Walsh County, North Dakota

Walsh County Historical Society Newsletter April 2011

Ora Marie Stewart: September 14, 1927 -April 3, 2010

Ora Marie Stewart, 82, of Grafton, passed away Saturday, April 3, 2010, at Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.
Ora Marie Sprouse was born September 14, 1927, in Monango, North Dakota, daughter of Edith (Hafey) and Dean Sprouse. She attended school in Bullhead, South Dakota, and Shields, North Dakota, before graduating from high school in McLauglin, South Dakota, in 1944. Ora Marie met and married Charles Stewart in Ellendale, North Dakota, on June 1, 1946, while attending college.
The couple lived in Mott, North Dakota, and Drayton, North Dakota, before settling in Grafton, North Dakota, in 1957. She earned her bachelor’s degree in natural science, with a minor in English from Ellendale State Teacher’s College and a master’s degree in library science from the University of North Dakota. She began working for the Northeast Dakota Bookmobile Library in 1965 and became the director of the Carnegie Regional Library in 1972, retiring 20 years later in 1992. Ora was the first female to preside over the Walsh County Historical Society.
She had 17 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren and is survived by her husband Charles and one sister Donna (Sprouse) Sherwood of Mobridge, South Dakota. Surviving children include Terry Burns of St. Thomas; Chuck Stewart of Grafton; Aprill (Steven) Hastings of Mayville; Rock (Kris) Stewart of Grafton; Amy Jo (David) Paukert of Michigan; and Reed Stewart of Bismarck.
My Mother’s Legacy
By Amy Jo Stewart Paukert
Many people have consoled me in my mother’s passing by commenting on the wonderful legacy she has left for us. As I pondered that comment, I realized all the things my mother loved that she shared with others. The following thoughts are just a small portion of my mother’s legacy.
A Love of Nature: Mom enjoyed the outdoors and traveling. She described herself as a gypsy, always eager to go on an adventure. She took me on my first camping trip when I was only three weeks old. Although she didn’t care for the labor of gardening, she liked watching things grow. As kids, she would have us look for and identify wildflowers. We’d also hunt for edible plants and mushrooms.
A Love of Animals: Mom had a soft spot for all kinds of animals. My parent’s license plate reads LVRPETS, and this has always been true. Besides the normal cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, birds, and fish that many people have, her list included rabbits, pigs, ducks, geese, a pony, a lamb, a fox, a snapping turtle, and a raccoon. She also showed her sense of humor in naming them. The black and white spotted pigs were Herman and Humphrey Pork-A-Dot, and the ducks were Soda-Quacker, Grahm-Quacker, Fire-Quacker, and Nut-Quacker. She always joked that if there were any stray dogs in the neighborhood, the other dogs would tell them to go to the Stewart’s place, because they would be sure to take them in.
A Love of Reading: When Mom and Dad were newlyweds and saving up to buy a refrigerator, mom, instead, used the money to buy a set of encyclopedias. That tells you where her priorities lay. Mom was always an avid and very speedy reader. Her favorite books were related to North Dakota history, and she was quite an expert in that area. She read to us often while we were growing up, and over the years she has recommended many good books for me to read. Unfortunately, I could not read as fast as she could. When all of us kids were finally in school, Dad encouraged Mom to apply for a job at the library, and she really blossomed in that setting, eventually becoming the director of the Carnegie Regional Library, a job she enjoyed for 2o years.
A Love of Collecting: Mom was always a collector. She enjoyed antiques, depression glass, pigs, teddy bears, and beanie babies, and in the last few decades her passion was doll collecting. She was instrumental in founding the Heritage Doll Club and even had her own “doll buggy,” which was an old school bus she had refurbished and took to various places to exhibit some of her dolls.
