English Speaking Settlers


My heart's in the highlands, my heart is not here.

My heart's in the highlands, a chasing a deer.

They why did they leave their homeland?

The English, Welsh, Scots and Irish immigrated to America for the same reason as most other nationalities.  They wanted freedom of religion and relief from the political situation in their mother country.  Later, the free land brought them here.  Some came as indentured slaves; and when they concluded their service, they sometimes moved west to their new life.  The potato famine in Ireland in the early 1840's, which was brought on by a blight in that crop caused the death of thousands.  The American relief ships took food there and returned with immigrants.  They had little money and worked in factories and mines.  In 1750, many Scots were forced out of their homes and country, or they were killed during the 'highland clearance' when the lairds emptied their lands of people to make room for sheep.  The price of wool was high.  These survivors came to Australia, Canada, and the United States.

By 1884 there was a settlement from Scotland in Riverside Township, present day Steele County.  One would see the names of Park, Stewart, Saunders, Ladbury, Stone, Palfrey, Kimball, Bussy, McIlroy, Merritt, Hadwin, Kitchen, Jones, Day, Meyers, Morgan, Slingsby, Conner, Dyson, and Pound.  Parts of this Township looked very much like their home country of Scotland.  Wild strawberries, raspberries, highbush cranberries, juneberries, and gooseberries were abundant.  Prairie chickens, ducks, and geese were numerous in season.

Parties were common with dancing and card playing.  With fiddles for instruments they danced the waltz, polka, schottische and also the square dance.

Riverside Township was part of the original Griggs County but now is in Steele County as is Sharon Township where another Scottish group homesteaded in 1881.  Grandpa Simpson was a John Knox reformed Presbyterian, as were many of the Scottish newcomers.  Sundays were spent singing hymns and listening to Grandpa read the Bible.  The grandchildren never complained, and the neighbor children often came for these Sundays also.  Grandpa was a great reader and made the scenes in these stores very vivid for them.

Another vivid scene they remember is the time Uncle bought a Sunday newspaper.  Grandpa was very angry.  It was wrong to read anything except the Bible on the Sabbath.  The five foot tall grandpa had the paper rolled in his hand and shook it at the six-foot uncle, preaching fire and damnation to him.

The people in this area had Bobbie Burns Days.  They would gang roon (gather round) and dance the Highland Fling and Sword Dance and read Burns poetry, but never on Sunday.

Some of the foods were scones and Scotch shortbread.  Both of these recipes are found on page 366 of Griggs County Centennial Cook Book, '100 Years of Cooking'.  Other favorites were haggis (stomach of a sheep filled with oatmeal, suet, heart, lungs, seasoned and steamed) also oatmeal brose (oatmeal with boiled water poured over it and served with cream and sugar).

Some of the music popular to this day is Bobbie Burns "Comin thro the Rye" a popular dance tune, "Auld Lang Syne," and many others.

The English often took their name from their profession.  The name Cooper means "maker and repairer of barrels or casks."  R.C. Cooper did not follow that profession.  About 65 friends and acquaintances from St. Clair County, Michigan, came and formed the Cooper settlement around the town of Cooperstown.  Of these settlers the families of Brown, Washburn, Barnard, Glass, Langford, Williams, Houghton, Bathie, Hunter, Crane, Smart, Pinkerton, Stevens, Enger, Stair, Newell and Kerr came in 1881.

English plum pudding is still a favorite food here, especially at Christmas.  It is a mixture of candied fruit, suet, raisins, currants, spices, and nuts.  This is steamed in a cloth bag or mold and served with a sauce.  Usually, it is served flaming.

The beautiful tune, "Greensleeves," is English.

They left their leprechauns and blarney stone in Ireland, but we see the loyal Irish wearing green on St. Patrick's Day if they are Roman Catholic, and they wear orange if they are protestant for William of Orange.  They greet us with "Erin go Braugh".  Some of the Griggs County Irish lived in Tyrol Township where they had a gathering every week, sometimes in the homes, sometimes in the schoolhouse.  A.B. Detwiller played the violin while John called the square dances.  The Pratt men all played musical instruments for their dances with Marion as their pianist. Some of the others in the group were Campbells, Sansburns, McCullochs and Moores.  The whole families would bundle up with foot warmers and robes in the sleigh in winter and horse and buggy when the weather permitted and go to the festivities.  Some Irish tunes we still hear are "Danny Boy", "Irish Washerwoman", the lullaby "Tura Lura Lura" and the ancient Irish hymn "Be Thou My Vision".  When Cooperstown was young, some held Irish Wakes.  These were gatherings held at the homes when there was a death.  They would visit and drink a bit of 'Stout' (Irish Beer) as they sat with the body.  Sometimes it got noisy after two days.

An old Gaelic blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you

And the wind be always at your back

And may the Lord forever hold you

In the hollow of His hand.

An old Irish blessing:

May you be in Heaven

half hour before the Devil

knows you're dead.

Irish stew, a favorite food of all pioneers, is still served often.  It is a first cousin to any beef stew, but the Irish did not brown their meat or add flour.  They used lots of Irish potatoes.

Rod Wiseman is of Welsh descent, one of very few from Wales in the Cooperstown area.  Wales has not had the hostile history or the great exodus as Ireland, Scotland, and England.  They are fairly content with their position in the British Empire.  Wales is the land of British folklore, the home of King Arthur and his round table, of the "Island Valley of Avilion," and of Camelot.  The peace and equality taught in this story has been a contribution to the world.  The Welsh are of Celtic stock and have a language akin to the Erse or Gaelic.  One village is named:

Quite often the pioneers of America named their new town after their town in their mother country.  We do not have a town named that in Griggs County.

The Highlanders were fighters, with the Vikings often attacking from the North Sea and England from the south.  These Scots were taught to be warriors from birth.  When there was a need to take up arms, a bagpiper would be heard in the hills.  The Scots knew what the call meant.  For this reason and the need for money, they were trappers and also made up much of the cavalry.  Traders of the Hudson Bay Company were Britishers.  This company dealt with the Indians.

What are some of the other contributions that these islands brought to the young Cooperstown?

Charles McDonald was a joiner (carpenter).  He built and ran the Palace Hotel.  The charter members of the Masonic Lodge were mostly British.  The first church in Cooperstown was the Congregational.  Most important of all, the game of golf was started in Scotland.  What would America and Cooperstown do without it?

Are the Britishers still drawn to Dakota Territory? Yes, Postmaster Peggy Morris Jackson of Sutton and nurse and author, Marjorie Cordwell Troseth, Cooperstown, both Londoners, met their American husbands there during World War 11.  There was no hesitation.  They came to North Dakota to stay.

Marilyn Hazard

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial page 44

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