Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Reid: Bonanza Farmer & St. Vincent Booster


"...With the rapid movement of railroad building into the northern part of the valley, the opening of large farms continued unabated. By 1885 nearly all of the original large farms had been established. The J. J. Hill farm of nearly a township [in size], in Kittson county, is probably the nearest to the International boundary. The Reid farm in the same county is another in point."  [Note: ...and in fact, it was Reid farm that was the nearest to the boundary!]

- Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, Volume III, Tribune, State Printers and Binders, 1910, Page 581
Why did Robert Gillispie Reid invest in land, let alone so much land - 10 sections - in our area?  I did a bit of digging.  Robert married Harriet Duff in 1865 after they met on onboard a ship heading to New Zealand.  Twenty years later, Harriet's relative, David Duff and his family, emigrated from Scotland, finding their way to St. Vincent.  David worked at Reid farm as the foreman.  Right around that time is when Robert bought up the 10 sections in St. Vincent Township.  I think he did it as an astute investment, with an eye to also help family.  Upon Robert's death in 1908, it was found that in his will, he had left a quarter section of Reid Farm to John Duff.  

https://www.kittsonarea.com/2021/02/12/historical-photo-leads-to-interesting-local-farm-history/ https://www.kittsonarea.com/2021/02/12/historical-photo-leads-to-interesting-local-farm-history/

The 10 sections of land that Sir Robert Reid bought  in 1885  became known as  "Reid Farm".  Along with J.J. Hill's Northcote and Humboldt farms, it was one of Kittson County's early 'bonanza farms', and employed many local people.   

Walter J.S. Traill managed the farm for Reid.1 

The 1901 Townships Map (see below)  showed Reid owning 10 sections in St. Vincent Township, bought originally on June 25, 1885 and owned by Reid until his death - in 1909 the estate divested itself of the rest of the property not given to John Duff.

At Right:  Reid Hall, named in honor of
Sir Robert, was St. Vincent's town hall.
[Seen here during fair time, to house exhibitions...]

1 - SourcesKittson County Recorder (original handwritten land deed - excerpt regarding partnership between Reid and Traill, above), and 1901 St. Vincent Township Map.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

A Lifetime of a Depot: NOYES

Depot built 1906 (joint GN/SOO Depot) - 30' x 137' frame. 
Depot remodeled 1912. 
Burned 1921. 
Depot 30' x 138' rebuilt 1922.  
10' x 20' addition added 1924.
Remodeled 1943. 
North 32 feet of Depot removed in 1966 and Depot rebuilt 1967 (after 1966 flood) - platforms removed, landscaping built up to accommodate dike around town.

Torn down/demolished:  August 2020.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

NEW Book: Pembina County @ 150


Jim Benjaminson shared today:  
Well, its getting closer to reality - "Sagas of Pembina County, 1867-2017" is at the printers.  A 148 page, fully indexed compilation of stories written for county newspapers in 2017-2018 with added material and historical photographs.  We'll let you know when it's ready!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Images: Pembina to St. Paul on the Red River Trail

The beginning of the trip - Taking off from Pembina, to sell a year's worth of furs...

The end of the trip - Arriving at St. Paul, to sell their furs...

[Where they encamped - St. Anthony's Hill, now called Cathedral Hill]

Saturday, April 18, 2020

1918 Spanish Flu in Kittson County

Kittson County residents who died during the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic, included:

Gust A. Leonard Norberg: Died of Spanish Flu at U.S. Army Jefferson Barracks during WWI on January 19, 1918

Ida Swan, only 18 years old.

-  Henry Marius Hanson, son of Herman Hanson and junior member of the firm of Hanson & Son Cement Workers, was called to his eternal rest Thursday October 31, 1918. Death was caused by pneumonia following an attack of Spanish Influenza. (Source: Karlstad Advocate Newspaper/Nov. 15, 1918)
In 1918, Kittson County closed schools in November and they were not reopened until early spring 1919, because of the "Spanish Flu" epidemic (sources include:  Tri-County School History

Monday, April 13, 2020

Minstrel Show at Kittson Hall

A broadside announcing an upcoming
performance (apologies re: language)

[Published by Pioneer Express] 
In the late 19th and early 20th century, live entertainment was king.  In Pembina, a good share of it was performed on the local opera house's stage, Kittson Hall.

Kittson Hall was a modest venue, seating 250 patrons, managed by W. C. Short.  It brought in various music hall and vaudeville performing acts - singers, comedy, theatre.  

Georgia Minstrels were coming to town:
Touring Vaudeville Shows at the city hall

[Source:  Pioneer Express,  December 29, 1898]

Troupes such as minstrel shows also came through town.  This example (including acceptable language for that time period that is no longer tolerated today) is for a minstrel group set to perform a variety show.

Even in our small villages, through the seemingly 'innocent' acts of entertainment, racial stereotypes were continually reinforced down through the years...

