Dakota Datebook

Spirit of the West

By Tessa Sandstrom
November 27, 2018 — Thousands of people lined the streets and gathered in the Bismarck auditorium on this day in 1921 to greet the French war hero, Marshal Ferdinand Foch.
Marshal Foch was credited for holding the Germans at Marne, and for devising much of the strategy that won the war.
Now the war hero was on a tour of the United States, and because he wished to see as much of the United States as possible during his 60-day visit, the tour brought him to Bismarck for one day.
Bismarck residents set to work upon the news of his visit, and were determined to give Foch a visit he’d never forget.
Following the ceremony, it was evident they had succeeded.
Foch arrived in Bismarck at 11 o’clock.
A short parade led him through the streets of Bismarck, then to the city auditorium where he and several of his companions spoke to the large crowd. The audience waited patiently through the other speakers to hear Foch.
In his speech, Marshal Foch spoke of the similarities between France and the United States, and of their shared sacrifice in the Great War.
“Even far in the west,” he said, “the people of North Dakota were united with all America and America united with France in the war…Therefore, I wish to come out to this state of North Dakota to bring the deep gratitude of the French nation and to tell you in person all this great state has done in the war.”
Several other organizations showed gratitude to Foch as well, and among them was the Dakota Sioux nation.
Close to the end of the ceremony, Chief Red Tomahawk presented Marshal Foch with a peace pipe.
Together, the Chief and Foch smoked the pipe, which was given to Foch, along with a beaded tobacco pouch as a gift from the Sioux nation.
Foch was then given the name “Charging Thunder,” or Watakte Wakiya.
The representatives of the French and Sioux nations then exchanged words of gratitude. “I know the record of the North American Indian in the war,” said Foch, “and I have come here in part particularly to thank this nation for the splendid men they sent—and the mothers of the Indian soldiers.”
Foch also made a promise to Red Tomahawk that the graves of the Indians who died in Europe would never be disturbed.
Foch exited the city with as many cheers as when he arrived, and was particularly delighted when the Sioux Indians danced around him. His visit with the Sioux Indians made his stop in North Dakota particularly unique, reported the Bismarck Tribune. “Photographers, especially the movie weekly men who accompanied the train, saw a glorious opportunity for something different in the way of Foch pictures.” In this visit, Foch was able to “touch the spirit of the great west for the first time.”
Foch’s visit left a lasting impression on the state and Foch himself. Five years after Foch’s visit, the Sioux veterans sent Marshal
Foch a card with holiday greetings and a note that they would turn toward France, raise their hands, and in spirit, greet the Marshal on Christmas. They asked that the Marshal do the same. The veterans later received a card from the Marshal saying he would, and in genuine Christmas spirit, wrote “Very many thanks, remembrances and best wishes (Remerciment et melleurs voeux).”

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.
See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, or subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast.

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DAKOTA DATEBOOK: Flett and Remington

by Merry Helm

November 28, 2018 — On this date in 1912, a Fargo newspaper article read: MURDERER SENTENCED FOR LIFE IS PARDONED. North Dakotas were outraged when a Casselton native was granted parole despite having been convicted of what was considered one of the most cold-blooded killings in the state’s history.

More than 20 years earlier Joe Remington had been sentenced to life in prison for what he’d done.

The article read: “The last and closing chapter in one of the most notorious murders ever committed in North Dakota is now closed. Joe Remington, sentenced to prison for life for the murder of James T. Flett at Arthur, this country, has become a free man as a result of the clemency of the state board of pardons.

“The murder was one of the most cold-blooded crimes in the state and is vividly recalled by the pioneers of this section. Remington was raised at Casselton between here and Arthur, and in the fall of (1890), was employed on a farm near the latter place.

“He took a load of wheat to Arthur, and in those days the elevator agents carried large sums of money, frequently paying in cash. Remington saw Flett’s roll.

“Afterwards Remington went to Minneapolis and for a short period drove a hack. He formed the acquaintance of a notorious woman there and soon spent what money he had saved. Her demands on him recalled the money he had seen Flett carry.

“Remington quietly returned to Arthur, concealed himself in the hayloft of the elevator, and in the darkness when Flett came in to feed the horses, Remington brutally beat him to death and escaped with the money.

“The murderer was arrested at La Crosse where he had gone with the woman. When he returned to Fargo he pleaded guilty and received a life sentence. The state board of pardons commuted his sentence last summer to 23 years, and now Remington has stepped from the penitentiary at Bismarck a free man.”

The 1912 article continued, “Since the recent lynching at Steele, many editors of the state have boldly asserted the mob violence was directly due to the leniency shown by the pardon board to Remington, who was guilty of one of the most brutal murders in the history of the state.”

Yet the newspaper told another side of the story, as well, when it went on to say:

“Remington has had a remarkable record in the state penitentiary and is said never to have violated a rule of the institution. He has been regarded by Warden Hellstrom as a “trusty” and for two years had charge of the penitentiary exhibit at the state industrial show at Bismarck without a guard.”

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, or subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast.

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DAKOTA DATEBOOK: Shoot ‘em Up

by Merry Helm

November 29, 2018 — Charlie Cosgrove was born in Australia in 1861. When he was 21, he and his brother, Bill, moved to Dickinson to try ranching, and Charlie later described some of those early days:

“The Hash-Knife out from Texas was in here. Their cattle, between three and four thousand head, had a hash-knife brand. In ’86, the year the snow blew — I’ll never forget it, old ’86 — the Hash-Knife outfit lost 500 head. There was just one damn blizzard after another.

“One day in ’86, a feller named Taminlin brought a load of hay to Dickinson on a wagon hitched to two old nags. That same day the Hash-Knife outfit was in here drinking and shooting up the town, and old Taminlin got right on a street corner when the Hash-Knifers took a few pops at him. Taminlin seemed to go right down in the hay, and one horse was killed. After the shooting let up, old Taminlin crawled out and said, ‘Well, why didn’t they get old Ted, too?’ He got a good horse from the Hash-Knife outfit for the one they killed. That outfit would raise hell and tear things galley-west, then pay back for any damage they had done to anyone. They were pretty good that way.”

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, or subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast.

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DAKOTA DATEBOOK: Wine at the Chateau

by Tessa Sandstrom

November 30, 2018 — Medora’s legacy as a tourist town began as early as 1936 when Louis Vallombrosa, the Marquis de Mores’ eldest son, donated the de Mores properties to the state of North Dakota. The State Historical Society of North Dakota was made the trustee of the property and began some renovation in May, 1939. On this day of that year, the Badlander reported an interesting event.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) were conducting much of the renovation. Crews were excavating the basement of the chateau when one of the enrollees discovered several bottles of rare wine that was bottled in Bordeaux, France in the early 1800s. The discovery generated much excitement around the chateau. Rumors spread that the supervisors took the wine home and drank it, but Marge Neuens Gratton, originally of Medora, said this wasn’t so. Her husband was one of the landscape architects working on the project and was present when the wine was discovered. He told Marge about the incident. She said:

“They were grading there, and they didn’t have large equipment like they have today. They were grading and part of the tractor kind of fell into what became the wine cellar. There are lots of stories that tell about that, but there wasn’t really any wine left in those containers. The wine was pretty well dried out so no one got drunk on it. I just heard a story … that the boys didn’t get any of the wine but the supervisors and whatnot got it and took it home, but that isn’t true. There wasn’t any wine to take home, but it makes a good story for the boys.”

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at prairiepublic.org, or subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast.

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