Trails to the Past-ND-Towner Co-Biographies Pg 1



Trails to the Past

Towner County North Dakota Biographies

Compendium of History and Biography
of North Dakota

Published by George A. Ogle & CO. in 1900

DAVID K. BRIGHTBILL, county auditor, is one of the popular and efficient officials of Towner county. He has served in that capacity for several terms and enjoys the confidence of the people.

Our subject was born in Lebanon county, Pennsylvania, June 18, 1865, and was the third in a family of ten children born to Abraham and Mary (Kreider) Brightbill, who are now residents of Missouri. The Brightbill family is a well-known family of Colonial times, setting in this country in early days, two brothers coming from Germany. They were identified with William Penn. and the parents of our subject were the first of the family to leave the state of Pennsylvania. They settled in Missouri when our subject was a boy, and in 1884 Mr. Brightbill entered the Central Business College of Missouri. He went with an uncle to Dakota with some stock for speculation, and taking a fancy to the country decided to remain there and accordingly entered claim to land in sections 19 and 20, in township 158, range 67, in Towner county. He and his uncle lived together and rented land and cropped about three hundred and twenty acres. In 1887 our subject confined himself more strictly to cultivating his own land, and until 1892 he and his brother followed farming together, our subject owning three quarter-sections and his brother owning two quarter-sections.

Success did not meet their efforts until after 1891. Mr. Brightbill became identified with the Republican party in 1890 and was the successful nominee of the party for county auditor in 1894, and has held the office continuously since that date. He performs his duties as auditor faithfully and with a oneness of purpose most commendable, and is a gentleman of exemplary citizenship. He holds membership in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and Modern Woodmen of America, and as an all around prominent man of Towner county there is no one of its citizens who more justly deserves the title than Mr. Brightbill.

THE "CANDO HERALD," owned and published by James Fogerty, at Cando. North Dakota, is one of the widely circulated and popular papers of Towner county. It was established .in 1894 by H. J. Marshall, and in 1895 H. C. Meacham was admitted as a partner. Mr. Meacham became sole proprietor in 1896 and the plant was purchased by Mr. Fogerty in 1898, who is now its editor.

The "Herald" is an eight-page seven-column quarto paper and has been increased from a four-page quarto since owned by our subject. The paper is Republican in political sentiment and has a circulation of six hundred and fifty copies. The office will soon be fitted with a cylinder press and gasoline engine. The plant is well equipped for job work and the paper is rapidly increasing in popularity.

James Fogerty, editor of the "Cando Herald," as a young man of good capacity and has made a success of newspaper work. He is also proprietor of a fine farm near Cando and is one of the substantial men of Towner county. He was born in Suffolk, England, January 18, 1864, and was a son of John and Janet (Forbes) Fogerty. He came to America with his parents when he was about six years of age and was reared in New York, and there entered the job printing office of J. W. Pratt & Son, and remained with them until 1886. He then with his mother and brothers, went to North Dakota and settled on a farm in township 157, range 67, in Towner county, and followed farming until 1890. He then worked at his trade in St. Paul and Minneapolis until 1893. He has conducted the Cando Herald since 1898 and meets with good success in the work, and aside from the duties in newspaper work he operates a half section of land, and enjoys a comfortable competence.

Our subject was married in 1899 to Miss Lillie Rover. One daughter has been born to Mr. and Mrs. Fogerty, upon whom they have bestowed the name of Janet E.  Mr. Fogerty is identified with the Republican party politically and is secretary of the Republican county central committee.

"THE CANDO RECORD," published at Cando, Towner county, North Dakota, was founded in 1889, by A. B. McDonald, and is the oldest newspaper in existence in the county. At the time it was established Towner county was intensely Democratic, and the move toward a Republican paper was severely criticized, yet it thrived, and as political sentiment changed the sheet became more popular and now enjoys a wide circulation.

