HALLOCK HISTORY

Indigenous People

Indigenous people, including Cree, Assiniboine, Lakota (Sioux), and Ojibwe (Chippewa), long traversed this region. During the 1800s, the Metis people, descendants of Europeans – mainly French trappers – and Indian women – primarily from the Pembina and Red Lake Band – took up residence in St. Vincent, 19 miles north of Hallock. They, along with local Ojibwe Indians, known as Chippewa by European newcomers, became frequent visitors to Hallock. Because the Ojibwe regularly traded at the Lindegard Bros. store, Axel Lindegard recorded many details about their visits in his diary. 


Early Exploration

Fur traders were some of the earliest explorers in this region after the Indigenous people. Pembina, which is North Dakota’s oldest European-American settlement, dates back to 1797.

The Hudson Bay Company, a Canadian-owned trading post, operated in Pembina. Canoes full of goods traveled from New York and Montreal to those posts in the spring and returned to the cities with furs in the fall.  Fur traders and voyageurs traveled on the eastern side of the Red, which eventually would be Kittson County. All-wood ox carts, built by the Metis and first reported in Pembina around 1800, were used for buffalo hunts, with each cart able to be pulled by a single ox and capable of hauling 1,000 pounds. Joe Rolette and Norman W. Kittson were two “explorers” who
developed the Red River Ox Cart trails, broadening the use of the ox carts. Red River Oxcarts hauled furs and supplies between Pembina and St. Paul on what became known as the Red River Ox Cart Trails. The round trip of more than 800 miles often took a couple months to complete. The need for the ox carts diminished as the steamboats became the new mode for transporting furs and supplies, Eventually, the steamboats were replaced by the railroad.

During that early time, wild berries, plums, hazelnuts, wild game (prairie chicken, grouse, ducks, geese, deer) were food staples. Settlers brought their foods and culture from home — Polish settlers (pierogies, cabbage rolls, Scandinavians (lefse), Ukrainian (egg painting, needlecraft, dances) are examples. By the mid-1840s, Norman W. Kittson had built the American Fur Trade Company in Pembina, offering stiff competition to the Hudson Bay Company, which had monopolized the fur trade business to that point. Kittson, whose first wife was a Metis, traded extensively with the Metis, who, over the years, moved on from trapping and trading beaver locally to hunting buffalo in the western plains and trading the pelts upon their return.

By the mid-1840s, Norman W. Kittson had built the American Fur Trade Company in Pembina, offering stiff competition to the Hudson Bay Company, which had monopolized the fur trade business to that point. Kittson, whose first wife was a Metis, traded extensively with the Metis, who, over the years, moved on from trapping and trading beaver locally to hunting buffalo in the western plains and trading the pelts upon their return.

In 1858, after leaving the area, Kittson became instrumental in opening steamboat service on the Red River, yet ox carts remained necessary for places where the river was too low for boat travel. In 1872, Kittson then joined James J. Hill to create the Red River Transportation Company, which maintained a steamboat monopoly along the Red River for the remainder of that decade. Next, in 1878, Mr. Kittson and Mr. Hill, along with Donald Smith, John Stewart Kennedy, and George Stephen, purchased the Saint Paul and Pacific Railway, reorganized it as the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba
Railway, and established the first rail link between St. Boniface, in the upper Red River Valley, and the Twin Cities. Later, those same men were part of the group that created the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Great Northern Railroad.

André Jerome was the first to settle and stay in the Hallock area. Born in 1829 in Manitoba of French and Cree descent, he became a fur trader. He moved to Kittson County in 1872. “The Andre Jerome homestead was a trading post and steamboat landing and the jumping-off place for those settlers, fur traders and hunters coming down the Red River. Jerome directed these people to places where they could hunt, trap, work farms and build homes.”

A party of hunters in 1888 in front of the Hallock Hotel. Photo Courtesy of the Kittson Co Historical Society.
Ojibwe (Chippewa) in Hallock. Photo courtesy of Kittson County Historical Society

OTHER TIDBITS

FIRST INDOOR MINNESOTA ICE RINK

(Photo from 1934). Photo Courtesy of the Kittson County Historical Society.

Hallock is home to the first indoor ice
rink in Minnesota. It was built in 1894.

“FARGO” THE MOVIE

The movie Fargo was filmed in Minnesota in 1995. Due to a lack of snow in the rest of the state, some of the scenes were shot in Hallock and nearby.

HISTORICAL FIGURES

CHARLES HALLOCK

Charles Hallock. Photo Courtesy of the Kittson County History Society.

Charles Hallock, a well-known New York naturalist and writer, referred to the area that would become the town of Hallock as “a Sportsman’s Paradise,” often penning articles about its birds, grasses, flora, and wildlife for Harper’s magazine, the New York Times, and the Evening Post. In 1873, he established a magazine called Forest and Stream, which later merged with Field and Stream.

Hallock first visited northwestern Minnesota around 1875. A few years later he set out to establish a farm colony in Kittson County for sportsmen. He considered it to be the “finest game and grain-producing region in America.” His vision included a large hotel and summer cottages, where sportsman could escape.

Hotel Hallock was completed in 1880. In promoting the hotel and the area, Mr. Hallock wrote, “Bands of elk came within a few miles of town, moose ran through the village, a black bear came to play with the kids at recess. Prairie chickens nested on the edge of town.” On Christmas Eve of 1892, the hotel, which had no insurance, was destroyed by fire, and Mr. Hallock chose not to rebuild. After the demise of Hotel Hallock, however, he visited less often, but continued to write about the place, prompting his literary friends and sportsman from all over the country to vacation here. 

The town of Hallock was incorporated in 1887.

JAMES J. HILL

James J Hill’s son Walter Hill lived in the house north of Hallock. He is pictured with his wife and workers on the Hill Farm. Photo Courtesy of the Kittson County Historical Society.
Photo Courtesy of the Kittson County Historical Society.

Railroad Tycoon James J. Hill, “The Empire Builder,” was CEO of a number of railroad lines, which made their way through Hallock and played a major role in the settlement of the area. In an effort to populate areas along the railroads, Hill sold land owned by the railway companies he controlled to immigrants, often transporting them to their new homes by rail. He built a house north of Hallock in Northcote that still stands.

FREDERICK MCKINLEY “CASEY” JONES

Casey Jones (left) and Oscar Younggren. Photo Courtesy of the Kittson County Historical Society.

Frederick McKinley “Casey” Jones is one of Hallock’s most famous residents. He was the first African American to receive the National Medal of Technology posthumously in 1991. His inventions include portable cooling units, like refrigerated trailers and railcar containers and sound-on-film equipment for movie theaters. He co- founded ThermoKing and received more than 60 patents for his refrigeration technology, x-ray machines, ticket-dispensing machines, engines, and sound
equipment.