This Day in History: Feb. 28-March 10

February 28:

1878: Taking refuge in Canada, it was reported that Sitting Bull’s band was nearly starving. It was expected that they would surrender if it was allowed that they could keep their ponies. 

1899: A bill which would regulate and restrict marriages passed the State Senate. According to the bill, a commission of three physicians would be appointed in each county, with their duty being to examine all applicants for marriage licenses, in order to assure that each individual is fit, both physically and mentally, enough to enter marriage. 

1903: A pure food bill passed without opposition. The bill’s intention was to “prevent adulteration, misbranding and selling of unwholesome foods and beverages.” Food and beverages would go to the Agriculture college at Fargo in order to be inspected. 

1905: The house passes the state fair bill. The state fair would be removed from Mandan, N.D., and instead be alternated between Fargo and Grand Forks. 

1919: Townley Bill, which established one official newspaper in each county, passed the State Senate. At least 200 county newspapers were expected to be forced out of business by the bill. 

1923: North Dakotans won’t be made to wash their feet. While a rider to a bill would have made it mandatory for state citizens to wash their feet on a weekly basis, the state legislature refused to push it through. 

1931: Capitol Trolley service ends. 

1936: After a devastating drought over the past three years, state farmers were finally looking forward to an optimistic crop season. 

1953: North Dakotans allowed to dance in the dark. A bill that would have outlawed dancing in the dark was struck down. Those who were for the law said that dimly lit dance places allowed people to drink on the floor, without being seen. 

– State legislature allows drinkers to buy a round for their friends. A bill in the Senate, which was struck down, would have prevented the barroom amenity of buying the next round of drinks. 

Lewis and Clark, the Corps of Discovery, 1805 at Fort Mandan

Preparing for travel, several men were sent upriver in order to chop down cottonwood trees, which would be shaped into canoes. Meanwhile, back at the fort, news of Indian conflict reaches Lewis and Clark. 

Arriving at camp, a small group had brought with them letters from the Arikara Nation. While they stated their “peaceable dispositions” toward the Mandan and the Corps, they were wishing to settle near the Mandan in order to join with them against the Lakota. Reports had circulated that bands of the Lakota were preparing for war against the Arikara.

Prince Maximilian sojourn at Fort Clark, 1834

A severe storm out of the northwest continued throughout the day. Taking shelter from the wind, Prince Maximillian observed as Carl Bodmer spent the day painting local American Indians. 

Chardon at Fort Clark

1835: Keeping a close count of the rats he killed each month, Chardon had claimed 34 for February. 

1836: The Mandans commenced building fortifications around their village. 

1837: While the Mandans arrived at Fort Clark with fresh meat, there were reports that cattle was scarce in the area. Chardon had also killed 89 rats during the month. 

1838: Only 16 rats had been killed by Chardon. 

1839: Considering February to be a summer month, Chardon reported, to his surprise, that a strong wind from the west, and snow fall, continued. A total of 41 rats killed that month. 

March 1: 

1893: North Dakota continues as a dry state, and the question would not be addressed again for two years. While the house had passed a resubmission resolution, the senate killed it by sending it to the temperance committee.  

1897: In order to “purify” North Dakota, the house passed a bill that would extend the period of residence, in the state, from three month to a year because divorce could be sought. Some believed the state was being scandalized “by the conduct of those who come to this state for divorce purposes only.”

– The Chief of the Indian Police refused to hand over to suspected murderers, in fear that they would be lynched. Alex Condot, being French and American Indian, and Black Hawk, African American and American Indian, were suspected of having murdered the Spicer family. After being caught, J.H. Ready, chief of the Indian Police, kept the two under arrest, in fear that if he would hand them over to the Emmons County authorities, they would be lynched. 

1898: A package, containing $1,000 in currency and checks, consigned by the county treasurer of Emmons county to the First National Bank of Bismarck, had been stolen. Walter Boutellier, a mail carrier who was just 18 years old, was arrested on charges with stealing the package. 

1902: Haynes Palace Studio car, famous in Bismarck, arrived in the city, and was to stay for three days. It was said that no finer photos were made than by Mr. F. Jay Haynes and his artists, who were celebrated around the world. 

– East bound passenger and freight trains became snowbound east of Mandan. With storms abating, a snow plow was sent to clear the tracks. 

1917: An interesting court case was sent to the Morton County circuit court. George Smith, who was accused of killing Horace Ball, had committed the crime in an interesting fashion. Playing dynamite under Ball’s house, Smith was accused of “blowing him (Ball) to death.”

