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James B. Power

12/16/2015:

James B. Power was born in New York State in 1833. After studying civil engineering. He spent a few years as the deputy state treasurer for Minnesota. But most of his working career was spent with railroads. The Northern Pacific Railway employed him as a clerk and later as a civil engineer. For the Great Northern Railway, he worked as a land commissioner, responsible for selling thousands of acres to bonanza farmers.

And Power himself was one of the first bonanza farmers in the Red River Valley. When the Northern Pacific Railroad went bankrupt in 1875, he used the opportunity to encourage eastern investors to acquire enormous tracts of land. Power purchased 6,000 acres. He then retired to his farm where he raised purebred cattle.

Power was appointed to the Board of Trustees of North Dakota Agricultural College. He was serving on the Board in 1893 when the college became entangled in politics. There were differences between the faculty and the politicians. The faculty believed the college should serve the state in a non-partisan fashion. But some legislators saw it as a source of political patronage. Horace E. Stockbridge, the first NDAC president, was fired. Power was caught up in the turmoil, accused of misappropriation of funds. His accusers said he used the college as a market for his farm products. Governor Shortridge removed him from the board, but Power insisted he was innocent and took the matter to court. The court ruled that Power was entitled to hold his position until the end of his term in 1895. He even became acting president for the colleg, a position he held until the appointment of John Worst.

One earlier accomplishment of Power’s was the acquisition of the land for Island Park. This came during his time as land commissioner for the Northern Pacific Railroad. A Fargo citizen made the suggestion, and Power convinced the railroad to donate the land to the city.

James B. Power passed away on this date in 1913 at the age of 80.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. “Col. Power is Called by Death.” December 16, 1913.

North Dakota Studies. "http://www.ndstudies.org/articles/bonanza_farms_and_ranches_prove_worth_of_land" http://www.ndstudies.org/articles/bonanza_farms_and_ranches_prove_worth_of_land Accessed 17 November, 2015

North Dakota State University Archives. North Dakota Studies. "http://www.ndstudies.org/articles/bonanza_farms_and_ranches_prove_worth_of_land" http://www.ndstudies.org/articles/bonanza_farms_and_ranches_prove_worth_of_land Accessed 17 November, 2015