Louis Edgar Rogers, aka Jim Barry, was born in St. Vincent, Minnesota. Jim Barry was a pugilist...and a mystery. His real name was Louis Edgar Rogers. He seems to have left the US in December 1912 and returned in 1915. One document that was ...

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"St. Vincent Memories" - 5 new articles

  1. James J. Barry, Pugilist
  2. StVHS Sports: 1927/28
  3. Ephraim Clow: Professional Pedestrian
  4. Mrs. Roberts Wins History Award
  5. Emerson Hockey Memories
  6. More Recent Articles

James J. Barry, Pugilist

Louis Edgar Rogers, aka
Jim Barry, was born in
St. Vincent, Minnesota.

Jim Barry was a pugilist...and a mystery. His real name was Louis Edgar Rogers.  He seems to have left the US in December 1912 and returned in 1915. One document that was found - an application for a passport - showed he was in England at the time. Did he go to England to get treatment for his drug and alcohol problems? Then, a record showed he fought his old nemesis Sam Langford in Australia, most likely as part of a hopeful comeback? Or, was it an exhibition fight?  He has some more fights later but he lost them all. While in Panama, he was murdered at the age of 32. A short life of a promising young boxer - he was considered a capable, durable fighter in his prime - that took a wrong turn, that led to a sad end.

Barry lists St. Vincent, Minnesota 

as where he was born, on this 1915 
emergency passport application...
Louis was born on August 12, 1886 in St. Vincent, Minnesota.  In the 1900 US Census, Louis is listed as age 15 and going by Lue Rogers. Lue is a variant of the name Louis (English and French), and on the same census, Mary is listed as his mother, age 55 and widowed.  His father had been from Ireland, but his mother was French-Canadian.1 Very likely she would have called him Lue for short - or it could have been a simplified version of how Louis is pronounced in French.  

Barry's 1915 passport photo
According to the same census, Lue could neither read nor write. Nor could his mother.  It was not unusual for that time, but just like today, it limited job opportunities for a lifetime.  Lue was also listed as a 'Day Laborer', but that wouldn't last for long. Sometime during the next few years, probably sooner, Lue learned the art of boxing, left Drayton for the wider world, and became Jim Barry.

Sam Langford
Jim's start up the ranks of boxing are not known, but he eventually made a modest name for himself. He was characterized as a "hard-hitting white cowboy" ... who did not mind fighting the top black heavyweights of the Chitlin' Circuit. Although he did not beat Sam Langford--only to a draw, in their many fights--Barry did deck the Boston fighter on two occasions.

According to his May 1915 passport application, Barry was born in 1886 in St. Vincent, Minnesota, and called Drayton, North Dakota, his place of residence. He listed his occupations as "engineer and boxer" - what kind of engineer, we do not know, but if true, it was as a vocation between 'day laborer' and 'boxer'.

After returning from London, Barry went into treatment for cocaine addiction.  He was released from a New York hospital after taking the "Coke Cure" in July 2015.  The government was starting to crack down on cocaine and other drugs that had previously been unregulated. I think Barry had to get straight or risk losing chances to fight, or even get arrested.  So he was trying to straighten up. 

An article in the Pembina Pioneer Express for March 30, 1917, has this notation:
James Barry, whose right name was Rogers, is reported killed down in the Panama zone. Barry was raised in Drayton this county, and has relatives there. He had some repute as a heavyweight pugilist... 
To quote coverage in the Panama Star & Herald, 12 March 1917:
Jim Barry was shot and killed in the Lobby Hotel in Colon. His slayer was C. Jerrett, usually known as 'Tex Martin.' Martin accosted Barry in the Lobby Hotel bar and Barry pushed him back, saying that he didn't want anything to do with him. (There had been an altercation between them in Panama City the previous day, stemming from a disagreement over a gambling debt.) Martin then pulled a Colt 44 and shot Barry three times. Barry staggered out of the bar and fell dead. Martin was quickly arrested after the shooting and later stood trial for murder. Apparently it was found that Martin had been threatened by Barry, was acting in self-defense, and was released. He was later reported to have been killed in San Antonio, Texas.
"There was a story that when he died Barry was in possession of a gold and silver belt entrusted to him by none other than John L. Sullivan. The belt was never recovered."  December 10, 1912 Tacoma Times article. [Source: BoxRec]

Source:  The Little Book of Boxing

 A narrow escape:  Barry was carrying a fight purse when he
almost lost it - a serious financial loss averted by pure luck.