– Child labor law amendments killed by the senate. Worries were raised in regards to prohibiting boys under 12, and girls under 18, from engaging in any kind of street occupation. 

1926: The body of Frederick Reil was found in a refrigerator car in Mandan. Having lit a charcoal burner in a sealed Northern Pacific railcar, Reil had died from inhaling the fumes. 

1931: Speed limits on the highway were increased 15 miles per hour, to 50 mph. Governor George F. Schafer signed the bill into law, along with another bill that increased the gas tax to four cents. 

1934: Governor William Langer is relieved as the chief of North Dakota federal relief setup. The action was brought by Harry L. Hopkins, who stated, “information received by the administration indicated that political contributions were collected from employees of the relief administration in North Dakota.”

1958: Tragedy struck Mandan as a seven-year-old girl perished in a house fire. Having pulled her little brother from the flaming home, she rushed back into the fire, wanting to save her cat. 

March 3:

1853: $150,000 was appropriated by Congress for exploration of the best railroad route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. 

1857: Fort Abrercrombie, just 12 miles north of Wahpeton, became the first regular military post established in what would become the state. 

1890: The senate judiciary committee attempt to seek revenge against newspapers who had opposed the state lottery scheme. Attempting to silence Eastern newspapers, who had criticized and uncovered some shady dealings, the majority of the committee favored a bill that would require non-resident newspaper publishers to appoint a resident agent in order to receive service in actions at law. 

1892: Director Fallon, of the state weather bureau, was busy rapidly increasing the number of crop reporters and signal stations. 

1896: Louis Sitting Bull, only son of “old Sitting Bull,” was on trial before the U.S. district court. Louis was charged with criminal assault, which had the penalty of death. It was incorrectly reported that Loius was the only living descendant of Sitting Bull.

1897: Alexander Condot, who was French and American Indian, and Blackhawk, half African American and American Indian, who were accused of murdering the Spicer family at Winona, were being prepared to be transferred to Bismarck, with a strong force of Indian police. They were being moved to Bismarck in order to insure their safety. 

1901: Edward Patterson fires back at the Bismarck Tribune. Having been accused, along with the police force, of violating and protecting violators of the prohibition laws, Patterson fired back by claiming his innocence, as well as suggesting that the Tribune had been working with individuals who were willing to do “dirty work.”  

1913: A man who had disappeared in December had returned home. Max Thiel, of Judson, had been in Mandan in the middle of December, when he traveled to Bismarck with a stranger. He was not seen since then. As Thiel was carrying a large amount of money, foul play was suspected. When he returned, he was largely silent of where he had gone, except mentioning that he spent a bit of time in Montana. 

– Stephen South, a youthful horse thief, less than 20 years of age, was captured after stealing a livery team and buggy from Palermo. He was making his way to Canada, when he attempted to sell the outfit to a farmer. With the price being ridiculously low, the farmer became suspicious, and learned that the team was stolen. He notified authorities, and South was captured. 

1920: A woman is placed on the ballot for the preferential primary, after the state supreme court unanimously rendered their opinion on the subject.  

1933: Governor William Langer made a proclamation prohibiting the forced sale of real estate, that was occupied by owners, and of personal property, used for farming. 

1936: Following a strike by more than 200 workers, protesting extra working hours which were mean to make up for time lost during cold weather, forced all WPA projects in the state to close. 

March 4: 

1789: The Confederation Congress, which was acting under the Articles of Confederation, the country’s first Constitution, handed power to the new constitutional government. 

1861: President Abraham Lincoln inaugurated.

1863: Idaho Territory splits off of Dakota Territory. 

1880: Reporting on a mail delay, that wasn’t noticed by manager Sargent until March 4, it was also reported that the “moon is made of green cheese.”

1880: Dennis “Boss” Hannifin, who had been elected as chairman of the democratic central committee for ninety-nine years, was set to visit Washington, to witness the inauguration of General Hancock. However, Hancock would lose the presidential race to James Garfield. 

1884: Acquitted. In the case of the United States vs. John A. McLean, of Bismarck, a jury had brought in a verdict of not guilty. McLean had been charged with cutting and removing wood from the Fort Lincoln military reservation. The jury ruled that the prosecution, pushed by U.S. district attorney Campbell, was approaching a personal vindictiveness “towards a Bismarck man on general principal.”

