On Adams Avenue, in St. Vincent, Minnesota, W.J.S. Traill co-owned a frame grain warehouse with the firm of G.S. Barnes & Co. (The St. Paul Daily Globe, June 14, 1879). Another grain company that had an elevator in St. Vincent in 1879 - listed in that ...
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"St. Vincent Memories" - 5 new articles

  1. St. Vincent Grain Warehouses & Elevators
  2. Low Water: The Wreck of the Steamboat Dakota
  3. Where was Fort Pembina?
  4. PROFILE: Artist Marie Antionette Branchaud
  5. The Empire Builder: J.J. Hill & the Great Northern Railway
  6. More Recent Articles

St. Vincent Grain Warehouses & Elevators

On Adams Avenue, in St. Vincent, Minnesota, W.J.S. Traill co-owned a frame grain warehouse with the firm of G.S. Barnes & Co. (The St. Paul Daily Globe, June 14, 1879)

Another grain company that had an elevator in St. Vincent in 1879 - listed in that year's Business Directory - was the Red Wing Mill Co.  

Also, the Red River Valley Elevator Co., and the Pembina Elevator Co. had grain warehouses in St. Vincent in the 1880s.

In 1917, the Co-operative Manager & Farmer wrote about St. Vincent, Minnesota:  "A 65% dividend was declared at the annual meeting of the Farmers' Elevator Company.  The Manager was given a bonus amounting to $180.  About $2,000 was placed in the sinking fund."

1888 St. Vincent map (west end), showing grain elevator on riverbank

The next year, in 1918, incorporation articles were filed for the new St. Vincent Elevator Company, with capital stock of $50,000; the incorporators were William N. Gamble, William Ash, W.E. Ford, John Duff, and Otto Thorson.  
"The St. Vincent Elevator Company, a new farmers' organization, of St. Vincent Township, has bought the elevator and mill business of the St. Anthony & Dakota Elevator Company, which also includes the coal sheds, two dwellings, and two coal sheds at Sultan, the first station east of here on the Soo Line.

"The elevator, in addition to handling grain, will handle  lumber and building material, also coal and seeds.  Mr. Harry Ward Davis is the new manager."

It is evident from the news article at left, together with the other information earlier in this post, that the local farmers eventually realized they had to organize their own elevator to get the best prices they could for their grain.  Their legacy is still going strong over a century later, with the Humboldt-St. Vincent Elevator Association...


Low Water: The Wreck of the Steamboat Dakota

Late this past summer, this was posted on the St. Vincent Memories Facebook page:
Looking to see if anyone might know or have any more info on the story that might be behind this. As you all know the mighty red is far from mighty right now but I still decided to take my boat down to check things out. Came across what looked to be an old sunken boat of some sort. Brought it up to my dad and he said that his grandparents (Bud and Jean Feick) had said that it was an old steamboat that used to run from Forks to Winnipeg in the late 1800s but had gotten hung up and then just left in the river. They had also said that long ago you were able to see one of the masts sticking out of the water once the red would get lower. It sits about 3½ miles south of Pembina. Obviously most is completely covered with mud and/or missing but you can see about 30ft worth of deck right now. These boards are way bigger than they look in the pictures...
There was much excitement in the group in reaction to the post.  Over 70 comments exploded the discussion:
Paul Maloney: What do the nails look like, if any survived? And I think remnants of the boiler would still be there if it was a steamboat.

Jake Cosley:  All the main nails used to hold the planks down are ¼x¼" square. There were a few large ½-⅝" round spikes used as well

Julie Lindegard: I will ask my dad Bob Cameron if he has any further info.  Dad recalled hearing that Humboldt kids (St. Vincent kids were too far away) would often swim in the river and get on the boat and jump off. I can imagine it provided hours of entertainment for kids! He said that the Bockwitz family found and retrieved the anchor. They contacted my dad to take it to the museum in Lake Bronson at least 30 years ago. That's where it is now. 


At RightEvidence of scorched and burned decking could still be seen, over 140 years later... 
Hetty Walker: Chuck always talked about the steamboat, that got hung up …that could be it

Janine Rustad: Talk to DeeDee Bakken---she used to say her dad knew exactly where it sunk 
Julie Lindegard: Yes dad mentioned it was near/in the area of the Giffen farm. 
Donald Burroughs: Does North Dakota have a historical society? Would be an opportunity to salvage some of the boat, those nails and boiler parts, paddle wheel hardware plus its coordinates to build a story around it.

Trish Short Lewis: They have already been contacted about this. State Historical Society of North Dakota's chief archaeologist, Andrew Clark.

Brandon Lee Legvold: Three (3) miles above Pembina it says which in Red River terms would be south of town so I would definitely say that is the hull of the Dakota that was found.

Trish Short Lewis: Since it’s only partially burned and witnesses say the ship burned, I think the idea of these being one of the two barges might be right. I reserve final judgment until we hear from DeeDee Bakken (hopefully) on what she recalls her father seeing… 
[Note from Trish: I later spoke with DeeDee and got some very interesting information from her!  Also, the pump in the photo at left, was found by her, and then taken and donated to the Kittson County History Center & Museum, where it is today, along with the Anchor found many years ago by Humboldt's Bockwitz family...]

