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Alexander adapts to keep Old Settlers Day festivities

Posted 8/29/12 (Wed)

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Bumper-to-bumper traffic combined with the reconstruction of U.S. Highway 85 through Alexander’s Main Street almost made the city leaders rethink having an Old Settlers’ Day celebration this year. Fortunately for residents, a little creative planning, perseverance, and cooperation from the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) will keep the road work from detouring an area tradition.
“The DOT said they would have the west side of the street done by the weekend,” states Jay Lewis, this year’s Old Settlers’ Day Committee chairman. So, according to Lewis, other than some possible parking issues, “It’s the same Old Settlers’ Day celebration,” just with a few twists and one new addition.
As best as the committee could, they moved the parade and street dance off Main Street, according to Kay Glick, an Old Settlers’ Day Committee member. In addition, they added a Horse Shoe Tournament to Saturday’s events.
Dean Hayes, owner of the Hi-Way Lounge in Alexander, states that registration for the tournament will be from 12 to 1 p.m. on Saturday, behind the Hi-Way Lounge and the tournament will begin at 1 p.m.
Anyone interested in participating can contact Hayes at the Hi-Way Lounge at 828-3100. Play will consist of two-man teams and the cost is $5 to play.
“Anyone without a partner can come and be paired with someone,” states Hayes. “Everyone who plays will get a free beer from the Hi-Way Lounge, and there are other gifts and prizes to be won.”
This year’s beef for the annual barbecue will be donated by the children of Val and Ruth (Carlson) Heinz and the grandchildren of Jack and Florence Carlson.
Jack was born Folke Alel Teodore Krlsson in Toresbo, Sweden, on June 16, 1905. He was the son of dairy farmers and the second youngest of nine children.
In 1924, at 19 years of age, he immigrated to Canada with his brother, Harald. They made their way to Pender Harbour, British Columbia, where they worked as lumberjacks for L & M Co. Camp.
In May, they requested and received permission to enter the United States. They worked as lumberjacks in Washington until they met someone who told them about farming on the prairie in North Dakota.
They were hired by Ed Sanders, father of Roger Sanders, to shock wheat. Ed couldn’t remember Folke’s name and asked if he could call him Jack.
Florence Burdella Warnes was the youngest of nine children, born on Sept. 13, 1908, in Argustville, N.D., to Norwegians living in Minnesota.
When Florence was two, her parents decided to leave Minnesota and homestead south of Alexander. Florence’s father passed away when she was five of tuberculosis. Florence lived in Alexander, raised by her mother and older brothers and sisters.
Florence and Jack met while at a dance around 1930 and married on March 14, 1934.
The couple rented a farm four miles north of Rawson, where they had three girls. In 1943, they purchased the Arne Loken farm northeast of Alexander, where the family still owns a home.
Jack passed away in 1964 at the age of 59. Florence farmed for one more year with the help of her son-in-law, Val, and daughter, Ruth. They rented and later purchased the farm, where the next chapter begins.
Ruth, the daughter of Jack and Florence Carlson, was raised in Alexander and graduated from Williston High School in the 1950s. Ruth earned her teaching certificate from Valley State Teacher’s College and taught in Grenora, before deciding to go on an adventure.
She moved to Portland, Ore., where her sister resided, and taught elementary school.
Val was born and raised in Ipswich, S.D. He had six older brothers and sisters who had laid claim to his family’s farm, so he moved to Portland, Ore., in 1959 and lived with his sister and her husband. He got a job at ESCO, working at the foundry alongside his brother-in-law.
In the spring of 1960, Ruth and Val met and were married in the fall of that same year after a brief courtship.
They had four children in quick succession, and upon the death of Ruth’s father, Jack, they decided to move back to North Dakota and farm with Ruth’s mother, Florence.
Val and Ruth purchased the International Dealership in Alexander in 1977 with Ed and Claire Leer and served the community by selling and fixing farm machinery. Val and Ruth were very involved in the community. As their children moved away, they traveled the country seeing many interesting places and visiting their children and grandchildren. Ruth passed away in 1993 at the age of 56 and Val passed away five years later at the age of 60. They are missed by their community and their children, but they have left a legacy to be admired.
This 67th after-harvest celebration should be a good one, according to Lewis.
“Our goal is for people to come and stay the whole day,” states Lewis.
This year’s Old Settlers’ Day will start on Thursday, Aug. 30 with a bonfire east of the park at 7 p.m.
On Friday, Aug. 31, there will be a Wagon Train organized by Milt Madison. Anyone interested in participating can call Madison at 701-828-3507. Then from 3 to 7 p.m., there will be a Chili Cook-off in the firehall and from 6 to 9 p.m. everyone can enjoy some old-time music at the firehall.
Registration for Saturday’s events will be from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Lewis & Clark Museum. Also, in the Alexander Park, vendor booths will be set up throughout the day. Saturday will start with a parade at 11 a.m., one block over from the Lewis & Clark Museum on Buffalo Street. The parade will go down Manning and turn east toward the school, where it will circle around the ball field. The parade will make two laps and the route will be clearly marked for anyone who wants to watch.
A barbecue will follow the parade at noon in the park. Then at 1 p.m., the Carlson and Heinz families will entertain the crowd with a program honoring their parents and grandparents.
From 1 to 4 p.m., on the Alexander School football field, the Children’s Carnival, will be taking place with Karaoke, fun and games.
The evening will end with a street dance which goes from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. and is on the street by the city hall and the fire hall. If there is bad weather, it will move indoors.
The Old Settlers’ Day Committee asks people to be careful not to block driveways when finding a place to park and to watch for traffic when crossing the street. People interested in being part of the parade may call Glick at 701-828-3044.
A $2 Old Settler’s Button is the admission ticket for all the activities and may be purchased at the gas station, the cafe and both bars, and will be available in the park that day.