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Front porch chats continue at Stutsman County Museum

JSSP Historic Events and Happenings

The Front porch chat series continued with Steve Grenz narrating a photographic tour of churches in many of the small towns surrounding Jamestown on July 28.

Most of the photos were taken by Grenz and Charlie Kourajian as a documentation of some of the buildings in these small towns that may not survive many years into the future. They had planned to return to these sites in 10 years to document the changes that had occurred. Since Kourajian has passed away, Grenz is unsure whether he will continue the project.

During the previous Front Porch Chat, Tim Burchill spoke about the Icelander settlements in North Dakota. The island of Iceland, once owned by Denmark is located in the north Atlantic between Norway and Greenland. It is a relatively small island about one half the size of North Dakota with a current population of about one half that of North Dakota. The island is highly mountainous with large glaciers in the central region and all of the inhabited areas along the coast. It has active volcanoes and has many areas that are geothermal with hot springs and geysers.

About 2/3rds of the population succumbed to the “Black Death” in 1402 , in 1783 one of the volcanic eruptions with an earthquake the following year resulted in a large segment of the population being killed. Another eruption in 1875 and the poor economy resulted in a large segment emigrating out of Iceland. Some of those emigrants settled in the province of Manitoba in a community called Gimli in the late 19th century. Members of that settlement eventually settled in southwestern Pembina County, Dakota Territory. That community, numbering about 3500, still exists in the small villages around Mountain, North Dakota.

According to Burchill, the Icelanders were and still are very industrious, have great respect for education and were famous for their Sagas. The Sagas were prose and poetry, usually of a historic nature, that were handed down through the generations. He said that he got a lot of information from the book entitled “Modern Sagas” by Thorstina Walters that details much of the history of the Icelanders and their emigration to North America. There is an annual celebration of Icelandic heritage and customs called the “Deuce of August”. This year the celebration is from August 2-5 in Mountain, North Dakota.

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Next week the chat will feature Keith Norman, he will present information on the "Bootleggers and Brothels" of Jamestown.

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