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Dakota Territory

  • Happy Thanksgiving! Today’s story is a sampling of how the holiday was observed in North Dakota more than 100 years ago.
  • Dakota Territory was very much the wild West in the days of U.S. Marshal Laban H. Litchfield. He was born in 1839 in Pennsylvania. At age 20, he settled in Bon Homme County in what would become South Dakota. He was involved in Republican politics, and rose from appointed county offices to a seat in the Territorial House of Representatives and then to deputy US marshal. He was also a volunteer courier between Yankton and Fort Randall during the Dakota Conflict of 1862.
  • Perhaps the most violent moment in Dakota territorial politics was the killing of the territorial secretary in 1873. General Edwin Stanton McCook was a distinguished Civil War veteran and one of the “Fighting McCooks,” a prominent Union military family. In February of 1872, President Grant appointed McCook as secretary of Dakota Territory, a position which also served as acting governor. McCook soon afterward arrived in the capital city of Yankton with his family.
  • Bismarck Tribune reporter Mark Kellogg has a unique place in the story of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, or Greasy Grass. Though he died in the battle, his diary and newspaper dispatches record the movements of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the Seventh Cavalry’s through Dakota and Montana territories in the spring of 1876.
  • Dakota Territory existed for 28 years – from 1861, just days before Abraham Lincoln took office, until 1889, when the territory was divided along the 46th parallel, with North and South Dakota admitted as states.
  • This date in 1862 was the eve of Emancipation Day in Dakota Territory. That’s because the following day Congress would pass “An Act to secure Freedom to…
  • To stop an epidemic of smallpox in 1899, the Grand Forks Board of Health ordered all schoolchildren to be vaccinated at the city’s expense and ordered all…
  • Twenty-four people were injured and one man died in a train derailment on this date in 1887 near Sterling, in Dakota Territory. The passenger train was…
  • The Grand Forks area saw a smallpox epidemic in the fall of 1878 that killed the city’s first physician. Few newspaper accounts exist about the outbreak,…
  • French aristocrat Marquis de Mores founded the town of Medora in the spring of 1883 on the east side of the Little Missouri River, across from a small…