In 1936, North Dakota started a Historical Data Project recording biographies of the early settlers and pioneers. Allan was interviewed by A O Halvorson of the Data Project several times in the summer and fall of 1936. The following is the biography section of that interview:
Allan H Wood of Fairview Township, Rolette County, address Rolla, North Dakota was born November the twenty first, 1862, at Wales, Osnabruck Township, Stormont County, Ontario, Dominion of Canada. His father was Scotch and his mother Dutch. He has been a farmer all his life. He is in good health, except that he suffers from cataracts on both eyes so that he is practically blind. Living with him and tending him lovingly and tenderly are his second wife and his daughter with (from) his first wife and her six children.
He does not know the birth date of his father Hiram Wood, or of his mother, Mary Markell. They were both born in Wales, Ontario. His mother was of Pennsylvania Dutch stock, but he knows nothing about her early life or her ancestors. Both his parents died on their homestead in Fairview Township, close to Allan's home. His mother died in about 1898 (editors note: Hiram married Sarah Furneybough 6 May 1891, this date must be 1888.) and his father died in about 1901. Both are buried at the Rolla, North Dakota. His father was a farmer. Hiram Wood's name will be mentioned several times in this biography.
Mr and Mrs Hiram Wood had twelve children in all, six sons and six daughters. They were all born at Wales, Ontario. Two of Allan's brothers and two of his sisters are dead. Four of his brothers and all of his sisters are married. His brothers are William, James, Albert, George, and Colburn. William died in Rolla, Rolette County, North Dakota and was buried at Rolla, North Dakota, in 1930 at the age of seventy six years of age. James is seventy two years old and lives in La Due, Alberta, Canada. George is sixty five years of age and is an inmate of the Hospital for the Insane at Jamestown, North Dakota. Colburn, not married, died at about the age of twenty four and was buried at Rolla, North Dakota, in about 1901.
The girls of the family are Adelaide Hamilton, Margaret Stata, Elressa Finlayson, Ellen Westmiller, Annie Fernybough, and Alice Richardson. Mrs Hamilton died in 1929 at the age of eighty one and was buried some place in Alberta, Canada. Mrs Stata was about forty five years old when she died and was buried at Wales, Ontario, in about 1900. Mrs Finlayson is seventy nine years of age and lives at Killarney, Manitoba, Canada. Ellen Westmiller is seventy seven and resides at Mandan, North Dakota. Mrs Fernybough is seventy one and lives at Hansborough, North Dakota. Alice Richardson is sixty one and lives on a farm near Armourdale, Towner County, North Dakota.
Mr Wood knows little about his paternal and nothing of his maternal grandparents. He believes that his grandmother ----- Hawn was born, died, and was buried at Wales, Ontario. She was past one hundred years old when she died, he thinks one hundred six. She was married twice. The first husband was William Wood, Allan's own grandfather. He was born, died, and was buried in Ontario. He died while he was quite young. They had two children, a son Hiram, and a daughter. Her second husband, Jake Amon, was also born, died, and was buried in Ontario. He was an old man at the time of his death. They had three or four children. Both William Wood and Jake Amon were farmers.
Allen Wood has been married twice. In 1892 he married Margaret Henderson, born in 1873 in Oxford County, Ontario. They had two children, one daughter and one son. The daughter is Dorothea Dillon, thirty eight years old, a widow with six children: Agnes, 19; Harmon, 18; Jesse, 17; Margaret, 12; Robert, 9; Mary, 4. Her husband, Harmon Abbot Dillon, was killed in an automobile accident on the morning of September twenty fifth, 1936, on the highway west of St John, North Dakota as the car in which he was riding home from a dance at Birchwood Plaza at Lake Upsilon, went into a ditch and turned over. The son, George, is thirty six years old and resides in Chicago, Illinois. At least that was his address the last time he was heard from. He works as an acetylene welder on the St Claire Refining Company's bulk gas tanks, traveling all over the United States and into Canada and Mexico.
The marriage to Margaret Henderson took place in her father's, Andrew Henderson's home in the presence of only their own relatives. Rev D C McKay read the marriage service.
The Henderson family had come to Emerson, Manitoba, in 1882. That was the year of the flood. The Hendersons lost all their family records in that flood, and can only guess at their ages.
