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Chapman: Christmas 100 years ago

By Staff | Dec 19, 2014

Tradition is what makes this time of year so enjoyable for me. I’m eager to spend time with family in Virginia and conversation about Christmas past will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting parts of the trip.

I hope to spend some time learning about what Christmas was like in Centreville, Va., 100 years ago. The idea came back to me as I flipped through Tribune issues from late last year and saw my column about Christmas in Rugby 100 years earlier. I hope to begin a new tradition at the Tribune of looking back at what was going on in our area 100 years ago around Christmas.

I was unable to locate a Pierce County Tribune from late 1914, but found The Rugby Optimist, the official newspaper of Pierce County and the City of Rugby that year. It was a Friday paper at the time and an entity of The Optimist Publishing Company. The paper was edited and managed by L.H. Bratton and a subscription was $1.50 per year.

The four-page edition, dated Dec. 25., 1914, had no photographs, 12 boxed advertisements, 17 legal notices and about 25 news articles.

Area advertisers included Jacobson’s Department Store in Rugby, North Dakota Land and Loan Company in Rugby, Olson & Christiansen Merchant Tailors in Rugby, Geo. C. Herman Co. Auctioneers (no town given) and Bovey-Shute Lumber Company in Rugby, Silva, Baker and Fillmore.

In international news from London, a dispatch from World War I updated readers. In Poland, “battles are being fought between the Russians and German-Austrian armies amid deep snow and bitter cold. In Belgium and northern France, battles are being fought in mud fields, foot by foot. No news of any decisive gain came today from either arena. The Russian and German claims continue contradictory.”

In local news, J.H. Lockwood topped the list of contributors to the Belgian Relief Fund. Lockwood donated $5. Other donations from common area names like Larson, Nelson, Monyer, Jelsing, Oksendahl, Johnson, Selland and more, ranged from 50 cents to $3.

“By reason of the contributions heretofore made with the Rugby Milling Co., the company has this week shipped out with free transportation by the railroad 180 sacks of 49 lb. to the sack. All of the sacks are identified as Belgian relief flour made in Rugby, North Dakota. All contributions made in the future will have the same care as those already made, and will help to supply the great need of a starving people.”

The paper endorsed the selection of J.O. Lyngstad of Citizens State Bank to the deputy state auditor position. The selection was made by treasurer-elect John Steen, also of Rugby.

“In our opinion no better selection could have been made. The people of this community know that they are losing a good, live, energetic young man-one who has taken a keen and active interest in every movement that had for its aim the progress and development of Rugby and Pierce County, and it is with genuine regret, even though it be selfish, that we see him depart from amongst us.”

John Swanson (no hometown given) wrote the following letter titled “Pocket Book Lost”: “Mrs. John Swanson lost a pocket book belonging to her husband last Tuesday evening, near the post offices containing several dollars in change, several checks and a note. The finder undoubtedly is well aware who the property belongs to, and the owner would appreciate it very much if they would return at least the papers and checks contained therein.”

This next bit titled “Pierce County Wins Again,” likely brought pride to many and a huge smile to a young girl. Martha Yeschke (no hometown given) was awarded the state prize in Fargo for sewing.

“This is an honor that we all appreciate and we are glad to congratulate the careful, painstaking little seamstress who has proven that she has the ability to sew and sew good.”

(They wrote, and mostly wrote well, in the Optimist.)

Here’s my favorite part of this piece and issue, as the mind can imagine the curiosity of other Americans who would see Martha’s work on exhibit in San Francisco.

“It will be viewed by thousands of people, all of whom will give a thought at least to the little girl away off in Pierce county, North Dakota, who sewed so well that the work gained her this great honor.”

Much of the middle pages were devoted to “Local Happenings of Interest to You: Picked up Here and There.” The submitted pieces were seldom attributed but I found this piece interesting: “Chris Zoller, one of the pioneers of Rugby and Knox, was a visitor in the city Tuesday night, on his way from his home at Lansford to Knox, to look after some business interests. He is the same old Chris that we used to know and associate with in the palmy days when the booming city of Knox was just crawling out of her swaddling clothes and getting into the limelight. But we both left about the same time-and Knox has never been the same town since.”

If you have any stories to share from your family’s Christmas time 100 years ago, write a letter to the editor. Until then, here’s to the palmy days of booming Knox! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Acknowledgment of error

The Tribune would like to apologize to Pierce County auditor Karin Fursather for recent mishaps with legal notices. It was The Tribune’s mistake for not getting the information into the publication in a timely manner.

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