lights and the sense of danger. The carnies looked alien and exotic with their greasy hands and tattooed arms.

I never walked though it when it looked like this, however. This is a photograph of the Kittson County Fair's midway in 1926.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Long Ago

I recently bought a copy of a 60-page booklet called The Long Ago. It is a compilation of articles written by a Charles H. Lee for the Mountaineer Press out of Walhalla, ND back in 1899. The booklet itself was published in 1996.

What's so fascinating about The Long Ago are the stories it contains about the early Pembina/St. Vincent area. The booklet does not explain Mr. Lee's sources, but I assume he was using extent materials and/or oral history of his time. I hope to get more background to share with you in the near future. What I have been able to find out (thanks to Jim Davis, reference librarian at the ND State Archives) was that Mr. Lee was the editor of the paper back then.

For now, here is an example of the booklet's first page:

Friday, July 20, 2007

Profile: Dr. Arthur Shaleen

"During the early 1900's, Dr. Arthur Shaleen loaned books from his private library."

Who was Dr. Shaleen? Well, from the 1925 edition of "Who's Who in American Medicine" comes this about this early area physician:

A bit of fascinating trivia: "[Casey] Jones made...a portable X-ray machine for his friend, Dr. Arthur W. Shaleen..."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

"Do not hasten to bid me adieu..."

One of the songs my Dad could play, and play well, on the harmonica, was Red River Valley. He always thought, as most people do, that the song was about the Red River Valley of Texas. I think he'd be tickled to find out that it's actually about the Red River Valley of the North, as researched by renowned Canadian Folklorist, Edith Fowke. I know I sure am. And as someone has said, what cowboy would use the word 'adieu'?! Now, I have a feeling there are probably a good many Metis that would.

Walking the Pembina Trail

Orlin Ostby plans to walk with Pum, his ox, the 400 miles from Pembina, North Dakota to St. Paul, to commemorate the Minnesota sesquicentennial and retrace the historic Pembina Trail.

This time next year, Orlin Ostby and Pum will be meandering across Minnesota.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Minnesota Historical Society Newspaper Collection [The St. Paul Dispatch, St. Paul. 1/29/1891, pg. 3]

Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1963); Feb 7, 1891; ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849-1985)pg. 8

Although St. Hilaire is two counties south of Kittson County, in Pennington County, this 1891 newspaper article was talking about a so-called "Indian Scare" in Kittson County - maybe the postmaster was just passing on the latest regional news. Sadly, things obviously had not changed to the better since the uprising nearly 30 years before...

"Indian Scare" Trivia

Ed H. Love - Mayor of Hallock, sent telegram to governor in 1891 during time of Indian scare.

Aswash - Indian leader in Warroad, friendly to residents during Indian scare of 1891.

Jadis - County auditor of Kittson county, in charge of the logging business for Mr. Sprague. Visited Roseau County during Indian scare of 1891 and calmed residents' fears. Outfitted some of the Indians with citizenship papers.

P.H. Konzen - County attorney of Kittson County in 1891 during time of Indian scare.

Chief Maypuck - Leader of Indians in Warroad, friendly to residents during Indian scare of 1891.

Moosedung - An Indian chief of the Red Lake reservation considered hostile during the Indian scare of 1891.

General Mullen - Dispatched to Roseau County to investigate Indian scare of 1891. [NOTE from Trish: Fort Pembina was no longer in existence by this time...]

John Westerson - Recorder, sent telegram to governor in 1891 during time of Indian scare.

Sheriff Youngren - Sheriff of Kittson County (Another one? Have several references to different sheriffs...) Calmed residents fears after Indian scare of 1891.

Oscar Young Green - Sheriff of Kittson County, sent telegram to Governor on Jan. 26 asking for 300 rifles for Roseau County residents after warnings of an Indian uprising. [NOTE from Trish: Not sure why Kittson County sheriff would be involved with Roseau County business, but I'll try and find out - maybe it was not fully organized yet and it was a matter of neighbors helping neighbors...]

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Documentary Has Regional Connection

It's not often that the voices of the everyday man and woman get heard, but heard they will be this fall when a new documentary by Ken Burns airs on PBS.

In a small town - not that different from St. Vincent - called Luverne, Minnesota, there was a man named Al McIntosh who ran the paper. He made sure that those who left, as well as those left behind, were kept in touch, so the waiting didn't feel quite so long...
Burns Film Uses MN Newspaper Editor
By Barbara Bedway
Editor & Publisher magazine (June 10, 2007)

When Ken Burns’ 14-hour documentary on the American experience of World War II airs in September on PBS, viewers of every episode will meet Al McIntosh, editor and publisher of the Rock County Star Herald.

The filmmaker of “The War” has said McIntosh’s columns in some ways might turn out to be “the single greatest archival discovery we have ever made.”

