Dakota Datebook

Getting the Goat

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

 

In November of 1921, the North Dakota political scene was undergoing huge change as an election pushed Nonpartisan League Governor Frazier out of office and put the independent candidate Ragnvold Nestos into office for the next four years.

The Nonpartisan League had fallen out of favor for many state residents, who rejoiced at the change—and none more so, perhaps, than residents of Ward County; for Nestos claimed Minot as his home. After the election results were official, thousands of people gathered in Minot to celebrate. That included almost the entire town of Douglas, which arrived by the carload, carrying large banners emblazoned with slogans like “Open Books,” “Economy,” and “Honor to Nestos.

Gust Larson, Mayor of Douglas, was part of that number. He had promised that if Nestos was elected, he would lead a goat the 36 miles from Douglas to Minot—in honor of the NPL goat “that couldn’t be got.” He kept his promise and brought it to Minot in the evening, where he was met by a large delegation of citizens from Minot and was escorted down into the city “amid a blaze of red rockets.” The Douglas goat was presented to the joint campaign committee of Ward County and was received by Victor Corbett, county chairman.

After this presentation, Larson and his goat, with a red flag tied around his tail, took part in a parade, led by the Minot Community band. They were followed by a fire truck, sounding its siren, and then by all of the cars from Douglas. Later, Larson told everyone how he had kept the goat locked up in the Douglas livery barn so that his NPL friends wouldn’t steal it. One leaguer did find his way in and was about to release the goat, but he was caught lifting the goat over the fence.

In the following days, some leaguers tried to delay Nestos’ inauguration, which was set earlier than normal. They were unsuccessful in this injunction, however, and the political drama rolled forward. And on this date, R. A. Nestos became the 13th governor of North Dakota.

Gust Larson was there to see it, as well. But this time, he came without the goat. It was already “got.”

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker

Sources:

The Douglas Herald, November 17, 1921

The Ward County Independent, November 3, 1921

The Douglas Herald, November 3, 1921

The Bismarck tribune, November 23, 1921

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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