Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Maggie Neill Letters


The Gamble family will forever fascinate me. They are second only to my own families - the Clow, the Fitzpatrick, the Fitzgerald, and the Short families - in the comprehensiveness of what I know about them as people. Due to the letters, we've been priviledged to entered into a real slice of 19th and early 20th century life of those individuals. Thank goodness for packrats...!

I have recently received correspondence from yet another Gamble/Griffith descendent. Her family saved letters from Maggie Neill. Maggie was a member of the Gamble family through adoption (details of the adoption are not known to me at this time...) While most members of the Gamble family moved on and settled farther west and south, leaving their original Ontario home after initial migration, Maggie stayed at the old place alone, growing into old age. Her connection with those who left was through her letters to them, of which is an example below.

I will let the letters speak mostly for themselves, but from time to time will include comments from the family of what is known about them or the writer...
June 1, 1928

To Mrs. P. Edkins

My Dear Alice,

I received a card from you at Christmas time, but as you spoke of writing one a letter later on I waited for it, but of course it never came;
so I decided to write you one instead. I did not hear from little Jean for months, but I owe her one now. Kathleen still writes to me. I was sorry to hear from her that Willie had left his farm.

I hope this Spring was more favorable for seeding than last Spring was out there. We had a cold dry Spring here. The leaves on the trees were a week late coming out, and the ice on the lake was late in breaking up. We can stand fires in our stoves most of the time yet. Indeed I might say we need them most of the time.

Seeding here was quite late, and a nice warm rain would do the crops good. But there were frosts lately instead. My garden looks rather nice now. There are Lily of the Valley and Narcissus and Bleeding Heart and Forget-Me-Not and Columbines etc. etc. blooming now. It looks too nice for some people, for they would like to get it away from one if they could. Of course, the buildings are old now, but it is the site they covet of course.

The street is paved like the City streets now. There is only a strip of grass on each side - where the maples grow and it is near the schools and R.R. stations and stores etc. The Council said if I would will the place to them they would not bother me for taxes - the taxes are very high here now - but I sent them word I would pay what I could and the rest could run on. I was sixty-eight last January and far from strong, and don’t expect to live many more years. There is a young couple in the other house the last two years with three little children.

I hope you and your little ones are quite well. I must now say goodbye,

from yours affectionately,
Margaret Neill
From Gamble descendent Lori Bianco come these comments on this Neill letter:
"Little Jean" would be Barb's mother, Jean (Gamble) Maloney, and "Kathleen" would be her (& my grandfather's) older sister, Kathleen Gamble Jaynes Weber. "Willie" is my great-grandfather, Alexander & Mary Ann's son -- he lost his farm during the Depression.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Through a Grandson's Eyes

The people that make up my family in Humboldt are some of the best people to be around. The farm life is the heart of what they do and they expect a certain honesty and respect that makes up the community...As I get older, I appreciate the times there more and more. It is just something you don’t understand as well at the time.
From Jeff Muir's blog (Harvey Diamond's grandson...)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Gamble Family News

The Spinster Maggie Neill

What a wonderful surprise...

I got another missive from a reader, and this reader is from the Gamble family...
Please, how do I get in touch with you?! This is my family that I am researching! I have letters, too, from the Spinster Neill in Canada to my grandmother. I have Griffith information and can fill you in on more Gamble info. Alexander was born in Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland and, yes, went to Dundee, Scotland as a boy. His brother, Samuel, become a police chief there. Would love to see copies of whatever printed info (letters, that marriage cert. you mentioned) you have and am happy to share mine.
Well, of course I responded immediately saying yes, I'd love to share.

Stay tuned!


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Profile: Casey Jones - Hallock's Handyman


The viginette above was produced by Twin Cities Public Television as part of their North Star: Minnesota's Black Pioneers series. Their episode on Jones mentions Hallock prominently.

Case Jones was featured in this previous post, which tells a bit more about the people Jones helped in Hallock...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sheriff Charley Brown: Chapter XII


In this chapter
, we find Marguerite - Sheriff Brown's lady friend - stepping out on him. Is she playing with fire? Or, has Sheriff Brown just been too slow on the draw...?
Early the next afternoon Marguerite entered the hotel to assist with the cleanup. She found Lucien, his wife, their bartender and Paul Evans at work, the cleanup nearly completed. Tossing her coat and scarf on a chair, she shook her head, pretending disappointment. "If I had delayed another hour you four would have had everything done." She turned to Paul, "How did a machinery salesman get involved in the hotel business? Have you decided to quit McCormick Machinery?"

