Langdon Long Ago

More Local Authors:

Posted 2/8/18

By Rita Maisel

Last week’s column was barely off to the paper when people began adding to the list of local authors beginning with Roger Snortland who wrote about his dad and Dick Hamann who has written more than one book of local memories and stories that include his son, John. A recent note from Marlys Beiers Siegel tells us that her publisher is suggesting she find more adventures for her friendly white cat, and she is thinking about doing so.

50-year reunion:

The 1968 class from St. Alphonsus is planning a 50-year reunion for June 22 and 23, 2018. This event has been in the planning stages for some time, and they report that of the original 35 class members all but ten are still living, and they hope to have reached all of them with invitations. 1968 was the last high school graduation from St. Alphonsus so it is a bitter-sweet recognition of both events. The two schools that year had a combined total of 100 graduates, and yes, that was before the missile boom hit our area. Very likely there is also a reunion for the 1968 class from LHS as well.

From time to time we try to update the list of oldest graduates from the various schools around.   We have had no recent news about Ted and Clarine (Fraley) Tourand who are both over the century mark. Clarine graduated from LHS and Ted from SAS. A few years ago Clarine was the oldest surviving LHS graduate and Ted was the oldest male graduate from St. Alphonsus still with us. The Tourand family has lived in the twin cities area for many years and may be no longer able to keep in touch with Langdon friends. Living here and being able to have a daily reunion if they wished are several other delightful alumni: Kathryn Shablow and Edna Rose both from the SAS class of 1934 and Marjorie Domres, the last known alumnus of Minto Township High School which closed almost 80 years ago. Roman Michels, who died earlier this year, was thought to be the oldest surviving graduate of Munich High School. Let me know if you have more recent information on any of the surrounding schools.

Business History:

A slightly different twist on the business history of Langdon’s former Main Street has come from people remembering grocery and hardware stores, trying to place history by asking when doctors or city council members were here, or inquiring about the three generation families who have continued family businesses. There are many family farms that have been under the same ownership for at least a century, but the picture changes when you look at the Main Streets of small towns in North Dakota. Some businesses changed lots or business types and keeping the generation lines intact would be very difficult since often the business owner and the lot owner were two different people. The following are a few who were mentioned as three generation businesses.  Corrections and  additions would be welcome:

1. J. B. Boyd who built the Boyd Block, John J. Boyd who moved his father’s original business across the street, and his sons who became “partners” in the Langdon business in the late 1930s but later had continuing stores in other locations. J. B. Boyd also had other early stores which operated in Milton, Devils Lake and elsewhere under the Kelly name. Those were relatives on his first wife’s side of the family.

2. Brooks Funeral Home which began with George Brooks and Cliff Belzer in 1939 and included various family members down through the years as employees or owners:Keith and Bill Brooks, grandchildren Marnie Brooks Steinwand and Jonathan Wilhelmi and others. When the business was sold they had 75 years of continuous Brooks ownership, and Bill still helps when needed.

3. George Carlson opened a jewelry store near the 1939 location of the mortuary on Main Street and brought in his nephew, Roy Herrud, in 1946. Both were trained as watch repairmen as was Roy’s son, Alan Herrud, who was the third generation and the final owner. Through the years other family members were active participants in the operation of the business.

4. Arthur Sparling and his wife came to Langdon when their daughter, Hester, was small. Nellie homesteaded land and Arthur’s “shop” became a gathering place for young men interested in a new invention called automobiles and then in airplanes. One of the young men who worked for Sparling was Roy Wells. As Sparling grew older Roy, who had married Hester Sparling, took on new responsibilities and at one point sold cars called Whippets and later other brands. Writing about a shop that burned (located between the Schulke Building and the Post Office) in 1936, we learned that the building was owned by Hester Sparling Wells and the business had been organized by Roy Wells and Galen McDivitt. Meanwhile Roy had also acquired a feed mill along Highway 1 which he operated for many years and eventually was  managed by his son, Bob. Bob divided his time between that business and the airport.

