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The Calm Before the Storm

9/2/2014:

There was big news in the Grand Forks Herald on this date in 1882. The city was preparing for an influx of territorial delegates for the Republican Convention. The newspaper called it the calm before the storm. The paper predicted a dull day that would soon be followed by a week of excitement.

The planning committee had met in Bismarck, and the paper announced that preparations were nearly complete, with no detail overlooked – from transportation to entertainment. The anticipation spread throughout the city. Several hundred delegates were expected. Citizens were excited at the prospect of showing off their town to the visitors.

Citizens of Grand Forks were generous with donations. Martin Walsh was successful in obtaining sleeping arrangements for delegates, with cots to be placed in several locations. Local businessmen Twamley and Grove loaned 150 pair of blankets and quilts. Not to be left out, Rosenthal and Company donated 66 pair. Smith and Wisner offered pails that would be used as chamber pots. Mayor Brown offered to supply the wash bowls.

As the date for the convention grew closer, the committee meetings moved to Grand Forks. Alderman Thomas hosted a meeting at his store. The committee was pleased with the response of the community. They were especially pleased that suitable accommodations had been secured. The delegates would arrive in a few days, and it was a relief to know they would all have places to stay.

Grand Forks citizens did not stop at sleeping arrangements. They also raised enough money to provide entertainment for the delegates. Walsh took charge of the entertainment committee. He announced that there would be several venues for entertainment. All the entertainment was paid for by local donations.

The convention was such big news that it even figured into the advertisements. The O.E. Thomas Furniture Company took out a large front page ad. The ad read, “The Delegates to the Territorial Convention Are Coming! But O.E. Thomas’ Mammoth Stock of Furniture Has Already Arrived!” The ad listed lawn and kitchen chairs, rockers, book cases, desks and “Everything in the line of furniture.” The public was invited to see the goods for themselves, as the businessman sought to turn the convention to his advantage.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Grand Forks Herald. 2 September, 1882.