There have been many newspapers here in Stutsman County. The Stutsman County Citizen was the successor to the Medina Citizen. In the early 1920s the paper was exceptionally local and farm oriented.
Most every issue included a front page article titled â€œInteresting Farm Newsâ€ which included the latest information from the North Dakota Agricultural College. The school is now known as North Dakota State University.
The paper was so local and rural that I couldnâ€™t find any example of a national news story on the front page.
In fact, when Pres. Warren Harding died in 1923 the article about his death was on page 3. A couple columns over was the note that â€œLittle Mary Bashinskiâ€ of rural Stutsman County had cracked her elbow when she was thrown from her horse.
Little Mary and the President ranked right up there together in the eyes of the editor of the Stutsman County Citizen.
Maybe it was because the Harding presidency isnâ€™t all that notable.
His campaign slogan was â€œreturn to normalcy.â€ He hoped to get the country back on a normal footing after the stress of the Great War. However, normal was a ways off.
The economy was bad and unemployment was high. The Harding administration was most noted for the Teapot Dome Scandal. The scandal involved an oil field in Wyoming that had been reserved for the use of the Navy and off limits to developers. The administration set aside another oil patch in Alaska and opened up the Teapot Dome oil field for development.
And administration officials sold the development rights, in sweetheart deals, to buddies and business acquaintances.
And he was known for serving booze in the White House during prohibition. When questioned by the press he told them it was none of their business what he did in his own home.
Â Harding, elected president in 1920, had suffered from poor health from sometime in 1922. He died while on an official west coast trip. He was in the Presidential Suite at a San Francisco hotel, chatting with his wife, when he keeled over dead in mid sentence.
Even though he wasnâ€™t a terribly popular president, and was under fire for the scandals, the public throughout the country grieved for the nationâ€™s leader.
In Jamestown that meant a Memorial Service for a man no one in the community had met.
Numerous community leaders and ministers served as speakers to the service. The keynote speaker was Alfred Steel who had been a delegate to the Republican Convention where Harding had been nominated for his run for the presidency.
These local services were common back in the day before television. Now, in the case of a death of world leader, we can all watch the memorial services on out TV.
In the 1920s the local citizens had to create their own service to mark the passing of a national figure.
Even if he was best known for crooked deals and illegal booze.