Saturday, March 09, 2013

River Cities in Cahoots

Having had its own County Seat stolen - and for other more practical
reasons - St. Vincent came to the support of its neighbor across the river

St. Vincent Saloons To Help Pembina Fight

Red river bridges and St. Vincent beer couldn't 
stop the court house from coming to Cavalier...

Some time since, rumor was set afloat that the saloons of St. Vincent, Minn. -  which have for many years been receiving large profit on account of the Pembina county seat being located in Pembina -  would put up the money needed to aid Pembina in making her fight against county seat removal. Not much evidence was given this rumor at the outset, but later developments would seem to indicate that there is probably truth in the same.

In its issue of last Friday (June 3rd) the St. Vincent New Era says:
That excellent daily journal, the Grand Forks Herald, has printed lately some very interesting articles about the county seat fight now on between Cavalier and Pembina which are read and pondered over here.
In another place in the same issue of the New Era, the editor of that paper jumps into the county seat fight in Pembina’s interest as follows:
The county seat battle among our neighbors across the river, is not only interesting, but also something fierce. The Cavalier crowd have let it be known that they are long in finances, having, it is reported, 1,500 dollars subscribed, to be spent where it will do the most good, and have also let it be known that they are ridiculously short in common sense, by committing a blunder which in a county seat scrap as well as in politics, is worse than a crime, by bragging that three towns, settled almost exclusively by Icelanders, they are sure of 96 percent of the votes, and in another township, similarly settled every voter signed their petition except one, an absentee.
In gazing enraptured and abstractly at those four townships, the Cavalier blunderbuss schemers have overlooked a fact, that a majority of the citizens of Pembina county are either of French, German, Canadian, Scotch, Irish, English or U.S. birth, and when the Cavalier bunglers have rubbed it into the people of Pembina county, that they propose to rule that county by the vote of four Icelandic towns they may afterward mortgage their city for what it will being, add the proceeds to their “reptile fund, blow it all in, and then would not be within a rifle shot distance of beating Pembina, at the show down”.
Now what do you think of that for an exhibition of pure, unadulterated newspaper gall?

But more’s a pity—for in the Pembina Pioneer Express published the same date appears a “screed” against the Icelandic people of this county exactly in tone (though somewhat more lengthy) as the foregoing article from the St. Vincent paper. Doesn’t this show beyond dispute that an alliance “offensive and defensive” has been formed between Pembina and St. Vincent, to make a strenuous fight against the removal of the county seat, and that the newspapers of those two towns are working in “sweet accord” to do their sawdust best to earn some portion of that big contingent fund which the saloons from the town on the opposite side of the Red river have put up as “sinews of war” to aid Pembina in the fight to protect not only her own interests but the liquor interests of St. Vincent as well.

But this is not all: On May 28th the Chronicle editor received the following letter, unsigned dated at Pembina May 27 and bearing the R. P. O. postmark dated May 28th:

Pembina, May 27, 1910
Special to the Chronicle 
Keep up the county seat removal agitation. Janitor Johnson and his helpers are busy cleaning up and Muggins is papering. All the empty beer bottles have been removed from the basement and the janitors are working night and day to have everything speck and span by court time. The officials owe you thanks. Even Wardwell swept out his office. 
But there is nothing strange that the saloons of St. Vincent should put up large sums of money to carry on the fight against removal. The loss of the county seat from Pembina would be a big personal financial loss to them. Pembina however, which poses as a temperance town in a prohibition county and state, may justly be censured for descending into the depths of such an offensive alliance in order to try to keep its head above water. Certainly there would be more true virtues and heroism expressed by going down to defeat in a single handed clean struggle to prevent removal that to win in the fight under the power of any such corrupt alliance. 
That the tocain (sic) sounded by the alliance of Pembina with the saloon power of St. Vincent - if such it be is a call for the temperance forces of all Pembina county to arise in all their majestic power and fight for the removal of the county seat away from such debasing influences - we think will now be generally admitted, more especially as there is an indication that the fight against removal is to be dominated by the forces of intemperance of Minnesota’s north east corner city. Moreover, the conversion of the present county court house into a veritable blind pig, as the foregoing letter would seem to indicate, gives double reason for removal of the county seat at the earliest possible date. Certainly in its present location, it is a menace to temperance and sobriety, nor may we expect true temperance principles to exist and hold sway in connection with the various official county departments of business, so long as the licensed vendors of intoxicating liquors from a nearby Minnesota city have our court house under their very eaves. This new invasion of the St. Vincent saloon power into the county seat removal fight, and the fact that the same has for years held sway in attempted debauchment of men whom we have sent down to Pembina to conduct the county’s department business, produces another of the most logical and intelligent reasons for change in county seat location. Living in a prohibition state under strict temperance laws, the people of Pembina county, morally speaking, are in duty bound to safeguard their officials from the contaminating influences of intemperance, more especially when such an act will, as by county seat removal, bring protection and blessing to the great number of the county’s inhabitants as well. 
[Cavalier Chronicle - June 10, 1910 Vol. 20 No 25]