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Blackduck History

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BLACKDUCK HISTORY 1900-1920
Contributed by Betty Parker

More than 100 years ago, many of the first white settlers of Blackduck came across country from Crookston by ox-team. With the homesteaders came the lumberjacks.
Logging companies and settlers were drawn to the Blackduck country because of its good soil and drainage. It is located on the Continental Divide. The loggers found the area pine belts among the richest and heaviest in northern Minnesota.

The Red Lake Indians have a legend that the Blackduck country was completely devastated by a fire that lasted many months. This caused the Indians to hold rain dances after the fall wild rice harvest, and the fire was put out.

Blackduck Minnesota 1901
Blackduck 1901

Early settlers waged a constant battle with wild animals, mosquitoes, and poor roads. Yet their life was not too bad. The farm land was free. Because of their self-sufficient spirits, they had plenty of wild game, vegetables, eggs, fruit, berries, and fish. They could fish the year around.

Originally the town of Blackduck was laid out on Blackduck Lake. A Nickolas Jansen was homesteading the present spot. He sold his rights to a Beltrami County surveyor, Marcus D. Stoner, who surveyed and plotted the present town site which was a bog, which created real problems for the railroad. The Minnesota and International Railroad was coming north from Bemidji.


Train under Blackduck bridge - 1905

The village was organized on December 29, 1900, and the people anxiously awaited the arrival of the railroad as they watched their town grow. The Blackduck Times was the first newspaper, with its first issue on October 19, 1900. It was edited by E.J. Taylor, and it was published weekly until 1906. In November of 1900, the paper stated that mail delivery was better to Alaska than it was to Blackduck.

In The Blackduck Times for December 21, 1900, it stated that Blackduck was three months old. "It has discarded its swaddling clothes and is now a good-sized and prosperous village." The election was held at the post office and forty-eight voted to incorporate.


Lumber Camp - 1908

In the personals for December 21, 1900, it said that the condition of H.A. Langord is still bad, although he is improving. And Cass Thompson and Fred Olson went to see Mr. Langord.

On the same date, A.C. Kelly, a McIntosh blacksmith, arrived in Blackduck Monday, and before he had dinner he was called to go to work. And he has been kept busy ever since!

Sleigh drawn loads of logs - 1909 - near Blackduck Minnesota
Sleigh drawn loads of logs - 1909

Mr. Henry Funkley, a Henning attorney, came to town in December of 1900 and decided to locate here. He rented rooms from L.E. Larson, and it was Editor Taylor's opinion that Funkley would no doubt do well. Funkley later said, "There is only one country in the world, and that is the U.S.A.; there is only one state in the U.S., and that is Minnesota, and there is only one place in Minnesota, and that is Blackduck."

The Times for December 21, 1900, said that the Blackduck Mill opened up on Monday and by Wednesday was working right along. As soon as the lumber came from the saws, there were two to six men waiting to take it for various building projects.

John Thompson and Henry Kolden, early Blackduck shopkeepers - 1910
John Thompson and Henry Kolden, early shopkeepers - 1910

The Blackduck American was first published on December 11, 1901, by Ernst L. Oberg. It has moved several times but is still a successful operation as a weekly newspaper.

Early lodges in Blackduck were the Odd Fellows (IOOF), the Daughters of Rebekah, The Modern Woodsmen, the Royal Neighbors, and the Knights of Pythias.

Blackduck Minnesota's General Store - 1910
Blackduck's General Store - 1910

The First Presbyterian Church was established during the summer of 1900. The Scandinavian Lutherans built on the corner of Northern Avenue and First Street West. At the close of 1905, there were just three churches, with the Roman Catholic located kitty-corner from the Presbyterian on Summit Avenue. Through the churches, strangers became friends; education, entertainment, and the arts were promoted; social reforms were advanced; and divine worship was offered.

In the early years of the twentieth century, The American could be purchased for $1.50 a year. A paper for 1907 said that John Gilstad reported that wolves around Gilstad Lake were unusually numerous that winter.

A picnic at John Gilstad's - 1917 - Blackduck Minnesota
A picnic at John Gilstad's - 1917

In May of 1906, The American said the following teachers attended an institute in Bemidji last week: Jennie Leak, Ella Hermanson, and Mary Brondby of Blackduck; Ethel McNama of Quiring; Earl McDougall of Langor; J.A. Newton of Funkley; and Nellie Shaw of Hornet.

The American reported in 1907 that L.M. Moon's boy is improving after thirty-one days of measles and pneumonia. And that Mr. and Mrs. J.C. Parker entertained quite a number on Thursday evening at "Flinch" and "Pedro". It was the most enjoyable event of the valentine season.

Blackduck held Memorial Day Services in 1916 with a parade of veterans and school children - 200 in number. Civil War veterans marching were: Charles Hayden, W.N. Smith, Josiah Weaver, A. Zimmerman, David Ebner, George Hook, and Patrick Houlihan. Spanish War veterans in the parade were Dr. J.M. Freeburg and E.I. Oberg.

By this time "young" Blackduck slid gracefully into the 1920's.


The thriving metropolis of Blackduck in 1917


A HISTORY OF BLACKDUCK FROM 1920-1940
Contributed by Mary Nipp
* news items are taken from The Blackduck American

February 16, 1921: Among the applicants for the U.S. citizenship in Judge C.W. Stanton's court in Bemidji last week was the Rev. Fr. J.B. Fonmosse, pastor of St. Ann's Catholic Church in this village, who was granted final papers by the court. Rev. Fonmosse has a host of friends who will be pleased to learn that he has joined Uncle Sam's big family. Another applicant from here was Axel Oldenberg, one of our wide awake farmers. He is now a full-fledged citizen of the United States, the best country on old Mother Earth.