Andrew Henderson was born in Ireland. Mr Wood did not know where Andrew's wife was born. They came to Rolette County, Dakota Territory in 1884. The trip was made with oxen.Margaret Henderson had two sisters and four brothers. All of them but one was born in Oxford County, Ontario. One sister, Letitia Epton, is a widow and usually makes her home on the old farm in Mt Pleasant Township near Rolla, North Dakota. The other sister, Mary Park, died some place in Saskatchewan, Canada, and was buried there in 1930 or 31. One brother, Mathew, is the only one of the children born in Ireland. He himself thinks he is about eighty one years old, but Mr Wood believes him to be nearer eighty four or eighty five. He is married and with his wife lives on his old homestead near Rolla. Another brother, John, is also married, for the second time, and resides on his homestead near Rolla, adjoining that of his brother, Mathew. The other two brothers, Thomas and William, are both dead. The former died and was buried in Idaho, in about 1906. The latter died and was buried at Rolla, North Dakota, in about 1916.
His first wife, having died, Allan Wood, in 1909, married Nancy McCaig. She was born at Orangetown,[North Georgetown] Quebec, Canada, on September the third, 1875. Mr Wood has had no children with his second wife.
Nancy McCaig's parents were both Scotch. Both of them were born at Tullagorm, Quebec. They died in 1906 within a short time of each other, and were buried in the Howick Cemetery, Quebec. Her father, Duncan McCaig, was a farmer and was seventy one years old when he died. Her mother, Elizabeth Cummin, was sixty nine years of age at the time of her death.
The second Mrs Wood has had three sisters and eight brothers. They were all born at Allen's Corner, Quebec. The three sisters and seven brothers were married. One sister, Mary Hastie, is eighty one years old and lives at Torchu, Alberta, Canada. The other two sisters, Bessie Cameron, seventy three, and Margaret Hastie, sixty five, both live at Ormstown,[North Georgetown] Quebec. Of the brothers, John was born in 1854 and died the same year. Sandy died in 1905 at the age of forty seven. Duncan was twenty eight years old when he died in 1889. All three of these were buried in Howick Cemetery, Quebec. Another brother, John, died when he was fifty four years old and was buried at Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The other four brothers are still living. Robert is seventy one years of age and lives in Montreal City, Canada. Dugald is sixty seven and resides at Ormstown, Quebec. Neil is sixty three and lives at McLoad, Alberta, Canada. Charley, sixty one, resides at Elnora, Alberta, Canada.
In 1882, Allan Wood, his father, Hiram Wood, Levi and Edgar Markell, and Fraser Brassard left their old home in Ontario and came to Brandon, Manitoba, by way of Minneapolis and St Vincent, Minnesota, Emerson and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
When they came to St Vincent the ice on the Red River had broken up to the south, but had dammed the passage in the direction of Winnipeg, so that the water backed up and formed a lake between St Vincent and Emerson. The distance of twelve miles between the two points was covered by steamboat. The railroad was under water to such an extent that only the smokestack of the locomotive could be seen above the water level. The freight cars were completely covered with the water.
From Emerson to Winnipeg a man carrying a lantern walked ahead of the train all the way watching for danger spots. It took all night to cover the distance. Every now and then the train lurched heavily from side to side as though the railroad bed was giving away in places as the heavy train passed over it. When they arrived at Winnipeg, the water reached the depot platform. Because of the flood they were compelled to wait in Winnipeg for three weeks before they could go on. At Brandon there were a few frame buildings but most of the people lived in tents.
As the party had no means of transportation after they reached Brandon, Hiram Wood and Levi Markell, the senior members of the group returned to Winnipeg where they purchased four yoke of oxen, three wagons, and three breaking plows. In addition, they bought food enough to last through the summer. It may be interpolated here that they had brought along from Ontario enough butter packed in tin cans to last them through the summer and the next winter. On their way back from Brandon Wood and Markell were caught in the worst blizzard ever known out this way. It came on the twenty fourth day of May and lasted for two days, during which time their train was snowbound. The tents in Brandon were practically snowed under.
Among the oxen purchased was a pair of young steers. It fell to Allan's lot to break them. After they were sufficiently well trained to drive, the party went to Deloraine, Manitoba, southwest of Brandon, where they obtained plats and where they also learned that they could get no land in Canada. It was all taken. They made four trips to Mouse River, but never crossed it. Finally they became disgusted and also embarrassed to drive back and forth so many times over the same route. So Allan Wood suggested: "Let us go to the United States. If the queen will not give us land here, the president will over there." So they decided to go around the mountains on the west side. When they came near the mountains (Turtle Mountains), they were told: "Don't go there; there are Indians by the millions." They got scared and returned to Canada. But Allan was persistent. While the others considered returning to Ontario, he stoutly maintained his intention of going to the United States to get land saying that he would never go back to Ontario. Then they made up their minds to try to go around the mountains on the east side. They crossed the International Boundary Line at a point close to where one Ricard had a small store. Ricard had an Indian wife. The Indians with their chief, Little Shell, camped near the store. The white party also made camp here and set Allan Wood to guard it all night.