Paul shrugged as he smiled. "It's Christmas day and I had nothing better to do. Lucien said the dining room must be ready for tonight's supper, and I'm partial to a hearty meal."

"Yes, and when all the work is done I'm opening a magnum of champagne." Lucien was leaning on the upraised handle of a carpet sweeper.

"Marguerite, if you don't mind, would you take the remaining glassware to the bar. As soon as I'm done with the carpet Paul is going to help me replace the tables.

In the adjoining barroom Lucien's wife was busy washing glassware in a tub of soapy water. Carrying the remaining glasses to her, Marguerite remarked, "You'll want the tables set, including the cutlery, won't you?"

Lucien's wife smiled as she raised a pudgy hand to brush back a lock of errant hair. "Just put on the tablecloths, I'll finish setting the tables later." She began dipping each cleansed glass in a hot steamy rinse; water so hot that Marguerite almost winced.

As Paul walked past with an armload of empty bottles, he wryly remarked, "I'll bet there are plenty of headaches today! I've counted nearly a hundred empty bottles so far, mostly of champagne -- not many of whiskey or rum."

Lucien broke into a grin, "It was a money-maker night! Everyone puzzles why we put on a Christmas Eve party each year. Now you know my secret, but don't tell anyone."

Finally finished, Lucien procured a large bottle of blush champagne and glasses from behind the bar. Depositing them on a nearby table, he loosened the cork, striking the bottom of the bottle sharply with his palm. There was a loud pop, the cork flying across the room. Quickly he swung the frothing mass of bubbles to fill the glasses, which he had placed in a neat row. "Everyone take a seat. This bottle must be empty before anyone leaves the table!"

Paul looked across at Marguerite as they all touched glasses. "There are at least three hours of daylight left. Would you like to take a sleigh ride?"

"It would be fun, but I doubt if any of the livery stables are open."

Lucien held up his hand, "Tut tut, I just happen to have a team and sleigh in our hotel stable." He looked to Paul who was smiling expansively. "Know how to harness up a team?"

"You bet I do! We have horses in Chicago."

Marguerite smiled. "I'll give him a hand."

Lucien's wife spoke up. "Watch those horses! I've had two runaways with them. They're dangerous."

Lucien grumbled, "Ah, Mother, there's so much snow that they won't get hurt even if the rig overturns." To Paul he advised, "Take the big bobsled and keep a tight rein on the team."

His wife turned to Marguerite, "You both be careful. I still don't trust those young animals."

In the livery barn behind the hotel Marguerite put collars on the horses while Paul lifted the harness and secured the hames, belly bands and cruppers. Leading the animals from the barn they backed the pair to the bobsled and crossed the lines to the bridles. Temporarily handing the reins to Marguerite, Paul bent to fasten the tugs. When he finished, Marguerite suggested, "Now you hold the lines; I'm going to Lucien's tack room." Moments later she returned carrying two bulky buffalo robes.

"Which way are we heading?" she asked. "The snow is so deep that there are only three main roads leading out of town."

"How about Emerson; isn't it just across the border? I've never been to Canada. How far is it?"

"Only about two miles. We can go north on the west side of the river and return back on the east side. You can drop me off in St. Vincent on the way home."

With the team at a fast trot Paul guided them north toward the border. The trail was well packed and the horses frisky. He contemplated letting the team gallop on a straight stretch to tire them, but finally decided against it.

"Paul, where do you live in Chicago."

"At present I've been staying with my parents." He smiled as he faced her. "Since I'm not married I haven't found it necessary to purchase a house. But I do pay my folks rent -- that's only fair."

"Are houses expensive in the city?"

"I guess you can pay any price, depending upon your taste. Are you warm enough?"

She could feel his hard thigh adjoining hers, his nearness creating a strange feeling. He was so handsome that his presence seemed almost overwhelming. Against her will she felt her stomach fluttering and her pulse quickening. She turned to face him, finding his face only inches away. Smiling, she said, "I'm fine, snug as a bug in a rug." Inwardly, she puzzled, she couldn't explain it, for never before had she had such an aberrant feeling. It was almost unnerving . . .

As they descended the hill down to the Red River ice, Paul was forced to hold back the team. Climbing the opposite side of the riverbank the horses buckled into the harness, straining, gaining speed with every lunge.

"Turn left at the next street," Marguerite said. "We'll stop at the restaurant if it's open."

