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."

All content © 2008- Grand Forks Herald (ND)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Eyewitness to a Hunt

The Red River Buffalo hunt was unique in North America. In the story of the westward march of civilization across the continent no other people organized themselves so efficiently and so extensively for a systematic assault on the buffalo herds.

These large organized hunts began in the early 1820s and continued until the early 1870s, though with gradually diminishing enthusiasm and extent as the herds dwindled and withdrew farther and farther westward. Probably no comparable community depended for so long a time and to such an extent on the "plains provisions" which the great hunts provided.

This excerpt, taken from Red River Settlement is of the spring hunt of 1840. At this time the importance of the buffalo to the economy of Red River would be hard to exaggerate. Though this account is of particular events which the writer witnessed, everything that he tells us may be considered typical of most of the great hunts.

From Manitoba Historical Society introduction notes to the following account...

On the 15th day of June 1840, carts were seen to emerge from every nook and corner of the settlement, bound for the plains.

From Fort Garry the cavalcade and camp-followers went crowding on to the public road, and thence, stretching from point to point, till the third day in the evening, when they reached Pembina, the great rendezvous on such occasions.

Here the roll was called, and general muster taken, when they numbered, on this occasion, 1,630 souls; and here the rules and regulations for the journey were finally settled. The officials for the trip were named and installed into office; and all without the aid of writing materials.

The camp occupied as much ground as a modern city, and was formed in a circle; all the carts were placed side by side, the trains out-ward. These are trifles, yet they are important to our subject. Within this line of circumvallation, the tents were placed in double, treble rows, at one end; the animals at the other in front of the tents. This is in order in all dangerous places; but where no danger is apprehended, the animals are kept on the outside. Thus the carts formed a strong barrier, not only for securing the people and their animals within, but as a place of shelter against an attack of the enemy without.
In 1820, the number of carts assembled here for the first trip was 540

In 1825, 680

In 1830, 820

In 1835, 970

In 1840, 1210
From this statement it is evident that the plain hunters are rapidly increasing ... The first step was to hold a council for the nomination of chiefs or officers, for conducting the expedition. Ten captains were named, the senior on this occasion being Jean Baptiste Wilkie, an English half-breed, brought up among the French; a man of good sound sense and long experience, and withal a fine bold-looking and discreet fellow; a second Nimrod in his way. Besides being captain, in common with the others, he was styled the great war chief or head of the camp; and on all public occasions he occupied the place of president. All articles of property found, without an owner, were carried to him, and he disposed of them by crier, who went around the camp every evening, were it only an awl. Each captain had ten soldiers under his orders; in much the same way that policemen are subject to the magistrate. Ten guides were likewise appointed; their duties were to guide the camp, each in his turn — that is day about — during the expedition. The camp flag belongs to the guide of the day; he is therefore standard-bearer in virtue of his office.

The raising of the flag every morning is the signal for raising camp. Half an hour is the full time allowed to prepare for the march; but if any one is sick, or their animals have strayed, notice is sent to the guide, who halts till all is made right. From the time the flag is hoisted, however, till the hour of camping arrives, it is never taken down. The flag taken down is the signal for encamping. While it is up, the guide is chief of the expedition. Captains are subject to him, and the soldiers of the day are his messengers; he commands all. The moment the flag is lowered, his functions cease, and the captains' and soldiers' duties commence. They point out the order of the camp, and every cart, as it arrives, moves to its appointed place. This business usually occupies about the same time as raising camp in the morning; for everything moves with the regularity of clock-work.

All being ready to leave Pembina, the captains and other chief men hold another council, and lay down the rules to be observed during the expedition; those made on the present occasion were:

1. No buffalo to be run on the Sabbath-day.

2. No party to fork off, lag behind, or go before, without permission.

3. No person or party to run buffalo before the general order.

4. Every captain with his men, in turn, to patrol the camp, and keep guard.

5. For the first trespass against these laws, the offender to have his saddle and bridle cut up.

6. For the second offence, the coat to be taken off the offender's back, and be cut up.

7. For the third offence, the offender to be flogged.

8. Any person convicted of theft, even to the value of a sinew, to be brought to the middle of the camp, and the crier to call out his or her name three times, adding the word "Thief" at each time.
From Alexander Ross, The Red River Settlement: Its Rise, Progress, and Present State (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1972), pp. 245, 248-250

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Jefferson Highway

I always wondered why the road from the Junction was called 171 – now I know…it was the short offshoot from what was once called Highway 71 or the Jefferson Highway. The highway was part of what was called auto trails, built between the 1910's and 1920's.