A Love of Music: Mom loved music. You’d often find her singing “Marzydotes” or “Glow Worm” in the kitchen as she made supper or vacuuming to John Philip Sousa marches. She had an extensive record collection which included ragtime, jazz standards, classics, and musical theater selections which I’m sure greatly influenced my musical tastes. She even used her first paycheck from the library to buy a player piano for the family.
A Love of Theater: As a teenager, my mother aspired to go to New York and become an actress. Although she didn’t make it to New York, she did create theater where she was. She certainly knew how to “bloom where she was planted.” First, she started a children’s theater through the library. She called it, “The Carnegie Cardboard Players,” because the sets were made out of old refrigerator boxes. When I went away to college, she eased her empty nest syndrome by starting the Grafton Community Theater, which provided many fun memories for both the actors and the audience. I had the pleasure of co-directing with her and acting with her in two plays.
A Love of Art: My mother didn’t consider herself an artist, per se, but she was very creative and had a great eye for stage pictures, fashion and decorating. She was “designing on a dime” long before there was a television show by that name. She was always very supportive of area artists, and she has a wall of original artwork in her home. Both of my parents have been very supportive of my artistic endeavors over the years. They even put up with all of the princesses I drew everywhere when I was a child, including some on the walls of our bedroom closet that are still there.
A Love of History: Mom was quite a history buff. When we traveled, we never passed a historical marker without stopping to read it. We also made many trips to cemeteries because of her interest in genealogy. As a librarian and into her retirement she helped many people research their family histories. She and Dad were instrumental in establishing the Alexander Henry rest area south of Drayton. They have also been active members of the local and state historical and preservation societies. During the centennial year, she did a radio show recalling various interesting events from Grafton’s past. She also wrote musical pageants for the Grafton Centennial and North Dakota’s State Centennial.
A Love of Learning: Mom always had an inquisitive mind, and sometimes, to her chagrin, she encouraged us kids to be independent thinkers. If we’d ask her a question, her reply was always, “Look it up.” She loved to research almost any topic. I think that was part of what she liked about collecting. With each new doll or piece of depression glass she would research about it in books and would write down all the information she could find about it. Then she would share this information through programs that she would put together for various club meetings or community events. She was never afraid of learning new things, even when it came to technology. She was one of the first people I knew who owned a computer. And not long before her passing I got a message that she had a Facebook account and wanted to be my “friend.”
A Love of Doing: Mon had a very generous spirit and was always willing to do what she could to help out. That quality, combined with her creativity and positive attitude, allowed her to bring her dreams to fruition. She was never afraid to tackle big projects, even the daunting task of putting a centennial book together in nine months. She always approached projects with a “we can do it” attitude.
A Love of Family: Nothing was more important to my parents than family. They have showed this not only to their own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but also to exchange students and numerous foster children who were fortunate enough to experience their loving home. My parents joked that raising us six kids gave them the special abilities they needed to foster children from juvenile court.
My mother was all this and much, much more. But I think her biggest legacy is that she not only loved all of thse things herself, but she shared her passions with her family, friends, and community. She may be physically gone, but her legacy will live on within each of us who had the pleasure of knowing her.