They found the town almost totally deserted, not a person or sleigh was in sight. Still, the fact that the cafe chimney cast wisps of blue smoke gave hope that it might still be open.

Guiding the horses to a hitching rail, Paul tied the team securely, not knowing their propensity to run away. He knew most teams were well paired, but these animals were hardly more then colts, barely broken to harness.

They entered the cafe to find the interior over-warm, almost steamy, with the windows heavily frosted. The pungent odor of cinnamon and fresh baked goods hung in the air as they removed their coats. Paul seated Marguerite, then crossing to the opposite side of the table, asked, "What will you have, coffee, tea or perhaps hot chocolate?" He noted the flushed cheeks as she smiled. He almost shook his head in wonder; she was so beautiful!

"I'll have hot chocolate and a cinnamon roll. I know they've got them; I can smell the cinnamon." She suddenly raised her voice, "Annie!"

An attractive redheaded woman appeared in the serving window. "Hello Marguerite. What are you doing over here?" She noted Paul and his striking looks. "Oh ho! Someone new, eh?"

Marguerite laughed, "This is Paul Evans. He's staying in Pembina for a few days. He's giving me a ride home."

"You two must be taking the long way home." Annie teased, "Don't tell me the Red River ice has gone out between Pembina and St. Vincent?"

"No, but we'd each like a hot chocolate drink and a cinnamon roll." Paul winked at Marguerite, apparently not averse to being teased.

"Coming right up!" Annie's head disappeared from the serving window.

Marguerite was glad Annie was busy in the kitchen, for it gave her time to visit with Paul. Usually the vivacious and uninhibited Annie would drop everything to sit with her.

"Do you have any brothers or sisters, Paul?"

"Not a one, sorry to say. My Mother and Father both teach at Northwestern University. I graduated from there three years ago. I don't believe either of them ever wanted children, I just happened along."

"Do you like kids?"

"Really, I haven't given it much thought." He looked at her speculatively, "I've been raised mostly in an adult world. After graduation I went to work for the McCormick Harvester Company. That was in '76, just as a major strike took place1. The company hired scabs to break the strike and the fighting that took place cost several lives. There still is a lot of resentment at the plant and I'm only too glad to be out on the road."

"If you're not happy with your job, why not change your line of work?"

"The pay is good and jobs are not easy to find. I do enjoy traveling since I meet all types of people. Some are influential businessmen. It's really another way of acquiring experience."

Marguerite realized that it was growing late. "We'd best be on our way. It will be dark in another hour."

Rising, Paul took their dishes to the serving window and paid Annie. As they left Annie puzzled over Marguerite's stepping out on Charley. Smiling to herself she thought, well, at least that Paul is sure a handsome man!

Drawing the team to a halt at the Grant home, Paul turned to face Marguerite. As she looked up at him, he gently leaned to kiss her lips. It came as a surprise, but not a disagreeable surprise. It was almost an impersonal kiss, yet it held promise, a promise of something more to follow. As Paul walked her to the door, he took off his hat. "When can I see you again?"

"I work every week day at the hotel, sometimes even on week ends. Are you sure you want to see me?"

"You bet I do!" He attempted to take her in his arms but she backed away, opening the door.

"Until tomorrow, then." His smile seemed contagious.

"Who was the gentleman that brought you home?" Her mother was preparing supper in the kitchen. "I peeked out the window when I heard the horses."

"His name is Paul Evans. He's staying at Geroux's. He lives in Chicago and he's a graduate of Northwestern University. I like him, he seems to be a gentleman."

"Have you been fighting with Charley?"

"It's nothing like that, Mom. Paul is just a new friend."

Her mother hesitated, and then said, "You're playing with fire, you know."

"Mother, I know you like Charley and so do I, but it's been two years now and he hasn't proposed. I'm twenty years old and I'm not going to end up an old maid. It's not often I meet a man like Paul. I'm going to make the most of it while I can. Anyway, he'll be leaving for Chicago in another few days. What harm is there in my seeing him?"

Marguerite had no further contact with Charley during the remaining days of December. Strange, she thought, considering they had made tentative plans to attend the fort New Year's Ball. It became apparent that Charley must have found out about her outing with Paul on Christmas day, and was attempting to punish her for disloyalty. As the remaining days of December passed by she became incensed. She and Paul became more and more a couple. They had dinner together nearly every evening. When she failed to hear from Charley on the evening of December 30, she decided to throw caution to the winds. At the time she was having dinner with Paul at Bradshaw's Pembina House. "Paul, let's attend the New Year's Ball in Emerson tomorrow night."

