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Pioneers in Dakota Territory, 1879-89
Edited by Henry H. Bakken  (Volume XIII: Page 1)

On many occasions Carl M. Grimstad (1856-1940) entertained his family and friends with his reminiscences of early life in the Park River country. These vivid narratives about life on the frontier, so skillfully told, seemed too precious to be lost forever with the memory of the one who so enthusiastically devoted the best years of his youth on the virgin Red River prairies creating institutions for an ascending civilization. Happily, we succeeded in inducing him to write the story of that memorable decade, 1879-89, of mass migration northwestward into Dakota Territory. This paper is a condensation of his memoirs, a manuscript of 154 pages, from which I have attempted to extract some of the more interesting episodes of pioneering life. The many descendants of those early settlers who founded the state of North Dakota may read this account about the activities of their forebears with much interest and curiosity. H.H.B.

MEMOIRS OF CARL M. GRIMSTAD

It was during the summer of 1879, while at home on the old homestead in Brigham Township, Iowa County, that I decided to go west to Dakota Territory. A neighbor boy, Knute Lewis, was to be my traveling companion for part of the trip. He was a splendid young man, several years older than I, and he planned on settling in Kingsbury County, South Dakota. My intended destination was the Red River Valley in North Dakota.

Before leaving home, I went down to "Fure Hotten" and there beneath the evergreens on the sheer stone of the bluff I chiseled my initials, the year, and the date. My partner met me at the appointed time on the highway near Blue Mounds and we headed west to Dodgeville on the old military road. This was in the last days of August, 1879. We crossed the Wisconsin River by way of the toll bridge at Bridgeport and drove on over a sandy plain approaching the historic city of Prairie du Chien. This city was especially interesting to me, for it was here that my brother Ole was finally hospitalized after the sanguinary shooting affair at Atlanta, Georgia, on July 21, 1864. Prairie du Chien was the second oldest settlement in the state. Remnants of old Fort Crawford could still be seen and a wonderful active artesian well in the city emitted so much water that it flowed down both sides of the street to the river.

We continued by ferry across the Mississippi to McGregor, Iowa. The ferry was a huge barge propelled by a steam engine. Around the machinery there was ample deck space for a number of wagons and teams, and a considerable number of horses and cattle were driven into an enclosure. I have never seen horses so frightened as they were on this boat. The pounding and clanking of machinery on one side and the deep old Mississippi on the other were to the horses nearer being "between the devil and the deep blue sea" than they cared to be. Some of them were bent on committing suicide by drowning right then and there. When we reached the shore at McGregor, the horses and the cattle rushed off the ferry to get their feet on hard ground again. From McGregor we traveled west into Iowa. After we were well out of the rough country adjacent to the Mississippi, we camped in a grove.

While we were resting there, a covered wagon hove into sight from the west. As this strange apparition approached our camp the driver pulled in on the reins with a loud "whoa!" The outfit was rather the worse for wear and exposure. The team, harness, wagon, and occupants were apparently cut from the same cloth. There were only two persons to be seen, both past middle age with the map of Ireland on their faces. The woman, as usual, did most of the talking. She opened up by asking, "And ar ye goin' back on yer claim?" We assured her that we were. The woman proceeded to give a lengthy account of their experiences in living on a claim out in the "wild and woolly West," where they had encountered nothing but disappointments and suffering from start to finish. Now, they were on their way back to "God's country" to recuperate; between droughts and grasshoppers they had had their fill. We sympathized with the poor woman, for their experiences reminded me of the grasshopper and locust raids in Jackson County, Minnesota, in 1876, when I had gone there to work in the harvest fields.

We were undaunted, Lewis and I; so we continued on to Holden in Goodhue County, Minnesota, where he had lived for several years and where I had taught school and worked in the harvest fields the previous summer of 1878. We stayed a couple of days in Goodhue before pressing on to Willmar in Kandiyohi County. We arrived at Willmar on a Saturday night, put our horses in a barn, and engaged a room at a local hotel over the week end. Here we saw several thirsty souls on first degree benders, a common enough sight in those times, especially in western towns. One of the men was a particularly pathetic ease, a devotee to Bacchus from Norway who at one time had studied for the ministry. He had been shipped to America to be lost in oblivion. He was a pleasing, handsome fellow who evidently had had the advantage of a cultural training in some fine Norwegian home. He could quote Scriptures and read verses of poetry from Norway's great writers by the hour. I thought what a pity that such a young educated man should drink so deeply from the flowing bowl.

In this part of Minnesota a number of farmers were still driving oxen. On the way we traveled past Fort Ridgely on the Minnesota River, where the depredations of the Sioux on August, 1862, were all too vivid. We saw rock buildings and great long two-story frame barracks still standing, pocked with the bullet holes of this battle. General Sibley was sent to subdue Little Crow, the Sioux chief, but the settlers endured things worse than death before the Indians were conquered. Near the fort we stopped to look at a pyramid of bleached bones about five feet high and quite wide at the base; they were the remains of cattle and horses which the Indians had corralled and killed.

We drove on to the beautiful lake country of Kandiyohi, where my wagon and horses were swapped for oxen and cash to boot. The yoke of oxen I got in trade were driven to Benson in Swift County in a couple of days. Later I found a buyer who paid me $86 for the oxen after he had satisfied himself that they understood the meaning of "haw" and "gee" and could pull a plow. In Benson we met a Norwegian farmer named Barsness who had been caught in a blizzard during the early seventies. Barsness was on his way home from town when the storm struck. In the raging blizzard everything turned dark as night; he dug himself into the snow, let it drift over him good and deep, and stayed there until daylight without suffering seriously. Then he dug himself out thinking the storm must be past, but it was still blowing like fury and he froze his legs. It was necessary to amputate them above the knees but he was a sturdy fellow and he still carried on. I watched him while he dumped his load of sacked wheat in a hopper at the local elevator and I chatted with him while he unhitched the oxen, took off their yokes and tied them to a wagon. Finally, he bade me good luck and waddled out of sight on his short stubs to do his trading.

Knute Lewis and I had finally come to the junction in our westward journey where we had to part. We bade each other farewell on that fair day in September, 1879, and we didn't meet again until September, 1924. I left by train for Clay County, Minnesota, and by comparison to my ride in a wagon from Wisconsin, the train seemed to roll along swiftly over the prairie. In due time it arrived at that terminus of the north -- Moorhead, in the Red River Valley. Right across the river in Dakota Territory was Fargo, the place of departure from civilization and incidentally from the formal government of the United States. I saw a number of immigrants in covered wagons coming into Fargo on their way to take up government land. Some of the oxen were driven by women while the men followed driving livestock. One wagon had painted on its sides in large red letters:

Goodbye, Kansas
We bid you adieu
We may immigrate to hell,
But never back to you.

Two prospective settlers wanted me to file a claim on a quarter section of land adjoining theirs, for they claimed to have found the real El Dorado west of Fargo near Casselton, but I had made my plans with a firm resolve. My intention was to get to Mayville on the Goose River in Traill County, about fifty miles north. In scouting around for some means of transportation, I encountered two Finlanders from the Goose River country who were driving a team of oxen, hauling a small load of lumber to build their claim shanty. They offered me a ride, so during the next two days we jogged along at a sort of a snail's pace, giving one a splendid opportunity to view the country although there was little variety. Everywhere there was an endless expanse of level rich black prairie soil. A few claim shanties stood here and there but most of the land out and away from the rivers lay unclaimed. In fact, only half of the land for forty miles on either side of the Northern Pacific Railroad was open for settlers; the other half was donated by Uncle Sam to the Northern Pacific as an inducement for extending the road through the territory. This land was bought up by speculators in the East. They were the ones who originated the big bonanza farms that were operated in Dakota in the early days.

We crossed the Sheyenne, a good sized stream, on our way, and by nightfall of the first day came to the Elm River, where we stopped to water the oxen. They were getting tired and so were we, but the driver, a persistent fellow, lashed them vigorously and urged them forward until he saw a haystack a little way off to our left. Then he commanded "haw" and cracked the whip over the "gee" oxen and immediately we headed straight for the haystack. The oxen were unyoked and left to forage for themselves on this fine blue joint and red top hay which grew so abundantly on those rich prairies. We had a cold lunch and then pulled hay out of the side of the stack for a bed, covered ourselves with a blanket, and there we slept under the stars. At daybreak the men were up. They ordered the oxen to their feet, the yokes were clamped on their necks, and we were ready to go on again, munching our breakfast as we traveled.

Toward the latter part of the afternoon we could discern a blue rim along the horizon, the timber line of the Goose River. Later in the afternoon I left my Finlander friends and walked to Mayville, a town with one store, and a small one at that. Here, I had an old friend and neighbor, Nels Skogstad; his family had finally settled after drifting west by easy stages until they reached the Goose River. They were glad to see someone again from their old home state and I passed the next few days visiting other Wisconsin friends who had also settled in this part of the country. One by the name of Halvor Rindy, a former pupil of mine, had come up from Minnesota during the summer to take up a claim. He proposed going on a trip to the Little Salt River about seventy-five miles north. The only mode of transportation was the "apostle's horse." Our road was an old Indian trail of three distinct grooves worn in the prairie--one by each wheel of the Red River cart and the other, the middle groove, by the pony. These trails led from one end of the valley to the other and must have been traveled for a century or more because they were so deeply cut into the hard level earth. Wherever these trails crossed a stream there was sure to be a fine ford.

The first day we hiked as far as the last settler's shack on the Goose River and there we stopped overnight. The next day's journey was planned so we could reach Bachelor's Grove on Turtle River. We were told a settler lived there who would undoubtedly keep us overnight. All this beautiful country of endless prairie lay vacant and wild. Once we saw some deer bounding off in the distance. Near the trail we saw a mound so unusual to the prairie that we went over to investigate. We found it was an Indian burial mound that had evidently been despoiled by the surveyor when he passed that way during the summer.

