It’s not often that a man’s life achievements are overshadowed by his champion butterfat producing cow, but that is exactly what happened to Samuel F. Crabbe. Born in 1869, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin. He came to Fargo in 1891 and was a civil engineer for the city for 16 years. Crabbe was responsible for paving Broadway the first time. He used wooden blocks. He then served as a consulting engineer for the Cass County Drainage Board for 18 years. He was instrumental in building Cass County’s network of drainage ditches.
Crabbe was also a passionate dairy farmer. He imported seven cows and bulls from the Island of Jersey. His Jersey herd became one of the best in the country. He was also involved with the dairy program at the North Dakota Agricultural College. He helped secure appropriations from the state for a dairy building in 1913, and then drew up the plans for the dairy building and the dairy barns on campus. Crabbe later served as the president of the American Jersey Cattle Club from 1928 to 1931.
On this date in 1914, Crabbe’s champion cow, Noble’s Golden Marguerite, was born. She was the daughter of Noble Duke of Oaklands. Her mother was Goldie’s Marguerite. In 1921 Noble’s Golden Marguerite produced 977.69 pounds of butterfat. This record for the most butterfat from a North Dakota cow was not broken until 1969.
When Noble’s Golden Marguerite died in 1932 at the age of 18, the president of the North Dakota Agricultural College, John Shepperd, and the chairman of the Department of Dairy Husbandry, Professor J.R. Dice, decided that this most noble cow should be buried in front of the Dairy Building. Thus, Noble’s Golden Marguerite found her final resting place in front of the building her owner had designed. A plaque on a large stone was placed over her grave so that everyone who walked by would be aware of her great achievement.
Much has changed since Noble’s Golden Marguerite died. The Dairy Building is now the Geosciences Building, and the concrete cow head that was mounted above the front entrance was removed. Noble’s Golden Marguerite’s commemorative stone is now in front of Sheppard Arena. Students often hear about the dead cow on campus during campus tours, but few know the name Crabbe, or are aware of his ditches or wood cobbled roadway. However, Crabbe is not too far away from his champion cow. He died in 1949 and is buried four miles away at Riverside Cemetery.
Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa
Author Unknown. “Honor Roll of Leadership, 1868-2018,” American Jersey Cattle Association National All-Jersey Inc., 2018.
Author Unknown. “Noble’s Golden Marguerite,” Bimonthly Bulletin of the North Dakota Agricultural Experimental Station 12 (May-June 1950): 160-61.
Author Unknown. Register of Merit of Jersey Cattle: Based on Authenticated Dairy Performance. The American Jersey Cattle Club: New York, 1921.
Author Unknown. “SU is ‘cow college’,” The Spectrum. November 7, 1978.
Danbom, David B. “The North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station and the Struggle to Create a Dairy State,” Agricultural History, Vol. 60, No. 2 (Spring, 1989): 174-186.
Halgrimson, Andrea. “Memories of dairy on the prairie,” The Fargo Forum. August 29, 2010.