Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Men Who Built Fort Pembina: William Nash

Portrait of Nash, Compendium of
  History & Biography of North Dakota,
Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1900

WILLIAM C. NASH enjoyed the distinction of being the first to settle in the vicinity of Grand Forks; but before that, among other things:
He was engaged in carrying United State mail in the early days from Fort Abercrombie to Pembina, and used dogs and sleds for the purpose, and he served four years as postmaster in East Grand Forks... 
He then accompanied General Hatch on his campaign through the northwest after Indians, and accompanied the expedition as far as Pembina, spending the winters of 1863-64 in Fort Garry and Pembina, and while there acted as agent for the government, and succeeded in bringing Little Six and Medicine Bottle, two Indian chiefs, back to the United States under arrest.
[Source: Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1900]

The following fall, he was appointed sutler at Fort Abercrombie, and held that position five years, during which time he was contracting.  In 18701 he helped build the post at Pembina, making the first brick used in Dakota.

____________________
1 - Prior to 1870 the Hudson Bay company had absolute control of practically all the trading interests west of the Canadian provinces. They even appointed the governor for Prince Rupert’s land, which, until the boundary was established in 1823 by Long’s expedition, was held to embrace much of present day North Dakota. A portion of the Selkirk settlement of 1812 was on American soil, as indeed was the old fort of Capt. Henry, and even later establishments. The old policy was to confine their business principally to the fur trade, but when Donald O. Smith succeeded Governor McTavish it was to trade with all the people.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Update: Ephraim "Eph" Clow, Pedestrian Racer

Boston Daily Globe, May 27 1881, Page 1
Boston Daily Globe, May 27 1881, Page 1

I recently wrote about a Kittson County native, Ephraim Clow, who went on to become a well-known sportsman of a late 19th century sport, Pedestrianism.

'Eph' also features in Chapter 22 (Rose Belt) of the book King of the Peds in a race in which he finished with 460 miles in that 6-day race.

Here are a couple of extracts from Chapter 28...
Out of the thirty men that started the 70-hour walking match at the Music Hall in Boston, Massachusetts, between the 16th and 21st of February, 1880, only seven finished. The winner was Peter Panchot with 345 miles. Jimmy Albert came in second with 330, Clow, third with 326, McEvoy fourth with 321, Dufrane, fifth with 318, Campana, sixth with 300, and Barrett seventh with 304. During the early part of the match, Albert had denied charges that he had been abusive in language towards a Mr. Hanson, who he allegedly struck with a cane.
---
Jimmy Albert was awarded $300 and a gold watch for winning a 75-hour go-as-you-please match (12½ hours per day) which took place at the Opera House in Brockton, Massachusetts, between Monday, the 22nd and Saturday, the 27th of March. The scores at the end were: Albert 435; Hughes, 423.16 ($200); Clow, 411.6 ($100); Hourihan, 385.14 ($75); Geldert, 361.4 ($50): The Boston Globe in its report on the match stated: The track not having been measured by a professional the above records will not stand as it is undoubtedly short. Campana, Colston and Mignault were also in the race.
There are many other mentions of the 'Canadian Champion of Toronto', in King of the Peds. For example:
In the 72-hour go-as-you-please “Toronto Walking Tournament”, which started on the morning of June the 7th 1880, Clow, of Prince Edward Island, had beaten Faber's celebrated record in Buffalo.
Ephraim "Eph" Clow, Champion Pedestrian
Courtesy of: 
www.kingofthepeds.com

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Frederick A. Bailey: An NWMP 'Original'

Sgt. Fred Bailey
[Source:  RCMP Veterans Association,
Vancouver Division]

Let me introduce you to an ordinary man who happened to make a bit of local history by just doing what many in his day did - living life, making choices, taking risks.  

"This I believe is the diary of Frederick Bagley when he enlisted in the North-West Mounted Police as a trumpeteer at 15 years of age; They left Fort Dufferin in 1874 to secure the Medicine Line!" 
- J. Rempel

I will be sharing portions of that diary here on this blog at a later time. But for now, let us learn a bit about Sub-Constable Fred Bagley, Trumpeteer ...