We arrived at Bachelor's Grove in the evening, walked directly into the cabin without knocking, as was the custom in that part of the country, and there we found a lonely proprietor, a Canadian, who consented to lodge us for the night. He was an exception to the general run of bachelors--everything in the kitchen was clean and tidy. We were served good food and provided with an exceptionally comfortable bed covered with the best Hudson Bay blankets. The bachelor packed a lunch to refresh us on our long walk the next day. We arrived at the stream of the Big Salt by noon and continued on the last lap of our trip, heading straight north for the Little Salt. Early in the afternoon we could see our goal in the distance, marked by the trees that grew along the river bottom. I remember how desperately thirsty we were. Fortunately, we came to a settler's shack as we approached the Little Salt. There we asked for water. The good kind woman told us that the only water that they had was alkaline and would make us sick unless we were accustomed to it, so she offered us some milk. I can't attempt to describe how good that milk tasted. In fact, I have been fond of milk ever since.

That evening we arrived at the cabin of my boyhood friend and second cousin, John Daley. John and his wife and baby had moved up from Winnebago County, Iowa, the previous summer in a schooner pulled by oxen. The Park River country had looked like paradise to them and they decided to settle there. John had squatted on a claim near the river where they were well sheltered by the timber. Their small log house, fourteen by sixteen feet, had one door, one and a half windows, no ceiling, a sodded roof, and rough boards for flooring. Here they were happy and they were mighty glad to see us. Practically all the land along the river was held by squatters, but all the prairie land a short distance away from these river bottoms was unoccupied. The next day we went north to see what was reputed to be one of the finest and most fertile areas of prairie land lying out of doors.

I shall never forget this late afternoon in October, 1879. Before us was the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen. As we stood side by side gazing over the level luxuriant prairie untouched and unspoiled by the hands of man, the soft wind came down from the northwest and gently caressed the tall grasses that grew there, and as they moved, their silvery sheen gave one the impression of an endless ocean of fertility. Here the broad acres were bounded only by faint dark purplish timber lines on the north, the south, and the east--the timber lines of the river systems. The West--the whole West--was just as the Indian and the buffalo had left it. The grandeur of the prairie, one vast expanse of solitude, made our hearts well up with gladness. Here, I thought, we shall dedicate our youthful years and our lives to tilling, toiling, and building.

That summer the land was surveyed by the United States government, and it was possible to go up to a section poll and copy a complete description of the land one might desire to file on at the proper time. The filing, however, we knew could not be done until later in the winter of 1880, when the plots of the survey would be returned from Washington to the new land office that was to be established at Grand Forks. The description of the land I had chosen was "the north one-half of section 4, town 157 north, range 54 west." My plan was to take one quarter section on a pre-emption claim and the other on a tree claim. We returned to the Daley home late that evening and I was happy to have found such an ideal location for a future home. It was unthinkable to sit around and wait until the time to file claims on this land, so I resolved to find a school in need of a teacher. In this way my teaching experience in Wisconsin and Minnesota schools could be put to good use and it would be possible to earn some of the money required for starting a Dakota farm.

My friend John warned me, however, not to delay my return too long, for he feared others might file claims prior to mine. Rindy and I turned our faces southward again for our long trek back to Goose River. We were fortunate in getting a ride part of the way and in schedule time were back with the Skogstads.

The Skogstads, of course, were much interested in our trip and when they learned about my plan to teach school they at once hurried me off to confer with the only Norwegian Lutheran minister in that part of the Dakota Territory, the Reverend Bjug Harstad. Pastor Harstad was planning to establish a school to be known as the Bruflat Academy. He wanted to interest several teachers in the project.

The good pastor offered me a position, the salary being contingent upon the success they had with the school. My magnanimity in supporting such an enterprise was at low ebb, for I was out on the border to acquire some real estate from Uncle Sam, as well as the indispensable cash to realize this ambition. I graciously rejected the academy offer and looked elsewhere for a teaching position. I turned to the public school system. The county superintendent of schools of Traill County was a young man named Jens Nehus, who had been educated at Decorah, Iowa. He was not only county superintendent but he taught parochial school in the settlement. He had been lately married and was a popular fellow. Someone told me that he was drafted as sponsor for about half the babies baptized in that country. I called on the superintendent out on his homestead to apply for a position. When he heard my desire, he simply said, "We have a school for you, but it will be necessary to pass an examination so you can qualify."

This requirement was easily met; I sat down immediately and answered a number of questions he had written out on half a dozen different slips of paper, and in a short time my qualifications were passed on by this educational functionary and a first. grade certificate was issued to me. The school assigned me was about six miles east on the Goose River at a place called Stony Point, a rather unusual name for a place in the Red River Valley, where stones were so very scarce.

Much pleased at this good turn in my fortunes, I lost no time in reporting for work. On the way to Stony Point I stopped at Mayville to buy a suit of very heavy underwear-- red flannels --a cap, and a pair of buckskin gloves. The first person I encountered at Stony Point was a Swede named Ostlund, who lived near Gjermund Harstad, the clerk of the district. On my arrival in the district, the clerk looked me over rather carefully, inspected my precious first grade certificate and offered me their school for a term of three months at thirty dollars a month. There was no dickering whatever. The position was accepted and he sent me to a farmer residing near the schoolhouse to negotiate for my board and keep. He pointed out that it was necessary to live near the schoolhouse so I could get there early in the morning to build the fire and have the place heated when the children arrived. School started the next day.

The name of the family I stayed with escapes me now, but unfortunately they maintained a very filthy household. There was a big family of boys and girls and several of them attended my school. The bill of fare was generally mush or pudding with milk for supper, while salt pork and potatoes were staples for the other meals. I could have gotten along with the board all right but I couldn't bear the filth. After two weeks with this family, I went to Mr. Harstad, and told him he would have to find me another boarding place. He didn't appear to be surprised but he couldn't think of another place. I suggested staying with him and he said there were no objections except that he lived so far from the school. It was 1 miles across the naked prairie. I replied, "Leave that to me. I will get there," and I moved in on him at once. One morning when I arose Harstad said, "You can stay home today." I inquired why and he answered by opening the door so I could get a look at the weather. There was a real blizzard, one of the kind that brought tragedy into so many western homes. These blizzards are appalling. They turn daylight into darkness when the storm is at its height, the winds howl like demons, and the heavy fall of snow is pulverized so fine that it will penetrate the smallest cracks in the walls of the dwellings. Harstad couldn't venture out to feed his oxen until noon. Later the reports of casualties came in. One family not far south of us on the prairie perished that day because they had not brought enough fuel into their shanty to keep them warm.

It has occurred to me that I might devote a few words to these famous Harstad brothers. Gjermund Harstad was a brother of Reverend Bjug Harstad and there was still another brother by the name of Tjoje. These brothers emigrated from Setesdal and were all capable fellows. Reverend Bjug Harstad was one of the pioneer Lutheran ministers in the Red River Valley who braved the storms, the sleet, and the snow in that new country. A book could be written on his life experiences. Gjermund, the one I stayed with, came to America at twenty-six and he had been able to master the English language to the extent that he was now serving the people of his county as judge of the probate court. There were not many estates to be settled at that time but he valued this post because, by virtue of it, he held possession of the revised territorial statutes. To him these were precious, since they provided something to read throughout the long winter days. On the first Monday of each month he held court in the county seat at Caledonia on the Red River, twelve or fifteen miles from home. On court days the judge would wrap his precious law book in a red bandana, tuck it under his arm, strap his skis to his feet, and cut across country for court. His duties were quickly finished and he usually returned on the second day.

Practically no snow had fallen this year until early December. By the middle of the month it was between two and three feet deep. One day the weather became unusually mild, melting the snow on top, but by night it had frozen so hard the crust would hold my weight. It was like treading on pavement. No more snow came during the school year to hamper walking. My feet were always dry and warm, although I never wore overshoes. The greatest hardship suffered that winter was sleeping upstairs in a cold bedroom. The house we lived in had only two rooms, one upstairs and the other downstairs. The upstairs was like getting into a shed, the wind rattled the stovepipe in the gable and I was loaded down with so many quilts and blankets that when I arose in the morning I ached all over. The furnishings of the house were simple, a stove, a table, some chairs, a bed with a curtain drawn around it, a door, and three windows. In the winter these windows were covered with such a deep coat of frost that one could not see out without first shaving them with a knife.

I was quite content, however, with my new place. The food was plain and wholesome, well prepared and clean. The Harstads had one child, a girl named Ragnhild. Once a week we received a Norwegian newspaper and occasionally we bought a copy of the Fargo Argus; in this way we were able to keep up with the times. I did not hear from home often but that did not trouble me for I reasoned that when they did not write, all must be well with them.

My brother Tarje, who had settled in Jackson County, Minnesota, wrote admonishing me not to venture out on the prairies in the winter. He had had personal experiences in blizzards and knew what it meant to be caught in one of those western terrors.

My schoolhouse was a most primitive kind of structure. It was built of round logs, chinked with plaster; there was no ceiling and the roof was covered with elm bark, sodded on top to hold the peelings in place. The outside dimensions were sixteen by sixteen feet; there were two windows, a door, and a stove in the center with its pipe leading out through the gable. We had plenty of firewood and I made no attempt to economize on fuel. The youngest children were grouped around the stove while the biggest boys, who were hardened to the cold temperatures of that climate, were seated around the outside and to the back of the room. A couple of the oldest boys chewed tobacco. They couldn't deny this habit because the evidence was at their feet frozen solid to the floor. I made no attempt to moralize on their conduct. We were met to learn things and I philosophized that if the boys enjoyed their work more by this indulgence they would work harder at the numbers and letters. All sizes and ages attended my school. One of the pupils, a recent immigrant from Norway, was older than the teacher.

