© 2021
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Carole Butcher

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • In 1889, Louis Peterson opened the Pacific Hotel in Bismarck. He named it in honor of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Only three years later, Peterson died.Henry Tatley acquired the hotel when he married Peterson’s widow in 1897. The original hotel was a wooden building, but in 1906, Tatley added a brick structure at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway at a cost of $60,000, the equivalent of nearly two million dollars today.
  • Jesse James was a legend in his own time throughout the Dakota Territory. Born in Missouri, he was sixteen when he joined the Confederate guerilla band of Bloody Bill Anderson. After the war, Jesse and his older brother Frank felt humiliated by the Union victory. They organized a gang and carried out bank robberies. Jesse craved attention. He began writing his own press releases and leaving them in the gang’s wake. He used newspapers to build his reputation as a Robin Hood, helping Missourians he thought were being crushed by the North. He said, “We are not thieves. We are bold robbers.”
  • On this date in 1909, readers of the Hope Pioneer took note of a colony of Dutch immigrants who had settled near Dickinson. The first growing season for the Dutch had been wildly successful. So successful, in fact, that they were recruiting their countrymen to come join them. Large numbers of Dutch immigrants were expected to arrive within months. A Dutch syndicate planned to travel to the state to find suitable land. The syndicate would purchase the land and sell it to the new immigrants.
  • Fire was a common on the Great Plains. On this date in 1901, residents of Oakes were assessing the damage in the wake of two recent fires. The most destructive of the two destroyed the Soo Line railroad depot. Railroad agent Anderson worked both a day shift and a night shift, essentially living at the depot. He was waiting for the Tuesday night train when he laid down on his cot to rest. When he woke up, he found his office filled with smoke.
  • On this date in 1916, residents of Williams and McKenzie Counties learned that they would soon be able to cross the Missouri River at Williston with no difficulty. The Golden Valley Chronicle announced that a new pontoon bridge would be ready before the end of the month. Mr. P.M. Calderwood, president of the Missouri River Bridge Company of Williston, announced that only unforeseen delays could prevent the bridge from opening on time.
  • On this date in 1907, an obituary appeared in the Bismarck Daily Tribune. Readers learned that Henry Porter had been found dead. At first glance, there did not seem to be very much about Henry that was special. But for all the lack of detail, the brief obituary gives tantalizing hints.
  • On this date in 1912, the Washburn, North Dakota newspaper announced that Minnesota Senator William D. Washburn died at his home in Minneapolis. There was a strong connection between the town of Washburn and the man for whom it was named. The newspaper noted that Washburn had always taken a personal interest in the North Dakota town.
  • On this date in 1907, the North Dakota School for the Deaf announced that the school had opened an exhibit at the Grand Forks Fair where students displayed examples of work including needlework, carpentry, and penmanship. The exhibit also featured photographs of the school.
  • By the early 1900s, amateur mechanics in North Dakota were building their own motor cars and whizzing down dirt roads at the mindboggling speed of eight miles an hour. The other rage of the time was aviation. North Dakotans were in on that, too. In 1910, Archie Hoxey was created a sensation with the first successful North Dakota flight at Grand Forks. And there was Frances Klingensmith, the first woman in the state to get a pilot’s license. She gained national fame as a stunt pilot and a racer. Even more famous, Carl Ben Eielson is known for flying over the arctic ice caps.
  • North Dakotans are no strangers to severe weather. On this date in 1912, the state was dealing with the aftermath of a devastating hailstorm. The Bismarck Daily Tribune reported, “The most disastrous hailstorm in years swept this section, destroying hundreds of acres of fine grain.”