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When in doubt, flee to Canada. This must have been the thought process of N.C. Mossgaard when faced with mounting debt and potential embezzlement charges. On this date in 1914, a newspaper account about Mossgaard began by detailing his life as a once-successful postmaster in Scranton, North Dakota, who was married and had twelve children. This happy life took a sad turn when Mrs. Mossgaard and several of the children contract typhoid fever and pass away. Mossgaard turned to alcohol, leaving the Scranton post office to unsuccessfully run itself. The neglect led to an examination by auditors who found the post office funds were short.

Before the auditors could collect from Mossgaard, he fled. His new location was a mystery, but shortly after his disappearance the bondsman for the post office began receiving payments from Mossgaard. Soon the money owed to the post office was paid off, and Mossgaard started to pay off various other debts, but the Canadian Mounted Police found him on a homestead in Saskatchewan where he had been running a business and making a decent living. He was very close to repaying his debts when he was arrested and returned to stand trial.

According to some sources, public sentiment was with Mossgaard, and an effort was made to advocate for leniency. We find no record of how things turned out for Mossgaard, but he was not the only one around this time in trouble for embezzlement. Later that very month, a former cashier of Farmer's Security Bank in Park River, C.R. Verry, was arrested for a shortage of a little over ten thousand dollars. Verry claimed that the money was given to him by the Northern Fire and Marine Insurance company in a private deal for investments. Verry had previously been the treasurer of the insurance company. Verry sought to settle with the bank, repaying with deeds to various parcels of land, but that would lead to further legal wrangling. Regardless, the next year Verry would be in court again facing charges involving the insurance company.

Well, at least he didn't flee to Canada.

Dakota Datebook by Olivia Burmeister


The Evening Times, March 16, 1914, Image 2

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican March 17, 1914, Image 2

The Evening times March 23, 1914, Image 1


Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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