Posts Tagged ‘history’

The Amsterdam Fortune, 1920s

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Norwegian immigrants in the 1920s saw their chance at financial independence: an Amsterdam bank ran ads in newspapers looking for descendants of Elizabeth Sabo, a Manx woman who ended up in Norway after a ill-fated cow milking expedition.

The Amsterdam Fortune was her brother’s, bequeathed to the 6th generation of her offspring, to be paid on New Year’s Day 1927 who whatever heirs can be found.   Hundreds of hopeful immigrants paid $10 each to retain a lawyer to collect their $3,000,000 each, but nothing ever came of it.   If the internet had been around back then, they would already know that the rule was — as it is now — if a stranger asks for money to claim an inheritance, it’s probably a scam.

The Rusk Auto-House, 1915

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

One of the things my Wifey likes about me is that I geek out over weird things.  A few summers ago, while we were cruising rummage sales around Fargo, I started to geek out over a small building in an alley in the older section of town.  Yes, I’m a garage nerd, but for one particular one: The Rusk Auto-House was a solution to the fact that houses built before automobiles were common weren’t built with garages, or even planning on a garage on the property.   Fargo Cornice had the machinery and the know-how to build almost anything out of pressed steel.  In the early 1900s they saw this new market made up of  new car owners, and the Rusk Auto-House filled their need for automobile storage.   Amazingly, many still survive, still in the back yards of hundred-year-old houses.  One was once on the Register of Historic Places, and I’ve got photos of a couple more I’ve run across since I first posted the Auto-House page here; and, I didn’t even know there was a restored one over in North Fargo!  The advertisement above was a 1/2 page ad that appeared in the Fargo Forum in 1915, while an auto show was going on in town.  $139 in 1914 dollars is about $3,200 in 2013 dollars — and that’s about what it’ll cost you to get a steel garage today.

Dakota Death Trip

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Happy New Year, and maybe you haven’t heard, I’ve opened up a new small part of this website a couple months ago.   Dakota Death Trip is a compilation of vintage news articles, photos, and other information, combined to give a picture of the harsh uniqueness that was North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana homesteading a hundred years ago.  Start here for a more detailed explanation, or go to today’s story and work your way backwards to get the full effect.

Jesse James was a Piker, 1959

Friday, September 5th, 2008



Advertisement for a regular The Farmer feature known as “The Watchdog.” Full text available here. The use of the word “piker” doesn’t follow most definitions I can find: it usually means ‘miserly’ or a ‘hobo’, but the article uses it in a “thieving” context. If you do happen to be in the Northfield area, Jesse James Days are going on this weekend, and you can find out just how big a piker he was, first-hand.

The Invisible Jet Fighter

Sunday, March 16th, 2008


No, we’re not talking about stealth fightersGrumman’s invisible jet fighter was an example of a very early flight simulator. Using a Reeves analog computer, Grumman compiled test data using models and simulations to program the computer and ‘flight-test’ imaginary aircraft’s data against actual flight information. Analog simulators had been around for about a decade, and digital simulators were gaining a foothold (although, as the advertisement says, Grumman didn’t think much of digital simulation). Analog eventually gave way to real-time digital simulation with the Navy’s UDOFT, the Universal Digital Operational Flight Trainer, which started shortly before Grumman’s ad but wasn’t completed until 1960. As you might guess, these projects eventually spawned imitators in the private sector, resulting in grainy, wireframe simulators — that ran on small personal computers.