"On this date..." - Jimmy Barry, real name Louis
Edgar Rogers, born in St. Vincent, Minnesota!

1 - While Mary was listed as 'Canadian/French' in the 1900 U.S. Census (now living in Drayton, ND), in the Minnesota Territorial Census for 1885 (while living in St. Vincent, and later that year giving birth to Louis), Louis' mother is listed - out of the five choices given - as 'Mulatto' (one definition of that word meant half white, half Indian). In the 1910 census she was listed as simply 'Indian'. It can be confusing to the researcher what to make of such various ways of describing people's ethnicities and racial makeups, but it's fairly simple in this case. Mary was either born in Canada, or her parents were. She was probably a mixture of a First Nation mother and a French Canadian father. Louis' father was listed as Irish.

StVHS Sports: 1927/28

Vintage St. Vincent High School pennant from 1920s

[Guest article by Michael Rustad, originally from nearby Humboldt, MN]

In the summer of 1999, my daughter Erica and I visited the town of St. Vincent.

There is no longer a bridge connecting the central business districts of Pembina, North Dakota and St. Vincent. The old bridge connecting the towns that I remember as a child has long been dismantled. The places that I remember in St. Vincent have long since closed. Short's Cafe, Sylvester's Store, the Curling Rink, St. Ann's Catholic Church, and the St. Vincent Fairgrounds. The curling rink is now neglected and in state of decay. The Church is a private residence. The St. Vincent School, too, is in a state of benign neglect. The school is in disrepair and the fire escape slide detached.

It was difficult for me to explain to my daughter that St. Vincent was once a bustling community. We attended catechism each summer in the basement of St. Ann's Catholic Church. We had a large number of ball games in the yard outside the church which is now overgrown and marred by abandoned cars. When my sister and I visited the Kittson County Museum in Lake Bronson, I was amazed to find some high school yearbooks [called Borderlines] from St. Vincent High School. St. Vincent High School closed in the late 1930s and never reopened. Instead, it eventually consolidated its school district with Humboldt from 1957 to 1991.
[Note from Trish:  In-between StVHS closing and St. Vincent consolidating with Humboldt, students had the choice of attending Pembina High School, or other schools in Kittson County like Hallock...]
It was an unexpected joy to find yearbooks from the St. Vincent High School from the 1920s. This was a yearbook from a small town in NW Minnesota prior to the Depression. High school life in St. Vincent was marked by lots of school spirit judging from the many activities. St. Vincent fielded a football team, basketball team, hockey team, track team and baseball team in [school year] 1927/28.

"If you could walk or run, you were in the starting line-up."

A yearbook entry from 1927/28 reveals that St. Vincent fielded a competitive football team. The team photograph above included:
Front: Harris Easter, John Fitzpatrick, Allen Smith, Billy MacKay, Jimmy Bernath.
Center: Ralph Cameron, Johnny Smith, Donald Hutchins, Merlin Twamley.
Back: G.H. Good (Professor & Coach), Fred Stranger, Jim Gooselaw, George Sylvester. 
The first game of the fall 1927 season pitted Stephen against St. Vincent in a home game. John Fitzpatrick and Merlin Twamley, the tackles on the St. Vincent team, were described as husky and good tacklers. George Sylvester, later to become proprietor of Sylvester's General Store made what was described as a "sensational run of 60 yards" to score a touchdown. Jim Gooselaw scored another touchdown on a 70 yard punt return. Stephen won the game 26 to 12. This game was held as one of the attractions of the St. Vincent Fair. The reporter for the game wrote: "The game was played on a warm afternoon with very little wind to interfere. The game was played in connection with the Kittson County Fair. It was added as a special feature."

St. Vincent next traveled to Neche and played a game in miserable conditions of rain and mud. Both teams were backed in the shadow of the goal posts. Neche scored seconds before the end of the game to beat St. Vincent 6-0. St. Vincent moved the ball better than Neche and had twice as many first downs (8 versus 4).