...Southern line of Freeborn County on State Road # 7, and thence via north/northwesterly through cities and villages as noted below and terminating at Northern line of Kittson at St. Vincent, and known as Jefferson Highway. Cities and villages on Jefferson Highway include Albert Lea, Owatonna, Faribault, Northfield, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Anoka, Elk River, St. Cloud, Little Falls, Staples, Wadena, Park Rapids, Bemidji, Bagley, Red Lake Falls, Thief River Falls, Fulda, Bronson, Hallock and St. Vincent.

Of course, it went a lot further (a lot further), but it ended up north (in the U.S.) with little old Minnesota State (Trunk) Highway 171...The little road got a long-needed makeover a year or so ago with a brand new bridge that included extensive grading and ditch work that will greatly help with overland flooding common to the area.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Sheriff Charley Brown - Chapter 26

The eagerly awaited letter arrived -- the first since Marguerite left to marry Paul Evans. Worry and apprehension faded and it became impossible to blame her for her hasty action. Her endearing nature showed through the lines, making it unthinkable to do anything but pray for her happiness. Her mother immediately walked over to Susan's to read the letter aloud. As Susan watched her Mother's face, she saw both the relief and pride showing.
Chicago, July 4, 1881

Dear Mother and all,

Paul and I were married on July 1 at the Episcopal Church near his parents' home. I haven't changed my persuasion or beliefs, but we both decided this was the best solution for an immediate marriage. His church, as he has described it, carries down from the Church of England. The service is similar to ours, but it is less formal. No Latin is spoken.

Paul's folks have been wonderful to me. His mother's name is Grace, his father’s, Ralph.

Paul met me at the station on the morning of June 27. We had breakfast together before he took me to his parents' home. We went house hunting the very next afternoon and settled on a bungalow only a short distance from his office. It is a small house with only two bedrooms, but it's nearly new. Of course we have the usual house with a path.

I've so much to tell you that I feel almost ready to burst. Paul is kind and considerate; I find no problem answering to his love. There are so many adjustments to make, as I'm not used to a city -- and this city of Chicago is immense! I hardly dare step from the house for the buggies and wagons passing by on the street. We have a small stable but no horse or buggy as yet. Paul walks to work each morning, a matter of only about a mile. He receives a good wage and says we are secure.

Although his parents treat me almost as a daughter, I am a bit homesick. Paul says we might have to wait until next summer to visit you in St. Vincent. Now that you have my address, tell everyone to write.

How is Susan's pregnancy coming along? I know she and Ian plan on four children. I am hoping for at least one while I am still young.

Sometimes I feel hemmed in; I guess crowded is the word. Although Paul's folks both teach in Evanston, his mother stops by nearly every evening. She is a chatty woman, a kind woman who means well, but I would like a little less visiting. She is arranging for me to take art lessons. I showed her some of the charcoals and oils I brought with me. She was especially inquisitive about my drawing of Charley, wanting to know who that handsome man was. I shouldn't have shown her that one, but I couldn't part with it!

We are going to the lakeshore tonight to view the fireworks. They are supposed to be spectacular. Paul showed me where his old home stood before the big fire. It's completely built over now, all lovely homes.

It is so warm here. I feel stilted, having to be dressed just so every day. No more swimming in the river, it just isn't done here. I miss you all! Keep me up on the news. My address is: Mrs. Paul Evans, 224 22nd St. N. Chicago, Illinois.

All my love, Marguerite
It was the fourth week after they were married when Marguerite began to worry. A heaviness seemed to settle in her abdomen and her appetite began failing at breakfast time. She noted the pigment area of her breasts was darkening and enlarging. Fortunately, she had no morning nausea. Knowledge told her that she was pregnant and had been this past month. A pervasive fear set in that she did her best to conceal, realizing the date she must have conceived coincided with that late May meeting with Charley, south of the fort, and at his quarters that evening.

If she'd only known! Or even had an inkling! Lordy! She'd really done it, crossed all her bridges with nowhere to turn! After moping for days she couldn't make up her mind what to do or say. What would be gained by telling Paul the truth? A horrible feeling of guilt came. Paul was so staunch and steadfast in his love for her. He would be totally devastated.

As the days passed she became embroiled in her art lessons, purposely spending long hours at the school, returning home only in time to prepare supper. The long hours spent did little to relieve her conscience, it seemed she was just putting off the inevitable. Paul noticed the change and commented, "You don't have to spend those long hours at the Art Institute. It's not necessary to devote so much time to perfect your painting. Why not do a few hours at a time? We have an adequate income to support us."

