American Legion

The three days from March 15 to 17, 1919 mark the American Legion's birthday.  The formative caucus in Paris convened on those dates and from the caucus, the American Legion emerged.  In 1921, a group of 70 local veterans organized and received their American Legion Charter.  On its inception, the Post was designated as Gordon Lindgren Post 143 in honor of Gordon Lindgren, the first Cooperstown boy killed in action.  He was 23 years old when he gave his life on the battlefields of France.  Gordon M. Lindgren was one of the first North Dakotans into action and he took part in many of the American advances.  A newspaper report at that time stated, "Gordon Lindgren was a young man whom everybody liked and his death was the occasion for sincere sorrow not only among relatives but among his many friends here.  He will be remembered as a happy, cheerful boy, a willing worker, and steadfast friend, and he died bravely fighting to make the world a better place in which to live".

The first officers of the Cooperstown Post were as follows:

Commander Jack Syverson
Vice Commander D.B. Martin
Adjutant Robert Widstrom
Finance Oscar M. Olson
Historian Albert Bolkan
Chaplain Dr. M.D. Westley

The first State Commander was C.L. "Dad" Dawson of Beach, North Dakota

Much of the information on the activities of the organization and its accomplishment during the early years is untraceable.  The Cooperstown Post has been active in Community, State, and National projects such as Legion Baseball, Boy Scouts, Boys State, Oratorical Contests, Americanism, and many other worthwhile programs.

One of the first youth programs sponsored by the organization is American Legion Baseball, which locally and on a State and National basis holds the top spot in all youth sporting activities.  The local Post has been in the midst of Junior Legion Baseball during this entire period with the year 1931 as a highlight, when the local players under Coach Oswald Tufte returned from the State Tournament as Champions.  Cooperstown's American Legion had many good baseball players.  Two outstanding baseball players were Floyd Stromme and Richard (Dick) Johnson.  Stromme went on to play in the major league and Dick Johnson had the opportunity to play in the major leagues, but instead chose to serve his country as a combat pilot in World War 11.

At the present time we have four living WWI veterans who have been active Legion members.  They are Jens Ashland, Martin Turnquist, Max Borchert, and Ed Dahl.  The Cooperstown Post has awarded four Life Memberships to its members.  They are to Norman Edland (Deceased), Jens Ashland, Martin Turnquist, and Carrol Torgerson.

The Cooperstown Post has had several State Officers: Vernon Kirkeby and Maynard Freitag as State District Commanders

Carrol Torgerson has served as State District Commander, State Vice Commander and was elected as North Dakota State Commander for the year 1959-1960.  Torgerson also served as State Committeeman and also served several years on the National American Legion Legislative Commission.

Down the years, as the community went with the times, the great depression dealt the Legion a severe blow.  Memberships lagged, many members not able to belong because of finances, others left to seek jobs in other communities.  Only a handful of men held and slowly gained strength until today this Post ranks as one of the strongest in the State with 132 members.

During early days, meetings were difficult, as the Legion had no home; they met at hotel dining rooms, lodge halls, and private homes.  The first step to remedy this was the purchase of the Sons of Norway Hall.  The building served as a meeting place, also a source of revenue.  Dances, card parties, raffles, and smokers were held regularly in the dance hall downtown.  The sale of the Sons of Norway Hall provided part of the funds for the erection of the present Legion Hall.  Using voluntary labor, the construction started in September of 1951 and the building was completed and dedicated in May of 1952.

The 1982 officers are:

Commander Lyle Pfeifer
Vice Commander Larry Iverson
Adjutant Russell Pfeifer
Sgt. at Arms Rick Spilovoy
Finance Officer Lawrence Peterson
Chaplain Jerry Ronningen
Historian John Edw.  Erickson
Service Officer Helen Cushman
Executive Committee Steve Zimprich
      "             " Jim Zimprich
      "              " Clarence Sandvik
      "              " Carrol Torgerson
      "              " Bill Cushman
      "              " Bruce Hazard
      "              " Jeff Meester

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 23

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