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Marilyn Hagerty

THAT REMINDS ME: Grand Forks, 1914: Dinnie becomes mayor

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opinion Grand Forks,North Dakota 58203
Grand Forks Herald
THAT REMINDS ME: Grand Forks, 1914: Dinnie becomes mayor
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

James Dinnie won his race for mayor of Grand Forks 100 years ago. With 951 votes, he was chosen over A.G. Sorlie, who got 837 votes. And Sorlie went on to become governor of North Dakota 10 years later in 1924.


Supporters said Dinnie was a friend of the working man and was one of the heaviest taxpayers in the city. They applauded him a man of sound business principles — a man who came to Grand Forks as a laborer and worked his way to the top with judgment and insight on municipal affairs.

He also was a director of the baseball club, and the Herald reported the baseball bug was stinging Grand Forks at the time of the opening game for local Flickertails. They were playing the Ore Diggers from Virginia, Minn. With the opening game of the Northern League coming up, Dinnie asked businesses to close for a half day.

There was to be a parade to take the team to the ball game.

“Never before in the history of organized baseball in this city has there been so much enthusiasm over the opening of the season,” Dinnie said.

Meanwhile, work on the new Grand Forks County Courthouse was continuing and in full swing. An opening left in the roof for the dome had been reopened so it could be completed. Plastering was under way on the first and second floor with the top floor the least finished, according to reports in the Grand Forks Herald.

Other news around Grand Forks in April 1914:

  • UND law students proved to be royal entertainers at the Hotel Dacotah banquet. Guests were States Attorney O.B. Burtness, President F.L. McVey and law school faculty along with Judge Charles Pollock of Fargo.

There was a session of Kangaroo Court, and the remainder of the evening was spent “pinching” and fining alleged violators of the law. Attorney General Miller was “arraigned” and “charged” for his heinous crime of upholding the cause of the suffragettes of that era.

  • Grand Forks architect Joseph Bell DeRemer relocated — temporarily, it turned out — to Los Angeles. There he designed what was described as a “magnificent Gothic edifice at a Los Angeles house of worship — Wilshire Presbyterian Church.”

It was one of the largest and finest houses of worship on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Bell DeRemer returned to Grand Forks in 1919. He was a leading architect who left his mark on both the city and the state: His first UND campus building was Budge Hall, completed in 1899.

He designed the Masonic Temple and United Lutheran Church. He designed the house at 406 Reeves Drive and the house at 625 Belmont Road.

And then, in 1931, he and William Kurke of Fargo were selected to design North Dakota’s new skyscraper Capitol in Bismarck.

DeRemer was joined in the firm by his son Samuel in 1920.

  • Grand Forks County Agricultural Society named Fred Goodman president. First vice president was J.E. Eastgate, Larimore, N.D., and second vice president was John Scott, Gilby, N.D.
  • Work of razing Russell-Miller Milling Company’s Diamond Mill on Fifth Street had begun. A new five-story structure was to be coming up at the same site with employees of the mill doing the work.
  • Bjarne Chorus was the oldest in the city in 1914, and its spring concert was well attended. The newspaper declared it to be an excellent, clever recital.
  • Fire Chief John Fitzgerald reported the total value of property involved in fires during the previous year to be $454,386. And that did not include contents of the butcher shop on Cottonwood Street, which burned on Feb. 8. The department answered 104 calls during the previous year, he said. It had six horses, all in fair condition. Fourteen fires were caused by children playing with matches.
  • At the end of April 1914, President E.Y. Sarles of the state organization for the Meridian Road announced a meeting coming up in Grand Forks on May 12. Members were from the counties along the Red River in North Dakota. The Meridian Road Association was organized at Salinas, Kans., in 1911. The goal was to establish and maintain a highway from Winnipeg to the Gulf of Mexico.