1887: John Werkner, who was herding cattle west of the Missouri, in the Little Heart valley, wandered away “from the range.” After roaming for fifty hours, Werkner was taken in by a family on the Cannon Ball river, and later taken to Fort Lincoln, to be treated. Having frozen his feet so badly, Werkner had to have both feet amputated. After his surgery, he returned home to Ohio. 

1915: Two men from Flasher, Al Lange and Carl Brown, were arrested for “peddling liquor contrary to the prohibition statues.” 

1933: Governor William Langer, by executive order, declared a moratorium on farm foreclosures. 

1966: The “Storm of the Century” ends. Raging through the area from March 2-4, a late spring blizzard had struck North Dakota. Over 22 inches of snow fell on that area.

March 5:

1770: Boston Massacre occurs when British troops fire into a crow in Boston, killing five people. 

1845: Congress appropriates $30,000 in order to ship camels to the western U.S. The Camel Corps would eventually fail, in 1866.

1883: Talk at the territory convention centered on the capitol removal. A new deal was being developed to have the capitol of Dakota Territory moved to Sioux Falls. 

1884: The Marquis De Mores contracted with Altman, of the Fulton market, for three car loads of beef per day. Along with the beef, the Marquis had also contracted with E.G. Blackford for one car load of salmon per week. 

1903: A bill, for a bounty of $2.50 for each wolf or coyote killed, passed the house. The law had previously been repealed in 1897, after the state had over $20,000 in unpaid warrants. 

March 6:

1886: Justus Bragg, Mayor of Bismarck, issued an order that removed Mr. John O’Donnell from the police force. O’Donnell had shot Len Stewart, reportedly because of an old feud. After a brief meeting inside Griffin’s saloon, on Fourth Street, the feud rekindled as the two got into an argument, which led to a street brawl. O’Donnell, having been on the losing end before, eventually pulled out his revolver and fired three times. While Stewart was shot in the right shoulder, the brawl quickly came to an end as Mr. Griffin, the saloon’s owner, threw O’Donnell to the ground, and Dr. Corson, who was on hand, carried Stewart to a private room, and attended his wounds. 

1879: A telegraph line from Bismarck, via Fort Lincoln, was completed, giving the city the ability to contact with “the outside world.” 

1897: With heavy storms raging through the state, no trains were able to reach Bismarck from the east, shutting the state off from the outside world. 

1911: Impeachment proceedings were brought against District Judge John F. Cowan. He would survive the impeachment attempt, and continued to serve until 1912. 

1915: Joseph Milo, who was condemned to die by hanging on August 13, was saved as the state legislature passed a measure to abolish capitol punishment. 

1919: Soldiers bonus bill enacted. 

1935: The North Dakota house passes a measure to legalize the sale of hard liquor in the state.

1946: The last detainees leave Fort Lincoln Interment Camp

March 7:

1890: After publishing a sensational letter naming Representative Walsh as one of the members who planned a lottery scheme, which included bribing legislature members in order to secure support to legalize the transfer and reincorporation, in the state, of the Louisiana State Lottery, Attorney General Goodwin found himself being publicly pulled by the nose, as Walsh sought revenge. 

1895: A search for Mary Miller was put into place as her aunt, Lizzie Miller, arrived in Bismarck after a treacherous journey. Lizzie, 82 years old, had arrived in Bismarck after she left Parkersborg, West Virginia. Being misled, she had purchased a ticket to Portland, Oregon. However, at Ogden, Lizzie was stricken with paralysis, and laid there unconscious for six day, after which she lost her directions, and money. 

1919: The State of North Dakota gets ready to start into business. With laws permitting the state to go into business, plans were created to enter into the banking, home building and flour milling industry. 

1925: North Dakota repeals the statute prohibiting the sale of cigarettes, allowing cigarettes to go on sale after April 1. 

1933: The board game Monopoly was invented. 

1947: Representative Kenneth Fitch, of Cass County, made an apologetic speech to the state house of representatives, after having passed around a box of dog food, which he had thought was candy. A number of his fellow representatives had indeed helped themselves to the “treats.”

March 8:

1883: The Missouri River had risen 14 inches. With no break being seen, ice was beginning to gorge in many places. 

1905: All eyes in Bismarck were on D. Janowski, as he battled against Frank J. Marshall, Brooklyn, in a chess match. Marshall would beat Janowski, 8-5.

1906: Alfred von Steiger, of Wilton, N.D., who was reputed to be a German Baron, was killed by Yaqui Indians in the mountains of Sonora, Mexico. Von Steiger had traveled to Mexico for his health, as well as to investigate some mining property. 

