Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Profile: Charles Hallock

One of the most signal projects which he has yet undertaken was instituted in 1879. It was the establishment of a Farm Colony for Sportsmen, in the extreme northwestern county of Minnesota, adjoining the Manitoba line. There, in the midst of the finest game and grain-producing region in America, he gathered around him many old friends of the rod and gun, and erected a large hotel at a cost of $12,000, which he hoped would become a stated resort for sportsmen during the summer and autumn seasons. His location was on the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railroad, and was called Hallock. It is the county seat of a rapidly developing section. He attempted to place the enterprise in the hands of a stock company because Jim Hill had frozen his tourists out. His scheme included a sylvan park of primitive forest, beautified by a winding river, where sportsmen might locate summer cottages and escape from periodical heated terms, but it failed. Carnegie would not assist. In 1892, Christmas night, the hotel burned up without insurance.

From An Angler's Reminiscences by Charles Hallock

The Hallock Hotel during its heyday

Friday, December 26, 2008

Unique Geography

Image by Mitch Wahlsten 2007I don’t know what it is, but I really like the northwestern corner of Minnesota. It’s a unique part of the state due to its connectedness with Canada. Ecologically speaking, the region is also quite unique, since it lies within Minnesota’s only example of a tallgrass aspen parklands system. As such, the scenery can be described as being a transition zone between tallgrass prairie and aspen forest. There really is no other place in Minnesota that looks exactly the same.

From Mitch Wahlsten

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Under the Influence...of a Book

Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, and What I Saw There, by Timothy Shay Arthur was a temperance novel published in 1854. It was one of the influences on the general public that eventually led to Prohibition.

It was also a book that was part of my grandparents' library. I found it in a closet box of books as a child, where it had eventually been stored many years after being read and re-read. It was well-used and well-considered. At least by some. Although not as much by others!

Prohibition in Canada was a bit different than in the States, and was repealed province by province all the way into the late 1940's...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Similar Views: 1910 vs 1957

July 8, 1910 - View of Pembina, N.D. storefronts on the left side of the street. There are several people on the sidewalk near the two parked carts, one at center, the other in the distance. The street is dirt. Both wooden and brick buildings can be seen.

1957 Pembina Main Street - View of storefronts and bars on left side of the street. Many cars are parked in front of the buildings. There is a lone building in the distance on the right. The foreground is an intersection. A water tower is also visible. The town served as Pembina County seat from 1867 to 1911.

The only building that both photos have in common that I have been able to identify is the one now known as the Corner, a local bar (the tall brick building...) I think this building was once a bank. Down through the years there have been a dentist and others in the back offices. Notice also that in the 1910 shot, the street goes south past that building with no interruption, Stutsman street evidently not in existence yet, but by the later shot it's there...

Commentary: The building is a sad reflection of it's former glory. You can still see its potential even today, if only someone would take down the aging plywood and restore the windows, etc., but there is no financial incentive to do any such thing in small towns like Pembina.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Chief PegiusFor the beleaguered Red River colonists, who were having trouble becoming self-sufficient in a landscape harsh and alien to them, the summer of 1816 turned into the nadir of their New World experience. On June 19, simmering tensions between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company exploded in a battle at Seven Oaks, which saw twenty-one men die and shattered the confidence of the Scottish settlers, who were caught in the hatred between the rival fur-trade companies and were targets of Métis animosity. Now the weather would not cooperate. Since their arrival near the forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers in 1812, they had had trouble making the most of the region's fertility. The 1812 harvest, for instance, was so poor that they were forced to journey 100 kilometers south to the better-supplied post at Pembina under the friendly guidance of Peguis, chief of the Ojibway. In 1813, they again wintered in Pembina.

In 1816, Peguis came to their rescue once more. This time he took the struggling settlers to his village at Netley Creek, sixty kilometers north of present-day Winnipeg. They were not to know what global conditions were making their sojourn so fraught, but in 1819 HBC trader and Red River surveyor Peter Fidler observed:
Within these last 3 years the climate seems to be greatly changed the summers being so backward with very little rain & even snow in Winter much less than usual and the ground parched up that all kinds of grass is very thin & short & most all the small creeks that flowed with plentiful streams all summer have entirely dried up after the snow melted away in the spring.... Wheat, Barley, & potatoes have been cultivated here a few years back to a considerable extent last summer a considerable quantity was sown & planted of the kinds above mentioned but owing to the very dryness of the season not even a single stalk was reaped or potatoes taken up and here before when showery summers the wheat would produce above 40 Barley 45 and the potatoes 50 fold. Even all the smaller Kinds of vegetables failed from the same cause but the first week in August last clouds of Grasshoppers came & destroyed what little barley especially had escaped the drought.
The world the Selkirk settlers knew was a cooler one than our own. They were living in the Little Ice Age, the interval between the 1450 and 1850 when global temperatures were between 1.0 and 2.0[degrees]c cooler than they are now. Within that, the settlers were living in what some climatologists say was a cooling trend between 1809 and 1820. And in the middle of that came the 1815 eruption of Tambora. For settlers living on the edge of existence on the central North American plains, its effects were very nearly the last straw...

- From Volcano Weather: The Story of 1816, The Year Without a Summer by Henry Stommel and Elizabeth Stommel. Seven Seas Press, Newport, Rhode Island, 1983.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Smugglers Pointe

SmugglersSmugglers Pointe: This was a famous pioneer locale on the trail between Pembina and Walhalla in Section 29-164-53, Felson Township one mile northeast of Neche. It was the only point where the heavily wooded valley of the Pembina River straddled the border with Canada, and therefore offered smugglers a natural cover to perform their affairs. William H. Moorhead operated a store and tavern here 1864-1878 (Source: North Dakota Place Names, Page 180)

...Which is interesting since the same William Moorhead was at one point the local official whose job it was to stop smuggling. Can anyone say "conflict of interest" here?!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Early Multiculturalism

Stephen Bonga, son of Pierre BongaI recently posted about a photograph that featured what appeared to be a black American in a boat during the 1897 flood; I also hinted at the identity of the first non-native child born in St. Vincent/Pembina.

Although unusual, I have learned that it was not unprecedented for our area to have had some non-native minority citizens in the 19th century and even before. Some say they were here well before the white man. It shouldn't surprise anyone - the world has always been prone to multiculturalism when there are places to explore, money to be made, and opportunities to be had. And despite what you may have been taught, it not only isn't always the white man who breaks the barriers, but a person of color...