"Paul, it's something I must do. I'm told my talent lies in portrait work -- if so, that's what I want to specialize in. In the past I've been having trouble with flesh tones and making the model's eyes come alive, but I think I've finally found the answers. It isn't the money, although that would be a bonus. I've never had much cash and the prices people pay for a good oil portrait is substancial. Anyway, it's just a driving force that makes me want to succeed. I love to paint. Someday I hope you'll be proud of my work."

Hugging her, he said, "Heck, I'm proud of you just the way you are. Your painting isn't going to change that!"

It was nearly two months after their wedding before Marguerite told Paul of her pregnancy. He had gone to bed while she was changing to her nightgown. As she approached the bed he noticed that she held her hand snugly to her stomach. Alarmed, he asked, "What's the matter? Is your stomach bothering you?"

Sitting on the edge of the bed she looked at him apprehensively, tears beginning to form in her eyes. "Oh Paul, soon you'll have another mouth to feed, I'm pregnant."

A grin formed on his face as he sat up and folded her into his arms. "Honey, that's wonderful! It's a normal thing, but I hadn't expected a baby this soon. Dry those tears; it's nothing to cry over; it's something wonderful to celebrate. Wait until I tell the folks; they'll be tickled. Which do you want, a boy or girl?"

Wiping her tears away, Marguerite looked directly into his eyes. Forcing a weak smile, she said, "I'm hoping for a girl. Would that disappoint you?"

He fingered the long hair back from her face. "You know it would be grand to have another exactly like you. Girl or boy, we'll take whatever comes and be grateful."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Gamesters of the Wilderness - Part II

Then each man recharged his musket lest the swamp mists had dampened the powder. De Troyes led his soldiers round to the fore to make a feint of furious onslaught from the water-front. Iberville posted his Indians along each flank to fire through the embrasures of the pickets. Then with a wild yell the French soldiers swooped upon the English fort. Iberville and his brothers Sainte-Helene and Maricourt were over the rear pickets and across the courtyard, swords in hand. Before the sleepy gunner behind the main gate could get his eyes open, one blow of Sainte-Helene's sabre split the fellow's head to the collar-bone. The trunk of a tree had rammed in the gate. Iberville's Indians had hacked down the rear pickets, and he himself led the way into the main house. Before the sixteen inmates, dashing out in their shirts, had realized what had happened, the raiders were masters of Moose Factory. Only one other man besides the gunner was killed; and he was a Frenchman, slain by the cross-fire of his comrades over the courtyard. The cellars were searched, but there was small loot of fur. Furs were stored elsewhere; but the French were the richer by sixteen captives, twelve portable cannon, and three thousand pounds of powder. Flag unfurled, muskets firing, sod heaved in air, Chevalier de Troyes took possession of the fort for the Most Redoubtable, Most Mighty, Most Christian King of France, though a cynic might wonder how such an act was accomplished in time of peace, when the sole object of the raid had been the rescue of Monsieur Pere, imprisoned as a spy.

Eastward of Moose, a hundred miles along the south coast of the bay, on Rupert's River, was another fort, stronger, the bastions of stone, with a dock where the Hudson's Bay Company's ship commonly anchored for the summer. Northwestward of Moose, a hundred miles, was a third fort, Albany, the citadel of the English fur traders' strength, forty paces back from the water, unassailable by sea, and the storehouse of the best furs. It was decided to attack the fort on Rupert's River first. Staying only long enough at Moose to build a raft to carry Chevalier de Troyes and his prisoners along the coast, the raiders set out by sea on the 27th of June. Iberville led the way with two canoes and eight or nine men. By the 1st of July he had caught a glimpse of Rupert's bastions. Concealing his Indians, he went forward to reconnoitre. To his delight he espied the company's ship with the H.B.C. ensign flying, that signified Governor Bridgar was on board. Choosing the night, as usual, for attack, Iberville stationed his bandits where they could fire on the decks if necessary, and glided across the water to the schooner. Hand over fist, he was up the ship's side, when the sleeping sentinel awakened with a spring at Iberville's throat. On cleave of his sword, and the fellow rolled dead at the Frenchman's feet, Iberville stamping on the deck to call the crew aloft, and killing three men in turn as they tumbled up the hatchway, till the fourth, Governor Bridgar himself, threw up his hands in unconditional surrender of the ship and crew of fourteen. Meanwhile the din had alarmed the fort. Though the bastions were dismantled fore repairs, gates were hard shut and musketry poured hot shot through the embrasures, that kept the raiders at a distance. Again it was the le Moyne brothers who led to victory. The bastions served the usual twofold purpose of defence and barracks. Extemporizing ladders, Iberville clambered to the roofs of these, hacked holes through the rough thatch, and threw down hand-grenades at the imminent risk of blowing himself as well as the enemy to eternity. "It was," says the old chronicle, "with an effect most admirable." - which depends on the point of view; for when the sharpshooters were driven from the bastions to the main house inside, gates were rammed down, palisades hacked out, and Iberville with his followeres was on the rood of the main house, throwing down more bombs. The raid became a rout. The French had Rupert, though little the richer except for the ship and thirty prisoners.

