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Hail and Ancient Pottery


The Bismarck Tribune was founded on this date in 1873, but the first issue didn’t come out for another week, on July 14th. It hit the streets with a printed apology. The materials needed for printing the paper had been late in arriving, and a lack of supplies forced the editor to leave out some of the advertising.

Among the front-page stories in that first issue was an update on the Yellowstone Expedition, which was traveling under General Custer’s protection. The story told of rough weather and rising waters that made it difficult to keep the different segments of the group together. A reporter traveling with the expedition wrote, “The rains of the past week have been a great drawback … The hail storm which struck this detachment … was fearful, and the reports would be incredible did I not see evidence of its effects. Antelopes and a dog were killed. Men were knocked down and rendered black and blue from head to foot, mules and horses made frantic and uncomfortable … The hail fell to the depth of three or four inches on the level, and in ravines from one to two feet deep. The stones were as large as hens’ eggs.”


Another story that made the front page concerned the discovery of ancient pottery. The report read, “Two miles and a half above Bismarck is the site of an ancient fort. The ground consists of about fifteen acres situated on bluffs, perhaps one hundred feet in height, on the east side of the river. The position seems to have been well fortified, the ditch, the embankment and camping grounds being distinctly marked. The grounds are covered with bones and on every hand may be found specimens of ancient pottery. The vessels [are] fifteen to twenty inches in diameter and perhaps two feet deep.”


“The patterns were somewhat rude,” the story continues, “and yet in some instances considerable taste as well as skill was shown in ornamenting. The vessels do not seem to have been burned but dried in the sun, though they are almost as hard as flint. The material seems to be the fine clay which abounds on the Missouri River mixed with, say, pulverized quartz, or something having that appearance.”


Such was the news from the very first issue of the Bismarck Tribune, which founded on this date in 1873.


Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

Source: The Bismarck Tribune. Friday July 14, 1873: 1.

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