His eyes lit up! "That's a grand idea! But I'll have to arrange for a sleigh. I understand there is to be a ball out at the fort, so transportation might be a problem."

"That's true, but not too many attend the fort ball from St. Vincent. I think I can reserve a rig there."

"Capital! But let me check Mason's livery first. I've reserved one of their cutters to take you home this evening. Perhaps they can spare a sleigh tomorrow night."

After arriving home that evening Marguerite began to have second thoughts about attending the Emerson ball with Paul. Although she loved Charley, she deemed he was being unfair and was attempting to punish her. Her Christmas day trip to Emerson with Paul had been an innocent outing and she hadn't given it credence as anything else, that is, until Paul kissed her. She realized she had been at fault, she shouldn't have allowed him the opportunity.

Still, warm thoughts of the contact still remained with her. Another matter came to mind; the material for the gown made for the fort ball had been expensive; she and her mother had worked for hours on the dress. When she confided to her mother that Paul was escorting her to the ball, her mother had looked at her pointedly, saying, "Do you think Charley will put up with that? Aren't you still in love with him?"

She answered testily, "I haven't much choice. Charley and I were to go to the fort ball tomorrow night, but he's completely ignored me."

Knowing her mother liked and favored Charley, she added, “Paul is twenty-five years of age while Charley is thirty-three. I like Paul and he seems attracted to me, in fact sometimes I get the impression that he might even propose. He's leaving for Chicago on New Year's Day, but says he'll write often and keep me informed of his movements. The ball will be his last night in Pembina."

"Then you'll have to mend your fences with Charley”, her mother murmured.

"Oh, surely, when Paul is gone, everything will return to normal.

"I wouldn't count on it."
__________

1 - I hesitate to contradict the author, but upon research on this fact, I could not find any 'major' strike taking place in Chicago in 1876, let alone one connected with McCormick, although there is a well-documented one 10 years later in 1886...

Traffic Jam

A regular traffic jam of boats along a street in early Emerson, Manitoba, during one of the frequent floods...life must go on, and these folks are not letting a bit of water stop them from conducting their business!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ties That Bind


Things keep changing up home. Populations shrink, those that stay are farther apart geographically, but the ties that bind are as close as ever...

Little Powerhouse on the Prairie
New York Times 12 Sep 2007

The northwestern Minnesota towns of Stephen and Argyle, populations 708 and 656 respectively, are separated by nine flat miles of soybean and wheat. The highest point between them is the mounded dirt that elevates the railroad tracks connecting their grain elevators. Since consolidating their schools in 1996, they have dominated nine-man football, never missing a state semifinal.

With a state-record winning streak and four consecutive nine-man state championships, the Stephen/Argyle Central Storm has the characteristics of a high school football powerhouse. Carrying the weight of two small, declining farming towns on its shoulders, the team also manifests much larger challenges confronting towns like these throughout the Midwest.

The impact of changing demographics and farming technology in this region is apparent in the student body and, on Friday nights, on the football field.

Consolidation has brought Stephen and Argyle football glory, but the towns are shrinking and growing older. The average age in Marshall County, home to Stephen and Argyle, is 40, 10 years older than the state average. Almost a fifth of the population exceeds the age of 65, a 50 percent jump above the state average.

''It's young people moving off the prairie and into the city,'' said Tom Gillaspy, the state's demographer.

The change is seen most starkly in the school populations. The Stephen/Argyle student body for 7th through 12th grade was 50 percent larger a decade ago, falling to about 180 from 270. It is no different in other rural towns in Minnesota.

''Boy, there's just so many school districts with multiple names,'' Gillaspy said. ''You get to the point where you start adding three names, or four names, and then they become initials, or a region, like Norman County West, and eventually it will just be Norman County.''

One of Stephen/Argyle's biggest rivals is Kittson County Central, composed of Lancaster and Kittson Central, which is a combination of the towns of Hallock, Kennedy, Humboldt and St. Vincent.

In 1893, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner said the American frontier was closed. But, as the Great Plains Restoration Council pointed out, west of the Mississippi River, the number of counties with six people or fewer per square mile has increased, from 388 in 1980, to 397 in 1990, to 402 in 2000.

''Many places are turning back to frontier,'' Gillaspy said.

