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Trista Raezer-Stursa

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • The front page of the Fargo Forum on this date in 1918 was covered with news about World War I. On the very bottom was a tiny announcement that two boys from North Dakota were going to enter West Point: Frank Henning Jr. of Lakota and Sidney Hinds of Wahpeton.
  • The Reverend Eben Saunders of Fargo was not only a minister, but a well-regarded historian of the Red River Valley. In 1918, from May to June, the Reverend Saunders wrote a column in the Fargo Forum in which he wrote brief biographies of North Dakota pioneers.
  • It’s a tale as old as time. The teenagers of Bismarck were bored. Besides watching movies or cruising Main Street, the kids wanted something fun to do after school and on the weekends. On this date in 1992, the front page of the Bismarck Tribune ran a story about an ambitious group of teens called Upbeat that wanted to do what no one else in Bismarck had managed to do: open a successful teen center.
  • Many small towns across the state slowly shrank after a peak population of 680,000 in 1930, a number that would not be reached again until after 2010. People had moved to larger cities, farms consolidated, and various economic busts meant many small towns lost their schools, businesses, churches, and post offices. However, the majestically named town of Napoleon was noted to be prosperous on this date in 1986.
  • In 1882 Emery Mapes, originally from Illinois, moved to Nelson County in Dakota Territory. He platted a townsite next to the St. Paul, Minneapolis, Manitoba Railway. He hoped to build a thriving town named after himself that would become the county seat. A depot, grain elevator, and post office were soon built. There was population of 100 people by 1890, along with a school, grocery story, general store, hotel, saloon, blacksmith, and hardware store. Emery Mapes even published a town newspaper.
  • On the west bank of the Missouri River, about halfway between Mandan and Cannon Ball, sits the tiny town of Huff. The area was first homesteaded in 1888 by John S. Huff. A Northern Pacific Railroad station was built in 1910, and a post office opened in 1911. Huff never had a population that exceeded 60 people, but at one point there was a school, grain elevator, dance hall, store, restaurant, and motel. Rail service ended in 1966, the school closed in 1976, and the post office closed in 1985.
  • A supercentenarian is a person who lives to be at least 110 years old. Once a rarity, the number of supercentenarians has grown steadily, and North Dakota has had its fair share.
  • On this date in 1995 the Bismarck Tribune ran a front-page story about the memorial service for Richard C. Halverson. This was no ordinary service. It was held in the U.S. Capitol building, and the attendees included members of the U.S. Senate. The Reverend Richard C. Halverson had served as the chaplain to the Senate, and the most powerful people in the country gathered to pay tribute to this humble minister from North Dakota.
  • On this date in 1979, The Bismarck Tribune reported that the tiny town of New Hradec was long past its glory days. The grocery store, bar, and gas station had long ago closed. The school only had 22 students, and the church that once had 250 families now had 90. The population was still about 50, down a bit from its high of 57 in 1940. The outlook for this tiny town was dire, but it was strong in its Czech heritage.
  • According to the Bismarck Tribune on this date in 1987, Caspar Borggreve was adamant that he never wanted to be known as a dull man. He need not have worried. This Dutchman, who moved across Europe and the upper Midwest, eventually became a beloved restaurateur in Bismarck.