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Letters from Homesteaders


Farmer Philip Greenberg reported on behalf of the colonists in 1901:

“We had a very good crop this year and all of the Jewish farmers were greatly benefited by the threshing machine which the Jewish Agricultural and Industrial Society of New York placed here.  All of the farmers threshed in good season.  This is the first time that the crop of the Jewish farmers has been threshed before November since they have been here.”  (North Dakota History, Jewish Colonies at Painted Woods and Devils Lake.)


Davis Rubin wrote a letter that was printed by the Historical Society of North Dakota:

“I settled in 1892.  I took a homestead and bought land (a quarter section).  Got money from the Jewish Society of New York at six percent.   We got money from the local banks at twelve percent and a bonus of ten percent, so can’t wonder a Jew couldn’t farm.  The first Jewish settlement was founded by Baron de Hirsch.  He was a millionaire and left money for these settlements.  He built them homes and got them farming outfits, but most of them left in ’88 or ’89. There was no donations.  When I come in 1892 all the colonial settlers left except three or four.  Most of the Jews that came in the 90s made good. The colonial settlers had a rabbi and everything in the religious line.  But there was very little improvement in the county and very little to do.  When they threshed, they slept in the straw piles and drank slough water, and they decided most anything would be better than farming, so they left.  The Jewish Relief would lend $500 to $800 on a quarter section of land. My home was in Overland Township, T. 857, R. 62, Section 30.” 

signed Davis Rubin


Excerpted from an article in the *Hampdon Newspapers, written about 1912

Abraham Calof, the Sage of Overland township points out the advantages of the township clubs and wants some organized. "Many times a man lives thru something which he does not take earnestly, not thinking that it will sometimes make the first play on life.  Of course we mean individual life but it is a true fact that such happenings occur in communities and also in nations, one side of a man turning or forming a whole group and the whole life becomes different and with other results.  It is not quite a year, or in the winter of 1911, when the county superintendent of schools, J.A. Haig, called a meeting of the school board directors in the county court building.  …He showed the pleasure of a sociable life, and with glancing words showed what uniting will do and with inspiration cried out:  ‘farmers form clubs in your townships, come together in your clubs oftener and oftener.’ It is not quite a year since Mr. Hale has sown these kernels and the results are already seen.  Clubs have been formed and already a new life shines in the farmers atmosphere.  Many of the hardships that the farmer was compelled to undergo, and which he kept to himself because he had no remedy for them at hand, can now be removed and instead of forsaken farms and divided families, where the children of the farms fly away to the cities like birds from their nests, the farm home will then become a real ‘home sweet home.’  "

Dear people, I am a friend of everything that lives and breathes, but as I am a farmer. I love the farmer best and therefore would like to see him happy.  I know that everything he owns was bathed in his own sweat and therefore I see that the club in his community is the angel of his fortune." 

Mr. Calof goes on to suggest that the clubs have buildings with a stage, a piano and maybe a skating rink.  These clubs would sponsor dances, plays, debates, discussion about farm business etc.  He ends with:  “Nothing is too big or heavy if we have the will to finish the task set before us.”

* Mike Connor writes, "Hampden is a small community (still in existence) about 4 miles further east on ND#17 and than 9 miles north on Ramsey County #3....they had a newspaper at that time..."

And some sentiment from Julius Glickson who is best known for being the proprietor of a clothing store in Devils Lake. This was sent by his grandson from a date/address book from 1923.

“One thing that goes the farthest toward making life worthwhile, that cost the least and does the most.  It is just a pleasant smile.  Smile.  Smile a while and while you smile, another smiles and soon there is miles and miles of smiles and life is worthwhile because you smile.” 


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