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An Expensive Egg


During a visit to Europe in 1881, famed Civil War nurse Clara Barton learned of the Red Cross. When she returned home, she was instrumental in establishing Red Cross in America. Barton led the American Red Cross for twenty-three years. It supported American troops in the Spanish-American War and assisted in both domestic and overseas relief efforts. The Red Cross mission includes supporting members of the American Armed Forces and providing relief in disasters.

When World War I broke out, the organization experienced unprecedented growth. From 107 chapters in 1914 the Red Cross grew to 3,864 chapters by 1918. In that time membership grew from 17,000 to over twenty million adult and eleven million junior members. The Red Cross staffed hospitals and ambulances, and recruited 20,000 nurses to serve the military.

North Dakotans supported the organization with enthusiasm. On this date in 1918, The Hope Pioneer reported the results of local fundraisers. The Luverne chapter had held an auction followed by a dinner and a dance. Farmers donated livestock, grains, and produce. Not to be outdone, businessmen donated various products and services. The event raised $2,265.75. The Luverne chapter also donated finished products to the Red Cross. The knitted socks were especially appreciated by the soldiers on the front lines.

The Hope chapter held a lunch and an auction. Some items were displayed in a store window prior to the sale, with farm machinery outside and livestock for viewing in the local livery stable. The auction began at 1:30 in the afternoon and didn’t finish until ten o’clock at night. Once an item was sold, the buyer often donated it back. A red and white heifer sold four times for a total of $152. A King Plymouth Rock Rooster sold twice. A silver dollar sold four times for $6, and the last buyer returned it to the original owner. The Hope fundraiser brought in $3,907.82.

One of the most notable sales of the day came when a five-year-old boy gave the auctioneer an egg he found in a poultry crate. The first time it was auctioned, it sold for $10. It was repeatedly auctioned and donated back. The egg brought a total of $41 – one very special egg for a very special cause.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher.


The Hope Pioneer. “$6,173.57 for South End Red Cross Branches.” 7 March, 1918.

The Red Cross. “A Brief History of the Red Cross.” "http://www.redcross.org/about-us/who-we-are/history" http://www.redcross.org/about-us/who-we-are/history Accessed 9 February, 2017.