Religious discussions among the Lutherans were prevalent in those days, in our new country as elsewhere. Pastor Harstad (a fundamentalist) and his followers were opposed by another faction called the Conference, whose emissaries were sent into this new field to get a footing. The ministers would meet and discuss questions that no one really understood, possibly even the debaters themselves.

I still wonder how Mrs. Harstad, the judge's wife, could endure the long winter months without seeing or talking to anyone other than her husband and me. She always seemed happy though, but we knew that she longed for a visit with some other woman. One evening I returned from work to find Harstad without a wife. She had gone to visit a neighbor living about two miles out on the prairie. It was already growing dark and Harstad was worried. Finally he left "Lalla," the little girl, in my care while he did the chores. These finished, he came in again expecting to see that his wife had gotten back, but she was not there. As the hands of the clock moved slowly on toward a late hour that evening Gjermund became exasperated. He commented on how foolish women were, and he said that "they ought to be satisfied to stay in the house where they belonged and not go off gabbing and visiting like this."

I could see no reason why the good woman should not enjoy a visit once in a while, that is, if she were willing to tramp over the frozen snow for a couple of miles all alone, but the judge was of the old school and did not see it that way. After another hour or so of waiting, he decided to go and look for her while I took care of the baby. He strapped on his skis and fairly bounded out of sight in the beautiful moonlight night. He told me afterwards that when he reached the neighbor's shanty he did not go in at once but looked through the window and listened. What he saw and heard going on inside filled him with disgust and he was tempted to turn around and come straight home again without disturbing them. He saw and overheard two women talking and laughing and having the time of their lives, evidently telling each other without reservation all their experiences during these many lonely weeks of isolation. They were so delighted with each other's company that they were totally oblivious of the passing of time. The judge finally broke the spell by walking in on the scene. After that Mrs. Harstad did not go calling as long as I was with them. What a splendid pioneer woman! She never complained and was always in good humor. Harstad served one term in the territorial legislature and then moved to the state of Washington. There Mrs. Harstad lost her life accidentally from burns when her clothes caught fire.

Soon after changing boarding places, I became worried by an itch. It occurred to me that something must have gone wrong with my blood. One morning I happened to roll up my drawers to scratch my shins when lo and behold! there they were, real graybacks crawling around. It was my first experience with them, and I felt cheap when I made this discovery, but there was nothing to do but to strip off everything and get on new underwear. I confessed my predicament to the landlady and oh, how heartily she laughed at my embarrassment! She promised to take care of my trouble by boiling my underwear and the bed blankets for a day or more; then the whole outfit was hung on a fence for a couple of weeks to get the full benefit of the Dakota breezes as an extra precaution.

I completed my three-month school term in the middle of February and reported to the district treasurer, who promptly paid me ninety dollars. After paying my board bill there remained a balance of seventy dollars, which made me feel like a capitalist. After bidding the Harstads farewell, I buckled on my skis to return to the Little Salt, for my friend John Daley had written imploring me to return as soon as possible. He feared that someone might come along and file on the land of my choice.

My cross-country itinerary was planned long in advance. First, I went to Caledonia on the Red River, a distance of twelve or fifteen miles; then, north to Grand Forks, again north to Kelley's Point, later called Acton, and from there I cut west twenty-four miles to John Daley's claim. As I hiked over the snow on my way east to Caledonia, I must have walked over the future townsite of the city of Hillsboro, founded a few years later when Jim Hill, the empire builder, extended his road across the Red River at Fargo, north to Grand Forks and Grafton, and on into Manitoba, Canada. Hillsboro is only a short distance from where my school stood and is now the county seat and a thriving western town. On arriving in Caledonia late in the afternoon, I put up at the only hotel there. Caledonia was only a village with a few business houses at that time but it was the county seat. I retired early to a room with three beds in it. Later that evening two other men occupied the other beds, and in the night we were awakened by a pounding on the door. A voice asked if there was a doctor in the room. One of my roommates answered the summons. He was called out to attend to someone in the village who was very ill. Presently the doctor returned and the other occupant inquired about his patient. The doctor curtly replied, "Got rheumatism of the heart. The patient will not die right away." So, relieved, we all went to sleep again.

A stage carried the mail and passengers from Fargo to Grand Forks daily. The fare was five dollars from Caledonia to Grand Forks, so I decided to save my money by walking and, incidentally, make good wages at it, for the distance was only about thirty miles.

The next day was a beautiful sunny day, the mildest we had had since the middle of December. A middle-aged stranger came up to me and asked if I intended to walk to Grand Forks that day. I told him that was my intention. "Well," he said, "I think there's going to be a blizzard and I advise you not to start. This kind of a day out here is a bad sign. It is a regular weather breeder. I have lived in this country long enough to know more about the weather than you." Without intentional offense, I assured him my plans had been made and since it was such a fine day I would at least make a start. "Go, then," he said, "and you too will learn something about Dakota weather." On the way, about twelve miles from Caledonia on the bank of the Red River, there were a few log huts known as Frog's Point. I knew an overnight stop could be arranged there, so I headed for that place, skimming along at a good speed. The winter road from Caledonia was elevated about two feet over the general plane of snow because it had been packed and repacked by travel after each snowfall.

Some time in the afternoon between three and four o'clock the log cabins at Frog's Point were sighted off on the horizon. I figured the distance could be easily covered in less than an hour. Only a few minutes passed, however, and suddenly there seemed to be a fog descending on me, blacking out the sun. The wind started to blow and snow began to fall. The temperature was rapidly falling and now I could only see a short distance. The storm was from the northwest and with each passing minute became increasingly severe. As I pressed on desperately through this storm it was only a matter of sheer luck that I caught sight of a cabin a short distance off the road. I made a bee line for the cabin as fast as my legs could carry me. It was none too soon for as I reached the door it was pitch dark. By this time the storm was in such fury that one could not tell what direction it was coming from.

It was a blizzard and a real one. If I had gone on that night doggedly holding to my course in an attempt to reach Frog's Point I feel sure that I would not have survived to write these reminiscences half a century later. There is an old Norwegian saying that goes something like this, "If you have luck, you don't need much sense." Luck was with me that day!

After reaching the little log hut, the next problem was to find the door. I circled the cabin and found a latchstring but did not bother to knock. I simply walked in and said, "Good evening.''

A man and two little children were in the room. My next words were, "I am in search of shelter from the storm." He merely nodded assent without saying a word. It was obvious that he was preoccupied by some trouble. At last he broke the silence and said, "My wife's out in this storm." In agony he paced back and forth over the floor, telling me it had been such a fine morning that day so his wife had decided to visit some relatives. "I am sure she must have left their place before this storm," he cried, "and if she has, God save her."

I really thought her chances were pretty small, but I said nothing. Time passed and the only sounds were those of the worried husband pacing the floor and the howl of the wind outside. Suddenly, the door flew open and a woman was blown into the room with gusts of wind and snow. She stood before us shaking the snow from her clothes and wiping the frost off her eyelids. How she managed to find this cabin in the fury of the storm was beyond my intelligence, I must confess. She said very little about her experiences and her husband asked no questions. Undoubtedly they were both accustomed to enduring hardships without being demonstrative. It was a great relief to see the mother of the two little girls safely in the house again.

This cabin was the poorest shelter for winter quarters I had ever seen. It was about twelve by fourteen feet in size, built of round logs, no ceiling, a roof of elm bark sodded on top, as was the custom. Spaces between the logs were chinked and plastered over with clay. On the inside it was not plastered at all. Now this plastering on the outside was full of tiny cracks and crevices. The snow, fine as dust, was driven through the cabin by the force of the wind from every direction, particularly from the north and west. The lady of the house lighted a little kerosene lamp. Until then the room had been pitch dark. We could feel that it was getting colder all the time. The two little girls, about four and six years old, huddled closer and closer to the stove to keep warm.

Fortunately, there was a good supply of firewood in the room--a supply which my host took a certain amount of pride in possessing. He remarked, "It is all dry ash and if there is any better fuel in the wood line for giving off heat I don't know of it." The top and sides of the stove were white with heat. Let the demons of the air rave! We were safe inside with plenty of firewood, even though the snow sifted through the chinks in the wall. But it grew still colder, so the husband put the woman and the little girls to bed and packed them down with coverings. The man and I sat up all night firing. Every time we refueled it was necessary to take the whole top of the stove off. Clouds of smoke rolled out into the room but with the kind of ventilation we had that night the smoke soon disappeared. On through the night the wind swirled about as we sat by the fire roasting our fronts at the stove while our backs became stiff with cold. During this storm I didn't hear a whimper from the little girls nor anyone else. They were of real good old Viking stock. I can't recall their names but they were made of the kind of stuff essential for pioneering life.

Daylight finally showed faintly through the window. Nights in that latitude are long during the winter months. I asked the man why he had not plastered his cabin on the inside. This is the story he told me. In the late summer he had taken this claim and his first improvement was a dugout into which he moved his family. Then he started off to get work so he would have something to live on during the winter. He worked as late in the fall as he dared and when he got home he cut logs, rolled up this cabin and started to plaster it with clay that he brought from a hole in the prairie. He intended to plaster the inside too, but one night everything froze solid. How those people survived in that claim shanty through the winter of 1879-80 in Dakota is almost beyond my comprehension. On inquiry later, I learned that they not only survived but all of them came through in the pink of health.

The storm subsided and the snow was no longer drifting so we knew the blizzard was over. At daybreak, I opened the door and ventured out. All around the cabin was a space of three or four feet where there was very little snow but beyond that the snowbanks were as high as the house. The air was cold and the sunrise incomparably beautiful. That morning old Sol had on either side of him his dogs--large, prominent, and inspiring. To the west, the mirages startled us with illusions of trees and groves far in the distance, sometimes inverted and sometimes bobbing up and down on the horizon. Occasionally I could catch glimpses of a distant spiral of smoke rising straight out of the surface of the snow. These smoke columns were rising from claim shanties completely eclipsed from sight by the big drifts. All in all, it was an inspiring sight, and I was glad to be alive.

Finally, the man came out with a shovel in his hand and to my surprise said he was going to dig his oxen out of the snow. I could see no sign of animal life in any form. I watched him intently as he shoveled snow a given number of paces in a certain direction from his cabin door, then he dug straight down, throwing out huge chunks of snow until he finally struck a door to a hovel in the ground. This was where he kept his oxen. It was the dugout that had served as a family dwelling before the cabin was built. The oxen's stable had been well sealed up by the snow, keeping them warm and comfortable below. When the doors were pried open, the steam rolled out and so did the oxen for a breath of fresh air. After breakfast I was on my way again. It was a most invigorating morning. I tramped on north toward Grand Forks.

The new fall of snow made walking so difficult that one couldn't go far in a day. After plodding along for six or eight hours I noticed a good two-story house with a shingled roof near by, and I decided to ask for lodging for the night. These people had settled on their claim a couple of years before and had raised a crop of grain. They were also raising a crop of children. It was apparent that neither race suicide nor birth control had come into vogue in this territory. A young widow was staying with this family and that evening she had a caller, a young man who was making love to her, quite successfully too, from all indications. The young man was evidently tired of "baching" and wanted a wife to bake his biscuits and pancakes. The outcome of this romance was never revealed to me, but there is little doubt about its successful culmination for the young man seemed to be in dead earnest. These Norwegians had immigrated from Setesdal and they resembled the Irish people more than any other Scandinavians I had ever seen.

Morning came and I was on my way again. About midday I noticed a team hitched to a sleigh near a house and I asked the man if they were going to Grand Forks. "We are," he replied, "just as fast as the horses can get over the road." Someone was in awful agony, judging by the sounds and lamentations that emanated from the dwelling. A man had frozen both legs up to the knees. They said his legs even now were turning black and the man was in excruciating pain. The horses were hitched, the man carried out into the sleigh, and we were off.

On the way the driver told me that several farmers had gone to Grand Forks with wheat the day of the blizzard. Once in town the fellows fooled away their time. The weather was so fine that they did not think it necessary to hurry home. Most of them had idled away precious hours patronizing the saloons. Late in the afternoon they had started home and were caught in the blizzard. Since they were traveling with the storm the horses managed to keep the road. One sleigh, however, with three men in it, got lost because one of the horses became lame and he held back so much that the other crowded him off the road and they were soon lost on the prairie. Finally, the horses became exhausted and could go no farther. Two of the men got out of the sleigh and jigged around all night to keep from freezing to death. The other man was so intoxicated he was unable to dance so he lay in the bottom of the sleigh box all night. His companions covered him with hay and blankets and at daylight a near-by farmer saw them and went to their rescue. By that time the intoxicated one seemed sober but he toppled over when he attempted to walk and then they learned about his serious condition. The tragic end to this episode was the amputation of his legs at the knees.

The mail was being carried from Grand Forks north these days so I decided not to attempt to walk to Kelley's Point. The distance was about forty miles due north and uninhabited for long distances, with no convenient stopping-over places. So I made arrangements to ride with the mailman, who drove a horse and cutter. He was a young chap, twenty-three or twenty-four years old, with a dark complexion and clean-cut features. A good-looking fellow he was, brimful of profanity. He kept his expletives moving freely through his conversation for emphasis and verbal punctuation. This young man came west from New York State, braving snow, cold, and blizzards in search of adventure, fortune, and fame. In those days the northern terminus of his mail route was Pembina on the Canadian border. We started at 2:30 in the morning. The only post office between these two points was located a short distance north of Grand Forks and we were there long before daylight. The driver pounded on the door for a while before this sleepy Uncle Sam's official got out of bed, lighted his kerosene lamp, and received the mail. Just a few newspapers were dropped here and no mail whatsoever was picked up. Our sleigh scrunched along over the cold dry snow hour after hour until we finally arrived at Kelley's Point long after dark.

We went to a large log house designated as the hotel. It was a ramshackle affair with a thatched roof, managed by a Frenchman named Girard who had a badly pock-marked face. His wife was an Indian squaw; she was surrounded by a swarm of children. One little kid, just able to walk, crawled into his father's lap and occasionally removed the pipe from his father's mouth, took a whiff or two, put it back again, and all was peace and quiet.

That evening at the Girard Hotel a well dressed young man approached me after failing to open a conversation with another man equally well groomed. I became well acquainted with both these men later. The man who held himself aloof was a young doctor named Hamilton. The talkative man had come all the way from Prince Edward Island, tramping through the snows of northern Minnesota from Stephens Station. He and a number of others had come by railroad as near to the Little Salt country as they could. His name was William P. Goff and he wanted to settle in the Park River country too. He was married but thought it best to investigate this country first before locating. The name Goff proved to be a strange one to most settlers in Park River so he was dubbed the "Prince." Thereafter he always remained a celebrity.

While teaching on the Goose River, I read an item in the Fargo Argus that made me sit up and take notice. It was about the new land office that was to be established at Grand Forks and it mentioned the probable appointment of W. J. Anderson from Kelley's Point to assume the duties of the new office. Now I was in Kelley's Point so I resolved to meet this man without delay. Soon we were engaged in conversation, and I told him what I had learned about his possible appointment. This seemed to please him much, and he wanted to know how I came by this bit of news. Then I told him about the article in the Argus. It was common knowledge that the Little Salt country had been surveyed in the summer of 1879 and that no one could file on the land until the plots had been approved by the federal land office in Washington. It was highly important then, for success in the venture of filing on a claim, to know when and where one could file early. The only way a citizen could hold a claim before filing on it was to make improvements on the land. The tree claims, however, were in great demand and everybody was scheming for the opportunity of filing on one of these because it would increase their holdings to 320 acres, and it was not necessary to live on a tree claim to gain possession of it, as one had to do on a homestead or a pre-emption claim. Furthermore, these claims were limited in number. Only one was granted for each section of land. My plan was to file a pre-emption claim on the northeast one quarter and a tree claim on the northwest quarter section. I also knew that all the squatters along the middle and the south branches of the Little Salt were watching for an opportunity to beat the next fellow to the draw. When the plots were returned and the land office established, everyone in the county would rush there, "in spite of hell and high water," to file on the tree claims. I knew the situation very well and I was determined not to leave anything undone. It was also clear to me that Anderson had more inside information on this situation than any other man in the county. The problem was to pry this valuable information from him. Recently he had married a Norwegian girl, on whom I lavished some flattery without seeming to overdo it. Once in the good graces of this family I got down to brass tacks.

I spoke to him frankly like this: "Mr. Anderson, you have more inside dope on this business than anyone else. You will be the first to learn when the surveyors' plots will be returned so that one can file on land up on the Little Salt." He asked," Have you located your claims?" This I affirmed, relating incidents of my trip up the Little Salt the fall previous. Then I told him about my schoolteaching experiences on the Goose River during the winter. Now I was on my way back to Park River again to await the proper time for filing on land. Then he dramatically said: "I am a notary and if you come here next Wednesday you can file on your land with me. The plots will be here then but please keep it confidential until after Wednesday." I thanked him heartily and said, "I will be back here on Wednesday without fail."

The next day was Sunday and a German by the name of Jacob Reinhardt was driving to Sweden (twenty miles west) with the mail. This carrier drove a team of broncos and he readily agreed to take passengers along. Later Jacob was appointed first sheriff of the new county of Walsh and we became well acquainted.

The Daleys were delighted to see me again, because they feared someone might file on my claim. After spending an hour or so exchanging news about our experiences during the time we were parted, I told them I had a message of great importance that I couldn't divulge unless they pledged to keep it a secret. Then they were told about the surveyors' plots being returned from Washington and that it was now possible to file on land with Mr. Anderson at Kelley's Point. This news caused John to open his eyes wide and scratch his head. He remarked, "If I only had the necessary fifteen dollars filing fee, then I could get a tree claim, too." I knew and he knew that the chances of raising fifteen dollars among neighbors would be pretty slim. I wanted John to share this good opportunity with me to get additional land but I didn't want to offer him charity. After discussing various possibilities I offered him fifteen dollars cash for some logs to be cut on his river timber land providing he would help me haul them onto my claim with his ox team and sleigh. Good old John would have offered to do all this for me without a thought of being paid for it, so he was overjoyed with the prospect of adding another 160 acres to his Dakota estate and we began making preparations for our trip to Kelley's Point on Wednesday.

The next day, John borrowed skis from a neighbor, offering some plausible reason for wanting them. On Wednesday morning Mrs. Daley was up making coffee and preparing sandwiches a little after 3 A.M. We were on the way at 4 A.M. The air was bitterly cold and our skis wouldn't slide easily over the snow. It was too dry. Our course was charted over the prairie to avoid our being seen from the claim shanties on the river bottom. It was easy to find one's way on the open prairie after the surveyors had carved the land into mile squares during the summer and fall of 1879. At the corners of each quarter section of land, the surveyors, by dint of hard labor, had erected a rather ingenious landmark. They skinned off an equal area of sod from the corners of the four sections of land and these pieces of sod were laid up in the form of a pyramid, rising about three feet above the level of the surrounding land. Then a square section pole about three feet long, sharpened to a point at one end, was driven down through the center of the heap with corners paralleled to the section lines. On each side of the oaken section pole there was inscribed a legal description of the land lying out beyond the face of that side of the pole. Looking in each direction then along the section lines one could see another large pyramid of earth one mile away. There were other smaller pyramids located halfway between the mileposts marking the corner locations of the quarter sections of land. These smaller pyramids were built in the same elaborate way as those marking off sections of land. In my travels up and down the Red River country during the first years of its settlement I would often be thirty or forty miles from home but I could always calculate to the rod the distance and the direction I might at that moment be from my claim. These mileposts of the prairie were soon erased by the hoofs of the oxen, for the law of that day required that the public highways be laid out along the section lines.

