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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.

The Grand Forks area saw a smallpox epidemic in the fall of 1878 that killed the city’s first physician. Few newspaper accounts exist about the outbreak, but one family’s history links the epidemic to a neighbor who knocked on the family’s door and collapsed unconscious onto their kitchen floor, bleeding from smallpox. Of the six people at home, three were sickened and died -- the father and two small daughters just days apart. 

Their bodies were placed in wooden coffins, sprinkled with lye and buried in the family’s pasture, but were later exhumed and reburied in a cemetery. The mother was pregnant. She was infected, but survived and suffered impaired vision. She gave birth to a son.


Typhoid is caused by bacteria associated with human waste. In the fall of 1893, Crookston had several dozen cases of typhoid, and as a precaution, authorities on this date flushed the city’s backed-up sewer main into the Red Lake River. Bad idea. 

Practically every downstream neighbor was affected, from farmhouses to small towns. Grand Forks, which had about 8,000 residents, was hit the hardest, with a typhoid outbreak about a month after the Crookston flush. Grand Forks drew its drinking water from where the Red Lake River met the Red River.


News from around the state on this date:

In 1894, Fessenden was itching to take over the Wells County seat, which they took from Sykeston ten days earlier. Sykeston lost the election fair and square, but things weren’t moving fast enough for some; so, a number of Fessenden residents took 20 wagons to Sykeston and forcibly took possession of county records.

These other events on this date come from 1911. 


Disease outbreaks in schools have posed challenges for decades. During the 1952-53 school year, school and health officials took hard measures to fight a scalp ringworm outbreak in Grand Forks. On this date in 1952, the Associated Press reported that the epidemic was sweeping eastern North Dakota, but it appeared to be centered in Grand Forks among children ages 5 to 10. Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin, and at the time was diagnosed using ultraviolet light.

Norway Royal Couple

Jun 8, 2020

North Dakota is no stranger to visiting dignitaries. In addition to presidents and first ladies, foreign and royal officials have visited the Peace Garden State over the years. The Deuce of August celebration in Mountain, North Dakota, has drawn Icelandic officials, including the prime minister.

YMCA Basketball

Jun 4, 2020


It is a well-known fact that Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball in December of 1891 because his students in Massachusetts needed a way to burn off some energy in his wintertime gymnasium class. Because he had a small space, he wanted to keep the young men from tackling or barging into each other during the game, as in rugby or football. To prevent injuries from having a ball hit or thrown as hard as possible, as was done in baseball or lacrosse, he wrote up a list of 13 rules for a game that could be played indoors or outdoors and in any size space while safely providing plenty of “healthy and invigorating” exercise.

425 tested for COVID-19 in Grand Forks event

May 15, 2020
T.McDonald / Prairie Public

Another round of testing for COVID-19 was held Thursday for the Grand Forks region. The goal for the day was to perform 500 tests. Reporter Todd McDonald has details…


World War I transformed airplanes from a novelty into a deadly weapon.  Pilots served as aerial scouts at first and then challenged enemy planes in airborne combat, in “dogfights” between fighter planes; and later in bombing runs against cities and troop positions.

In April 1909 the Jamestown Alert issued the following public service announcement: “George E. Bates of Grand Forks, a lightning rod man, registered at the Capital Hotel today.”

This notice may seem innocuous, but it was intended as a warning, and also a jest. Nowadays it requires some explanation. In 1909, everyone knew what the joke was. Come spring traveling salesmen would show up at the farm gate again, and the most notorious among them was the lightning rod man. Indeed, the very phrase, “lightning rod man,” was a joke unto itself, guaranteed to provoke guffaws--if not profanity.