Answers to the 1924 Thanksgiving Word Scramble

11.24.2022 Thanksgiving Special Part 2

[1] TRSIFU                                         FRUIT

[2] TSEWE SOOAETTP                    SWEET POTATOES

[3] SNTS                                             NUTS

[4] EEYLCR                                       CELERY

[5] EPKPPMNUII                              PUMPKIN PIE

[6] KCNCIEH UPOS                         CHICKEN SOUP                  

[7] RLEAY CKEA                             LAYER CAKE

[8] EANIRRREBSC                           CRANBERRIES

[9] YUTEKR                                      TURKEY

[11] EOSLVI                                      OLIVES

[10] LPMUDGNDUIP                       PLUM PUDDING

[12] RDABE                                       BREAD

[13] CILSEPK                                    PICKLES

[14] DCISEAN                                   CANDIES

[15] PIPEPLAE                                  APPLE PIE

“Milk Fed Turkeys for Sale” Thanksgiving 1921-1940

11.24.2022 Thanksgiving Special

Last November the Reminisce column focused on local events taking place around the Thanksgiving holiday between the years of 1898 to 1920. At that time, domesticated birds were shipped in from southern Minnesota, but by the mid-1920s the domesticated birds were being raised in Itasca County.

For the numerous farm households of the area, Thanksgiving also signified the end of the fall harvest and beginning of the cold and snowy months. Everything that could be canned was, and the root cellar contained any vegetables and fruits which would survive the elements in a banked shelter.

The following snippets are gathered from newspaper articles and advertisements published in local papers from 1921-1940.


The communities of Deer River and Grand Rapids were growing, as were the number of grocery stores. These are two unique ways proprietors enticed shoppers to make purchases. The first is an advertisement that was done jointly by fifteen businesses in Grand Rapids. A prize of two dollars was awarded to the first correct set of answers reaching the Herald Review office. The second prize of one dollar, aimed at readers living outside Grand Rapids, was awarded for the most attractively arranged and correct answers received by a specified date.

Items for Your Thanksgiving Table! What Will They be? ~ Grand Rapids Herald Review 11-19-1924

“Remember ‘way back when as youngsters you used to wonder ‘what all’ was going to be on that Thanksgiving Dinner table? Perhaps even now, you’re anticipating sitting down to a Thanksgiving dinner that will include every item that Mother or Grandmother never forgot!

What do you hope or think those food items will be?  The answers set in ‘shuffled’ type appear at the top of each advertisement on this page [see collage]. Can you figure out what they are by rearranging the letters so that they form the name of some part of the complete Thanksgiving Dinner? Write your answers on a separate sheet of paper, giving the corresponding advertisement with each item named.”

[1] TRSIFU                                        

[2] TSEWE SOOAETTP                   

[3] SNTU                                           

[4] EEYLCR                                      

[5] EPKPPMNUII                             

[6] KCNCIEH UPOS                                                

[7] RLEAY CKEA                            

[8] EANIRRREBSC                          

[9] YUTEKR                                     

[11] EOSLVI                                     

[10] LPMUDGNDUIP                      

[12] RDABE                                      

[13] CILSEPK                                   

[14] DCISEAN                                  


NOTE: The answers will be available on my blog: on Thursday November 24th.

FREE Thanksgiving Turkey Passard’s Market – Deer River ~ Itasca News 11-3-1927

“Beginning Friday Nov. 4th, and continuing until we lock up on Saturday evening, Nov. 19th, we will give each customer a coupon for every 25-cent cash purchase or for every similar amount paid on account.

Every coupon gives you a chance to win.  Three prizes will be offered, as follows:

FIRST PRIZE  – 30-Pound Turkey

SECOND PRIZE – 12-Pound Turkey

THIRD PRIZE – 5-Pound Chicken

A coupon will also be given for every 25-cent admission ticket purchased at the Lyceum Theater between the above dates.”

Raising Turkeys

“In 1925 Mr. and Mrs. John Henrikson of Busti purchased three white turkey hens and one gobbler. The birds were evidently frightened by their surroundings as they immediately sought security in the highest trees. It was some days before they were convinced that it was safe nearer the ground. The following fall the Henriksons had a total of seventeen turkeys to market.” [On the Banks of the Bigfork 1956 page 27]

A couple years later, Mammoth Bronze turkeys for breeding were being sold by Mrs. Maude Blythe of Inger, MN. They were priced at $10 for toms and $7 for hens. The advertisement from early November also stated she had “fine, fat turkeys for your Thanksgiving dinner at prices that are right.” [Itasca News 11-3-1927]

During the next few years farmers purchased eggs and hatched them in incubators for their small flocks. This must have been considered a lucrative enterprise at the time, as Tom Erickson of Effie invested in 1,000 young turkey chicks for his flock in 1932.

The Henriksons stayed in the turkey business for at least fifteen years as Mrs. Henrikson had an advertisement for dressed (pluck and cleaned) turkeys. “Orders taken now for Milk Fed Turkeys for delivery anytime from now until November 9th. Young Hens 10-12 lbs. 24 cents/lb. Young Toms 16-20 lbs. 20 cents/lb. Will hold turkeys on which a deposit has been paid for Thanksgiving delivery.” [Progressive Times 10-17-1940]

School Activities

Thanksgiving Program Marks School Closing in Deer River ~ Itasca News 11-25-1926

“A very much enjoyed Thanksgiving program was given by the grade pupils in the school auditorium.  Every grade was represented in the program and the parts were well given.  The program follows:

1st grade Thanksgiving Greeting

2nd grade Finger play

3rd grade song ‘Over the River and Through the Woods’

4th grade dialogue ‘Thank You’

5th grade song ‘Pilgrim Maidens’

6th grade playlet ‘The Newlyweds’ Thanksgiving’ & song ‘Gobble, Gobble’

7th grade play ‘The Courtship of Myles Standish’

Recitations by Myrtle Kinder, Viola Allen, Richard Betsinger, Kathryn Wolfe, Ruby Palmer, Winifred Jones, Frances Wicklund, Margaret Venne, Albert Dezutter, and Beulah Hill.”

A Thanksgiving Dinner ~ Bigfork Times 11-28-1930

“The fourth graders wrote poems last week. The following was written by Lillian Peterson.

A Thanksgiving Dinner

Oh, we won’t be shy

I’ll have some turkey

And some pumpkin pie.

We also are thankful

That we are all here

And not in England

But in our land so dear.”

I believe the Lillian Peterson who wrote this is the daughter of John and Emma.  She was born in 1922, her middle name was Corrine, and she later married Chester Holt.


