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Dakota Datebook


Dakota Datebook written by Jim Davis

June 24, 2019 — On this date in 1897, the Jamestown Weekly Alert announced that Frank James had been captured.

A young cowboy known as Lee Allen had drifted into Mandan and began working at the Mackin Ranch south of Mandan. Allen locked the nineteen-year-old rancher’s son in the cellar and then robbed the house, escaping with a stolen horse and saddle.

Morton County Sheriff Charles McDonald learned that Allen had entered the employ of the OX Ranch in Montana. He traveled the two hundred miles, surprised Allen as he slept on his gun and returned him to North Dakota to stand trial.

It was soon learned that Allen’s real name was Frank James and that he was a cousin of the notorious James brothers. He had recently escaped from the South Dakota state prison but was to remain a guest of North Dakota until December 9, 1899.



Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

June 26, 2019 — The town of Gackle celebrated its Centennial this weekend in 2004. There used to be a settlement named Hackney about six miles south of present-day Gackle where, in 1903, George Elhard, George Gackle and John Gross of Kulm built a store. They renamed the site Gackle, and Elhard became the postmaster.

When the Northern Pacific Railroad bypassed the site, the town was moved north, and the little settlement — instead of going back to the name of Hackney — gave itself the name Minister, but it soon became a ghost town.

Gackle, on the other hand, soon had a restaurant, lumber yard, real estate offices, harness shop, livery and feed stable, hotel and a “small building for handling refreshments.”

Another town celebrating its centennial that weekend was Alfred in LaMoure County. The town’s promoter, Richard Sykes, named it after Alfred the Great, King of England, and the town’s streets were given classic British names like Avon, Warwick and Winchester.

“Dakota Datebook” is a radio series from Prairie Public in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota and with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council. See all the Dakota Datebooks at, or subscribe to the “Dakota Datebook” podcast.