Christmas with King Alcohol in 1901

Newspapers in Minneapolis evidently picked up the story.

JSSP Keith Norman Column Sig
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Reports of a Christmas Day ruckus in Jamestown in1901 caused some heated words in The Jamestown Alert.

The incident started when someone, while under the influence of alcohol, stole a horse for a fun gallop up and down what is now 1st Avenue in Jamestown.

The owner of the horse sent for the police, and a fight between officers and the horse thief followed.

Newspapers in Minneapolis evidently picked up the story and were furnished with information by someone other than reporters for the Alert.

And they may have got the information wrong, at least according to a letter to the editor written by the man who owned the horse. In the letter, he doesn’t name the individual who provided information to the Minneapolis papers but he gives some hints.


“If that man is no straighter in business than in reporting, he would never to be at head of either of our banking institutions,” said the letter.

That narrows down the list to a couple of bankers. Then the letter writer got personal.

“If placed on trial for any crime known in our statute, his face alone would be sufficient for conviction,” the letter continues.


The letter writer does lay the blame for the incident on what he called “King Alcohol,” whether it be blind-pig whiskey or licensed drug store champagne.

The whole letter to the editor, and possibly even the reporting to the Minneapolis papers, may have been done tongue-in-cheek. A bit of joking around along with a message to not drink and steal horses.

But the whole incident provided a little humor and adventure to the Christmas holiday back in 1901.

Author Keith Norman can be reached at


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