What is now known as the University of Jamestown got a couple of big wins back in May of 1913. Of course, the school was known as Jamestown College back then.

These victories were more of the intellectual variety than athletic, though.

On a Friday evening, the UJ debate team hosted “State Normal at Valley City.” Normal schools were teachers colleges and State Normal is now known as Valley City State University.



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According to newspaper accounts, the debate topic was whether it would be in the best interest of the people of the United States if the government owned the coal mines of the country. By the luck of the draw, the UJ team argued against the topic. The winning UJ team included Edna L’Moore, sister of western author Louis L’Amour.

The same night the UJ Oratorical Team, a speech-making team, traveled to Fargo for the State Oratorical Contest.

This seems to be a contest among the colleges and universities of North Dakota to see which institution had the best student speakers.

Leo Taylor represented UJ at the contest. Taylor had a history at the school of giving speeches and readings at events on campus.

The State Oratorical Contest was a big event with about 500 people attending.

“Mr. Taylor, who had a good voice and fine stage presence, proved to be a natural orator and a finished speaker,” wrote The Fargo Forum regarding the presentation.

Taylor’s speech, “Our New Americans” spoke about the benefits of allowing immigrants into the United States rather than allowing them to be recruited by countries like Canada and Australia.

The top honors and a watch presented by the North Dakota Masonic Lodge went to Taylor.

Receiving a trophy watch and the applause of 500 people was a big honor for Taylor, although the biggest recognition of his efforts came when he got back to Jamestown.

In fact, a large contingent of students met the train Saturday morning to welcome the triumphant speaker home.

“As the train pulled into the station and Mr. Taylor stepped off onto the platform, he was seized by some of the sturdy college youths and carried to an automobile,” wrote The Jamestown Alert.

From there, a caravan of eight to 10 automobiles, and most of the students and faculty, traveled through Jamestown in a loud manner. The Alert reported the student body was “well represented by both boys and girls carrying the college insignia and making plenty of noise with tin horns and megaphones.”

That may have been a bigger deal than a watch from the Masons.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at www.KeithNormanBooks.com