While they were here, G M Gilbert, Charly Denny, and William Galloway from Owatonna, Minnesota, came across from Canada. G M Gilbert soon went to Dunseith. Gilbert Township, inside the boundary of which the city of Dunseith is located, was named after him. Charly Denny was not mentioned again while William Galloway became one of Allan's neighbors.
The Indian chief, Little Shell informed the whites that they could get all the land they wanted two miles east of the mountains. The Indians appear to have objected to the whites coming any closer to the region to which they laid claim. The whites listened to the chief and squatted the required distance from the edge of the mountains. Before they made their final selection of the land, they inspected the soil carefully by digging into it with a spade that Allan Wood had brought along for that purpose. They decided on a heavy black clay loam as the best for farming purposes. They arrived at their homesteads about the middle of June , 1882.
It was not long, however, until the Indians seemed to have changed their minds. One day thirteen Indians on horseback all painted up, with Little Shell at their head, their guns loaded on a horsedrawn cart, came to Allan's shack. Some of the whites were away when the Indians came. Hiram Wood, Levi and Edgar Markell were home. Edgar Markell had cut his foot, so he would not have been of much account in for a fight. The Indians gave the whites twenty four hours in which to get ready and get out. The whites were few in number and not in very good condition to offer much resistance. However, Hiram Wood had his six shooter cocked and ready inside his pant's leg. If the Indians had made a move to get their weapons in the cart he would have opened fire. But the redskins contented themselves with making threats.
The whites decided to vacate the land for the time being so as not to cause trouble and possible bloodshed. They crossed the line and went into Manitoba. Part of the time while they were in Canada they hunted, killed, among other game, two deer and a sandhill crane; part of the time they put up hay, seven ton in all.
On their way to Canada they passed Little Shell's camp near Ricard's store, close to the International Boundary. Mr Wood remarked that Little Shell must have laughed to himself when he saw them go. Probably he said to those around him: "There the cowards go." But to their surprise, he sent word and asked Hiram Wood to come to his camp. Possibly he singled Hiram out as the oldest of the party and, therefore the leader. The whites were a little suspicious of the invitation, so the rest of them sneaked around and approached the camp through the brush just as Hiram reached it in the open. Little Shell appeared not to like the action of the whites, but passed it up and laid his demands before them. He insisted that each white man pay him fifteen dollars. If that were done, he would allow them to go back to their land.. As Spokesman for the whites, Hiram Wood told Little Shell: "We will not pay you a cent. We shall write to the government and ask them if the land belongs to you or to them. If it does not belong to you, we shall go back as soon as we hear." This was in the latter part of June 1882. A letter was sent to Washington laying the matter before the proper authorities there. On September tenth, 1882, the reply came in the form of sixty four blue jackets on horseback who came to Little Shell's camp and put him in his place. They told him that the land did not belong to the Indians and evidently ordered him to leave the whites alone. At any rate, the Indians never bothered the whites after that. One of the soldiers came to the whites and told them it was safe for them to return to their land.
After the Indians had been there and threatened them, but before the whites had gone to Canada, Allan Wood and William Galloway went down to "the creek" to shoot ducks. This creek is a short distance west of Allan Wood's farm. At the time, there was a great deal of water in the creek. For years now it has been completely dry, and in places can hardly be located. This creek was considered sort of a dividing line between the white man's land and that of the Indians. While they were hunting, William Galloway said: "If an Indian dares to cross this creek, I will shoot him." "And he would have done it too.", Mr Wood said.
On the twenty sixth of November, 1882, a heavy blizzard came up during which Allan Wood's shack was covered over with snow to such an extent that it took him an hour or better to shovel a tunnel out from his door through the snowbank. Luckily he had kept his shovel in the shack. The door to the shack was on the east side. When the shack was built his father had placed the window beside the door, so that he could look out before he opened the door. His father had never told him why he had placed the window just there, but Allan surmised that it was done to enable him to see if any Indians were lurking around before he admitted anyone. After the storm was over, William Galloway came over to see how Mr Wood was getting along, but by that time he had shoveled himself out. On Galloway's house the door was on the west side, so that it was not covered up with snow.
