Carole Butcher | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Carole Butcher

A Lack of Good Faith

Dec 31, 2019

The Homestead Act of 1862 was designed to encourage the settlement of the American West. The Act had a rather rocky beginning. By the 1850s there was growing interest in westward movement. Newspaper editor Horace Greeley urged young men to “go West!” The Free-Soil Party and labor unions urged passage of legislation that would offer free land to those willing to settle the West.

A Front Page Divorce

Dec 23, 2019

At one time Fargo was known as the divorce capitol of the West. Plenty of lawyers, easy divorce laws, and elegant hotels attracted the wealthy who could afford to travel to end a marriage. South Dakota also had easy divorce laws, and it was in 1901 that Manhattan playboy Freddie Gebhardt hosted a lavish dinner at the Cataract House Hotel in Sioux Falls to celebrate his divorce. Guests enjoyed a four-course dinner of seafood, beef and bison, and a wide variety of exotic wines all served by waiters in formal attire.

On this date in 1920 Chris Levang, a Nonpartisan League state senator, announced that A.C. Townley was stepping down as director of the League. Levang spoke at a gathering of farmers at Langdon. Levang said Townley would focus his time on organizing farmers outside of North Dakota. William Lemke, a Fargo attorney, would take over the leadership of the league.


Dec 11, 2019

On this date in 1914 war raged in Europe. America was not yet directly involved, but the conflict provided an economic opportunity. European imports would fall during the course of the war, which opened the door for American business as Americans had to buy American. The Washburn Leader predicted that American shoppers would continue that habit after the war.

Mr. Wheat

Dec 6, 2019

On this date in 1897 Milton Reuben Young was born in Berlin, North Dakota. After graduating from LaMoure High School, he went to North Dakota Agricultural College and Graceland College before returning home to run the family farm. In 1919 he married Malinda Benson of Berlin, North Dakota. They had three sons.

In the early days, when the eastern states were still colonies of Great Britain, farmers were bound by the doctrine of common law. Farmers who owned animals that were likely to roam, like cattle or horses, were responsible for any damage done by those animals. This made fencing necessary to keep animals in, as opposed to fencing grain or vegetable acres to keep animals out. This rule came from England and made sense in densely populated areas.

On this date in 1895, it was announced that Jacob Aaron had been taken into custody by Canadian authorities. Aaron was wanted in Grand Forks for arson, accused of trying to burn down the home of a police officer. He had made threats against Officer Ziskin, promising to burn down the policeman’s home.

Canada Fever

Nov 20, 2019

On this date in 1908, readers of the Washburn Leader learned that John Kirshenman had been cured of Canada fever. He returned to McClusky after an absence of three weeks. He said he learned that the “promised land” of Canada was not so promised after all. After battling five feet of snow and frigid temperatures, North Dakota looked pretty good to him. He told anyone tempted to venture north that “there is no place on God’s green earth as good as this place right here.”

Smokes for the Boys

Nov 15, 2019

On this date in 1917, the Hope Pioneer ran picture of a check on the front page. The check was in the amount of $21.25. It was made out to the American Tobacco Company. The headline asked, “Do You Have an Interest in This Check?” The check, said the newspaper, meant “comfort for the boys in France.” The rather modest sum represented 85 smoking kits.

The Great War came to an end at eleven a.m. on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. But while the fighting was over, it wasn’t really the end of the war. It was only the beginning of the end. On this date in 1918, North Dakota Senator McCumber drew attention to the dire conditions in Europe where “our boys” were still stationed. He noted that Europe had been devastated, “a desert, defaced by flame and pitted by shell holes.” Many of the simplest items needed to ease the suffering of wounded and sick soldiers were unavailable. McCumber urged support for the United War Work Campaign.