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  • Wolf Wrangling

    On this date in 1910, Fred Shirkey had a shredded suit of clothes, a torn up hand, but a smile on his face. Better known near Belfield as the Mikkelson Poet, Shirkey had gained a reputation that winter as quite the wolf hunter, having already turned in two large pelts for forty dollar rewards. On […]

  • Husbands Hoax

    Minot reported a curious tale on this date in 1910, writing that a death notice and obituary it published two months earlier was nothing more than an elaborate hoax concocted by a mischievous ex-husband. Louis Sickles lived for some time in Minot and was married there. The couple had two children, but ultimately separated. Mr. […]

  • Weather Lore

    In North Dakota you can almost be sure that at some point during the day the discussion will turn to the weather, which is an important element of life on the Northern Plains, where conditions can rapidly change. Over the years, a local weather lore had developed that was used to predict conditions for the […]

  • Fort Yates Buffalo

    A buffalo bull made headlines this week in 1900 on the Fort Yates Reservation. The bull was spotted among a herd of cattle near Rock Creek, and was the first seen in the area since 1885. The reservation agent quickly issued an edict against killing the animal, hoping more would appear. Although wild and dangerous, […]

  • Three Calvins and a Cook

    North Dakota has had two different towns named Calvin. The first one, in Rolette County, consisted of a rural post office established October 23, 1899. The postmaster was named Ira Eisenhour, but his job was short lived. His post office order was rescinded almost exactly a year later, and that was the end of Calvin […]

  • John Lee Coulter

    The news read differently back in 1912. Anyone picking up a copy of the New York Times on this day would read “Million Cows Give Milk for New York” and “Busy Bees Produce 3,191,733 Pounds of Honey.” These statistics were according to special agent for agriculture, John Lee Coulter. The Census Bureau of the Department […]

  • Robinson’s History

    The great North Dakota historian, Elwyn B. Robinson, wrote to his mother on this date in 1958, telling her about a recent paper he gave at a convocation to celebrate the 75th aAnniversary of the founding of the University of North Dakota. The paper, titled “The Themes of North Dakota History,” went on to form […]

  • State Library

    The North Dakota Governor’s Conference on Library and Information Services began on this day in 1990. The conference was held to prepare for the national White House conference on Library and Information Services the following year, and was held to address the key concerns of literacy, equal access, productivity through marketing, and preservation and access […]

  • Roasting on an Open Fire

    On this date in 1965, a program promoting Christmas, put on by the merchants of Minot, received more news coverage than expected when a young man set the 40-foot community Christmas tree on fire. A cabdriver spotted the fire, early in the morning, and alerted authorities. The tree was saved, though scorched, and the next […]

  • Joan Hecker

    Joan Hecker, Miss Rodeo North Dakota, represented the state at the Miss Rodeo America pageant in Las Vegas on this day in 1962. Hecker, of Belfield, had won not only the Miss Rodeo pageant that year, but also the state barrel racing championship. She and her horse, “Speedy,” were not newcomers to the North Dakota […]

  • Thanksgiving Proclamation

    Today, people across the state and nation will remember, celebrate and share their bountiful blessings with family and friends. It’s a day North Dakotans have officially celebrated for nearly 150 years. Although Thanksgiving’s origins date back to the 17th century Plymouth colony, the modern concept of the holiday was born out the Civil War. After […]

  • Lieutenant Harrington

    The marriage of Lieutenant Henry Harrington and Grace Bernard was reported on this day in 1872. The Lieutenant and his wife would eventually become known to North Dakotans for very different reasons; Harrington would become one of the sad casualties of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and his wife’s actions afterward would serve […]

  • Dakota National Forest

    Traditionally, stories involving both North Dakota and forests result in a bad joke, usually ending with a punch-line about the state’s only trees being telephone poles. While the jokes are made in good fun, they contain a grain of truth. After all, the state is the least forested in the country, with trees covering only […]

  • The Ten Commandments

    William C. Palmer’s life was steeped in agriculture. He came from a farming family in Wisconsin, where he was born and raised. For a few years in the midst of his college career, he was in charge of the sub-station of the Minnesota Agricultural College and Experiment Station at Lynd, Minnesota. When he graduated in […]

  • N.P. Prairie Railway

    The Northern Pacific opened rail lines between Edgeley and Streeter, North Dakota, on this day in 1905. The Northern Pacific already extended between Minneapolis and Seattle, but several branches of the line continued to be built into the rural areas of the state into the 1970s. Chartered by Congress in 1864, the company had undergone […]

  • Gilbert A. Pierce

    Gilbert A. Pierce began his first term as a United States Senator representing the newly admitted state of North Dakota on this day in 1889. The Republican Senator had served as Governor of Dakota Territory from 1884 to 1886 before his appointment as Senator. He was born in East Otto, New York on January 11, […]

  • Mounting the Mississippi

    The Lewis and Clark expedition began their ascent up the Mississippi River on this day in 1803. The group, under the direction of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, was composed of a ragtag band of military men, interpreters, traders, and boatmen. Although Lewis had originally intended to recruit fifteen men for the expedition, it was […]

  • Buffalo Blaze

    A terrible fire was reported from the town of Buffalo, North Dakota, on this date in 1900. The fire swept through the city’s business district, destroying every business save one. Like many early towns of the time, the majority of Buffalo’s businesses were concentrated onto a single block in the town’s center. Although this proved […]

  • Oak Lawn Church

    In the study of North Dakota’s history, we are often confronted by the deeds and actions of the ‘great men’ of the state’s past; the grit of Theodore Roosevelt, the headstrong courage of George Armstrong Custer, the acrimonious governorships of William Langer or the fatalistic determination of Sitting Bull. Certainly, North Dakota history would have […]

  • Runaway Boxcar

    A Bismarck man endured a frightening ride on this day in 1908. Percy Simpson, a Soo line employee, was working on the roof of the boxcar near Wilton, North Dakota, when the incident occurred. Simpson, a brakeman, had been sent to the top of the car to repair a bent brake shaft. While Simpson worked […]