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Golden Marguerite


On today’s date in 1932, North Dakota lost a great champion. Her name was Marguerite – Golden Marguerite – and she was truly a “Gold Medal Cow.” In 1921, she produced 977.7 pounds of butter fat in one year, a record not beaten until 1969. To celebrate her achievements and the fame she brought to North Dakota, it was decided that she should be buried on the NDSU campus, in front of the dairy building. And so she was, and her gravesite was marked with a commemorative bronze plaque attached to a boulder…or was it? Was Golden Marguerite really buried where we think she was? Nobody may know the real answer, but the stories surrounding this cow have become the stuff of folklore.

We know for sure that Marguerite was born on September 22, 1914, and died on this date, August 12, 1932. She was owned by Samuel F. Crabbe, who besides having his own dairy farm did a lot of work with the Agricultural College (now North Dakota State University). We know she produced a record-breaking amount of butter, but when she died, our concrete evidence ends, and the folklore begins. Her plaque was originally placed in front of the dairy building, but it was later placed by the Sheperd Livestock Arena, and since then there have been strange stories. Some students report feelings of a paranormal presence, claiming they heard a ghostly call that sounds strangely like “mooooo!”

But whether or not the ghost of a dairy cow wanders the NDSU campus mooing at unsuspecting students, Marguerite’s remains spark their own debate. There is no recorded mention of the prize cow’s burial until 1948, which leaves a time lapse of 16 years for a legend to develop. There’s a picture in the NDSU archives of a hole in the ground labeled “Noble’sGolden Marguerite—Grave,” but this is hardly incontestable proof.

Today, some people want to bring her monument back to where she was supposedly buried, but others argue that her remains may not even be there. There has been talk of using archeological remote sensor equipment, but electricity from nearby buildings would likely ruin the signals. It seems the only solution would be to excavate. We may never know the truth about Golden Marguerite, but one thing is sure: she’s a legendary part of NDSU history.

Dakota Datebook written by Leewana Thomas

Conversation with Scott Mitchell, former president of the NDSU History and Traditions Council