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John Elgin Elsberry


John Elgin Elsberry was an early dairy pioneer who lived in the Minot area for many years. He and his wife had moved to North Dakota in 1901; they came from Missouri, with two daughters. A son was born during their first winter in the state.

Elsberry was a businessman. He eventually owned and managed Riverside Dairy Farm. Over the years he built up his supply of pure bred and high grade Holsteins and Gurnseys. He kept a clean farm, and one visiting newspaper reporter wrote that the barn was "spotlessly clean, the white-painted cement floors giving the place a spick and span appearance."

On day Elsberry went to his barn and realized that King, a thoroughbred driving horse, was missing – along with buggy and harness. Elsberry notified the sheriff, but ended up trailing the thief himself. The horse was missing one shoe, so Elsberry was able to track him fairly well. He travelled 35 miles before he caught the man, 14 miles east of Deering.

The Ward County Independent reported, "The big dairyman leveled his rifle at the thief, who threw up his hands and gave himself up." Elsberry soon returned the bold bandit to Minot, where the thief was placed in the county jail. However, Elsberry noticed that the bandit had taken good care of the horse –despite having gone such a distance, carrying food, blankets, and money stolen from Elsberry's other hired hands. So as a reward, he gave the thief a good cigar.

On this date, when Elsberry's horse was returned to him, he was surely thankful to have his fine animal back – especially since the horse was valued at more than $250.

"Mr. Elsberry is evidently making the dairy business pay," one reporter concluded, adding, "He was one of the pioneers in the dairy business and deserves the success he has attained."

Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker


Ward County Independent: June 25, 1914, p1

Ward County Independent, August 24, 1916, p3

Ward County Independent, Oct. 22, 1914, p7

Ward County Independent March 11, 1915, p15

Ward County People, Places, and Events Jubilee Book - p330