The wild wood-rovers were now strong enough to attempt Albany, one hundred miles northeast of Moose. It was at Albany that the French spy Pere was supposed to be lying panting for rescue. It was also at Albany that the English fur traders had their greatest store of pelts. As usual, Iberville led off in the canoes, de Troyes, the French fur traders, the soldiers, and the captives following with the cannon on the ship. It was sunset when the canoes launched out from Rupert's River. To save time by crossing the south end of the bay diagonally, they had sheered out from the coast, when there blew down from the upper bay one of those bitter northeast gales that at once swept a maelstrom of churning ice-floes about the cockle-shell birch canoes. To make matters worse, a fog fell, thick as night. A birch canoe in a cross-sea is bad enough. With ice-floes it was destruction. Some made for the main shore and took refuge on land. The le Moyne's two canoes kept on. The first of August saw his Indians and woodlopers below the embankmanet of Albany. A few days later came de Troyes on the boat with soldiers and cannon.

Governor Sargeant of Albany had had warning of the raiders from Indian coureurs. The fort looked as shut as a locked box. Neither side gave a sign. Not till the French began trundling their cannon ashore by all sorts of clumsy contrivance, to get them in range of the fort forty yards back, was there a sign of life, when forty-three big guns inside the wall of Albany simultaneously let go forty-three bombs in midair that flattened the raiders to earth under shelter of the embankment. Chevalier de Troyes then mustered all the pomp and fustian of court pageantry, flag flying, drummer beating to the fore, guard in line, and, marching forward, demanded of the English traders, come half-way out to meet him, satisfaction for and the delivery of Sieur Pere, a loyal subject of France suffering imprisonment on the shores of Hudson's Bay at the hands of the English. One may wonder, perhaps, what those raiders would have done without the excuse of Pere. The messenger came back from Governor Sargeant with word that Pere had been sent home to France by way of England long ago. (That Pere had been delayed in an English prison was not told...) De Troyes then pompously demanded the surrender of the fort. Sargeant sent back word such a demand was an insult in time of peace. Under cover of night, the French retired to consider. With an extravagance now lamented they had used at Rupert most of their captured ammunition. Cannon they had in plenty, but few rounds of balls. They had thirty prisoners, but no provisions; a ship, but no booty of furs. Between them and home lay a wilderness of forest and swamps for one thousand miles. They must capture the fort by an escalade, or retreat empty-handed.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Grifter

GORDON, Lord GORDON (alias Hon. Mr Herbert Hamilton, Lord Glencairn, George Gordon, George Herbert Gordon, John Herbert Charles Gordon), adventurer and swindler; b. 184?; d. 1 Aug. 1874, Headingley, Manitoba.

One of the many colorful characters that passed through our area was an 'adventurer and swindler', to put it mildly. Pembina played an ironic role in preventing his extradition to American soil once he was finally apprehended for his crimes. But in the end, he took his own life...


The Grifter
By Bryan Eddington
Canadian National History Society

Elegant, terribly proud, and obviously a wealthy aristocrat, why shouldn't Lord Gordon Gordon be welcome in the homes of leading families in Fort Garry in 1872? Wasn't he a friend of dukes, owner of vast British estates, personal diplomat for Queen Victoria?

Well, no.

But a year earlier he had conned one of the sharpest, most suspicious minds in America -- Jay Gould, the Wizard of Wall Street.

Lord Gordon seems to have been really Hubert Smith. A Scotsman near Fort Garry had known him in India and they talked about their service in a Highland regiment.

Gordon's quiet life in Fort Garry lasted only until the summer of 1873.

Then, an American who had met Lord Gordon in Minneapolis two years before recognized him. Knowing Gould had posted a reward of $25,000 for the bogus lord, he told Mayor George A. Brackett of Minneapolis. And Brackett told A.F. Roberts, who had lost money through Gordon in New York.

