Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Scrapbook: Local WWII Veterans

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Scrapbook, a set on Flickr.
Hetty Walker recently lent an old scrapbook to Jamie Rustad Meagher. Jamie is a fellow local historian, and she was interested in scanning some of the scrapbook's photos to share online.

The scrapbook was originally put together by a third, unknown person, who gave it to Hetty and Chuck Walker, two other local historians, for safekeeping.

Part of its contents are newspaper clippings, documenting many of Pembina and St. Vincent's WWII veterans during their service in the 1940s.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The “Birdman” of Hamilton

'Birdman' Beachey,  putting on flying show at the Hamilton Fair

[Reprinted with permission, by © Jim Benjaminson, Author]

When Orville and Wilbur Wright first took to the air in 1903, no one could imagine the future aviation would hold for the world. For people living on the flat prairies of North Dakota it would be seven more years before anyone would witness the daring exploits of a “birdman” when Archibald “Arch” Hoxsey gave the first demonstration flight in the state at the Grand Forks fairground July 19, 1910.

First North Dakota flight at Grand Forks Fair, 1910

Hoxsey had met Orville Wright in March of ’10, when Orville opened a school for aspiring aviators in Montgomery, Alabama. It was here Hoxsey learned to fly and joined other pilots in the Wright Exhibition Team, a troupe of flyers scheduled to give flying exhibitions around the country. These flyers would be the first to fly the new Wright Brothers Model B aircraft. Hoxsey’s Grand Forks flight was witnessed by an estimated 10,000 people as he flew 2,500 feet in the air during his 22-minute flight. Hoxsey’s flying career—and his life, at age 26—came to an end that same December during an exhibition flight in Los Angeles when his plane plummeted from a height of 7,000 feet. Hoxsey could not only claim being the first aviator to fly in North Dakota but to also carrying the first (former) United States president when he took Theodore Roosevelt airborne two months earlier in St. Louis.

Residents of Pembina County who had not been present at the Grand Forks exhibition would have to wait an additional three years before the first recorded airplane flight took place in the county. Hillary Beachey—billed as the “World’s Greatest Aviator”—was booked to make an appearance at the 1913 Hamilton Fair. Ads in the Cavalier Chronicle reading “see the dizzy, death-defying aeroplane flights by daredevil aviators every afternoon” drew large crowds to the fairgrounds. After the fair, the Chronicle reported “the program of attractions was perhaps larger and better by far than that of any previous fair held in the county. Perhaps the chief among these were the several flights of Hillary Beachey in his Aero Plane.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

News from the Past VI

First & Last Chance Saloon

More News from the Past...
George Bates Murdered While Intoxicated, at St. Vincent
Wednesday morning the news went mouth to mouth that George Bates had been found dead in his house. The details as they began to develop were highly sensational. Mr. Bates was addicted to excessive drinking. When under the influence of liquor he was apt to quarrel with his family. On Wednesday afternoon he had trouble of this kind. Later, he went to St. Vincent. What happened there is still somewhat contradictory at this writing. 
Wednesday morning Mrs. George Bates came down stairs and found her husband lying on the floor with every evidence of having been severely pounded. She hastily summoned Register of Deeds Chisholm from the office nearby and upon examination it was found that Bates was dead. He had a hole in his skull near the right temple from the effects of a blow of some kind and his face was badly bruised and had been bleeding profusely. As nearly as the facts can be gotten at they are as follows: Last night at 11:30 two young men from St. Vincent, Minn., just across the river brought Bates home and deposited him on the floor. They then notified Marshal Moorhead, who went up to see Bates. He found him apparently sleeping off the effects of a boozer and did not arouse the family. This morning as above stated he was found dead.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Requiem for a Sheriff

There is a mystery surrounding
Sheriff Brown:  No known photo
has ever been found of him...yet

He has become an icon of our local history.  Much of that is thanks to his young cousin, Charles Walker.

Sheriff Charles J. Brown, popularly known as Charley Brown, came from a distinguished family.  He chose the life of a warrior.  First as a Union soldier in the Civil War, later as a soldier posted at Fort Pembina, and finally as Sheriff of Pembina.

He only lived to age 39, but he packed a lot of living into those years.  I, for one, am glad he shared 14 years of them with us.

NOTE:  What you read below, is thanks to new information shared by Jim Benjaminson...

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Kittson County Poor Farm

Aerial Photo of the Kittson County Poor Farm

In the early 20th century, if you had nowhere to go, the choices were few. One of them was the "poor farm".
The Hallock Poor Farm was constructed in the early 1900s to meet the needs of just such individuals. Its construction and rules of operation were guided by state law, through each county’s board of commissioners.


It was built and began operations in 1909, and closed in 19371. Kittson County's Poor Farm had a capacity for 12 at a time, as of December 1913. The farm's land and buildings were valued at $7,900.00.2
To be more specific, the county poor farm provided a home for the homeless, needy, and sick, young or old. It was on an 80-acre tract located northwest of Hallock along the north side of the Two River. Mr. and Mrs. Erick Norland were the first managers. The residents of the farm who were able to work had a job or chore to do. The farm tried to be self-sufficient. Chores were plentiful as there were gardens, animals, and grain fields to be cared for, housework and cooking to be done, firewood to gather, and nursing care for the bedridden. Other managers were the Mons Andersons, Carl Carlsons, and Theodore Bengtsons.3

My own cousins lived there during the 1920s.  My cousin Jackie (Jones) Mananga-Zimmer is the daughter of one of them.  She recently shared with me about that difficult time for her family...