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February 6: A Mysterious Black Fraternity

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On this date in 1897, the Fargo society column in “The World,” a Black newspaper in the Twin Cities, printed the following:

“The H. P. C. met Friday and gave a fine entertainment at the [residence] of Mrs. E. Hayes on Front street and the program was well rendered by all who took part. The H. P. C's are going to have a banquet on the evening of [February] 20, and a good time is anticipated.”

This is the last known literary reference to a mysterious Black social organization in Fargo called the “H. P. C. Lodge.”

The year before, on May 16, the paper’s Fargo column reported that the HPC Lodge had 26 members, with an initiation scheduled for July 6.

In September, The World reported: “The H. P. C. [had] a hayrack party Monday and it was enjoyed by everyone who attended. [They] left the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Frost, about nine [o'clock] and drove all [Fargo's] paved streets and went to the residence of Mr. & Mrs. Selby, on Eleventh Street South where a large table was spread with all the delicacies of the season. … Dancing and games were indulged in until a very late hour and they all went home after having spent a very pleasant evening.”

The HPC Lodge held a spelling bee on October 9, staged a minstrel show soon before Christmas, held a banquet on Christmas evening, and may have given a Jubilee concert soon after New Year's.

According to the January 9 edition of The World, “A happy crowd of young folks gathered at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. L. [Fort] to rescue the presents from the Christmas tree, which was given by the H. P. C. Everyone got a present as there were two hundred presents given away.”

On January 22, it was reported that the HPC Lodge “took in five new members.”

By every indication, the HPC Lodge was a thriving Black fraternity during the late 1890s. It had men, women, young, and old. Yet, The World's society columns appear to be only known literary references to it. Even the meaning of the letters “HPC” is a mystery.

Dakota Datebook by Andrew Alexis Varvel


  • “FARGO NOTES”, The World, Minneapolis, 6 February 1897, page 2, column 5.
  • “FARGO.”, The World, Minneapolis, 16 May 1896, page 3, column 4.
  • “FARGO, N.D.”, The World, Minneapolis, 11 July 1896, page 2, column 4.
  • “FARGO NEWS.”, The World, Minneapolis, 27 June 1896, page 2, column 5.
  • “FARGO NEWS.”, The World, Minneapolis, 19 September 1896, page 2, column 7.
  • “FARGO.”, The World, Minneapolis, 26 September 1896, page 2, column 3.
  • “FARGO NEWS”, The World, Minneapolis, 3 October 1896, page 2, column 2.
  • “FARGO NOTES.”, The World, Minneapolis, 21 November 1896, page 3, column 1.
  • “FARGO NOTES.”, The World, Minneapolis, 19 December 1896, page 3, column 3.
  • “FARGO NOTES.”, The World, Minneapolis, 26 December 1896, page 2, column 6.
  • “FARGO NOTES.”, The World, Minneapolis, 9 January 1896, page 3, column 2.
  • “FARGO NOTES.”, The World, Minneapolis, 23 January 1896, page 3, column 1.
  • “The World” was usually known as “The Negro World”, including both during and after the period in which it printed society columns from Fargo. It is available online at the Minnesota Digital Newspaper Hub.

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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