George Bonga, son of Pierre Bonga"Childbirth was one of the greatest causes of anxiety to women on the frontier. Emotional problems resulting from births appeared to be every bit as serious as the physical. Medical science was crude and doctors were lacking, so women had to suffer. The first non-Indian child born in what is now North Dakota arrived on March 12, 1802 [some say March 14, 1802], in the Alexander Henry trading post at Pembina. She was the daughter of Pierre Bonga and his wife, who were both Negroes. The first child of two white parents in the Red River Valley was born on December 29, 1807, at the mouth of the Pembina River...The second child born of white parents arrived on January 6, 1808, on the open prairie a few miles from Pembina with only a wigwam for shelter. This girl, daughter of Pierre Lagimoniere, a trapper and fur trader, grew up to become the mother of Louis Riel...Marie Anne Lagimoniere had her second child under no less trying conditions. While traveling with her husband across the prairie on horseback in search of game, with their three-year-old daughter strapped in a moos bag on one side of her saddle and provisions in the packet on the other, Marie's trained pony spotted some buffalo and gave chase. During the chase Marie Anne was unable to control the horse and just before she was about to fall, her husband managed to overtake them and stop the horse. Marie Anne dismounted and shortly after gave birth to a son..." - From Challenge of the Prairie, Chapter XVI Heal Thyself: Childbirth, by Hiram M. Dache

If you follow some of the links above, they repeat that Pierre Bonga had "four sons", but there are sources that say he left "many" offspring. I don't find it strange a daughter isn't mentioned, since often during that period sons were considered of greater value. But then I found this reference which does mention a daughter, however one born earlier than the date above, and in a different location. Alas, history is not always an exact science, and when strong evidence does not exist (yet), one must either take things on faith, or with a grain a salt.

In this case, however, I will side with the reference to a daughter born in Pembina. Why? Because it was stated by a very reliable source - Alexander Henry, in his journals.

Friday, December 12, 2008


"I could see for miles and miles, and the prairie was black with them, and only here and there I could see spots of snow...there were simply millions upon millions of them." - Charles Cavileer (1851)

"We found immense herds of buffalo which appeared to touch the river and extend westward on the plans as far as the eye could reach. The meadows were alive with them." - Alexander Henry (1804)

"...buffalo bones were very thick on the prairie...early settlers connected the bones to be sold for cash. This money frequently proved to be a very important part of their first year's income. These bones were later made into carbon black used in sugar processing. Many merchants in the area accepted bones in payment for merchandise sold. Both the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern Railroads had facilities to handle the huge piles of bones which, in the early days of settlement, appeared in the railroad yards. At least one yard received over 100 wagon-loads of buffalo bones a day for several months." From Challenge of the Prairie, by Hiram M. Drache

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

1874 Minnesota Atlas

"...In 1873 salesmen covered Minnesota like locusts, hawking a landmark publication: the first illustrated atlas of any state. These salesmen were not only looking for subscriptions to the forthcoming book but also appealing to their client’s vanity. They pushed subscribers to immortalize themselves by paying extra to have everything included in the book, from their portraits and biographies (at 2 1/2 cents per word), to images of their cows, to prosperous farms and businesses. While the salesmen were doing their work, a crew of surveyors were scouring the U. S. Land Offices consulting the work done out in the field and drawing their own maps. [Alfred T.] Andreas had chosen Minnesota for his bold experiment and departure from other map publications because we were prosperous, in spite of our youth, and Minnesota was cartographic virgin territory."

From Minnesota State Historical Society's Collections Up Close blog, 150 Best Minnesota Books

You can see the atlas online here...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brass Bands

From Vintage Brass Bands

Above are photos of two of my hometown area's brass bands. Dates taken, unknown, but I speculate they are from around the turn of the century.

In the late 1800's, brass bands were very popular. Well into the 20th century there were many towns that still had bands (and yes, even now, there is a resurgence - some even recreate the old days...)

Does anyone reading this think they know any of the band members? If so, please leave a comment below...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sheriff Charley Brown - Chapter 27

double harnessAwakening at dawn on Wednesday morning Charley pondered his promise to take Josey to the potluck supper at the school. As he remembered, the time of the affair was to be 6:00 p.m. Then another thought came to mind: When I go to the house to pick up Josey, I may have to face Mother. I don't want a confrontation; I just want to avoid her. He knew he might lose his temper if they met, and would say things they he would regret.

After dressing, he washed up, then prepared breakfast. Dawdling minutes over his coffee, he finally stacked the dirty dishes in the sink, locked up and walked to the telegraph office.

Nelson, the telegrapher, was working on the land title books, his head glued to documents. Without looking up, he said, "Nothing on your three pets so far this morning. I understand you went to Winnipeg to look for them."

"Yup. I found Murray celebrating in a saloon. He said LaRose and Godon left him before he got to the mouth of the Assiniboine River. They went cross-country to the West according to him." Disgustedly, he added, "I came home on Tuesday, the trip was wasted effort."

"If anything comes in on the wire, I'll drop by your place. I'm working on the records now; ever since the fire Vaughn and I have been trying to set things right. By geeze! We lost a lot of the county documents. Luckily, Vaughn saved all his personal notes of transactions. We're making do from them. Thank the Lord you two managed to rescue the citizenship and tax files.”

"Yes, but we lost all the court records -- guess they were too far back from the door. Still, the trial judges in past cases should have copies. Those narrow metal cabinets with the saddle records were mighty heavy when we rolled them out the door. They toppled over onto the sidewalk when we pushed them out. Did the rain hurt them?"

"Naw, a few runs in the ink, but they're still legible." He turned in his chair, facing Charley. "Going to the library fund-raiser supper tonight?"

"Sure am. I understand they're going to put the books in that old cabin just across the street from the new courthouse. I'm escorting Josey Watkins to the affair."

"Lucky man! You should settle down and marry that woman. She's a real lady, a beauty too."

Charley's smile was weak, "I'll think it over, but being single has its advantages. Maybe I'm getting too old for the double harness."

Nelson had heard of Marguerite's leaving for Chicago. He dearly wanted to comment, but wisely decided to keep his mouth shut. He had heard that Charley had been despondent since Marguerite left. He knew few of the circumstances, but felt Charley had treated Marguerite shabbily. He had personally admired the girl's beauty, personality, and intelligence.

Charley discovered that John and Hannah also planned to attend the library event so he endeavored to enlist Ned Cavalier's aid in tending the saloon.

"Not a chance, Charley. I'm going to be there to ogle the ladies. 'Sides that; Frank Wardwell and I are working on a list of books we're ordering from Chicago. Several will be old classics, Milton, Keats, and Shelley, but we plan on some light reading too, maybe Hawthorne, Cooper, Goldsmith, Poe and others. Say, I'll get Mack to work for you -- I'll see him at noon. He'll sneak a drink or two to satisfy his longing though."

