“I thought you would get a chuckle out of the ‘Frozen Treats’ stamp folder,” Scottie Miller, Dilworth, writes Neighbors. That scratch-and-sniff stamp is shown here.

“Do you suppose it’s this type of creativity that’s causing the rising cost of postage?” Scottie wonders.

What do you think, neighbors?

Walcott’s early days

Speaking of the postal service, here’s a story about the history of Walcott, N.D., that involves its first postmaster. And a Poor Farm. And a murder.

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It comes from Arnold Jordheim, of Walcott, who originally had it published in the county newspaper.

“The early days of Walcott were much more exciting than now,” Arnold writes.

Frank Walcott was the first postmaster in 1881, after he had filed to plat out the village in December 1879. He had prior knowledge of the railroad coming through in 1880. The town developed quite fast after that.

“Mr. Walcott remained as postmaster until he returned to Walcott, Iowa, where he had come from. Frank’s father, William Walcott, had Walcott, Iowa, named after him in 1854. It was on the first rail line to cross the Mississippi, and the town developed fast after the railroad came through.

“Walcott, Iowa, has about 1,600 people, whereas Walcott, N.D., has 235.

“In 1886, the postmaster in Walcott, N.D., was Knut Hagen, who also was a Richland County commissioner.

“In the fall of 1885, Henry Trimble, a local barber, had hopped on a train in Walcott and gone someplace in Montana. He had abandoned his wife and children without telling them where he was going or for how long.

“With Henry gone without providing for his family, they soon ran out of resources and means to buy coal, food, etc.

“With winter coming on, Knut thought that to prevent them from freezing and starving, he arranged for them to be taken to the Richland County Poor Farm located about a mile south of Wahpeton, N.D., where they could spend the winter and receive warm shelter, food and other necessities.

“The Poor Farm, which was on 240 acres of land by the Bois de Sioux River, had been established in 1895. Henry Bader was the farm’s first superintendent, and his wife Catherine was the matron in charge of all the household affairs, including the meals in the big common dining room.

“Most of the meat, milk, eggs and garden produce was produced right on the farm. All who were able-bodied were expected to help with the chores that they were capable of doing, so the farm could, as much as possible, be self-sustaining.

“Some folks staying there were old and not healthy enough to work much, but they were cared for, anyway. The county helped with their medical needs, etc.

“The children who were there were sent to the nearest one-room school.

“The last caretakers of the Poor Farm were Gust and Josie Christianson, who served from about 1936 through most of the 1940s until they retired; then the Poor Farm was shut down.

“Gust grew up in the Walcott area. He had two brothers, Clarence and Arthur, who both farmed west of Walcott.

“Most counties had a Poor Farm in earlier times because there was no such thing as food stamps, fuel assistance or welfare checks. However in later years, when Social Security and other assistance programs came into being, most of them were discontinued.

“The Cass County Poor Farm,” Arnold says, “was located at the site of Trollwood Park in north Fargo. I’m sure there are stories to tell about that, also.”

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Small-town murder

“About the Walcott murder,” Arnold continues, “when Henry Trimble finally returned from Montana in the spring of 1886, he discovered his family was gone and Knut Hagen had been responsible for them being taken to the Poor Farm.

“There was some stigma attached to having to go to the Poor Farm, so Trimble became enraged and went over to John Nord’s tavern where Knut was refreshing himself, and shot him dead on the spot.

“Henry then ran out of town to the east carrying his weapon, but was hunted down by Severin Rockstad, the local blacksmith, who also was a county deputy.

“Severin quickly mounted his white horse that he had tied behind his blacksmith shop on Main Street, soon located Trimble and ordered him to surrender himself. Trimble resisted, however, so Severin fired a warning shot that grazed Trimble’s shoulder, wounding him slightly. Rockstad then marched him back to town where his wound was bandaged up at the drugstore of Doc Bean. He then transported him on the train to the Richland County jail in Wahpeton.

“But security there must have been somewhat lax, because Trimble escaped and hid in the woods near the river where the Poor Farm was located and where his wife and children were living. At night he would sneak in and his wife would give him some food.

“But the children had mentioned to the caretaker that their father was there in the night, so the sheriff was notified and Trimble was soon caught again and put back in jail.

“A date was set for his trial, but before that came, Trimble hanged himself in his cell. And so ends,” Arnold writes, “the saga of Walcott’s only murder.”

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email blind@forumcomm.com.