In the 1920s most people shared their holiday meal with relatives and friends who lived close. By the 1930s though, trains and busses offered discounted rates to encourage people to travel for the November holiday. Northland Greyhound ran a special in 1932 – “One way ticket price plus just 25 cents for round trip fare,” and the Great Northern Railway offered low round trip fares for two days on either side of the Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving is Festal Day Here ~ Itasca News 11-26-1925

“Deer River people are observing the Thanksgiving feast in the real spirit of the day. Local housewives have been busy attempting to excel each other in the preparation of delicacies that are guaranteed to tempt the most stubborn palate.  Family reunions are being held in large numbers.  Many are entertaining friends in addition.  Others has traveled to other points as guests.  Our ‘curious reporter’ has been ‘listening in’ and picked up the following:

Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Hanson have as their guests the Henry Herreid and William Herreid families, Mrs. George Herreid, Miss Frances Unger, and Miss Georgia Redpath of International Falls.

Mr. and Mrs. Alva A. Baker are entertaining Mr. and Mrs. MJ Baker, Miss Eileen Baker, Harold Baker, and Mr. and Mrs. O.G. Larson and children.

Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Giberson are guests today of Mr. and Mrs. W.F. Becker at Grand Rapids.

Mr. and Mrs. William Scott are eating turkey at the home of the latter’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Gust Gustafson, near Bigfork.

At the O.H. Sweum home, guests include Mr. and Mrs. Hans Sweum, the Arnold Wright family, and Mr. and Mrs. P.K. Vickjord.

Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Hannula and family drove to Floodwood this morning to share the Thanksgiving feast at the August Wuotila home.”

I hope you have a chance to share memories, laughter, and hugs with those you love over the Thanksgiving Holiday!

“Turkey Shoot and Raffle” Thanksgiving 1898-1920

11.20.2022 [archived ~ originally published 11.28.2021]

Thanksgiving is an American holiday which has traditionally centered on food, family, and friendship. Years ago, it also signified the end of the fall harvest and beginning of the cold and snowy months. This was especially so for those living in northern Minnesota. Everything that could be canned was, and the root cellar contained any vegetables and fruits which would survive the elements in a banked shelter. Fingers were crossed that there was enough in the pantry and cellar until the greens came up in the spring.

Over one-hundred years ago, Thanksgiving was often a time for an extended visit. LeRoy Gustaf “Roy” Olafson, shares a Thanksgiving story from 1918. His recollections were put together in a family booklet titled “Memories of Minnesota and Years Gone By,” in 1972 when he was about 76 years of age. Roy was one of ten children born to Swedish immigrants Johan and Augusta in Morrison County. Several members of the Olafson family homesteaded in northwestern Itasca (Moose Park Township) and northeastern Beltrami (Blackduck) Counties.

When he registered for the draft in 1917, Roy learned that he had a ruptured blood vessel going to his heart, thus he did not pass the physical examination. The following spring, he went to look for work in the wheatfields of North Dakota. He was hired by a man who needed help managing his half section farm and to help run the threshing machine he had. The pay was to be $75 a month and board if he was a good man and could do farm work.

After a prosperous harvest, Roy wanted to go home for a visit. “It was getting late to be in North Dakota so I told my boss I would like to be here at Blackduck for Thanksgiving. Ruth [a sister] had gone to Chicago and Pa was all alone cutting timber. He had bought a cow and a heifer, 25 chickens, and had his horse, Big Frank. We had Thanksgiving dinner at Alma’s and Fred’s [a sister and brother-in-law]. We had a nice venison roast and all the trimmings. It was plain good. Things weren’t so rosy up here.

My boss had figured up my wages and he gave me more than I had coming. The check was for one thousand dollars! I kissed the kids, kissed his wife, and even kissed Archie, my boss! He wasn’t as hard boiled as he tried to act.

After Thanksgiving dinner, me and Pa went home to our place where father and son made up for lost time. We hadn’t been together for five years. We got to work getting things ready for winter. We hauled home tamarack wood and cut it up. We hauled some hay that I had bought from a homesteader. We started to clear some land around the house.

I stayed with dad for about a month. We had everything done for winter. I helped dad set mink and weasel traps on the Moose Creek that ran through our farm. We killed a big buck. My vacation soon came to an end.”

The following snippets are gathered from newspaper articles and advertisements published in local papers from about the turn of the century until 1920 and fit into those three traditional categories referenced above: food, family, and friendship.


The settlers living in and around Deer River and Grand Rapids had the added luxury of enjoying Thanksgiving food they hadn’t grown themselves. This was because both villages were located along the Great Northern Railway line.

Food not found in the north woods (beef was not even raised here yet) could therefore be procured from Minneapolis or Chicago. In 1898, the Metzer’s Market had quite a selection of poultry and meat [*spelling and wording exactly as they had it] in their advertisement.

Good things for Thanksgiving

~ Turkeys. Geese, Ducks, Chickens; Choice Cuts, Steer Beef, Legs Lamb Veal, Lions Pig Pork; Sausages Strictly Home-Made

~ Green Stuffs – Green onions, Lettuce, Radishes, Cucumbers, Parsnips, Celery, Sweet potatoes, Cranberries

~ Delicacies – Oysters, Clams, Lobsters, Blue-points, Mince-meat, Sour Krauts, Bulk & Bottle Pickles and Olives

~ Salad Dressing, Horseradish, Catsup, Mustard, Clam Chowder, Full Line New-Packed Can Goods, Game, Fresh, salt and Smoked Fish

The following year the BoDega Restaurant in Deer River,owned by C.T. Alexander offered a Thanksgiving Dinner with fourteen items and four different kinds of pie for dessert!

It wasn’t long before enterprising businessmen thought of ways they could be a part of the festivities. Throughout the years, several communities held turkey raffles.

G.T. Robinson combined a game of chance with a discounted price on poultry in 1901. “A turkey raffle will be given next Wednesday evening, Nov. 27 at G.T. Robinson’s saloon. Turkeys, ducks and chickens will go cheap to the best card players or lucky dice throwers. ‘Old George’ thinks he can play seven-up himself, but he is a snap for anybody in a four-hand game.” [Itasca News 11-23-1901]

Thanksgiving Raffle ~ Grand Rapids Herald-Review 11-21-1903

“A. M. Johnson, of the Boston Grand sample room and restaurant, has the reputation of holding the most successful and satisfactory raffles in Grand Rapids. Every year he is first in the field with a choice lot of fowls, including turkeys, geese, ducks, and chickens. He buys only the very best in the market, and if he hears of a choice lot he makes it a point to get them regardless of cost. His raffles are always conducted in a manner to avoid any complaint and those who participate are always satisfied. This year he has secured an unusually fine lot that was offered alive and dressed. He will hold his raffle on the evening of the 24th, so that all who wish to participate may secure their Thanksgiving dinner for a few cents. Mr. Johnson wishes to announce that no schoolboys will be permitted to take part in the raffle, and they will not be allowed in the room.”

