Carole Butcher | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Carole Butcher

The Gopher Bounty

17 hours ago


The gopher is a small animal. It averages six to eight inches in length and weighs half a pound. They are sometimes called pocket gophers because they are small enough to fit in a pocket. But while they’re small, the agricultural damage they can do is astounding. In the early nineteenth century there were limited methods of controlling the little pest. So, it is not surprising that some localities in North Dakota offered a bounty on these burrowing rodents.

Scams and Scammers

Mar 30, 2020

Scams and scammers are nothing new. On this date in 1905, the Hope Pioneer alerted readers to a new scam. The scammers would find the names of older people in obituaries, then send a cheap glasses to the address of the dead person, along with a bill. A letter included in the package said that the glasses were being delivered as ordered. The scam appealed to the emotions of the deceased person’s relatives. There was something sentimental about receiving an item that a loved one had ordered. Relatives would pay the bill and keep the glasses as a memento. The glasses were worth only seventy-five cents, but the bill was seven dollars!

America's Great Game

Mar 24, 2020


The early Twentieth Century has been called “Baseball’s Golden Age.” According to one historian, “From start to finish, through thick and thin, baseball persevered for these 100 years with resilient popularity and remarkably little meddling of its rules.”

Major League Baseball was coming into its own, but far from the roar of the big city crowds, baseball was a unifying factor in small towns across America. North Dakota was no different.

Hindsight is 20/20

Mar 17, 2020

On this date in 1910, an article in the Hope Pioneer included reflections of the late James D. Layng. A railroad executive for almost fifty years, Layng said his greatest regret was a sin of omission. He said the railroads had failed to embrace new technology. Early in his career a man had approached him with an idea for a refrigerated car. Layng encouraged him by loaning him a railroad car. The renovated car did, indeed, keep meat, produce, and dairy products fresh. But the railroads refused to adopt this innovation.

Fargo Public Library

Mar 13, 2020

On this date in 1917 the Fargo Forum and Daily Republican announced that the public library in Fargo was doing a booming business. The number of books being checked out was steadily increasing. 1,878 books had been issued the week before – 100 books more than any previous week. The library had to hire an additional assistant at the loan desk, which freed up other staff to supervise the children’s room. The newspaper noted that the story hour held twice a week in the children’s room had become very popular.

Senate Bill 294

Mar 9, 2020

On this date in 1917, Governor Lynn Frazier affixed his signature to Senate Bill 294. One little item had been quietly slipped into the bill, which had theater owners across the state rejoicing. Movie theaters could now open on Sundays.

The Gray Wolf

Mar 3, 2020

In 1891 the New Ulm Weekly reported that wolves had become troublesome. Sheep owners were especially concerned. On this date in 1899, the Oakes Republican reported the sighting of a gray wolf north of the Great Northern railway line. A party of men out with their dogs spotted the wolf and took up the chase, which kept up until the wolf reached the river. The dogs lost time in the crossing, but the wolf didn’t. At that point the men cut their losses, admitting that the wolf had outsmarted them.

On this date in 1900, the Bowbells Tribune printed an article touting the benefits of the new town of Bowbells. The town had been established in 1898.

Governor Frank White

Feb 27, 2020

Frank White served one term in the North Dakota House of Representatives before being elected to the State Senate in 1892. He was re-elected for another term, but the Spanish-American War intervened. He resigned to accept a commission as major in the First North Dakota Volunteer Infantry. White participated in more than 20 engagements in the Philippines and was awarded the Silver Star.

In the early 1900s Marc Klaw and Abraham Lincoln Erlanger were among the biggest names in entertainment. Based in New York City, they produced Broadway shows and owned a chain of theaters. They also took shows on the road to major cities across the country.