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Prior to the Great Depression, the1920s roared by, as people experienced an economic boom like none before. However, such was not the case for many farmers and ranchers, who dealt with dropping prices and instability throughout the decade.

For many dairy farmers, January of 1929 was tumultuous. Many of them went on strike in Illinois and Wisconsin, and Indiana soon joined their ranks. They wanted to get $2.85 a hundredweight, instead of the $2.50 they received from Chicago distributers. Some became violent, carrying weapons, kidnapping truck drivers delivering milk, and dumping milk wherever they could, even mixing in chemicals such as kerosene to pollute it. As a result, milk was getting difficult to come by, in Chicago.

On this date, The Bismarck Tribune reported on a ripple effect of the strike, with Burleigh County sheriff, Rollin Welch, saying the price of milk and cream is going up in Bismarck just as fast or faster than it is in Chicago.

That tongue in cheek remark referred to farmer Carl Bjorstrom of Menoken, who recently sold some milk and cream, receiving checks for $7 and $8, but he took the liberty of adding some zeroes to the checks, cashing them for $700 and $800 dollars!

Afterward, he took off for Chicago, where all the dairy action was. He was arrested there by the East Chicago chief of police, where he was collected and brought back to Bismarck to face charges.

This strike added to the unfolding economic drama of 1929. As the year ticked on, more troubles would loom on the horizon, culminating in the crash of the stock market that fall, which pushed America into the depression. The farmers and other businesses in the country would see a great deal of pain before stability returned.

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


The Bismarck Tribune, Jan. 19, 21, and 22, 1929