During the first few hours we made good time, but as the day wore on we began to tire and found it necessary to rest occasionally. As the afternoon progressed the rest stops became more and more frequent. We thought of our sandwiches; they were frozen hard as bricks but we devoured them like hungry wolves. Late in the afternoon we could see a blue line on the horizon which we knew was the Red River basin. We traveled along even more slowly, although our goal was in sight. Finally some dark buildings loomed up ahead of us and we headed straight for them. I recall that we did not seem to be more than eighty rods away from our goal but we were so tired that it was necessary to rest several times before reaching shelter. It seemed as though my legs would break off up near the hips. When we got to the door of Girard's Emporium with its thatched roof we kicked off our skis, staggered into the lobby and sat down exhausted. After resting a while we engaged a bed for the night. Then we went to the nearest saloon for something to eat. Food made us feel rather youthful again and in a short while we set out in search of Anderson.

We found Anderson in his store with a partner, Mr. Eshelman. I told him that I was there to keep my appointment and he proved to be as good as his word. We gave him the descriptions of the land we were claiming. He asked a few questions, made out filing papers, and demanded a payment of forty-five dollars from us and the proper signatures on the dotted line. Mere words would be totally inadequate to express our elation. We each possessed a half section of land and a bright future was in store for us. Everything looked rosy in spite of the intense cold and deep snow. I was most grateful to our good old Uncle Sam.

We returned to our hotel, where, by this time, a number of strangers had assembled. One fellow by the name of George Parr began talking with us. He was a Scotsman and very proud of his ancestry as all Scots are. "Where are you from?" he inquired. "From the states," we said. "What nationality are you? .... Americans, with forebears from Norway," we answered. "Then are you Norwegians?" he said. We admitted we were sometimes called that. He stared at us curiously for a moment and remarked, "I have heard about Norwegians but this is the first time I ever saw one." He turned and beckoned to a couple of his companions and he pointed at us and said, "Boys, these fellows are Norwegians. I have read about the Vikings and here are the people descended from them." On our way home we made a social call on the Gulson family, principally because we were desperately hungry and John knew that Mrs. Gulson made extra good primost. The good lady flung the coffeepot on the stove and before long we were at the table eating. We sure did justice to the primost and the rest of the food, too. After I was in the warm cabin a short while my eyes began smarting most painfully. The next day I was confined to the house on account of snow blindness. Saturday, John and I drove to Sweden for the mail with his ox team, "Duke" and "Dime." Bill MacKenzie, the postmaster, sold simple staples such as salt pork, flour, tobacco, and real hard liquor. MacKenzie was an old Scotsman, owner of the whole shebang; store, post office, and saloon, as well as being a notary public and custodian of public documents, particularly a large number of applications for claims. He was lame and he hobbled about his store with the aid of a cane. Like the traditional Scotsman, Bill had the knack of making money in every move.

Quite a crowd of settlers thronged Sweden that day and MacKenzie was doing a big business. While we were there a load of flour arrived and everyone dashed out to meet this load, each grabbing a sack because he feared there might be a shortage. Soon, another team drove up with a load of barrels packed with pork. This provender could not be carried away before the barrels had been opened. They were rolled off in front of the store and MacKenzie appeared with a hatchet whacking the hoops and knocking the staves apart until the pork stood there, a solid chunk frozen hard as an iceberg. He pried the pieces apart, weighed and sold it, all in a short time. Then came the call for liquor, which the storekeeper dished out in bottles. These men drank and treated right and left. The effects were all too apparent. The imbibers became either sociable or belligerent. Most of the men were strangers to one another but the liquor helped to get them mixed one way or another. As the crowd grew more noisy milling around in the little store, the proprietor grew impatient and resolved to restore order. He resorted to desperate means to clear the store of the offensive mob by hauling out a gun from the corner where he kept the mail and threatening to shoot the first one who attempted to interfere with his business. He said authoritatively," I am a representative of Uncle Sam and I have the whole army and the navy back of me if we have to quell any violence around here." The crowd was somewhat awed by this and a few of the roustabouts edged toward the door, taking leave into the fresh air.

So far neither John nor I had divulged our secret concerning the surveyor's plots. On every side we heard inquiries--" When will they be returned and the land office established?" I knew that many of these men were going to be my neighbors and I wanted to do them a good turn. I could see no harm in tipping MacKenzie off to the fact that the surveyor's plots had been returned, because nearly everyone in that settlement was depending on him to file their tree claims. Acting on this line of reasoning, I took MacKenzie to one side and imparted the precious information. He was skeptical about my source of information and he questioned my veracity. This ungraciousness on his part did not induce me to prove what I knew so I replied that I did not care a rap whether he believed me or not. It is to his credit though that he sent a boy to Acton to verify what I had told him, and he learned that the plots had been returned and that the new land office was to be opened at Grand Forks on a certain day the following week.

Bill MacKenzie had promised his people that if there was any way of getting their claims filed first he would be the man to do it, so he was off to Grand Forks the day before the opening of the land office. That night, cold as it was, he got up shortly after midnight, posted himself outside the land office door, took a firm grasp of the doorknob and made sure he would be the first one inside when the lock was turned in the morning. Even before daybreak a mob had gathered. Bill was still hanging on to that doorknob and no threats or pushing could dislodge him. He was the first to get his papers into the hands of the officials. This urge for land was similar in some respects to the gold rush of Virginia City, Montana, in the early days. Those who got their applications on record, especially the applications for tree claims, were 160 acres to the good.

I thought it queer that the post office in the Park River country was called Sweden, since it was in the center of a Norwegian settlement. MacKenzie's old father offered an explanation for the selection of this name. He said, "You see, there is a place in Norway they call Sweden so the Norwegians named this place in honor of that location." This explanation was never very gratifying to the Swedes in that community.

In the next weeks, John and I were busy chopping logs and hauling them up to my claim with the ox power of "Duke" and "Dime." We were sending home some glowing reports of this country and soon I received word that a number of my acquaintances were intending to emigrate. In March I received a letter stating that the following people: Gunerius Walstad, his wife and five children; Big Nels Hanson, Nels Hanson, Jr.; Peter Hagen and wife; Julius Iverson, Albert Iverson, all were leaving Wisconsin in two immigrant cars, expecting to arrive at Grand Forks the first week in April. These were all fine people, old friends of mine, so I picked out their claims for them and made the necessary preparations to get them quickly settled on land adjoining mine so that in a short time we would have a complete neighborhood of desirable people. When these people arrived they were to stay at Chris Tolland and Jacob Ronald's homes. Ole Leikevold and I got them out early in the morning after their arrival. We took two teams and loaded up twenty-four logs that were already cut and made ready for the purpose of forming cabin foundations. I took them to the various claims I had picked out and we quickly laid the first evidences of improvements on these claims. The last one to be located was Nels Hanson, Jr. We drove onto his quarter section and I noticed a piece of paper tacked to the section stake. It read "Mary McLean took this claim," dated sometime before our appearance. At that moment our attention was attracted to a man crossing the prairie toward us, waving and shouting; I recognized him as the "Prince." He had told me that a sister-in-law from Prince Edward Island was going to join him as soon as the snow disappeared and also file a claim.

Now, the Norwegians have a saying something like this, "There is no brotherhood in a game of cards." This land claiming business was a game much on the same order. I knew that Mary McLean was not in Dakota and that a mere slip of paper was not sufficient evidence of improvements to hold land so I ordered the fellows to move quickly. We drove out a little distance, dumped the logs off the sleigh, laid a rectangular foundation and sped away from the scene pretending neither to hear nor to see. The "Prince" could shout into the prairie winds to his heart's content. In commenting about this episode, Nels admitted to me that he would not be of age until later in the summer. I advised him to haul more logs and get a house started; in the meantime, to keep his age to himself. He was a big fellow, six feet tall, and I was sure no one would question his rights. When he became twenty-one he filed on the land and he still lives on the same farm in the Park River country.

One day Gullek Midboe came to my cabin and introduced himself. He asked if he might borrow four small logs, which he intended to use in making a first improvement on an adjoining quarter section of land within sight of my cabin. I readily agreed to help him and as we stood there talking we saw an ox team and sleigh come over the prairie, driving directly toward the quarter section that Gullek had selected. In a few minutes they had located a building site and began dropping off logs to form the foundation for a claim house. Gullek was not greatly disturbed about this loss. He soon found himself another quarter section on the expansive Park River frontier.

That spring I helped one of my neighbors build a cabin and a stable for his horses. Settlers were trailing in in great numbers, most of them Norwegians with their ox teams and covered wagons coming from Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. There was also an influx of Canadians, who generally came by train, but none of them selected our immediate neighborhood for settlement. Land was being rapidly taken up, with the exception of a rare 80 still remaining unoccupied here and there. It happened that one of these vacant 80's was situated only half a mile south of my claim. One day a covered wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen drove in on this unoccupied land. I was curious to learn something about these people, since we were particular about whom we might have for neighbors. They were an elderly couple from Iowa and as soon as I learned their names I remembered they had a somewhat shady reputation. The woman did most of the talking and she complained bitterly to me about their plight in securing a claim of only 80 acres. Affably I agreed with her that it was too bad to spend their birthright on a mere 80 acres, particularly since I had been successful in getting 320 acres of choice land only two or three months before their arrival. Then I pointed to a cluster of trees up on what we called the "mountains'' some six or eight miles to the northwest. This gradual rise of land on the west border of the Red River Valley was left vacant because it was somewhat gravelly and sandy and less fertile than adjoining land. "If you want a quarter section," I said, "why don't you go over there?" When the woman realized 160 acres were still available, she ordered Ole to hitch up the oxen again and they hied themselves off, ultimately settling on the "mountains." That old lady never failed to express appreciation for the good advice I had given them that day. I was likewise complimented by everyone in the neighborhood for shooing the undesirables on to another location.