Pete Peterson, owner of a hotel and saloon in Bigfork offered a similar event a few years later, but his was earlier, so the birds could be eaten on Thanksgiving. “Turkey Shoot and Raffle – at Bigfork Wednesday afternoon Nov 24th. On this date, I will have 50 fine turkeys shipped in and am furnishing you this opportunity of getting turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Remember the date and come and get a turkey. Pete Peterson” [Bigfork Settler 11-11-1909]

Family ~ School Programs

The village and surrounding community of Bigfork held their first Thanksgiving program on November 25, 1903. Miss Katherine Costello, the teacher of the newly built school in the village had organized a program that included all of her students. In all there were twelve recitations from the older children. (Recitations are poems and short stories which are memorized.) The most challenging were, “Tommy’s Thanksgiving” by Cleve Larson, and Linnea Nordlin’s selection from “Hiawatha.” Between the recitations were songs by the entire school of about twenty. Thirteen-year-old Aminta Nordlin soloed with “Mother Goose”, and she along with several others sang “Five Little Gooses.”

The students were: Alma Larson, Cleve Larson, Harry Larson, Theresa McDonald, Aminta, Linnea, and Victor Nordlin, Robert Pedersen, Julia, Walter, and Alma Petersen, Bertha Rossing, and Jenny Shultis. They were all born in Minnesota, though about half their parents had emigrated from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Germany.

In 1915, Kathleen Keenan, a nine-year-old from Deer River, had a story she wrote published in the Itasca News. Titled “Bessie’s Thanksgiving,” it was about a girl named Bessie who lived in a large city with her parents. Bessie befriended Mary, a child her own age who had to work to take care of her sick mother. Bessie wanted to bring them a hot meal at Thanksgiving and figured out a way to do just that.

Kathleen was the daughter of George and Celia Keenan and always had a desire to help others. The 1930 U.S. Census indicates she is a nurse in Rochester, Minnesota.

Friendship ~ Entertainment

If someone is available to play the harmonica or fiddle, folks will dance. Thanksgiving Day was no exception. In Bigfork, one of the places dances were held was at the Pinette Hall. Although the musicians weren’t named, there was probably a full house on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1906. The advertisement in the Bigfork Settler stated, Everybody is cordially invited. Good music will be furnished, and a good time promised to all who attend. Supper will be served in the hall.”

As the communities in the area grew, so did the variety of activities that were offered for entertainment on Thanksgiving Day. Examples I found include a wartime meal in 1917, and a boxing match in 1920.

Thanksgiving Festival ~ Itasca News 11-24-1917

A community Thanksgiving festival has been planned. It is to be held at the M.E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church, Wednesday, Nov. 28, at 5 p.m.

The festival is to consist of a program and a wartime supper. The supper is to be donated by the community and served in the basement of the church, free of charge. The supper committee consists of Mrs. Keenan, Mrs. H. Seaman, Mrs. Mawhinney, Mrs. Bartholomew, W.B. Taylor and Mr. Shaad. Please help them to make it meatless and wheatless by donating your poultry, fish, venison, and best war breads. **

The program committee is Mrs. Wallace, Miss Moen and Miss Tabor, and they would be thankful if you would volunteer to assist them. A collection is to be taken for the starving Armenians and Syrians who are less fortunate than we. So, plan to make this a real Thanksgiving festival for in doing so you prove that you, too are thankful for your many blessings.

Fight Card on Thanksgiving ~ Grand Rapids Herald-Review 11-24-1920

“A boxing bout that promises to attract a large number of fans from all over Itasca County and from points even farther away will be staged in Bovey on the evening of Thanksgiving Day. The Bovey post of the American Legion is sponsoring the boxing exhibition and will have it in the Legion Hall in Bovey.

The curtain raiser will be a four-round exhibition between the Pelky brothers of Bovey. These boys, while light, are fast, and always get a good hand. Following them will be a six-round go between Bartholomew of St Paul and Swede Johnson of Grand Rapids. Johnson is rapidly securing a reputation as a fast and clever boxer and has a number of friends in Grand Rapids who will go to watch him in Bovey.

The principal match of the evening will be between Ed Franti of Bovey and Harry Boyle of Duluth. This bout is scheduled to go for ten rounds and will be a fast one. Both men are full of confidence and will enter the ring expecting to secure a decision. Bovey men are backing Franti to win and expect to see some exciting situations during this mill.”

In recent years, the time spent following the Thanksgiving meal seems to have focused on the shopping bargains the day after Thanksgiving. “The term ‘Black Friday’ (in the retail sense) was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. ‘Black’ refers to stores moving from the ‘red’ to the ‘black,’ back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit.” []

The Poppy Lady ~ Another Significant Piece of Military History

11.13.2022 [archived ~ 5.21.2015]

Commemorative stamp issued by the United States Post office in 1948, four years after the death of Moina Bell Michael, the founder of the Memorial Poppy

“Girls selling poppies on the streets Monday for a benefit fund for disabled soldiers of the late war found their biggest job was to keep up their supply.  The red flowers sold rapidly and before the day was over the man who did not wear one was a rarity.” [Itasca News 6-3-1922]

Although 1922 was the first year that the red poppies were sold as a national effort to raise money to aid our disabled soldiers, the endeavor actually started two days before Armistice Day in 1918, by Miss Moina Bell Michael.  She purchased and distributed several dozen silk poppies to men during the annual Conference of the Overseas Y.M.C.A. War Secretaries in New York, New York.

Miss Michael had been inspired by the poem written by Colonel John McCrae about the soldiers in the Great War, in May 1915.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Miss Michael was born shortly after the Civil war.  She began a lengthy teaching career which started in a rural school when she was only fifteen!  At the time the United States entered the war in Europe in 1917 she was a professor at the University of Georgia.  Determined to do more than just knit and roll bandages, she applied to join the only line of service that she could at the age of forty-seven, War Work with the Y.M.C.A. and when accepted at the training headquarters in New York, she took a leave of absence from the university. 

In her autobiography, The Miracle Flower Michael explained that on Saturday, November 9, 1918, a soldier brought her the latest issue of the “Ladie’s Home Journal” and showed her the page on which Colonel John McCrae’s poem, ‘We Shall Not Sleep’ (later named ‘In Flanders Fields’) was written. She had read it before, but the accompanying illustration made the words of the verse more real, especially the last line.

Miss Michael wrote, “…I pledged to KEEP THE FAITH and always to wear a red poppy of Flanders Fields as a sign of remembrance and the emblem of ‘keeping the faith with all who died.” On a used envelope “…I hastily scribbled my pledge” Her pledge was actually a poem written in reply to Colonel McCrae’s and was entitled, We Shall Keep the Faith’. 

We Shall Keep the Faith

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a luster to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

That same day, with ten dollars Miss Michael received from those attending the 25th Conference of the Overseas Y.M.C.A. War Secretaries, she purchased several dozen silk poppies and pinned them to the lapels of all the men present. “…I have always considered that I, then and there, consummated the first sale of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy.”

