Monday, December 28, 2015

NOTICE: Your Subscription - Changes

FYI to all readers of this blog who subscribe via the "Google Friend Connect" on the right-hand sidebar on my blog:

Starting the week of January 11, Google will remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, they will remove non-Google Account profiles.  I don't want to lose any of my subscribers, and I'm sure you don't want to lose your subscription to the best, award-winning local history blog regarding northwest Minnesota!
If you use a non-Google Account to follow my blog, you will need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow the blog. With a Google Account, you'll get blogs added to your Reading List, making it easier for you to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs you follow.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lyceum: Syrian Yankee

"...Humboldt always had outside presentations called lyceums. One lyceum featured three black singer singers. Another lyceum displayed a computer. The computer was about the size of a refrigerator (I still call refrigerators ice boxes which shows my age.) Another lyceum was by the author of Syrian Yankee. This autobiography was about a Syrian trader who came to the US to make a fortune. Shortly after the Syrian Yankee presentation, a man came to Humboldt and claimed to be the cousin of the Syrian Yankee and wanted to start a business processing straw in Humboldt. He came to our farm and asked my dad if he was interested in making an initial investment in the project in return for stock. I often wonder whether area farmers were defrauded by the project or whether it was a legitimate effort to industrialize Humboldt. Door-to-door investment schemes do not enjoy a good reputation in this county..."

- Michael Rustad

Friday, November 27, 2015

Another Tragic Family Saga Continues: Fire

Interior of Garner garage, still showing signs of accident to this day
[Photo Courtesy:  Kris Baldwin Ohmann]

This from a witness of the accident, Ron Cleem:
"I was nearby when it happened and rushed over when it started burning. 
"Frank was welding in the garage when the accident happened.  He tried to save the garage by running out of the building with a pan of oil or fuel that had caught fire.  He ended up being severely burned doing it, and died as a result of his burns. His wife Helen just died this last year I think, and she always hated seeing that building which bought up tragic memories. Frank lost a brother in 1954 when the drunk driver hit a group of kids in St. Vincent, and a sister who was in high school,  in a car accident in 1955. So much tragedy, like Lena Paul Fitzpatrick Nordstrom experienced, so much heartache for his mother..." 
Obituary:  Frank Willard Gardner, Noyes, Minn., passed away at the Emerson, Manitoba hospital Tuesday, March 5, 1957, following an accident when a gasoline tank he was working on exploded, showering him with burning gasoline. He was 30 years, 5 months and 4 days of age.

The accident occurred shortly after 4 P.M. Monday, March 4 to the rear of his father's home at St. Vincent in a garage. He died the following day at 2:15 P.M.

Deceased was born September 29,1926 at Neche, N.D. He attended Grade School at St. Vincent and also the Pembina, N.D. High School, Pembina being located just across the Red River from St. Vincent.

He was married April 26,1947 to Miss Helen Louise Graves, at Auburn, Washington. To this union two children were born, Frank Willard, Jr., age 4 years and Robyn Kathryn, age 3 years.

He is survived by his wife and children and parents. Six sisters, one brother: Mrs Lorraine Hosch of Noyes; Mrs. Leonard Jerome,Hallock; Mrs. Glen Davis, Greenville, SC; Mrs. Wayne Copeland, Harian, Iowa; Mrs. George Dennis, Humboldt; Jacquelyn at home; Arnold at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Illinois.

He was preceded in death by a brother and sister, Gloria and Martin, both of whom figured in accidents which took their lives. One, in the McGovern accident a few years ago at St. Vincent, and the other in connection with the Slator hit-and-run driving accident at St. Vincent, also.
Mr. Gardner lived in Seattle, Wash., from 1947 to 1948, returning to St. Vincent in 1949, remained there until 1950. He traveled two years through Southern states with Anderson Bros. Pipe Line Company. He also spent six months in Montana and then moved to Noyes, this county where he purchased the Border Café1 and operated the same until his death. He also did some commercial trucking.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Reclaiming a Lost Cemetery

On September 19th of this year, Kim McAllister Anderson and I took a trip up north, into Manitoba, Canada. Emerson, to be exact. Town of my birth, and much more. But that aside, we were on a mission: To locate, by rough map, an old almost-forgotten cemetery.

Thanks to Wayne Arnesy, former Mayor of Emerson, he and some other helpers reclaimed the old gravestones they could locate and now it is roughly maintained annually. It is in a grove of oak trees in the middle of a farmer's field, not far from a marsh-like slough. A trail leads to it, which can be traversed in a 4-wheel drive off-road vehicle. Or if you're up to it, hiked a half mile from the street that ends at the current cemetery - closer to town and on higher of ground to prevent flooding.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pembina Ferry Command Video

Although mislabeled, the video below is indeed a very brief clip of a Ferry Command operation, towing planes across the US/Canadian border at Pembina ND/Emerson MB.  We didn't know it existed until recently.  A real treasure of a find!