Walsh County Public Transportation Program

The Walsh County Transportation Program began in 1975 on a part-time basis, with one driver and one van. Since that time we have expanded into three drivers and three wheelchair-accessible vehicles, a 2008 nineteen-passenger bus with a lift, a 2008 five-passenger minivan with a ramp, and our newest vehicle, a 2010 fifteen-passenger, low-fl00r bus with a ramp. At the start of the program we catered mainly to seniors, and it came to be called the “Senior Bus.” It has been hard to overcome that misconception, but we are working to educate people to make everyone aware that we are public transportation and are open to anyone, regardless of age. Our funding comes from the Transit Department of the North Dakota DOT. We receive Section 5311 (Federal) money and State Aid for Transportation money and also county mill levy money. We are a Medicaid provider for anyone that has a medical appointment and is on Medicaid. We also do charge a fare to ride, and you can call the office to find out what that is. It varies depending on where we pick you up and where you are going. Fares account for 10 percent of our budget.
We have three excellent drivers who are required to attend regular training in passenger safety and security, wheelchair tie downs, maltreatment awareness, and defensive driving courses. They rotate who drives which route and fill in for each other when needed. We could not do without our wonderful, compassionate and caring drivers. The responsibility they have in driving people in all kinds of weather and road conditions is tremendous. We will cancel the bus if there is no travel advised or if we deem the conditions too risky for travel. We will announce any cancellations on the Grafton Radio.
We have scheduled trips to Grand Forks Tuesdays and Thursdays and the first and third Saturdays of the month. We are in Grafton Tuesdays through Fridays, and we go to Park River the first and third Wednesdays, to Devils Lake the third Monday of the month, and to Fargo the second Monday of the month. We also work closely with the Pembina County Public Transportation Program to coordinate rides if needed. On Thursdays they are able to pick up passengers for us along Higiway32, in Fordville, and possibly other towns in Walsh County if wee need them to. We try to work with them to provide the best possible route to get people to their destinations. They are also in Grafton on scheduled days and can help us out with rides then, too.
A coordination plan has been developed with the help of the Transit Department of the North Dakota DOT to identify and analyze the service gaps and service needs in Walsh and Pembina counties. We have had several meetings and plan on meeting every other month with other agencies in the two counties and the NDDOT staff to coordinate transportation services.
Anyone may ride our bus for medical appointments, grocery shopping, errands, social outings, etc. We do ask that you call the day before by 4 p.m. at 701-284-7980 or 701-284-7999 to schedule a ride so that we can pick you up when desired. We do have voice mail that you can leave a message after hours to cancel a ride or schedule a ride in an emergency. We will try our best to get you to where you want to go, ride the bus and leave the driving to us.
Walsh County Historical Society Tour

Photo of original home

Newly remodeled home.

The Walsh County Historical Society’s County Tour was held August 8. 2010, in Park River at 2 p.m. It was a very hot day, so the walking tour on Main Street was omitted. We met at 2 p.m. at the John and Catherine Van Dam home, which is an old historical house built by Jacob Birder. He had a store in Park River and later a general store in Grafton, also known as Birder, Sandloge and Olson.
While on his way to St. Louis to the National Democratic Convention in 1904, Birder was killed on a train that was derailed at Litchfield, Illinois. He was one of 20 killed in the accident on July 3, 1904.
Mrs. Birder stayed in the house and later it became a boy’s dormitory, and it was purchased by Agnes Dougherty Henderson. Agnes made it into an apartment building, which was later purchased by John Van Dam. Mr. Van Dam researched the building and has restored it in its original size and decor. Van Dam also built the carriage shed shown on the original blueprints. A lot of hard work has gone into restoring and preserving this historical landmark.
The next stop was the former Barnes Funeral Home on Highway 17, now known as Kensington Place, which is now a community activity center, beautifully decorated with a large kitchen and ample seating. Pictures of old homes and histories of them are on the walls for everyone to enjoy.
After Kensington, everyone went downtown to the city park and enjoyed a wonderful picnic and conversation.
Historic Elmwood 2010

Historic Elmwood was opened to the general public in time to observe North Dakota’s Centennial in 1989. Restoration was in the early stages. Furniture was yet to be acquired, but coffee, lemonade, and old-fashioned molasses and sugar cookies were served. It was a beginning, and many came out to see what was going on. Funds for restoration costs were a major concern of the governing board. Rentals, bridge luncheons, style shows at Christmas, and a spaghetti supper held on election day in November were organized to acknowledge the fact that Elmwood’s builder, C.A.M Spencer, was elected North Dakota’s second attorney general in 1890. Spencer’s Spaghetti Supper has been the major fund-raising activity since 1990.
In 1992, rebuilding the two-level front porch was funded by grants from the National Park Service, North Dakota Parks and Tourism, Kopperud Foundation, Grafton Endowment Fund, Heritage Village, the Walsh County Historical Society, and a Spindles and Post Porch Project, with donations of $100 for a spindle and $50 for a post. The porch was dedicated in July with people from North Dakota Parks and Tourism, the State Historical Society, the Walsh County Historical Society, and the Preservation Commission attending. In the audience was William N. Treumann of Tucson, Arizona, whose great grandfather owned the property from 1910 to 1919. Also present were Mildred Maxwell Bergh, a member of the Edith Maxwell family, who lived in the house from 1927 to 1945, and Mary Nancy and her son Erik, who was born shortly after the family moved into the house. The Williamson family had the property placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, and in 1986 gave the mansion and 20 acres to North Dakota Parks and Recreation. On November 1, 2007, State Parks transferred the deed “in title only” to the Grafton Park District. The Elmwood Board continues to preserve and manage the property.
An exterior restoration was begun in July, 2010. Bucky Pederson was hired as the contractor for the first phase of a major exterior project planned for Elmwood. He and his crew stripped the old paint off the east side of the house down to the cedar siding and replaced the wood trim. A coat of primer was applied followed by two coats of paint, matching the previous colors. The remaining three sides will be stripped and repainted as funds become available.
Elmwood, decorated for Christmas in November, has been sponsoring a Tour of Homes held on the second Saturday in December. This year the homes toured were Steve and Rachel Fisher, Michael and Patty Leighton, Lloyd and Claudia Thompson, and Lisa Blanchard Coffee, and Christmas treats were enjoyed at Elmwood.
Elmwood Board Members are Gloria Thompson, Ina Raumin, Beth Rose, Mary Jo Olson, Judy Evens, Eleanor Iverson, Bonnie Mohagen, Loretta Moe, Michael Walski, and Jeannie Monson.
Valley Cruisers of North Dakota and Minnesota