We used to hold occasional community meetings at various settlers' homes to discuss our problems. I remember one meeting called to make application to the postmaster general for a post office nearer our homes. A petition was drawn up requesting the establishment of Perry post office (named after the town of Perry, south of Mount Horeb in Wisconsin). John T. Daley was suggested for postmaster but he declined, so Halvor Johnson was made our first postmaster. The application was approved eventually and the office established in the Johnson home.

By the middle of June that year, land around me had been fully occupied. One day a caravan of immigrants from Iowa came driving across the country and I knew some of the men in this group. They induced me to go along and help them find a suitable location. It was necessary to travel west across the mountains into Golden Valley, where there was still an abundance of land. That night we camped by a stream where we built a fire to cook some food and dry our socks. Then we sat around the campfire and talked till late into the night, when we rolled up in some blankets under the wagons. In the morning we discovered that the breezes of the night had blown our socks into the fire. Some of us had no socks and others had half a sock left. Not that it mattered so much but some of the men gave vent to a number of colorful Norwegian expressions concerning the state of their footgear. There were seven or eight men in this party and all of them got beautiful locations adjoining one another. The name of one of the men in this party was K. P. Levang. Levang later became county commissioner and was finally sent to the state senate when the territory was divided and the state of North Dakota formed. Later that year I helped these people organize a post office, which was given the name Garfield in honor of the Republican candidate for president that year.

Sometime in the winter of 1880 another old timer from Iowa drifted into the settlement. I had known this man since he was a young boy when he lived in Wisconsin. Jon Grovom was of real Viking stock but he was inclined to be footloose, wandering from place to place in continual search of new and greener pastures. Jon was a congenial old soul, always hearty and robust. No one exceeded his capacity as a tobacco chewer and wherever he went he left his mark. Even at home he rarely inconvenienced himself by using a cuspidor. He was heard to remark once that "the floor is for two things, to walk on and to spit on." Just a half mile away from Jon's claim down on the river bottom lived a Swede on whose claim were some very fine burr oak trees. In old Jon's eyes, this claim became an obsession. He wanted it more than any other land around him; so one day he ambled over the prairie to the Swede's cabin and after some neighborly visiting casually began bargaining for the property. Jon succeeded in buying the claim for an old worn-out buffalo-skin coat and he lost no time in taking possession.

During the winter, a "dinner dance" was staged at one of the homesteads. Kettel Aaneson sent word to his neighbors and relatives to come to his home on a certain Sunday to eat, drink. shake their brogans, and be merry. Aaneson had quite a roomy house for such an occasion. The days rolled around to this event and we were not among the missing. After we had arrived, by ox team, there was handshaking all the way around and the cup of cheer was passed, containing some kind of homemade liquor with alcohol as the chief ingredient. Dinner over, the room was partly cleared. The fiddler tuned up in the corner, drinks were generously passed around again, and soon the room was in a whirl. The few girls and the elderly married women danced until the perspiration ran down their faces. One rather elderly woman smoked a cigar while she danced, and considering her capacity for drink also. I couldn't help marveling at the way she could hold her balance. As the evening ran on, drinks were passed more and more often, and soon a fist fight between two young men was in progress. This inspired two of the old fellows to settle a score of long standing--something that had taken place over fifty years before, back in Norway where they had herded cows and goats on some saeter. Objectively, it was interesting to see how men revert back to Stone Age demeanor under the influence of intoxicants.

Religious life among the settlers was not forgotten, though it caused considerable friction in the matter of locating the church, the parsonage, and the inevitable cemetery. Itinerant preachers came there from various parts of the country, preaching in the log houses and baptizing the babies, of which there was a generous supply. The first pastor to come into the settlement was Pastor Harstad from Goose River. Then there was another man of the cloth by the name of Aaberg. We were urged to organize a congregation and call a minister. The next year, 1881, this was accomplished. Reverend C. Flaten from Vermont, Wisconsin. had just finished college and had been ordained, so he was our choice.

Once the congregation was organized, our next problem was to build a church. There was considerable rivalry between the settlers living on the north side of the Park River and those on the south side. Both sides realized that if someone could be buried on their side it would probably establish the location of the cemetery. This in turn would have some bearing on the location of the church and the parsonage. The south-siders claimed that they had higher and drier land than we. This we considered preposterous and an insult. Any fair-minded man could easily see that the north side was higher and drier. Luck was with the north-siders. That fall an immigrant in poor health came wandering along. He moved into the north side and did not survive the winter. So Lars Mastre was buried on the north side, in an acre of land generously donated to our congregation by Jon Grovom and his wife Ingebor. It became my duty to draw up a deed for this gift, and when the document was finished it was read aloud to Jon and Ingebor. Jon shook his head and said. "It is not written right. You have left out the words ' more or less.'" I replied, "There is no 'more or less' about the plot of land, because it is an even acre and it cannot be made 'more or less' from the description given." Old Jon was offended that I, a mere youngster, should presume to know so much about matters of this sort. He said, "I have signed scores of deeds in different states, some of them. before you were born." He gave me a fatherly calling down and insisted there was only one proper way to draw a deed, so I crowded in the "more or less" and the deed was duly signed.

Pastor Flaten arrived and we induced him to buy a claim from a Swede who had built himself a neat little house. We knew that this acquisition would surely establish the parsonage on the north side and then all that would remain would be to build the church. Now, we had the parsonage and the cemetery preempted and when the church was to be built it was only natural to locate it a short distance from the parsonage. The south-siders threatened to secede and build their own church, and they did. After a number of years, however, they came back to our congregation, which was called Zion.

In December, 1880, Julius Iverson and I decided to return to Wisconsin for the winter and to acquire horses needed in breaking land and planting crops the next spring. It was pleasant to be home again with my family and among old friends. Late in April three of us, Jacob Tyvand, Jule Haavrud, and I engaged an immigrant car as far as Appleton, Minnesota. After parting with my friends on this trip between Appleton, Minnesota, and Park River, I encountered difficulties getting through flooded areas. My first attempt to go north on Dakota Territory failed and necessitated many miles of backtracking and going around to find fording places. On one occasion, while doubling back on my route, I overtook a whole caravan of Indians--bucks and squaws--driving three or four teams of oxen. This was the seediest looking outfit imaginable. The oxen were nothing but skin and bone, minus large patches of hair on top and sides. In their wagons they had some new breaking plows, apparently intended for use in breaking sod somewhere on the reservation. Some of the Indian warriors came up alongside my wagon, making signs and uttering sounds entirely unintelligible to me. It was tobacco they craved, I concluded, so they were given two or three small pieces broken from my own plug as a price for peaceful departure from their company.

In the spring of 1880, I built my claim house with the help of Ole Leikevold, who knew how to do a special fine job of fitting the corners of a log cabin. Ole had a habit of pulling a tuft of chin whiskers into his mouth and chewing at them while cogitating problems of construction. There was neither plumb nor level available so Ole would use an axe as a plumb; grasping the end of the handle loosely between two fingers he would sight down the corner with one eye and down the axe handle with the other to see that the walls were plumb. Likewise he backed away from the building and sighted along the axe handle with some object in the distance to ascertain whether the logs were laid up on an approximate level. After the walls of the house were up, Kettel Aaneson, who had the reputation of being the champion broadaxe flinger, came to hew down the sides. He began at the top and hewed toward the ground; it only took Kettel one day to trim the walls of that house. When Aaneson finished his work one would have thought that the house had gone through the lumber mill where a large circle saw had squared the sides.

In time we built up the gables and laid beams lengthwise to support the roof. We peeled the bark off the logs that were used in this cabin by cutting a slit along the whole length of the log, then cutting a groove around the log every four or six feet. This enabled us to pull the bark off in great slabs. These slabs were piled up one on top of the other. A weight was placed on top of the stack to flatten them while they dried. These slabs were now used as a substitute for sheeting on the roof. We placed them on the beams and then cut tough sod to lay over the bark. In this way we managed to have a fairly good roof for a year or two until the bark commenced to decay. On the south gable I had two full windows and on the east side a window and a door. The house was plastered both inside and outside with clay. The windows, nails, latch, and hinges, and the little timber needed to complete the cabin were hauled from Acton.

Water, alkaline or not, was a necessity, even though most prairie water leaves much to be desired in contrast with the good pure water that flows out of the mountains of Montana and Colorado. So a neighbor helped me dig a well fourteen or sixteen feet deep. When my house was ready I decided to begin "baching," so a few tin dishes were purchased in Sweden as well as some simple supplies, such as flour, salt pork, and tea. Tea was preferred because coffee was too difficult to make and, besides, no cream was available. I constructed a bed by cutting some slender saplings in the woods to serve as posts. To these were nailed some fence boards of the proper length to form the sides of the bed. Boards were also nailed across the head and foot of the bed. Holes were drilled in the sideboards, through which I strung bedcord, and the bedcord provided a foundation for the straw tick mattress.

In November we held an election to select members for the territorial legislature. George Walsh was chosen to represent us in the council and a Norwegian from Traill County was sent to the house. The capital of the territory was at Yankton, South Dakota. It was in the 1880-81 session that the territorial legislature authorized the division of Pembina and Grand Forks counties, forming a new county which was named Walsh in honor of our representative in the council. Walsh County was carved out of the southern portion of Pembina and a tier of townships on the north edge of Grand Forks. As soon as the new county, Walsh, was formed, the territorial governor appointed a full set of county officers, and Grafton was designated as the county seat. After the organization of the county was completed, we began reorganizing the congressional townships into civil townships. Our home township was named Fertile and I was elected town clerk; I continued to hold that office during all the years I lived in Dakota.