The man in the long coat at the beginning of the film is Harry Wood, of Pembina ND, as identified by his granddaughter, Lori Wood Goertzen.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Excellence in Local History Award

Wonderful news arrived in today's mail.  The work here on this blog has been recognized and awarded the Excellence in Local History award by the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

It is an amazing honor to be chosen for this award.  It is my hope that this award will bring further recognition to the amazing local history of my hometown, its neighbors, and the surrounding communities which are so interrelated.  The individuals that make up these communities are related by blood, marriage, and culture, and their shared histories deserve not only to be recognized, but remembered...

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Obituary: William H. Moorhead

Apprentice Carpenter. Land Agent. Indian Trader. Trading Post Clerk. Buffalo Hunter. Undertaker. Farmer. Tavern Keeper.

Below is the obituary of an extraordinary man, one of our area's true pioneers.  I have left all the spelling as it appeared in the original article of the newspaper just as I found them, to give you a flavor of how common it was.  Some of the errors may have been due to misspellings or incorrect typesetting, but just as often there was no consistent agreed-upon spelling conventions for some words - Sometimes they just had to make their best guess!

William H. Moorhead Died Yesterday Morning at His Home In Pembina.
And Underwent a Surgical Operation Here About Two Weeks Ago
Mr. Moorhead was One of the leading Characters in the Early Settlement of the Valley and was a Typical Frontiersman —"High Water Bill" was the Name by which He was Best Known— The Funeral Occurs Tomorrow.
Pembina, N.D., July 3.—(Herald Special)— William H. Moorhead, better known during later years as "High Water Bill," died at his home in this city this morning, after an illness extending more or less over the past six months. This sobriquet he gained by his numerous prophecies as to just how high the water in the Red river would rise each year, and, be it said, his predictions were usually not far astray. As an incident in this line - it is said that this spring, before the snow melted, as he was lying in his bed on the lower floor of his house talking "high water" to a visitor, he reached down about half way on one of his bed posts and said. "You'll see the water up to this spot when the snow melts," and his prediction was verified. He refused to be carried upstairs until the water came in on the floor.
Floods had been known to fill the Red River Valley with snowmelt runoff. The earliest pioneers remembered the flood of 1861. That spring, the Red River Valley was under so much water that it was called the “largest body of fresh water in the world” – for a few weeks, anyway.   -   North Dakota Studies, FLOODS
Wm. H. Moorhead was born in Freeport, Pa., Sept. 26, 1832. He left Pittsburgh where he received a common school education, April 1, 1852, and arrived in St. Paul, a month later, where he worked at his trade—that of a carpenter—for two years.

The summer of '54 and the following winter he spent at Sauk Rapids trading with the Winnebagos, when they were removed to Blue Earth county. He then returned to St. Paul and organized a company to lay out paper townsites in northern Minnesota and Red River Valley.

In August, '57, he came to Pembina in company with Joe Rolette to build a store building for a trading post for St. Paul parties. He completed the building and remained as clerk to February, '58, when he made a trip to St. Paul with a dog train, not seeing a single house between the two points. He returned to Pembina soon after, having some fearful blizzard experiences on the way.

On June 8th of the same year he left Pembina on a buffalo hunt and returned in August with 15 Red river carts laden with furs, hides and Pemican.

After the high water of '61 which was the flood, according to his tell, he moved out to Walhalla. Here he lived on very friendly terms with the Indians until hostilities broke out which ended in the Minnesota massacre and because he refused to sell ammunition to the hostiles, he had to leave. He moved near Devils Lake and pursued his trading.

In 1862 he married Lizzie Rivier, who with her five children still survives him. About this time he moved to Pembina, where he has since resided.

Source:  Google Books
Mr. Moorhead has long enjoyed the distinction of being the second oldest white settler in the valley. Hon. Chas. Cavileer, of this city, being the oldest having come in 1841. When the Historical society of North Dakota was created in 1895, Gov. Allin appointed Mr. Moorhead a member of it and he has collected considerable information for it since.

Mr. Moorhead was a typical frontiersman and a general favorite. The history of the Red River Valley would be far from complete without an interesting reference to a man who was known far and wide for his genial good nature, and interesting stories of the pioneer's life in the northwest.

Mr. Moorhead has been a member for years of Pembina lodge No. 2, A. F. and A. M., and the funeral, which will take place Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock, will be under the auspices of that order.

[July 04, 1897, Grand Forks Herald]

Sunday, June 14, 2015

1878 Photo of St. Vincent & Pembina

VERY large scan of an 1878 stereograph of St. Vincent and Pembina, taken from Minnesota side of the Red River of the North.

Note the two railroad tracks merging into one, going along the the high bank of the Red River of the North.  This is on what is the far west side of town, as the river curves north.  There is no slope or erosion as there is now, let alone river woods all up and down the banks as we're used to, today. And take a close look at Pembina in the background - Click on the image to open, then click on it again to maximize it, to see as much detail as possible.