Mr Wood had put his supply of hay at a suitable distance from the shack. Close up to the haystack he built his stable large enough for two teams. He had only one team. In the room that was left he carried in hay during the nice weather so that he did not have to dig it out of the snow in cold and stormy days.
Inside his shack he piled up wood against one wall, always keeping the pile full by cutting it up and carrying it in nice weather. In this way he kept quite comfortable during bad weather.
Carrying in his hay and feeding his team and one rooster and a few hens, cutting and carrying in wood, and melting snow for water for his stock and cooking kept him busy just about all the time during the winter months.
The fall of 1882 and the first part of the succeeding winter was mild. A body of water is located a short distance southwest from St John. This came to be known as Byrne's Lake, as the writer has heard from the fact that a daughter of William Byrne from St John took a claim on its shore. During the fall and early winter mentioned the weather was not cold enough to freeze the water in the lake. Right after the holidays, cold weather set in.
During the same winter a great deal of timber was cut in the vicinity of Byrne's Lake and hauled out on the prairie. The timber was good and the place was not far from where the whites had settled. While they were working in the woods they came to a point where they were in need of water. To get it they started to cut a hole in the ice. They cut and kept cutting, but could not get to the water. Towards the last Fraser Brassard was doing the cutting. He was a man, the writer would judge, of about five feet and eight or ten inches tall. He kept on cutting until he struck ground. By that time the hole in the ice was so deep that he could not be seen above the level of the ice when he stood up straight. Such was the extent to which the water had frozen during the latter part of that winter of 1882-1883.
At one time the whites were busy cutting down a supply of timber which they expected to haul out. They were, of course, on forbidden ground, and knew it. Momentarily they expected the Indians to come and try to stop them. Allan Wood was working along the path which the whites had followed coming in and along which they expected the Indians to come. Allan had his big gun with him. Sure enough, soon an Indian police captain with several other Indians came up along the path. When they were within suitable shooting distance, Allan pulled his gun, leveling it at the leader, and called out: "What do you want?" The police captain replied: "You are under arrest." Allan answered: "Not so you notice it. And you don't dare to raise your guns. Keep them pointed to the ground. If you make a move to raise them, I will shoot you down like dogs. I would rather die than to be arrested by half breeds." On the side Mr Wood said: "I would and could have done it too, as I had practiced with that gun until I could drive nails with it." "But" he continued to the Indians, "I will tell you what we will do. We shall cut the timber we planned and haul it out and leave it at the edge of the woods. Then we will write to the government. If they say it is yours, we will not touch it." The police captain was satisfied and left together with his party.
It might appear that the whites did not exactly keep their promise in this case, as all the timber but one load was hauled out on an exceptionally stormy day, such as a day on which people generally stay inside as much as possible. For the last load they started out at two o'clock in the morning in bitterly cold weather, when they did not expect to meet any Indians. However, they were delayed by the breaking of the draw bolt on the sleigh just as they were to start the big load moving. Allan tied the whiffle tree to the sleigh with chains, but this caused a delay. They seem to have encountered the police captain again. This time he told them: "I don't care. Take it away."
In the spring of 1883 the whites made a trip to Brandon to meet the families of some and part of the families of others in the white party. They appear to have had three wagons, one of which carried a load of hay. Up to the time they started the weather had been cold. There was a great deal of snow. On Saturday, the tenth of April, the weather became warm. By Sunday evening all the snow had melted. There was water all over. It stood like a lake in all directions. On Monday morning, April the twelfth, they started out. They drove through water and mud all the way. Waukopa, Manitoba was their first objective. From there they went to Black River, which they intended to cross on the ice, but gave it up as unsafe. One party living near the river advised them to go down river two miles and cross on the bridge. When they arrived there they found no bridge but only the piles driven in preparation for building of a bridge. They constructed a raft for the people to cross and drove the oxen over. The question was then how to get the wagons across. Allan Wood set to work to make a hay rope long enough to reach across the stream. A small ordinary rope was tied to the hayrope by which to pull it back. The hay rope was tied to the first wagon in which a man was stationed to guide it across. In the middle of the river the wagon went down, the box slipped off and went down stream. Among other things the wagon was loaded with sacks of oats. When the box slipped off, the man on the load grabbed a sack of oats under each arm and in some way paddled or swam to the shore to which the wagon was being pulled. The wagon was then pulled over. The wagon box floated up against some trees on the bank where it remained lodged until they took it out. The load of hay seemed to have given them no trouble to pull across. Allan was in the third wagon. When this one was almost over, the hay rope broke. Allan jumped into the water and swam or crawled ashore as best he could, to the side where they were going.