The "Record" plant was purchased by Frank D. Davis, in 1898, who had been assisting Mr. McDonakl on the paper for two years. Mr. Davis ably conducts the paper and it is now published as a ten-page, five-column quarto paper with a circulation of one thousand.

Frank D. Davis, owner and publisher of the "Cando Record," is a gentleman of excellent education and divides his attention between the profession of law, and the publication of the paper. He is a native of Blue Earth county. Minnesota, and was the youngest in a family of five children born to Elkanah and Sarah (McCauley) Davis.

Mr. Davis was reared on a farm and completed a course in the normal school, and then engaged in teaching several years. He entered the University of Minnesota, and graduated with the law class of 1893, and soon afterward formed a partnership with Frank H. Castner, in Minneapolis. The partnership was dissolved in 1896, and Mr. Davis went to Cando, North Dakota, here he engaged in the practice of his profession and also acted as manager of the "Cando Record." He is also engaged in the real estate business and makes a success of his profession and business and is one of the rising young men of North Dakota.

Our subject is prominent in public affairs, and will be the people's choice as the state's attorney for the coming term. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, Ancient Woodmen of America, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Knights of Pythias and Masonic fraternity. In political sentiment he is a Republican, and is a man who keeps pace with the times, and is firm in his convictions.

ALEXANDER CURRIE. The name of this gentleman will be readily recognized as that of a leading agricultural implement dealer of Cando, and an extensive general farmer of Towner county. He has one of the finest residences in the state ofNorth Dakota, handsomely finished and furnished with modern improvements and every appointment of the place bespeaks the culture and refinement of its occupants.

Our subject is a native of the Province of Ontario, Canada, and was born September 19, 1859. He was the fourth in a family of eight children born to Laughlin and Nancy (McPherson) Currie. The father was a native of the highlands of Scotland and the mother was also of Scotch extraction, but a native of Canada. Both parents are now deceased.

Mr. Currie was reared on a farm and picked rocks and grubbed stumps as an early training. The mother died when he was twelve years of age and at the age of fourteen years he left home and hired out at farm labor. He went to the lumbering districts of Minnesota in the fall of 1880 and in the spring drove logs, and the following fall went to the Red river valley for harvest, his brother being in business in Grafton. Our subject then located on land in Walsh county, but had no means with which to begin the cultivation of his land and in the spring of 1884 went to Towner county and entered claim to land in section 34, in township 158, range 65, and with about three hundred dollars began operations on his place. He erected a small shanty and during about seven seasons lived alone on his little claim, spending the winters near Park River. He confined himself to farming one half-section until 1889, when he increased his acreage and now owns and operates one thousand six hundred acres, of which one thousand five hundred acres is under plow, and he has of late years devoted attention to stock raising. He has a finely improved estate and has prospered in a marked degree. He embarked in the implement business in Canada in 1896 and now enjoys a liberal patronage.

Our subject was married, in 1892, to Miss Mabel Noyes. Mr. and Mrs. Currie are the parents of two children, named Ruth M. and John McP. Mr. Currie is a member of the Masonic fraternity. Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and Modern Woodmen of America . He was elected sheriff in 1895 and served two terms, and is held in the highest esteem by all.

JOHN KELLY residing on section 25, in township 159, range 68, stands among the foremost agriculturists of Towner county. He operates a farm of three sections of land, about two thousand acres, in Towner county, and also-owns land in Ramsey and Rolette counties. He is one of the substantial citizens of North Dakota, and has manifested the true spirit of American progress in his life and labors there.

Our subject was born in the city of Montreal, Canada, June 9, 1863. He was the youngest of five children born to Patrick and Margaret Kelly, both of whom were natives of Ireland. The mother died when our subject was about three and one-half years of age, and his aunt went to the home to care for the children and under her care our subject was reared to manhood. When a youth of nineteen years he came to Bartlett, Ramsey county. North Dakota, in March, 1883, taking the trip to that point by rail, and then went by stage to Devils Lake, Ramsey county, where he settled on land sixteen miles north of Devils Lake. His three brothers had located there, and he remained there until 1888, when he grew tired of hauling produce so far to market and in the spring of that year purchased a half-section of land where his home is now located. He has since added to his possessions from time to time, and now has one of the most extensive farms of the county, and has gained his possessions single-handed and enjoys a comfortable income.