When the war was over Miss Michael returned to the university and taught a class of disabled servicemen. Realizing the need to provide financial and occupational support for these men, she pursued the idea of selling silk poppies as a means of raising funds to assist disabled veterans. In 1921, her efforts resulted in the poppy being adopted as a symbol of remembrance for war veterans by the American Legion Auxiliary.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) conducted its initial poppy campaign in May 1922, becoming the first veterans’ organization to facilitate a nationwide distribution. The poppy soon was adopted as the official memorial flower of the VFW of the United States and by 1924 the Buddy Poppy was a registered name and trademark with the United States Patent Office.

The Deer River community has proudly supported the poppy sales since that very first year. In 1924, Mayor Frank Sanger (also druggist in Deer River) designated Thursday, May 29th as Poppy Day at the request of the Ladies Auxiliary. 

The American Legion makes but an annual appeal to the public for financial contribution.  It is not a selfish request.  This year it is a campaign on behalf of those who cannot ask for aid and would not if they could – the orphans of war.  These unhappy but uncomplaining victims are inarticulate.  The public engaged in its own busy affairs is inclined to forget its debt to them.  The American Legion has pledged itself to make the nation remember that these fatherless children represent the cost of war; a debt of every individual American that can never be paid in full.

“It is appropriate that this campaign should take place during the week proceeding Memorial Day.  The poppy should be as much a memorable reminder of the public obligation to these orphans as the red kettles of the Salvation Army at Christmas time.” [Itasca News 5-15-1924]

Known as the “Poppy Lady” for her humanitarian efforts, Miss Michael received numerous awards during her lifetime. In 1948, four years after her death, the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring her life’s achievement. In 1969, the Georgia General Assembly named a section of U.S. Highway 78 the Moina Michael Highway.

Deer Tails ~ Shoot up Ladies High Chairs

11.6.2022 [archived ~ originally published 11.5.2015]

Terry Pinette, grandson of Abygail Pinette found this photograph of the deer head and the high back chair used to construct the mystical deer.  It is unknown who the men are, and if the photograph was taken before or after it was camouflaged in the bushes.

I found a couple unusual tales that occurred during the 1930 hunting season and the best way to share them is in their entirety.  The first is about illegal gains (or an attempt anyway) so the editor choose not to name names, but that doesn’t mean a sheriff didn’t extract a name and at least give the “young man” a stern talking to. 

The second article is about Abygail Pinette, wife of John Pinette, from Bigfork and how she entertained herself that hunting season.  One of the mighty hunters of that story was a sheriff deputy from Todd County.  I would love to know if anyone in Todd County heard of his hunting story!  Members of the Pinette family say that this story resurfaces in at least one deer camp every year provoking lots of laughs and good cheer.

Here’s Prize Story of Hunting Season ~ Deer River News 11-20-1930

The strangest story of the big game hunting season is being told on a young man of Itasca County, on reliable authority.

A day or so before the big game seasons opened, it is said this young man was traveling near Weller’s Spur, when he saw a fine buck beside the road ahead of him.  One shot brought the animal down, but before the shooter could bleed the deer, a car appeared in the distance.  Fearing detection, the hunter hastily threw the deer into the back seat of the car and pursued his journey.

He had driven but a short distance when the deer revived and began kicking his way out of prison.  One hoof struck the driver in the back of the head, stunning him and causing him to lose control of the car, which crashed into the ditch and turned over.  Mr. Buck kicked his way through the top of the car and disappeared into the swamp.  When the hunter revived, his prize had disappeared, leaving no notice of his destination.

Carry deer on the running board!  They object to cushions!

Hunters, Victim of Practical Joke, Shoot up Ladies High Chairs, Ancient Deer Head ~ Bigfork Times 11-28-1930

Every big game season for many years, Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Pinette have as their guests the Adams of Long Prairie.  This year the party was made up of the following: F.H. Adams, Kenneth Adams, August Stephen, Rolland Knapp and Selie Adams, all of Long Prairie, Jim Adams of St. Cloud, Will Adams of Cass Lake and W. LaRoux of Minneapolis.  Our story concerns only two members of the party, Jimmy and Kenneth Adams.

The first few days of the season the weather was miserable and hunting as not so good.  The deer didn’t seem to be moving in the rainy weather.  No one could get a shot.  Mrs. Pinette, with an eye for business, realized that something must be done, or the Adams would hunt no more at Bigfork.  And too, the guns were getting rusty from the damp weather and lack of exercise.  Some shooting had to be provided somehow.

Then a brilliant thought struck her.  In the garage was a deer head, a thirteen-point buck, salvaged from the pool hall fire two years ago.  To be sure, the hair was singed, and one eye was missing, but it would do.  While the party was out for their morning exercise (that’s all that their wanderings in the brush had netted them so far) Mrs. Pinette and Mary Hollander, who was visiting at the Pinette home, took the scarred and weather-beaten deer head and a high chair and arranged them very artistically in the bushes on the road towards town.  The deer head could not be in too plain sight, or the deception would be instantly noticed so the services of Oscar were solicited to act as guide. 

Mr. Pearson was sent to town on an errand and invited Kenneth Adams to accompany him.  When about a block from the house Oscar, like a true setter froze in his tracks.  (Setters who are set from cars don’t actually freeze in their tracks – they just step on the brakes.)  Kenneth’s eyes followed the direction of the guide’s pointing finger, and he began to shake like a man with the ague.  Here, almost in the yard, was a monster buck and seven of them had scoured the woods for miles and never sighted a flag.

Kenneth shook himself out of the car and started on a dead run for the house.  Dashing breathlessly into the house he gasped, “Buck, buck,” and grabbed the nearest gun and dashed back.  But before he got back James Adams, who is rangier and consequently faster, had overtaken him and both of them arrived on the scene with Jim nose in the lead.  Oscar’s nod and warning gesture assured them that their quarry was still there.  Then the bombardment began.

Bang! Bang! and many more Bangs.  Singed hair was flying! Sawdust, the very lifeblood of mounted deer, was streaming to the ground from innumerable holes!  Splinters were flying from the highchair!  What a slaughter!

But here Oscar broke down and cried.  This was too cruel.  And here Kenneth and Jimmy first realized the deception – but they didn’t cry.  They threw their red caps on the ground and danced on them and swore by all that was good and holy that a special election would have to be called to fill the vacancy caused by the untimely demise of the commissioner of the 2nd district.

So that’s that.  In justice to Kenneth and Jimmy Adams it must be said that their marksmanship was good, and the ruse would have deceived anyone.  And this target practice apparently was just what they needed for both came in the next evening with a buck apiece.  True, they weren’t 13-point bucks, but they had two good eyes apiece and unsinged hair.”

