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James Zaharee

James Zaharee was born on this date in 1905. He grew up on a farm near Max in McLean County. When he was barely over 20, a bull gored him. This experience would come to define his entire life. He recovered physically, but during his bed rest he began passionately pursuing miniature writing. This was a popular pursuit in the early 20s, involving writing long texts on the smallest surfaces possible. Zaharee enrolled in as many contests as he could, winning six cars and thousands of dollars, which brought him to the University of Michigan where he studied Engineering and Design.

He finished his first well-known project in 1929, a postage stamp with his name and the alphabet written 30 times each, and the Gettysburg address written 18 times. He then moved onto grains of rice. In 1935, he submitted a single grain with over 9,000 letters to Robert Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Instantly impressed, Ripley invited James Zaharee to Ripley’s “Odditorium” in San Diego, where people flocked to have Zaharee write them a personalized note on rice. During his time there, he got the idea to write something important on a strand of human hair, so he headed back to North Dakota and wrote the Gettysburg Address on a single strand. Then in 1937, Max Goodman formed a touring carnival called the Wonder Show, and Zaharee signed up to be an act.

After the carnival season ended, James Zaharee returned to Max, North Dakota to work on writing the Declaration of Independence on a grain of rice. Eight months later it was completed, and he took it with him on tour.

From 1942 to 1945 he served in the Navy and could not pursue his passion, but he rejoined the show when the war ended. Unfortunately, a year later the show disbanded. Zaharee, however, continued to tour independently. Eventually, he retired to the south, dying in Arkansas on March 24th, 1981. While he may not have left a big legacy, he certainly left a very detailed one.

Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas



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