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Unexpected Inheritance


A Fargo stable boy received the most unexpected news on this date in 1904. Edward Plunkett, a "bright, industrious" young man of twenty-one had just recently traveled to Fargo from Willmar, Minnesota. He hoped to attend the Fargo College, but ran out of money after only a few months' time.

As a result, Plunkett enlisted in Company B of the North Dakota National Guard and obtained employment at the Fargo Stock Farm. His work ethic and excellent skill was quickly noticed and he was soon hired to work at the horse stables of T. J. Young and Company. His plan was to save up enough money to return to his studies.

It was while working at the stables on June 17 that Plunkett received a letter from his family's home in Gray County, Ontario. The letter related that his siblings in Ontario, a sister and two brothers, had received a telegram from Liverpool, England, announcing the death of their grandfather. The children were born in Ontario, and had never met their English grandfather. In fact, they knew very little of the man until the announcement of his death.

The telegram informed the four children that they were the sole beneficiaries of the man's estate, worth over $265,000. Edward Plunkett, the impoverished stable boy, would receive $53,000 of this sum, amounting to over $1.3 million in today's terms. Plunkett was swiftly congratulated by his Fargo friends and acquaintances.

Although now wealthy, the exceptional young man continued working in the stables another week, until his National Guard unit was sent to Devils Lake for annual training. After completing his training, however, he settled his affairs in Fargo and returned to his family home in Ontario to receive his portion the estate. Several people asked Plunkett what he planned to do with his new fortune, and he replied that he held a "...great desire to acquire a good education." With the rest, it was decided he would perhaps prove a "prospective capitalist" by investing a portion of the funds. So it was that Fargo's own Cinderalla story ended happily ever after.

Dakota Datebook written by Jayme L. Job


Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. Saturday (Evening ed.), June 18, 1904: p. 1.