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Manuscripts - ND Oral History Collection - 10157 - Burke County

Burke County

Region Eighteen
1 Marius Martinson, Kenmare
2 Ben Lucy, Powers Lake
3 Mr. and Mrs. Mauritz Setterlund, Battleview
4 J. H. Van Berkom, Powers Lake
5 Jean O. Lund, Powers Lake
6 Edor Grubb, Bowbells
7 Tillie Salveson, Bowbells
8 A. J. LaCrossee, Bowbells
9 Ethel Shanks, Bowbells
10 Mr. and Mrs. Aden Nelson, Bowbells
11 Nick Schweyen, Northgate
12 Walter Arnold, Northgate
13 Mr. and Mrs. Arthur H. Bird, Flaxton
14 Enoch Christianson, Flaxton
15 H. E. and Francis Winzenburg, Lignite
16 Alvin Bratsberg, Carrie Bratsberg, and Gina B. Bratsberg, Portal
17 E. O. Brenno, Columbus
18 Ted Forthun, Columbus
19 Ray Ely, Columbus
20 Monroe Salveson, Joseph Salveson, and Melvin Salveson, Columbus
21 Merton Watterud, Columbus
22 Mary Negaard, Columbus
23 Mary Reite, Portal

A portion of the following interview applies to Burke County:
Ole Gunvaldsen #42 Cass County

Tape #4 J. H. Van Berkom (Powers Lake)
000 – Introduction
020 – John’s Minnesota background; Father initially buys a quarter near Page; Sells valley land and homesteads near Powers Lake; Story of trip through Minot to homestead; John’s education digging rocks and herding cattle; Establishing a schoolhouse; Recollection of breaking sod with father; Filing practices
171 – More on family background; Parents come from Holland as young people; Location of homestead; Early settlers in area; Family’s first impressions of area; Initial intentions of homesteaders; Citizenship policies and a story of several people trying for citizenship
279 – County seat fights and county division; 7 Van Berkom brothers come to Powers Lake area; Family pledges to make a new home and “never go back” to Minnesota; Sod houses and early shack construction; Filing; Proving up and contesting; John’s impressions of the area as a boy; Early post offices; Country stores and disappeared towns; Early farm equipment; Father takes up blacksmithing; Breaking sod with so many rocks; Horses get “sweeneyed” from rock jolts; Neighbor uses oxen; Soil preparation for planting
507 – Flax first crop; Area farmer starts “dry-farming-Campbell method”; This method catches on in area; Information on this farmer and his background in area; Story of father’s difficulty in straightening out sale of his land in Minnesota; Minot flood in 1904; Cutting hay on the prairies
656 – Threshing in the early days; IWW difficulties; One story about a threshing accident
710 – More on IWW in Powers Lake; Completion of story on accident; Early bankers after land; Number of banks in early days; High interest rates in early 1900’s; A particular story of high interest for John’s father; Intentions of homesteaders; Some leave, some stay
825 – More on family; Midwives; Markets for grain in early 100’s; Hauling grain over the hills to White Earth; Early hospitality; The Van Berkom homestead becomes a half-way house; Early Church gatherings; Many early businessmen fail
914 – NPL recollections; Political talk; A. C. Townley speeches; Picture talk; Talk on traveling medicine peddlers; Area water supplies; Hauling water the first year
001 – Prairie fires; Sound traveled far on the prairie; John explains how to fix “sweeneyed” horses; John explains why he didn’t marry till 33; Mrs. Van Berkom’s family background; How the Van Berkoms met; Conditions for early farm wives
126 – How John’s parents felt about ND after having been here for a while; 30’s; Thistles for hay; Dirt storms; Problem raising money for taxed; Worst years in 30’s; Government buys cattle during hay shortage; Livestock provides grocery money; Turkeys help support family
291 – Farm Holiday Association; Mother Bloor; Attempts to organize Truax-Traer labor; WPA in area; One story about John going to Army and getting deferred for farming
419 – End of interview
Comment:  Very good interview throughout.  John has an interesting style of expression and tends to explain things in a descriptive manner.  Particularly good on the homesteading period, working with horses, early agriculture and early education

Tape #6 Edor S. Grubb (Bowbells)
000 – Introduction
020 – A reading of some written material on the Grubb family, the reading by the interviewer includes some rather interesting and humorous material on the Grubb family’s beginnings in the state, also includes some interesting material on Edor’s early life
114 – Interview begins on family history, Edor’s father first comes with threshing rig, first impressions of ND.  Soo Line recruits Edor’s father’s threshing rig to harvest in Portal area.  Picture talk.  Theft a problem by White Earth; siding for immigrant car materials.
184 – Nationalities in the Grubb homestead area, Mother’s first feelings about ND.  Minnesota cattle ran wild on the prairies.  Edor herds cattle on foot.  Location of homestead
222 – 11 carloads bring Grubb Brothers to White Earth.  Rough customers south of White Earth.  Ranchers around Grubb homestead.  Father builds sod barn, early buildings.  Early house construction foundations.  Buffalo grass roots make sod solid, water problems
330 – Prairie fires in early years.  Father intent on ranching and goes into farming gradually.  Initial intentions of homesteaders.  Increasing size of farms
440 – Early post offices, country stores and towns which have disappeared.  Differing soil conditions in area.  Size of Grubb family.  Social life in early days.  Threshing money helps family finances.  Outstanding threshing bills.  Father’s threshing circuit.
543 – Hauling coal in early days.  Hauling grain in early wagons. Importance of horses in early days.  Farmers mines which are nearer Grubb homestead have poorer grade coal. Varieties and coal characteristics.
666 – Edor’s early feelings about ND.  Wild ducks, geese and chickens help homesteader’s meat supply.  Powers Lake and Columbus flour mills.  Stocking up food for winter.  Stocking food for the cook car.
771 – Edor’s early schooling in homesteaders shack.  Early school teachers. Need for riding horses in early days.  Small talk about a recent trip Edor took to Europe.  IWW and father’s hiring practices for threshing crew.
More on IWW
952 – Father puts flax on freshly broke sod, differing varieties of wheat over the years.  Changing farming practices.  No weeds in early years.
995 – Political recollections.  Mother Bloor’s effects on communities.  NPL organizing days.  Conditions in teens, the 30’s.  Cattle prices.  Feed shortage for winters.  Emigration out of area in 30’s.
105 – Edor traps during late 20’s.  1000 muskrats in 2 months.  Trapping techniques.  Farm Holiday Association in area.  Edor’s opinion of WPA and New Deal Programs.
200 – Edor recalls working for Truax-Traer.  Stories about difficulties some laborers had at the mine.  Changes in mining operations.  Extent of coal seam of Truax-Traer mine.  Edor’s thoughts on contemporary mining and reclamation.  Baseball in early days.  Its contribution to social life.  Some early good amateur players.
404 – Edor’s feelings about ND.  Horseracing in early days.  The demise of the town of Hobo Kingdom.  Emigration of early ranchers.  Drunkards around Bowbells.  Rustlers bury money on Big Butte.  County seat fight.
583 – Edor’s experiences as a County Commissioner.
638 – End of Tape
Comment:  A better-than-average interview.  The segments on prairie fires, baseball in the early days, wild game and early schooling, area especially descriptive.

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