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Industrious Boys


On this date in 1905, Morton County was hosting a county fair. It was a successful event, and though not backed by the state, a Mandan newspaper proudly proclaimed, “it has now been demonstrated that there is nothing sacred about the name ‘State Fair,’ but that a fair can be made to succeed in Mandan, even if it is only a county affair, and has not the name of the State of North Dakota to conjure with.”

The fair drew a large crowd over several days, and was complete with programs and entertainment. One of the acts present was a family of acrobats and tumblers. A father and his six sons and daughters, were the performers—even including one five-year-old boy.

There were also relay races, potato sack races, horse races, a reenactment of a holdup of the Deadwood stagecoach, and a flurry of fireworks to end the festivities.

However, there was another exhibit that captured attention—the hard work of the boys from the Youth Correctional Center in Mandan. They displayed breads, cakes, doughnuts, and large vegetables – all produced by the boys. The Mandan Republican commented favorably on this, reporting: “People are not generally disposed to regard a reformatory institution as a thing in which to take pride, but Mandan certainly feels that under Superintendent Brown’s supervision the school is reflecting credit upon our city and that it is by no means an institution to be ashamed of. The fact that the boys and girls who attend school there, do so under a seeming compulsion, and usually as a result of some tendency to develop bad traits of character at home does not make it sure that these children are incorrigible or depraved, or outlaws. On the contrary, the company of thirty odd boys as they march into the city on Sunday to church, gives the appearance of as bright and intelligent and trustworthy a lot of boys as one would pick up anywhere. And they are a bright and trustworthy and industrious set of boys, and are being molded into good men and citizens, and many of them will live to reflect credit upon their bringing up. And they are now entitled to a whole lot of credit for the work they are doing out there.”

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


The Mandan Republican, Sept. 22, 1905 - Friday