There has been a long history connecting the cities of Mandan with Medora. It would be Edgar Haupt, the president of the First National Bank of Mandan, and his brother Herman Haupt Jr., who met with the Marquis de Mores, which resulted in the Marquis enterprise find extra financing.
It was also in Mandan that the Marquis, charged with murdering Riley Luffsey, would be found not guilty before two separate hearings, even though most accepted that the Marquis did in fact shoot Luffsey. In a letter to the Mandan Pioneer in 1883, it was stated that “lovers of law and order will, I think, look upon the killing of Luffsey as justifiable homicide.”
It would be in Morton County that Theodore Roosevelt would serve as a Deputy Sheriff, at a time in which the county authority extended to the Montana border. It was in Mandan that Roosevelt would meet Henry Waldo Coe, the city’s first mayor, and the man who commissioned the “Roughrider” statue that stands outside of the NP depot.
While the connection between the cities have somewhat dwindled, for many, the trip out to Medora is a yearly ritual, with this year being no exception.
A highlight of Medora is often the Medora Musical. While earlier an earlier drama, “Old Four Eyes,” which was started by Frederick Walsh, the man who also wrote the Custer drama, “Trail West,” had begun in 1958, it would be short lived.
It wouldn’t be until Harold Schafer began investing in Medora, determined to make it a destination area, that the current production began.
Through the years it has changed, with many talented individuals gracing the stage; however, a focus has always been to promote the history of the area.
Celebrating more than 50 years, the musical continues to live up to its name.
It is possibly the scenery around the Burning Hill Amphitheater that is most breath taking though, which helps add to the general ambience of the musical.
For those visiting Medora, there are a number of interesting places to visit. While local merchants are often first on the list, there are a few gems that are often overlooked.
Continuing with the long history connecting Mandan and Medora, a few buildings stand out. The first is the Van Hoffman House.
The house was initially built as a place for the Marquis’ father-in-law, Baron Von Hoffman, and his wife to use when they visited Medora. The Marquis and his family would leave Medora shortly after the Hoffman house was completed, and it eventually would be occupied by James Foley.
As Medora started to become a destination location, the Gold Seal Company of Bismarck bought the house, and remodeled it as a museum of dolls. Today, it has been restored to more of its historical beginnings.
Its connection with Mandan comes through a businessman named Peter Book, of Mandan. Considered one of the finest contractors and brick masons in the area, he was commissioned by the Marquis to build the Hoffman house.
Using clay from the Medora area, which Book admired for its beautiful dark red color, he had hopes of not only opening up a shop as a brick mason, but also creating pottery.
The Hoffman house would be just the first of Book’s work in Medora. He would also be hired as the contractor for St. Mary’s Catholic Church, as well as the tall chimney of the Marquis’ meat packing plant.
In upcoming issues, we will explore a bit more of the role the Marquis had in the area, as well as his life in Dakota Territory.