Monday, January 31, 2011

Remembering Bobby Stewart

A "Bobby" moment in 1962 
The above photograph shows Bobby Stewart (age 18) - the lanky jockey from Kittson County, Minnesota - being presented with a winner's trophy by legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro, who was on a retirement tour at the time.  Who knew that Bobby would go on to win six riding titles, set five track records, and even ride in the (1969) Kentucky Derby?

Remembering Bobby: A brilliant career, a tragic end
In the photograph:  Winners' Circle, Saturday July 10, 2010, with paddock host Kirt Contois (right) following the Bobby Stewart Memorial Stakes are Bobby's brother Wayne (left), daughter Lori, son Lance and brother Garylle, all who live in the U.S. Garylle recollects the 1960's and 1970's when his brother (inset) lit up the toteboard with 724 wins and bagged a record six riding titles. Later, son Lance, a former U.S. Marine who now repairs X-ray equipment, talked about the demons that haunted his father after an ailing back ended his riding career in 1976. Bobby, he said, couldn't deal with "going from everything to being nothing" and in 1985, at the age of only 41, died from a police bullet after taking a gun to visit his estranged wife in Lake Bronson, Minnesota.

From the Assiniboia Downs website comes this tribute, written in anticipation of the race named in Bobby's honor:
He was the master of swagger, the Fargo Phantom, the reaper of records. He was, in short, a riding dynamo at the Downs in the 1960s and 1970s who's never been equalled. Bobby Stewart. Never in a hurry to get to the paddock to mount up ("C'mon, let's go!") but always in a hurry to cross the finish line first ("Way to go!"), he earned the leading jockey title six times (no other jockey has more than four) and set five track records. He even rode in the Kentucky Derby. Lanky frame, cherubic grin. "He had no peer," said ASD patriarch owner/trainer Bert Blake who had Bobby ride his horses every opportunity he got.
From the Red River Valley website on Bobby's family, a quote from Mike Rustad reminds us that "Former residents of Kittson County will remember that Glen Stewart's son got their start at the Kittson County Fair Grounds."  From humble beginnings can come much greater things!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Aunt Lena, R.I.P.

Lena Paul Fitzpatrick Nordstrom  
1914 - 2011

Lena was the last living link to a tragedy that touched many lives in my hometown area, a life-time ago.  That link was broken on Thursday, January 27, 2011 when Lena passed away.

Lena was my aunt.  She was my aunt because in 1932, she married my mother's brother, Uncle John Fitzpatrick.

They met at a dance in St. Vincent.  John was recently home from college, now helping run the family farm.  They married later that same year.  A few years later,  the girls came along.  Life was as good as it could be. Sadly, that was not to last.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Prize-Winning Poultry!


I was exploring the Internet in search of local history once again, when I came across a fun bit of St. Vincent trivia in the form of an advertisement for...chickens!

I looked up Rev. James E. Kimberley, and found that he was an Episcopal minister.  As of 1906, he was listed in a church publication as being stationed in St. Vincent (at Christ Church).  The ad below shows that he was still there as of 1915.  He makes some astounding claims about his Buff Orpington chickens that made me smile!


The ad above is  from the January 1916 issue of the "Poultry Herald".

Later, I found the ad below in the January 1915 issue of the "Poultry Herald".

Monday, January 24, 2011

Highwater Bill "on hand"


William H. Moorhead was a colorful character that was involved in many events of local historical significance.  I have written about him before, as well as shared a story written about our area that featured him in it.  In the course of my research, his name has come up over and over again in accounts of history relating to my hometown area.

The above article was reprinted many years ago, showing photographs featuring "Highwater Bill" in them, during the 1893 flood.  Click on it to see an enlarged version, easier to read...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Humboldt Depot

Humboldt, MN Great Northern depot looking SW (June 1969)
Source:  Great Northern Railway Historical Society 
I can't say I remember the depot in Humboldt that well, although it obviously still existed in my lifetime.  Looking at this photograph now brings back some recollection.

