This column ran in the Jan. 26 edition of the Prairie Post
We don’t know a lot about Elizabeth Patterson. She was one of the first white children born in what is now Jamestown. Her father was Capt. John Patterson, commander of Ft. Seward at the time. She would have been just an infant when the fort was decommissioned and her family moved on to the next post her dad would command.
A brief biography of Elizabeth says she grew up living a “picturesque life of isolated army posts,” another claimed she grew up riding Indian ponies across the prairie.
Somewhere along the line her father either, retired and settled down, or she was sent east to a high school. She graduated from a High School in Cooperstown, New York. No record of any college education seems to exist.
The biographies of Elizabeth were included in literary collections that included some of her writings. By 1918 she had published two short stories in fiction magazines. Her first work was titled Sir Galahad and her second was Honor Among Thieves. While notations of these stories have survived the actual stories are not available.
Maybe it was the life of adventure on the frontier of her youth but she seemed to enjoy a life that involved a little more excitement than most.
An entry in a 1918 biography said she was preparing to leave for France where she would serve as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross during the Great War in Europe.
A year later she delivered a speech at the dedication of a veteran’s monument in Cooperstown, New York.
Later biographies allude to her having traveled extensively in Europe and Cuba.
We know little more about her life. Somehow she supported herself in quite a grand style.
Speaking as a writer, I doubt she lived a globe-trotting life style on the proceeds from a couple of short stories.
We don’t know if she ever married. She was listed as Miss Elizabeth Patterson in the program of the Cooperstown Veteran’s Memorial dedication. At the time she would have in her early 40s and probably considered a bit of a spinster.
It would be nice to know a little more about this woman who was among the first children of our community.
But mostly I want to know how she made such a good living writing a couple of short stories.
This column appeared in the Jan. 19 edition of the Prairie Post.
When soldiers come home they are often asked to tell the stories of the battles and places they’ve seen. This was probably more common back in the days before we all saw so much of the war on our TVs every time we watched the news.
Back in January of 1899 Dan Wallace of Jamestown came home from his service in the Philippines during the Spanish American War. He had been a member of Co. H of the North Dakota National Guard although he did not enlist until the outbreak of the war.
Wallace had traveled a lot. He told the press he’d spent the Fourth of July on the Pacific Ocean, Thanksgiving in Manila, Christmas in Japan and New Years back on the Pacific Ocean on his way home.
Still, Wallace and the troops of Co. H saw a lot of combat. He describes standing in trenches filled waist deep with mud and water and hearing the “musical twang” of bullets overhead.
Evidently time goes by quickly when you’re being shot at. He said during the hour they we’re under fire in the trenches went by like it was just 15 minutes. And the entire time they were under fire the nearby regimental band of a Colorado National Guard unit played “A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight.”
I don’t think a lot of people use quite so many musical references to their description of combat.
Maybe that had something to do with the perceived inability of the Filipino soldiers to shoot very well.
“They are all armed with guns but are remarkable for their poor marksmanship,” Wallace told the press. “I’d rather have one of them shoot at me any time than tackle me with a knife.”
And Wallace, in the tradition of soldiers from every army and every time period, complained about the food.
He claimed the menu, at least when the troops were in the field, was hard-tack and “canned hoss.”
Canned hoss was the soldiers slang for the army’s ready to eat canned beef of the era.
His complaints probably had some validity. Wallace said he weighed 150 pounds when he enlisted and just 103 pounds when discharged.
Which I believe makes the hard-tack and canned hoss diet the most effective of the diet plans, including all those that are being advertised on TV these days.
We don’t know how William P. Tuttle came about the title of Colonel. Born in 1847 he was likely too young to have been an officer in the American Civil War. He likely served in the militia or army after the war but record of the service doesn’t seem to have survived.
Tuttle came from an old family in America. Notations in the Tuttle 50th Anniversary book indicate his ancestors arrived in Massachusetts Colony in 1635, just 15 years after the arrival of the Pilgrims. Other genealogy reports on the Internet indicate the family is connected to Aaron Burr who served as Thomas Jefferson’s Vice President and killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel on July 11, 1804.