Excerpts are read by actor Tom Hanks, who was so impressed by them that he inspired Burns and his researchers to go back to the paper’s archives to find more.

Using passages from McIntosh’s column, “More or Less Personal Chaff,” which chronicled life in Luverne, Minn. (population 3,100), Burns has used the editor – who died in 1979 – as a kind of “one-man Greek chorus,” as he has put it.

The discovery was pure serendipity.

“We chose the town for other reasons – it was the hometown of a famous pilot (Quentin C. Aanenson) who wrote a memoir, then came upon his writing on microfilm,” says Geoffrey C. Ward, who wrote the script for this and most of the previous Burns productions.

The forthcoming Knopf book (“The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945”) by Ward, with an intro by Burns, features McIntosh’s writing in every chapter.

McIntosh had just purchased the paper in 1940, but “somehow got his finger on the pulses of life in his town,” marvels Ward. “He’s an amazing writer; he manages to make drama out of the daily events in a really interesting way.

(His column) is the most modest look at what happened that week, but there’s something about hearing him describe the telegrams getting delivered, saying that someone had died or was missing – or watching someone get off the bus when they came home, a father sneaking in the back door to surprise his children – those are the ones that get to me.”

The documentary examines World War II through the personal accounts of a handful of men and women from four American towns. They are, besides Luverne: Waterbury, Conn. (known then as the brass capital of the world, with a large immigrant population); Mobile, Ala. (a major shipbuilding center); and Sacramento, Calif., site of a large Japanese-American population, many of whom were interned during the war after Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066.

The focus throughout is on people who lived through the period and soldiers who saw serious combat – no historians or generals were interviewed.

The narrative, the result of two years of research involving submissions by historical societies and material that came to light through newspaper stories about the project, includes home movies as well as combat footage.

Woven throughout the series are McIntosh’s reporting and reflections, an Our Town of families trying to maintain farms and businesses and everyday lives, set against the backdrop of global catastrophe.

Of D-Day, McIntosh wrote (and is quoted in the series):

“When we stumbled sleepily down the hall to answer the ringing telephone, we made a mental note that it was shortly before 3 a.m. We picked up the receiver, thinking it was Sheriff Roberts calling to say there had been an accident. Instead, it was Mrs. Lloyd Long, playing the feminine counterpart of Paul Revere, saying, ‘Get up, Al, and listen to the radio. The invasion has started.’

“We sat by the radio for over an hour, listening to the breathtaking announcement. And then we went to bed, to lie there for a long time, wide-eyed and in the darkness, thinking, ‘What Rock County boys are landing on French soil tonight?’ ”

Speaking of the entire series, Ward reveals, “One thing you learn is how terribly important newspapers were. People really spent time with papers, and the paper was mailed overseas to everybody in the Armed Forces. McIntosh was sort of a clearing house for the town about the war, and about the home front for the boys.

Sometimes he writes letters to the boys overseas, telling them how the crops are coming in, how the seasons are changing. Soldiers wrote home, and the families would pass on the letters and say, ‘Please give them to Mr. McIntosh to publish in the paper.’ ”

McIntosh was born a preacher’s son in North Dakota and worked at newspapers while still a student in college. As a reporter and photographer for the Lincoln (Neb.) Star and then the rival Lincoln Journal, he “fit the times like a glove,” noted one colleague, who described him as a “dapper, redheaded Scotsman with a matching thermal point of indignation.”

He covered bank robbers’ trials and hauled his 4-by-5 Speed Graphic camera on police raids. He also used it to photograph Amelia Earhart, the Queen of England and the spectacular Lincoln bank robbery of 1930. Eventually job offers arrived from such big-city papers as The Kansas City Star and The Washington Post, but McIntosh was determined to own his own newspaper.

“Al was quite the reporter and man about town,” recalls his only child, Jean Vickstrom. She acknowledges that she was shocked when the Burns people contacted her: “I was especially surprised when they told me they were giving Al so much coverage.”

She notes that her father promised the Lincoln businessman who loaned him the money to buy the weekly Rock County Star in 1940 (he bought the Rock County Herald in 1942 and merged it with the Star) that “he would go on to do greater things than own a rural paper in Minnesota.”

It never happened.

Vickstrom notes, “Of course, my mother happened to be there when he walked through the door on his first day.” McIntosh married her in 1948, and remained as editor and publisher for almost 30 years.

“In this office, we have always looked back at Al as a good, solid newspaperman who was also very good at business,” says Sarah Quam, the Star Herald’s assistant editor. “We never thought he’d bring us attention, but we knew he was worthy of it.”

McIntosh gained national prominence in his later years as president of the National Newspaper Association and as the winner of four Freedom Foundation medals. The Al McIntosh Distinguished Service to Journalism Award is presented annually by the Minnesota Newspaper Association.

In September, Minnesota-based MBI Publishing Co. will bring out McIntosh’s wartime columns in a book titled “Selected Chaff.”