March 23, 1921: The first week of booster land clearing will begin at Blackduck next Monday with a monster meeting to be held at the City Hall. The purpose of this meeting is to bring before the farmers the land clearing program as adopted by the Land Clearing Association. Every opportunity will be given every farmer to put in his order for dynamite for the season. This and no other campaign can accomplish the purpose for which it was started without the enthusiastic support of everyone and that means the banker, the merchant, "the butcher", as well as every farmer and land owner. Let's go for 15,000 new acres for Beltrami County.

May 11, 1921: "Will Set Off Big Blast in Blackduck" The largest crowd that ever visited Blackduck is expected to be here on Friday, May 27, when Governor J.A.O. Preus will demonstrate to the farmers of Blackduck and the vicinity the modern method of clearing land. The big blast will take place at Blackduck at 11:30 sharp, when an acre or more of stumps will be blasted simultaneously, Gov. Preus setting off the charge. This event has been anticipated for some time by the citizens of the village but not until today was it made a certainty.

August 31, 1921: School opens next Tuesday, and in accordance with the recommendation of the state high school inspector, the following subjects will be required for graduation:
       Four years of English
       Modern European History
       Citizenship
       American History
       General Science
       Mathematics

The elective courses will consist of additional history, science, mathematics, and manual training. All high school pupils will be required to take music, public speaking, and penmanship. A course in French will be introduced this year providing a sufficient number enroll for it.

January 1922: At the February term of court Beltrami County women will take their place with the men both as grand and petit jurors. Mrs. H.E. Douglas of the village has the distinction of being the first woman drawn on the grand jury.

February 1922: Ga-Be-Nah-Womce, familiarly known as John Smith, and reputed to have been the oldest person in the world, died at Cass Lake. He was 137 years old. Smith remembered events of the war of 1812. One of his boasts was that he had never fought against the white man. He claimed to have met the Schoolcraft and Cass exploration party which passed through this region about a hundred years ago, and recalled the changing of the name of Red Cedar Lake to Cass Lake in honor of one of the explorers.

March 1922: Owing to financial difficulties the Farmers Cooperative Exchange last week decided to close its doors and made a deal whereby the entire stock and fixtures become the property of T.A. Cross, one of Blackduck's pioneer merchants. The store closed last Friday and a force of employees have since been busy taking an inventory of this property. Mr. Cross has also been taking an inventory of his store preparatory to moving his stock of merchandise to his new location. The consolidation of the two stores will give Mr. Cross one of the largest mercantile establishments in this part of the state.

August 1922: Plans are being made to try and introduce the Gary Plan for religious instruction in our village the coming school year. This would mean that all children in the grades in the public school would be given an hour every Wednesday afternoon to go to their respective churches for religious instruction. Each church must provide enough teachers to take care of the children while at the church and also have a definer program or course to follow and to report to the Superintendent both attendance and effort.

August 1922: "Fire Destroys Old Landmark " The big livery barn and auto shop, which for a fifth of a century has been the center for loggers, farmers, and tourists in Blackduck, was entirely consumed by a fire. Most of the contents of the barn including harnesses, tools, and many tons of hay and a Chevrolet car were destroyed. Owing to the large quantity of hay on the upper floor, the interior of that part of the barn was a roaring furnace when the fire company arrived.

February 1923: "Lien Buys Telephone Property and Line" A deal was consummated recently in this village whereby the Blackduck Electric & Telephone Company disposed of the telephone lines and property in connection with the Blackduck Central to N.J. Lien who took possession last week. The new owner has been manager of the Electric Company for many years and understands the business thoroughly and it is his intention to make numerous improvements as soon as the weather permits and to give the patrons the best possible service that conditions will warrant.

Rozycki family and their new car - 1928 - Blackduck Minnesota
Rozycki family and their new car - 1928

May 1923: "Cranking a Ford" The first automobile I saw was early one morning as I got off a boat in Alaska. A native was performing stunts at what seemed one end of a big oddly shaped tin can. His left hand was firmly braced against one of its black wings, and the motion of his body indicated the he was winding or unwinding it. He stopped at times to wipe the sweat from his eyes and dug into it again with renewed vengeance -furious and exasperated. Whatever were his hobbies, laziness was not one of them. I could tell from a distance that he was an American though his language was unprintable as well as profane. I was about to step forward to console him - perhaps reason with him - when something he said or did must have provoked the thing he was working on. For it suddenly barked and broke into a bedlam of hideous shrieks! A racket, like a carnival of wild cats, belched from the inside, in long drawn, painful groans - uncanny, death-defying, and unearthly. And in all that noise there was not one forgiving note. This thing, instead of being deaf and dumb and inanimate, vibrated with fury and shook its black wings as if about to fly at the helpless man for his profanity. Surely his time had come to answer for his sins. But the man, instead of being struck stark with terror at the awful spectacle of uncontrollable wrath provoked by him, actually registered "satisfaction", calmly, jumped aboard the thing and rode proudly away. Let those who scoff at miracles crank a Ford. (Henry Funkley)

August 1923: "Gasoline Prices Drop to 20 Cents!"