This is the earliest known photograph of our St. Vincent and Pembina that I am aware of.  I am hoping to print this in the size of a stereograph and view it in one of my stereoscopes, in hopes that seeing it in 3-D might bring further clarity to the details...

Friday, May 08, 2015

Final Resting Places: Brown & Kabernagle

Sheriff Charley Brown's grave site is in the north section of the Pembina Cemetery;  his stone reads:
Charles J. Brown
Oct 4, 1884
Aged 39 years
Sgt. Co. I 20th U.S. Infantry

I took this photo when surveying for BillionGraves
Charley sadly had a short, yet amazing life...
Another smaller foot stone acknowledges his service 
as a soldier in the Civil War, but it doesn't attest to 
his time as a POW in Andersonville... 

Buried in the same section is Charley's business partner:

John Kabernagle
Jan 8, 1853
Dec 20, 1893
40 Yrs, 11 Mos,
& 17 Dys

It's sad that both John - friend and business partner to Charley
Brown - died young around the same age as Charley did...
Another old-timer that was well-known for his many services rendered the town - and his colorful character - is in the SW section of the cemetery:
Who Settled in Dakota 1867
Died July 9, 1897
63 yr 10 mo 17 d
One of our area's true pioneers - Land Agent, Indian 
Trader, Trading Post Clerk, Buffalo Hunter, 
Undertaker, Farmer, and Flood Prognosticator... 
Charley's grave is also marked with a G.A.R. star,
signifying him as a Union veteran of the Civil War. 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Followup to GUESS WHO story

We can now confirm that the Guess Who played many times in Hallock, and we have it from the great Donny Hunt, who was a musician in his own right. Don was a music promoter who booked the Guess Who.

From a Facebook exchange...
Before Who: Deverons (1962) 
 Michael Rustad: Donald, finally I have a chance to thank you for all of the ways you made growing up in Kittson County wonderful in the 1960's. What I remember is how lively and fun it was to be a teenager because of the dances you organized in Hallock. You were definitely formative for all of us and we all owe you a big debt! Thinking back, is it true that we had top bands from Winnipeg at the City Hall? Do you have any memory of whether the Guess Who played at Hallock? It is a memory I have but I may be wrong. Only you can confirm. We would love to have any information on the bands you organized! 
Donald Hunt: Thank you.  That makes those memories sweeter. Yes, they played there many times. And the Question Mark, the Mysterians, Shadows of Night, The Uglies...and many others. We did have fun. Jack Reese and I have been playing a little of the old Sabers and Ravalons music for fun. Maybe one more time next summer. It's good to hear from you.  
Early Guess Who (1966)
Michael Rustad: Don, glad to hear that you and Jack continue to rock on. It was amazing to have the Guess Who and those other groups you mentioned. My memory is that every dance was packed! I would also come home from college because your dances were superior to any promoter in Grand Forks. Rock on Don!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Mansion on the Prairie

Elevated view looking over Northcote, Minn. bonanza farm.  Visible is a
large two-story brick house with hip roof, several barns, and a water tower.

[Source: Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo, ND (2023.42.11)]
Swathing & Bundling during harvest, at the Hill Farm
[Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]
Hill's personal train, often used to travel to Northcote farm
[Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]
Until I track down interior photos of the Walter Hill home (hopefully in its prime, before modifications), my old school friend Dee Dee Giffen Bakken has graciously agreed to share her memories of inside the mansion:

Monday, March 02, 2015

PROFILE: Dr. Alexander B. Campbell

Dr. Campbell was a versatile man, with credentials as a Dentist as 
well as a Physician, from the Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinnati
[Source:  Google Books]

Alexander B. Campbell, Surgeon was a local physician living in St. Vincent from approximately 1880 onward.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

OUR History!

This video says it so well. It's how I feel about history period, whether it is my own, my family's, or my town's. I urge you to watch it, and get excited about OUR history! :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Saloon Manslaughter: The Rest of the Story

It all started with a trade:  One hat, for one bottle of whiskey...

If there's one thing I've learned writing this blog, it's that history often reveals itself slowly, despite doing what you feel at the time is due diligence researching a subject.  New records become available that were not present the first time around. People come forward with information only they were privy to.  Etc.

Such is the case concerning a particular murder that occurred in St. Vincent in 1899.  The new records came in the form of old newspaper accounts now available through the Library of Congress.  The new information came from an old friend of this site, Jim Benjaminson, of the Pembina County Historical Society.

When you read the accounts below - along with the links to earlier posts on this subject - you will get something very rare for local history of a small town nature:  As complete a picture about the subject as could be expected.  A rare treat, indeed...

George Bates Murdered While Intoxicated
Wednesday morning (March 8, 1899) 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 downstairs 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: