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Bob Lind, Published June 13 2010

Lind: Murder case unsolved

They lived near where Christine, N.D., later would be founded.

They were the Julins, a family of Swedish immigrants: Johan and his wife, Carolina, their children and Carolina’s father, Jon Jonsson.

It was 1876, when settlers were pouring into the area, when the Army was operating out of nearby Fort Abercrombie and when a murder that has never been solved occurred.

The story was recorded in a Grand Forks Norwegian-American newspaper column written around 1950 by O.S. Gunderson, Christine, the maternal grandfather of Rodney Nelson, Fargo, who sent it to Neighbors.

According to O.S., here’s what happened:

Julin and his father-in-law, Jonsson, got into a heated argument over $300 (big money in 1876) belonging to Jonsson. Julin wanted it to buy a team of oxen.

Jonsson told Julin he should buy the oxen and he’d pay for it. No, Julin said, he wanted the cash. And the argument worsened.

That night, Jonsson stayed in a nearby claim shanty while his son-in-law for some reason slept in a granary … the only night all summer he did that.

When Jonsson failed to show up for breakfast the next day, one of the Julin boys went to the cabin to check on him.

He found the door had been broken open and the old man was dead from an ax blow to his head and a stab wound from a knife still imbedded in his chest.

Money kept in a chest was gone.

Of course, his son-in-law was a prime suspect, but he had an airtight alibi. What that alibi was is not recorded. No arrest was ever made.

About 25 years later, a story surfaced that a soldier on his deathbed in a soldiers’ home on the West Coast had confessed to the slaying of an old man in a cabin near Fort Abercrombie. But whether this was true or only a rumor was never determined.

So the murder of Jon Jonsson remains a mystery.

And today …

Rod passes along names of people linked to this story.

The cabin in which Jonsson died had been built by a man known as “Big Pete” Johnson. He was Rod’s great-granduncle.

And Cia (Mrs. Mel) Nelson, Christine, has a special tie to this story. Jon Jonsson, the man who was murdered, was her great-great-great-grandfather.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail blind@forumcomm.com