Burns Club in Minot
Robert Burns, the national bard of Scotland, was born into a poor farming family in Ayrshire and died in debt, young, at age 37. He was a poet and song-writer, though apparently in life he could not hold a tune. He had a multitude of affairs, and fathered many children. He also penned many songs that are still known, beloved, and celebrated today—including the song “Auld Lang Syne.”
Robert Burns’ life and work are celebrated by “Burns Clubs” all over the world, traditionally on or as near to his birthday as possible. And on this date in 1914, club members in Minot were happy to oblige.
The Minot Burns Club was first established in January 1907, when a small group numbering about 25 celebrated Robert Burns’ birthday and decided to create a club. By 1909, the group had grown quite a bit. That year, approximately 100 Scots met in the Prescott School of Music in Minot to honor Burns.
In 1914, the Minot Burns Club celebrated at the home of its president William Hetherton, and there was a lineup of public speakers, including Governor L. B. Hanna, who “delivered a highly pleasant address” and paid a high compliment to the Scottish race.”
There were great plans for singing, speeches, and food. The Ward County Independent noted that the club members were “already ironing out their plaid ties and kilts and brushing their tams,” and that “the best of Scotch dishes” were to be served—including haggis and scones. And of course, the program ended with “Auld Lang Syne.”
Minot did not have the only club in the state; there were a number of others, including Ardoch and Langdon. Bottineau had even floated the idea of organizing such a club as early as 1890.
The Ward County Independent opined: “Oh, would that we were all Scotch, for only members of the club are to be entertained this year.”
Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker
The Ward County Independent, January 22, 1914, p1
The Ward County Independent, January 29, 1914, p1, 4
The Ward County Independent, January 31, 1907, p2
The Ward County Independent, January 28, 1909, p6
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, February 7, 1914, p4
The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, January 25, 1913, p5
The Bottineau Pioneer, January 25, 1890, p1