September 1923: "Chan Moon Buys the Sullivan Building" A real estate deal of considerable importance was consummated in Blackduck during the week. It was the sale of the Sullivan and Latterell brick building on Summit Avenue to J.C. Moon, owner of the City Drug Store. Mr. Sullivan will move his jewelry stock to his new building which is nearing completion, and as soon as he has moved it, it is Mr. Moon's intention to make a few alterations before moving his drugs into his newly acquired building. This property purchased is one of the most valuable in the village and will make an ideal place for Mr. Moon's Drug Store.

October 1923: "Trautman Garage Opened This Week" The large new garage and auto repair shop which has just been completed by J. Trautman, owner of the Queen Hotel and Restaurant, at the corner of Summit and Main, was opened to the public. The new building is practically fireproof and makes a valuable acquisition to the business part of the village. The new garage has storage capacity for twenty cars. The repair shop will be in the charge of W.E. Schocker.

May 1924: "Old Landmark Destroyed" Driving through Summit township this week it was discovered that the old Summit town hall had fallen prey to the flames during the dry spell and high winds of the last ten days. The building was mostly of logs and was erected sometime over twenty years ago when Summit was a dense forest with small clearings here and there.

June 1924: "Flaming Cross Startles Blackduck!" A huge cross was burning in this village last Saturday evening on the ball grounds, just west of town, and as this is generally supposed to mean the presence of the invisible empire of the Ku Klux Klan, there are many in Blackduck and the surrounding country wondering whether the Klan has reached into this part of the state.

July 1924: Dr. H. Schwyzer, of Zurich, Switzerland, spent last Thursday here and has purchased the late Dr. Douglas's office equipment. Dr. Schwyzer who comes to Blackduck highly recommended is a graduate of the Switzerland University and has practiced medicine and surgery in his native country for the past six years. He came to this country about two months ago and during that short time has shown himself to be a very creditable, adaptable person, having already mastered the English language. The doctor's wife and three year old son, Robert, are with him and for the present will occupy the F.L. Kolden Mercantile Company store.

October 1924: "Cleaner Men Needed in Office" Editor of the American: May I have a short space in your columns in which to speak to the women voters of Blackduck and vicinity? Many of you, I believe, like myself, did not especially covet the right of suffrage but since it has been granted us, feel that it is not only a privilege but a duty and an opportunity. How many times have we criticized the political parties, their leaders, methods, etc. and remarked that if women were "running things" such conditions would not exist. Now we have an opportunity to prove ourselves and our respect for right and truth. Harold Knutson has been nominated by the Republican party for reelection to Congress. Shall we sit still and allow a man of his character and reputation to fill such a position? Many of the men of the party are assuring us that he is innocent of some of the things of which he has been accused. This may be true and yet I believe in the old saying that "where there is so much smoke there must be some fire"! His reputation has been besmirched: shall we honor with our votes men who care so little for clean reputation "wet"? He has so expressed himself. The 18th amendment is a part of our Constitution - shall our House of Representatives be filled with men not in favor of enforcing it? I have been accused by one of the good old men of the party of being disloyal. This I emphatically deny. It is because I am loyal to the party that I refuse to vote for a man of such questionable reputation and doubtful character. And I believe if we as women wish to help improve politics the sooner we refuse men of Knutson's type our votes, just that much sooner will our influence be felt. Every one of our school children old enough to read the newspaper knows of Knutson's shady reputation. Shall we let them have reason to believe that such men win the confidence and respect of the public? In the short shall we stand for indecency even in the name of the grand old party? A Mother

August 1927: According to present plans the corner lot where formerly the Palace Hotel stood will soon be occupied by a large garage, the erection of which will be underway in a few days by George Horton and Charlie Williams, who have just completed the task of wrecking the hotel building.

October 1928: "Logging Camp Started, Will Cut 3,000 Feet Logs" Those who have been of the opinion that logging operations in the vicinity of Blackduck are a thing of the past will be surprised to learn that preparations are being made to cut three million feet of logs this coming winter from ten to thirteen miles east of here. The logging will be carried on by F.T.

Ronkainen who has been logging in the same territory during the past three years.
October 1928: "Legion Auxiliary to be Organized" Mrs. J.A. Forrester of St. Cloud, president of the 6th district of the Legion Auxiliary, was in Blackduck last Wednesday evening and attended a meeting of the American Legion. Plans were made to organize an auxiliary of the Legion on Wednesday evening, November 7th, at the Knights of Pythias Hall. Preparations have been made for a large meeting and all women who are eligible for membership in the Auxiliary are requested to attend. Those who are eligible for membership include the wives, sisters, and mothers, of Legionnaires, and the widows, sisters, and mothers of deceased World War Veterans. The Blackduck Post has long felt the need of an Auxiliary and the Legion men are hoping that the ladies will become interested and join the new organization.

Jim Sullivan - 1921
Jim Sullivan - 1921

May 1929: "Blackduck to Have 24-Hour Current" J.F. Sullivan, a proprietor of the Blackduck Electric Service Company, has announced that Blackduck is to have all-day current instead of the dusk-to-dawn and two half days a week service as is now the case. Although this has been contemplated for some time, Mr. Sullivan made the announcement public after his return from Minneapolis where he looked after business matters in connection with this change. It is not expected that equipment for the 24-hour service can be installed and ready for use until sometime in the early part of next year.

May 1929: Although the price of gasoline has been going up the past week and today selling for 25 cents per gallon in Blackduck, the motorists tomorrow will be able to purchase gas at 23 cents according to Glen Squires of the Day and Night Garage.

