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Making up for a lack of water


A lack of rain and moisture for much of the month of July was a complaint for Jamestown on this date in 1901. Rain of any significance hadn’t fallen since the Fourth of July.

This trend was not to last, ending with a bang on the 24th, when a thunderstorm swept through. A farmer north of Jamestown, Theodore Gospodar, had an especially close encounter with the storm when he, his 18-year-old son, and his daughter, were caught in the elements while driving a wagon of hay.

As he lay on his back in the hay, the elder Gospodar was struck by lightning in the middle of his forehead. The strike "burned off a piece of the skin about the size of a silver dollar and singed the hair. His two elbows were hurt and the skin of both his legs reddened as if a hot iron had been applied. The left leg of his pants was stripped into shreds, and one ankle hurt." It took him 15 minutes to regain consciousness.

In the meantime, Gospodar's daughter was left in a daze, and had a red mark on her leg. The son, also dazed, had pain in his elbows and feet, and his watch case had fused together. Yet the family otherwise seemed fine, though the front team of horses were killed. The hind team was dazed but okay.

Despite this incident, the storm was just what the area required to refresh and address water issues, as a letter from resident Kate Faunce Chase in the First ward of the city pointed out in the Jamestown Weekly alert: "Will you kindly give a little space in your paper to the woes of those families in the First ward who are wholly dependent upon the city water supply? They cannot have a drop of fresh water during these warm days if the lawn faucets are left open farther downtown. That must be the reason, for during the recent rains there was enough water for household use at all times. We thirsty dwellers near the courthouse would much appreciate it, if our friends who live below us would kindly keep the faucets closed, excepting at the pumping hour."

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Jamestown Weekly Alert, July 25, 1901, p1, 21