Harness Shops

The harness shops were a necessity in the early farming areas.  All power on the farm except for threshing was oxen or horsepower and harness did wear out.

Mr. Hunter opened the first harness shop in the Hann building, Block 72, Lot 2, in May of 1883.

The harness shop known as "Pioneer Harness Shop" was built Just across from the Union House in November of 1883 by A.M. Pease.  By December he had sold the shop to J.H. McDermott.  McDermott had moved to Dakota in 1881.  He had worked with Henry Wold in Valley City and was later in the hotel business there.  McDermott remained in the Burrell Avenue shop, Block 74, Lot 11, for three years, moving then to the Johnson Store building where he remained for eleven years.  In 1898, he moved to the building formerly occupied by Steen Gunderson's Mercantile Store, Block 73, Lot 9.  In this location he conducted his harness business until 190:3 when he sold out to Carl Bonde and Anton Christianson.  McDermott was also associated with the mercantile firm of Thompson-McDermott in 1906.

George Stringer worked with McDermott for a short time in 1890.  He and his brother William as "Stringer Brothers" in 1891 bought the building owned by McDermott on Burrell, Block 74, Lot 11.  They operated their harness emporium there for two years.  In June of 1893 they had decided to buy Claus Jackson's old saloon building on Lenham and had it moved to a lot on Burrell, Block 74, Lot 6.  In later years Stringer Brothers were located on Lot 9 of that same block.

John Fredrickson came to Cooperstown in 1904 and entered the harness business with Anton Christianson who was the city policeman.  Fredrickson sewed harnesses by hand the first years and later sewed with sewing machines.  The horses were brought to the front of the shop in order to be fitted properly.  Years later Fredrickson became sole owner.  Fredrickson's store became a hardware store associated with the Tiger Stores and later became a Gambles Store operated by John Jr. and Ralph, the sons of John Fredrickson, Sr. John Fredrickson, Jr. continued to operate the Gambles Store until his retirement in 1970.

Gradually shoe repair came into the harness shops, phasing out the harness business.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 190

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