"It doesn't matter. When will you know if he'll work?"

"I'll have him stop by early this afternoon. Have the commissioners given you much grief on the escape?"

"They don't blame me as much as they hold it against Parker. I told them what happened, that it was a touchy situation. They simmered down when they realized Parker might have died from the poison."

Mack Cavalier showed up in the late afternoon enabling Charley time to go upstairs and shave. An hour later he found Josey sitting on his mother's veranda. She stood eagerly as he entered the gate.

Her smile complimented her loveliness; her simple, light blue dress was a perfect match for the long, blonde hair combed back over her shoulders.

"I was hoping for a lengthy walk to the school, but I'm disappointed, it's only a block away."

"If you want a longer walk, we can go around the block."

"No, you'll have to carry this heavy roaster. It's my donation to the supper, a beef stew. We can take a long walk later." She turned to pick up the container, which was lightly wrapped in a towel. Turning, she handed it to him gingerly, saying, "Watch out, it's hot!" Walking to the fence, she opened the gate, allowing him to pass ahead of her.

The schoolhouse, only a block to the east, seemed surrounded by a conglomeration of people, mostly gathered along the sidewalk, but many more formed into a huge cluster on the street. Charley anticipated the building would be crowded, the turnout obviously heavy. Threading his way through the throng he entered the school to place the roaster on a long table already heavily laden with food. Rejoining Josey outside, they visited with bystanders until a small hand-bell rang shrilly, summoning everyone to the meal.

The line entering the door passed by Jud LaMoure's wife who was seated at a small table alongside the donation basket. Charley knew that her presence guaranteed a fair payment for each supper -- she would stare down deadbeats.

The file of patrons extended to the nearest end of the long buffet table upon which rested a heaped stack of heavy white stoneware. Alongside the plates were panniers containing utensils and napkins -- here the line split to each side. As they moved along the serving table Charley noted that Josey chose sparingly of the food, but he felt no qualms at loading his plate, he was hungry.

At the end of the table two ladies served coffee from a large urn. Finally seated across from Arlo Johnson and his wife, owners of the Double Decker Saloon, Charley inquired of Johnson, "Where did the committee find all the plates and hardware?"

"Mostly from the hotels, but several of the boarding houses contributed -- many of them sent food. Good thing too, looks like the whole town has turned out. In fact a lot of St. Vincent folks are here. They'll never get everyone inside; we'll have to move out after we eat to make room for others."

"I think starting a library was a grand idea," said Josey. "Who organized the project?"

"Frank Wardwell is the visionary," said Mrs. Johnson. "He's done so much for our children, we should be thankful."

"He's a hustler," Charley mumbled. He was busy with his heaped plate.

As they were finishing their dinner, schoolgirls served varieties of pie and additional coffee. Hurriedly eating her dessert, Josey nudged Charley, and then stood up. "We can't be selfish. Look at the lineup at the door."

After a last sip of coffee Charley arose and they stepped outside. "Where do we go from here?" he asked. "Want to walk about town? We can go across the bridge to the grove, the area they're planning to make into a park. Nothing much to see though, just a view of the river and ferry."

Taking his arm possessively, she said, "Why not? I'm not in the mood to go home just yet."

It was nearly 7 p.m. when they seated themselves along the sloping grass of the hill overlooking the ferry. As they watched, the ferry operator was transporting a buggy and farm wagon across to the Dakota side of the river.

While turning the crank on the large drum that propelled the barge the operator was apparently speaking with his customers.

"Does he keep busy?" Josey asked.

"It's steady work, but I don't envy him. It takes elbow grease to crank that windlass day after day, and when a steamboat sounds its whistle he must hurry to lower his cable to allow it to pass by. Otherwise they'll tear and break his wire.”

"How does he do that, I mean lower the cable?"

"The cable is attached with a tightening winch at each end, anchored to a dead man on shore. By loosening the winch on either shore he can slacken the steel cable so the boat can pass over it."

"Charley, what about us?" She crowded to him, her thigh touching his. "We were so close at one time; have you lost all feeling for me?"

He looked at her speculatively, "If you knew how many times I berated myself for not taking your virginity that last night before your marriage, you'd be shocked."

"I wish you had, for I would have been spoiled goods and perhaps Arthur wouldn't have wanted me. I made it clear that night that I wanted you, but you turned me down."

"Yes, my damned conscience prevented me from compromising you. I wanted everything to be perfect when we married. I was gauche, an idealist." Bitterly he said, "I've grown up since then."

"We can go on from there," she pleaded. "Does it bother you that I have two children?"

"No, that has nothing to do with it; both George and Lucy are grand kids."

"Then what? Do I have to throw myself at you? My feelings haven't changed over the years. I married to prevent my Father from going to jail or possible execution. I'm not proud to say it, but my Father was involved in smuggling. My future husband blackmailed him. He would have been exposed if I hadn't done what he asked. I never loved my husband, but I put up with him, I had to. Am I being too bold? Is my supposed wealth bothering you? It isn't that much, just enough to keep the children and me secure."

"It's not that simple. I'm pretty much set in my ways, marriage seems a big leap. Honestly, I hardly know my true feelings. It's not stress, it's just that so much has happened lately that I can't seem to get things straight in my mind."

"It was that girl, wasn't it? I did hear you were in some way attached to a woman from St. Vincent."

"Josey, I'm not confessing my sins to anyone, even a priest. Yes, I thought the world of Marguerite, but I couldn't reconcile the fact that she was Métis, a breed. I lost her, never realizing how much she meant to me until it was too late."

She reached over to take his hand, turning her head to look directly into his eyes. "So that's really the problem!" Her faint smile seemed to turn bitter. You turned me down that night long ago and now your moral upbringing has made you fail that girl too." The look on her face gradually changed, then she said sympathetically, "Oh, Charley, you've so many adjustments to make, perhaps this isn't the time. It's too soon. Let's let things stand awhile. I'm not leaving for another few weeks; perhaps we can reconcile our differences and see each other occasionally." She released his hand and arose to her feet. "Let’s walk around a bit." She teased, "You might even buy me a soda at the drug store."

A partial feeling of relief came, although he was still unsettled in mind. He had dreaded talk of marriage so soon after losing Marguerite. He knew Josey was serious in her overture. She had left nothing to chance; she had laid it on the line.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Marie Anne: An Extraordinary Story

Marie Anne herself
Marie-Anne Gaboury Lagimodière: Louis Reil's grandmother
The party arrived at Red River in the midst of a prairie fire, an annual event, and saw blinded buffalo with their hair singed off stumbling into rocks and creeks. At Fort Pembina (on a bend in the Red River now in North Dakota) they arrived at the mini kingdom of Alexander Henry the younger, whose entourage included his wife, a Salteux princess, two black servants from the West Indies, and a tame black bear.

