From 1887 to 1891, Bean Siding was an obscure little town three miles south of Gilby, North Dakota. It was named after S.S. Bean, who built an elevator on the Northern Pacific Railroad there. In 1892 the new postmaster, William Honeyford, renamed the town after himself. It reached a peak population of 75 in 1920, and only two people live there today.
North Dakota had been a state only a few weeks when, on November 29, 1889, a young Bean Siding lad, Carl Carlson, took pen in hand to write a letter to friends in Minnesota.
Statehood was evidently not on his mind as he began, writing in Swedish, “We are all healthy, but our mother was ill this summer. You see, she got a baby girl on August 10. The baby is big and healthy, and her name is Anna Junati.
“I also will tell you that we started the harvesting that day, but we had an accident with our horses. We had three horses we planned to use for harvest, but one old horse gave up, so we had to buy another for $65. Then when I put the horses to the self-binder, the best one had blind stagger. That is an illness that makes horses so dizzy they can’t even stand. So we bought two new mules and paid $32.50 for them.
“Our father was not real healthy, so we had to hire a worker for $2 a day. By the time harvest was over, we had spent $400. But I run the self-binder all the time and cut a total of 128 acres.
“We got 2,050 bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of oats, 40 bushels of potatoes, two bushels of onions, much white cabbage and other garden products. We have 30 tons of hay to feed seven horses, three sheep and two calves, as well as two pigs and 23 hens.”
After his farming report, Carl continued: “I have two sisters named Elin Antonia and Anna Junati, and one brother named Oskar Ferdinand.
“Also, I have to tell you that I was confirmed June 23 by Pastor Jorgenson from Grand Forks. We were twelve candidates, five boys and seven girls.
“Please write soon. Greetings to all my friends. Farewell.”
And that’s the way it was on this date in 1889 at Bean Siding, North Dakota.
Dakota Datebook written by Karen Horsley
The original letter, hand-written in Swedish, in the possession of Karen Horsley
North Dakota Place Names, by Douglas A. Wick
Farmers Elevator of Honeyford