The Last Laugh ~ A 1930s Northwoods Halloween Story


Like any other holiday on the calendar in the 1930s, Halloween was celebrated in our one room country school. Our teachers focused on the more positive aspects of the holiday with storytelling and an opportunity to become the characters in the picture books on our library shelf.

The community around Kinghurst was always looking for an excuse to gather, and Halloween was usually the first event in the school since the fall term had begun. Besides the families, the bachelors from miles around would attend as it gave them a chance to meet the ‘new teacher’ who could become someone’s ‘new Missus’. 

The days leading up to the celebration the younger kids would be decorating the school with carefully scissored and pasted jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, black cats, and witches. Us older kids were memorizing poems and songs.

Our mothers helped us turn old clothes and bed sheets into costumes to resemble Humpty-Dumpty, Old King Cole, Cinderella, Mother Hubbard, and Santa Claus. They baked oatmeal cookies and fried doughnuts to go with the gallons of coffee and lemonade that we’d consume.

I remember one year when my brother was much too ‘mature’ for interest in schoolhouse activities, and instead prowled around with a few of his pals. I had heard them talking near the barn a couple days before Halloween. I crept up but stayed hidden behind the chicken coop. Tom was drawing in the dirt with a stick. “I say we go to Lofgren’s first,” Tom said marking the dirt with an X.

His buddy Eddie chimed in, “Then we can run across the field, over the creek and get to Jones place. We know he’ll be at the program for sure – everyone knows he’s got his eye on Gloria Hanson.” 

“OK,” Tom said, using the stick to mark the route they would take. “We got time for one more, what other outhouse should we tip over?” 

I didn’t hear what else they said because our dog started barking and I thought it best to scurry back to the house. I slumped on the porch, catching my breath and wondering what to do with this information. Of course. I knew the boys in the neighborhood tipped over an outhouse or two every Halloween. Dad sure wasn’t happy when ours was the victim. He made Tom and my other brothers help him get it bolted down.

I liked Oliver Jones. He was polite and always had a joke or a story to tell. Even though he was going with Gloria who was the oldest girl in school, he’d talk to me like I was a person, not a little kid, which by the way, at eleven-years-old I certainly wasn’t!  I decided I would tell Gloria and she could get word to Oliver.

That year, 1935, Halloween was on a Thursday, and so was the school program. Miss Nelson helped us make the final preparations and we got to take turns in the front of the room, saying or doing our part of the Halloween entertainment. At recess Gloria told me that Oliver had a plan, but he wouldn’t tell her anything more. After school we quickly got our chores done and ate supper early so we could be at school by 6:30. Mom made a washbasin full of doughnuts and dad used the hay wagon to bring us and our neighbors to the school.

Mom helped me dress like an old lady because I was reciting all eight verses of There was an Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly. I sat on a bench next to the other 5th and 6th graders. I think we all started getting nervous. My best friend Sally had a much shorter poem, but said she had butterflies so bad she couldn’t even eat supper. I turned towards the door just as Oliver came in. He was tall and stood scanning the room. When he saw me, he nodded his head slightly and winked. I turned to the front as I felt the color creep up on my cheeks. If only I were a little older, I thought, then reminded myself he was Gloria’s beau.

Most of the evening was a blur, but I know I was very proud of myself. I made only one mistake that no one seemed to notice.  After our part was done, and the little kids were back near their parents, the lights were dimmed, and a couple of the old timers told stories on the scary side. A few candles made distorted shadows on the walls adding to the creepy way the flickering light shone on their faces.

We were almost to our house when the wind picked up and with the whirling leaves came the awful stench of a neglected outhouse. “Pee-yew,” we all said, covering our noses and gagging. Even our horses veered away from the smell.

“Pa,” Tom called out from the ditch. “It’s me, Eddie, and Fred. Can we have a ride?” 

“Are you boys what stinks?”

“Yeah, I guess. We fell in an outhouse hole.”

Dad laughed. “Heck, no. You boys get yourselves cleaned up in the pond before you even think of coming near the house.” 

“It’s gonna be freezing in the water,” Tom said.

“Yep,” Dad said. “My guess is your privy tipping has come to an end though.”

Of course, we were in bed when Tom finally came in, chilled to be sure as I heard him pull a chair up close to the cookstove. Dad asked him who had moved their privy prior to the anticipated shenanigans.

 “Ollie Jones,” he said just above a whisper.

I laughed into my pillow, understanding now exactly why Oliver had winked at me. And as far as I know that was the last year that any outhouses were tipped over in our neighborhood!

“His Axe in His Hand”

10.23.2022 [archive 11.1.2018]

Last Halloween I shared stories about deaths resulting in unusual circumstances.  I have gathered a few more for this year, including errors in judgment, acts of nature, and equipment malfunctions. The title of this week’s column comes from the story about being killed by a falling tree.

Judgment Errors

It’s Not Whiskey ~ William Walker, and Hugh McDonald were on their way up to Walker’s claim in the Bigfork Valley.  They stopped for a rest at a deserted camp.  McDonald took a walk into the woods, and upon returning Walker called out to him that he’d drunk from a bottle he’d found in the abandoned cabin, thinking it was whiskey but knew now that it could not have been.  McDonald pulled the stopper and realized at once it was carbolic acid.  Before he could even think of what to do, Walker said in a whisper, “I’m gone, I’m gone,” sank to the ground and breathed his last breath.

“The coroner was telegraphed for, and the remains taken to Grand Rapids. Deceased was a painter by trade and until a year ago has lived with his brother, Orlando Walker, on the latter’s homestead near Little Bowstring Lake and the past year he has been working here.  He was about forty years of age, a good workman, and aside from his desire for drink was a good citizen.”  [Itasca News 7-30-1904]

Jumps from Train; Stunned and Drowned ~ Itasca News 10-17-1908

“While returning on the train from North Dakota Wednesday morning, Con Kelly was going to leave the train at Ball Club thinking that was Deer River station.  He was stopped by the brakeman who told him the next stop was Deer River.  Two miles farther at the bridge of Ball Club Lake, the train slowed down for the bridge, and here Kelly managed to get the vestibule open and out before he could be caught.

It was about fifteen feet down to the water and Kelly hit his head on the side of the pier and fell onto some longs into the water.  He was picked up late in the day by undertaker Herreid under instructions from County Coroner Russell.  It is supposed the blow on Kelly’s head by falling against the pier stunned him and that when he fell onto the floating logs his head lay in the water and he then drowned.  When picked up his head lay in the water and his body on the logs.

Kelly has worked here the past three years for the Itasca Lumber Company, but the company knows nothing of his former home.  He was a fine built man and about thirty-five years old.  County Coroner Russell took the remains to Grand Rapids Thursday for burial.”

Mother Nature

Treetop ~ Paul Waleske was instantly killed by a flying treetop hitting him while cutting timber for wood last Saturday.  He was working near his home seven miles north of town, and when he did didn’t come in for dinner, his wife went to look for him.  She went to a neighbor, and he accompanied her back through the timber, where they found Paul’s body.

“It appeared from indications that the unfortunate man fell a tree into a smaller half head ash tree, which sprung back, breaking its top part off, this striking Waleske and with such force as to kill him instantly, as the snow about him showed no signs of a struggle and the tree stub lay upon his body in three places.  His axe was gripped tightly in his hand.

Paul lived her about ten years and was an esteemed citizen and kind neighbor.  He was about thirty-four years of age and was married four years ago.  Besides the young wife, he leaves a child three years old, and one of a few months.  The parents reside at Sturgeon Lake, Minn., to which place the remains were taken on Wednesday.” [Itasca News 12-13-1919]

Lightning Kills Lars Hope ~ Itasca News 8-31-1907

“People here were shocked Wednesday to learn through the newspapers of the horrible death meted Lars Hope by lightning near Crookston.  Hope, in the company of another man, was driving on the road each in separate wagons and when in the storm near Dugdale lightning struck Hope’s wagon which was ahead.  The man in the wagon behind was slightly dazed, and after recovering noticed a blaze of fire ahead of his team and going to make investigation found Hope in the wagon stark naked and fire was burning around his head.

His body was not marred, and only his hair was slightly singed.  Fragments of his clothing were found strewn hundreds of feet away; his pocketbook containing $300 was found one hundred and fifty feet from the spot, and his watch was thrown a hundred feet.  He was stone dead when his friend reached him.

Lars Hope was a single man and an old settler of Wirt, forty miles north of here.  He has a good claim at Wirt, upon which he has made final proof.  Crookston authorities have notified relatives of the man in Iowa.”    

Equipment Malfunction

Parachute did not Open ~ According to a telegram delivered last Sunday, George Vanselow, the son of Albert and Anna, was killed in an accident on June 27, 1925.  George was a stunt flyer and was performing when the accident occurred.  He leaped from a plane during a picnic in Kenyon, Minnesota and his parachute failed to open.  He died while being taken to a hospital at Faribault. Albert and Anna had moved to Deer River from Waseca after the marriage of George, and his young bride, Bessie. George is buried in Waseca.

Young Man Killed by Dynamite Blast ~ 5-8-1930 Deer River News

“Howard C. Beckel, 21-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. F. Beckel who lived about 14 miles northwest of Deer River on the old Inger Road, was one of the four men instantly killed shortly after 1 p.m. yesterday, by the premature explosion of a charge of dynamite in the Holman mine near Taconite.

The explosion came without warning as men were loading a drill hole with 12 boxes of dynamite.  The blast was felt for miles.

Beckel was born in Albert Lea, Minn., in 1909.  He came here with his parents about twelve years ago.  In recent years he has been engaged as a truck driver hauling timber.  He was a young man of good habits and industry, and his host of friends are extremely shocked by his untimely death.”

For Better or Worse ~ 3 Betrothals: 2 Weddings and 1 Success

10.16.2022 [archived ~ originally published 10.16.2016]

Miss Alice Pauline, Miss Ella Kiernan and Miss Emma Bjorklund may not have known each other, but they did have a few things in common.  First, their birth names began with a vowel; second, they were young women at the turn of the 20th century; and third, they all desired to marry men in the communities of Deer River or Bigfork during the new decade.

In fact, each did accept a marriage proposal with interesting circumstances.  Emma read of Axel’s predicament in the local paper, Ella corresponded with a widower, and Alice believed her beau was as smitten as she was.  Alice, Ella and Emma or their betrothed was considered newsworthy and an article about each was published in the local papers.   I will also provide you with the “rest of the story” deduced from the facts I uncovered.

A Betrayed Girl ~ Itasca News 5-3-1902

“The following article in this morning’s Duluth News Tribune has caused speculation in Deer River today as to who the white-aproned ‘gent’ referred to:

‘Miss Alice Pauline, aged 23, called at the office of the county poor board yesterday with a sad tale of duplicity on the part of the man who she said, had promised to wed her, but who had deceived her.  The man, she said, was a barkeeper at Deer River and he had sent her to Duluth several weeks ago with the promise that he would follow soon and take care of her.  The girl was in a delicate condition and without friends in Duluth and went to the poor board for assistance.

‘After hearing her story Mr. Cook told her that she did not belong to St. Louis County and that he could do nothing for her.  He advised the girl to proceed to Grand Rapids, the county seat of Itasca County, in which Deer River is situated, and apply for aid at the auditor’s office.  Mr. Cook also wrote a letter to the auditor setting forth the girl’s story as she told it to him.

‘Mr. Cook said that this was but one of many such cases that come to the office of the poor board.  The girl said her parents reside in Manitoba and that she went to Deer River to work in the North End hotel.  She soon made the acquaintance of the man who promised to marry her but who failed to do so.  It is expected that the Itasca County authorities will take up the girl’s case against her betrayer.  She will leave for Grand Rapids in the morning.’”

The Rest of the Story:

There was no follow up on this article and I could not find enough information on the censuses to determine if Alice Pauline stayed in the area.  Perhaps when she got to Grand Rapids, she decided to look for employment there, rather than return to her acquaintances in Deer River.  And as far as the unreliable groom, folks probably had a guess in 1902, but since at that time Deer River had about a dozen employing at least two bartenders, your guess is as good as mine as to who the betrayer of Miss Alice Pauline might have been.

Cooling Oe’r Big Fork Way ~ Itasca News 1-10-1903

“The bride was from Missouri but was shown her lord-to-be for the first time Sunday in Deer River and was married Monday.  Kenneth McLean, a bachelor homesteader of the Big Fork valley is the happy man.  A lady of about thirty-five, wearing glasses and somewhat nervous inquired at the Northern hotel if Kenneth McLean was around.  He was, and had been for two days, evidently waiting for something to happen.  The twain were introduced and it happened just as the matrimonial paper had designed it should.  No justice of the peace or minister happened to be in town that day so the newly met but acquainted lovers went to Grand Rapids the next day and Rev. E.L. Jaquish united them with the tie that binds.  The bride was Miss Ella Kiernan of Ward, Mo.  The happy couple departed Tuesday over the Itasca Road for the Big Fork.”

The Rest of the Story:

Ella Kiernan apparently responded to an advertisement Kenneth had placed in one of the many matrimonial papers of the time.  He was twice married, the father of six children and a widower. He and his children had moved from near St. Cloud to the area shortly after 1900.  Ella was the daughter of a prominent doctor, received a good education and was a teacher.  Based on the 1905 Minnesota census and the 1910 Federal census we can surmise that the marriage was not consummated. In 1905 there is no Mrs. Ella Mclean listed with the McLean family, and in 1910 Kenneth McLean is enumerated with his two youngest children and identified as a widower. 

Ella Kiernan is enumerated in Huntsville, Missouri as a single woman, teaching in the public school and residing with her sister.  Maybe Ella changed her mind on the rugged train ride to Bigfork, or when she saw the small log structure that was her new home.  Or perhaps, Kenneth had not given her a truthful picture of the place he lived, and she balked at the primitive log structure and rudimentary kitchen.  It couldn’t have been because the only child he had mentioned was three-year-old Basil and had neglected to say she was to cook and clean for four other nearly grown sons, could it?

Bachelors Ready to Settle Down ~ Bigfork Settler 7-4-1907

“If there are any ladies in or about Bigfork who are single and are looking for a chance to change their name and occupation they might do well to write to or call on Axel Damgren or Sam Torgensen as both these gentlemen are tired of living alone and have made known their desire of having seine one of the gentler sex take pity on them and make their homes brighter.  Both of these men are well-to-do and honest farmers who are tired of living on baking powder biscuits and hoe cakes; and they will undoubtedly make kind and loving husbands.  Now girls ‘do not let your chances like the sunbeams pass you by.’”

The Rest of the Story:

Axel was considered an eligible bachelor at the age of 25, but 46-year -old Sam may have been thought of to be too old for most of the young women who had settled in the remote community of Bigfork.  Emma Bjorklund was one of these women.  She had been born and raised in Wright County, but when so many others her age moved north to the Big Fork Valley, she did too.  Emma may have had her eye on Axel before the newspaper article appeared, or he may have asked her to a dance or two.  After all, it was the editor who took it upon himself to mention the bachelors.  At any rate, Axel and Emma married shortly thereafter and had a son in June 1908!  A daughter was born to them several years later.  The couple remained married, residing near Bigfork until Axel’s untimely death in 1923.

Bones ~ “Unsolved Mysteries of the North Woods”


With Halloween just around the corner, I decided to share some of the articles from nearly one hundred years ago that are about finding human remains, sometimes only bones, in Itasca County. There is one incident that warrants its own article (maybe in November), and it’s certainly possible that there are other stories that I haven’t found, or that never made it to the newspaper.

In each example, the person’s identity is not known, and none indicated foul play was evident. The Itasca Cemetery referred to in the articles, was later renamed the Itasca Calvary Cemetery.

 Skull is Found ~ Grand Rapids Herald-Review 11-22-1922

“A skull, evidently that of a girl 14 or 15 years old, was found last Saturday on the Jarvis Farm, four miles east of Grand Rapids, by Arthur Anderson while hunting. W. W. Libbey, deputy coroner, was notified and went out and got it. The skull has probably been there for 12 or 15 years according to Dr. Russell, who examined it after it was brought to Grand Rapids.  He believed it to be that of a girl 14 or 15 years of age.  How the skull came to be where it was found is somewhat of a mystery.”

 No One Able to Identify Body ~ Grand Rapids Herald-Review 12-10-1924

“Although the remains of the man who was found dead on the ice of Gunn Lake, last week were inspected by a large number of people, no one was able to identify the body and simple funeral exercises were conducted last Saturday, and the remains interred in the potter’s field in Itasca Cemetery.

The body was found by Ray Barcus and Fay Casper, who were looking up a location for a trap line. They were skirting the south shore of the north arm of Gunn Lake when they glimpsed a dark object on the ice, some hundred feet from shore.  They walked out and found the body of a man frozen into the upper surface of the ice. They at once went to Bert Pearson’s place on Sand Lake, some eleven miles away, and the nearest place where there was a telephone, and notified the office of the sheriff.

Coroner W.W. Libbey, and Mark Delaney went after the body, and found they could not drive their car closer than about four miles from the scene. A long low sled was taken in the car from Pearson’s and when the body was chopped loose from the ice it was strapped to the sled and hauled out by six men.  The body was lying face downward in the ice, with the hands under the face.  The clothes were such as a woodsman or trapper might wear, and the pockets contained nothing by which the man might be identified.  The trip back to the automobile proved to be a hard one, and the party did not return to Grand Rapids until the following day.

Careful examination of the remains by physicians did not disclose any wounds or injuries of any character.  It is thought that the man must have fallen on the ice from a sudden heart attack or stroke which caused his death.  He was a man of medium height, about five feet nine inches tall, weighs about 160 pounds, and apparently not far from sixty years of age.

So far as anyone can ascertain, there were no resident trappers in that part of the county.  No one lives within several miles of the place where the body was found and no reports of anyone missing that answers the description of the dead man have been made. The case will doubtless go as one of the unsolved mysteries of the north woods.”

 Ancient Grave is Found in Street ~ Grand Rapids Herald-Review 3-2-1932

“An interesting if somewhat gruesome discovery was made here Monday by men employed in excavation work for the water main extensions.  While digging in the middle of the block immediately east of the county hospital, the crew, which was under the supervision of Fred Birch, discovered pieces of an old pine box in the hole which was being excavated. 

Digging deeper, the men came upon the skeleton and other remains of a man, the only parts of the body left being the skull, red hair about sixteen inches in length, a set of teeth, and bones of the body.  The teeth were in good condition and were almost perfect in construction, indicating that the man was probably in the prime of life, about 35 years old, when he was buried.  The framework of the body suggested a medium sized individual weighing in the neighborhood of 150 pounds. The only remnants of clothing still remaining were a portion of a blue striped shirt and part of a suspender.  The shirt was of a style prevalent about 40 years ago. 

The remnants of the rough box and the bones were found four feet below the surface, the general position of the remains indicating that the man had been placed in the box on his side.  W.W. Libbey, county coroner, was notified of the discovery, and the remains were taken to the potter’s field for burial.

Residents of Grand Rapids recall that a number of years ago a cemetery was located at approximately the place of this discovery, the bodies later having been removed to the Itasca Cemetery.  The supposition is that in this cemetery this man, evidently an early lumberjack, was buried at the foot of a pine tree where it was discovered, and in the later removal of other bodies in the cemetery, was overlooked.” 

Road Workers Find Skeleton Near Bank of Big Fork River ~ Grand Rapids Herald-Review 6-8-1932

“Mysteries are continually coming to the attention of the people in northern Minnesota as the country is developed.  Occasionally, the buried remains of some early pioneer come to light and sometimes there is no clue as to the identity of the persons who lay in an unmarked grave.

Last Friday workmen engaged in hauling gravel, under the direction of Harry Lamson of Bustitown, were astonished to see portions of a human skeleton rattling down as the gravel bank caved in.  The work was being done on the north Bustitown road not far from the Big Fork River and at the foot of Muldoon Rapids, where there is a bridge over the Big Fork. Mr. Lamson at once notified the office of Sheriff Madsen and Deputy Crisp, accompanied by Coroner Libbey, went to the scene.