The third game of the season was played in Stephen. Stephen won 47-0 despite Jim Gooselaw's heroics. Gooselaw carried the ball for 256 yards and George Sylvester carried the ball for another 56 yards.

The fourth game of that fall was played on October 19 at St. Vincent against Neche. This game was described as a punter's dual between Lee of Neche and Gooselaw from St. Vincent. Gooselaw, however, ran 60 yards for a score followed by another long gain by Fred Stranger. Stranger, St. Vincent's quarterback, scored and the game ended 12-0.

St. Vincent was beaten decisively by Cavalier. Cavalier's team in 1927 consisted of all seniors. The reporter described Cavalier as the strongest team in the state. Cavalier beat Devils Lake, Valley City and Grafton, so that a defeat of 67-0 "...at the hands of Cavalier was no disgrace."

Jim Bernath, a star player on the team became a leading citizen and one of our neighbors. Jim and Dora Bernath had two children, Mary Ann and Jerry, who were classmates. Merlin Twamley, one of the leading tacklers, had a large family with a child in nearly every grade of the Humboldt-St.Vincent School. Billy MacKay ran the Customs House at Noyes (succeeding his father1). Fred Stranger become the proprietor of a popular cafe in St. Vincent. The Easters were long associated with the St. Vincent Elevator.

The 1927/28 tennis team featured Ralph Cameron, James Bernath, James Gooselaw, Donald Hutchins, Brooks Perry and William MacKay.

St. Vincent's Track Team was the best in the area. Jim "Ace" Gooselaw was one of its top track stars and won numerous first place ribbons and trophies.  James Bernath is pictured as a lanky young man with glasses holding a shot put. I always remember Jim Bernath with that cheerful visage, one of the good guys!

Standing:  James Gooselaw, Fred Stranger, James Bernath, George Sylvester, and Ralph Cameron.
Seated:  Brooks Perry.  Note the athletes holding the disc, shot put, and javelin.  Perry holds a trophy,
but we cannot read the plate as to what it was for.  One can only wonder where the pennants, trophies,
and other objects of the school's history are now - Kittson Central H.S.?  Kittson County Museum?

St. Vincent won the county track meet held at Hallock by a score of 86 1/2 to 39 1/2. James Gooselaw scored 33 1/2 points almost equally the second place team. Gooselaw won seven firsts and tied for a third. Gooselaw won every event: all dashes and weight events. Carlson from Hallock won the high jump at 5 ft. 1 inch. Anderson of Hallock won the baseball throw. Gooselaw faced little competition in any event. Anderson was described as the "sensational Hallock speed marvel." St.Vincent High School won "the beautiful loving cup." The reporter for the meet noted that "...the boys say they are going to keep it."

Another meet was held on May 11th with four contesting teams. The high school boys won the trophy for top track team for three successive teams. "The Upper Grade Boy" returned with the pennant, allotted their group, with a large margin. The trophy offered the highest "school tally" is now in the hands of the St. Vincent School.

In another track meet St. Vincent won first place in the first five events, second place in the following three events and fourth place in the ninth event. Once again, Jim Gooselaw was the crown jewel of the St. Vincent track team, winning more "...first place ratings than any contesting team." The reporter also mentioned the contributions of Roy Clow, George Sylvester, Ralph Cameron, Harris Easter, Fred Stranger, Jim Bernath, Brooks Perry and Donald Hutchins. The events mentioned in the track stories were: 1) 75 Yard Dash; 2) 8 pound shot put; 3) running high jump; 4) running broad jump and 5) relay races.

The yearbook also mentioned some of the track teams of the lower grades. Winton Cameron and Nazareth Gooselaw were stars on the Upper Grade Track Team. Louis and Manual Gooselaw won 1st and 2d place in every event. The reporter hopes that Manual will join the High School Team the next year. He also has high hopes for Louis, his younger brother. St. Vincent's athletic success could be summarized with three word: the Gooselaw family! The Gooselaw girls were also strong athletes. Rose and Violet were excellent players for the upper grade girls. Rose Gooselaw,Violet Cleem, Mary Stranger and Mary Easter were upper grade girls who excelled in sports. The girl's high school track team featured Mamie Cleem, Isabel Fitzpatrick, Lelia Davis, Fidessa Wilkie and Alberta Fitzpatrick.

