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Pathways Through Our Past

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Pathways Through Our Past
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

The Golden West I remember

(Excerpts from article by Emma (Kupfer) Beighley)

The year is 1902 and Blackduck was an up and coming town thanks to the Minnesota and International railroad which caused the timber business to boom.

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All kinds of business developed and one of the largest and best was the Golden West Hotel. It was managed by L.J. Matheny and boasted that it had 40 rooms heated by steam. There was also a large dinning room or ball room, as it was called by some of the patrons.

The same year, the heaviest cedar logging operation was conducted by the Chicago Lumber Company and Mr. Squire the manager set up operations in the Golden West. This large two story building was located where the Beck Auto car wash now stands.

By 1907, the population in town reached a whopping 1,200 residents, but once the town went dry, that number leveled off.

In 1909, Emma and her husband arrived in Blackduck from Bluffton where Mr. Beighley had a livery stable. It was a taxi service where horses were used in place of cars. That town was beginning to lose many of its residents as big logging company's had moved their operations to more fertile locations.

By the time the Beighley's arrived in Blackduck, a woman named Mrs. Bain owned the Golden West and she let the couple live at the hotel at no cost in exchange for running the place.

Emma now had a very large kitchen in which she could prepare meals for customers and serve them in a room with velvet drapes and the food arranged on beautiful china.

While she was busy in the hotel, her husband was making a business with his horses skidding, hauling, etc. They had two cows which supplied the hotel with milk and cream. The cows were kept behind the establishment in a wet and boggy area. Emma could remember one of the cows got mired down and her husband had to take one of his horses to pull it out.

One thing she remembers most was the Saturday night dances held in the dining room.

These dances got started when friends inquired as to why the large room couldn't be used at the hotel. They allowed no drinking and noone ever complained, everyone had a lot of fun.

Emma would make a large pot of oyster stew and lots of sandwiches before the dance and then had cakes and hot coffee for lunch later on. She played cords on the piano while her husband played the violin along with Chris and Arnold Peterson who joined in. The Beighley's never charged a thing and each Saturday night got larger and children and adults danced until midnight when lunch was served then they closed up till the next Saturday.

In 1910, Emma and Edward Benjamin left Blackduck to find employment. For the next 10 years, the family, which now included eight children, moved several times before returning to the Blackduck area.

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