Each man had only one suit of outside clothing, but they all had a change of underclothing. This they put on under the wet outside clothes and the proceeded on their way.
While they were in Brandon this time Mr Wood saw the steamboat that made the last trip through from Grand Forks, Dakota Territory, to Brandon, Manitoba, by way of Winnipeg. Mr Wood stated that the boat had gone all the way on the Red River. He was in error on the name of the river, as the Red River does not flow through Brandon. From Winnipeg to Brandon the boat, of course, traveled on the Assiniboine River which enters the Red River near Winnipeg. Up to that time the river had been high enough to allow the boat to pass through, but after that the water went down too low for steamboats to operate between Winnipeg and Brandon. The engineer on this boat on its last trip was John Cummin, a cousin of the present Mrs Allan Wood's mother. Louis LeNoire, now living north of Belcourt, North Dakota, worked on this boat on its last trip.
As already mentioned, one Ricard, married to an Indian woman, had a small store close to the International Boundry Line, when Allan Wood and his party came in 1882. The store was located two or three miles north of where St John was later established. This Ricard may be Theo. P Ricard appearing on the tax list for the year 1885.
Some time after they arrived in 1882 G M Gilbert and Allan Wood hauled logs for a store to be built for William Brunelle, the first merchant to locate at St John, Dakota territory. To begin with, Mr Brunelle hauled his merchandise from Grafton, Dakota Territory. Hiram Wood and Levi Markell worked on the store. After the building was partly up they all slept on the floor.
In 1883 F Martineau arrived and built and opened a store. He hauled his goods from Devils Lake, the railroad having reached that point in 1883. On his first trip to Devils Lake for goods Mr Martineau used a cart and one ox. Allan Wood hauled one load from Devils Lake for Mr Martineau taking three days for the trip and earning between twenty and thirty dollars, all of which he took out in merchandise.
Louis Marion or Morin had a small store near the "Big Coulee" close to the present Knutson farm. The "Big Coulee" is the same as "the creek" already mentioned. Mr Wood did not say whether or not the store was there when he came or when it was built.
Mr Wood thought that William Byrne was the first blacksmith in St John. Others were Grady, and John and Barney Cain.
Faucett was the first doctor. Pinkerton was next, Dr Cowan practiced from his claim near Sidney, now Hansborough, North Dakota.
The first lawyer was T T Tillotson. John Burke came in 1888.
Mrs Thomas Robertson, a neighbor of Allan Wood's was probably the first midwife. She might not have been specially trained for the work, but she did a great deal of it with good success.
Mrs John Cain taught school in her own home. Alvin Good now lives on that farm. Carry Moss was probably the first teacher in the first public school built in Fairview Township.
Father Malo was the first Catholic priest at St John. McIntyre, Woolner, and Struthers were the first Protestant ministers in the locality. They used to come out and hold services in the school houses.
G M Gilbert, mentioned before, liked the valley around Dunseith better, so he went there. He also had a possible townsight proposition in mind. He discovered a vein of lignite coal in the hills north of Dunseith. The vein was about seven feet through. Later some coal mining company obtained title to the mine. They fixed it so that the creek running out of the Mineral Spring northwest of Dunseith undermined the hill so that a resulting landslide buried the coal. Mr Wood had never seen the mine, but Edgar Markell now living at Hansborough, North Dakota, could tell where it is. However, Mr Markell has had a stroke and is partly paralyzed and is unable to talk.
Mr Gilbert christened Fairview Township in 1882. One day when he visited at Mr Wood's place and several others besides him were standing outside looking around, Mr Gilbert exclaimed: "What a fair view this is!" The idea expressed gave birth to the name.
Mt Pleasant Township was likely named on the basis of a similar sentiment. Mr Wood did not know who christened the township, but was of the opinion that the name originated from the fact that there is a hill in that township, now called McIntyre's Hill, near the city limits of Rolla, North Dakota, and that someone called the hill Mt Pleasant because of the pleasing view it affords of the surrounding country.
In the line of farm machinery nothing was brought along from Ontario. Oxen, wagons, and breaking plows were bought at Winnipeg and brought along that far. The only implements bought here for some time were drags. Seeding grain was done by hand. Then broadcast seeders were introduced. Hay and grain were cut by scythes. For several years the grain was not thrashed, but fed in the straw. The first time the grain was cut and bound was when they hired Duncan McKinnon to do the work. He owned a binder using wire instead of twine. Mr Wood made several wooden rakes four or five feet wide for raking together the hay and grain.
Mr Wood had once heard who was the first white child to be born in Fairview Township, but could not remember the name now.
He thought the first death in the township was that of Mrs Maurice Coghlan in 1883 shortly after the birth of a son John. He said that the midwife in attendance, a breed woman, in her ignorance had forcibly removed the afterbirth and thus caused death. At least, he said, that was the story going the rounds at the time. The writer thinks, however, that there must be a mistake here, because John Coghlan's sister, Mrs Robert Byrne, furnished the information that their mother died in 1885, which would be two years after John's birth. Likely though, Mr Wood is right in that this was the first death in Fairview Township.
Besides those in his own party his nearest neighbors were among others, John Hunt, Thomas Robertson, James and Thomas Maloney, John Stewart, Robert McCulloch, and Charley McArthur. All those mentioned were later than Mr Wood.
Boyd was the first post office, with D C Boyd postmaster. He died out west a short time ago. The post office was located in what became Mt Pleasant Township.
It was about two and a half miles south of Allan Wood's place, in the northwest corner of section eight in a clump of trees close to the west side of the present McIntyre Lake. The clump of trees may yet be seen about a mile north of Rolla, North Dakota.
Rolette County was organized in 1884. Three county commissioners were appointed, Frederick Schutte, Lemuel G Welton, and James Maloney. Mr Schutte died during the winter of 1884-85 and was replaced on the board by William Brunelle, the first merchant at St John. They established the county seat at Dunseith. St John and Dunseith were the only two "towns" in Rolette County, Dakota Territory, at the time. St John decided to get the county seat. In 1885 an election was arranged for to vote on the permanent location of the county seat. St John and Dunseith were the only two polling places in the county, the people in the eastern part of the county voting in St John and those in the western part in Dunseith.
On the day of the election Patrick Forrest and others from Dunseith came to St John to see that the election there was conducted in a legal and proper manner. St John sent a delegation to Dunseith for the same purpose. At St John Mr Forrest stepped up to the judges and began talking to them. Mr Wood did not know what was being said, but while Mr Forrest was talking Thomas Armstrong pulled his gun and was going to shoot him. But Mr Armstrong's brother struck the gun hand down and thus prevented the shooting.
Mr Wood stated that there were about three hundred votes in Rolette County at the time (the tax list shows 449 names in 1885. Not all of these were qualified voters of course). According to the writer's understanding of the situation women had no vote then. At St John women as well as men voted. Indians voted. Everybody voted. Allan Wood hauled people from Towner County to the polling place at St John. Canadians voted for a drink or two. In short, voting was done with a high hand. Naturally the same thing happened at Dunseith although the writer has not as yet heard much about that. When the ballot boxes were opened St John had twelve hundred votes and Dunseith had eight hundred. Dunseith contested the election. It was decided in favor of St John. Thus St John obtained the county seat.
T T Tollotson was the lawyer at St John. According to Mr Wood, and others, Mr Tollotson was very shrewd as well as unscrupulous. At the time of opening the ballot boxes according to Mr Wood, the judges asked Mr Tollotson if they could stuff them. He told them of course they could. So they proceeded to do just that. According to Mr Mullett of Perth, another pioneer with whom the writer had a short interview after the one with Mr Wood, Mr Tolletson called the judges together and had a family conference with them and told them and told them to stuff the ballot boxes, he himself not voting. In either case he acted for his own benefits as will develop later.
Immediately after the election people from Dunseith obtained an injunction against the newly elected county officials in an attempt to prevent them from qualifying. In order that the proper officials serving the injunction should not find them, Allan Wood hauled the new officers across the line into Manitoba, Canada, and lodged them with his brother-in-law on the latter's farm in Killarney. They remained there until the day before the last day for qualifying. Hiram Wood was the newly elected Probate Judge. The sheriff came to Allen Wood's shack and asked him where his father was. He replied: "Out on the prairie some place." Aside he added: "And I told him no lie, as my father was out on the prairie on my brother-in-law's farm." When the sheriff had gone, Mr Wood started off for Canada to tell the men the sheriff was after them. After he had gone some distance he noticed that a horse and buggy were coming up the trail behind him. Thinking that it was the sheriff following him to find out where the men were, he left the trail and concealed himself in such a way that he could watch the back trail and see who was coming. It proved to be only Charles R Lyman, also coming to see the men. When the men at Finlayson's saw the rigs coming they concealed themselves in the cellar until they found out who were coming.