June 1929: W.H. Yancker became the owner of the business corner at Main and Summit avenue as a result of a deal closed Monday with the owner, Dan M. Peterson. Mr. Yancker contemplates moving the present building to the rear of the lot and erecting a drive-in filling station on this corner. The amount involved in the transaction for $3,300.00, and is considered a fair price for this business location.

July 1929: "Telephone Company Changes Hands" The W.N. Albertson Company of Omaha, Nebraska this week closed a deal which has been pending since February, for the acquisition of the Blackduck Telephone property owned by N.J. Lien of this village. The purchasers have bought up independent telephone properties in twenty-seven Minnesota towns including Kelliher, Walker, Pine River, Hill City, and Deer River. They will operate under the name of the Citizens Public Service Company of Minnesota and will assume charge of their utilities August 1st. Mr. Lien has made no definite plans for the future but will probably remain in Blackduck for the time being. He has been connected with the telephone business for twenty years or more. It is understood that Mr. Lien sold to good advantage.

August 1929: "Former Blackduck Boy Pilots Fast Twin City Chicago Mail Plane" One of the three air mail pilots to carry the fast night mail between Minneapolis and Chicago is Mal Freeburg, son of Dr. and Mrs. J.M. Freeburg, former residents of Blackduck. Mal will pilot what is said to be one of the fastest planes in the air mail service and will fly in excess of 162 miles an hour. His ship built to specifications of the Northwest Airways will accommodate only one pilot and the cargo of mail is loaded between him and the engine. The new fast night mail run was started Thursday. Mal was transferred from the Fox River run out of Milwaukee where he has been piloting a mail plane since last December.

The Three Bears in Blackduck!
The Three Bears in Blackduck!

October 1929: "Blackduck Banks Merged into One" The Blackduck State Bank has purchased the assets and assumed the liabilities of the Farmers State Bank and the two institutions will be merged immediately according to an announcement made here today by H.C. Baer of Bemidji. At the close of business Thursday afternoon the business of the Blackduck State Bank will be moved into the building now occupied by the Farmers State Bank. The total resources of the combined institutions will be over two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. H.C. Baer who has, for many years, been the president of the Blackduck State Bank will continue in that capacity. I.J. Hauge who has been cashier and manager since its organization, will also contribute. Tom Abrahamson and A. Orlebeke will be vice presidents, and O.E. Jamtaas will be assistant cashier.

November 1929: An early morning fire of unknown origin partly wrecked the Merchants Hotel today. The fire supposedly started in a room on the third floor near a chimney. Several men were occupying rooms in the hotel at the time and were able to save their personal effects. The hotel was built in 1900 and has been doing business under the management of its owner, Alfred Olson and Mrs. Olson continuously since that time.

March 1930: "Carload of Autos Delivered here" The Lien Chevrolet Company of Blackduck, newly appointed sales and service representative in this territory, this week received the first carload of automobiles from the factory. The shipment included four models: a coach, coupe, club sedan, and one standard sedan. The cars came completely assembled and were unloaded Monday and taken to the company's new show room where they have been attracting considerable attention! I.F. Mero of Fargo, representative of the Chevrolet Company, was here Monday for the opening of the display rooms. In speaking of the new Chevrolet, Mr. Mero stated that the car recently won the sweepstakes and first place in its class in an economy run at Los Angeles. To win the event, the car averaged 20.5 miles to the gallon for the 200 miles traversed which included every type of road and grade. The show room opened Monday and is very attractive and affords ample space for the display of new models. An electric Chevrolet sign will be erected on top of the building in the near future to direct the public to the new concern.

April 1930: The result of the count of the people in Blackduck which was completed by L.F. Parker a few days ago has just been received from H.Z. Mitchell, supervisor of census. The preliminary figures which the announcement states are subject to correction gives this village a population of 704. In 1920, Blackduck had a population of 788. Other towns in which the count has been announced are: Funkley, 60; Hornet, 269; Birch Township, 57; Tenstrike, 201; Hagali Township, 208; O'Brien Township, 76; Quiring, 112.

May 1930: "The Story of the Three Bears" Once upon a time - but this is not fiction..... Three bear cubs were brought into Blackduck this week by some Indians from the Red Lake Reservation and are on display at the T.A. Cross & Sons Store. The bears, which are about four months old and of the black bear tribe, a native of northern Minnesota, were sold to Blackduck residents for $10.00 each. Bruce Cross, Elmer Allen, and Wm Yancker are the owners.

May 1930: "Cross's Store Announces Anniversary Sale" For twenty five years, the T.A. Cross Store has been serving the people of Blackduck and the vicinity with dependable merchandise. In commemoration of its quarter of a century of business activity this firm, (which now includes, besides T.A. Cross, founder of the store, his three sons: W.A. Cross, T.A. Cross Jr., and Bruce Cross) is celebrating the event by a storewide sale at prices that will attract wide attention, according to their double page announcement in this week's paper. Looking back over the years our files disclose that Mr. and Mrs. Cross first visited Blackduck in February 1905.

The T.A. Cross Store in downtown Blackduck Minnesota, 1930
The T.A. Cross Store in downtown Blackduck, 1930

November 1932: "Red Cross to Distribute Clothing" A shipment of ready-made garments made from government cotton is expected by the Blackduck Red Cross in the near future. Underwear, stockings, overalls, etc., also prints, outing flannel, and shirting material will be available for distribution to the needy. The territory for which the local branch of the Red Cross is responsible includes the following townships in addition to the village of Blackduck, namely: Hornet, Langor, the south half of Cormant, the south half of Quiring, Summit, Hines, Birch, Taylor, and the north half of Moose Lake. Those who wish to apply for clothing should see Chan Moon at the City Drug Store. This may be done either by mail, telephone, or in person. Each case will be investigated and passed on by a committee, and notice will be given as soon as the clothing arrives.

