Dakota Datebook | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dakota Datebook


Mail order catalogs are nothing new. They have been a staple of Americana for well over a century. Perhaps the most famous is the Sears catalog.  Starting in 1888, Sears, Roebuck and Company, has sold an amazing array of items, from coal stoves to video games, power tools to ready-to-assemble homes. Yes, homes!


May is National Historic Preservation Month. Today, we highlight a North Dakota property on the National Register of Historic Places.


On a spring day in 1910, a story from the Garrison Independent newspaper boasted “The meanest man in North Dakota learns lesson!” The headline connected the incident with a group of train passengers whose trip had been curtailed by a surprise blizzard. They were forced to wait on the tracks in Tolley, North Dakota.  Unable to move most of the day because of snow-blocked rails, the travelers waited out the storm.


On this date in 1877, Bismarck saloonkeeper Peter Branigan* was supposed to be executed. He had killed a soldier named Massengale in his saloon on Christmas Day and was almost lynched by angry soldiers that night. Branigan was found guilty in February, escaped from jail in March, and was caught again Audubon, Minnesota, a few weeks later.


In 1998, an Anne Frank exhibit was shown at the Civic Center in Bismarck.  Anne Frank was the German-Dutch teenager who is known through the diary she kept while hiding from the Nazis.  Her family was eventually discovered, and Anne Frank died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  Several items from the North Dakota Heritage Center were shown along with the exhibit, including Nazi paraphernalia donated to the Historical Society by Veterans of World War II.


In early April, 1921, the City Council in Bowbells passed Ordinance No. 69, a fairly straight-forward ordinance that required any person, firm, or corporation "in the business of delivering spring water for hire, pay, or compensation," to obtain a license for this work.  Anyone could get this license by paying $25 to the city treasury and showing the receipt to the city auditor. The license was good for one year, unless the mayor revoked it. 


War weary Americans in the 1940s here in the heartland were like the rest of the nation in the habit of following not only the WWII overseas battles, but also local entertainment and events of civic pride.  For example, this week in 1942, the Fargo Forum told of Japan being bombed, the beginning of a massive air offensive, but it also told of Fargo Mayor Fred Olsen announcing the annual clean-up campaign sponsored by the Fargo Junior League Chamber of Commerce.  The mayor said, “In this worthy movement of cleaning, painting, planting, repairing, and general rehabilitation and rejuvenation, I urge every citizen to do his or her best to make our community clean, healthy, thrifty, safe and beautiful!” 


John Eldridge Haggart, Fargo’s first Town Marshal, was born on this date in 1846. Haggart was born in St. Lawrence County, New York. He fought as a Union soldier in the Civil War and lived in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming before arriving in Fargo in 1871. He settled a few miles southwest of town Fargo on an early land claim, and the area area became known as the Haggart stop on the railway, but would later become West Fargo.

Thomas Rogers

Apr 16, 2021


Thomas Rogers was born on June 4th, 1890 to a prominent Arikara family on the Fort Berthold Reservation. When the US declared war on Germany in 1917, American Indians volunteered to serve in large numbers.  Like many of these sons and grandsons of Warriors from earlier times, Thomas Rogers was raised with the elder’s stories of the Warrior tradition. On April first, 1917, Thomas traveled to Bismarck to enlist.   On New Year’s Day, 1918, he arrived in France and served with Company A of the 18th Infantry. 


Doctor Herbert Wilson was born in Bethel, Vermont, on this date in 1921. Wilson was a physician at Fort Berthold for 43 years before retiring. Herbert’s college education was interrupted by World War II, which turned his life in a new direction. He served on B24s as a navigator and gunner. While in England, he met Lilian May Osborne, a corporal in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. They married in 1945.