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A Day In The Life


Around North Dakota, this date in history saw a wide variety of events – some typical and some not so typical.

Back in 1879, the Great Northern Railway finally arrived in East Grand Forks. Later that same winter, the first train crossed the Red River into Grand Forks, ready to make its virgin journey into northern Dakota.

Eleven years later, in 1890, North Dakota Agricultural College (now NDSU) held its first faculty meeting after opening its doors the previous week. Dr. H. E. Stockbridge was the first president, and there were eight instructors to teach the school’s five students in quarters rented from Fargo College.

Sixty-four years later, on this date, NDSU held a dedication ceremony for their new $400,000 home economics building.

Five safe-crackers robbed the Second National Bank in Sawyer in 1906, making off with $4,665. They got away but were captured by a Ward County posse two days later near Max. All five pled guilty of 3rd degree robbery and were imprisoned at Bismarck.

Six years later, in 1912, this date marked the incorporation of New Rockford, the seat of Eddy County, as a city. Two year later, New Rockford made a bid to become the state capital, but Bismarck retained that honor.

Forty years ago, today, republican Mark Andrews won a special eastern North Dakota district congressional election to complete the unexpired term of the late Rep. Hjalmer Nygaard, and on October 22nd, 1962, President Kennedy announced that the U.S. was initiating a blockade around Cuba, which quickly developed into the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cold War was in full swing, and missile silos were sprouting throughout the state.

It is this date in the year 1920 that holds the widest variety of news. For example, a black snake, six feet long and six inches around – in other words, not from around here – was killed near Cooperstown, with no explanation of how it got there.

In Minot, a radish weighing six and a half pounds, won the prize for being the largest in the state. On a more tragic note, Minot farmer, Arthur Dorcey, shot himself on the same day after his crop failed. While trying to wrestle the gun away from him, his wife was shot in the hand.

Meanwhile, a midnight fire destroyed nine buildings in Nome, with an estimated loss of $25,000, and near Arnold, a prairie fire was sweeping over the countryside. Two cars, trying to dodge the flames through heavy smoke, collided and one was demolished.

Also on this day, a Wahpeton bachelor went to Chicago to pick up a mail-order bride who claimed to be “wealthy, fair and 20.” Instead, a widow with nine children greeted him. He kept his end of the bargain, but the honeymoon, unfortunately, didn’t rise to his expectations.

And in Mandan, John Lee of Fargo broke the five-mile auto racing record of 7 minutes 52 seconds on a local half-mile track. Driving an Elgin, Lee’s time was 7 minutes, 14 seconds – not bad for 1920.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm