Carole Butcher | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Carole Butcher


On this date in 1912, readers of the Washburn Leader learned that women were no longer content to take a backseat when it came to farming. The article stated the outdoor life was luring women to the Great Plains. Within the previous two years, many women had chosen farming over teaching, clerking in stores, or doing secretarial work. While noting that modern machinery made farming easier, the women agreed that the main attraction was an active life in the open air.


On this date in 1909, the Washburn Leader informed readers of what one Grand Forks boy was up to. The newspaper reported that the young man kept a milk cow and some chickens. He spent his time reading poultry and stock journals. He made an average of $1.15 per day selling milk and eggs. He also sold his champion chickens for $5.00 a pair. The newspaper noted that his family always had milk, chicken, and eggs for the dinner table.

A Narrow Escape

Dec 30, 2020


On this date in 1910, the Devils Lake Inter-Ocean reported on the narrow escape of a North Dakota family. The Henry Breah family was traveling to New York City by train. The train had stopped at the Exchange Street Station in Buffalo, New York one night when there was a sudden explosion. Flames shot 40 feet into the air. Windows of the railcars shattered. There were several injuries but no fatalities. It was fortunate that the train was not closer to the explosion.

Legends of the West

Dec 29, 2020


Travel in Dakota Territory was not for the faint of heart. People who came out with wagon trains often walked beside their wagons. Metis traders relied on their two-wheeled Red River carts. Fur traders and mountain men walked and canoed from one end of the territory to the other.

Early settlers in North Dakota thought they could bring their familiar farming methods with them, but methods that were successful in the east were not suited to the northern Great Plains. The farmers had to adapt.

Typhoid Fever

Dec 18, 2020

Before the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, or the coronavirus of 2020, North Dakotans dealt with other outbreaks of illness. On this date in 1887, the St. Paul Globe reported that John Richards, the Burleigh County Registrar of Deeds, was seriously ill with typhoid fever. The late 1880s and early 1890s were particularly bad for outbreaks of typhoid, which was also known as mountain fever.

On this date in 1911, North Dakotans were relieved to learn that the killer of Richland County Sheriff George Moody was no longer a threat. The killing occurred at a farm owned by United States Marshal James Shea, seven miles south of Wahpeton. The farm had been unoccupied for quite some time.

The Search Is On

Dec 1, 2020

On this date in 1929, the Secretary of War asked the Army to search for famed North Dakota aviator Carl Ben Eielson and  Earl Borland, his mechanic. The two men were missing somewhere in northern Alaska or off the Siberian coast. The Secretary had received a telegram from leading citizens of Nome, Alaska. They informed him that a private search party was unsuccessful, and the expedition’s plane crashed. They needed more help.

Cars were scarce in North Dakota at the turn of the 20th century. They were expensive. There was not a single new car showroom in the state. A buyer could wait for over a year for a new Peerless or Locomobile.

This did not stop adventurous North Dakotans from taking to the open road. In 1902, Frank Jaszkowiak built a three-horsepower runabout, the first horseless carriage in Bismarck. Frank noted that he could make it go, but the trouble came when he tried to make it stop. On his maiden voyage, he smashed into a tree. And no wonder! His runabout could speed along at eight miles an hour on a level road.

Emerson Hough was best known as a writer of the American West. Although he was born in Iowa, he became enchanted with the West when he moved to New Mexico. While there he met and interviewed Pat Garrett. Garrett was famous as the man who shot Billy the Kid. Inspired by his connection to Garrett, Hough’s first book was Story of the Outlaw: A Study of Western Desperadoes.