1913: The issue of Woman suffrage, having passed the state legislature, was being submitted to the voters of North Dakota. 

March 9:

1887: Rumors of war circulated through the state, as residents of St. John, Rolette county, sent out for military protection, fearing an attack from local American Indians. The Governor, labeling it as just a scare, refused to send troops, until actual evidence was shown that troops were needed. 

1894: Harshman, a brakeman for the Northern Pacific who had lost his toes in the Valley City yard a year before, won $2,000 in damages against the railroad. 

1918: In a letter to the editor, C.R. Wells, referencing the German school in Zap, N.D., called for the government to stop the teaching of German, as well as stopping the publication of every German paper in the country. The goal of Wells was to wipe out every vestige of Germanism in the country. 

1935: Governor Walter Welford signed a bill legalizing the sale of liquor by municipally owned stored. The signing the bill would allow liquor, beginning July 1, to be sold legally for the first time since the stated entered the union in 1889. 

1951: Towns throughout North Dakota became isolated as blowing, drifting snow filled in roads as quickly as plows could clear them. The temperature in Bismarck dropped to negative 23 degrees, adding to the harsh conditions. 

March 10:

1804: Formal ceremonies transferring the Louisiana Purchase from France to the U.S. takes place in St. Louis. 

1879: Excitement was raging through Mandan, as General Rosser granted permits for the occupancy of lots. More than a dozen buildings were in the progress of being erected, and Mandan was promising to be a city of immediate importance. 

1880: The railroad reaches Grand Forks. The first train to roll through was a combination of a work and immigrant train. 

– After nearly a month of receiving no mail in the city, a team brought in twenty passengers and two tons of letter mail, with another three tons still waiting, from a blockaded train, which was 80 miles east of town. While some snow had melted, it was still on the track and had to be scooped away. 112 men were busy trying to clear the track, but were able to only clear two miles a day. With provisions running short, and no flour in the city, the government was buy shipping supplies from Fort Lincoln. 

1885: Governor Pierce vetoed the bill that would remove the territorial capital from Bismarck to Pierre.

1887: Despite using dynamite to try to free up the river at Sibley Island, the Missouri was still over six miles in width, with the gorge at the island holding water to its highest mark. A rescue party was sent out to save a settler, who had been trapped on top of his house, but to little avail. Other families have also been found on top of their houses, or even up in trees. Causing the situation to worsen, a snowstorm prevailed, while a bear had also been seen on the ice. 

The city of Mandan was inundated with water, as it ran through the streets, and flooding homes up to the second story. Fears that the city of Mandan would be annihilated, if the gorge broke at Sibley, was running through the city. 

The high trestle of the Northern Pacific railroad was also wrecked in the flooding. But with six miles of solid ice wedged into the river, and piling up to thirty feet, there was little hope things would change in the next several days. 

1894: John Henselman, a 12-year-old boy, who had lost a leg while playing in the railroad yards at Sanborn five years previously, was awarded $4,000 in damages against the Northern Pacific. The initial suit was $20,000

1902: Reports of loss began to come in after a blizzard. Hundreds of sheep and cattle were found frozen, while two herders had perished. 

1907: Former mayor of Bismarck, and then president of the City Council and county commissioner, E.G. Patterson, was arrested on charges of running a blind pig. The issue after two waitresses,working at the Patterson hotel, made complaints. The charges made many legislators unhappy, as they had just stopped at the hotel during the legislative session that had recently closed.  

1936: Howard Lucas, 18, was sentenced to life imprisonment after pleading guilty to first degree murder in the slaying of L.G. Knowlen, who was a Bismarck laborer. While Lucas first claimed he had shot Knowlen in self-defense, after getting into an argument over a $12 board and room bill, he later admitted to shooting Knowlen as he was sleeping. 

1937: R.E. Anderson, 32, a North Dakota correspondent for the Associated Press, died in the hospital after receiving injuries he suffered when his automobile overturned. 

1939: North Dakota’s favorite alcoholic beverage, “spiked beer,” was put on the spot during the session of the state’s legislature. Spiked beer, which was near beer spiked with grain alcohol, was disrupting the liquor market, state officials argued.

1948: With the nation facing an oil shortage, an authority on natural resources said that the great lignite deposits in the state could be used to help relieve the nations fuel shortage. In the Dakotas, and Montana, 915,000,000,000 tons of lignite were said to exist.