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Old Man Looks for Wife


On this date in 1916, the Bismarck Tribune reported a Mr. William Hollis had been arrested in Minneapolis for vagrancy. He was on his way to Port Huron, Michigan, and had just walked 250 miles from Fargo through snowstorms and sub-zero weather.

Hollis was a railroad engineer until 1901. “When my wife left me, I threw up everything to look for her,” he said. He searched Chicago until his savings ran out and then headed farther west. Railroad buddies had given him free train rides for a while, but after 15 years, that was long over.

Now old, weak and hopelessly discouraged, Hollis was on his way home to die. Instead, the judge sentenced him to 35 days in jail. “I will ask the superintendent to give you the best of care,” the judge said. “It will be spring when you get out, and maybe you can walk to Port Huron then.”

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm