My Adventures in the West
by Joseph Wegley 1867 - 1946
I took the City Attorney, George Gilmare, to Fargo at my own expense to learn how we could force in sewage legally, and we did. We got for our services, which many times meant working into the small hours, the sum of $2.00 per meeting, and the legal meeting was once a month. We would call all the special meetings we wanted, but there was no salary connected. I think today, that if there wasn’t so much salary connected with city offices, they would get better, more public-minded men.
The next election, I was re-elected mayor, but believe me, my pig enemies along with people who thought differently on public improvements, put up a real fight. I defeated Pap Ladue, a good old timer.
Well, I went on with my program during that term. The next election, I was defeated for re-election by John Bruegger, who was a big business man and a perfect gentleman. He objected to my program, both as to blind pigs and public improvements, and finally through him and his supporters, he satisfied the majority that I was wrong.
The next election, J. W. Jackson, was elected mayor. Afterward, the city voted in the commission form of government electing John Bruegger, Tom Craven, E. C. Carney, Jim Cooper, and myself. The commission form of government, in my judgment, is a joke starting with a capital “J” as no one has either authority or responsibility.
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Additions written by Joseph Wegley to his original book. There may be some duplications, but copied just as it was written by him. H.S.
I will now give a brief history of my life in and around Williston, North Dakota. I first came through Williston, North Dakota in 1900. It was strictly a cowboy and railroad town. Nothing but log shacks. Just two stores, many saloons or blind pigs. Usually some excitement each day, but what few people were, were prosperous and happy.
I came to Williston to stay in March, 1904, got off the train on a Sunday afternoon, hadn’t got a block from the depot when I saw a fight on the street.
Saloons or blind pigs were still prevalent. One could get a drink without giving it an assumed name. Those places ran the village, politically. The city justice used to go to them once a month and collect enough money to pay the village marshall and other such expenses as was necessary. There were no village taxes, neither were there any improvements, just pieces of board sidewalks where the citizens saw fit to put them in. Lawlessness was rampant. At on time, four spotters came to town. The rounders got wise, found them, and gave them until the first train to leave town. They are went but one who thought he could conceal his identity, but they found him, beat him unmercifully, made him leave town on foot. It wasn’t uncommon to find a man back of those saloons in the morning drugged, slugged, and robbed, then thrown out to the elements. Police didn’t interfere in the least, and it wasn’t just safe for one to protest such stuff.
We had a marshall named Markell. One day he got a wire saying a bad man was coming on a freight train and to get him. When the train pulled in, the crew told him this man was shooting up the car, and to look out for him. He went to the car and ordered the boy to surrender. Nobody knows just what happened, but the marshall shot and killed the boy, who, by the way, was a farmer boy from Michigan who had been west and was going back home dressed as a cowboy, but started his wild west stuff a little too far west.
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