Investigation showed that the bones found were that of a tall man who had apparently been buried just below the surface at the top of the hill overlooking the river.  The condition of the bones indicated that burial had taken place many years ago, probably 40 to 50 years.  No fragments of cloth or evidence the body had been enclosed in a box or casket were found and there was no mark to indicate a grave.  The remains were very near the surface as the bones were covered by not more than a foot of top soil.

No indication as to the identity of the man buried there a half century ago were found.  The shape of the skull indicates that the remains are that of a white man. 

Old Timers recall that logs were driven down the Big Fork River at least 48 years ago, and perhaps even before that time.  Muldoon Rapids is a dangerous place for river drivers.  It is considered quite possible that some log driver met his death in the rapids at an early date and that his companions buried the body on the hill overlooking the river where his skeleton was found last Friday.  If no claim is made or any identity established after a reasonable interval the skeleton will be given interment on county property in the Itasca Cemetery. The skeleton is now in the possession of Mr. Libbey.”






Moose Tails in Itasca County

10.2.2022 [archived ~ previously published 11.3.2016]

The rumors you have heard are true, there are moose thriving in Northern Itasca County.  Over the past several years, periodic sightings have been reported, and in late September 2016, a photograph posted online shows three gangly moose dancing their way across Hwy 6 north of Deer River.

It has been said by the people that settled here in the last quarter of the 19th century that there were more moose than deer at that time.  The MN DNR website explains the decline “…mature forests could support only a limited number of moose. During the early 1900s most of the moose range was logged and much of it was burned from fires that often started in the leftover slash from logging.  The change in habitat – removing the overhead canopy of large trees allowed shorter and smaller shrubs and trees to grow – helped the white-tail deer population to increase dramatically but created poor habitat for moose and their numbers declined.”

There were no designated regions for hunting, but the new game laws in 1901 included the following for large game: “Deer, Nov. 10 to Nov. 30; male moose or male caribou, Nov. 15 to Nov. 20. Each hunter is allowed to kill three deer, one moose and one caribou. The sale or shipment by common or private carrier is made unlawful.” [Itasca News 4-20-1901]

Following the first season of the limit regulations, a lumber company in the county was believed to be well over the legal limit

Moose Meat Seized ~ Itasca News 1-22-1902

“Executive Agent Fullerton of the state game and fish commission believes that the killing of game out of season by actual settlers and for food is not a violation of the spirit of the Minnesota laws.  He is determined, however, that the large lumber companies operating in the northern part of the state shall not try to furnish fresh meat for their camps by the wholesale slaughter of game.  A telegram was received recently from Deputy Warden J.F. McCormack of Grand Rapids telling of the seizure of nineteen quarters of moose at the camp of the Al Powers Lumber company and the arrest of the foreman.  Another telegram was received later telling of the seizure of five moose carcasses at the same camp and the arrest of four men.  The case will be prosecuted vigorously.  The law provides a penalty of from $100 to $300 for each animal killed or held untagged out of season.”

The homesteaders in the mature forests of the Big Fork Valley were always pleased when they got a moose, especially so if they didn’t have to spend a long day in the woods.  “John Larson shot a moose from his door step last Thursday afternoon and as John is doing some logging this winter fresh meat homes in rather handy.” [Bigfork Settler 11-23-1905] * I checked the 1905 calendar and verified that this moose was shot on November 16th…during the identified season!

It seems that most everyone is amazed by the large animals. “Monday morning a big moose visited our town and after taking a few observations he leisurely walked down to the river right in the busiest part of town and swam across while a number of our citizens stood on the bank and watched him, but the monarch of the forest, though not in any hurry to leave, seemed to think his place was to the woods, so her finally walked off.  The animal appeared so contented that not a soul in town expressed any desire to harm him.” [Bigfork Settler 8-15-1907]

Although moose were seldom seen in Minnesota after logging and forest fires, the hunting season continued until 1922 when hunters harvested 219 moose. The moose season was suspended in 1923, when the population was estimated at 3,000 animals.  I have seen moose up in Isle Royale and they are magnificent creatures.  It is easy to understand why after the decline seeing a moose was newsworthy, like these stories.

Saw Bull Moose ~ Itasca News 6-20-1929

“While driving across the bog on Highway No. 61 last Friday morning about 7:45, at a point 13 miles north of Deer River, H.F. Betsinger, Rev. J.W. Schenck and the News editor saw a big bull moose grazing near the highway.  At the approach of the car Mr. Moose lumbered into and across the ditch and disappeared, but not until the travelers had had a fine view of him.”

New Moose Stories, Now You Tell One! ~ Itasca News 6-27-1929

“Last week we gave our readers a story of personally seeing a large bull moose on Highway No. 61 about 12 miles north of here.  Our story was vouched for by a Methodist clergyman and another.

It was almost a fatal step.  Our reputation for veracity suffered a serious blow.  We may have to begin going to Sunday School again to restore it.  We are very certain it was a moose, but our friends appear to think it was mostly the other.

Now we have been eclipsed entirely.  TWO moose stories developed yesterday that makes ours go way back and sit down.  Here they are:

About 1:30 yesterday afternoon Lowell Ruby was driving across the bog and a short distance beyond the Divide sign came upon a cow moose on the highway.  Lowell avers he had a hard time avoiding striking the animal and brought his car to a stop within seven feet and four inches of her.  So loath was the animal to leave the highway that they had to get out and throw rocks at her.  Four other cars had pulled up before she disappeared.

But as Al Jolson would say, “You aint heard nothin’ yet!”

Last night Ted Matheson and Verl Kinder drove out to Bowstring Lodge to go swimming.  And just north of the same Divide sign, right on the highway, about 7:30 o’clock, were a cow moose AND TWO CALVES!

Really, it’s time to call a halt!  If this thing keeps up folks will cease to believe us!  That bull moose story has started something, but if it gathers any more momentum, we’ll have to join the wets at International Falls and yell “For God’s sake, help us!”

We believe these stories, have no occasion to doubt them.  But anything in the future will have to be supported by an actual photograph or go into our editorial waste basket.  And we hereby offer a fancy price for that picture.

All these facts go to show how much more valuable the moose or deer is alive than dead.  Put up your gun and permit them to increase.   They are the sight of a lifetime to the tourists who come up from the south of us.”

Isn’t that the truth!  I hope to see a moose in my travels soon.

**Moose Madness Family Festival, Oct. 21 & 22, 2022

The Moose is Loose in Grand Marais during the annual Moose Madness Family Festival! This event is the ultimate family-focused celebration of all things moose. Enjoy the outdoors and learn a few facts about our celebrated mascot along the way with activities, scavenger hunts, quizzes, dance challenges and more. []