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August 19: Jugville

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On this day in 1980, the Bismarck Tribune reported on the tiny town of Jugville, which had a population of two. However, Sig and Josie Jagielski weren’t the holdouts in a dying town. In fact, they had built the town themselves. Sig loved to collect antiques and odds and ends. He soon filled up his basement with his vast collections. In 1968 he married Josie, and she brought collections of her own. She encouraged Sig to find a solution to the overstuffed basement, and thus Jugville was born.

Soon there were fourteen buildings on their farm property six miles north of Grafton. There was a general store, clinic, church, telephone office, and school. The town’s name was a combination of the first syllable of Sig’s last named, pronounced jug-el-ski, and ville. Sig joked that his Norwegian neighbors could not pronounce his last name, so they called him “Jug O’ Whiskey.” The little museum village was their private property, but they loved to show visitors around.

The 1980 story about Jugville was picked up by the Associated Press, and soon Sig and Josie had thousands of visitors. They received newspaper clippings about Jugville from 20 states, including from the New York Times.

Sig was a colorful character, we1ll known in his community, and not just for Jugville. In 1960 he started a radio program at KXPO in Grafton called “Uncle Sig’s Old Time Show.” It ran every Sunday from October to May. He played polkas, waltzes, and Polish and Norwegian songs. His last radio show was 43 years after it started, in November 2003.

Josie passed away in 1986. Sig retired from farming in 1996, but continued to operate Jugville. In 1999 he decided to build his own coffin out of California redwood sent by his nephews in Washington State. When he turned 90, over 700 people came to his birthday party.

He died at 93 in January 2004. In 2011 Jugville and the collections it contained were moved to Walsh County Heritage Village in Grafton. Sig had also donated a quarter-section of farmland to help pay for the collection’s upkeep.

Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa

Sources:
“Sig Jagielski’s Jugville USA,” Roadside America, https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10517, accessed July 7, 2022.
Associated Press, “Boost Seen in Tourism at ‘Jugville’,” The Bismarck Tribune, May 1, 1981, pg. 3.
Associated Press, “Radio Personality Uncle Sig Dies as 93,” The Bismarck Tribune, January 8, 2004, pg. 6B.
Associated Press, “Retired Farmer Builds His Own Coffin,” The Bismarck Tribune, April 4, 1999, pg. A2.
Associated Press, “Retiree Plays Songs His Way for Station,” The Bismarck Tribune, April 30, 1995, pg. 2D.
Associated Press, “Their Town is on No Map, But N.D. Couple has One,” The Bismarck Tribune, August 19, 1980, pg. 15.
Dvorak, Kevin, “Sig Jagielski Leaves Gift to Grafton Community,” North Dakota Community Foundation, July 12, 2017. https://ndcf.net/file_download/297a80df-6d6c-40a2-ae2c-775c10023a38 accessed July 8, 2022.
Walsh County Historical Society, Walsh Heritage: A Story of Walsh County and Its Pioneers, Volume 3, 1981.

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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