Chapter 3 • County Fair, 1909

In August 1909 my cousin Annie Jensen went with us to the county fair at Detroit (now called Detroit Lakes). My mother packed a picnic lunch and we all got into the old lumber wagon. There were nine of us going to the fair. We went down on the prairie road somewhere near old Number 30, and where Highway 59 is now.
In the spring my mom had bought me a new flowery hat with ribbons on it. When we got halfway to the fair grounds, my hat fell off and l lost it.
When we got to Detroit we parked the horse and wagon behind the Record Printing Shop. As I remember it, the paper was going to press and it made so much noise I asked by dad what all the noise was. He told me it was where they printed the Record. We unhitched the horses and they were tied to the wagon eating their feed and hay. Then we had our picnic there on the ground. The fair was in the old courthouse, but we went to the stores and shopped and looked around. Annie Jensen bought white enamel cups and plates for Viola and Hjalmer to eat off as they were babies. I got a little purse made of cloth with painted flowers on it.
Then we started for home on the stagecoach road through the woods where I now live. When we got to where Duane Leegard now lives, Rudy got sick and had to take to the brush so we were delayed a while. Then up the road a little farther, there was a man milking cows in a cow yard by the roadside. He was walking after a cow, because she wouldn't stand still, with a three-legged stool in one hand and a milk pail in the other hand. Finally the cow stood still and he sat dawn and started milking the cow. This was Edward Olson milking his cows by the roadside.
By the time we got to Aunt Sena's farm, the sun was down, and we had to bring Annie Jensen over to Aunt Sena's house across from James Johnson's farm, then we had three miles more to our house. Kate and Dan made a long journey that day, 12 miles to Detroit. It was also a long day for us, as we must have left home quite early in the morning to be in town by 11 am.

By this time Dad had more working horses and driving horses, but Kate and Dan were his favorites. He loved horses and they got the best of care. Kate was spoiled; she could do most everything. When I was eight years old, I rode her on the hay stacker rope, pulling up and backing up. When the day's work was done dad would unhitch her and let her go home. Kate and Dan were the lawn mowers; they had the whole yard to run on in the evening to keep the grass down.
When Myrtle was a baby just starting to walk, Kate was out in the yard with her baby colt, feeding on grass. Myrtle was hanging onto her front legs. My mother looked out to see where the baby was and nearly fainted when she saw Myrtle under the mare. But Kate never moved until mother took Myrtle away. Kate would also open the barn door and head right for the feed box, open it up and have her feed, if you did not beat her to it.

My dad was a very good mechanic, he could make machines and figure out many things to save himself work. He put a windmill on top of his granary to grind feed for his horses. They watered the horses and cattle down on the lake below the barn in all kinds of weather for years. Then he dug a well a hundred feet from the windmill, so he could pump water for the stock with the windmill. He built a well house and put a long shaft in with a pulley on it. Then he ran a cable from the windmill to the well house to turn the shaft. He hooked up the pump jack to pump water, separate his milk, grind his sickles, and later he bought mom a power washing machine at the state fair in St. Paul so she could wash out there in the summer time.
One winter we had a lot of snow. We had drifts so high they were up to this cable across the yard. I remember Frank and I were up there swinging on this cable. It must have been 12 feet off the ground. Then one day he bought a big Galloway gasoline engine to use instead of the windmill in the well house, and he moved his feed mill there, too. In 1909 he put in a deep cement water tank by the well house, and one in the barn. He dug a deep ditch and piped the water into the barn tank, and now he had water in the barn for the cows and horses. He built a good cover over this tank so we couldn't fall into it, but he had an opening to water the horses outside. This was the tank cover Kate would open to drink out of when she came in from the field. He would bank it well for winter, so it would not freeze, and he also had a tank heater which burned wood to keep the water from freezing.

In 1909 my dad sent to Sears and Roebuck for four telephones, wire and insulators, and they put a line up from our house to his sister Sena's, Gandrud's, and Jim Johnson's. They hung it on the fence posts. This line came in very handy when it was winter because he could call his sister to see how they were getting along and if they needed anything from town. Each one had a certain ring for their call. This line was there till my dad sold out. Then John Shannon and Ed Bryngelson hooked up to this line, until the Callaway phone lines came in later.

