Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

April 26, 2014

WNYers recall settlement life

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Last week, we looked at the establishment of Niagara, N.D., a settlement made up of people from Niagara County, New Yor, particularly the Lockport area.  Today, read the memories of two Niagaran women who settled and lived out their lives there.

Della Folger was born in 1871, to Lockport natives Daniel Folger and Cynthia Ann Stowell. When just an infant, her parents moved to Kansas to start a wheat farm. The grasshopper raids of 1874 and 1875 sent them back to Lockport in 1876. Four years later they headed to Iowa and remained there for two years. In March 1882, the family headed north to the Dakota Territory and settled in the vicinity of Niagara. Their first home was a log cabin and it was their barn that was covered with their best carpet during the blizzard of May 1882. 

The winter of 1882-83 was a harsh one as well. Folger recalled, “It was not always possible to take the long trip through the unbroken roads every week for the mail and provisions. What joy a letter from the folks back home brought! Newspapers were a thing to be read and re-read and treasured. And the wonders of that Christmas box from Grandmother, which contained the things unprocurable to us, such as home dried fruits, hickory nuts, black walnuts and delicious maple sugar in cakes. How their hearts did ache for their dear ones so far from them in this unknown, mysterious new land!”

Things that were taken for granted in Lockport were hard to come by in Niagara, N.D. “Cows were a luxury in the first two years … . Dogs and cats were a novelty, too. We bought our first cat from a settler at the {Bachelor’s) Grove for twenty-five cents. Our first dog was a brown Spaniel purchased in Larimore for two dollars — big money in those days.” The dog was needed to retrieve ducks after they had been shot, to put food on the table.

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