March 1933: "Is This Hoarding Gold, Blackduck Man Asks?" Henry Langord, Blackduck mail carrier, is wondering just how far President Franklin D. Roosevelt is intending to carry his campaign governing the return of gold to the banks. Henry has in his possession two pieces of gold coin left him by his father, the late H.A. Langord Sr., which are being kept as souvenirs. The pieces were coined by the state of California and are dated 1853 and 1854. One is worth 25 cents and the other is a 50 cent piece.

May 1933: "Golf Course Here is a Possibility" There is every possibility that Blackduck will, in the course of a year or two, have a golf course to offer in connection with other outdoor sports that are enjoyed here both by the home folks and many outsiders who spend their summers vacationing in the community. Last Friday evening at a meeting which was well attended, plans were outlined by Chan Moon, president of the Blackduck Commercial Club, which includes the acquisition of acreage which adjoins Pine Tree Park on the east.

January 1934: "SERA to Establish Transient Camp Here" Something of the old lumberjack days will again be experienced in Blackduck within a short time. According to word received from St. Paul about 200 old time lumberjacks will be placed in a special transient camp in the Chippewa National Forest near Blackduck. Oscar W. Behrens, transient director, states in the report received here that the men will salvage timber available in the Chippewa Forest for use in other state camps. Most of the men will be transferred to the logging camp from other units. It is expected that the men will cut cord wood to be hauled by local trucks to Blackduck to be shipped out. Although most of the laborers will be brought here from other points it is probable according to Harry E. Roese of the National Reemployment office in Bemidji that a number of local men will be required for supervisory work and it is suggested by Mr. Roese and local officials that those who can qualify for these positions preregister at once at the National Reemployment office at Bemidji immediately.

December 1934: "Blackduck May Legally Authorize Liquor Sale" The village of Blackduck, according to a ruling of Attorney General Harry H. Peterson and published in the daily papers today, may legally authorize sale of intoxicating liquor without an election. Blackduck was only recently removed from Indian territory by an act of congress. In a communication to the office of the state liquor control commissioner, he stated that in October 1914, the village voted dry under existing local option laws. At that time, however, he said, the village was in Indian territory and the vote was of no effect, therefore. Beltrami County voted for delegates for repeal in September 1933, and as soon as Blackduck was detached from Indian territory, it possessed the right to license the sale of liquor. There has been considerable talk of late both for and against a municipal liquor store in Blackduck, but at least the way is paved to do so should the village fathers decide on this action.

May 1935: "Forestry Camp Performs Service to Community" The boys in the Alvwood CCC Camp had an entirely new and exciting experience along with their other numerous duties last week. The quick action of the superintendent and the ready response of the men saved a lost boy from the dangerous consequences of spending a night, thinly clad, without shelter in the woods, and probably the young lad's life. "Just a few minutes before the forest crews of the CCC Company 1761 were ready to load up and come back to camp, word came to the forestry office that little Ward Grilley, son of Ben Grilley was lost. The boy's uncle called saying that neighbors had been hunting for the four-year old boy since 10:00 a.m. and it was now nearly 4:00 in the afternoon. On receiving the message, Superintendent John J. Rose started out to intercept the men before they would get back to camp and thus save that much time. He went to where the crews of these foremen were busy with roadside clean up and took the men to the Grilley home to get the particulars. He then lined the men along the county line, running from Highway 46 to the section line a mile east. They were about 50 feet apart. In about five minutes after Mr. Rose started the line the child was found. He happened to be in direct line with Enrollee Ernest Lieve. In about 45 minutes from the time of the call to the forestry office the boy had been found.

May 1935: "Largest Class of School to Graduate" The commencement exercises in connection with the Blackduck School this year will witness the largest class in the history of the school, there being 28 pupils who will be awarded diplomas on that occasion. The roster for the class of 1935 includes: Preston Anderson, Bernice Blazer, Zona Booth, Alys Bowman, Mary Carol Bye, Gordon Clubb, Ruby Collison, Alan Cross, Martha Hass, Lorraine Killmer, John Klug, Bert Lindquist, Avis Moen, Thomas Moon, Raymond Nelson, Violet Nelson, Boyd Okerson, Emily Ostlund, Louise Owen, Mike Pafko, Marian Page, Perrie Parker, Clarice Peterson, Rodney Rice, Anna Segersten, Marian Soeby, and Hilding Sorenson.

Blackduck Minnesota Fire Department - 1937
Blackduck Fire Department - 1937

June 1935: A beauty spot is being developed right in the heart of the business district in the village by a committee from the Community Club composed of O.E. Jamtaas and L.F. Parker, on the grounds of the Blackduck State Bank. Native trees and shrubs and a variety of flowers have been set out in this area and this week the plot is being fenced in by a low picket fence. The large Paul Bunyan Duck, owned by the Community Club, will be placed in this square when it is in readiness. The duck has been weatherproofed and decorated for the occasion. this will make a beauty spot that will attract a lot of attention from those who visit here or pass through the village.