Valley Cruisers Members
It all started in the summer of 2000, when a group of men were visiting at Dale’s Body Shop in

Grafton, wondering if there would be enough interest in forming a local car club in the area. They decided to put the word out and see what would become of the idea. Just by word of mouth there seemed to be enough interest to proceed and start a car club, and a second meeting was held at Dale’s body Shop to work out some of the details it would require to start up a club.
The summer was spent getting interested parties together and maybe do a cruise or just hold a meeting to get different ideas concerning organizing a car club. Our first official car club meeting was held at Marketplace on 8th on August 7, 2001, in Grafton, North Dakota, with 22 cruisers present. Nomination for officers were held and voted on at that meeting. That was the beginning of who we are today!
We are a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing car enthusiasts together promoting automotive interests, safety, courtesy, and fellowship. We consist of members from five locations: Cavalier, Drayton, Grafton, Hallock, Minnesota, and Park River.
We meet weekly may through September, rotating between the five towns. These “cruise nights” are held on Thursdays and start at 7 p.m. If your town is the host that week you will be asked to bring a dish to share or help in some other way, unless the cruise takes place at a restaurant.
We meet the second Tuesday of the month, October through April. These meetings are also rotated through the five towns. They also start at 7 p.m. We do not have a business meeting in December, as we traditionally have a Christmas party the second Saturday of the month.
We have a governing board consisting of president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer, and each town is represented by their director. Each office is a two-year term. Nominations normally open February with elections held in April.
Our membership dues are $35 for family and $25 for a single membership. These dues are due May 1. We put out an events calendar that is sponsored by our local businesses. As a club, we donate after prom parties, dry graduation parties, and Relay for Life, and offer a scholarship to a graduating senior that is pursuing a career in the automotive industry.
We also have a web site at www.valley-cruisers.com. Stop by and learn more about us or join us on any of our weekly cruises if you have an interest in cars or trucks and the great fellowship of others who have the same interests as you. It is great fun! We currently have 89 paid memberships. Happy cruising!

