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Merry Helm

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • Two men were executed in North Dakota on this date in 1900. Their cases were unrelated. On March 19th, James Jenkins and his son, Ira, reported that August Stark had frozen to death in a coal mine near Wilton. The father and son were the mine operators, and Stark an employee. The victim showed signs of having been dragged to the spot where he was found. When the Jenkins men were separately interviewed, they told contradictory stories, and both were charged with murder.
  • President Woodrow Wilson visited North Dakota only once – in 1919. The First World War had ended, and Wilson wanted to convince the Nation that the United States should accept the Treaty of Versailles and become a member of the newly proposed League of Nations. He carried out his campaign by way of an 8,000-mile train trip, to the West Coast and back.
  • On this date in 1916, J. E. Shannon was being held in the Cass County jail. He had been arrested in March after a robbery and gunfight in a Drugstore in Davenport, south of Fargo. Five months later, on August 24th, Sheriff John Ross discovered something unusual.
  • On this date in 1916, there was a one-paragraph story in the Bismarck Tribune that read: “S. F. Crabbe, state architect, visited the state penitentiary yesterday …” While that might not sound like much, it was, in fact, quite significant.
  • Martha and Harry Thompson of Selz, North Dakota had six children. Son Gust was born in 1923 – tomorrow would be his birthday. He joined the army when he was barely 18 and parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. Sometime later, he would become a German prisoner.
  • William “Bill” Hamann was a mover and shaker in the western North Dakota cattle industry. He was born near Richardton in 1904 and began working with livestock in the late 1920s. Along with his associates, he established the Western Livestock Company in Dickinson in 1948. It grew to become the largest cattle auction in North Dakota.
  • Five prohibition agents raided the ‘largest still west of Chicago’ on this date in 1932. It was on a farm five miles north of Jamestown. Special agents had suspected a still in the Jamestown vicinity since the first of July, when a truckload of corn sugar, the main ingredient of homemade moonshine, was tracked from Valley City to near Jamestown, where they lost the trail. Soon after, agents followed a truckload of piping from Fargo. Again, they lost the trail near Jamestown.