Dakota Datebook

Town Criers

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


It’s a “flock” of geese and a “murder” of crows, but what do you call a large group of town criers? On this date in 1929, the Park Hotel in Killdeer was full of them!


They had gathered in Killdeer for their regular Town Criers meeting. The Killdeer Herald reported that it “was a capacity affair. Thirty-five persons were recorded in attendance.”


The town criers enjoyed a meal, after which the chairman called the meeting to order. Part of the order of business was to discuss what they had accomplished. The newspaper reported, “As the last word, Haakon Weydahl, in his usual vivid way, portrayed their activities in military parlance, which took in every maneuver from the breakfast bugle of the morning after to the zero hour of the night before. As a climax, he decorated them with a specially prepared ribbon from each of which was suspended a five dollar gold piece.”


After the business of the meeting was over, the town criers went to the Odd Fellow Hall in the Killdeer Hotel building, where they played whist, sang, and enjoyed themselves. Their number increased as people around town, including “many who were weather-bound in town overnight”—at least that was their excuse.


The newspaper stated, “Somewhere, long ago, a sad-faced poet who never ‘convived’ with his friends and acquaintances uttered the following: ‘Backward, turn backward, O time in thy flight, and make me a child again just for tonight.’ That gem of thought confessing the accumulated stagnation of years gone by and expressing a yearning for things that were forever gone, would have never graced the crown of literature if the discouraged old poet had ever attended a party with the Killdeer town Criers.”


There are official town crier positions in some cities today, though none in North Dakota. Still, one can imagine the echo of the group of men, cheering each other, and perhaps even exclaiming out loud, “Hear ye, Hear ye!”


Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker




Killdeer Herald, March 14, 1929




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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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