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Datebook Anniversary


Today is a milestone in the history of Dakota Datebook itself. This is our 730th episode – marking our second full year of programming. When we began airing the program in October 2003, we all wondered if we’d find enough stories. Luckily, there were more than we ever dreamed.

We’ve learned that contrary to popular belief our ethnic heritage goes far beyond Scandinavian, Native American and German-Russian. And while we’ve certainly had our share of learned men and women over the years, a great many North Dakotans reached national, and even international, prominence with very little education and even less financial support. Many overcame great adversities as children.

In the early days, Fargo accused Moorhead of stealing its first-ever Christmas tree, while Ole and Thomas saved the day in a little country church out west.

We’ve also resurrected unsolved mysteries and rediscovered important sports heroes. We’ve followed soldiers into the horrors of war, and women into the hair-raising days of frontier medicine. Superstars have shared the stage with people who outlasted floods, droughts, grasshoppers, blizzards and the great depression.

From below the earth’s crust have come coal, oil and ancient T-Rexes. Overhead, pilots have dueled with UFOs, and astronauts have walked in space. A gigantic meteor landed near Carrington and then disappeared from a downtown sidewalk a few months later.

For a time, socialists took over the government to fight the stranglehold of big eastern corporations. During prohibition, men made booze with illegal stills, while gutsy women campaigned for temperance. Some were arrested for demanding the right to vote.

Datebook has also brought you some of the state’s more “colorful” folks, like Limpy Jack Clayton, Turkey Track Bill and Mustache Maude. Charlie Colgrove, one of our writer’s favorites, was just 21 when he and his brother came to Dickinson in 1882. Later he said, “We had great times when all the cowpunchers got together and celebrated. We’d set around, swap yarns, drink a little, and compare six-shooters. I sure had a good one and was a pretty good shot. A feller was pretty proud of a buffalo gun and six-shooter in them days.

Charlie also told of Ole Murry, who had a claim just west of Belfield. “Ole was from Minnesota,” he said, “and his wife wouldn’t come out here in this wild country. One summer she came out for a visit, and the cowhands decided to celebrate. About ten of us got together and rode out horseback. We shot off the house shingles and rode around the house and yelled. We thought they’d take it for a joke, but Ole’s wife left the next day. She had enough of this wild west. We felt pretty bad about that.

“One night while I was sleeping out on the prairie...,” he said, “a cub bear came up and licked my ear. Guess he thought it was a sugar-cured ham. I sure got up in a hurry. My horse was throwing its head around and acting up. Then two big bears showed up. They were pretty tame though, but I was glad when they wandered off.”

As Datebook now moves into its third year, we invite you to send us stories and books on your city or county’s history. At the moment, we have histories only for Steele, Foster and Ransom Counties, and for the cities of Jamestown, Fargo-Moorhead, Anamoose, Enderlin, Cooperstown and Pillsbury. And, while you’re at it, raise a toast to the great state of North Dakota!

Source: Albers, Everett, and Jerome Tweton. The Way it Was: Book Three: the Cowboys & Ranchers. Fessenden ND: Grass Roots Press, 1999

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm