Dying for Keeps—Feb 19

Feb 20, 2018


On this date in 1904, the citizens of Linton, North Dakota were furious with Mr. Porter, the Secretary of State. The subject of the dispute was a proposed cemetery.

A town meeting had been held to discuss establishing a cemetery for the town. After a favorable vote, a proposal was sent to Bismarck. Land had been chosen and the plan seemed to be well thought out. All the citizens of the area were in agreement. To everyone’s surprise, Secretary of State Porter rejected the proposal. He responded that the request seemed to be for a permanent facility, but state statute had a limit of twenty years. He said a new proposal was needed. One that adhered to the twenty-year time limit!

Lintonites were not the least bit pleased. The newspaper printed a scathing editorial, pointing out that limiting the cemetery to a period of twenty years was not at all practical. The editorial stated; “We may be hayseeds down here, but we know our rights.” It went on to point out that people in the Linton area were entitled to the same privileges as those who lived in Bismarck. After all, people in Bismarck were entitled to stay dead for longer than twenty years. In fact, they were allowed to stay dead as long as they pleased. The people of Linton demanded the same consideration. Linton was described as a growing town, but new people would not relocate there if they knew they would not be allowed to stay dead.

The newspaper promised dire consequences. Refusing to allow people to stay dead for keeps could drive Emmons County to the Democrats! It was such a serious issue it could even deliver the entire state to the Democrats!

Just as the paper was about to go to press, a new response arrived from Bismarck. It seemed that Mr. Porter had misread the original proposal. Instead of a cemetery, he thought Linton was proposing to build a creamery. The time limit for creamery charters was twenty years. The cemetery was approved, and all was forgiven.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher.


Emmons County Record. “Unjust to Lintonites.” 19 February 1904. Page 1.