July 1935: An X-ray machine was received this week by Dr. D.J. Jacobson and is this week being installed in his suite of offices in the Summit building in Blackduck. Dr. Jacobson's office quarters were recently enlarged in preparation for additional equipment and with the arrival of the X-ray machine together with additional office furnishings, the Blackduck physician will have medical quarters which are second to none outside the Twin Cities.

October 1935: The sub-district office of the Chippewa National Forest opened temporary quarters in the Blackduck City Hall building. L.H. Moore will be in charge.

October 1936: The number of boys stationed at CCC Camp 708 has been increased during the past week by the arrival of 39 young men from St. Cloud and Steams County. The total number of men at this camp which is under the direction of Lt. J.L. Free is 170. Of special interest in connection with the activities at the camp is the distribution last Wednesday of a shipment of 22 cans containing sunfish and crappies fingerlings. They were placed in Twin Lake, Lost Lake, and Moose Lake, all located in the Chippewa National Forest area south of Blackduck.

Blackduck Minnesota City Hall - 1936
Blackduck City Hall - 1936

January 1937: "Blackduck Gets its Name from Indian Language" The Beltrami County Historical Society, aided by funds provided by WPA, is engaged in exhaustive research, gathering material for an historical file for the county. Writing to the United States general Land Office for some information about early settlers, Mr. Widsten received a letter relating some facts concerning Schermerhorn, apparently the first settler in the district east of Blackduck. The records of the land office show that on April 18, 1894, Frances W. Schermerhorn of Beltrami County, Minnesota, made homestead entry where he stated he was over 21 years of age, that he was a married man, that he had declared his intentions to become a citizen of the United States and that he had settled on the land applied for May 21, 1891. The name Skimmerhorn, given to the lake and river on the old Deer River trail came from this settler. Another interesting bit of information unearthed by Mr. Widsten, is the origin of the name for Blackduck. The village is named for Blackduck Lake. The old timers have known as such from the time of their arrival from the translation of the Indian name Kak-gog-shib Sah-kahe-gun. This bit of information was secured from Peter Graves of Redby. The first word means Cormant and the second word Lake, but the syllable "shib" means duck, and the literal translation of it would probably be Cormant Duck Lake. Mr. Graves claims the Cormant as a raven rather than a duck, very dark. Anyway...the bird is very dark, and thence came the name of Blackduck Lake.

August 1937: "Lyceum Theater Installs Modern Sound Equipment" The very latest sound equipment and screen were installed at the Lyceum Theater in Blackduck by John Domdie of the McCarthy Theater Supply Company of Fargo. The screen is the newest type of Da-tone Silver Sound Screen, and is made entirely of woven metal and asbestos. it is the same as screens used in the largest and most modern theaters, and together with the new sound system, will give theater goers the best of modern theater equipment.

September 1937: Four people of Blackduck took the oath of allegiance to the United States in District Court in Bemidji. They are: Anna Balash, Mike Feriancek, Mrs. Mary Stanko, and Mrs. Mary Michalik.

The Lyceum Theater on Main Street, Blackduck Minnesota
The Lyceum Theater on Main Street

November 1937: "Hartz Stores Have Leased Part of Ford Peters Building" T. Hegsted of Bemidji, manager of the Hartz Store in Bemidji and James Winjum of Thief River Falls, who is field supervisor and auditor were in Blackduck to make arrangements for the Hartz Grocery Store here. Mr. Peters, who is erecting a double store building with two apartments above, has leased half of the building to the Hartz Company. It is expected the building will be completed the last part of the week. The Gambles Store agency was moved from the Lien building to the new Gamble building north of the electric plant over the weekend. The owner, Ford Peters, is now doing business at their new location. The building, though not completed, was far enough along to enable them to move the stock and take living quarters at the rear of the store. Both Mr. and Mrs. Peters are busy arranging their stock, painting and finishing up minor details.

May 1938: Blackduck will have an airmail route at least one day as the result of the action of Postmaster Glen Squires. He arranged to carry airmail from Blackduck to Bemidji on Thursdays, where it will be put aboard a plane carrying Bemidji airmail, and then connect with the national system of airmail planes. This is part of the local plan to observe National Airmail Week, and all airmail letters mailed here will carry the special Blackduck cachet designed in honor of Airmail Week.

August 1938: The village council placed an order the first of the week for new white way lamp posts for the business streets of the village. Sixteen lamp posts were contracted for at what is considered a very low price and they will be placed is position as the curb and gutter and sidewalk project is finished.

September 1938: Dr. Harry A. Palmer, formerly of Eveleth who recently purchased the Dr. D.J. Jacobson practice, arrived in Blackduck and is now settled in his office over the Summit Mercantile Store, where he is carrying on the large medical and surgical practice of his predecessor. Dr. Palmer, who is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, comes to this community well recommended and is already busily engaged in his profession.

Beltrami County Sheriff Election Sign, 1938
Election in 1938

October 1938: The village council has closed a deal with J.C. Moon for the brick building on Summit Avenue for a liquor dispensary which has been leased for nearly four years for this purpose. The building is a modern brick structure which was erected by J.F. Sullivan and L. Latteral about 1913, at a cost of $4,800. Mr. Moon purchased the building in 1923.

January 1939: "Man on Snowshoes Runs Down Wolves" George White of Alvwood, brought four wolf hides to Blackduck, having run the animals down with the aid of a pair of snowshoes. The snow is so deep that a wolf has a difficult time in running away and a man on snowshoes can overtake them with a revolver according to Mr. White. He brought the four wolf pelts to Blackduck to secure seals from the local game warden. Each wolf brings a bounty of fifteen dollars. and the hides are worth from five to seven dollars each.

