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Bismarck

  • This date in 1910 marked the conclusion of a three-day, annual firemen’s tournament. This event had a long history stemming from the 1880s, and rotated through different cities, over different dates, drawing many participants and spectators. In 1910, the event was hosted by Bismarck.
  • The Dakota Zoo got its start on the farm of Marc and Betty Christianson, which was located on the northern edge of Bismarck. What started as a boarding kennel for dogs gradually expanded to include a variety of domestic animals. People in the neighborhood regarded the farm as a safe haven for animals, so they brought stray and injured animals to the farm knowing they would be cared for.
  • According to the Bismarck Historical Society, on this date in 1912 there was something lacking in the city of Bismarck — a public library. The public could borrow from the state library at the Capitol, but the lack of a public library still marked Bismarck as less than modern.
  • During the its early years, Bismarck was right on the heels of Deadwood in lawlessness, violence and the selling of liquor. But, by the early 1900s, some residents felt it was time to actually enforce prohibition. Saloons that carried on in secret were called “blind pigs,” and their beverages were either illegally produced locally or smuggled in from Canada.
  • The first capitol building in Bismarck burned down at the tail end of December 1930. Plans were soon underway to rebuild. However, not everyone thought it needed to built in Bismarck!
  • Some of the first fundraisers to fight polio in North Dakota were birthday balls held in honor of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was paralyzed from polio at age 39 and never again walked unaided. He became a leading force in the polio cause, and help found the March of Dimes.
  • On this date in 1912, Michael Jahner was acquitted of charges of assault with a dangerous weapon with attempt to kill. It was the final act in a series of events that began several months before.
  • On this chilly week in Bismarck 1910, the offense of drinking alcohol was hot page news in The Fargo Forum. The police were on the lookout for the owner of an establishment selling booze. Those establishments were called blind pigs during those days when alcohol was illegal.
  • In 1928, a literal bang welcomed in the new year in Bismarck, albeit a little more than a week late. A sharp early morning explosion at the Bismarck Fur Company was followed by a fire. The business on 5th Street was on the ground floor of the Annex Hotel building. While the fire was not expected to spread beyond the store, more than 50 people were forced to flee to the streets in the wee hours hours due to the heavy smoke filling their rooms.
  • On this date in 1964 the Bismarck Tribune announced that beloved North Dakota State Librarian Hazel Webster Byrnes was resigning to take a job in California. Born in 1886 in Iowa, she graduated from Iowa State Teachers College in 1910 and earned her Master’s Degree in adult education from Columbia University. She married Frank Lloyd Byrnes in 1912. After working for teachers colleges in Nebraska and Iowa she became the first librarian at Mayville State College in 1924. Her husband farmed in Petersburg.