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Charlie Runs Out of Salt


Charlie Colgrove was a carpenter and all-around colorful character in Dickinson during the 1880s.

In his memoirs, he wrote, “...a couple of German fellers, August and George Beisigle, came to me and asked me to put in a ranch for them 25 miles northwest of Dickinson. George was a fine feller, but August was a stingy devil. They used to say he’d go shipping and put two crackers in his pocket and come back with one. He was that stingy. Well, Holy God!

“I went out the Beisigle land with a Hungarian feller. It was a plenty good grazing country. We dug a well 25 feet deep, cut cottonwoods, and made a log house besides fixing places for cattle to drink. We were there three weeks and worked like the devil to get everything done. We had pretty fair ponies and quite a bit of grub, but we run out of salt. A feller wouldn’t believe it, but By God! I wanted salt worse than anything in the world just then. Next we run out of flour, so we took the coffee grinder and ground oats. If you ever swallowed fishhooks, you know about what it tasted like. We killed a deer there, too, but without salt it wasn’t fit to eat.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

(Source: The Way it Was: The North Dakota Frontier Experience; Book Three: The Cowboys & Ranchers, Everett C. Albers and D. Jerome Tweton, Editors)