In 1890, as soon as he had established a permanent home in Towner county, Mr. Kelly was married to Miss Margaret Considine. Two children have blessed this union, who bear the names of Margaret Katherine and William Francis. Mr. Kelly is a member of the Roman Catholic faith, and he also holds membership in the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He is a stanch Democrat, and is an advocate of prohibition. He is an exemplary citizen, industrious and progressive, and possesses a capacity for well-directed labor that has placed him in the front rank in his calling.

HON. D. W. McCANNA, one of the most enterprising and progressive citizens of Towner county, resides on section 30, in township 158, range 66, and operates twenty-five hundred acres of land. He is engaged extensively in farming and the raising of Short Horn cattle and Percheron horses.

Our subject was born inVermont. April 16, 1852, and was the sixth in a family of thirteen children born to Michael and Maria (Burheart) McCanna. The father was a native of Ireland and the mother was of German-French extraction and was born in Can extraction and was born in Canada and the married life of the parents began in Canada. They later settled in the states and when our subject was an infant removed from Vermont to Clayton county, Iowa. Our subject worked at home until twenty-four years of age and then began farming for himself, but after five successive crops failed he found himself heavily in debt and with a couple of teams went to North Dakota, arriving at Grand Forks, near where he farmed one year. In the fall of 1882 he went to the Big Coulee country to look over the country and in the spring of 1883 a colony of about forty families was formed and our subject had the honor of turning the first furrow in the community. Forty claims were taken under the "squatter's" claim on either bank of the Big Coulee, May 9, 1883. Mr. McCanna has since been a prominent resident of that community and he has prospered to a marked degree. He now has a handsome residence, fully equipped with modern conveniences and enjoys a home of great comfort.

Our subject was married, in 1884, to Miss Bridgie Gorman. Eight children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. McCanna. named as follows: Simon M., who was the first son of white parents born in Towner county : Maude C.; Mary A.; Mabel M.; David, deceased; David T.; Emily T. and Marian. Mr. McCanna has been actively interested in public affairs of his county. A county convention was called in 1884 at Coolin post office of Big Dan's Crossing, and our subject was chosen first county assessor. He served as a state representative in 1892 and as state senator in 1894, and as a representative of the farmers devoted his attention to agricultural affairs and served on the house and senate committee on public lands and was the only farmer who served on the judiciary committee.

CHARLES P. PETERSON, county, commissioner for the third district of Towner county, stands as a foremost citizen and farmer of township 159, range 68. He owns a section of land, most of which he has under cultivation, and has a comfortable home in section 12.

C. P. Peterson was born in Forsby, Sweden, July 27, 1859. He was one of a family of twelve children born to Medaljoren Peter Nelson and Johana (Paulson) Nelson. The above title was conferred upon the father for his long and diligent services in the paper mills. The subject of this article, when a boy of fourteen years, went to Denmark and worked in a brick yard four years, and when about nineteen years of age he returned to his native land and began the carpenter's trade. In the spring of 1882 about twenty of the young men of his neighborhood started for America and he became a member of the party. He came directly to Fargo, North Dakota, and worked one year in the brick yard there and followed carpenter work in Traill and Cass counties, and located in Cummings, Traill county, in 1886. He went to Towner county in the fall of 1888 and filed claim to land there and then returned to Cummings, and the following spring went to his farm to reside. He found himself with about forty dollars and no teams or implements, and his start was necessarily slow; but he worked at his trade whenever possible and finally managed to get the farm well started. and now has a comfortable home and a well improved estate in every particular.

Our subject was married, in 1888, to Miss Hadda Anderson, and spent the winter at Cando, North Dakota, and with his young wife went to the pioneer home in the spring of 1889. Mr. and Mrs. Peterson are the parents of six children, named as follows: Robert L., Clara N., Harry R., Arthur I., Alvin E. and Helen. Mr. Peterson was elected county commissioner in 1897. He is active in public affairs in his township and county, and politically is a Democrat. He has attended county and state conventions and is a member of the county central committee, and served two years on the state central committee of his party. He holds membership in the Ancient Order of United Workmen, Knights of the Maccabees and the Modern Woodmen of America. Woodmen of America.

WILLIAM E. PEW, of the firm of Thompson & Pew, real estate dealers ofCando, North Dakota, is one of the most extensive land owners of Towner county, and has a wide reputation as a gentleman of excellent business capacity and true citizenship.

Our subject was born in Pike county, Missouri, August 4, 1857, and was the eldest in a family of four children. His father, Ruben C. Pew, was a native of Kentucky, and still lives. The mother, who bore the maiden name of Sarah Alexander, was a native of Missouri. Our subject was raised at farming and stock raising, although residing in the town of Louisiana. He attended college in his native place and took a complete business course at Quincy, Illinois. He remained at home until 1883 and in the early spring of that year went to Larimore, North Dakota, and rented land north of that place. He then returned to Missouri for stock and implements and cropped the rented land and as soon as the work was finished started west in search of land. He drove overland about two weeks, and then arrived at Coulee Valley. and there decided to locate, and then traveled night and day on his return to his rented farm. He then made his way to his claim and erected a barn with lumber which he took, and became a permanent settler. He now owns fourteen hundred acres of land in township 157 range 66, in the garden spot of Towner county, and is one of the substantial men of that region.

Our subject has been identified with the public movements of Towner county, since the early days. The county was organized in January, 1884, and Mr. Pew was appointed register of deeds and served in that capacity seven years, and following his term of office he was chosen chairman of the Democratic county central committee, and has conducted several successful campaigns. The county seat was established at Cando, January 24, 1884, and a small frame building was erected as a court house, and there our subject was a well-known officer. The partnership now existing between Mr. Pew and Mr. Thompson, under the firm name of Thompson & Pew, was formed in 1896. They conduct an extensive real estate business and are widely known in their line. Mr. Pew is a member of the Masonic fraternity, being a Master Mason.

EDWARD E. PRIEST. A prominent position as a member of the farming community of Towner county is held by the gentleman above named. He resides in section lo of township 157, range 66, and conducts a farm of fifteen hundred acres which is owned by himself and his brother-in-law.

Our subject was born in Ralls county, Missouri, December 13, i860. He is the youngest of three children now living born to John A. and Sarah (Huston) Priest. The mother died when our subject was about three years of age and the father later re-married. The father was a successful farmer, and our subject remained at home until his twenty-second year, when, in the spring of 1883, he went to North Dakota. He stopped a short time at Larimore and about the last of May arrived at Towner county and took a tree claim and preemption which is a part of the farm he now operates. A temporary shanty was erected on the land and our subject lived the first year with the Conyer brothers. He returned to his home in the spring of 1884 and with four horses returned to his Claim and erected a 10x12 foot shanty, which was his home for about four years, during which time he became well started in his farming. He built a more comfortable frame house in 1888, which he moved to his present location in 1894, and has since added thereto and now has a comfortable residence, wherein a family reside and keep house for Mr. Priest, who remains unmarried. Our subject erected a fine barn in 1893, which as it now stands measures 48x66 feet, and the other buildings of the place bespeak careful management and success. A fine well with windmill attached furnishes soft water and the other appointments of the farm are in keeping in every particular. The farm he now has is the result of his labors since 1893, as in 1890 he lost his possessions with the exception of the land by the hard times.

Mr. Priest was elected county commissioner in 1893, and was appointed in the spring of 1898 to fill a vacancy on the board of county commissioners. He is a Democrat in political faith and is an earnest worker for his party. He is one of the well-known men of Towner county and has gained an assured position as a citizen and agriculturist.


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