 Brandon Lee Legvold: [The source of the quoted newspaper article, which is pictured above, is...] the Worthington (Minnesota) Advance. August 19, 1880. Which oddly enough is today. I found this on Chronicling America.

Trish Short Lewis: Full reference citation for article is The Worthington Advance. [volume] (Worthington, Minn.) 1874-1908, August 19, 1880, Image 1 Image provided by Minnesota Historical Society; Saint Paul, MN (Chronicling America)

Jim Benjaminson: Preservation of the site is paramount. 

On August 26th, I took
a field trip up to the wreck site south of Pembina.  The person who discovered the wreck - Jake Cosley - was kind enough to take me in his boat to the site, which was on the North Dakota side of the Red River of the North.  It was an adventurous ride out, the boat hitting bottom and getting stuck at one point, the water levels were that low (that was why the wreck was revealed in the first place...)  After a bit of creative  'jiggling', we broke free and were on our way again.  

It was pretty exciting to be at the site of a 140 year old wreck!  It became more and more apparent -  between the onsite examination of the wood, old hardware, and what could be ascertained on the construction - that this was remnants of one or both of the barges that the Dakota had been towing full of freight, and that the ship was likely down the river a ways on the Minnesota side near the old Giffen farm.  All the pieces fit, however - this had to be the wreck of the Dakota, it was the only thing that made sense from the evidence so far.

That said, a proper survey and investigation needs to be done.  And to that end, I contacted the State Historical Society of North Dakota's chief archaeologist, Andrew Clark.  Andrew was intrigued about the find, and expressed a desire to come in-person to evaluate the wreck.  However, as always, there is red tape.  Funding, authorizations needed, etc.  I had several conversations with him about what I saw, and he explained that at the very least, the location of the wreck needed to be updated.  There was erroneous information in some records that needed correction.  After my site visit, I was able to give him GPS coordinates of the wreck to update any official records out there.  I also notified the Minnesota Historical Society about the wreck's connection to Minnesota (the steamboat itself was likely within Minnesota jurisdiction).  

It is my hope that next summer the SHSND can make an on-site visit to document this important vestige of our region's transportation history. Andrew Clark shared this about a similar discovery made on the Missouri River last year; it would be amazing if they could do the same depth of investigation with the Dakota - it is a fascinating slice of our local history, for sure!

Part of the Dakota steamboat barge wreck as revealed during 
Summer 2021 low water on the Red River of the North . . .

Where was Fort Pembina?

Location of Fort Pembina:  All of section 16, 17 and 18. Township one hundred and sixty three (63), North Range Number 51, West of the 5th Principal Meridian. Site selected for post is on section 16 immediately on the Red River of the North one and one fourth miles above (South) of the mouth of the Pembina River.

The post would be situated about two hundred yards from the Red River at low water. The location was chosen because it was the highest point near the Red River, having not flooded since 1851. Section seventeen was chosen because it could provide hay and pasturage, and section eighteen because it had the best stand of timber within five miles of the mouth of the Pembina.  

From "History of Fort Pembina 1870-1895" (William D. Thomson thesis, 1968, UND.)

Below: Military Reservation Plans for Fort Pembina, Dakota Territory, showing blacksmith and carpenter shops, as well as officers and company quarters, kitchens and bake house, gardens, stables, hospital, magazine, and trader/sutler [think old-fashioned PX...]

PROFILE: Artist Marie Antionette Branchaud

Image Credit: North Dakota Memories Collection, North Dakota State Library
A river with two boats runs along the foreground of the painting. In the center there is a green grass area with many trees. Along the back row is a line of stores. There are four buildings starting with the National City Bank on the left. Branchaud's general store, Hardware Store, and Pembina Post Office follow from left to right.

Marie Antoinette Branchaud was born in 1907 in Cavalier, ND, to Raoul and Ernestine Branchaud. She and her sisters attended boarding school in St.Boniface, Manitoba, where she studied music in addition to regular studies.

Antoinette was educated as a nurse. She married Andre (Tony) Schwob, a folk artist. She began painting memories of her life and her family's life in Pembina and Cavalier, North Dakota. Antoinette's paintings are well known in the folk art circles; her paintings hang in New York folk art galleries and are available on online auctions.

The paintings at the Pembina County Historical Museum were donated by Antoinette's niece Charlotte Vogel of New York City in 2001. 

The artist's father Raoul Branchaud owned the general store in Pembina before moving to Cavalier to open a jewelry store in 1903. In the painting, the store seems to be on Cavalier Street facing the Red River.

The Empire Builder: J.J. Hill & the Great Northern Railway

One of the architects of settlement for our area - along with others like Lord Selkirk - James J. Hill was instrumental in how towns rose and fell, through the power of transportation that he held sway over...


THE EMPIRE BUILDER from Great Northern Filmworks on Vimeo.


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