Thursday, March 26, 2020

John K. McCulloch, Champion Skater

John K. "Jack" McCulloch

Jack McCulloch came to Pembina to put on an exhibition skating, the year he turned professional.  It was the year after he won the World Amateur Speed Skating championship in Montreal, Quebec. 


Jack was a local and regional sports celebrity, followed by many in the four corners (and far beyond...) It was an exciting event for him to visit and put on a demonstration, and even race locals!  Pembina residents made sure everything was ready, especially the skating rink...

McCulloch visited Pembina on January 5, 1899.
[Source:  Pembina Express, December 29, 1898]

Pembina  is one of four towns known as the corners.  Of these four towns Pembina is in Dakota, St. Vincent in Minnesota, and West Lynne and Emerson in Manitoba.  Emerson and St. Vincent lie on the right bank and the other two on the left bank of the Red River.  A favorite evening drive is to make the circuit of the four corners crossing the bridge between Emerson and West Lynne and the ferry between St. Vincent and Pembina.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

St. Vincent Union Industrial Association Fairs

In Minnesota fairs are older than the state itself, having "made their appearance ... in the early 1850's," just at the zenith of the golden age of such institutions in the United States. Compared with later exhibitions the early fairs were primitive indeed, yet they more than justified their existence. They gave the isolated pioneer farmer a chance to meet his fellows, to have a good time; and by showing him late developments in machinery, fine livestock, and new techniques in farming, they gave him an incentive to improve his own farming. - From a talk called, "Early Minnesota Agricultural Societies & Fairs," presented at the Minnesota Historical Society's annual convention, held July 26, 1941.

Walter John Strickland Traill

The first day of the St. Vincent Union Industrial Association Fair was favored with good weather.  

The native pony race was won by Jim, Shylock second, Kate third.  The trotting race was won by Julia, Dan second, Topsey third.  

The judges were Walter J.S. Traill, C.C. Law, and D. Livingstone (The St. Paul Daily Globe, October 10, 1889).

1918 Fair Results-War Gardens
1906 Fair Dates - Always late
Fall, for these local fairs . . .

...and these early fairs, are what were the seeds of our county fairs of today, including the Kittson County Fair in Hallock!

Monday, January 06, 2020

Dakota 38

Abraham Lincoln as the Puppetmaster of Death (of starvation, war, and executions)
Ledger Art by Travis Blackbird

by Prairie Rose Seminole
Remember the #Dakota38, hanged in Mankato, MN on Dec 26, 1862, under the orders of President Abraham Lincoln. It is the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

The hanging of 38 Dakota came at the culmination of the Dakota War, which started because of a treaty broken by Congress. 

The Dakota people were being starved to death.

“Let then eat grass or their own dung,” Andrew Myrick, a trader & store owner who withheld their rations.

Andrew Myrick was among the first to die. He was found with grass in his mouth.

The accused were subjected to sham trials held in English (a language foreign to them), and they had no legal representation. They were also not allowed to discuss the broken treaty, or treaty law. Many were innocent. They were hanged anyway, on a custom made scaffold, in front of a cheering mob.

Dakota women & children were forced to watch the hanging. One Dakota infant was reportedly snatched from the arms of a mother and killed on sight.

Around 1,700 Dakota, mostly women and children, were held as prisoners at Fort Snelling. Disease & death were rampant.

Chief Little Crow, a leader during the Dakota War, was later assassinated. His remains were mutilated by townspeople & displayed. They stuffed firecrackers in his nose & ears and lit them. Local doctors eventually took his body parts to study.

Two more Dakota leaders, Shakopee (Little Six) and Medicine Bottle, were later captured and executed.

After the hanging of the Dakota 38, the Dakota people were exiled from their stolen homelands in Minnesota. Banned from entering, unable to return to MN. The governor put a bounty on their scalps. The Dakota people were separated and sent to prison camps in other states where the women were raped by soldiers.

Following the U.S-Dakota War of 1862, the United States government hanged 38 Dakota men on December 26 in Mankato. It was the largest mass execution in United States history. A US military commission, tainted by racism and in violation of due process, hastily convicted two of the Dakota men of rape and all of them of murder in trials that lasted as little as five minutes. President Lincoln approved their executions. Here are the names and faces of some of the men known as the Dakota 38.
All things being ready, the first tap was given, when the poor wretches made such frantic efforts to grasp each other's hands, that it was agony to behold them. Each one shouted out his name, that his comrades might know he was there.  - From New York Times article, The Indian Executions

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Postscript to the U.S.-Dakota War

by Curt Brown [Minneapolis Star Tribune, November 8, 2015]

Shakopee, left, and Medicine Bottle were hanged three years
after the U.S.-Dakota War because military leaders wanted to
prove they finished the job.     
[Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]
They were the last two high-profile holdouts.

The bloody U.S.-Dakota War had been over for three years. Thirty-eight Dakota men had been hanged in Mankato. But white military and political leaders weren’t satisfied.

