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  • Today it is difficult to imagine what the invention of the telegraph meant to the development of the country. In the early 1800s it took weeks for messages to get from one side of the country to the other. The telegraph changed that. By 1860, the telegraph stretched as far west as St. Joseph, Missouri. The Pony Express took messages and mail from there to Sacramento, California in a record ten days. On this date in 1861, a telegraph message was sent from St. Louis to San Francisco, finally connecting the east coast with the west.
  • People all over North Dakota turned out for two former presidential rivals on separate speaking tours in 1920. Republican William Howard Taft had defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan in the 1908 presidential election, serving as president from 1909 to 1913. It’s unclear why the two came to North Dakota, but their speeches drew thousands of people.
  • “A City Displaced” was the tragic headline in the Fargo Forum on this date in 1997. Residents of Grand Forks were struggling with ravages of the horrific flood that shocked the city and caused emergency evacuations from home and hearth. Both flood and fire had brutally attacked city residents who only hours earlier had been warm, dry and safe.
  • Long before the infamous Nigerian prince e-mail scam, there was the “Spanish prisoner” mail scam. Usually, the scam would consist of a letter from someone claiming to be a prisoner in Madrid. The letter would say a large sum of money was available for helping the prisoner. In 1906, The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican reported that a man in Grand Forks received one of these scams – and he almost gave in.
  • Communities closed down when the flu pandemic struck North Dakota in the fall of 1918. But the length of restrictions on schools, churches, theaters and public gatherings differed. Fargo’s lockdown lasted about three weeks. Bismarck’s restrictions lasted a month. Grand Forks reopened after seven weeks, and Minot’s restrictions ended after eight weeks, one of the longest closings in the state.
  • Aside from newspaper accounts and government records, little was written about the terrible flu pandemic of 1918. Historians today have wondered whether the memories were too painful to write about. One estimate says more than 5,100 North Dakotans died in the pandemic, which lingered into 1920.
  • On November 3, 1882, the Bismarck Tribune posed an interesting question: “CONUNDRUM suggested by the late Grand Forks affair: If one man purposely and willfully kills another man, the killer is a murderer. If a number of men kill a man under the same conditions, what are they?”
  • North Dakotans took many steps to fight the 1918 flu pandemic. Bismarck had a mask mandate for waitresses and other food handlers. Schools and businesses around the state closed – some for months. There was even a vaccine, though it turned out to be useless.
  • 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…
  • May is National Historic Preservation Month. Today, we have more about Grand Forks schools added to the National Register of Historic Places. The need for…