Martin Hector

Martin Hector

Martin Hector
Lewis F. Crawford, North Dakota Biography, vol. 2 of History of North Dakota (Chicago: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1931), 480.

Martin Hector is considered to be one of the most influential pioneers in the City of Fargo. His dedication to the city went above and beyond what was asked of him. Martin lived in Fargo most of his life and died here in 1938. Martin, along with other prominent leaders of Fargo, gave it the push it needed to become the successful city it is today.

Martin Hector's Signature

Martin Hector’s Signature
 Lewis F. Crawford, North Dakota Biography, vol. 2 of History of North Dakota (Chicago: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1931), 480.

In 2000, a woman by the name of Susie Yakowics wrote a wonderful article for the Fargo Forum on the life of Martin Hector. Considering that Mrs. Yakowics is the great-granddaughter of Mr. Hector, it seemed only fitting to ask her to participate by reading her article. We are pleased to say she accepted.

Martin Hector: A Pioneer to Remember

Special thanks to Susie Yakowics for recording her article for this project.

Susie Yakowicz has written hundreds of articles for children and adults on subjects ranging from history to health. She is the author of From Down East to Midwest: The Memoirs of Margaret Sewall Hector (1889-1977). For more information on Susie and her work, please visit www.susieyakowicz.com/blog.

-Robert Kurtz, Digital History 2012

 

 

 

 

Mayors

1875–1876; George Egbert

1876–1877; Evan S. Tyler

1877–1880; George Egbert

1880–1882; Jasper B. Chapin

1882–1883; William A. Kindred

1883–1885; Woodford A. Yerxa

1885–1886; John A. Johnson

1886–1887; Charles Scott

1887–1888; Alanson W. Edwards

1888–1890; Seth Newman

1890–1892; Wilbur F. Ball

1892–1894; Emerson H. Smith

1894–1896; Wilbur F. Ball

1896–1902; John A. Johnson

1902–1904; William D. Sweet

The NDSU Archives has been compiling information about the life of these men.

-Mathias Zastrow, Digital History 2012

 

Jasper B. Chapin

Among the prominent names of Fargo’s early history is that of Jasper B Chapin, a hotel tycoon who contributed to a large portion of its building, economic development, religion, and the arts. Chapin was a native of New York and found his way westward into California as a result of the Gold Rush of 1855 which fueled settlement and economic development in US territories.  There Chapin began as a miner, eventually branching his capital outwards into freighting and hotel keeping.  He was known to have lived and opened businesses in Leavenworth, KS, Denver, CO, and Utah.   He then followed another Gold Rush into Montana, made his way to Ohio, and then to Brainerd, MN where he met John E. Haggart who was a freighter and a horse dealer offering his services to the North Pacific, and from there following the development of the railroad to Fargo, ND.

Chapin quickly established his success in Fargo, opening a tent hotel-saloon on August 5, 1871.  By 1873 he was hired by the Northern Pacific to take over operation of the Headquarters Hotel.  In 1879 Chapin opened a market in on Fargo’s East Side, which was reported to have covered areas lying between N.P. Avenue and First avenue North and was also the owner of a large hotel.  He also served on the Fargo city council as street commissioner, was an alderman, and also a mason.  He was a wealthy man, demonstrated by his funding of large building projects and his offer to purchase a large portion of Fargo north of the railroad for a sum of 33,000 up front in 1879.  He was rumored to have earned $500,000 per year.

Chapin was influential on the arts and entertainment industries of Fargo.  He was known to have a love of music and provided the Orchestra for the Independence Day Dance in 1873.   In 1879 Chapin Hall was built on the corner of the intersection of Broadway and N.P. Avenue.   It was one of the earliest Public Halls of Fargo housing a variety of events including those involving arts and entertainment. This hall became the site of performances of famous traveling musicians and actors.  It also housed Luger’s Furniture Company on the lower floor.  In 1882 the hall was renovated to become Fargo’s first Opera House and Chapin contributed $160,000 towards renovations up until its destruction in the fire of 1893.

The life of Jasper Chapin was lauded in Fargo but was full of scandal.  He was known to be a gambler, rumored to have dipped into state treasury, and although he generously donated to church charities he was reported as seldom if ever present in religious ceremonies.  After his wife, Julia Chapin, died as an invalid in 1884 he reportedly sank into a deep depression, lost his fortune to creditors, and his remaining assets to the fire of 1893, before ultimately ended his own life in Minneapolis at the age of 72.[1]

Valerie Tescher, Digital History 2012


[1] Masonic Library Staff. Fargo Masonic Files. Fargo: North Dakota institute for Regional Studies, North Dakota State University, 1979. Print.

James Holes

Lithographic engraving of James Holes (1845-1916), circa 1900. Courtesy NDSU Archives, Photo 2093.2.6.

The James Holes house is one of the oldest buildings in Fargo to be standing in its original location. Built in 1879, the home attracted considerable attention due to its size and quality of construction. At the time it was built, the house was approximately one mile north of town.  The 1880 City Directory lists the address as “Broadway. North of city limits.” It was surrounded by a healthy wheat field, dotted with barns and sheds.  The owner, James Holes, combined hard work with luck and business intuition to build a farming empire in the area. This fine home stands as a testament to its original owner, as well as the staying power of the community it is a part of, for the home is now completely swallowed in a sea of homes, nowhere near a barn or a stalk of wheat.

James Holes was born in Warren, Pennsylvania on January 29, 1845. His parents immigrated to the United States from Derbyshire, England in 1832. After the death of his father when James was 15, he followed the advice that Horace Greeley gave to plucky young boys at the time: “Go West, young man.” He took his inheritance and settled in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  Holes first came to North Dakota driving a covered wagon for the government in 1868 or 1869. His route was St. Cloud to Fort Abercrombie, the former being the end of the Northern Pacific Railroad at the time. He returned in 1871 as a land agent for the Puget Sound Company, to build and run a supply store in the area that would become Fargo.  Legend has it he was greeted by the sound of a man playing violin and a woman dancing outside a tent. They turned out to be Captain and Mrs. George Egbert. The Captain would become Fargo’s first mayor. Holes became a very influential land owner and citizen of Fargo.

– Zach Jendro, Digital History, 2012

 

JamesHolesAudio Click the icon above to hear a reading of James Holes’ memories of arriving in Fargo in May of 1871.

 

Hector House

Hector House

Hector House Cass County Historical Society, 2007-028-009

Two men, Andrew Henry Moore and George Mann, decided to take a chance in Dakota Territory in 1869. They left from Waupum, Wisconsin, and arrived in the Red River Valley the same year. Upon their arrival, all that stood in what would be known as Fargo was a small city of tents occupied by Northern Pacific Railroad personnel and a few soldiers. Fortunately, Mann had experience in carpentry work and it is assumed that he brought some of his own tools.  Moore and Mann immediately began building what is arguably the settlement’s  first permanent structure, which was located in present day Island Park. During this time the land had not yet been surveyed, so Moore and Mann established “squatter’s rights,” meaning that they had to settle (build, farm, etc.) the land until they could file a claim of ownership.

-Robert Kurtz, Digital History 2012