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Merry Helm

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • Elizabeth Preston Anderson was born in Indiana on this date in 1861. Her father was a Methodist pastor. Her first memory was at the age of two, when she was awakened to say goodbye to her mother as she lay dying. Other early memories were the end of the Civil War and the assassination of President Lincoln.
  • 1919 was a year of great upheaval. Across the country, the working class rebelled against corporate greed by walking off the job. World War I had been over for only a year, and the world was still reeling from the 1918 flu pandemic. The cost of living had almost doubled. Workers’ pre-war dollars were now worth only 45 cents. Industrialists that grew rich from the war now wanted to cut wages and take away gains made by labor. Countless numbers of American workers went on strike, and conservatives feared a revolution similar to the Bolsheviks’ takeover of Russia.
  • Alfred Howe Terry was born into a prosperous Connecticut family on this date in 1827. He graduated from Yale with a law degree and worked for a Connecticut Superior Court.
  • On this date in 1945, the first issue of Ebony Magazine was published, and one doesn’t typically associate Black culture with early North Dakota, but one of the state’s most noted celebrities is an African American woman who started out on a farm near Driscoll.
  • In 1905 on this date, Orville Wright piloted the first flight longer than a half hour. It lasted 33 minutes, 17 seconds and covered 21 miles. Five years later, Frank Kent, the Grand Forks postmaster, became the first airplane passenger in North Dakota when Archie Hoxsey, a member of the Wright brothers’ Flying Circus, made an appearance at the Grand Forks fairgrounds and took Kent up for a nine-minute flight.
  • Dr. Gilbert Wilson, a University of Minnesota anthropologist, journeyed to North Dakota around 1912 to interview Buffalobird-Woman, who was in her 70s.
  • On this date in 1923, an article in the Bismarck Tribune invited the “Ford Family” to compete for prizes in a special event. Although Ford Day would include a special greeting from Henry Ford, the “Ford Family” referred to meant Ford vehicle owners. The sponsor, Copelin Motor Company, would be giving a free touring car to one lucky registrant.
  • 8/2/2017: Duane Howard was born in Devils Lake on this date in 1933. He married his childhood sweetheart, Orpha Hanson in 1956. They made their home on the Howard Ranch in Minnewaukan until the rising waters of Devils Lake forced the couple to relocate to Sheyenne, North Dakota.
  • 7/19/2017: The North Dakota Quilt Project was conceived 31 years ago this month in 1986. It was a means for the Quilters' Guild of North Dakota to help celebrate the state's centennial in 1989. Leona Tennyson, of Antler, North Dakota was instrumental in the project. Once finished, it would be the world’s largest quilt, covering more than a third of an acre. “We want the citizens to take part in doing this,” Leona told the Minot Daily News. “It’s a state of North Dakota quilt project.”
  • 7/13/2017: The 1930s were hard on North Dakota farmers. About the only thing that survived the dust and grasshoppers were Russian thistles. Cattle starved or fell dead with bellies full of dirt, and farm foreclosures became frequent. An elevator man in Sanish thought the price of wheat hit rock bottom at 56 cents a bushel and wrote on his market chalkboard, “Don’t faint when you read these prices.” Little did anyone realize that within the next several years, wheat would go as low as 17 cents.