They felt they had to show, once and for all, that they’d handled the Indian problem and the frontier was back in business for immigrant settlers who could replenish the fledgling Minnesota economy.

So just after noon on Nov. 11, 1865, 425 soldiers marched in formation to surround a specially constructed double gallows at Fort Snelling.

More than 400 St. Paul citizens turned out 150 years ago to watch the hangings of two Dakota leaders: Medicine Bottle and Shakopee. They had eluded soldiers for years, escaping across the Canadian border to Manitoba with more than 500 Dakota refugees from the war.
John McKenzie was the man who drugged Little Six (aka Shakopee) and Medicine Bottle after the Sioux massacre and brought them in this condition from Manitoba and delivered them to Major E. A. C. Hatch. Knowing the frailty of Little Six, who was a different man from the old chief Little Six, his father, McKenzie left a bottle of drugged whisky with a woman at the house which he was accustomed to visit, knowing that his greedy appetite would ferret it out. The artifice succeeded, and Little Six and Medicine Bottle were tried and hung at Fort Snelling for killing Philander Prescott. - History Of The Minnesota Valley, Scott County History Archives, 1882
Their flight ended in January 1864, when Shakopee and Medicine Bottle stopped by the home of a white friend near Winnipeg’s Fort Garry. That "friend" - Canadian trader, John McKenzie - was secretly in cahoots with a U.S. Army major across the border in what would become Pembina, N.D.

McKenzie plied both Indian leaders with alcohol laced with drugs. Shakopee, then in his 50s, was dosed with chloroform and rendered unconscious. Medicine Bottle, in his mid-30s, struggled longer but several men subdued him. Both Dakota men were tied to dog sleds and taken to Pembina, then Fort Abercrombie, en route to Fort Snelling.

The Minnesota Legislature forked out $1,000 — big money in the 1860s — to McKenzie as a bounty. Trials were held and both men were convicted despite sketchy evidence that they had committed atrocities during the war. They were blamed in the death of Philander Prescott, 60, who had lived among the Dakota for more than 40 years. He was beheaded on the first day of the war as he fled toward Fort Ridgely.

“It would have been more creditable if some tangible evidence of their guilt had been obtained,” said an editorial in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, published the day before the hangings.

The newspaper said “no serious injustice will be done by the execution,” but warned of a dangerous precedent of “hanging without proving.” Saying the men were probably guilty of murder, the paper nevertheless pointed out that “no white man, tried by a jury of his peers, would be executed upon the testimony thus produced.”

President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated seven months earlier. He had stepped in to reduce the number of Dakota men hanged in Mankato from 303 to 38.

One of Medicine Bottle’s descendants, Dakota researcher and filmmaker Sheldon Wolfchild, insists Lincoln would have halted the hangings. But the president’s successor, Andrew Johnson, quickly approved the executions of Medicine Bottle and Shakopee.

When Shakopee and Medicine Bottle were captured in Manitoba, a French Jesuit priest and missionary named Augustin Ravoux baptized them and administered their Last Rites, accompanying them up until their final moments on November 11, 1865.

Wolfchild, 68, lives in Morton, Minn., and has produced a film about the era that saw his ancestors swept from the area five generations ago.

After their hangings, some of the witnesses ran up and cut off pieces of the nooses for souvenirs. St. Paul photographer Joel Whitney snapped glass-plate images showing white caskets at the feet of the dangling men.

Wolfchild says rocks went in the caskets that were buried in a nearby cemetery, with onlookers thinking they had witnessed the interments of important Dakota figures.

Their bodies, instead, were taken away in a horse-drawn cart at the behest of two doctors with offices near 7th and Jackson Streets in St. Paul. Some accounts say the doctors dug up the bodies the next day.

Wolfchild says Shakopee’s body was preserved in a wooden whiskey barrel and sent to a Philadelphia medical school where a professor Pancoast used it in anatomy lessons. St. Paul doctors dissected Medicine Bottle’s body.

“Who is the savage here?” Wolfchild asks. “Running to the scaffold to get a piece of the rope? The bottom line is they had to dehumanize us to where we were little more than beasts so they could get rid of us.”

Wolfchild says that his grandfather five generations ago, Medicine Bottle, didn’t die instantly when his body dropped at the Fort Snelling gallows.

While Shakopee’s neck snapped immediately, he said, Medicine Bottle dangled for 10 minutes before dying.

“He was saying: ‘We don’t die like that. You cannot kill us with a rope,’ ” Wolfchild said. He’s trying to find any remains that might still exist of the two men, pointing to the Missing In Action banners popular since soldiers went missing in the Vietnam War.

“We feel the same way about our ancestors, they are missing in action and their bodies are in universities, museums and private homes,” he said, “waiting for proper burials so they can continue their journey to the spirit world.”

Scaffold:  Shakopee and Medicine Bottle, moments after the execution
[Photographer:  Joel Emmons Whitney - Source:  Minnesota Historical Society]