In the evening of the next day before the last day for qualifying the men started for home. They did not cross the line at the usual place but went through a wheat field. Mr Wood stated that, if the breeds, who owned the field, had seen the tracks made, they would have thought that a herd of cattle or buffalo had gone through. The wheat was tall and thick and the rigs that went north formed a veritable lane through it. On the way back the orders were to drive over anyone that appeared in the lane. No one showed up however.
J J Ullman, a notary public and the newly elected County Justice of the Peace, owned a shack near the edge of St John. To his place they all went and proceeded to qualify and organize. After they all had qualified the county commissioners organized and elected a John Cain chairman. By the time dawn arrived the deck was all cleared for action. At this point T T Tolletson showed his hand. In the law there was no provision for the election of a district attorney or a state attorney as it is now called. Mr Tolletson was the logical candidate for the office. There was an attorney, Crow, who had held the office under (the) old board. He lived at Dunseith. He was not considered by the new board. It was in the hands of the board to appoint one, if they so desired. Mr Tolletson had been in favor of a county seat election of the new officers mainly because he wanted the office himself. He was now appointed and asked a salary of one thousand dollars a year. When the commissioners objected, he very ingratiatingly reminded them of the stuffed ballot boxes and told them they could take their choice of either allowing him that much or else go to jail. He got his price.
As soon as it was light outside Allan Wood delegated to go to town and see if the people from Dunseith were there. He did not leave the Ullman place in the usual way however. In order that no chance observer should or would know where he came from he was given a boost out through the door so that he landed a good distance away from it. When he got up and sauntered into town he appeared to have come from nowhere in particular. The people from Dunseith and the sheriff were just getting up and were rubbing the sleep out of their eyes when he came up to them. They were astonished and chagrined when they heard the news of what had happened, but it was too late and they were helpless.
According to the official records in the county auditor's office at Rolla, North Dakota, John Cain, Alfred Nattrass, and Frank Premieau were elected county commissioners in 1885. The other officers then elected were: Andrew Smith, auditor; Thomas Hesketh, treasurer; John Brown, county superintendent of schools; Hiram Wood, probate judge; George B Cain or Barney Cain, sheriff; A N Bourassa, assessor; Theo Covenant, coroner; J J Ulman, Justice of the Peace; and Philip Cardinal, constable.
County warrants could be purchased for twenty cents on the dollar. Hiram Wood made a profit of between three and four hundred dollars by buying up warrants.
According to accounts given in other biographies people from St John went to Dunseith and took the entire court house with equipment and all and hauled it to St John, being stuck in a slough for a while on the way. Allan Wood gave a different version of the story. Arthur Lyman had erected a building in St John, the present DeMars building. Part of this the new commissioners rented for a court house. John Cain, William Calloway and others went to Dunseith with teams, loaded on the wagons the furniture and equipment, including three safes, one large and two small ones, and hauled it to St John. On the way the big safe slipped off the wagon and fell into the slough, where it stayed for one night. No building was moved from Dunseith.
John J Mullett of Perth, North Dakota, has already been mentioned. He has been postmaster at Perth for about thirty years and claims to be the oldest postmaster in North Dakota in point of service.
T T Tolletson and J J Mullett fell out. Mr Tolletson was a taller man than Mr Mullett. He always wore his whiskers long. One day on the street, Mr Mullett grabbed hold of his whiskers, turned his back to Mr Tolletson, laid his whiskers over his shoulder and led Mr Tolletson down the street. The latter drew his gun and shot Mr Mullett inflicting a superficial wound. He was arrested and was placed under a one thousand dollar bond. Hiram Wood and Levi Markell went on his bond. They were about the only two men that could guarantee that much money. For this Hiram Wood was defeated for re-election to the office as probate judge.
The people from Dunseith had it in for Mr Tolletson for what he had done in the county seat election. While he was in jail a party from Dunseith came to St John for the avowed purpose of lynching him. The jail was heavily guarded by men armed with rifles. They did not dare to attack the jail and take him out, but arranged with two St John men, Richard Sewell and Thomas Commow to do it. There was a crowd around the jail. Allen Wood was in the crowd. The two men were to go into the jail and put the rope on Mr Tolletson. Mr Wood asked Mr Commow what he was about to do and was informed that they were going in to get Mr Tolletson. Mr Wood said: "You better not try it. In the jail there are guards armed with rifles and Mr Tolletson has many friends in this crowd. You will surely be killed if you try it. I have a gun in my pocket and, if you move to go in, I will shoot you." So the attempt was given up, and Mr Tolletson was saved. He was fined one hundred dollars for the shooting of Mr Mullett.
