Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bad Blood

Early on - and according to my grandmother and mother, well into the last century - there was strong competition between the new towns in our area that was often reflected in the area's newspapers...and it wasn't always very friendly either. It's not known if it was friendly competition gone awry, or if a specific incidence or set of incidents set it off. From an 1890 issue of the St. Vincent New Era:

Last week, the Enterprise chump returned to his congenial mire, and vividly describes the high old time that he and his Jack-in-the-box candidate had together the previous Monday.

The manner in which the brainy Enterprise editor gets "onto" things, the reverence and awe even the small boy feels when in his august presence, also the etiquette to be observed in the Enterprise office, its editor gives away, and gives himself away at the same time, as follows: "A small boy came down from dead city on Monday, after sauntering about town dropped into our office, took a fresh chew of tobacco, spit on the stove and began to ask questions."

From the article we refer to it appears that "Old timer" of the previous week, degenerated into a "small boy" lat week, who carefully loaded up the smallest specimen of a man in the county, and the little man loaded up his little popgun, which he persists in calling a newspaper, and then let it off, regardless of consequences, at the mutual victim of these terrible conspirators.

Kittson county is only beginning to realize what a horrible thing the wrath of the great Hallock journalist is, when touched off by the "small boy" from St. Vincent, and the butterflies, this summer, unless they are of very daring disposition, will do well to keep posted, and govern themselves accordingly, or some time the twins may raise such a clatter as would ruffle the down on their wings if they happened to be in the path of the rumpus liable to be kicked up any moment.

The conundrum people are asking themselves, with bated breath, is, if the "small boy" can kick up such a dust in the Enterprise office what sort of a racket would a busy, able-bodied man, from St. Vincent create in that hole? At very thought of which we are almost driven to drink - a glass of very weak lemonade.
In another issue that same year, the subject was taken up again. A letter-to-the-editor written to the New Era had these wise words to say:
Cities of Destiny: St. Vincent, Pembina, Emerson and West Lynne

May 5, 1890

When will our town have a boom? is a question which is asked, almost daily, by some one of the long-suffering and patient citizens of the "Four Corners." The writer will not pretend to prophesy when that much desired event is to occur, but he has a suggestion to offer, which, if followed, may possibly help to expedite the matter.

I read regularly, and with great interest, each of the three enterprising journals published at the Corners, and it frequently strikes me as strange, that I scarcely ever see a favorable item in any one of them respecting the neighboring towns, and very often months pass by without even a mention of each other.

A stranger to read any one of these papers would never imagine that there was any other town within fifteen miles of the place where it is published, although the distance from the southern boundaries of Saint Vincent and Pembina, to the northern boundaries of Emerson and West Lynne is about the same as the area embraced in the river front of Fargo or Grand Forks.

In the pride and zeal which individual citizen naturally feels for the particular town where his own home is located he should not lose sight of the fact, that between Pembina, St. Vincent, Emerson, and West Lynne there is a common interest and a common destiny, and that, therefore, there should be mutual sympathy and assistance.

The slurs, which are often made by the citizens of each town against the other towns, are very unwise to say the least of them, and "while they may make the unskilful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve." And they tend to depreciate all the four towns in the estimation of every disinterested person.

It will be apparent to anyone who will investigate the subject, that these towns within two miles of where the International Boundary Line intersects the Red River, will, in time, become the greatest railway centre northwest of Duluth.

The construction of fifteen miles of railroad, over a level prairie, south-west from Pembina and twenty-five miles north-west from Emerson, (already graded) will give them seven miles of railway, beside which, there are favorable prospects for the early construction of tow more roads, to the south-east, through Minnesota.

It is not possible to find a spot on the globe where nine or even seven lines of railway are centered on a navigable stream, where there is not a city of considerable magnitude; but in order to attain our predestined greatness, within a reasonable period, it will be necessary that our citizens realize that anything which is benefit or injury to one of the Corners, will have the same effect on the others.

Let us not only "gather together" but pull together and advertise our collective advantages to the world; debate, if we wish, the comparative merits of the several towns and the enterprise of their citizens, but don't forget and don't let the world lose sight of the fact, that although divided by state lines the "Four Corners" are, for all social and commercial advantages, one City.

We might well adopt as our joint motto, that on the arms of the state of Kentucky and Missouri, "United we stand, divided we fall..."