The year book also mentioned that the girls competed in a singing contest, winning second place. St. Vincent had outstanding community support for its teams. St. Vincent, which is 20 miles from Hallock, had 100 students and supporters at the County Track Meet.

The St. Vincent baseball team (no photo of the team in yearbook) played Lancaster in their first game that year losing 7 to 6. The yearbook reported upcoming games with Hallock and Pembina.

The St. Vincent lineup had Robert Cameron as Pitcher; Jim Gooselaw as Catcher, Jim Bernath at First Base; Herb Easter at Second Base; Manual Gooselaw at Third Base; Billy MacKay as Short Stop; Fred Stranger in Center Field; Brooks Perry in Left Field; and J. Bielemayer in Right Field. Arnold Reese, Allen Smith and Don Hutchins were reserves.

I would be remiss in not mentioning the girls' basketball team from 1927/28. The starting lineup had Mamie Cleem as Center. Fern Fitzpatrick was the right forward. Lelia Davis was the left forward. The guards were Isabelle Fitzpatrick and Fidessa Wilkie. Verlie Cameron was the first reserve to come in. Violet Cleem and Mae Gamble were also reserves. The first game was the high school team versus the women from the town of St. Vincent.

Members of the town team: Eva Parenteau, Dorothy Bernath, Edith Clow, Ruth Davis, Flora Perry, and Cecilia Bielemeyer. The girls had colorful nicknames. Mamie Cleem was known as "Slivers". Ferne Fitzpatrick was nicknamed "Coon". Fidessa Wilkie was "Fido" and Verlie Cameron was the "Plug." Violet Cleem's nickname was "Cutie." The game on December 9, 1927 ended with a tie.

St. Vincent Girls WIN!
St. Vincent's team played their second game with Stephen. The boy's coach, Good, acted as referee. The game was rough. Isabelle Fitzpatrick (Issy) cracked two fingers. Ferne "Coon" Fitzpatrick twisted a knee and was substituted for by Cutie Cleem. Mamie Cleem led all scores with 12 points followed by Cutie with 6 and Lelia "Lee" Davis with 3. It must have been a tough match. Even the referee got knocked against the wall and lost his whistle. The final score was 21 to 16 in favor of St. Vincent. 

St. Vincent lost the return match with Stephen on January 20, 1928. The reporter noted, "Cutie played in Coon's place on account of the latter's sore leg." Again, the game was physical: "Issy received a large lump on her arm from her small Swede forward." Pembina played the St. Vincent woman's team on February 8, 1928. The game ended in a 10 to 10 tie!

I found the St. Vincent yearbooks to be interesting records of what was obviously a very spirited high school. As I drove past the forlorn building in August of 1999 with my daughter, I tried to take my mind's eye back to the school's heyday in the 1920s.

1 - From MacKay v. Railway Express Agency, Inc.: William Fraser MacKay became a custom-house broker in 1900, while in charge of the office of the Great Northern Railway Company and the Great Northern Express Company at St. Vincent, Minnesota, then a port of entry located four miles south of Noyes, and ever since that time his main business has been the custom-house brokerage business. In 1904 the Great Northern and Soo Lines built a joint station at Noyes and the United States Customs Office was then moved to Noyes. In 1905 plaintiff was employed in a supervisory capacity for the joint station of the two railroads and he continued in that capacity until June 11, 1946. Plaintiff's duties with these two railroads were supervisory in character and required only a limited portion of his time. These duties were performed by him in addition to his duties as a custom-house broker. At the same time that plaintiff became the supervisory agent of the two railroads he also became supervisory agent of the two express companies then operating, and he continued in this capacity for the two express companies until they were absorbed by the American Railway Express Company as of July 1, 1918. This company was formed as a war measure for the purpose of consolidating the seven express companies then in existence and was employed by the Director General of Railroads to conduct the express transportation business on all lines of railroad under federal control. During the period immediately following the advent of the American Railway Express Company plaintiff was the only individual custom-house broker at the Port of Noyes and he continued to conduct his custom-house brokerage business which he had built up over the preceding eighteen years and at that time he had powers of attorney for such purpose from approximately 75 per cent of the shippers and importers.