5. Charriers – This would be the story of various businesses owned or managed by succeeding generations on a variety of locations. The great grandfather, C.F., known as Felix was a tailor with a location on the east side of Main Street who died around the turn of the century.  His son Napoleon married one of those Fischer girls who were “all good cooks”. They lived in two or three hotels where she cooked delicious meals but it appears they did not own the hotels. Their other interests included a confectionary shop called Pollie’s Place and the running of a theatre before the Roxy came to town. Movies were silent so Mrs. Charrier played the piano which had a pump action sound system, and both family and friends remember her telling the youngest son to “pump, Louie, pump” to keep the sound audible. Their Charrier Café then was near the theatre location today and at other times on the east side of the street. It was always a family business. The fountain area was noted for their ice cream sodas made from a recipe daughter Louise taught to generations of employees. When the last Charrier Café closed, Louis and his father-in-law, Simon Schefter, opened a men’s wear store. The late Dick Charrier remembered working there with both dad and grandpa watching that he treated customers properly. There is also a vague memory that Jane Charrier Robertson had a dress shop in Langdon for a time.

6. J.F. Ramage devoted most of his life to farming on the outskirts of Langdon but he also owned several lots in Langdon’s business area which included a meat market, an automobile business that displayed the “King Tut” (a very small early automobile), had an active dairy and was in partnership with his son Walter in the building now known as the FM Mall. While Walter sold cars at that location he was an early pilot with interests in the Langdon airport. Younger brother Charlie sold a different brand of cars at another location plus building one-of-a-kind vehicles to entertain the local fans. In later years Charlie’s son, John, continued some of that line while also doing construction.

7. The Liebeler Company began with Menno Liebeler having a meat market in conjunction with farming. The market was roughly south of the Carlson jewelry building but many decades earlier. About the same time Ramage was bringing automobiles to Langdon Menno had his display room on the lot later known as the Christie location on Main Street. They soon combined vehicles of various kinds with farm implements and acquired land across the street where these could be parked. His son, Lloyd, had grown up working there and after Menno’s death became the owner. Lloyd had the Oliver line plus a line of farm trucks and really enjoyed driving and selling Jeeps. When Lloyd died his daughter, Patricia, did not want the Liebeler name to vanish from Langdon so she bought the lot we now know the site as Sports and Shirts which she makes a point of visiting when in Langdon.

8. Hank and Nadine Charbonneau had several businesses ranging from an ice cream parlor to a shoe store and eventually a toy and variety store. Whether ownership of any of these enterprises passed on to their daughter, it is safe to say she spent many hours working wherever they needed her. Today, grand-daughter Karla Radamacher is the proprietor just a few doors down the street at Quality Specialty Products & Printing and adds her own ideas and tasty treats to Langdon’s business community.

9. Cavalier County Republican might not qualify as a three generation firm, but if you are counting and Howard Doherty might have done so, four generations of their family have helped to bring newspapers to Langdon readers. The first was C. B.C. Doherty who was the editor in the 1880s, assisted by his capable wife who took over editing when he became ill and their children including a son, Nace, who passed on information that he had to help sort type before he went to school. Each letter of type had to be hand set into the columns in pre-linotype days. The family left Langdon, and Mrs. Doherty, Nace and others devoted many years to newspaper publication. Years later Nace Doherty’s sons, Howard and Ed, purchased the Cavalier County Republican. Howard and his wife moved to Langdon giving their children a chance to do any task associated with the paper, sometimes for a salary. At least one son edited the paper for a while. Kathy (now Downs) had her own column under later editors and owners.

10. Last but not least, are the Roy family who currently are involved in various businesses on and off Langdon’s Main Street. I am not sure the timeline is exact, but Bill and Kathy Roy began selling farm implements – possibly in Walhalla – and spread out to Cavalier and Langdon where their business interests just keep on growing, along with their family members. Today there are sons, daughters and in-laws working various places plus the grandchildren will sell you a combine, a car or two, provide a tasty lunch, deal with your banking interests or coach your children’s team. They are an example of a family growing with the needs of a community.


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