There were no streets or sidewalks in White Earth when this Becker County Historical Society photo was taken (about 1905) and the Chippewa State Bank was a flourishing concern.
This is one of a series of interesting photos found in the Becker County Museum in Detroit Lakes

On June 14 1909, Dad hitched Dan and Kate to the lumber wagon and Mom packed a picnic dinner. Lena and Emma Winje, our friends, and our family were loaded in the wagon, and we started on a 14 mile ride to the White Earth Indian celebration and powwow. We took the first trail that went to White Earth back in 1868 just east of Callaway, just a wagon trail with deep ruts. When we got there it was lunch time, so we found a shady spot, took out our lunch and proceeded to eat. We had drinking water in a one gallon jug, and the police came and asked what Dad had in the jug. He said drinking water, but the police did not believe this so he had to smell and taste it! They were not allowed to have any whiskey on the reservation. After lunch we went to see the powwow. They had a rail fence around the powwow ground, with an American flag flying in the center and the drummers were there also. Around the outside there were benches to sit on for the public, and on the inside there were benches for the Indians to rest on when they were not dancing. The Indians were dressed in their best buckskins and they were beautiful. The squaws had long full skirts with bells made of snuffbox covers rolled like cones. When they danced, they kept rhythm with the drums and their singing of "Hii Kii ii Hii Kii ii!". They also had beads around their necks, and beaded headbands. There were many colorful decorations on these dresses, beaded stars, moons and many other designs. The chief was tall and straight with a beautiful headdress made of colorful feathers down his back, with a beaded headband. Their suits were also made of buckskin, and around his ankles he wore dumbbells. The harder he danced, the more musical made. They also had buckskin moccasins with beaded vamps, which they made themselves.
When the celebration started, it lasted for three or four days, Indians came from South Dakota, North Dakota, and even some from Oklahoma. In later years When Oklahoma Indians got rich from oil wells, they bought big cars and come here to celebrate, but the most interesting was when there came long trains of horses, buggies and wagons loaded with squaws, children and dogs. The children were dirty and had lice in their black hair, so it was white with nits. The wigwams were all over the grounds with the flaps open, and the little papooses and smaller children lay sleeping on the ground in blankets. They also had many riders on Indian ponies that followed a wagon train. This was really something to see. One time a stray load of Indians came into our place. They were looking for water, as the children were thirsty. The buggy had one seat and the rest sat on the floor in back of the buggy with the dogs. We made this trip in the lumber wagon to White Earth three times in my childhood and later we drove the car there. But soon it died out, so there are no celebrations now. These trips are something I will never forget. they were the highlights of our childhood, as there were not to many places to go back in those days.

A Canoe

How to build a canoe.
In the summer of 1826, General Lewis Cass, after concluding a treaty with the Indians at the head of Lake Superior, was determined to return in a birch bark canoe. Immediately a large force of women and children were set to work to build him one, 36 feet long by 5 feet in width. Stakes were driven into the ground the desired length of the cane. Rolls of birch bark stripped from the trees unbroken and stitched together with fine roots of tamarack, were placed within the enclosure and secured to the stakes. Crosspieces of cedar were then inserted, producing the desired form constituting the ribs of framework. After the birch bark was properly sewed to the frame, the stakes were pulled from the ground, and the seams covered with pine pitch so the water could not enter. Travel by canoe on Otter Tail, Pelican, Shell and Buffalo Rivers was the fastest way to travel in those days.
Mitchell Dam on Otter Tail River was one of the wild rice harvesting scenes in 1935. Here the Indians camped on the riverbank in their wigwams, tents and little shacks. There were bonfires burning all around the campground in the woods and I can still see and smell the parching of wild rice and campfires.
The Indians came in with the rice in these canoes and unloaded on the riverbank. They used big iron kettles hanging over the fire to parch it in. They had to keep stirring it so it did not burn, till the hulls come off, then they also had big oil barrels on a rack over the fire and they stood and cranked them by hand to parch the rice.
Down by the river they had a new Maytag washing machine with a gas motor. Here they washed with cold water out of the river and it was running all the time. There were at least 100 Indians camping here. We could, at that time, buy wild rice for 25 cents a pound. The rice was cleaned by tossing it up into the wind.
Wild Rice rows in the marsh lands, mud flats, and shallow lake bottoms in Minnesota and Canada. It is great duck and wild geese food and it seeds itself year after year.
Wild Rice was gathered by the Indians for food. They went out in their canoes and had a ricing paddle to beat it into the canoes.
Wild rice looks a lot like oats as it has those graceful panicles. It grows tall over the water, and in August and September they harvest the wild rice. They still rice in the Otter Tail River by Mitchell Dam. Now the ricing is not like it used to be. This was a picturesque sight to see in those long gone days.