25 Years Ago – 1994

The race track at Dacotah Centennial Park transformed into a rodeo arena for the 37th annual Mandan Jaycees-sponsored annual Rodeo Days, held July 1, 2, 3 and 4, with activities for everyone during the four days of perfect 80–degree weather – a rodeo dance near Midway Lanes; Symphony on the Prairie performed by the Bis–Man Orchestra at Fort Lincoln State Park; the 13th annual Art in the Park with 90 artists and crafters; the popular July 4th Parade; the 17th annual road race; concluding with a huge $6,000 fireworks display, sponsored by Super Valu stores.

“It’s gonna be hard to top these rodeo days next year,” said Del Wetsch, events coordinator for the Mandan Progress Organization. “We threw a party and everybody came!”

Grand Marshal of this year’s parade was Mandan resident Paul O’Neill, silver medalist at the World’s gymnastics competition. He was followed by 127 other parade entries, including the Heather–Belle Ladies Bag Pipe band from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. However, the roar of the crowd could be heard blocks away whenever the Cass–Clay semi-truck slowly passed by, decorated as a Holstein cow. The semi, entirely draped in white sheets with black spots, had its cab decked out as a cow’s face with huge ears poking out from the side doors, plus a long, black rope “tail” hanging from the rear doors.

Probably, the most embarrassing parade entry was an undecorated car which had taken a wrong turn, and found its occupants heading west down Main Street, behind the horses and in front of a string of tractors.

This year’s good news – the overwhelming success of this year’s rodeo days pushed the Jaycees finances in the “black” for the first time since the move to the new fairgrounds several years ago. According to Kris Foster, Jaycees president, “Gone are the debts, including a bank loan, plus there’s a profit of nearly $2,000 in our funds.”

The 37th annual Mandan Jaycees rodeo featured 604 cowboys, with close to $60,000 in prize money paid out, according to Ray Morrell, the Jaycees’ rodeo chairman. The final day’s attendance, standing room only, was estimated at 6,000, with a total of 12,000 for all three days.


Temps recorded Tuesday, July 5: a high of 84 degrees; 56 degrees for the low.

50 Years Ago – 1969

A large crowd attended the 9th annual Mandan Jaycee RCA-approved rodeo which drew 89 entries in its seven events, some coming as far away as New Mexico, California and Texas. Prize money totaled $2,850 for all seven events. Ray Mosbrucker and Jerry Hopfaul served as this year’s Mandan Rodeo chairmen.

Fred Harm has been installed as the president of the Mandan Aerie of the Fraternal Order of Eagles; he succeeds Gerald Frohlich. Harm has been an active member of the local Eagles group since its formation in 1946. He is employed as salesman for Cloverdale Foods.

Effective July 1, eastern Morton County has a new school district covering 731 sections of land with a taxable evaluation of more than $14 million. In an eight to one margin, voters in Mandan and 10 rural school districts overwhelmingly agreed to a reorganization plan at a special election held Monday, June 20. The final vote count was 1,134 yes, 150 no. With the creation of the new school district, a new school board must also be chosen, having four members from Mandan and five from the rural areas.

75 Years Ago – 1944

The 1944 Mandan rodeo is history, and Leo Cremer, rodeo producer, is supervising the next trip to Nampa, Idaho, for another three-day rodeo event. Ken Roberts of Strong City, Kan., earned the championship all-around title at Mandan over 50 other cowboys, with a total of 379.50 points; the points also indicate the dollars won.

Near-perfect weather for the entire three days helped boost attendance figures to a new record, with estimates of more than 16,000 people attending Mandan’s three-day event – including up to 9,000 in the stands just during the afternoon of the Fourth.


Across the ocean, on the other side of the globe, guns of American warships and rockets of carrier planes shattered Japanese bases on the Fourth of July, 700 miles south of Tokyo. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz said the Fourth of July attacks left an enemy destroyer dead in the water and burning, damaged several cargo ships and set fire to harbor installations and warehouses; carrier planes also shot down more than 50 Japanese planes.


“Pfc. Leo F. Schafer, 24, son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael J. Schafer of Flasher, was killed during the Normandy invasion in France on June 9, according to a notice received by the War Department. Schafer enlisted in the army on March 30, 1942, his birthday. In addition to his parents, he is survived by 10 brothers and sisters.

“Walter Kottsick, son of Mrs. Kate Kottsick, St. Anthony, has been promoted to Staff Sergeant. He is currently stationed at Galveston, Texas.

“S-2/c Kenneth Trauger has arrived safely overseas, according to a notice received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. N. S. Trauger, Mandan.

“Harold Navratil, son of Mrs. Elizabeth Navratil, and Donald Hunke, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hunke, have left for induction at Ft. Snelling. They are both ‘44 graduates of Mandan High School and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.”

100 Years Ago – 1919

News from Versailles, France – “After nearly six months of conference, the World War formerly ended on June 28 by the signing of the peace treaty with Germany. The meeting was held in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, where the German delegates, the first to sign, affixed their signatures, followed by the American delegation, headed by President Wilson, and then by the representatives of Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, and finally followed by the minor powers in alphabetical order. The booming of cannon announced the completion of the ceremony.


"James Melarvie received word yesterday that his son, Lt. V. J. Melarvie, had landed in New York. His daughter, Inez, who went abroad as a Red Cross nurse, arrived within one hour after her brother.

“William Yunck, who went over with the First North Dakota, returned to Mandan this past week. He has seen over a year’s foreign service.

“Sgt. Ole Hanson, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. K Hanson, returned today from New York where he arrived after wartime service with the American Railroad in France.

“Jake Tokach, who has been in the service here and in France for the past two years, returned to Mandan today after being mustered out from Camp Dodge, Iowa.

“A most enjoyable party was held at the Mandan Town and Country Club on the evening of July 4th, with more than 150 of Mandan’s society people in attendance. At six o’clock, everyone enjoyed a sumptuous supper served a la cafeteria, in charge of Mrs. Jos. Hess and a corps of ladies. Following a patriotic program, the remainder of the evening, until well after midnight, was spent in dancing, with excellent music provided by the Mandan orchestra.”

125 Years Ago– 1894

“On Thursday, July 5, at 2:30 p.m., the thermometer recorded 90 degrees above zero.

“It has been a pretty long week. A nationwide railway strike began June 29. Trains at a standstill in North Dakota.

“The Fourth celebration at New Salem was one of the most successful events in its history and attracted a large and good-natured crowd from throughout the county. With Mandan not having a celebration this year, our own Mr. A. Boley brought his horse by ferry to Bismarck and drove the winning horse in the principle trotting race there.

“A very fine display of fireworks ordered by Mr. Heegard is on a train, somewhere between St. Paul and Mandan.

“On behalf of Mandan citizens, Mayor McDougal has wired the Postmaster General, protesting against any further delay in getting the mail.

“Robert Speakman, of the New Salem hotel, was in town Saturday and kindly tendered his services to haul the weekly Pioneer back to New Salem, thus enabling our subscribers to get the latest news.

“A local man this week kicked on paying 50 cents a week for the Daily Pioneer, because it was the same cost as receiving the Minneapolis Journal for a month. He was courteously advised to keep taking the Journal.

“The readers of the Pioneer will remember that Mandan has had no mail or passenger train service since the 28th of June. This is the eighth day, and nobody knows how many more such days we shall have. However, the Pioneer has kept the citizens of Mandan informed of the important news from the outside world by means of the wires.”

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Diane Boit was raised and educated in the Red River Valley before coming to Mandan with her family in 1970. She has been involved with the Bismarck-Mandan newspapers for more than 30 years. She can be reached at dboit46@gmail.com.