In the 1880s, the question was asked: “How Large Will Pumpkins Grow in Dakota?” The answer was: “pretty big.”  The man behind the large-pumpkin question was Joseph Barth, manager of the St. Paul One Price Clothing store in Bismarck.

North Dakota has a long and unfortunate history of prairie fires. In 1804 Lewis and Clark recorded a prairie fire that resulted in fatalities. Clark wrote of several people “who could not get to any place of safety.” Lightning sometimes caused wildfires, but they were also caused by human activity. In 1805 the explorers noted that it was common for Indians to burn the prairie near their villages to benefit their ponies and the buffalo. But sometimes these fires got out of control, leaving destruction in their wake. The plains were especially vulnerable to fire in the fall, after the dry weather of summer and before fall rains came.

Artist Clell Gannon

Sep 28, 2018

The legacy of an accomplished North Dakota artist can still be seen in the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck. Clell Gannon painted a number of murals in the courthouse vestibule, depicting scenes from North Dakota history, such as “Verendrye Meets the Mandans” and “The Sibley Campaign.” The courthouse is in Art Deco style, built during the same period as the state Capitol skyscraper.

Forget-Me-Not Day

Sep 24, 2018

Supporting America’s troops has taken different forms throughout the years. The Great War was still in recent memory when various groups spread out throughout Bismarck-Mandan to sell handmade forget-me-nots to honor and support disabled American military veterans in 1937. On this date, the Bismarck Tribune reported that Governor Bill Langer had declared the following day as “Forget-Me-Not Day.”

The Bismarck-Mandan Metropolitan Planning Organization has begun updating the metro transportation plan.

That plan is called “Arrive 2045.”

"We will be looking for members of the public, stakeholders, folks interested in transportation," said KLJ project manager Wade Kline. "We want them to come in and help worth through the identification of transportation needs in the Bismarck-Mandan-Lincoln area for the next 20-25 years."

The MPO has developed some projections for population and job growth in the Bismarck-Mandan-Lincoln area.

The Marquis de Mores cultivated a short-lived cattle empire during his time in Dakota Territory. But a long-running murder allegation also defined his time out west. De Mores wasn’t popular in the Badlands. He had enemies who despised him for everything from how he acquired his land, to his ambitious cattle operation, to his development of Medora—even xenophobia. After all, he was a French aristocrat – not from these parts. But when the Marquis fenced his land, that really lit the fuse.

The word museum comes from the Greek word, “mouseion,” which translates to “seat of the muses.” In classical Greece and Rome, a museum was not a building, but a meeting place to discuss and share ideas. Contemporary museums are also a place to share ideas, yet by different means. By housing and interpreting material objects, museums preserve cultural heritage.  

On this date in 1919, The Devil’s Lake World and Inter-ocean reported that Melvin R. Gilmore, curator for the State Historical Society of North Dakota, had returned to Bismarck with a unique and rare collection of artifacts: seven clay cuneiform tablets from ancient Babylonia. Dating from 2350 to 2100 BC, they are mostly business records from the Ur Dynasty, covering the region of present-day Iraq and Syria. Among the tablets was a tax list from the ancient city of Umma, obtained by the University of Chicago’s archeology department between 1903 and 1906. It was purchased by the State Historical Society for the sum of $4 from Edgar J. Banks.

They say a rising tide lifts all boats. For Barnie Botone, the great-grandson of a famous Kiowa chief, the Civil Rights Movement and an unlikely change agent helped pave the way for a fulfilling and pioneering career. But why were the tears flowing from his grandmother’s eyes not happy ones?

Botone spoke with StoryCorps facilitator Savannah Winchester at the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck.

Kurdish-American couple Berivan and Abdullah Ali describe their harrowing trip from Iran to Germany, a stepping stone in immigrating to the United States. While they chose to settle in Bismarck, North Dakota, for geographically incorrect reasons, they soon discovered the welcoming nature of its people. After many decades of happy living, Berivan and Abdullah are ready to start a new chapter in their lives, and that means leaving their beloved home, once again.

Some adopted kids want to know their birth parents, some don’t.

For Gary Anderson, it was his own kids who finally persuaded him to ask questions. One even bought him a DNA kit from That’s when he discovered he has nine half siblings.

He told the story to his niece Cathryn Sprynczynatyk at the StoryCorps mobile recording booth in Bismarck of how he figured out who his parents were, based on a report from what was “technically” a closed adoption.