Ephraim Clow: Professional Pedestrian

Masthead of newspaper that had article about race Ephraim took part in, then resigned from under suspicious circumstances

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have out-walked the furthest city light.... 
~Robert Frost
Ephraim Clow was a cousin of mine on my grandmother's maternal line.  Family oral history said he was a long distance runner and had run in the Boston Marathon and won.  I had to find out if this was true or not.

I first found out that the Boston Marathon began in 1897.  Ephraim was born in 1854.  In 1897, he would have been 43.  Above-average age to be doing a marathon.  So I wondered, could this be a situation where the family oral history had a nugget of truth, but it wasn't quite how it was remembered?  In fact, it was.

First, I checked to see if Ephraim had ever been in Boston.  I found that he had.
Ambrose Clow, and his brothers, Charles, George, and Ephraim, went to Boston to seek their fortune. Around 1878-1880, he received word that land was available in Minnesota. Charles was sent to check out the territory. What he saw (in Kittson County) pleased him so he advised his brothers to join him in this new venture. Ambrose brought his new wife, Mathilda Crewye, who was also born on Prince Edward Island. Ambrose had a house built in Humboldt where he and his wife lived the rest of their lives. They had a son, George Victor, who was born 19 Nov 1880.  
 - From George Clow family lineage on Red River Valley website
A racing Pedestrian, being avidly
observed by spectators mid-race
I found out that during the early 1880s, Ephraim was a competitor in pedestrian  races, or "go-as-you-please" races. I've found him mentioned in newspaper articles during the right time period, and in Boston.  I had found my cousin.  And I had confirmed that the family oral history was true - just a bit wrong in the details!

To find out more about what race walking was like in its 'Golden Age', check out this podcast that features the author of the book - Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport – Matthew Algeo.

A passage from the book mentions Ephraim, alleges a possible scandal he may have been part of:
Early on the morning of the final day of the race, the Boston Globe reported, “...an utterly unexpected and exciting incident occurred...” - Ephraim Clow of Boston, who had been backed heavily to secure second place, and who stood third on the score-sheet, with every prospect in his favor, as he was undoubtedly the freshest man on the track, suddenly left the track and went to his room.  Inquiries were at once made as to the reason for his action. He gave various excuses, all of a flimsy character.  
I could find nothing else about the matter, or how it was resolved.

Ephraim eventually came to Kittson County as his brothers had done.  He and his family settled in the Humboldt, Minnesota area, where Ephraim farmed for some years.  By the time of the 1910 and 1920 censuses, the family is living in St. Vincent. Evidently they moved there from their farm, in their later years.

This article mentions Ephraim Clow in the middle of the final paragraph; he is
included among those with the best records in the O'Leary International Belt,
held in the old Madison Square Garden in New York City, in January 1881...

[Source:  New York Tribune, May 23, 1881 - chroniclingamerica.loc.gov]


Mrs. Roberts Wins History Award

"An annual award, History Educator Hall of Fame is presented to the teachers, one in each county, who are the most effective in teaching history of the region..."
Education Manitoba - Volume 2 by Eileen Pruden (1975)

Mrs. Martha Marie (Beck) Roberts,
was the recipient of the first annual
Red River Valley History Educator
 Hall of Fame Award
, 1972
[for Kittson County...]
Among the Red River Valley Historical Society's many projects over the years was establishment of liaisons between various historical organizations, educational institutions and individuals, and sponsoring a high school historical essay contest...

[From Red River Valley Historical Society Records collection at The Institute for Regional Studies (NDSU)]

The contest began as the “Historical Research Essay Contest" in 1965.  It was sponsored in the schools of the Red River Valley of Minnesota, North Dakota and Manitoba.

In a letter regarding the 1968 contest the stated purpose was:
“A. To alert youth of the Red River Valley to the wonders of its rich pioneer heritage; 
B. To acquaint our youth, through interviews and other research, with the fascinating lives of those who developed the Red River Valley;
C. To encourage scholarly research and writing among our high school students; and
D. To record matters of historical interest for the benefit of future generations.” 
Most years a specific theme was chosen by the society. In 1966 and 1967 it was biographies of local pioneers or places of historic interest, and in 1968 an artifact of historical interest was added.