July 1939: "Club House at Golf Course" Finished except for some seedling, the new nine-hole 70 acre Blackduck Golf Course was sponsored by the Blackduck City Council and constructed by the WPA. The one-story clubhouse is 25 x 30 feet with a full basement and contains a lounge, complete with brick fireplace, dining room, and kitchen, locker rooms, showers, and a sewage disposal unit. Total cost of the project was $35,235.00. The course is about one mile west from the center of town.

May 1940: "Coast-to-Coast to Open Here" A new store will open its doors to the public in Blackduck. The new business venture, a Coast-to-Coast Store, is owned and will be operated by Vern Hickerson of Bemidji. The owner and his assistants have been busy arranging the interior of the store and getting the big stock in place and on display. The fixtures are the latest type steel shelving, bins, and display tables with glass partitions. The entire interior of the store presents a very modern and striking appearance.

Blackduck American Printing Office - 1940
Blackduck American Printing Office - 1940

August 1940: "Military Planes Flew Over Blackduck" The threat of war and preparation for defense of the country were brought a little closer to home when military planes flew over town. A flight of three planes in military formation caused many residents to scan the skies. The flight is a part of the Army maneuvers taking place this month at Camp Ripley.

September 1940: Minnesota men between the ages of 21 and 35 inclusive, will register at their regular voting places for possible military service, and will have from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. October 16, to give the required information. Governor Stassen was sending out letters asking that persons who have been recommended for the permanent draft boards which will function following registration October 16, will volunteer their services. There will be about 800 draft board members in Minnesota.

 

LIFE IN THE BLACKDUCK AREA
DURING THE YEARS 1940 - 1960
Contributed by Ernie and Dora Crippen

The New Year message in the Blackduck American for 1941 is a poignant reminder of the uncertainty and often cloudy conditions of peace in the world: "How can we bear to say "Happy New Year" when there is so much misery in the world? Look at Europe, the Far East, at South America, at our own Country..... hunger, death, war, unemployment, politics..... it seems that the world is mad. These are the homely things that are stuff of which life is made. Birth and life; kindness, courage, and faith..... these things by far outweigh death, hate, and cynicism, and they always will triumph."

The Armistice Day Storm in 1940 and the roaring blizzard on March 15, 1941 paralyzed much of Minnesota resulting in a number of deaths from exposure after being stranded on roadways. The death toll of livestock, cattle and sheep, was staggering. Those blizzards had no parallel previously or since in this area. Recovery was slow due to lack of appropriate equipment or technology.

This Gold Star Mother's Flag was owned by Mrs. Axel Clausen. Her son, Leland, was killed in WWII. Three other sons (the blue stars) also served: Carl, Lester, and Walter
This Gold Star Mother's Flag was owned by Mrs. Axel Clausen. Her son, Leland, was killed in WWII. Three other sons (the blue stars) also served: Carl, Lester, and Walter

The Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, created a tense and troubling atmosphere and coupled with Hitler's invasion of other European Nations, caused an immediate call to arms to defend our country. President Franklin Roosevelt declared war on the European and Pacific fronts. The Selective Service Act required registration for military duty for many young men. Many men and women in the Blackduck area answered the call and were dispatched to defend our nation on all fronts. Their patriotic zeal was commendable.

Gradually, many homes in the area displayed the service flag, with a star for each serviceman or woman from this household. These were blue stars on a white background, unless the service person died in the service; then the blue star was replaced with a "gold star". The ones from our community that made the ultimate sacrifice were: Bertil Backman, Robert J. Hayes, Louis W. Beck, Alvin E. Haffner, Leland B. Clausen, Carl Horton, Albert Falk, Edward Herman, Kenneth Gregg, Richard Jackson, David Goudge, Bryan Leet, Alton H. Moen, Christopher Nelson, Bruce E. Wagner, Henry Soeby, Harold

8 cent airmail stamp - June 1945
8 cent airmail stamp - June 1945

Mr. and Mrs. Feriancek, who were Naturalized Americans, originally came to this country from Czechoslovakia. Seven of their sons served in the Armed Forces during World War II. Two of the brothers were wounded. The family allegiance to the cause of peace is truly exemplary.

The community rallied to the cause by buying War Bonds -planted Victory Gardens and made bandages - some went to the coastal areas where they were employed in defense work, building aircraft and ships. To boost morale, letters were written to the Servicemen and Women faithfully. Notable is the postage for mail prices. A preprinted "Penny Postcard" was created in 1871 but used into the war years. A first class postage stamp cost 3 cents between 1940 and 1958, but increased to 4 cents after 1958.

1 cent preprinted postcard used in 1940
1 cent preprinted postcard used in 1940
 

Postage for our Armed Forces overseas was suspended with the word "Free" placed in the upper right corner of the envelope. Most of the overseas mail was censored and placed in a reduction process known as V-mail" prior to being transported to addresses in the United States. That process reduced volume and assisted in faster delivery.

Materials rationed and limited during the war included meat, fats, sugar, processed foods, fuel oil, gasoline, shoes, coffee, cigarettes, tires, and others. Ration stamps were issued and were required to purchase those restricted items.

Harry Truman became our Commander-in-Chief after the death of President Roosevelt. The atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during August 1945, and brought an end to the war in the Pacific Theater. Germany had capitulated earlier.

