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Prohibition in Canada was a bit different than in the States, and was repealed province by province all the way into the late 1940's...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

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...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Different Perspective

Can you guess where these photos were taken? If you guessed Pembina, you'd be right.

The photos here were taken earlier this month by Manitoba tourists passing through Pembina on their way to Fargo when they had a spot of car trouble. While waiting for their vehicle to get fixed, they looked around town and took some interesting photos, perspective shots that I like to take myself when I have the chance. The Grand Forks Foundry shot showing an iron work corner support is especially fascinating as it makes one wonder what other historical architecture might be waiting to be discovered under some mid-20th century remodeling jobs?

Pembina River bridge
Pembina water tower

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bird's Eye View: Emerson

1882 Map of Emerson; this was Emerson at her best, when there were high hopes before the bust...

Friday, November 14, 2008

St. Vincent Webcam

A faithful reader send me a tip about a streaming webcam that originates in of all places...St. Vincent!

Tonight, as I was setting up this post, I heard a dog barking - in the webcam publisher "Nikki14+" comments, he/she says their webcam sometimes feature two dogs named Jasper and Hook. Well, it was fun to hear them, all the way across cyberspace from my old hometown. Maybe I'll even be able to find out who Nikki14+ is and a bit about their computer setup. All the best to whoever you are...

By the way, the tipster told me that the day views look like they may be coming from the point-of-view of the old St. Vincent schoolhouse; see it here in the background...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

KCND Revisited

As long-time readers know, I have written about KCND-TV before a few times. Some time ago, I was contacted by a former employee of KCND, with this note:

I arrived in late Jan 1961 and left just before Christmas 1961. [KCND had only been on the air awhile, going live on November 7, 1960...] I've always worked in electronics, broadcasting...

Dennis Lunsford

NOTE: The photos here were provided by Dennis, taken by him or of him, during his time at KCND

This photo is called "What electrical code?!" - a typical in-joke by an engineer, but funny nonetheless! Hey, you do what you gotta do...

It was still early days in the television broadcasting business and people sometimes had to improvise.

Here we see Dennis with colleague Brian Cox. We can only imagine their conversation, as they gaze at the tiny monitors...

"Dennis, doesn't Dick's tie look lovely with that shirt?"

"Why yes, Brian, it does!"

As you can see in this photo, it was taken so soon after building the new KCND studios, it still didn't have a sign up!

Post-History: KNRR, Channel 12 is still licensed to Pembina, North Dakota (Paul B Walker, SC, ibid.) But is for all intents & purposes, Canadian.

Indeed it is. What really happened with KCND/CKND's "move" across the border was this: Izzy Asper won a new license for channel 9 in Winnipeg from the CRTC in 1974. He bought the assets (programming and physical plant) of independent KCND channel 12 in Pembina ND from Gordon McLendon after convincing McLendon that the startup of a new indie in Winnipeg itself would suck away KCND's cross-border audience.

And then Asper garnered a ton of publicity by "moving" KCND across the border, signing off the Pembina license and turning on his new CKND 9 in Winnipeg at the same time. The old Pembina transmitter was moved to Minnedosa, MB to be a satellite signal for CKND. CKND even took over KCND's old channel 12 spot on Winnipeg cable.

But channel 12 remained allotted to Pembina, and returned to the air in the mid-80s as KNRR with Fox.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bearcats in State Football Playoffs


Sorry to all the locals back home, I'm slow, what can I say?!

I just found out that Kittson County Central is in the state Section 8 Nine-Man Football play-offs this week. That is SO cool!

Boy, things have changed a LOT since I graduated Humboldt-St. Vincent High School in 1977. The school districts in my home county have had to adapt several times due to decreasing populations in the scattered small towns, but they've done an admiral job so far, using a lot of hard work and creativity to keep giving the kids up there a great education and social experience with the extra-curricular activities like sports.

They were here to play in the Fargo Dome in the Semi-Finals and I missed it. Now they are on to the Metrodome...
Kittson County Central, a co-op of Hallock and Lancaster, sent shock waves through Minnesota prep football last week when it defeated Stephen-Argyle 7-0 in the Section 8 Nine-Man championship game. The loss snapped Stephen-Argyle's state-record winning streak at 76 and assured there would be a new Nine-Man champion after the Storm's five-year stranglehold on it. It doesn't get any easier for the Bearcats (9-1), who will play Northland (Remer) (10-1) in the quarterfinals today at the Fargodome. Northland is making its state tournament debut, as is Kittson County Central.

Bearcats Roll Past Northland
By Kevin Fee - Herald Staff Writer
November 7, 2008

FARGO - Kittson County Central brought a high-quality Diamond to the Fargodome on Thursday. Brady Diamond had two punt returns for touchdowns, rushed for another score, deflected and intercepted passes, one of which went for a score, and sacked the quarterback on defense.

All in the first half. Well, this one was over at the half.

Fueled by Diamond, Kittson County Central cruised to a 40-0 halftime lead en route to a 54-14 victory against Northland of Remer in the Minnesota state 9-man football quarterfinals.

"I talked to Brady before the game, and I told him we needed a really big game out of him," KCC coach Terry Ogorek said. "He's our speediest ballplayer, and I was hoping speed would be a factor today. And his certainly was.

"Those two punt returns were something really to watch."

KCC, which improved to 10-1, advances to the state semi-finals at 8 a.m. Nov. 15 in the Metrodome in Minneapolis. It will be KCC's first trip to the semifinals since Kittson Central won the state title in 1994.

It didn't take KCC long to take the lead against North-land.

Just 2 minutes, 1 second into the first quarter, Diamond took the ball off a bounce on a punt return and went 50 yards for a score. Diamond went right and raced down the sideline for the quick strike.

Then, just 3:16 later, Eric Ogorek ran 6 yards for a score and a 13-0 lead. A Kellen Albrecht interception set up the drive.

On the second play of the second quarter, Kevin Murphy couldn't handle a snap on a punt and the Bearcats tackled him at the Northland 1. One play later, Dylan Kent took it in for a score. Albrecht ran in the 2-point conversion and the Bearcats led 21-0.

"At halftime, I told the kids that there have been a lot of Super Bowls that have been over at halftime also," Northland coach Arlan Jensen said. "And they're supposed to be the best teams in the NFL."

Diamond's second punt return for a touchdown made it 28-0. This time he went down the left sideline for 65 yards.

"It was all my blockers," Diamond said. "I couldn't have done it without them. They set it up for me."

With 5:59 left in the second quarter, Diamond ran in from 24 yards out. It was 34-0.

Diamond also had an interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter, which ended with a 54-6 edge for the Bearcats. That meant running time in the fourth quarter.

"They're a lot quicker than what we saw on the tape," Jensen said of the Bearcats. "It just didn't do justice to their overall quickness."

The quickest player on this night was Diamond.

"As deadly as he was on special teams, he played a great defensive game," Jensen said. "He just would not allow us to get outside."

But Terry Ogorek said many others pitched in an all-around strong KCC performance.

"The defense didn't let their running game get un-tracked," the KCC coach said. "That was big, because they have such very tough runners. Offensively, we had a good running attack, both inside and out."

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