Thursday, April 28, 2011

News from the Past: Schoolhouse Takeover

St. Vincent School in its early days...
A lot of tramps took possession of the school house at St. Vincent, Minnesota, and after getting drunk used the school records for making a fire. It took all the town police officials and a number of citizens to lodge them in jail.

From: Manitoba Daily Free Press (Wednesday, 19 February 1890)

Monday, April 25, 2011


In photo (l to r): Uncle Charlie (Cresien) & Aunt Norma (Carrigan); a very young
Mike Rustad held by his father Alfred "Rusty" Rustad with his wife, Patricia
(Carrigan); and Aunt Virginia (Carrigan) with Uncle Al (Alfred Ducharme)
"This picture was taken right outside of our house in Humboldt.  We 
lived in town and my Dad worked on my Grandfather's farm.  We moved 
from Humboldt when I was 7 years old.  I was the first grandchild on 
both sides of the family - Rustad and Carrigan.  At about that age, 
I would entertain the residents of Grandma Carrigan's rest home in 
East Grand Forks, Minnesota.  I still seem to like the center stage!" 
- Mike Rustad
Michael Rustad - What I remember most is that there were no vacation days when you had cows. I was fairly young around 7 or 8 when I was given the responsibility to change the bedding for the cows and it was always dark when I had to open up the barn door--which was sometimes frozen! Did you find it a relief of sorts to move into the town when your parents ran the cafe? I envied the town kids--Lofbergs, Boatzes, etc.

Keith Finney 1 - Funny thing Mike. I used to go out to the Stewart's to help with chores. I remember Glen walking out to the farm north of Humboldt many days. That brings up a memory. Jay Hoglin and I had skiied out to Grandpa and Grandma Turner's farm one Sunday. We were hunting rabbits. We took supplies so we could melt snow and make some soup while we were out there. I remember it being a pretty nice winter day. It soon started to snow real hard so we started making our way back to Humboldt. We got back to Diamond's farm and started following the railroad track south. We had our hands full of skis, guns and supplies. We had the wind at our backs so we were staying warm. We had just passed the Stewart farm and still could not see the lights of Humboldt as it was storming so bad. Then the surprise! Bang! I bumped right into Ben2 who was walking the tracks out to his farm to do chores. It surprised us all and when we all regained our composure we went our merry ways. One thing I remember was Ben was wearing a mackinaw which was wide open. (not buttoned), He was only wearing one glove as he had one off to carry his Lucky Strike. He was a hardy man. We then made our way home to our worried families and a warm home. Just another day in Humboldt.

1 - Keith is my second cousin once removed - his grandmother Mary Fitzpatrick Finney was my grandfather Sheldon Albert Fitzpatrick's sister.

2 - Ben was the nickname for Glen Stewart; sometimes he was called Big Ben...

Friday, April 22, 2011

New Book Features Local History

A recently published book has references to local area events and locations...
...the rough and ready type common to the frontier gathered at local drinking establishments with names worthy of dime novels - "Dutch George's" and "O'Lone's Red Saloon" in Winnipeg, and "The Robber's Roost", "Dead Layout", and "The Ragged Edge" in Pembina.1

From: Frontier Farewell: The 1870s and the End of the Old West By Garrett Wilson
1 - In 1862, McKenney sold the Royal to “Dutch George” Emmerling, a recent arrival by way of the United States. McKenney then built the store which would become the hub of today’s famous corner of Portage and Main. From: First 50 Years Of Hotels In Winnipeg

...Colourful George Emmerling from Bavaria, a.k.a. “Dutch George” operated a small goods store for the settlers in the area and built the first hotel in 1885 (McIntyre Building). From: Manitoba Historical Society

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rivalry & Politicking: Geography is Destiny

One of Dakota Territory's earliest territorial courts...
We first encountered the resistance to Pembina having serious territorial influence in 1872.  It's now 1873, and the resistance intensifies...
Three male members of one family were pioneers in many legal and political matters in North Dakota.

