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Manuscripts - ND Oral History Collection - 10157 - Williams County

Williams County

Region 18
1 Mrs. G. C. Dullum, Williston
2 Nels Berger, Williston
3 Charles Alexander, Williston
4 Mrs. Mabel B. Amsbaugh, Williston
5 Les Panger, Williston
6 Susie Farroh, Williston
7 Julius Forthan, Williston
8 Al J. Vohs, Williston
9 Iver Musgjerd, Williston
10 Mr. and Mrs. John Osterlund, Buford
11 Mr. and Mrs. Thelmer Iverson, Buford
12 Mr. and Mrs. Oscar J. Anderson, Grenora
13 T. E. “Ed” Kilbride, Grenora
14 Gertrude Holloway, Grenora
15 Agnes Langved, Tioga
16 H. Morris Borstad, Tioga
17 Mrs. Doretta Barden and Lenora Barden, McGregor
18 F. T. “Fritz” Martin, Trenton
19 Mac Nelson, Williston
20 R. E. Delaney, Ray
21 George Harvey, Williston
22 Mrs. John Anderson, Williston
23 Sam Smith, Williston

Portions of the following interviews apply to Williams County:
Mrs. Zachey Azar, #47, Burleigh County
Winifred Erdman, #8, Ward County
Eugene B. Uhlman, #34, McKenzie County

Tape #5 Les Panger (Williston)(McKenzie County)
000 – Introduction
020 – Accounts of horse thieves and early ranchers in the area; Family history; Jack Dwyer
144 – Early cowboys he knew; Parents and their homestead; Horse ranching in the area around 1900; Hauling grain to the railroad
260 – Importance of wild game for food; McKenzie County seat fight
334 – Early settlers and ranchers in the area; Scott Gore, Lem Burns, Straud boys, Claude Woods
430 – Outlaws and rustlers; His Aunt Lil; Father’s barber shop; “Kid” Traylor, an outlaw his dad knew; Doc Zahl; Horse thieves; Men who rooked homesteaders out of their land; The horse stealing gang
650 – Account of Scott Gore, rancher and bronc rider; The moonshiners
775 – Comments about his historical photographs
918 – Friendship with Usher Burdick; Jim Thorpe
948 – End of Tape A
000 – Introduction
020 – General comments about the preservation of historical material
044 – Growth of Williston; Blind pigs in the city; Influx of homesteaders to the area
139 – Account of rancher who lost 7000 acres to a bank; The tenacity of early settlers
193 – City owned power plant; Controversy over sale of the plant to MDU
250 – The “gold rush” at Hungry Gulch
274 – Frontier atmosphere in Williston prior to the homestead boom; Family history; Anecdotes about rough characters in early Williston
428 – Cigar factory in Williston
477 – Boat traffic on the Missouri; Experience operating the ferry; Pontoon bridge they had briefly
625 – Decline of the number of farmers and ranchers in the area during the 20’s and after
724 – SIDE TWO – Working for Gamble Robinson; Working as a traveling salesman for Gamble Robinson in the 30’s
796 – Opinion of New Deal programs
824 – Recollections of the NPL and its leaders; Popularity of the Farmers Union; Comments on labor unions and North Dakota politics
936 – Comments on North Dakota as a place to live
010 – Opinion of coal development
041 – Opposition to Garrison Dam in area; Parent’s log house near the Missouri
123 – End of interview
Comment:  Mr. Panger tells many stories about colorful early settlers in the Williston area. 