As you may have guessed, the town of Tuttle is named in honor of William P. Tuttle although he never lived there. Tuttle was an officer of the Dakota Land and Townsite Company and resided in Dawson while in North Dakota. He also had business interests in Chicago including a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Still, he must have spent the bulk of his time in North Dakota. He served a term in the North Dakota Legislature representing the Dawson area and was an unsuccessful candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1914.
But it may not have been the investment or political opportunities that brought Tuttle to North Dakota. According to the newspapers of the day Tuttle had moved to the state for the purpose of procuring a divorce from Louise Tuttle.
During the early days North and South Dakota had relatively lenient divorce laws. It was not uncommon for people from states with stricter laws to take up residency in the Dakotas in order to win an easier divorce.
But the Tuttle divorce wasn’t easy. In fact, it was quite messy. Louise alleged that old W.P. had been unfaithful, he alleged she had been cruel. The case had been argued over the course of years and both parties had incurred thousands in legal bills.
We don’t know the final settlement in the divorce decree. We do know that William Tuttle considered it a victory and set about celebrating.
A century ago, Jan. 11, 1910, William Tuttle invited 50 friends to a dinner party to celebrate his “domestic emancipation.” The little shindig was held at the Chicago Athletic Club, one of the most prestigious locations in the Windy City in that era.
Total tab for the supper was $500. Adjusted for inflation that amounts to about $11,000 now. Add this to the thousands spent on lawyers over the years I think we get some idea how much William Tuttle didn’t want to be married to Louise Tuttle.
Which, given human nature, could be caused either by him finding another woman or her being cruel to him.
William Tuttle died in 1924 in a suburb of Chicago. At the time of his death he owned more than 11,000 acres of land in North Dakota.
We’re safe this year; the North Dakota Legislature does not meet. In some ways we are blessed by having a state legislature that only meets every other year. They can only mess things up half the time.
Imagine the havoc created by the first session of the North Dakota Legislature in January of 1890. They had to establish basic laws and government bureaucracy for the state from scratch.
But along with setting wages for state officials and workers they dealt with a few other issues.
On Jan. 8 a resolution was introduced by C. B. Little of Bismarck supporting holding the World’s Exposition of 1892 in Chicago, Ill. This resolution failed on a vote of 15 to 10.
W. E. Swanston of Grand Harbor in Ramsey County stepped in and tried to make the resolution a little more palatable to the North Dakota legislature. He moved to strike the words “Chicago, Ill.” and replace them with “Jamestown, N.D.”
The discussion seemed to center on whether the motion to amend the original resolution was proper. That ended up in a call for an Attorney General’s opinion. Later that day, before any AG opinion could be prepared, the legislature brought the topic up again. The amendment to hold the World’s Exposition of 1892 in Jamestown failed on a narrow margin. The House then voted again on the resolution supporting Chicago which passed.
What seems odd, at least to me, is the effort by the North Dakota Senate to go on the record suggesting Jamestown as a site for the World’s Exposition happened without the active participation of the Jamestown Representatives.
That same day John Milsted introduced three pieces of legislation. One created a county position of road supervisor, another limited the wages paid the county Register of Deeds at no more than $5,000 and a third limited the amount the family of worker killed due to the carelessness of a railroad company to $5,000.
George Lutz, the other Jamestown member of the 1890 North Dakota House of Representatives, introduced legislation requiring all grain elevators purchase a state license for $50.
The Chicago World’s Fair was opened to public on May 1, 1893. The fairgrounds included over 200 buildings on over 600 acres of ground. The expo ran until the end of October. During its six month run 27 million people, equivalent to half the population of the United States, toured the grounds.
The millions of people saw things like the original Ferris Wheel, designed by George Ferris. They also saw the first “hootchy-kootchy” show performed by the dancer Little Egypt in a display called the Streets of Cairo and tasted the first Cracker Jack.
Was Jamestown ever seriously in the running for the World’s Exposition? Probably not, I don’t think the organizers of the event would have given much consideration to a resolution from a small state.
Especially when you consider it was that state’s first ever legislative session.
But, who knows, if our legislators had got behind the resolution maybe those 27 million people would have visited Jamestown.