George Baalson; Blackduck Superintendent of Schools - 1940
George Baalson; Blackduck Superintendent of Schools - 1940

The Korean Conflict began during June, 1950. Again, this community was well represented in the forces sent to defend the South Koreans from the aggressors from the North. Eddie Ray Berg was a casualty in this conflict.

Much of life centered around the school - for adults as well as children. Many teachers came to teach, then married and stayed in the community. These included Lloyd Cox, Betty Dickinson Parker, Elaine Dearholt Larson, Elsie Treichel Gerner, Maxine Scheneker Beck, Donna Mattson Collison, Shirley Molacek Stern, Betty Ann Tangen Johnson, A. Morris Gorden and his wife Doris Morehouse Gorden. The superintendents of the school during this period were George Baalson until 1941, George Eddy to 1945, William Brosvick to 1954, and Ralph Norland to 1960.

Also of great importance in our lives were our churches. Here we were baptized, attended Sunday School, release time classes, and were married and buried.

A big part of the social life in the community was the Lyceum Theater on Main Street. The S.J. Ronnings owned it. Next to the theater was the popcorn stand owned by Lewie Parker. Other owners of the theater were the Fullers, the Cernias, Sy Dickey, and Jacob Musich. Adult admission tickets in 1941 were twenty cents.

Many hours were spent at the "Confectionery". This was where the young people congregated and visited their friends and sipped their cokes (5 cents), and sometimes splurged on an ice cream soda (15 cents). Rolfes owned it in the early 1940's. Other owners were Tom Jackson, Myron Ness, and Elmer Hamren.

Many good times involved events in the City Hall, especially the Firemen's Ball, and the teen dances with Neva Whitney providing the piano music. George Yates opened the new Bowling Alley in 1950. Also in 1950, a new Pontiac Chieftain Deluxe could be purchased for just $1,957.00!

The Mayors of Blackduck were: I.L. Anderson, 1940; S.J. Ronning, 1941-1945; L.M. Schippers, 1945-1948; Henry McNeil, 1948-1949; George Conda, 1950-1951; L.M. Schippers, 1952-1953; and Fred Magnusson, 1954-1964.

The Peace Officers during this period were: Ernie Clubb Sr., Dale Russell, Bert Wernberg, George Diebert, and Charles Jones.

Conservation Officers were Harry Cann, 1940-1946; Walter Trippe, Byron Tressler, and Norman Burandt served various tenures during 1946-1949. Leo Manthei, 1949-1978, the longest tenure to date. Leo still resides in Blackduck.

The mortician in 1940 was Leonard Kolden, until Arthur Snustad moved to Blackduck in 1955 to work with Leonard and later to buy out the business - Funeral Home and Furniture.

The community was well served by Dr. Harry Palmer who came to Blackduck in 1938 where he spent his entire medical career. Dr. Palmer was also educated as an Electrical Engineer. He designed and constructed the first remote controlled electrical scoreboard in the newly completed school gymnasium, the first gym for the Blackduck School. Many of the babies that he delivered were born in the Anna Viken Maternity Home. The mothers reveled in the ten days of T.L.C.
Dr. S.L. Conley D.D.S., came to Blackduck in 1928. He was honored in 1955 for serving 50 years in Dentistry.

With the development of antibiotic medicines, the treatment of tuberculosis patients at the Lake Julia Sanatorium under the direction of Dr. Mary Ghostly ceased and the facility was then used as a rest home, which later became obsolete and was closed in the early 1970's.

Mud vacation was still a very welcome break for students and teachers every spring when some roads became impassable for the buses.

During May, 1953, all residents of Funkley left for New York City where they were honored for their devotion to the making of Cancer dressings from old sheets. They also went to Washington D.C., where they were greeted by President Eisenhower. Pictures and a write-up of the trip appeared in Life Magazine.

Funkley Post Office & Hartz Store, early 1950s
Funkley Post Office & Hartz Store, early 1950s

On January 1, 1954, coffee at the eating places in Blackduck was raised to 10 cents per cup. Polio took the life of little Vickie Sue Musich in July of 1954. This was a very sad time, especially since the Salk Vaccine became available during May of 1955 - just 10 months after Vickie's death. But how great it was that this terrible illness was nearly wiped out through the use of the Salk Vaccine.

The Hartz Store ad in 1955, groceries were advertised as 50 pounds of Robin Hood flour at $2.98; chuck roast was 35 cents a pound; ground beef was priced at 4 pounds for 95 cents; and chickens were 79 cents each!

In September, 1957, the new Edsel Automobile was shown in Bemidji at Smith's Sales - a lovely car - wish we had one today!

Now, as we enter the next decade, the events in the past will become the treasures in our memories!

1946-1947 - Car load of groceries donated by Clarence Gulseth and Orin Wolden
1946-1947 - Car load of groceries donated by Clarence Gulseth and Orin

 

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Blackduck Area Chamber of Commerce

Mission Statement: The mission of the Blackduck Area Chamber of Commerce shall be to safeguard and advance the best civic and economic interests of the entire Blackduck community, and to promote the best interests of the community's residents.

If you plan to visit Blackduck during the summer season, please stop in our Visitor Information Center located in the Wayside rest on Highway 71 and County Road 30 in Blackduck. Our friendly hosts will be happy to assist you. For more information, you may call the center toll free at 800-323-2975 or e-mail us  contact@blackduckmn.info

Organization Information

The Blackduck Chamber & Commerce Association meets every third Wednesday of the month. Meetings begin at Noon. Dutch treat.

 

 

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