I see it was two-stories in the main part of the building, which leads me to believe it had living quarters over the offices for the depot agent, (and his family, if he had one.)  The attached single-storey portion is probably the freight office.

I did a little digging online and found that one of the those families were the Merck's.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

KCND's Past in Photos

More photos from KCND's past have been found...
[Click to enlarge]
I was going through my files of St. Vincent and Pembina photos and documents that are in 'rough draft', i.e., I haven't done additional research and posted them yet. I found the above behind-the-scenes images from KCND's early days in the 1960's.

It's fun to see what it looked like behind-the-scenes at Channel 12 during its hey day.  I get a big kick out of reading the notes with the photographs of how the equipment featured in them are state-of-the-art for that time (as I'm sure they were) - we've come such a long way since then! (I don't recognize any of the staff in these particular photos.  If anyone reading this does, let me know and I'll update this post.)

I am ashamed to have to admit this, but I didn't have any notes attached that provides credit for these images. I am guessing that they may be from a scrapbook either put together by the Pembina Historical Society, or from a private collection (maybe connected to the 1997 Pembina Bicentennial celebration). If anyone out there knows, please contact me.

[I apologize that the images aren't more clear, but they are photocopies of the originals, the best I have...]

Friday, January 14, 2011

National Archives

Company 876, 20th Infantry, U.S. Army, Fort Pembina, Dakota Territory
Source:  State Historical Society of North Dakota
Earlier this month, the U.S. National Archives announced a new Online Public Access search engine prototype. It holds great promise to make searching of our national archival records much easier.

I did some test searches, and came up with some interesting finds already. For instance, about Fort Pembina, I found this...
Originally called Fort George H. Thomas, this post was established on July 9, 1870, by Companies I and K, 20th U.S. Infantry, under the command of Capt. Loyd Wheaton. The post was located in northeastern North Dakota, on the west bank of the Red River, one mile south of Pembina city. The site was chosen as a result of two boards of officers ordered to select a site for a post by Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, commanding general of the Department of Dakota. A reservation of 1,920 acres was declared by the President on October 4, 1870. The name of the post was changed to Fort Pembina in accordance with General Order 55, Department of Dakota, dated September 6, 1870. The post was established to render aid to the civil authorities in collecting fees at the customhouse and land office in Pembina. The post was abandoned September 26, 1895, in accordance with a letter from the Secretary of War, dated July 11, 1895, and pursuant to Special Order 109, Department of Dakota, dated July 15, 1895. The reservation was turned over to the Department of the Interior in accordance with War Department General Order 60, on December 5, 1895.
I had no idea that the fort had originally been named Fort George H. Thomas. I did a little digging and found out that a general by that name had died earlier that year in 1870, thus it was probably an attempt to name the fort in his honor. Why it didn't remain under that name, I haven't found that out yet. Probably a political choice of some sort...

Another fact I didn't realize, is that the Pembina Airport is on land that was part of what was once the 'military reservation' comprising Fort Pembina.

From May 27, 1895 St. Vincent New Era
Source:  New York Times (May 28, 1895)

[Click to enlarge]
A large part of the post was lost by fire on May 27, 1895 which led to its abandonment on August 15, 1895.  It was transferred to the Department of Interior on November 27, 1895, and sold at public auction in April 1902. Some of the lands went for as much as $20 an acre.

"During its time, the fort brought the one thing that was needed to the area - stability." - Major E. W. Davis, Headquarters of the Army, dated July 11, 1895, Fort Pembina Papers, State Historical Society of ND.

Soldiers present arms at Fort Pembina, DT (1870)
Source:  State Historical Society of North Dakota

Monday, January 10, 2011

Collector Photos

I can't prove it, but I'd bet that this photographer is the one who took
this infamous photograph of the 1897 Red River Flood in St. Vincent...
These photos are from the Wayne Stewart collection. This first photo shows another photographer taking a picture. The photographer being shot is setting up to take a picture of two men in a boat during the 1897 flood in St. Vincent. The print is labeled as taken on April 22, 1897; written on the side of the boat are the words, "Ferry Boat for St. Vincent".


