prohibition | Prairie Public Broadcasting


A God-Given Natural Right

Nov 19, 2020

Recollections of moonshine and Prohibition are shared by people in southwestern North Dakota.

When it was part of Dakota Territory, what we now know as North Dakota had a reputation as a wild place where saloons and saloon girls flourished. As the area neared statehood, many citizens hoped to create a more gentile environment. They wanted to clean up North Dakota’s reputation. It was way past time, they thought, for North Dakota to become more civilized. One way to do this was to do away with saloons and liquor, along with the “wild women” that went with them.

The Women of Hatton

Jan 10, 2019

In January 1890, North Dakota was just a few months old. In voting to approve the constitution the people also voted in favor of prohibition. Consequently, saloons would only be legal until July.

In her book, “Grass of the Earth: Immigrant Life in the Dakota Country” teacher and author Aagot Raaen tells about the women of Hatton who weren’t willing to wait.

The Noble Experiment

Nov 22, 2018

On this date in 1906, the Hope Pioneer reported on a meeting of the local Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The purpose of the organization was to educate about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, and to promote prohibition. During its heyday, the organization played an important part in North Dakota history, expanding its concerns to include women’s suffrage, labor laws, and prison reform.

Bone Dry Law

Oct 23, 2018

The Germans were steadily being forced back towards their homeland, giving up much of the territory they had gained since 1914. As the Allies advanced, the communities they recaptured were impoverished, destroyed by the retreating forces. Although the seven major relief organizations in the United States, such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, had agreed to a united campaign scheduled to begin on November 11, it became apparent that thousands of Jewish people, especially those in Poland and Lithuania, were dying from starvation and in desperate need of help. President Woodrow Wilson declared that this date, October 23 was Jewish Relief Day, and Governor Lynn Frazier issued a Proclamation for North Dakota.

On this date in 1920, several men including the chief of the North Dakota prohibition office found themselves in hot water for transporting a “motor car full of whiskey.” Theodore Musgjerd, a former clerk in the prohibition office, was arrested and charged with transporting 125 quarts of whiskey from Fargo to Sioux Falls.