Saloons and Prohibition

"Allen Pinkerton moved his claim shanty into town and another 'club' now exists," reported the Courier March 30, 1883.  This is the first evidence of a saloon in Cooperstown.

By mid-April, Pinkerton had bought the newly built but not yet occupied building of the Courier editor for his saloon located on the corner of Burrell and Ninth, present site of First State Bank.

Early in 1883, Gillespie and Blow were the proprietors of a sample and billiards store first located on Roberts, Block 59, Lot 12.  By August of 1884 the building was moved to Burrell Avenue west of the Palace.

Jackson and Knudson built a two-story 24'x 40'business structure in May of 1883 on the corner facing north on Lenham and Tenth.  Here they carried on the saloon business, until 1886.  For a couple of years the building was used for a school while the school was closed in a legal dispute.  The building also became a community social hall at that time.

After much objection by Temperance people, a county vote was taken to determine whether saloons should be allowed in Cooperstown.  The results were "Yes", 242 votes; "No", 110 votes.  The County Commissioners issued the first liquor licenses in June of 1883 to Gillespie and Blow, Robert Pinkerton and Grant (aka Pinkerton and Shue), and Jackson and Knutson.  Other licenses issued were to H.C. Fitch of the Palace November 21, 1883 and to Henry Retzlaff of the Union House April 7, 1884.

Griggs County voted saloons out November 8, 1887, but had been kept without them since January of 1886 by the refusal of the County Commissioners to issue licenses, and so continued until North Dakota became a state with prohibition in its constitution.

After the saloons closed down some of the proprietors continued with billiard halls and poolrooms, many being closed down from time to time as they were illegally selling intoxicating "soft" drinks.

About 1890, druggists were issued permits to sell liquor for medical purposes.  Many people were "not feeling well" in those years.  The alcohol lamp of the era also provided an excuse to purchase "The White Man's Burden".

Throughout the years of prohibition, there were problems with the "blind pigs", then the "bootleggers", stills, and the home brewers.  During those times legal steps had to be taken locally, so establishments were closed down, people were thrown in jail and penalized for selling the illegal beverage.  The not-so-legal steps taken were when ladies of the households decided they could put a stop to the "saloons who were taking the money needed for food and necessities".  In some places women organized and marched into saloons using hatchets and would wreck them.  Though the temperance movement was strong here, no such tactics were recorded.

During the 1890's Cooperstown practiced the Original Package rule, whereby the state could not prohibit a liquor dealer from importing liquor for resale in original packages.  In October of 1897, little square boxes were being sent C.O.D. labeled hardware, vinegar or cough medicine to the depot.  Here the addressees could pick up their wholesale whiskey consignments.  After some time the local W.C.T.U. issued an injunction on the depot agent, R.M. Cowan, stopping some of the bootlegging.

Prohibition ended in the United States with the repeal amendment, and in 1933 the City began to issue beer licenses.  Hard liquor was permitted in 1936 and an off-sale license was granted to the newly established municipal store.

The old saloon buildings soon had new owners and other businesses were established in them.  Mr. Jackson's building was sold in June of 1893 to the Stringer Brothers, who moved it to Burrell Avenue between Colson's and Hazard's "Bargain Store" and Peder Johnson's restaurant.

The Stringer Brothers used the building as a harness shop.  Peder Rousteun and Syver Koloen operated a poolroom and lunch counter for a time after 1896.  In 1897, C.J. Tang remodeled the interior of the old Jackson building and operated a lunch counter.  This building was used for grocery business and taverns for many years.  Its last business was "Ros's Tavern".  The building was razed in 1958 by Clair Wright, who used the lumber for a building project.

In 1979 the garden club made a mini-park on the site.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 201

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