Monday, August 28, 2017

Local Veterans of World War I - Part I

We are in the midst of the Centennial years of WWI. Many men from Kittson County fought in the "Great War", or the "War to End All Wars". As we know all too well, sadly it didn't end all wars. If you want to find out more about who fought from Kittson County, you can view online the book that was written all about that - The History of Kittson County in the World War.

A few examples of local WWI veterans; I will be sharing more in the near future...

When I was growing up, I knew Eli Gooselaw as a tall, quiet old man who lived across the pasture from our house, north of the St. Vincent Cemetery.  His house was a 2-storey wood clapboard, the paint long ago weathered off.

Outside nearby, he had a tall wood pile, stacked up in the form of a tipi. From what I could tell, he never used the wood,  nor burned it.  It just stood like a sentinel over the years.

The house had old-fashioned tall, sashed windows, that reflected full-moon moonlight so brightly that you swore Eli  (who never used electric lights) had lights on - especially his upstairs' north bedroom.

But back in 1917, Eli "...enlisted in the Army at East Grand Forks ... because they were drafting men. This was the time of World War I, and most of his two years of service were spent in China. Eli was one of the few people who could say he'd been to the big cities of China - Tientsen, Shanghai, and Chin-huang-taoo, along with Tokyo, Japan, the Philippine Islands and Hawaiian Islands."

Fred Gooselaw was born and raised in St. Vincent.  He was the son of Zeb and Joset (Parenteau) Gooselaw.

He became a barber and ran his own barbershop in St. Vincent, then Humboldt prior to WWI. In October 1918 he was shipped off to France as an Engineer Sapper, as part of the October Automatic Replacement Draft.1

After the war, he carried on being a barber, and eventually moved to Montana, continuing his profession there.

He named his firstborn son, Pershing, born in August 1918, in honor of General Pershing.

James Lang was born in rural Kittson County, Minnesota.  He was the second son of Joseph and Margaret Lang, and farmed with his father.

He then went to fight in the First World War. After returning, he resumed farming until 1955; then he retired. He moved to Humboldt and never married.

Born in Ontario, Canada of German immigrant parents, Christopher A. Thedorf, Jr. came to St. Vincent as a small child.  The Thedorf family lived in the middle of the town, by the house that would eventually be my grandparents' second home after they moved out, when my parents took over the homestead. Chris' father, Mr. Thedorf, was the proprietor of the Thedore Hotel in St. Vincent.

According to the 1910 U.S. Census, Chris was working then as a bartender in a St.Vincent saloon.  As the article to the left states, in July 1917 he volunteered into the military, choosing the Marine Corps.  The United States had declared war in April 1917 but didn't send forces (under General Pershing) until 1918, so Chris was an early participant in the war.

After the war, he married, moved to St. Paul, MN, and began working for the railroad as both a locomotive engineer, and fireman...

Hugh Lucas was a compositor and printer for the Emerson International newspaper in the late 1800s and worked there with J.E. Bouvette. He was also a carpenter and built his first home in St. Vincent with his own hands, or so the story goes.

Why Hugh felt it was important to volunteer in WWI when he was beyond the normal age is not known, but as you can read at left, he was well thought of by his fellow soldiers. He was a veteran when he went into the service again, having been in the cavalry in the late 1800s.

The article to the left states that he went into the Remount Corps upon enlistment, which was part of the Quartermasters Corps.


1 - October Automatic Replacement Draft: It means that a man was scheduled to be a replacement for a battle casualty right from the start. Usually the army waited to see what a man could do or where he was actually needed before assigning him a specific job. By October of 1918 the casualty rate was climbing and they were sending men over at an incredible rate. New draftees were barely receiving any training at all before shipping out. To fill the gaps caused by casualties, they started assigning men to be rifle men just as soon as a block of them were called up (or in this case, an engineer sapper...) The program was initiated in October. Had the war gone on longer, as many thought it would, there would have been many more 'replacement drafts'.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Hugh O'Lone & The Red Saloon

Hugh O'Lone, 1870
Kootenai Brown,1895

John George "Kootenai" Brown's reference to “Bob O'Lone” in his memoir, "I Remember" ... is interesting, for in the famous portrait of Louis Riel and his Council of 1869-70, early descriptions of the photo identified Bob O’Lone as the man seated in the front row to Riel’s right. This version of the photo was incorporated into the works of many of the early Red River historians such as R. G. MacBeth. This figure was later correctly identified by G. F. G. Stanley as Hugh Francis "Bob" O’Lone. He was in the whisky business; he was “the American who ran a saloon in Winnipeg.” This was apparently the Red Saloon, recalled by A. C. Garrioch: “Three years later when the writer moved to St. John’s he found the Red Saloon contributing very considerably to the business of the little village.” Bob O’Lone had continued in the liquor business and was the proprietor: “No spot in Winnipeg was so often the scene of a drunken row as that occupied by the Red Saloon.”

A common misconception about Hugh Francis O'Lone is that he was the brother of a saloon keeper named Robert O‘Lone. In fact Hugh WAS the saloon keeper - his nickname was "Bob", and he did not have a brother named Robert.

Early Winnipeg; O'Lone's saloon, aka the Red Saloon, in center...

During this time, Brown lived the kind of dangerous life that tended to be his trademark. He was captured by Sitting Bull and only his wits and luck removed him from this delicate situation. He finished his contract with the U.S. Army in the spring of 1869, and then moved to Fort Burfurd, further to the west, in response to the quickly consolidating American frontier. His task was to maintain communications between Fort Burford, Fort Stevenson, and Fort Totten near Devil’s Lake. It was during the course of a parallel scouting assignment for the U.S. Army, headed by Major General W. S. Hancock, that Brown found himself in Pembina on the Red River in the fall of 1869.

Customers in front of the Red Saloon owned by Bob O’Lone, Red River, 1869.
Source: Archives of Manitoba
O'Lone participated in the 16 November 1869 Convention of Twenty-four. He enlisted as a 2nd Lieut. in the Settlement guard under Ambroise-Dydime Lépine. He was an Honourable Member of the Legislative Assembly of Assiniobia in the same capacity. In February of 1871 a notice of Hugh‘s impending demise appeared in the Manitoba News-letter, owned by John C. Schultz, a declared enemy of everything to do with the Provisional Government:

Badly Hurt.Hugh O‘Lone (better known here as Bob), a General in the rebel force of last winter, got into an altercation with some American half-breeds at Pembina, about a fort-night ago, and got so severely hurt on the head that the U.S. Post-Surgeon at Pembina, declined to perform the Surgical operation necessary to ensure recovery without assistance. There being no medical man nearer than Fort Garry, assistance was sought here, and Dr. Turver went on Monday evening and gave the patient the benefit of his professional skill. 
On 7 March 1871 the Saint Paul Daily Pioneer reported that Hugh F.  "Bob" Olone had been killed by a blow to the head from a revolver in early January. In the opinion of historians such as A.H. de Trémaudan and Ruth Swan, O'Lone‘s death was one of several assassinations meted out not by Métis, but by Canadian troops after their arrival in August of 1870, as retribution for the execution of Thomas Scott.

 - “Kootenai” Brown in the Red River Valley" by Graham A. MacDonald, Manitoba History, Number 30, Autumn 1995) 
 - Hon. Hugh Francis Olone, Town of Winnipeg; Do Canadian History blog, 7 March 2011.