Country Store Journals, ca. 1895

Value (2005) | $1,500 Retail

GUEST:
The photo is a picture of the general store that my great-grandfather ran in the Walle Township, which is just right north of Grand Forks. It still exists, but I don't know that there are more than 20 people living in the Walle Township, total, now. It was also very close to the Red River, and... so he ran a ferry boat over to Minnesota, so people could come from both sides of the river to shop there.

APPRAISER:
All right, and then you have this picture that goes along with it.

GUEST:
My great-grandfather is 99, approximately, in that picture.

APPRAISER:
Yep.

GUEST:
And then I'm in the middle, and my uncle is holding me.

APPRAISER:
Your great-grandfather had the store and these are the journals and the log books and the cash books from it. It sort of gives a real insight into what was going on. For instance, tell me about a few of the entries.

GUEST:
Well, this particular page, it was in August, and we see that they're starting to get ready towards harvest and things, so people are buying clothes lines, probably needed that. There's a buggy whip, and then they're starting to gather supplies for the berry picking and making jelly and things. In fact, the "yelly yar" is the way my grandfather would have said it, because he was still learning English. He spoke Norwegian when he came.

APPRAISER:
Obviously a lot of the people were immigrants from Scandinavia.

GUEST:
That's right.

APPRAISER:
Now, you have another page here.

GUEST:
This page give a very interesting idea of what was happening in June, the wedding month. So we see people buying a fine pair of shoes-- and he writes it as "fine" shoes-- and more expensive cloth and quite a bit of material.

APPRAISER:
So there was a wedding happening, they had to order it special. They had to get it out, and of course, there was no place else to order it.

GUEST:
No, this was it.

APPRAISER:
The last one, though, I find most interesting. Why don't you open that up.

GUEST:
Okay. Well, this is an individual ledger, versus the daily ledger, but the ones that I personally thought were pretty funny in here were... This is called a Gima Dice. A game of dice. When they were in between the planting and the harvesting, they would spend time playing dice in the general store. Five cents a game, and he apparently lost two games.

APPRAISER:
And then there was another entry in there that you had with 20 cents loss. He needed to get some into this plus column. But what you have here these are 1893 to 1895. The Dakotas were just a state. There was nothing out here. It was prairie land. But this sort of gives a window into what the life was like, what people were buying, selling. They were having weddings. Life was going on, even though it was rural. Now, when you get into journals like this, if this was from Boston, New York, the East Coast, there are loads of them. There were many, many more stores, there were many more people who saved them. They'd go for $100, $150 apiece. But this was out in the middle of nowhere, in the Dakotas. And the value, of course, are in the three journals together. They probably have a value in the $1,500 range--

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh.

APPRAISER:
--because there aren't that many. It's on the frontier at the time, and there weren't as many people, weren't as many stores. Thus, these were a lot harder to get, give a lot more information and a lot of fun.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Brattle Book Shop
Boston, MA
Appraised value (2005)
$1,500 Retail
Event
Bismarck, ND (July 30, 2005)
Period
19th Century
Material
Paper

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