It was in the summer of 1881 that I met Roger Allin for the first time. We were cutting a road along a section line through some timber land on the south branch of Park River, with the help of several young men of the neighborhood, when a tragedy occurred. A limb from a falling tree struck one of the Midboe boys on the head, felling him to the ground. Roger Allin and I carried this fine young fellow to the nearest cabin and we sat there with him, giving whatever assistance we could, but he died from concussion of the brain. This tragedy made a deep impression on me, for it might have happened to any one of us, especially where several inexperienced woodsmen worked in a group. Ever since that fatal accident, Roger Allin and I were always fast friends. Allin was selected as the first chairman of our town. Later he became the first governor of the state of North Dakota when Dakota Territory was admitted to the Union as the states of North and South Dakota.

As soon as we had formally completed reorganization of our political units of government, we turned our attention to the organization of school districts. I took an active hand in this work, taking the initiative in forming two local school districts. I was the first schoolteacher hired for District No. I and my old friend Jon Grovom offered the use of his cabin for this first school formed in Fertile Township. After I had taught the home district school for a month or so, Tergus Sagen enlisted my help in organizing a school district in his neighborhood. I was aware there would be no funds and that the taxes wouldn't be collected until a year later but I felt I could contribute something to the community by teaching a few weeks without pay. I was right. Forty-seven years have passed and I haven't received my salary yet.

Of all the schools in the United States of America that had a precarious beginning I honestly believe that the school I started in District No. 28 of Walsh County was the most primitive of them all. The schoolhouse was originally planned as an oxen stable by Halvor Anderson. He had converted it into the family living quarters. The building was eighteen feet square, built of heavy elm logs only five tiers high, chunked and plastered with clay, a dirt floor, no ceiling, two half windows, a roof of elm bark and sodded. The children sat on slabs arranged around the south and west sides of the room. There were twelve to fifteen children in attendance who had originally received instruction in a number of neighboring states and provinces of Canada. The pupils brought their own books-- all different. There were no classes--only individual recitations and we specialized in reading and spelling. The diversions provided by the Anderson family were not conducive to study. There were two boys, three and five years of age, and a baby in arms plus a dog and a cat. When play with the pets got too rough Lady Anderson would fling the cat out the door, kick the dog out after it, and give the two kids a shake and a good slap, much to the amusement of my audience of fifteen. The two Anderson boys later became Lutheran ministers. One went to Canada, the other to Iowa. One of my pupils, who was named Vick, became an attorney and a judge and was later candidate for Congress.

That year the first Fourth of July celebration was held on the claim of one who bore the sacred name of Israel Anderson. He lived down by the river, where an abundance of shade trees provided a good retreat from the hot prairie sunshine. It was a motley crew that gathered there that day drinking, singing, arguing, and shaking their brogans to the tune of a fiddle.

The second year, 1881, after filing on their claims, most of the settlers raised a crop of wheat from the acres broken the previous summer of 1880. It was not an easy matter to tame the prairie; breaking the tough sod of centuries required power. We broke the sod very thin at first. Then later in the summer we plowed again in what was termed the "back set" which consisted of plowing the land an inch or two deeper than the first plowing, which resulted in turning the turf under completely. The soil would then be in ideal shape for a crop the next year. Plowing always appealed to me; there was no work that I enjoyed as much as that of following a heavy team hitched to a twelve-inch monitor plow, when we turned a furrow a half mile long straight as a gun barrel. Occasionally the plowshare got dull. It was sharpened by holding a wedge against the bottom of the lathe, drawing it out with a hammer to a thin edge. A heavy file was used to finish sharpening the share.

A few of us decided to haul our wheat to a mill some forty miles distant to the northwest to a place named Walhalla. There we could get our wheat ground to flour to save the expense of buying the staple from our local store. There were no roads, only Indian trails. We encountered no trouble getting across the creeks and small rivers because these trails led us to excellent fords. I had often wondered how many centuries the Indian trails had been traveled to make such deep ruts in the hard prairie. Our ox teams jogged along from morning till night. When nightfall came we simply unyoked them, let them graze, and we slept under our wagons. In fording the last stream, the Pembina River, George Tallakson had a mishap. The mill was situated on the opposite bank of the river. Here there was an excellent ford and the first team of oxen crossed in good order. Then came Tallakson. His steers, Jack and Charlie, were apparently very thirsty, so as soon as they got to the water they lowered their heads and began drinking. Tallakson had a weak heart and he became excited when his oxen stopped with a load of wheat in the stream. He began using his lash, supplemented with some choice profanity. The steers were forced to move on, but they continued to drink and somehow they lost their bearing, swerving off to one side of the ford, and lo and behold they dropped over a ledge, steers, wagon, wheat, and all, completely disappearing under water. Tallakson jumped just in the nick of time and stood in water up to his waist. Immediately his vocabulary changed. He made a direct appeal to the supreme ruler of the universe. He sang out loud and clear, "God save and protect us now, Jack and Charlie." Apparently his supplication bore fruit, for when Jack and Charlie struck bottom they began traveling again and finally we saw their heads rise above the surface of the stream, and water came spouting out of their nostrils as though they were whales. One of the good swimmers in our party went out into the stream and pulled the pin of the whipple tree, releasing Jack and Charlie from the load. Later a chain was attached to the end of the tongue and Tallakson's load of wheat was pulled out on high ground. The load wasn't a total loss, however, for he succeeded in swapping it for some flour. The miller was an old German who evidently ran a distillery as a side line to the milling business, and soaked wheat probably expedited his process in making "firewater."

The settlers frequently showed their appreciation for my efforts as a teacher by inviting me to their homes. One Canadian family named Bruce invited me to their place for a Sunday dinner. Mr. Bruce ordered the boys to run down a chicken for this auspicious occasion, and in due time the ancient fowl was in the pot. It certainly was not a spring chicken, for I got the impression that the hen had lived several seasons in Canada before migrating to Dakota with the Bruces. It was a generous gesture, however, for they put up the best they had and it was the first chicken I had tasted in Dakota.

Another time I was invited to attend a party at Nels Rye's home and I rode there with Halvor Anderson and his family. When we arrived Nels was not at home. He had gone to the trading post in Sweden that day, carrying in his hand a half-gallon kerosene can, which he intended filling with alcohol for his guests. It was late when he returned, stiff with cold, his lips were mutilated. He admitted that he had attempted to sample the contents of his container, but when he touched the tin can to his lips for a swig they froze fast to the spout. In getting disconnected from this frozen receptacle part of his lips adhered to the tin. After this story had been colorfully told, the spirits were properly diluted and passed around in coffee cups, and it was not long before the men were involved in a heated discussion on religion and about various passages of the Scriptures. The party was still going strong after midnight so I decided to walk to my claim, rather than wait for the Andersons. I went by way of Julius Iverson's claim, and since he was a good friend of mine I decided to stop overnight because it was bitter cold outside. Julius was a bachelor and I knew he would be fast asleep, so I did not rap on the door, I simply pulled the latch and walked in. The arrangement of his cabin was familiar to me, so I decided simply to cross over to the corner of the room and lie on the floor till morning. When I closed the door the room became pitch dark and as I walked across the floor I fell through an opening into a newly dug cellar. Of course this commotion awakened Julius and he shouted, "Who's there?" I pulled myself together, none the worse from the fall, while Julius got out of bed and lighted his lamp. We both had a good laugh about this incident and it was explained that the trap door was left open so his cat could get under the cabin floor to catch mice that were infesting the place.

On Christmas Eve I left my shack to help celebrate the yuletide with my friends, Mr. and Mrs. John Daley. They had just returned from Grafton that day accompanied by a brother-in-law, Hans Steensrud. Steensrud was a hard drinker and that day he had loaded up rather heavily with cheap whisky. On the way home that evening he had lost several packages, including his coat and cap. When I entered their cabin after dark that evening I saw a black tuft of curly hair back of the stove and inquired whether John had gotten a new dog recently. John laughed and said good-naturedly that it was the head of Hans, who was sleeping the sleep of the innocent. As long as Steensrud was out in the cold air he managed to perambulate about under his own power, but when he got into the warm room he collapsed into a very neat space near the fire. In the morning Hans was up bright and early in search of his purchases the day before. He found packages of coffee, sugar, and molasses in the hay of the wagon box, but his coat and cap had been lost on the road. He walked over the trail and finally returned with his coat but not the cap. With a carefree air he said, "The devil can have my cap." Mrs. Daley replied tartly, "Then he will get something for Christmas, too."

There were many peculiar characters in our settlement on the Little Salt. Kittle Hanson, an old bachelor who was fairly well educated in the old country, was well versed in the Scriptures and had read widely. When he gave his talks it sounded as though he were reading from some classic. Tolv Tolvson was another old bachelor with a wonderful memory. He could relate ancient superstitions and myths from the sagas of old Norway. Then there was Even Knuteson, a notorious liar. He could skillfully relate tales, and though we knew there was not a grain of truth in them, he held us spellbound and many went away believing. Gullek Midboe was probably the most traveled man in our community. He had come to America from Norway in his youth, had roamed over the whole continent, and then he had taken passage as a sailor on a Spanish vessel bound for Australia, where he prospected for gold. He had also visited New Zealand and had roamed around with the natives in Father Adam and Mother Eve's garb. He returned to America with gold but was robbed of his riches, and finally landed in the Park River country.

A family by the name of Bjorneby moved into the Red River Valley from Texas in the spring of 1882. They arrived while a blizzard was raging and were ill prepared for this kind of weather, for they were dressed in calico, sunbonnets, and straw hats. They bought John Daley's tree claim for two thousand dollars, the claim for which I had advanced him fifteen dollars for filing fees. Then John felt like he was sitting on top of the world.

Another neighbor of mine, Andrew Rolstad, was a rather poor manager in that he used bad judgment in buying and selling things. A theological student came along one day and sold him a massive looking Bible with elaborate pictures of all prominent characters from Adam down. The price was a king's ransom of eighteen dollars. Poor Andrew had considerable difficulty paying for the good book when it was delivered. The worst part of it was that his roof leaked. It leaked so generally that he could scarcely find a place to put the volume where it would be safe and dry. Finally he clamped it down into his old Norwegian chest and there it remained in cold storage.