The patriarch, Alanson H. Barnes, held the first territorial district court hearing in Bismarck and established the judicial seat for the district court in Fargo. His son-in-law, Alfred D. Thomas, became the first U.S. District Court judge from North Dakota. Another son-in-law, Evan S. Thomas, became the second mayor of Fargo and came within three votes of becoming the first governor of North Dakota.

On Nov. 7, 1873, the acting governor of Dakota Territory, Oscar Whitney, reassigned Judge Barnes from Yankton to Pembina but, under federal orders, rescinded the order on Dec. 11. On Jan. 10, 1874, the Department of Interior reinstituted Whitney’s original proclamation.

Instead of going to Pembina, Barnes located the federal court for District 3 in Fargo. There was no courthouse in Fargo, so the trials were often held in business establishments.

In addition to court sessions in Fargo, Barnes held quarterly hearings in Bismarck. The first U.S. District Court to meet there began on June 18, 1874.

In December 1874, Alexander McHench, a Fargo legislator, successfully pushed a bill through the territorial Legislature that officially transferred the court from Pembina to Fargo.

Seal of the territory of Dakota

For major trials and appeals in Dakota Territory, Barnes traveled to Yankton to meet with the other two justices of the Supreme Court. He also had to travel to Deadwood to conduct trials in southwestern Dakota Territory.

Because of this, Barnes was a major proponent of dividing the territory into North and South Dakota. During a session of the Supreme Court in 1875 in Yankton, he stated: “The people of the northern Dakota want a division of the territory because they are so far removed from southern Dakota that they do not feel any identity of interest.”

Enos Stutsman, a noted lawyer and legislator of early Dakota days, started the separation movement, but died in 1874.

Source:  Fargo Forum

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spotlight: KCHS

Readers of this blog may have noticed several sections on the right-hand sidebar.  One of those sections contains links to various local and regional history sites.  And one of those sites is for the Kittson County Historical Society.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Geographic Trivia

From early on our area was unique,  geographically & politically
[Click to enlarge]
It is often thought that the title was secured by the U.S. at no cost. However, the territory of the original Louisiana Purchase west of the Red River Valley does extend north of the 49th parallel.

Annexed by Britain in exchange for its cession of the Red River Valley, the northernmost parts of the Louisiana Purchase are the only North American territory ever ceded by the United States to a foreign power.

The region was sparsely populated until Ojibwe claims to the most fertile portions of the valley were extinguished in the Treaty of Old Crossing (1863), after which it opened rapidly to agricultural development and settlement in the 1870s and 1880s. The area is one of several distinct regions of Minnesota.

From Red River Valley

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Returns from Pembina

President Cleveland once asked Bishop Whipple what would be the effect of making the Indians voters. Then Bishop Whipple told him that it had been tried, and after listening to the story, President Cleveland gave up the idea....
1876 was a very contested
in general... 

In Dakota territorial days a law was passed allowing Indians wearing civilized dress to vote. In the following election, when both sides were claiming the victory, some one said: "Wait until you hear from Pembina." In Pembina lived a large number of the Pembina tribe of Indians, and there also dwelt the local political boss, "Jud" La Moure, famed for his sealskin overcoat and his qualities as a political fighter. When the returns came in from Pembina, it was found that the members of the tribe had all been put into hickory shirts and trousers on election day, between sunrise and sunset, and after exercising the inalienable rights of citizenship, at the dictation of the local boss, they returned again to their blankets, having decided the territorial election.
From:  The Bourbon News (Paris, KY) November 12, 1901

Monday, April 04, 2011

Putting Faces to the Names

I have written about Les Eddington several times.  While doing research on another subject, I came across this rather dashing photo of him in uniform,  in the book Heritage '76: Pembina County, North Dakota Then & Now.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Pembina: Unique

Masthead - The paper was started by Horace Greeley

The article below - part of a series on new states in the Union - was written by an east coast newspaper  journalist sent to report onsite.  It offers an interesting 'snapshot' view of one year in the life of the Pembina/St. Vincent area, in 1889.

At that time, it was a few years into the intense settlement period. The area had been opened up; gone were the old fur trading, mission, and exploration days. It was a time of rapid growth and change. Read about how it looked to an outsider...