People had to find ways to amuse themselves back in 1901 in Jamestown. The winter had been hard and the snow was deep and everyone had to be a little stir crazy by February.

Oddly enough, some of the pastimes were the same as folks do today.

Some people went bowling, although the game was sometimes called ten-pins back then.

In fact, a new city record of 126 was set on a Saturday night in February of 1901.

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The score may seem a little low compared to modern games but the game was only played for five frames back then.

Maybe the game took so long with human pin setters they had to shorten up the game.

The new record was set by one Frank Taylor who earned a box of cigars for his heroic effort and earned “several smokes as a result of his good playing,” according to the Jamestown Alert.

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Others tried to learn something new while waiting out the winter.

A free reading room had opened earlier in February and was drawing a lot of attention.

Alfred Dickey, this would have been a few years before his death and about 18 years before the opening of the library named in his honor, did a reading on the rise of novels as entertainment.

Rudyard Kipling seemed to be at least a part of the topic.

Some folks attended clubs to keep busy. One notable group in Jamestown was called the Boxers and was made up of young ladies. The paper noted it was only dangerous to boxes of caramels rather than other people.

Then there were those folks who went ice fishing at Spiritwood Lake.

While ice fishing is a popular winter activity today, it was illegal in 1901.

“All this winter, according to authentic reports, it has been practice to cut holes in the ice of the lake and capture as many fish as possible,” reported the Alert in its Feb. 21, 1901 edition.

The Alert went on to call for an investigation by game wardens.

“The fishermen do not merely secure enough for their own use,” the paper reported, “but sell the same, a number of loads being brought to Jamestown.”

It would seem likely that the restaurants in Jamestown may have been running fish specials 120 years ago.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at