Just after dawn in Argyle one day in August, with the lights still on and the northern Minnesota fog hanging over the practice field and the wheat stubble that spreads beyond it for miles, offensive lineman Kolby Gruhot crouched his 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame into a three-point stance. The fingertips of his calloused right hand dug into wet grass. His right calf extended to a prepped foot ready to push off, and where his left calf would be, a metal rod picked up dew before disappearing into Gruhot's black cleat. Having lost part of his left leg in a lawn mower accident when he was 3, Gruhot wears a prosthesis below his knee.

After the cadence, he sprung up, blocked a defensive end and barreled ahead. The rod revealed itself only after his sprint, on his way back to the huddle, in a slightly leaned gait that looked something like a strut.

When Gruhot opens holes on the line for the senior running back Kyle Gratzek, he leaves him with something like frontier to run through: up to 99 yards of short grass and only five men to the goal.

Nine-man football is the province of small towns in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. ''It's simple,'' said Nic Thompson, the Storm's defensive back coach. ''Nine-man just doesn't have tackles.''

In Minnesota, it began in the mid-1960s after teams evolved from six- and eight-man football. Now, with 81 teams, it represents the state's largest class. To qualify, high schools need to have fewer than 165 students. Stephen/Argyle Central has 111, 68 of whom are boys.

''Good for football,'' Coach Mark Kroulik said. ''Tough for finding a prom date.''

Three quarters of those boys play football. ''That is why they're winning: They're not missing an athlete,'' the former coach Warren Keller said. ''And even if you don't play, you're still a part of the team.''

Gruhot embodies the power football that defines the school's success on the field and the hard work that defines its agricultural traditions off it. The Storm pounds the ball. In last year's state championship victory over Wheaton, the team threw one pass and ran the ball 61 times for 380 yards.

And so during a recent morning practice, with temperatures in the mid-60s, the players finished sprints and sit-ups and started blocking drills.

''We'd start an after-school practice with 30 and end up with 13,'' said Al Larson, who coached Argyle from 1965 to 1977, when many of the students had farming chores in the afternoons and evenings. ''Their dads would drive up in a pickup and wave, and they'd be gone.

''I sat the kids down and said, 'Figure out when we can practice,' '' he said. ''They said, 'In the morning.' ''

When school is in session, the players hit the field before 6 a.m., even though only a third of them still work on farms. The coaches like the morning practices, they say, because the players are not thinking about girls yet. The parents like them because their kids go to bed early.

''A couple of guys have hit deer,'' Kroulik said. ''But other than that they work out really well.''

On Aug. 21, Gruhot left the practice field at 11:30 a.m., then showered, grabbed a sandwich and drove a combine until 10 p.m. ''I'm helping out my neighbor,'' he said.

On the few thousand acres where his family farms wheat, sugar beets, soybeans and corn, he drives a combine, a tractor, a plow and a mower.

''You get pretty tired after practice,'' Gruhot said. ''And we don't have autosteer in our combines, but one of our tractors has a G.P.S. with autosteer. That's pretty nice after practice because you can just sit there, hit a button and listen to the radio.''

Technology has changed the family farm. Fertilizers provide nutrients to allow plants to grow bigger and more quickly. Genetically altered crops allow spraying that kills everything but the plants.

The families that run farms have become smaller because less manual labor is needed to bring in the crops. There are fewer families around since the farms have increased in size and decreased in number. In the last 30-plus years, the number of farms in Minnesota has decreased to 80,000 from almost 100,000.

''When this county was opened up in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they homesteaded 160 acres,'' said Howard Person, the county extension educator. ''Now if you are just going to raise crops, you better own at least 2,000 acres.''

Though consolidation is most visible in the schools, it has affected every aspect of rural life. ''It's the same thing that's happening with everybody that supplies to farms, from machinery dealers to fertilizer dealers,'' Person said. ''They become regionally owned.''

The stresses of decline are alleviated by football championships. [Stephen/Argyle is 2-0 this season, extending its winning streak to 56 games on Sept. 7 with a 41-14 victory over Red Lake County Central.]

''Parents call and want to know when the state playoffs are, because they are planning their fall,'' Kroulik said. ''And I say, well, we got to win first.''

At the end of practice, Kroulik called the team together. He closed with a statement that suggested that the tradition of winning here has less to do with the fame of Friday night lights than the hard work of weekday morning lights.

''Good job today, but we still have a lot of stuff we need to clean up and do,'' Kroulik said. ''We'll see you bright and early tomorrow morning.''
The year after this article was in the New York Times, the Bearcats were in the state playoffs.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Impressions

Mary Agnes FitzGibbonFirst impressions, as we all know, are important. Below are some first impressions of early Pembina/St. Vincent by travelers (not of the fur trade or military); the one thing they have in common is their attention to a particular feature that stood out like a sore thumb:
MUD...

