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  • John Blair Smith Todd

    Dakota Territory saw many of its early politicians come and go quickly, including John Blair Smith Todd. On this date in 1814, Todd was born in Lexington, Kentucky. He married in 1845 and had nine children with his wife Catherine. Todd was a military man who served in the Seminole and Mexican-American wars. He spent […]

  • Farm, Labor and the NPL

    “Go home and slop the hogs and leave the lawmaking to us!” That’s what Treadwell Twitchell, a Republican Cass County legislator, supposedly said to a group of angry farmers in 1915. The farmers were arguing their case for a state-run grain elevator at a legislative meeting. Whether Twitchell uttered those exact words is unsure, but […]

  • Fargo Moorhead Symphony Orchestra

    On this date in 1951, The Fargo Forum ran a big spread titled, “Orchestra Success Regarded by Outsiders as Astounding.” The story, written by Roy P. Johnson, celebrated the symphony’s 20th anniversary. “Had there been no public appreciation and support, the orchestra may have fallen by the wayside long ago,” Johnson wrote. “That a symphony […]

  • Verendrye’s Lead Plate

    Meriwether Lewis and William Clark get most of the credit for being early white explorers of the Missouri River and the American West, but their adventure wasn’t the first. The Verendrye family was in the North and South Dakota region for more than sixty years before the Corps of Discovery. They too sought an all-water […]

  • Fingerprint Expert

    Using fingerprints in criminal investigations became widespread in the early years of the 20th Century. Because no two fingertips are alike, and because fingerprints never change, it became a sure way to connect criminals to their crimes. This relatively new science was the stuff of Sherlock Holmes, capturing the public’s fascination.  On this date in […]

  • On Messines Ridge

    By June 7, 1917, the British Second Army was prepared to attack the Germans at Messines Ridge in northern France.  The British had put a great deal of planning into the attack.  For eighteen months, soldiers dug tunnels under the German positions.  Some of the tunnels were 2,000 feet long.  The Germans had been entrenched […]

  • Mrs. Peterson and the NPL

    On today’s date in 1918, Mrs. H.L. Peterson and her family from Bowbells, North Dakota were awaiting the April 1st issue of the “Nonpartisan Leader.” Mrs. Peterson had won a Nonpartisan League women’s writing contest with her essay titled “Pay for the Wageless Years. “What does the Nonpartisan League mean to me?” she wrote. “It […]

  • Woman Not Dead

    On this date in 1902, word came from Lisbon that a woman had been found dead near Velva. Elaine Lindgren wrote about it in her book, “Land in Her Own Name:” “Freezing temperatures were always a threat, but the tale of Helma Nelson has a surprising twist. Helma had a claim about 13 miles northwest […]

  • Snow Geese at Tewaukon

    North Dakota is popular stopover for migrating waterfowl. Even endangered whooping cranes make a pit stop here, but the migrating snow geese at Lake Tewaukon are one of the most impressive sights. They’d give Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds” a run for its money. The little lake and the sky above it become a cloud […]

  • Will You Finish the Job?

    The sale of Liberty Bonds raised over $21 billion during World War I, thanks to banks and financial groups that bought the bonds for financial rather than patriotic reasons.  The program did not catch on with the public.  People were uncomfortable entrusting their money to what they saw as an uncertain investment. The Victory Loan […]

  • Mandan Flood

    Ice blocking the Heart River near Mandan caused extensive flooding on this date in 1948. The flooding eventually overtook the southern half of the city and cut off transportation between Bismarck and Mandan. Although the flood was primarily due to the build-up of ice floes, the majority of the damage was confined to the lowland […]

  • Round Wood Block Pavement in Fargo, 1896

    Modern-day people take street pavement for granted, driving over concrete highways and asphalt streets.  But back in the 1890s, the going was tougher. North Dakota’s towns had dirt roads or hard-packed soil that could turn into sticky mud during a good rain, becoming impassible. One early approach involved wood-block paving, cut from logs, and circular […]

  • Page

    “Imperial Cass” County is more than just Fargo. North Dakota’s most populated county also includes a smattering of rural towns as elsewhere in the state. Page, North Dakota is about an hour from Fargo, north of Interstate 94 and about 20 miles from the Red River. The city’s post office was established on this date […]

  • A Political Insurgency

    The political scene in North Dakota has always been turbulent.  Only a year after gaining statehood, the Farmer’s Alliance formed an independent party to challenge Republican control.  In 1892, they joined with the Democrats to gain control of the state, but the success was short-lived, with Republicans regaining the edge in 1894. There was another […]

  • Peltier part 2

    On this date in 1977, the trial of Leonard Peltier was in its second day. Peltier was an activist in the American Indian Movement or AIM and, in 1972, he took part in a 71-day standoff with FBI agents at Wounded Knee. The years after the standoff were marked by violence between the tribal administration […]

  • Leonard Peltier part 1

    Leonard Peltier has become larger than life since receiving back-to-back life sentences for the murder of two FBI agents in a shootout in Pine Ridge, South Dakota over 40 years ago. It was on this date in 1977 that his trial in Fargo began. Peltier was born in Grand Forks in 1944. When his parents […]

  • Lake Sakakawea Crash

    Mathematics helped solve the mystery of a fighter jet that crashed through the ice of Lake Sakakawea on this date in 1969.   For thirty-five years, The F-106 Delta Dart interceptor from the Minot Air Force base had rested on the bottom of the lake near the Four Bears Bridge at New Town. Captain Merlin Riley […]

  • Col. John A. Ely

    Colonel John Ely was a mover and shaker in the days of Dakota Territory. He was born in 1836 in Missouri and wore many hats over the years. He grew wheat, raised cattle, traded mules and even served four years in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. However, he apparently thought “Lincoln was the […]

  • Lady Bowlers

    Today we learn of several lady bowlers who made their mark in the sport. First is Amy Lybeck, who was born on this date in 1916 in Heimdal, and grew up with her eight siblings on her parents’ farm near Maddock. Amy was an outstanding student, graduating as valedictorian of her class and lettering in […]

  • An Expensive Egg

    During a visit to Europe in 1881, famed Civil War nurse Clara Barton learned of the Red Cross.  When she returned home, she was instrumental in establishing Red Cross in America.  Barton led the American Red Cross for twenty-three years.  It supported American troops in the Spanish-American War and assisted in both domestic and overseas […]