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Curtis Eriksmoen, Published June 30 2012

Eriksmoen: Looking for cold case clues

It is not uncommon that when I am in the process of laying out an article, I realize that critical information is missing and the article cannot be completed.

Most of the time, I am able to locate the missing information, even though it may take several years. There are four potential biographies that have languished in my files for a long time, and I am hoping readers can help provide me with information I need.

Below are my “cold cases.”

Frederick Beever

Frederick John Holt Beever was born in 1830 in southwestern Wales. He attended Oxford University, graduating from the Jesus College in 1852. He then served in the Crimean War.

In the early 1860s, Beever lived in the U.S. on the East Coast as a man of considerable means. After the Sioux Uprising in Minnesota in 1863, Beever volunteered to serve and received the honorary rank of lieutenant. He served Gen. Henry H. Sibley as a courier.

On July 29, 1863, Sibley sent Beever with a message to Col. William Crook. While returning, Beever encountered a band of hostile Sioux and was killed near Apple Creek. Sibley’s men buried Beever where he was killed. His body was moved to Oakland Cemetery in St. Paul on Aug. 27, 1865.

I would like to find out more about Beever’s early life in Wales and how he acquired his wealth.

The Whites

Herbert E. White was born Sept. 15, 1852, in Illinois. In the 1870s, he married Lizzie, and they earned their pharmacy licenses. When they moved to Jamestown, N.D., and opened up White Drug in 1884, Lizzie became the first female pharmacist in what is now North Dakota.

She died in 1899, and Herbert began purchasing additional drug stores in Bismarck, Fargo, Aberdeen, S.D., and other locations. He died April 23, 1925, and the business was taken over by his daughter, Rena, and her husband, J.J. Mulroy.

In time, 40 White Drug stores spanned from Wisconsin to Montana. The White Drug chain was sold to Thrifty Drug in 1985.

I would like additional information on the Whites and details about how they grew their franchise.

Charles Moth

Charles Moth was born in Canada and immigrated to the U.S. in 1883. From 1885 to 1900, he was one of the best wrestlers in North America. He was billed as the “Champion of Prussia,” but Charles Hatton, in his article “Grappling on the Grain Belt,” wrote Moth was actually from Berthold, N.D.

In the 1880s and ’90s, wrestling matches were big attractions put on in major theaters and opera houses. In 1906, Moth made the news when he wrote that what spectators saw was often staged. To earn extra money, Moth also boxed and wrestled under the names Charles Wright and W.H. West.

I need more information about his early and later life. I am also uncertain that Charles Moth was his real name.

Verne Booth

Verne Hobson “Man-O-War” Booth was born in Sawyer, N.D., on Oct. 27, 1898. After graduating high school, he served in the Army during World War I, then enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, becoming “a record-setting miler” in 1923.

He competed in track in the 1924 Olympics but foot trouble hindered his performance in two events, forcing him to withdraw from a third. He continued to train, hoping to compete in the 1928 Olympics, but did not qualify.

His name surfaced again in 1945 when Brooklyn College was involved in a basketball scandal, and he was hired as athletic director to clean up the program.

During the 1960s and early ’70s, a series of science books was written by a Verne Hobson Booth, but I have not been able to ascertain that this is the same person. Booth died Sept. 27, 1979.


“Did You Know That” is a Sunday column that focuses on interesting people, places and events that had an impact on North Dakota, or even the country. Send your suggestions for columns, comments or corrections to Eriksmoen at Curtis.eriksmoen@ndsu.nodak.edu