The frontier post, Pembina, is well known as the spot beyond which in 1869 the rebel Louis Riel, the "Little Napoleon" of Red River, would not allow Mr. McDougall, the "lieutenant-governor of Manitoba," appointed by the Canadian administration, to pass. Here we had a visit from the custom-house officers. They were good specimens of their different countries. The Canadian was a round, fat, jolly, handsome, fair man; the Yankee was tall, slight, and black-eyed, with a cadaverous look, increased by his close-fitting mackintosh and cowl. They did not give us any trouble, and I felt sorry for their lonely life, and the pounds of mud they had to carry with them everywhere.

Such mud! There is no wharf or planking of any kind, and all freight and baggage is landed on (or into) the muddy bank. Barrels rolled through it became unrecognizable, and were doubled in weight before they reached their warehouse. Men worked on bare feet, with trousers rolled to their knees, and the slippery, swashy look of everything was horrible. An Indian (not of the Fenimore Cooper type) leant against an old cooking-stove stranded on the bank, and an old squaw squatted on a heap of dirty straw, watching with lack-lustre eyes the disembarkation. A mile or two above Pembina is the American fort, with its trim barracks, fortifications, mounted guns, sentries, and some military life about it. Near it is the house built by Captain Cameron, when out with the expeditionary force in 1867...

From A Trip to Manitoba by Mary Agnes FitzGibbon

QUOTE ABOVE: Bond, J. Wesley, George Antoine Belcourt, and Letitia May. 1856. Minnesota and its resources to which are appended Camp-fire sketches, or, Notes of a trip from St. Paul to Pembina and Selkirk settlement on the Red River of the North. Chicago: Keen & Lee.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Emerson's Past in Print

Emerson was quite the town on the rise back in the day. Read the following excerpt documenting its hey day...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Featured

This website has been featured on the Family Matters genealogy blog this week, and has driven a lot of new traffic through here. Welcome to those of you who have just discovered us, and I hope you will come back soon. There are a lot of stories to explore in the archives, which you can easily search using the search bar on top, or the labels, available on the right-hand sidebar towards the bottom.

If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to take a look at the amazing slideshow in which we were featured. It does a great job of demonstrating how genealogy has radically changed due to increased availability of records and ways we can record them, present them, and share them online...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Northwest Passage

My hometown isn't anywhere near where the old-timers thought the Northwest Passage might have been, but it is definitely of the time and place, so to speak, of the story told in a recent collection by that name, written and drawn by Canadian Scott Chandler.

I've been an avid reader all my life, including comics. I picked up Scott's book last weekend and haven't put it down since. I greatly admire the research he's put into it, as well as the hard work to make the characters and story not only authentic, but fascinating...even riveting. The people in the story are the same types that forged the frontier in the Pembina and St. Vincent area during the same time period.

If you've never considered comics, but love history, I heartily endorse Northwest Passage, and recommend it highly...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Trail Paved with Fur

McGill University has recently made available online a collection of Northwest Company manuscripts. While the collection is wide in scope, there are references to our area within it. In general, it's a fascinating glimpse into the industry that paved the way for eventual settlement and homesteading. The men - and women - who comprised the fur trade were tough, determined, and savvy individuals. We may not think of it this way, but...we owe them a lot.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Reader Comments

An Emerson resident emailed me the comments below today; it's always great to hear from my readers, and know that they remember my hometown and the people - and places - that made it what it was...
I enjoyed looking at and reading your articles. I have lived in Emerson all my life and know many of the people and places mentioned. The pictures of Short's Cafe really sent me thinking. I can recall many happy visits to that establishment. I don't know if the building is still standing. A few years ago I did visit the derelict site with the then present owner. We attempted to salvage some material from the building. At that time I was able to take a walk through and was amazed by the size of the place. I had often heard about the "upstairs" and was surprised by the dance hall size. " Ma Short's" was well known and patrons came form far and wide to enjoy the hospitality offered. Maybe there is enough here for a story. I am sure there is...
That got me thinking. I bet there are many folks out there reading this that either were at Short's Cafe in its heyday, or knew people that were. I invite you to contact me through the comments here, or directly through my email (which you can get by clicking on my profile on the right-hand side of this page...) I'd love to hear your memories of that fabled establishment!