In his farewell column in 1968, McIntosh wrote: “You seldom see a good community without a good newspaper. The Star Herald has tried to be a good newspaper – an honest newspaper … that mirrored truthfully the happenings of this tri-state area, the moving finger of history.”

Barbara Bedway is a frequent contributor to Editor & Publisher, a magazine for the newspaper industry. This article first appeared in the June 10 edition.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

School Bell

I recently attended a class reunion. Actually, it was much more than a class reunion; it was an all-school, all-class reunion, done at the same time as the town's centennial (which I have found out - long story - is something of a mystery since there are other dates considered to be when the town was established, incorporated, etc., but I digress...)

The photo here is of a new memorial, dedicated during the weekend celebrations. From a 1993 article on H-ST SchoolIt is on the site of the old school, which does not exist any more. Except in the memories (and my dreams...yes, I dream often of walking the hallways of my old schools...) of former students, etc.

What was really strange is coming across an old teacher who I swear looks younger than she did when we were in high school.

It was amazing to talk to old classmates, and meet 'new' even older former students. I finally met Michael Rustad, without whom this site would not exist. I also met Allen Ahles, who assisted me with some of the Ahles family history on this site. And of course, I not only met, but stayed with, Chuck Walker, whose story of his ancestor is being serialized on this site.

All and all, an amazing weekend I will never forget!

Humboldt School 1906-1956
Humboldt-St. Vincent School 1956-1991

Dedicated to all the teachers, administrators, students, custodial and transportation personnel who so faithfully served
and attended this school.

Bell monument provided by Garylle B. Stewart, Class of 1958. Construction and installation of Bell by Wayne G. Stewart, Class of 1964. Masonry work by Steve Olson and Grandson Construction, Fargo, ND. Bell saved from school and provided by long-time residents Curis W. Miller and Brad Hemmes.

Dedicated at Humboldt Centennial and All-School Reunion,
June 22-23, 2007.

Trivia: The bricks forming the base of the memorial were once part of the old-wing of the Humboldt School

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Pembina Metis Cemetery

Looking west towards I-29, a view from the Metis cemetery near Pembina, ND.
Once more recognized, and given the dignity the persons buried there deserve...

One of dozens, this cross is the only representation that a man named Martin Jerome once lived in Pembina. An early settler, Martin was a Metis, the majority in this area for many years. In fact, at one time, Pembina was the heart of Metis country. It is sad how time, and the failure of memory, can almost wipe out a history of a place and its people. Thankfully, that has not happened in this case, due to the hard work and diligence of many people...

Eventually, the land was reclaimed from private ownership by Pembina County on behalf of the descendents. When asked why they did so, an assistant to the Commissioners said, because [the Metis] "...had just worn them out."

Many felt the land should have been put into a trust for the families, the descendents of those buried there; as to why it wasn't, the reasoning is thus:
The Little Shell group developed in Montana as an offshoot of the Turtle Mountain Tribe of North Dakota, and more specifically the Pembina Métis people of Chippewa and Cree descent who historically made up a majority population at Turtle Mountain. A minority subgroup were Métis who came to Montana directly from Canada, fleeing the oppression which followed the second Riel resistance of 1885. In Montana, this latter group intermarried with the Pembina Métis who had settled at St. Peter’s Mission at Cascade, the Dearborn Canyon, and the Teton River Canyon in the 1870s and 1880s.
One of the family lines represented in the cemetery are the Jeromes, and those intermarried into that family..."In 1844, he [Roulette] had six Red River carts operating between Pembina and St. Paul. This had increased to 600 by 1848. Roulette married Angeline Jerome, a mixed-blood French-Chippewa, whose relations lived in the Turtle Mountain area." - from a document outlining the family histories...

Crosses at the cemetery were put up by Larry Quinto, a Pembina Metis descendent. Every year, the families try to come and pay their respects now.

For more background, see:

Swenson, Fern E. and Paul R. Picha. “Pembina Cemetery Investigations at Dumoulin Mission and Cemetery Site, Pembina County, North Dakota.” Bismarck, North Dakota: Archaeology & Historic Preservation Division, State Historical Society of North Dakota, October 1998.

In 1818, Father S. Dumolin established a Roman Catholic mission at Pembina in order to provide educational support to Métis families and to convert the Chippewa Indians. In the 1890s, the Church moved into the village and a new cemetery was established. During the 1920s a local farmer began ploughing the abandoned cemetery over objections that it was a sacred site. This paper summarizes the attempts to protect the site over the years, the research done to establish grave locations and the inter-ethnic conflicts that have arisen over this matter.

- From “The History of the Métis Cemetery at Pembina: Inter-Ethnic Perspectives on a Sacred Site”, Paper presented at the Plains Anthropology Conference, Saskatoon, October 1993.