In 1965 only four essays were submitted, but quickly grew to well over 100 a year. The first place award the first year went to Theresa Scholand of Mount St. Benedict Academy, Crookston, Minn. The 1966 winner, Rebecca Hole, was the first to be published in the society’s periodical, the Red River Valley Historian. Later years they established winners in junior high and senior high categories Future winners were published in issues of the Historian, succeeded by its Red River Valley Heritage Press. Essay contests continued into the 1990s with submissions after 1987 retained by the Red River Valley Heritage Society at their offices at the Heritage Hjemkomst Interpretive Center in Moorhead, MN.

[From Red River Valley Heritage Society Essay Contest Entries, 1965-1987 collection, Institute for Regional Studies & University Archives, NDSU) Collection number: Mss 5, 44, 69, & 252]

Dennis Matthews
[Senior Portrait 1944]
The inimitable, amazing, Mrs. Roberts. She was a memorable teacher in the best sense of the word. She expected the best and thus propelled you to give your best, time after time. For some of us, with her reputation proceeding her, we arrived in her classroom intimidated. For those that gave her a chance, they found out she was tough but fair. She was definitely...unforgettable.

It was Mrs. Roberts who promoted and inspired the students in her school in Humboldt, Minnesota, to find and preserve their local history via the Historical Essay program.

A portion of all the essays written for this contest -
those written by Humboldt-St. Vincent High School students
- were preserved by Dennis Matthews on the

Emerson Hockey Memories

Photo Source:  James McClelland

The team in the picture above is from the early 1960s. It was made up of players from Emerson, Dominion City, Letellier, Noyes, and players from UND.

Back row, left-right: John Mathes, Al Hayden-Luck, Ben Comeault, Unknown, Tony Loiselle (Goalie), Unknown, Ed Mackay, Alfred "Babe" Ayotte, Doug Gruenke, Gary Beckstead1.

Front Row left-right: Clayton Grey, Tom Forrest, Dean Beckstead, Donny Kernihan, Barry Solnes, Sam Leathers, Wilf Beaulieu (playing coach). "The unknown players probably were imports from Grand Forks; the team was often accused of bringing in imports", says James McClelland

James McClelland [formerly of Emerson] shared the photo with me, and the following commentary:
I am grateful for the opportunity to share some stories about hockey in Emerson. The town has a long history with the sport. The old corrugated steel rink built in the 1920's has seen a lot of hockey.  "The Barn", as it is lovingly known, is still used every winter and it still has natural ice. In late, out early.

An interesting feature of the old rink is that it was very narrow. The ice surface was narrow and the stands were very close to the boards. In the days before Plexiglas, fans were very close to the action. As a result it was not uncommon for fans to be injured by errant pucks and flying sticks. This narrow ice surface often gave the home team a bit of an advantage since they were accustomed to the narrow surface and used it to advantage in their game plan. Renovations however widened the rink and the installation of Plexiglas has made it safer for the spectators. 
Over the years teams from Emerson have played in various leagues and ad different levels. In the 1940s they played in an international league called, I believe, the States-Dominion League. Teams from Crookston, Thief River Falls, Grand Forks and Winnipeg played at a very competitive and skilled level.
Old Emerson A's team bus, put out to pasture (literally) - but all is not lost!  (Read Below...)

As a promising side-note to the memories above, there is exciting news about NEW hockey coming back to Emerson!!

Fighting Sioux, Gar Beckstead
Circa 1956
1 - Gary Beckstead came from a hockey family in Emerson.  His older brother Gar (Garfield Beckstead) was scouted by a number of NHL teams from the time he was 12 years old, attending several of their summer camps.

At age 17, he was invited by the Boston Bruins to join their farm team in Barry, Ontario, with the prospect of moving up to the National Hockey League.  At the same time, he was offered scholarships to several colleges, including the University of Colorado, the University of Minnesota, and the University of North Dakota. It was a hard decision since he could make $500 a week playing on the farm team, a large sum for a young man in the late 1950s.

In the end, he decided to attend college, and chose UND on an athletic scholarship.  During his time at UND, he was a star hockey player for the Fighting Sioux...

[Source:  Useppa:  An Ongoing Journey, by Ken and Pat Birt]

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