Further in the background, on the upper story of the storefront behind them, is an ad for Climax Plug Tobacco, a popular chew of the time, and purported to be the inspiration for the Minnesota town of the same name.


I've been in touch both indirectly and directly a few times with Wayne in recent months about various subjects, mostly connected with his photograph collection, but also his brother Bob.

In a mailing to me from last year, that included the photos in this post, Wayne had this to say...

Friday, January 07, 2011

1917 Recipe

Hand-written recipe by Elizabeth Jane (Fitzgerald) Fitzpatrick,
my grandmother - used in the "Economy Cookbook" of 1917,
put out by the Ladies of St. Vincent...
Transcription of text in document

War Cake (Eggless, Butterless, Milkless)

Put in a saucepan 1 cup raisins, 1 cup sugar, scant 1/2 cup lard, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoonfuls cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoonful of cloves and nutmeg, pinch salt.

Boil them for five minutes and when cool add teasponful soda dissolved in little warm water, then add 2 cups of well-sifted flour with 1 teaspoonful of baking powder.

Bake in a shallow greased pan for 30 minutes in a moderate oven.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Life of a Customs Official in Old Pembina

Joseph O. Lemay
[Photo courtesy: Manitoba
Historical Society]
Joseph Lemay, Esq. - Judge, postmaster and collector of United States customs at the frontier post of Pembina - filled a tolerably well paid office, but was exposed, in the execution of his duties, to an almost intolerable amount of abuse and obloquy at the hands of a class of men who cared as much about the obligations imposed by civilized laws as they respected Mr. Lemay for his professional knowledge of such. His own countrymen resident at Red River Settlement were supposed to give the collector, on the whole, more trouble than did the British colonists, while he revenged himself as far as possible by strictly adhering to the letter of his instructions as regards releases for loaded goods, and relaxed no charge which it was in his power legally to enforce against the enemy. It will readily be understood that much power which might be perfectly legally used, either to retard or facilitate the transmission of goods, was necessarily vested in the hands of such a person as Mr. Lemay.

So unpopular had that public servant become among a certain class that he stood in well-grounded fear of personal violence at the hands of its members as often as they entered an appearance with a fresh cargo of bonded merchandize at his head-quarters. When at St. Paul he met his persecutors, secure under the wing of an organized police force, he has been known to exhibit somewhat more than his wonted confidence in his communications with them, receiving in reply a plain intimation that he had better take care what he did or he would walk in a skinful of sore bones the first time his interlocutors should encounter him at Pembina. His visits to Red River Settlement occasionally proved disastrous. Those with whom it was his object to do business, treacherously concealing their designs under the cloak of hospitality, pressed on his acceptance the peculiarly stimulating beverages commonly used in the country, and occasionally reduced their visitor to a condition in which he found it prudent to avoid engaging in business. To do Mr. Lemay justice, however, the latter event was one very uncommon in his experience, as he was, I believe, a match, so far as ability lay in the consumption of spirits, more than competent to deal with any adversary he would be likely often to meet. Latterly, moreover, he prudently shielded himself against all such attempts under the plea of total abstinence.

Sometimes the war was carried on more openly. The collector called one day on a man, who he alleged had deceived him, and told him, " Sir, you are a liar!" He was immediately knocked down for his pains by a blow on the eye which rendered him a deplorable spectacle for a long time. He applied to several magistrates for satisfaction on account of the assault he had sustained, and justified the offensive expression he had used on the ground: "I called him a liar because he was a liar, and I could not call him anything else."

On another occasion he was knocked down with an axe handle in the course of a dispute with a settler, rising out of an alleged overcharge of two cents in his Pembina postage accounts.