Olaus Johnson settled in our community in the spring of 1880, coming from Stevens Point, Wisconsin. He was a great fellow to complain about everything in general and the high cost of living in particular. I went to see him in the winter of '81 and found him turning the crank of a great coffee grinder, making ground meal for his flock of six children. He was actually proud of his product and invited us to take a pinch of it and feel how fine he had ground his "gold medal" flour. He was entitled to a gold medal, I should say, for turning that coffee mill all during the winter.

Grafton grew by leaps and bounds and many professional and businessmen established themselves in this new town. One of the most peculiar characters among them was Mathias Raumin, a middle-aged man who had immigrated from Norway only a few years before. He had drifted west to Grand Forks to read law. Subsequently, he was admitted to the bar. He told me that he had studied philology for seventeen years and because he could read Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, he could be considered the most learned man in that neck of the woods. Mathias built himself a shack on Main Street and hung out a shingle, "M. Raumin, Attorney-at-Law and Land Office." His law practice wasn't much but his land office business was a howling success. He had an advantage over the other attorneys with his knowledge of Norwegian. There were a great many of his countrymen who could not make themselves understood in any other but their mother tongue. Settlers would go to him to make final proofs of their claims, file wills, and mortgage their homes for loans. Raumin had access to money from eastern capitalists and on each loan he took a generous takeoff. He was noticeably penurious. As a bachelor he lived in his little shack and dressed himself as cheaply as possible. Late in the fall when the weather began turning cold he would take a knitted woolen shirt and have it sewed on himself, not to be removed till spring. Sometimes his shack was full of smoke because he would not bother to cut the sticks of wood to the proper length to fit the stove. He would simply stick them in, leaving the door open until they burned off at one end. Then the door would be closed. Many times I watched Raumin write out notes and mortgage forms with tears streaming down his face because there was so much smoke in his office. I used to enjoy visiting this egotist. On one occasion he asked me to stay overnight with him. I accepted his invitation but it was not clear to me how the two of us could sleep on his narrow bunk. When the time came to go to bed, however, he said, "You sleep with your head up at that end and I'll sleep with mine down at this end."

That evening while he was preparing supper he inquired, "Are you a Yankee or a Norwegian?" I told him I couldn't lay claim to being a real Yankee. "Well," he said, "if you had been a Yankee, we would have had pork and beans for supper but since you are a Norwegian it will have to be mush and milk." Raumin accumulated money right and left, salted it down and became wealthy. Then he wanted to be a judge of probate, so the Norwegians in the county elected him, much to the disgust of the other professional men in the town. When the election returns came in, it was apparent that Raumin had been elected. Both his friends and enemies were bent on celebrating the victory. They made up a platform carried by four men; with Raumin sitting on top they marched through town yelling, "Hurrah for Raumin!" They stopped at every saloon, ordering drinks and charging them to the victor. When the bills finally came in there were some hard remarks emitted in the judge's office.

Another character in our settlement known far and wide was a middle-aged man named Jorgen Bjorneson. He and his wife came from Norway and never really learned to speak and understand English. He had the appearance and the bearing of a Sioux Indian and a real hardboiled one at that, and like the Indian he loved his firewater. He was an excellent farmer and generally threshed more wheat in the fall than anyone else in the neighborhood. He built himself an exceptionally large log house, tenanted only by himself and wife until our minister arrived in the community. Since Jorgen's house was so large we prevailed on him to provide temporary quarters for Pastor Flaten until a parsonage could be provided. Jorgen confided in me that he was afraid of the minister and that it placed him in a compromising position in his home. His fear was evidently founded on an old superstition that ministers were endowed with supernatural powers.

One of Jorgen's cronies swung a party one night and I was there to see the performance. That party at Knute Frujord's claim shanty was the wildest that I ever attended. After the men had drunk freely of alcohol and homemade beer they were ready for adventure, and Providence supplied the subject. A collection agent for the merchants of Grafton by the name of Havrevold blew in. He was treated liberally and he drank freely that night. It was not long before he was too heavily loaded to navigate so they put him to bed in the corner of the room and so fast asleep was he that the "crack of doom" could not have awakened him. It was then that the mischief came out in Jorgen Bjorneson. He found a razor on a shelf and he proceeded to cut the stitches in all the seams of Havrevold's fine fur coat. Havrevold was a well dressed man, and Jorgen not being satisfied with the havoc he had done on the fur coat got down deeper in his operation to the undergarments. Sometime toward morning the collector showed signs of awakening and a great roar of laughter went up when Havrevold rolled out of bed and scrambled around on the floor while most of his clothes fell off of him in a variety of patterns, much as a great oak sheds its leaves in the fall. Bjorneson let out one big roar, opened the door, and hit for the tall timber. Someone had compassion on Havrevold's unhappy situation and provided him with quilts and blankets in which to wrap himself. After his team was hitched to a sleigh, he drove away in great haste toward Grafton to look for the sheriff. Bjorneson made good his escape, getting across the state line into Minnesota. Rardi, his wife, stayed at home to take care of the farm for many "moons" until Bjorneson returned from his escapades.

During the fall of 1881 and the summer of 1882 horses were rapidly substituted for ox teams. Oxen were a common source of irritation; to drive them skillfully inspired much profanity. I observed in the English and Norwegian languages one essential difference in profanity. In Scandinavian an appeal is made to Satan's majesty, but the English usually call upon their deity to heap vengeance on the accursed.

Jon Grovom was a good peaceable neighbor but he got into a fracas with Nels Rye one day. Jon had a couple of oxen that he turned loose on the prairie during the night. Nels had a cow that he tethered on his claim. The oxen were evidently bent on mischief one night and they wandered over to Nels's cow, hooking her around in a most savage way. When Nels came out in the morning and saw how badly his cow had been treated he flew into a rage and swore vengeance. He would make Jon "pay, and pay plenty this time." Without waiting, he went directly to Jon's log hut and let loose a torrent of threats and curses. Old Jon kept cool and collected. He started no argument with Nels while he was furiously demanding fifteen dollars damages, but he thought the sum of fifteen dollars was pretty steep for damages to a lowly cow. Since the price stipulated was so much, Jon asked to accompany Nels to his claim and see for himself the havoc wrought. As they walked back over the prairie Jon told Nels many funny stories and interesting episodes he had experienced in his life and he frequently offered him his plug of chewing tobacco. By the time they reached the shack, Nels had softened considerably in his attitude and was actually in good humor. The cow was up walking around grazing and seemed practically recovered from her night's experiences. Nels then admitted that the damage was not so great as he first thought it was. They dickered for a while about a settlement for the damages and finally agreed that Jon should pay Nels two pounds of butter. The butter that Mrs. Grovom made couldn't be called gilt-edged either. But Jon had many a hearty laugh over reducing expenses from fifteen dollars to two pounds of butter.

During the winter of 1882 I returned to Wisconsin, spending many pleasant evenings courting my future wife, Julia Arneson, and making arrangements to be married in the following year. Our wedding was solemnized at the bride's home on March 31, 1883, by Pastor Iceberg, and was attended by many relatives and friends. Three days after our marriage, I left Mount Horeb for my homestead in an immigrant car. My bride and my brother Aslak followed me to Dakota two weeks later, after I had had time to put things in order and make our claim house livable again.

Two stowaways, Norwegian immigrants who wanted to see the West, were hidden among the grain sacks in the car. They had more than one escapade before we reached our destination. That spring I planted trees and wheat. After the crops were in, I took a job as deputy county assessor to appraise properties in some of the unorganized townships to the west. I hired a man to stay on my homestead and do the necessary work there at eighteen dollars a month. My wages were three dollars a day, so it was a profitable enterprise for me. I traveled on foot most of the time. It was an excellent opportunity to see all aspects of pioneering life.

One day I stopped before a settler's shanty and, to my surprise, found the occupants to be the Arne Cliff family, former residents of Pokerville. "Are you on your way to Grand Forks, by any chance?" Arne asked. "No," I replied, "I am around assessing." Then the exclaimed, "Oh, the devil!" He had never been assessed in the territory before. Despite the unpleasantness of my mission, he insisted that I should stay overnight with him and let my work of appraising his property go until morning because there was so much to talk about. In the morning he came in from doing chores and said, "It is a damned good thing that you didn't assess me last evening, for one of my oxen died during the night." As a result of the excellent work I had done in assessing I was offered a position as deputy county auditor. In the fall of 1883 we moved to Grafton, where I worked in the office of the county auditor all winter. In the spring we moved back on the homestead, where I could direct the work of breaking the remainder of my land and sow wheat, as well as care for the trees on my claim properly.

During the next two or three years I became active in the organization of the Farmers' Alliance. Roger Allin was chosen as president, and I as secretary of our county association, and we became quite active politically. In the first election held in that territory the Farmers' Alliance selected the slate and the ticket won, "hands down." I recall the many warm discussions I had with Roger Allin. He was a late arrival from Ontario, Canada, and he had no idea about the relative merits of the different political parties that existed in the United States and their traditional background. I was a Republican and I lost no opportunity in boosting for the "Grand Old Party." I tried to convince him that he should affiliate with my party. Allin was inclined, however, to regard the Democrats more favorably than the Republicans because of their stand on the tariff. Now Allin was a first-class man, honest, dependable, and a good friend of mine, and I did not want to see him go to the dogs politically. He was a fundamentalist, a Presbyterian who could do a little preaching when the occasion demanded and, above all, a strong temperance man. I finally decided that I must convince him that he had a great future in the Republican camp. So I laid the last trump on the table and gave him this ultimatum. "If you want to go to the Democrats, go! You will have some very choice company. The streets are lined with saloons and nine-tenths of the barkeepers are Democrats. They are fine political bedfellows for a Presbyterian preacher." That little speech of mine cast the die. He became a good Republican and was elected to the legislature. Then he became lieutenant governor, and when North Dakota was formed as a separate state, he was elected as its first governor.

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