From a new book, Marie Anne: The Extraordinary Story of Louis Riel's Grandmother
Marie Anne's husbandGABOURY, MARIE-ANNE (Lagemodière), first white woman resident in the west, grandmother of Louis Riel; b. 2 Aug. 1780 in Maskinongé, diocese of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, fifth child of Charles Gaboury (Gabourie) and Marie-Anne Tessier (Thésié); d.14 Dec. 1875 at Saint-Boniface, Man.

It was a long and arduous journey for a young woman and did not end until her arrival at a Métis encampment on the Pembina River in the autumn. At Fort Daer (Pembina, N.D.), on 6 Jan. 1807, her first child was born.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Legal History of Kittson County

“Bench and Bar of Kittson County”
By Peter H. Konzen
[From the Minnesota Legal History Project]

By Douglas A. Hedin, Editor, MLHP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

In the fall of 1881 Mr. Konzen was elected superintendent of schools for Kittson County which position he held for several years, having been three times re-elected. He had since held various public offices, as County Attorney, president of the Kittson County Agriculture Society and in 1898 was the Republican nominee for member of the state legislature.

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

During his early career in Hallock, he was associated in the law business with W. H. Alley, now deceased, and in 1901 Mr. Konzen and J. D. Henry formed a co-partnership for the purpose of conducting a real estate, loans, insurance and collection business in connection with the law business. Mr. Henry is not a lawyer but handled the insurance, loans, collection and real estate business of the firm and was very successful, especially in the sale of real estate.

Konzen’s article appeared first on pages 944 to 951 of the second volume of History of the Red River Valley. It has been reformatted. Page breaks have been added. His spelling and punctuation have not been changed.

“Bench and Bar of Kittson County” *

Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns
Villages of the Valley from the Time
of Their First Settlement and



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

Kittson county, having been since its organization successively apart of the eleventh and the fourteenth judicial districts of this state, the personnel of the bench is treated in elsewhere in this volume. It remains to speak of the court with special reference to the earlier terms held in this county.

The first term to be held, after the separation of this county from the county of Polk, to which it was attached for judicial purposes immediately after its organization, was fixed by an act of the legislature for the third Monday in June, 1881, but for some reason this term was adjourned until the 5th day of July. It was held in the south store room under Hotel Hallock, where a temporary platform was built for the judge, with a small office table in front of him. Judge O. P. Stearns presided, Frank Laughlin, of St. Vincent, was clerk, and John A. Vanstrum sheriff, while R. R. Hedenborg, who had been elected to that office in the fall of 1880, was county attorney. There were three cases on the calendar. The first criminal case tried in the county was the case of the State of Minnesota vs. Hugh Drain, indicted upon the charge of grand larceny for stealing a yoke of oxen from one J. J. Conrads. He was duly convicted and drew a sentence of three years in the penitentiary. The first civil action was the case of M. I. Northrup vs. J. A. Vanstrum, sheriff, being an action in conversion for the seizure and sale of certain goods under execution.

The bar of this county was at that time represented by County Attorney R. R. Hedenberg, who located at St. Vincent in 1879, and P. H. Konzen, who had located at Hallock in April, 1880. The cases on the calendar numbered three civil and one criminal and, except for the county attorney who looked after the criminal case, they were taken care of by Reynolds & Watts and Ives & McLean, of Crookston, and Warner & Stevens, of St. Paul. The term was finished in two and a half days, and the balance of last day, awaiting the arrival of the train south, was spent fishing by the court and attorneys, after each catching his own frogs for bait. To the younger members of the bar it was rather an amusing circumstance to see Judge Stearns, then well up in years and of a very dignified and patriarchal appearance, lay aside his judicial dignity and pursue the diminutive amphibians with an agility which surprised them all.

Annual terms were held thereafter until the year 1903, when regular spring and fall terms were provided for by the legislature. The office of clerk of the court was held successively by Frank McLaughlin, W. F. Wallace, Olaf A. Holther, Charles Clow, N. G. Ehrenstrom and E. A. Johnson, the latter being the present incumbent. The office of sheriff was held successively by John A. Vanstrum, Oscar Younggren and O. J. Anderson, the latter the present incumbent. The first grand jury summoned for this county consisted of the following: J. Peter Johnson, W. H. Miller, F. W. Wagoner, John O. Sullivan, Lars Ekund, E. G. Thomas, John Finney, T. B. Newcomb, N. C. Moore, N. P. Peterson, J. McGlashen, Knute O. Wold, J. S. Lindgren, Alfred Larson, Andrew Murphy, E. N. Davis, Matthew Cowan, F. Chase, Albert Hams, Henry Graham, Robert W. Lowery, W. R. Bell and D. F. Brawley.

The first petit jury was composed of the following: M. A. Holther, John B. Fee, Thomas McGlothlin, C. Pelan, W. H. Moore, John Jenkins, Jr., F. Almey, Charles Clow, James I. Kirk, George Ash, John Long, H. J. Moore, Thomas Toner, Hugh Kennedy, Lars Mattson, Jonas Sandberg, Ralph Brown, John Buie, Richard Forbes, Ole Norland, John Lindblom, Edward Cameron, W. H. Alley and Michael Fortune.

While there were no important cases tried here in an early day and, as in most agricultural counties of the state, but little of importance transpired during our terms to vary the monotony of legal routine, the following may be cited as among the amusing incidents and happenings: At the May, 1883, term an indictment was returned by the grand jury against one Kate Rafferty, an Irish woman of rather more rustic than criminal proclivities, charging her with having made assault upon one, Donald Morrison, with a dangerous weapon, to-wit., a firearm commonly called a pistol, which was then and there loaded with powder and leaden bullets, with intent then and there to do him, the said Donald Morrison, great bodily harm. In order to explain the circumstances of the assault it is necessary to state that Mrs. Rafferty was “holding down a claim,” which she was guarding very jealously, and, on account of her husband being away at work on the railroad in Manitoba, she was suspicious that certain evil-disposed persons were casting covetous eyes upon her claim. On the day in question Morrison, with a companion, was seen walking across the tract which she called her own, in a suspicious manner, as she thought, and seizing the “dangerous weapon” in question she started in pursuit, and with its gaping muzzle pointed in Morrison’s direction, ordered him peremptorily to vacate the premises. Morrison promptly swore out a warrant against her, and the grand jury returned “a true bill.” Kate appeared in court with the weapon which she claimed to have used. It was an old-fashioned, muzzle-loading horse-pistol, of formidable size, thoroughly rusted, with the nipple completely battered down. It had probably not seen service for twenty-five years or more. W. W. Irwin, of St. Paul, then in the prime his reputation as a criminal lawyer, was retained to defend Mrs. Rafferty. In due time she took the stand in her own behalf, Mr. Irwin drew from his pocket the weapon and handed it to Mrs. Rafferty with the question, “Is this the gun that you had?” Mrs. Rafferty took the weapon and answered in a rich Irish accent, “Yis, your honor, that is it,” at the same time snapping the hammer several times. Judge Stearns, with his brow knit and his eyes flashing fire, cried out in excited voice, “Stop, stop, stop snapping that weapon in here!”