Mr Tolletson and Mr Mullett were not through with each other however. The latter informed the writer that he moved to Killarney for the express purpose of "getting" Mr Tolletson. He said: "I stayed there for a year and a half, before I got him, but I finally did." According to Mr Wood it happened about like this: "Mr Tolletson went to Winnipeg on business. When he came back Mr Mullett was waiting for him at the depot at Killarney, where Mr Tolletson stepped off the train. As soon as he did so Mr Mullett knocked him down. By the time he got up again and went to his suitcase to get his gun Mr Mullett had disappeared.
In the interview mentioned in the preceding paragraph Mr Mullett said to the writer: "And in Killarney I got into more trouble". He did not say what the trouble was, but Mr Wood told the following story. In Killarney there was one Mr Davis, a widower, who allowed his children to go hungry, A number of his neighbors, among them Mr Mullett, got together and planned to punish him. They knew he had a little money. This they intended to take away from him presumably with the intention of using it to support the children. When they went to take him, Mr Mullett struck him down, but someone else got the money, about fifty dollars. It seems that they did this with the best of intentions, not knowing that they were committing a robbery. Mr Mullett was arrested for robbery, was tried and convicted, and sentenced to two years imprisonment. However, in some way he got out of it. Mr Wood did not know how.
Mr Tolletson was a colorful personality. Two phases of his character have been pictured above. A third one will be briefly mentioned here. He had a team of very beautiful ponies of which he was exceedingly proud and of which he took very good care. William Schull was the groom. He spent a great deal of time brushing and rubbing the ponies. When he was through Mr Tolletson would come out with a handkerchief and wipe them over. If there appeared ever so small amount of dirt or dust on the handkerchief, Mr Schull would have to do it all over again.
The records at the court house in Rolla, North Dakota, show that the board of county commissioners of Rolette County, held their first meeting at St John November eleventh, 1890, and their first meeting at Rolla, the new county seat, on January fifth, 1891.
Mr Wood related a story of a big fight at Rolla in the same year in which the county seat was moved from St John to Rolla. It happened on the fourth of July. Rolla was celebrating its victory in the county seat election. Mr Wood said that the celebration took place in 1890. That was the year of the election. Too, the county offices and equipment were undoubtedly moved during November and December of 1890 so that everything would be in readiness for the opening of the year 1891.
The fight was between Indians and halfbreeds on the one hand and the whites on the other. Mr Wood stated that it could easily have been avoided, but a policeman for the day blundered and brought it on. Whittaker's hotel and machine shop was located on "the hill" back of what is known as the Star Hotel. This hotel is not now running, but the building is there. On the corner where the present Xendome Hotel is located Wilkenson had a combined saloon and hotel. The Indians wanted to get into the saloon. By mistake they went to Whittaker's place instead of Wilkinson's. Mr Wood said that if the proper explanation had been made the Indians would have given them no trouble. John Halliday was a policeman of the day. When the Indians assumed a threatening attitude at Whittaker's place, Mr Halliday started to fight them. Other Indians and whites rushed to the scene. William Mitchell and a big breed tangled. When Mr Mitchell got enough, Harry McDonald started in on the same breed. The two together could not get him down. He jumped on a horse and charged right into the crowd of whites on the street intending to ride them down. Just as he came riding by where he stood Hiram Wood grabbed a seantling or a stick of some kind, braced it and caught the breed in the ribs and lifted him off the horse. The breed crawled away from there procured a horse again and left town.
Over at Whittaker's place they finally got the breed down. They all went after him. He crawled away bellowing like a bull. Lynn Bush came up with a neck yoke in his hand. He tapped the breed behind the ear with the neck yoke and the breed went down. The breed did not move as long as Mr Wood was there and was still lying there when Mr Wood left. The latter said that Lynn Bush could easily have killed the breed if he had wanted to. When the writer told Mr Wood that the story was that a breed had been killed in this fight he said: "Then that was the one."
North Dakota Historical Project, Pioneer Biography Files 1936-1940 Micro film F635.P56 1988 Roll 24