U.C.T. Halloween | Prairie Public Broadcasting

U.C.T. Halloween

Oct 30, 2019

The United Commercial Travelers is a non-profit fraternal benefit society that touts services and products for its clientele, while giving back to the local communities. It formed in Columbus, Ohio, as a society to provide accident insurance and other benefits for traveling salesman and their families. The organization spread throughout the United States and Canada, but today, Grand Forks has the only local chapter in North Dakota. Previously, Fargo and Bismarck both had active chapters. I. W. Cunningham, who was the national organizer of the Loyal Order of the Moose, was quoted in the newspaper as saying, "I am a U.C.T. because I believe in progress. The United Commercial Travelers is one of the most progressive fraternities on Earth today. If it had not announced its intention of going a step beyond any other social, fraternal, and commercial order, I would not be a member of it."

The organization was non-religious and the chapters hosted a multitude of events. One, hosted by the Bismarck chapter around the end of October, was an annual Halloween Dance.

On this date in 1926, The Bismarck Tribune noted that the U.C.T. Halloween dance had been a success, attended by 200 guests saying, "Elaborate decorations, suitable to the Halloween season, formed the setting for the annual fall ball of the U.C.T. which was given last evening in the dining room of the Grand Pacific hotel."

The room had been bedecked with orange and black streamers, and witches and ghosts stood guard in the corners of the rooms, and black cats, owls, bats, goblins, and other emblems of Halloween were in great profusion. The dance began around 10pm, and guests lingered ‘til the early morning hour of 3am. Hungry guests were able to eat a two-course supper – at midnight. This meal was served by a group of members wearing "high hats in the Halloween colors, and aprons of orange and black."

Yet another fraternal society, the Masons of Bismarck also had planned to open their "social season" with a dance. They had planned it for the same night originally, but pushed it back to not conflict with this annual treat, obviously well-known and enjoyed in the community.

It was a bewitching good time for all attendees.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker

Sources:

https://www.uct.org

https://www.uct.org/about-us/uct-history/

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, September 9, 1911, p16

Bismarck Tribune, Oct. 30, 1926, p5