By this time Kate realized that the judge was afraid that the weapon might be discharged and, in order to assure him of its absolute safety, cried out, “Oh, your honor, it ain’t loaded,” and pointing it directly at him, snapped it again several times. At this time the court sat in the schoolhouse and the judge’s position was behind the teacher’s desk. Forgetting his dignity, he slipped from his seat and crouched behind the desk, shouting, “Stop, stop, or I’ll have you arrested!” After recovering himself from the floor, with his eyes darting vengeance upon the prisoner, he blurted out, “Woman, if you were a man, I’d have you arrested right now.” The “Tall Pine of the North” regarded this episode with infinite amusement.

At the general term of court held in March, 1888, the action of Thrane vs. Holmberg came up for trial. Plaintiff had sued for the killing of a dog and claimed damages in the sum of fifty dollars. Attorney P. H. Konzen appeared for the plaintiff and Hon. H. Steenerson, of Crookston, for the defendant. Plaintiff had testified that a certain party had offered him fifty dollars for the dog and which offer plaintiff had refused. This testimony was given for the purpose of fixing the value of the dog, and as the person referred to had left the country, this was about the only corroborative evidence as to the value. Mr. Steenerson began to cross-examine the plaintiff as to the offer and requested him to repeat the conversation he had had with the party, and exact language used by him in making the offer, when the following colloquy ensued:

Mr. Steenerson—“Will you please state the exact language used?”

Mr. Thrane—“Well, we were out hunting together with the dog, and after we got back this party asked me what I would for him, and I told him fifty dollars.”

Mr. Steenerson—“Well, did he say that he would pay you that for him?”


Mr. Steenerson—“Well, what did he do when you told him you would take fifty dollars for the dog?”

Mr. Thrane—”Nothing; he went to North Dakota and I have not seen him since.”

Mr. Steenerson—“Then let me go over that offer again. As I understand it, he asked you what you would take for the dog, you told him fifty dollars, and then he left the state and went to North Dakota and never came back—is that right?”

Mr. Thrane—“Yes, sir.”

Mr. Steenerson—“I don’t blame him; I would have done the same thing.”

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff in the sum of six cents. Among other old attorneys who practiced in Kittson county there was Frank MacGowan, of St. Vincent, who was admitted to practice in the court room in Hallock. He is now in Lewiston, Mont. He taught the first term of school in the Joe river district. W. H. Alley, at one time the partner of Mr. Konzen, was the county attorney of the county for one term. He is now located in Roseau.

George E. Holcomb practiced law in Hallock in the late eighties. He afterwards went to the Pacific Coast and became interested in a townsite of a growing town, and when he sold out his lots there he went to Cuba, where he superintendent a large estate for many years. At present he resides on his large farm near Argyle in Marshall county.

The bar of Kittson county is now made up of P. H. Konzen and R. R. Hedenberg, heretofore mentioned, and the following: Elmer C. Yetter, who came to Hallock in 1893 and the senior member of the firm of Yetter & Blethen. Mr. Yetter is the present mayor of Hallock and the president of the First National Bank of the village. His junior partner, Ralph V. Blethen, is a graduate of the law department of the University of Wisconsin, was admitted to practice in this state in the fall of 1902, and came to Hallock immediately afterwards.

C. O. Ofsthun, of Karlstad, the cashier of the State Bank of that place, is also an attorney, having been admitted to practice in 1904. He is a graduate of the law department of the University of the State of Minnesota.

Edward Nelson, the present register of deeds of the county, is the latest addition to the bar. He passed the state examination in May, 1909, and took the oath of an attorney at the June term of court at Hallock the same year.

In this connection, mention may also be made of J. D. Henry, the junior member of the firm of Konzen & Henry, who, while not admitted to the bar, is no inconsiderable factor in the firm. Mr. Henry handles the commercial collections of the firm.

R. R. Hedenberg is a pioneer resident of Kittson county. He was born in Carlstorp parish, Sweden, November 16, 1854. In 1867 he came with his parents from Sweden to Red Wing, Minn. He was then twelve years old, the eldest of a family of eight children. Within a month after their arrival in this country, his father and five of the children died of cholera. His remaining brother and sister died while children, and after the death of his mother he was the only one left of this family. He studied law in the law office of Colonel William Colville and Charles N. Akers, at Red Wing, and was admitted to practice as an attorney May 16, 1879. He located in St. Vincent where he remained till the spring of 1890, when be removed to Hallock, where he now resides. At the first county election held the county, being in 1879, he was elected county attorney and has held that office ever since except during the years of 1889-1892, when he was the judge of probate of the county. He is still the county attorney of Kittson county.

He has been a painstaking, trustworthy, energetic prosecuting attorney, and his conservatism and carefulness have been the means of much saving in a financial way to the county.

Mr. Hedenberg was married July 8, 1893, to Corinne L. Davidson. They have had six children, of which Anna Corinne, Robert Davidson, Winfred Giroux and Margaret Elizabeth are living, two having died in infancy.

P. H. Konzen, the present village attorney of Hallock, is one the pioneers of Kittson county, having located here in the spring of 1881, then a young man of twenty-four years. He was born on the 27th of May, 1857, in Chickasaw county, Iowa, on a farm embracing the present site of the village of Lawler. His parents emigrated from Germany in 1852 and the following year located upon the farm upon which the subject of this sketch first saw the light of day. He was the third child of a family of five, three sons and two daughters, all still alive. He was educated in public schools of Lawler, afterward attending an academy at Bradford, in that county, and completing his education by a term at the University of Iowa City, and a course at Baylee’s mercantile college at Keokuk, Ia. His boyhood life was spent upon the farm until the age of seventeen, when he began teaching school, which profession he followed during the formative period of his career and while completing his education.

