Dakota Datebook

News Around the State

Sunday, November 16, 2003

On this day in 1894, Fessenden was getting itchy to take over the Wells County seat, which they’d taken away from Sykeston 10 days earlier. Sykeston lost the election fair and square, but things weren’t moving fast enough for some; so a number of Fessenden residents took 20 wagons to Sykeston and forcibly took possession of the county’s records.

Here’s some other news and trivia from around the state during this period in 1911.

There were 53 Sundays that year, a very rare event. Experts reported that it wouldn’t happen again for a hundred years. The 53rd Sunday fell on New Years Eve, and it was suggested that all religious denominations celebrate it as a day of universal thanksgiving.

In Bottineau, five prisoners – three robbers and two being held for grand larceny – escaped from jail fifteen minutes after they returned to their cells after eating supper. This was the second time they had broken out that week.

In Kenmare, a pile of burning garbage got out of hand, and the fire department was brought out. When one of the firemen brought along a ladder, someone asked why he needed a ladder when the fire was on the ground. He said that in order to ring the fire bell, he had to move the ladder, and he decided to bring it along for company. His joke went up in flames (sorry).

And in Grand Forks, it was discovered that contrary to expectations, crop yields were so high that they ran out of railroad cars. In Cavalier County, Thorson Sabie got 104 bushels of oats to the acre, and George Fassler got 53 bushels of barley per acre. Near Bantry, the Lazier Brothers got 3,000 bushels of flax from 200 acres. At $2.00 a bushel, they made $6,000.

In Pembina County, 22 year-old farmer, Allan Andres, harvested 36 acres from which he got 900 bushels of oats, 1,500 bushels of potatoes, 71 bushels of beans and 70 bushels of barley. He made a total $1,820 or $53. 33 an acre – a fantastic amount.

It was a record breaking year for crops, and per capita, North Dakota had the highest income in the nation, at $1,931. Thanks to tree claims, the state now also had almost 96,000 acres of hand-planted forests, and nearly 1,000,000 acres was still available for homesteading. And while the population of the United States had increased 21% in the previous ten years, North Dakota’s population had increased a whopping 80%. We also had the lowest death rate of any state in the Union.

And the last of our news – but certainly not the least – the Hansboro newspaper reported the latest invention for the family home… the gum board. It was a board cut in a circle, either plain or decorated, and was designed to hang on the dining room wall. The name of each family member was painted around the edge to mark the spot where they could stick their gum until they wanted to chew it again. As it was reported in the paper, “This saves carrying the gum to bed and getting it in one’s hair or swallowing it in the night. It is obvious that the gum board supplies a long felt want.”

And that concludes the state news as it happened 93 years ago this month – anyway, the part we wanted to tell.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

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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