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North Dakota Responds to War, 1914

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In 1914, Germany declared war on France, and then invaded Belgium to avoid the French fortifications along their shared border. Belgium was neutral, and the invasion by Germany violated the Treaty of London. Belgium would remain occupied by Germany until the Armistice in 1918.

The United States would not enter the Great War for a number of years, but was very aware of the hardship facing war-torn countries. People around the country gathered resources to send the Belgians.

On this date, the Bismarck Tribune reported on some of the donations provided by North Dakotans. Governor Hanna "remarked that, for its size and wealth, North Dakota probably would lead the states of the Union in the matter of Belgian relief donations."

Rolette County sent a check of $636. New Rockford promised 210 barrels of flour. Cass County raised $1200 for more flour. Other Counties also planned to send provisions.

The largest amount received from a single individual came from Col. William P. Tuttle, of Dawson, who forwarded a check for one thousand dollars to aid the Belgians.

Tuttle was born in New York and worked on his father's farm until getting into the milling business. He eventually moved to Belle Plaine, Iowa, where he set up a hardware, implement, and grain enterprise. Then in 1884, he purchased his first quarter section of land in North Dakota. His holdings grew until he became, according to reports, one of the largest landowners in the state.

Tuttle was "a kind, genial, and charitable gentleman." He was known for devoting resources to the state and community, but also for charity work. So, his large donation for Belgian relief was not too surprising.

And it was very appreciated, especially as more reports of starving families filled the newspapers.

The reports urged, "Give up your pie at lunch. You will have less to digest, and [and you could give] a Belgian woman a day's ration. Walk to your work and back and visualize as you go what the 10 cents saved means to others."

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

https://www.army.mil/article/200760/belgium_u_s_involvement_in_world_war_i

Bismarck Daily Tribune, December 20, 1914, p1, 4

Bismarck Daily Tribune, April 30, 1914, p1

Bismarck Daily Tribune, Oct 29, 1915, p1

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