© 2024
Prairie Public NewsRoom
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Sam Crabbe’s Cows


Sam Crabbe was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1869. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin as a civil engineer. He worked for the city of Eau Claire, and later for a railway company. In 1891 he arrived in Fargo. He took charge of the first paving work in the city. That was done on Broadway with wooden blocks. Some of the paving remained in place until it was replaced by bricks in the 1920s. Crabbe was named as city engineer, and served in that capacity for sixteen years.

But Crabbe was better known as a prominent North Dakota dairy man than for his work as an engineer. Soon after coming to Fargo, he purchased property in the southeast corner of the city. The property was known as the old Darling farm. Crabbe imported seven head of purebred Jersey cattle from the island of Jersey. These animals were the foundation of what was to grow into an impressive herd of over one hundred purebred cows.

But Crabbe was not content with his own success. He was also very active in promoting the local dairy industry in general, and Jersey cows in particular. He had a great fondness for Jersey cows and was president of the American Jersey Cattle Club, and for many years was secretary of the North Dakota State Fair.

In 1913, Crabbe enlisted the dairymen of North Dakota to help secure an appropriation from the North Dakota Legislature to build the original dairy barns at the North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo. Crabbe even did some of the work on the barns himself. In 1925, the Saddle and Sirloin Club at NDAC honored Crabbe by inducting him into the college hall of fame.

Perhaps Crabbe’s crowning achievement was breeding the famed cow Noble’s Golden Marguerite, the cow that produced a record amount of butterfat in 1921. The legendary cow passed away on this date in 1932, and some believe the old cow is still buried on the grounds of present day NDSU, having been interred in front of the old dairy building. A bronze plaque memorializing Marguerite can be found at Shepperd Arena on campus.

Crabbe left Fargo in 1935, moving to Minot. He passed away in 1949.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


The Spectrum. 7 November, 1978, p. 9.

North Dakota State University Archives. "http://library.ndsu.edu/exhibits/monuments/Golden/goldenm.html" http://library.ndsu.edu/exhibits/monuments/Golden/goldenm.html Accessed 15 June, 2015.

Heritage Renewal. "http://heritagerenewal.org/stone/marguerite.htm" http://heritagerenewal.org/stone/marguerite.htm Accessed 15 June, 2015.

Chenoweth, Richard and Mark Strand. AC/SU: A History of the North Dakota Agricultural College and North Dakota State University in Photographs. Fargo: North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies, 1985.

Obituary for Sam Crabbe, 1945. North Dakota State University Archives.