Walsh County Heritage Village 2010

The end of another busy year at Heritage Village. Jugville is still on the move. A big wind and hail storm swept through the area this summer and caused a lot of roof damage, along with repairs and painting that we will be starting to work on in the spring of 2011.
Fundraisers are still happening as this is one of our sources of income to be able to maintain the village and grounds. A list of some of the happenings at the village this year are: January we had a pancake and sausage breakfast and a fish fry. February was a breakfast. March a fish fry, April a fish fry, May was a breakfast and a rummage sale. June was a rummage sale and SummerFest. For SummerFest, we were in the parade, served lunch after the parade, tour of the grounds and merry-go-round rides for the kids. In July several families had their annual church services at the Landstad Church. August was a rummage sale, September was a fish fry, and we held a fish fry in October. On August 22 we had our annual By Gone Days celebration. We held a dinner, buildings were open for tours, merry-go-round rides for the kids were sponsored by Schumacher and Sons, Bremer Bank, and Grafton Equipment. We also had a musical by “Fallcreek,” an acapella quartet from Grand Forks, North Dakota, sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank and First United Bank and Insurance. They have been performing since New Year’s Eve of 1996. Members are Kevin Dean singing bass, Mark Magness singing tenor, Rich Derrick singing baritone and Mark Diers singing lead. These four fellows were brought together by their love of acapella music, but not just any music. This is their favorite music – the timeless, ever-popular songs of the 1950s and 1960s. Everyone there had a good time listening to their wonderful music, Sandy Fedje, from Cavalier, was also there for By Gone Days set up with a table selling a variety of home-made soaps.
October ended our fundraisers for the season, as the board decided to close for the winter months. This year we were closed for the winter months. This year we were closed from October and hope to re-open on April 1, Weather permitting.
First United Bank in Adams continues to sell volume 3 and 4 Heritage books. Sales were very slow in 2010.
The golf cart that we use to cover our grounds with weed kill and that we use as transportation to get around the grounds for our fund raisers has decided to give up on us. If there is anyone out there who is no longer using a golf cart and would like to donate it to the Village, we would be more than grateful for the donation.
The board continues to have fundraisers and is hoping the community continues to support us with these fund raisers. We sincerely appreciate all your support and hope 2011 brings us a good year. Our current board members are: Dr. Harold Blanchard, President; Ken Hoffman, vice president; Gordon Bracken, secretary; and Verna Sherek, treasurer. Our directors are Norman Paulson, Marlene Paulson, Vernon Russum, Carol Spale, Kathy Nomeland, and member at large Greg Amb from the Developmental Center ISLA. We are in need of four board members, so if there is anyone out there interested, please contact us by calling Harold at 701-520-1273, Kent at 701-360-4096, or Verna at 701-520-1207.
Our theater building is for rent for rummage sales, showers, family reunions, or just get-togethers (no alcohol). To rent the hall without the use of the kitchen is $50, and with the kitchen is $75. You may call the above numbers for more information.
Heritage Village wants to thank everyone who participated in this year’s activities and to all those who gave donations. Continued support from the community and individuals is needed for the preservation of Heritage Village.

The Walsh County Museum is Cleaned from Top to Bottom
The year 2010 started with a small cleaning project in mind, but turned into an extensive housecleaning. The museum had never had a thorough cleaning, so the board members decided it was time. We hired a cleaning service to assist with the display windows, floors, and bathrooms, while the board members took on the cleaning detail of washing and dusting shelves and the articles on the shelves. Mannequin clothing was washed and ironed, and stuffed animals were dusted and disinfected for mold. The automobiles were taken out and washed and shined. Even the threshing machine was dusted! Along with all the cleaning, new curtains were made for the living room and bedroom upstairs, and shades for the windows were purchased. New quilts were made for the beds in the bedroom.
The gymnasium area was carpeted, except for a four foot perimeter around the gym that was epoxy painted for a walk area. The front entrance and the hallway leading to the gym were also carpeted. The cleaning and painting are now about 80 percent complete. Time was limited last June, as we started this project after school tours and wanted to be ready for Museum Alive later in the month.

Museum Alive was held the last Sunday in June and was once again a great success. It was a beautiful day for a parade and all the activities that go with it. We received many compliments on how nice the museum looked. Some of the attractions, including Ted Holberg and his old-time music in the gym. Nellie Shutt and Hayley Ulland sang in front of the one-room schoolhouse. There was lefse and doughnut making, a World War II rifle display, and demonstration and dedication of a bench in honor of Mrs. Coffey, a long time teacher in Minto. The day wouldn’t be complete without kids games and, of course, the lunch stand. Hundreds of people had a wonderful day on the museum grounds.
After Museum Alive, we concentrated on our Sunday openings. We are happy to report that we had more people go through the museum this past summer than usual.
Our annual chili cook-off was held the first Thursday in November. This event was also a success with plenty of contestants and games for people of all ages.
The museum board would like to extend a great thank you to all the people who helped with our cleaning project and Museum Alive. Without your support, we would not have been able to accomplish what we did.


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