According to a fascinating online biography (which I quote here in-full since so many such pages seem to disappear):
Fred Bagley’s musical talents and leadership provided a major contribution to the Force and to the communities he served in.

With regarding setting records, he was first in the following areas: 
a) being the youngest member to be sworn into the Force; 
b) first Trumpeteer in the Force; 
c) present to guard and witness the first person to be hung in the North-West Territories at Fort Saskatchewan; and 
d) first member to lead a musical performance before Royalty.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

James J. Barry, Pugilist

Louis Edgar Rogers, aka
Jim Barry, was born in
St. Vincent, Minnesota.

Jim Barry was a pugilist...and a mystery. His real name was Louis Edgar Rogers.  He seems to have left the US in December 1912 and returned in 1915. One document that was found - an application for a passport - showed he was in England at the time. Did he go to England to get treatment for his drug and alcohol problems? Then, a record showed he fought his old nemesis Sam Langford in Australia, most likely as part of a hopeful comeback? Or, was it an exhibition fight?  He has some more fights later but he lost them all. While in Panama, he was murdered at the age of 32. A short life of a promising young boxer - he was considered a capable, durable fighter in his prime - that took a wrong turn, that led to a sad end.

 
Barry lists St. Vincent, Minnesota 

as where he was born, on this 1915 
emergency passport application...
Louis was born on August 12, 1886 in St. Vincent, Minnesota.  In the 1900 US Census, Louis is listed as age 15 and going by Lue Rogers. Lue is a variant of the name Louis (English and French), and on the same census, Mary is listed as his mother, age 55 and widowed.  His father had been from Ireland, but his mother was French-Canadian.1 Very likely she would have called him Lue for short - or it could have been a simplified version of how Louis is pronounced in French.  

Barry's 1915 passport photo
According to the same census, Lue could neither read nor write. Nor could his mother.  It was not unusual for that time, but just like today, it limited job opportunities for a lifetime.  Lue was also listed as a 'Day Laborer', but that wouldn't last for long. Sometime during the next few years, probably sooner, Lue learned the art of boxing, left Drayton for the wider world, and became Jim Barry.


Sam Langford
Jim's start up the ranks of boxing are not known, but he eventually made a modest name for himself. He was characterized as a "hard-hitting white cowboy" ... who did not mind fighting the top black heavyweights of the Chitlin' Circuit. Although he did not beat Sam Langford--only to a draw, in their many fights--Barry did deck the Boston fighter on two occasions.

According to his May 1915 passport application, Barry was born in 1886 in St. Vincent, Minnesota, and called Drayton, North Dakota, his place of residence. He listed his occupations as "engineer and boxer" - what kind of engineer, we do not know, but if true, it was as a vocation between 'day laborer' and 'boxer'.

After returning from London, Barry went into treatment for cocaine addiction.  He was released from a New York hospital after taking the "Coke Cure" in July 2015.  The government was starting to crack down on cocaine and other drugs that had previously been unregulated. I think Barry had to get straight or risk losing chances to fight, or even get arrested.  So he was trying to straighten up. 

An article in the Pembina Pioneer Express for March 30, 1917, has this notation:

Thursday, February 02, 2017

StVHS Sports: 1927/28

Vintage St. Vincent High School pennant from 1920s

[Guest article by Michael Rustad, originally from nearby Humboldt, MN]

In the summer of 1999, my daughter Erica and I visited the town of St. Vincent.

There is no longer a bridge connecting the central business districts of Pembina, North Dakota and St. Vincent. The old bridge connecting the towns that I remember as a child has long been dismantled. The places that I remember in St. Vincent have long since closed. Short's Cafe, Sylvester's Store, the Curling Rink, St. Ann's Catholic Church, and the St. Vincent Fairgrounds. The curling rink is now neglected and in state of decay. The Church is a private residence. The St. Vincent School, too, is in a state of benign neglect. The school is in disrepair and the fire escape slide detached.

