The Jamestown Alert called it â€œThe Great Mouse River Country Expeditionâ€ and stated the group from Jamestown was going to explore and attempt to write a â€œcomplete description of the yet unpopulated part of the northwest.â€
The Mouse River is more commonly known now as the Souris and loops in from Canada before returning north. It flows through Minot, among other North Dakota cities, while in the state. Back in 1885 there evidently werenâ€™t any people up in that neighborhood.
The paper treated the expedition in a lighthearted manner.
It was lead by Sheriff Alex McKechnie, a 43-old immigrant from Scotland who had made Stutsman County his home. Also on the trip were Detective Lewis Fox and the â€œcelebrated land explorer John Nichols.â€
Nichols was a local farmer involved with land speculation in North Dakota. Nichols was born in Indiana in 1847. According to the state census he was married to Josephine and the father of six little Nichols ranging in age from 15- to 5-years of age. The older children were born in Minnesota while the younger children were listed as native to Dakota in the census.
Nichols had a town named after him to the northwest of Jamestown called Nicholsville, also called Scriptown, which was part of the route the group planned on their way to the Mouse River.
Nichols had made a previous trip to the Northwest in the late 1870s as part of a buffalo hunting expedition with Johnson Nickeus. That trip was the butt of jokes in the Jamestown Alert when the ox used to pull the wagon ran off and joined the heard of buffalo. The problem was compounded when Indians from Fort Totten killed not only the buffalo but the oxen leaving Nichols and Nickeus walking back to Jamestown.
This trip went better, for the most part.
A cold summer storm came up one night when the group was near Carrington. The storm blew down the tent and soaking all the party to the skin. The 50 mph winds made setting the tent up again difficult if not impossible. The article said the group finally managed to pitch the tent over top of the wagon. I imagine they used the wagon as anchors and supports rather than trying to drive stakes or set up tent poles in the storm.
The winds and rain continued the next morning although Nichols managed to get a fire burning. The group had â€œpremature coffee,â€ but no food.
â€œLifeâ€™s too short to fool away cooking a fancy breakfast,â€ the article wrote.
The group moved on toward Pony Gulch west of present day Carrington. The sun came out and the weather warmed. By the evening the group dined on fresh shot ducks for supper and all was forgotten.
Except for the article poking fun at the trip in the Jamestown Alert.