Partying in the New Year is an old tradition in the Jamestown area.
Limpy Jack was part of a mobile party that was rolling from place to place on the subzero night of Dec. 31, 1877. He fell off the back of the wagon and wasnâ€™t missed for several hours.
By the time he was found he had developed frost bite to several fingers and toes but was too â€œanesthetizedâ€ to notice.
He was returned to his dugout cabin where he planned to recover on his own.
Unfortunately gangrene set in and his condition deteriorated until it was critical.
He was taken by Capt. Forbes to the hospital at Fort Totten where some fingers and toes were amputated.
We donâ€™t have a lot of other stories about New Yearâ€™s celebrations from that era. The records of Fort Seward include only the correspondence between the post commanders and the Headquarters of the Department of the Dakotas in St. Paul.
Little things like drunken soldiers were handled locally rather than referred to headquarters.
The biggest thing to happen at Fort Seward in January of 1875 was the arrival of a bail of 200 pounds of â€œstockings.â€
Evidently it was the first of the year and time for everyone to change socks.
Another entry of note dealt with communications of that era.
The commanders at Fort Seward were ordered by headquarters to send a roll of telegraph wire along with any winter scouting party that might be traveling along the Northern Pacific Railroad to the east or west of Jamestown.
The army had a communications problem. The NPRR didnâ€™t run trains west of Fargo during the winter and didnâ€™t have a need or the resources to keep its telegraph lines operating.
But the army kind of liked to keep in touch with places like Fort Seward and Fort Abraham Lincoln by telegraph. Those posts were assigned the responsibility of relaying messages to the other army posts, places like Fort Totten, Fort Buford and Fort Rice, by messengers or scouting parties.
We know how difficult travel can be in this area during the winter. Even with modern four-wheel-drive vehicles and snow plowed roads there are times when moving from place to place is difficult or even dangerous.
Consider the challenges of traveling by horse and wagon through the blowing snow of a North Dakota winter.
And then make sure you have some wire along to fix the Internet cables along the way.