Hurrying to Minneapolis, Roberts obtained a U.S. warrant for the arrest of Lord Gordon, and two Minneapolis policemen, Michael Hoy and Owen Keegan, sped north with it.

On July 2, with help from Americans they had met in Fort Garry, Hoy and Keegan entered the house where Gordon was staying. Ignoring his lordly protests, they bound him and stealthily headed south.

But the Manitoba attorney general, learning a kidnapping was under way, refused to recognize the American warrant and telegraphed customs at Pembina to stop the group. Everyone returned to Fort Garry, and it was the Americans who heard prison doors slam. One of them sent a message to Mayor Brackett: "I'm in a hell of a fix. Come at once." Brackett did so.

Manitoba's lieutenant governor, Alexander Morris, wired the prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. The U.S. consul in Winnipeg wired acting Secretary of State Hamilton Fish in Washington. Preliminary hearings on kidnapping charges opened. Bail was refused. After two weeks of hearings, tensions escalated and both sides went to the newspapers.

The judge publicly called the American warrant "dangerous to our national independence."

The St. Paul Pioneer trumpeted: "Our people should make ready." The newspaper called for removing all obstacles in the way of Fenians who wanted to invade Manitoba. * Plans should be "swift, silent and terrible." The Minneapolis Tribune called the refusal to grant bail offensively hostile. The Chicago Tribune denounced it as a flagrant violation of judicial decency.

The governor of Minnesota visited the British ambassador. Brackett talked with President Ulysses S. Grant. He also told Fish: "We have stood more than American citizens ought to stand." Fish demanded the prisoners be freed. The British government urged their release. Macdonald wired Fort Garry that the governor general wanted the prisoners out on bail.

But in Manitoba, the lieutenant governor and judge dug in against America, England, and Ottawa. They refused to release any prisoners.

It was early in 1871 that Lord Gordon had appeared in Minneapolis. He told Colonel John S. Loomis, land commissioner for the Northern Pacific Railway, that he could bring settlers. Loomis immediately invited him on a luxurious trip to survey the land the railway owned. One newspaper marvelled at the forty horses, twelve men to pitch tents, French cook, and waiters wearing white silk gloves. Of course, everyone called Gordon "My Lord."

Loomis was convinced the Scottish aristocrat would invest $5 million and, during the three-month trek, they selected some 50,000 acres. Of course, one town was to be called Loomis.

When Lord Gordon headed for New York to arrange for a hundred Highland immigrants, he carried a letter of introduction from Loomis to New York's wealthy elite. They, in turn, introduced him to stock manipulator Jay Gould.

Gould was fighting railway magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt for control of the profitable Erie Railroad, and losing. Lord Gordon convinced Gould that he owned 60,000 Erie shares and controlled many more. He said he would back Gould in return for consideration, but added that he needed more than the financier's word. Gould handed over, in surety, railroad stock, bonds, and cash worth a reported one million dollars. Then Gordon invented a mistake in his arithmetic and Gould paid him another $40,000.

When Gould asked for a receipt, Lord Gordon was outraged. Was the word of a British gentleman not enough? Gould left empty-handed.

Only when Gould heard Lord Gordon had sold some of the Erie Railroad stock did Gould realize he'd been conned. He took Lord Gordon to court, but Gordon's friends, including A.F. Roberts, raised $37,000 bail.

Gould's lawyer checked the aristocrat's family and found it fictitious, but when the trial resumed, Gordon was fleeing in lordly fashion across Canada to Fort Garry where, a year later, his kidnappers ended in jail.

It wasn't until September 16, 1873 -- after the Minnesotans had been detained for two months -- that the political pressure brought about a plea bargain. Hoy, Keegan, and the other Americans pleaded guilty and were sentenced to twenty-four hours in the jail they had occupied since July 2. They were then released. International hostility faded. Fenians scrapped their invasion plans.

But Gould still craved revenge, and Roberts wanted his bail money back. A Canadian warrant was issued for Gordon's arrest and extradition. When it was served in Fort Garry, Lord Gordon quietly packed his bags. He was about to leave when he asked police if he might return to his room to get a warmer coat. There he shot himself.

Some may think this a miserable end for someone whose main crime was fleecing a man whose own misdealings had made him despised across North America. But the alternative was hard labour in an American prison, and Lord Gordon Gordon probably embraced a more noble end.

* In October 1871, Fenians -- Irish Americans hoping to ransom Canadian territory gained in battle with London to secure Irish independence from Britain -- crossed the border from the U.S. and seized the Hudson's Bay Company post. They were followed by American troops and arrested.