Tape #6 Susie Farroh (Williston)
000 – Introduction
020 – Her parent’s immigration to a Williams County farm from Syria; Her husband’s immigration from Syria; The passage to America by herself when she was 10 years old
092 – Her first impressions of ND and her parents, who had left Syria when she was an infant
120 – Nationalities in the area; Why her parents came to the US; Family history; Social life; Religion of the Syrian people
213 – Hard times on the farm; Destruction of the buildings by a prairie fire; Her father’s store in Williston; Her marriage
260 – Midwives in the area; Her father’s store
315 – Good and poor crop years in the 1910’s; Her children; The farm she and her husband operated
473 – Social life; Her husband’s background
523 – Her ancestral home in Syria; Learning to speak English
558 – Economic conditions on their farm; Grasshoppers and dust storms during the 1930’s; Making a living on the farm during the 30’s; Feeding thistles to livestock
715 – WPA work; Neighborliness of people
744 – Threshing and combining; Work she did on the farm
805 – The rural church they attended; Getting good water on the farm and electricity
856 – Discovering a coal vein and digging their own from the dry bed of the Missouri River
914 – Christmas celebrations; Family life
945 – Buying fruit and vegetables and supplies for the winter
986 – Her opinion of large scale farming; Life in ND
026 – Changes in the image of farmers and of North Dakotans
096 – Early roads and automobiles
136 – The 1918 flu epidemic and a death in the family; Caring for orphaned children; Dances in their barn; Family history
298 – End of interview
Comment:  Mrs. Farroh has an excellent memory and a pleasant manner of speaking.  Her family history may be the most valuable portion of this interview.  Those looking for detailed information about Syrian settlement in ND will not find very much in this tape.

Tape #8 A. J. Vohs (Williston)
000 – Introduction
020 – Family history; Father comes from south St. Paul to run a meat market in Inkster then on to Williston; He comes to Williston in 1904; Switches meat markets several times; Al’s first impressions of Williston; Crime and color in early Williston
112 – Location of dad’s homestead; Al and his brother drive into Williston and deliver milk from school; Business hours in early days; Tripod butchering; Father’s method of selecting homestead
174 – Early post offices and country trails; Seven miles to school in Williston; Nationalities; Settlement patterns; Marrying within nationalities in early days; Father’s meat business is immediately successful; Competitions in Williston; The buying practices his father used at south St. Paul
345 – Butcher shop machinery in early days; Meat delivery and the storage; Picture talk; Meat curing; Quality of meat then and now; Father also an independent cattle buyer; Cattle buying methods
533 – Predictability of demand for meat in early days; Price of meat in those days; Staples of people’s diet; Threshing time a peak for meat sales; Shipping cut meat out on the railroad; Father’s early experience with the first electric saw
699 – Movement in sale of different types of meat; Shipping in meat besides that butchered locally; Meat market labor force; Seasoning meat for different nationalities; Making head cheese; Making sausage; Wieners then and now
850 – Smoking and curing meat; Methodology of smoking meat
000 – Introduction
020 – Type of wood used for smoking; Description of Vohs smokehouse; Other kinds of meat handled by shop; Fresh pike from St. Johns, North Dakota to Williston; Type of fish that moved well
119 – Working for father seven days a week; Social strata in early days; NPL organizing days and feelings between farmers and businessmen; An early Williston farmers market; Ferryman on the Missouri; Difference in river then and now; A pontoon bridge on river
257 – Difference in businessmen then and now; A pontoon bridge on river; Al’s business philosophy; Charge accounts with the farmers and suppliers; Losses on charge accounts; Father loses everything in bank closing; Masons and friends help father save meat market; A banker’s deviousness
524 – Planning for losses; Al’s experience on the city council with community kitchen; An early story of delivering relief groceries; Description of the community kitchen setup; The morale during depression; Lack of jobs a problem in dirty 30’s
951 – MDU takes over municipal power plant; Corruption in that transfer; Closing of municipal coal mine hurts labor; Hobos in hard times traveling through Williston; A story of a train holdup; IWW in area
117 – Al’s opinion of current farming directions; Discussion of graft in government; Local coal mines in early years; The Bootlegging; Blind pigs and a blind pig story; A local successful bootlegger and brewer; An early method of aging whiskey; Feelings about North Dakota
419 – End of interview
Comment:  The interview is excellent in its coverage of the Vohs’ early meat market in Williston.  It is also excellent in its coverage of the organization and the methodology of the community soup kitchen.

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