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Merry Helm

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • 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.
  • 7/11/2017: Clement A. Lounsberry was born in 1843 in Indiana. Like many people who gained success as adults, Lounsberry overcame great hardships during his youth, including being orphaned.
  • 6/15/2017: Construction began on Fort Buford on this date in 1866; where the Missouri meets the Yellowstone River near Williston. Fort Buford served as a military post until 1881, when Sitting Bull surrendered to the fort’s military officials.
  • 6/14/2017: On this date in 1942, a 39-year-old German named George Dasch called the FBI to set up an appointment to talk to J. Edgar Hoover. The night before, a German submarine had put Dasch and three others ashore on Long Island, where they buried their uniforms and explosives. Four others came ashore at Jacksonville, FL; they were to join forces in the Midwest on July 4th.
  • 4/21/2017: Tomorrow is Earth Day, so we take this opportunity to tell the story of a man who had an enormous impact on wildlife conservation in North Dakota. Jay Darling, of Iowa, was a renowned political cartoonist during the “dirty thirties,” a time of bankruptcy, soup lines, drought and awe-inspiring dust storms. On the Great Plains, conditions were disastrous for waterfowl, and the problem wasn’t limited to dried up wetlands; hunting practices were also out of control.
  • 4/12/2017: George Bird Grinnell, a respected authority on the Plains Indians, passed away on this date in 1938 at the age of 88. In 2004, conservationist Shane Mahoney wrote this of Grinnell: “He was many things: scientist, hunter, explorer, naturalist, entrepreneur and author. Above all else, however, George Bird Grinnell was and remains the most influential conservationist in North American history.”
  • 3/31/2017: On this date in 1951, The Fargo Forum ran a big spread titled, “Orchestra Success Regarded by Outsiders as Astounding.” The story, written by Roy P. Johnson, celebrated the symphony’s 20th anniversary.