It was difficult for me to explain to my daughter that St. Vincent was once a bustling community. We attended catechism each summer in the basement of St. Ann's Catholic Church. We had a large number of ball games in the yard outside the church which is now overgrown and marred by abandoned cars. When my sister and I visited the Kittson County Museum in Lake Bronson, I was amazed to find some high school yearbooks [called Borderlines] from St. Vincent High School. St. Vincent High School closed in the late 1930s and never reopened. Instead, it eventually consolidated its school district with Humboldt from 1957 to 1991.
[Note from Trish:  In-between StVHS closing and St. Vincent consolidating with Humboldt, students had the choice of attending Pembina High School, or other schools in Kittson County like Hallock...]
It was an unexpected joy to find yearbooks from the St. Vincent High School from the 1920s. This was a yearbook from a small town in NW Minnesota prior to the Depression. High school life in St. Vincent was marked by lots of school spirit judging from the many activities. St. Vincent fielded a football team, basketball team, hockey team, track team and baseball team in [school year] 1927/28.

"If you could walk or run, you were in the starting line-up."

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Ephraim Clow: Professional Pedestrian

Masthead of newspaper that had article about race Ephraim took part in, then resigned from under suspicious circumstances

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have out-walked the furthest city light.... 
~Robert Frost
Ephraim Clow was a cousin of mine on my grandmother's maternal line.  Family oral history said he was a long distance runner and had run in the Boston Marathon and won.  I had to find out if this was true or not.

I first found out that the Boston Marathon began in 1897.  Ephraim was born in 1854.  In 1897, he would have been 43.  Above-average age to be doing a marathon.  So I wondered, could this be a situation where the family oral history had a nugget of truth, but it wasn't quite how it was remembered?  In fact, it was.

First, I checked to see if Ephraim had ever been in Boston.  I found that he had.
Ambrose Clow, and his brothers, Charles, George, and Ephraim, went to Boston to seek their fortune. Around 1878-1880, he received word that land was available in Minnesota. Charles was sent to check out the territory. What he saw (in Kittson County) pleased him so he advised his brothers to join him in this new venture. Ambrose brought his new wife, Mathilda Crewye, who was also born on Prince Edward Island. Ambrose had a house built in Humboldt where he and his wife lived the rest of their lives. They had a son, George Victor, who was born 19 Nov 1880.  
 - From George Clow family lineage on Red River Valley website
A racing Pedestrian, being avidly
observed by spectators mid-race
I found out that during the early 1880s, Ephraim was a competitor in pedestrian  races, or "go-as-you-please" races. I've found him mentioned in newspaper articles during the right time period, and in Boston.  I had found my cousin.  And I had confirmed that the family oral history was true - just a bit wrong in the details!

To find out more about what race walking was like in its 'Golden Age', check out this podcast that features the author of the book - Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport – Matthew Algeo.

A passage from the book mentions Ephraim, alleges a possible scandal he may have been part of:
Early on the morning of the final day of the race, the Boston Globe reported, “...an utterly unexpected and exciting incident occurred...” - Ephraim Clow of Boston, who had been backed heavily to secure second place, and who stood third on the score-sheet, with every prospect in his favor, as he was undoubtedly the freshest man on the track, suddenly left the track and went to his room.  Inquiries were at once made as to the reason for his action. He gave various excuses, all of a flimsy character.  
I could find nothing else about the matter, or how it was resolved.

Ephraim eventually came to Kittson County as his brothers had done.  He and his family settled in the Humboldt, Minnesota area, where Ephraim farmed for some years.  By the time of the 1910 and 1920 censuses, the family is living in St. Vincent. Evidently they moved there from their farm, in their later years.

This article mentions Ephraim Clow in the middle of the final paragraph; he is
included among those with the best records in the O'Leary International Belt,
held in the old Madison Square Garden in New York City, in January 1881...

[Source:  New York Tribune, May 23, 1881 - chroniclingamerica.loc.gov]