In 1878 he began the study of law, at first in the office of H. H. Potter at New Hampton, and afterwards under the direction of John R. Geeting, a gentleman who has since risen to considerable distinction as a criminal lawyer in the city of Chicago, Ill. Mr. Konzen first came to Minnesota in 1879, and entered the law office of a Mr. Parker, at Sleepy Eye, where he remained until the fall of that year, when he again returned to Iowa to accept the nomination tendered him by his friends for the office of county superintendent of schools of his native county. He was defeated in the election and entered into the newspaper business editing the Lawler “Herald” until the spring of 1881, when he sold out, and coming to the Red River valley, he at once recognized the grand possibilities of this garden spot of the world and settled at Hallock, then a hamlet numbering not more than half a dozen buildings, where he opened a law office and, in the word of the immortal Horace Greeley, has “grown up with the country.”

In the fall of 1881 Mr. Konzen was elected county superintendent of schools for Kittson county, which position he held for some years, having been three times re-elected. He has since held various public offices as county attorney, president of the Kittson County Agricultural Association, and in 1898 was the Republican nominee for member of the state legislature for the sixty-third legislative district. Although defeated by the tide of Populism, he received a creditable vote and conducted a model campaign. Mr. Konzen is one of the most progressive and public-spirited citizens of Kittson county, was for many years a member of the school board of Hallock, and it is chiefly owing to his push and perseverance that that thriving village can boast of a high school second to none in the state.

Mr. Konzen was elected mayor of Hallock in 1897, which position he held until 1906, to the eminent satisfaction of its people. Mr. Konzen is recognized as one of the ablest and most prominent attorneys north of Crookston, and during his residence at Hallock has amassed a snug little fortune, besides building up a professional and business reputation of which he may well be proud. He has helped in an eminent degree to shape the destiny of his city, and when the history of Kittson shall be written he will appear as one of its most conspicuous figures.

In the spring of 1901 Mr. Konzen and J. D. Henry formed a co-partnership for the purpose of conducting a real estate business in connection with the law business, and so far have been very successful, especially in the sale of Manitoba lands.

Edward Nelson, the present register of deeds of Kittson county, was born in Gladstone, Ill., February 6, 1877. He received his early education in the public schools of Monmouth, Ill. Thereafter he attended Augustana College of Rock Island, Ill., and was graduated from that institution with the degree of bachelor of arts in 1897.

In September, 1897, he came to Kittson county and taught school in St. Vincent and Humboldt. In the spring of 1899 he returned to Illinois and entered the law office of J. B. Oakleaf and read law there until the fall of 1901, when he returned to Kittson county. In March, 1902, he entered the employ of Captain John A. Vanstrum, who was then the register of deeds of the county. On October 28, 1902, Captain Vanstrum resigned from his position and on that day the county commissioners appointed Mr. Nelson to succeed him. Captain Vanstrurm had received the nomination on the Republican ticket, and this he also resigned with the recommendation to the county committee of that party that they appoint Mr. Nelson to fill the place on the ticket. This was done and Mr. Nelson was elected by a large majority. He was re-elected in 1904, 1906 and 1908.

On September 23, 1903, Mr. Nelson was married to Miss Annie Ferguson, of Drayton, N. D. Mr. Nelson is a member of the Minnesota State Historical Society and was admitted to the bar in 1909.

Posted MLHP: April 2008.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maggie's Book: Part I

Back in August, I wrote that once Gamble descendent Alice had time to scan her ancestor's scrapbook (known as the 'Maggie Book'1) - then donate it - she would share with me copies of the pages I had told her I'd like.

Recently I received those copies, and here is the first example...

APRIL 23, 1897


An Awful Storm on Easter Sun-
day Adds Horror and Makes
Havoc to the Already

The flood has kept rising slowly and steadily since our last week's report. On Wednesday morning it came to a standstill, and has fallen about two inches up to to-day noon, (Friday,) and it is hoped that the high water mark of this year has been reached, being about thirteen or fourteen inches above the flood of 1882, a total rise of 42 feet 4 1/2 inches. Here in the city, between the railroad and river, there are yet about a dozen dwelling houses with dry floors. West of the track it is still quite dry and most of the houses in that locality are dry. The stores on the west side of Cavileer street are as yet all right. Some of them however had their floors just on a level with the water, and two or three inches of a rise would make considerable trouble for a good many folks. The Winchester House is still high and dry and the Pembina House is above the level and while the Headquarters is a little moist down stairs yet is doing business just the same. Quite a number of families have gone to the hotels to stay during "the unpleasantness." Most of our towns people however are living "high" but though somewhat elevated have no disposition to look down on more fortunate or unfortunate people. Full preparations were made and as everybody was prepared, the only result to most people is considerable inconvenience for a time. Our people are taking the matter philosophically and are and have been this week taking active steps to aid others, whose troubles are real misfortunes, and whose losses involve nearly all they possess. Of course the general hope is that we have seen the worst and that the waters will speedily retire to their natural bounds.


If the flood had come no higher than in 1882 and the weather remained pleasant, the flood of 1897 would not have been a very serious affair except in some few cases. But most people had made 1882 the extreme possible limit and thought of no danger of anything above that. But the water not only came above that, but the severe wind and storm of Easter Sunday passed over miles of water, raising great waves which beat down houses and barns and sent others floating to distant places.

No tongue can speak the horrors and terrors suffered by many families, by women and children, who were exposed to the pitiless storm and the relentless waves, miles from land. The mariner in his ship has a chance to fight for his life; good seamanship and hard work and he may or can weather the gale, but these poor wretches huddled in rickety buildings, rocking in winds and waves, helpless as babes, without fire, with the spray freezing in fantastic shapes where it fell. Oh! the horror of it.

A few houses in this city were somewhat exposed and the inmates were somewhat frightened, but the railroad grade, the numerous sidewalks staked down, and the surrounding timber broke the force of the sea and wind to most of the houses. At the grade the sight was like the sea shore in a storm. The spray from the waves dashed as high as the tops of the telegraph poles and one side of the grade was badly washed away. One side of the front of William Moorhead's undertaking building was torn off by the force of the wind. One of T.L. Price's large windows was blown in and a section of the shingles on the Episcopal church was ripped off. Fortunately a large proportion of the sidewalks had been staked before the storm and most of it remains in position. Perhaps no one in town had more trouble on their hands on Sunday than Charley Atkinson and his men. Mr. Atkinson had a herd of cattle for shipment about 125 in number. He had driven them to the western part of town beyond the depot but they had no shelter except that they were behind a barn and some hay stacks. It was found impossible to get there from town by boat and Mr. Atkinson made several trips on horse-back through the icy water and waves, the spray freezing on his horse as he went. The cattle came out without loss, and have been driven to Neche for shipment to-morrow.

Gisli Gislason, an Icelandic carpenter, about six in the morning Sunday, saw two boats get loose from Mr. Oliver's hotel in South Pembina; with two other men he followed in a large boat to bring them back. They found themselves drifting before the wind in the middle of the river, with waves mountain high, and in spite of their best efforts they drifted up the river, and landed on the roof of a submerged house on the river bank nearly opposite Fort Pembina. Only a small portion of the house was above water, and there the three remained until Sunday evening, ready at any moment to make a jump for the boat, if the house toppled over. They got to the Fort that evening and arrived back next morning, just as searching parties were starting out for them. Although they suffered seriously with cold yet they were all right next day.

It was very hard work and attended with some danger to navigate the icy sidewalks, and an "alpen stock" was almost absolutely necessary to prevent being blown into the water. Our sidewalks and crossings though generally well staked were badly scattered in some parts of town, by the storm, and it will be no small expense to put our sidewalks and bridges in shape again. A peculiar incident of the storm was the sudden fall of the water. Beginning about 7 o'clock Sunday morning the water fell over an inch an hour for five or six hours, and continued until about five o'clock in the evening dropping nearly twelve inches. Of course this cleared the water from the floors of most of the residences and there was much rejoicing, but the next day it was all back again and two inches more. It was doubtless the action of the wind on the surface of the water.


On Wednesday evening the steamer "Grand Forks" sounded her whistle opposite Pembina and in a few minutes nine-tenths of the male population and even some ladies, were at the Pembina bridge to meet her. The steamer tied up at the edge of Cavileer street, her bow pushing in the floating sidewalk on that side. She was under the charge of Mr. O.W. Pennison as manager fro the Great Northern railroad company, her owner. Capt. Bruce Griggs is captain and Capt. Perrault, pilot. The steamer and crew is furnished by the Great Northern railroad company, the fuel is supplied by towns and counties along the river, Grand Forks merchants sent a large quantity of supplies under the charge of Capt. James Elton and East Grand Forks merchants an additional amount under the charge of Mr. DeWolf. This is the third trip of the steamer for the relief of the flooded farmers. She left Drayton Wednesday morning and the history of her trip northward is similar to the report given us by Messrs Colley and Hogg who came by sailing skiff the day before. Hundreds of farm buildings wrecked and floated off, considerable stock drowned, and a repetition of the terrors suffered by people caught miles from land in half-floating and rickety houses, and of people and stock on roofs and rafts exposed to the waves and winds. We have not space nor time to give a tenth of the stories that are told of the sufferings and but a small part is yet told, and much will never be known.

The steamer had on board three women, a widow Johnson and two daughters who, lived near the river ten miles west of Hallock on the Minnesota side. A part of her house had floated away and she had fifteen head of cattle. These were taken on board the boat. Besides these cattle there were also about thirty head of horses and cattle belonging to Messrs Murray, McLellan, McKean and McLean from near Bowesmont. These will be landed at Drayton on the return trip.

The steamer left early on Thursday morning to continue her relief service as she went southwards. On her trip north she left several men and boats to go through the Snake river country east of Drayton, where considerable suffering has been reported and she will pick them up on her return and do what may seem necessary for the relief of the flooded farmers.

And here we may say, that both the Great Northern and Northern Pacific companies have not spared expense or trouble in sending relief boats and trains, and the liberality of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks is certainly very opportune and kind hearted. The party of Drayton people who took their boats on a special N.P. train to Bowesmont on Monday and spent two days of hard work in rescuing people and stock deserve particular credit for their thoughtfulness as well as willingness.

On board of the steamer as passengers were Messrs Wylie, Wallace, McCrea, and Crandell of Drayton, Cashier D.C. Moore of the First National Bank and H.L. Hausseman druggist, of Grafton. These gentlemen ame down to look over the situation, so as to be better informed as to the relief needed, and which they have to some extent initiated. Besides these mentioned were Messrs Thos. Murray and Mr. McClellan, in charge of part of the stock on the barge, and the three women, Mrs. Johnson and daughters before mentioned. Capt. Elton and son were also passengers.


Mr. J.T. Colley and Howard Hogg came down from Drayton on Tuesday evening in a small sailing skiff. Mr. Colley was interviewed by the Pioneer Express and his story of the voyage will give our readers an approximate idea of the troubles and misfortunes of the farmers who reside in the flooded district. Of course in just a sailing trip of forty miles or so from Monday noon to Tuesday night, the information gathered is must necessarily be fragmentary and sometimes erroneous as to detail, but enough is certain to show what an awful state several hundreds of our friends, neighbors and citizens were placed in during the terrible storm of wind and wave during Saturday night and Sunday, and the particular instances given are only examples. For it must be remembered that an extent of country averaging at least five miles on either side of the river from about Grand Forks to Winnipeg is and was submerged with the flood, and hundreds of farm buildings are or were standing in water, some as high as the eaves, and many from three to five miles from the nearest land. In this county the country east from Bowesmont is low and the flood is a mile or two beyond the railroad track at that place.

In South Joliette the water is four or five miles inland. The water near the banks of the river is about five or six feet deep on the average and then shoals up very gradually to the dry land, as the country is so nearly level. The Minnesota side is generally somewhat lower than our side and the water is farther inland. The water on Monday was eight and a half miles out of its banks eastward and only one and a half miles from Hallock. The Minnesota side is not so thickly settled over here, but there are farmers all along. On this side, in the flooded district, there is a farmer on almost every quarter section; and as we stated last week a large proportion of them had no crops last year owing to the heavy rains. This much for the general situation, the following cases of loss, and hardship, as we said, are simply examples, and the reader will be able to imagine the rest. In only a few instances where people had exceptionally good buildings, was there an attempt to remain in the upper stories until the flood subsided. Nearly all the farmers along the river had driven their stock back to high land, but in many cases, some one or two persons were left at the house to take care of things, or rowed there in bats on Saturday and were caught by the storm, not daring to face the waves in their rude boats.

Messrs Colley and Hogg left Drayton as stated, about noon on Monday. They had heard it reported before they left, that there were no particular cases of suffering towards the north. On their way down towards Pittsburgh, they saw many buildings badly wrecked. When they came to the house of Mr. George Reid Sr. they found it badly wrecked, granary and out buildings, with seed and contents all gone. Mr. Reid and family consisting of his wife, daughter and niece, were in the house and had been badly frightened by their terrible experience of the day before. Another boat came about this time and between them the family was carried to the nearest dry land, the railroad grade, two and a half miles distant. Here a rescue train from Drayton was found standing on the track. Word had been sent out from Bowesmont and a car had been loaded with boats and men and on arrival they went promptly to work at rescue and relief. After leaving the Reid family safe but still suffering from their fright, Messrs Colley and Hogg sailed to the north again.

At the house of Mr. Campbell three or four boys, his sons, who were there taking care of things, had to abandon the house during the storm on Sunday and go through five feet of water to the barn, where they remained on the roof until Monday morning in their wet clothes without fire. They lost some cattle as well as other property.

Frank DeLong son-in-law of old Mr. Reid, before mentioned, was in his house during the storm with his wife and several children. The house rocked violently with the waves, and they expected every minute to be dashed to pieces. They were rescued Monday noon. They had no fire and though wrapped in bed clothing they were very cold.

George Reid Jr. lost part of his buildings. Himself and family were at Nowesta on high ground. Israel Black also lost part of his buildings but fortunately was away.

Robert McLean's house washed away and both he and his brother Lemuel lost seed grain. The father, old Mr. McLean, is very ill and on his account the family had moved to high ground, and thus were saved from a watery grave.

The house and buildings on the farm of Joseph Shaw, who resides in this city, and rents the farm to Tunis Simmons, was destroyed, with seed wheat and other stuff.

James Craig and W.H. Purdy lost all their buildings, with seed wheat and other stuff. Themselves and families had removed.

James McClellan's fine house built to stand above 1882 mark is badly damaged.

Joseph Lareva lost buildings and everything in them including seed wheat.

On W.P Goff's place rented by Tom Murray, Murray was in the stable and the hired man was in the house. The house is gone, and there is no news from the hired man. So far as is heard this is the only probably loss of life.

District No. 12, two miles and a half southeast of Bowesmont has lost its school house.

All the buildings on the David Murray place were destroyed. James Nicholson lost part of his house and some stock. Two boys and two girls who had been left to take care of the stock were rescued on Monday.

Adam McKibben lost all buildings and contents. High Patterson's buildings are all gone.

When about a mile west of the house on the Joliette road, which was formerly the residence of Joseph Muir now deceased, and now owned by Geo. Switzer, Mr. Colley, who sat looking backward in the boat saw something like a flag flying from the top of the house. After some discussion and hesitation, as it was getting late and they wanted to get to Pembina, they concluded that it night be possible that some one was there and in trouble. So they retraced their course and went over. They found Switzer and High Patterson there. Switzer said, "How much will you take to put us ashore?" and could hardly realize the fact that Messrs Colley and Hogg had come purposely to help them. A part of the out buildings had floated away and tone whole end of the house was just attached by the top to the building. They had gone out to the buildings on Friday , the wind got up and they did not dare to venture back on account of the waves. Next day the boat had drifted away. All day Sunday they stood by the open windows ready to jump if the building should fall, hoping in that case to get to a part of the stable which still stood.

1 - It had once been a chemistry book over 100 years ago, but Maggie O'Neill used it as a scrapbook, pasting in all the newspaper clippings she was sent from the Gamble family about events concerning the family and/or St. Vincent over a 50+ year period.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nature Reclaims Her Own

Michael Rustad is a native of Humboldt. Like many before and since, he left home and went out to a wider world. He shared the seeds of what Humboldt and his family gave to him, and the world today is better for it.

Mike is one of the main reasons this blog exists. He inspired me to share our mutual histories and to dig deeper to find out the histories we didn't even realize were part of our heritage.

He recently shared reflections of a very personal journey he took when up home for Humboldt's centennial...
Growing up in N.W. Minnesota, we all knew that the best hunting was east of Lancaster near the Canadian border. So, I would not be surprised if elk and wolves migrate to the Humboldt, St. Vincent area based on this story. Conflicting land uses have been a problem since Colonial times. I do not recall ever seeing either an elk or a wolves growing up. Once a moose stayed in our yard for a few weeks. The moose did not cause any problems or reveal any aggression. When I was home for the Centennial, I took a number of side-trips on back roads. The St. Vincent road which was my Dad's favorite is no longer maintained and returning to nature. I saw scores of deer very close to St. Vincent. There is a feel that the area seems to be returning to the earlier era as the area depopulates. Our own farm house and yard definitely was returning to nature with literally thousands of ticks, very ugly weeds, etc. Our farm house is returning to nature very fast. The house is entirely decimated with evidence that raccoons lived in the upstairs bedroom. It was difficult to even recognize the rooms which were kept up so well by my parents. The entire area appears to be hollowed out notwithstanding the outstanding job that was done to beautify Humboldt by its civic-minded residents. Though few in number, they showed obvious pride.
Mike's words reminds me of my own reflections of the past; how going home again is bittersweet - moving and haunting all at the same time. My family's home place is still being lived in, albeit not the family who originally bought it from my parents in 1998, but now by a single older man whom I met last summer. I'm glad he's there, and that the place is still a home. For awhile at least, it has a pardon from time's obscurity...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Emerson: Good Times Ahead?

"Thus it appears that Emerson, Manitoba, will become the natural gas centre of the universe – or at least a significant trading hub – based on the interconnect of three to four major pipelines supplying gas from two major natural gas supply basins and connecting to all the major demand centers east of Chicago and North of the Mason-Dixon line."

Read more here...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So Many Crosses

Making Camp in the Philipines-Gordon Short from St. Vincent on far right...Making Camp in the Philipines-Gordon Short from St. Vincent on far right...

Kittson County: So many crosses, but once-fading veterans' stories have been revived
By Chuck Haga

HALMA, MINN. (November 11, 2008) — As a boy growing up in tiny Halma (pop. 73), Shane Olson never missed a Veterans Day program. It was a family thing.

His father, Billy, served in Vietnam. His grandfathers served in World War II, one as a combat medic on Okinawa. And his great-grandfather, Herbert, was wounded in fighting near St. Mihiel, France, where the American First Army under Gen. J.J. Pershing — in its first independent operation of World War I — pinched off a German salient and captured 16,000 German prisoners.

But there were so many crosses in the cemetery, so many fading stories.

"I always wondered who those guys were besides just a name," Olson said.

Years ago, he set out to collect as much information as he could about the veterans of Kittson County, the far northwestern corner of Minnesota wedged between North Dakota and Canada. He has visited all their graves, and he plans to write a book and build a veterans memorial on the banks of the Two Rivers in Lake Bronson, Minn.

Today is the 90th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I: "The Great War," it was called, and "the war to end all wars," and "the war to make the world safe for democracy."

Go here, for the rest of the story...