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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published February 23 2013

Halgrimson: 1926 photos lead to search of Fargo’s livery stable history

FARGO - When I went to work at The Forum in 1972 as their librarian, I came across two photos of a site being cleared for a building.

In the first, the view is looking north, and you can see what at one time was the Jackson apartment block. In the distance to the right and to the left are church spires. In the second photo, two teams of horses are working. Across the street to the west is the Masonic Temple.

Both photos are dated 1926, and the site was being prepared for the erection of a building for The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. The site at 101 5th St. N., had been a livery stable owned by Anton T. Peterson.

Never having seen a livery stable, I was curious and looked it up in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

A stable where horses and vehicles are kept for hire and where stabling is provided – called also livery barn. First Known Use of “livery stable” 1705.

Unlike many things from the past, there isn’t a lot of information about livery stables except their locations listed in the Fargo City Directory. I started looking in the 1881 directory and found an ad for the Stephens & Sears, Livery, Feed and Sale Stables. … Hack and Omnibus line. Northern Pacific Avenue, Fargo, D. T. That’s Dakota Territory.

The ad also said that they had a feed store and sold in car loads or retail lots. They had horses for sale “single or by the Car Load,” and a “Stage Line to and from Barnesville twice a week. Fine Rigs, Carriages and Saddle Horses for Hire.”

Stephens & Sears was not listed in 1891, but several other liveries were recorded: Marsh & Loomis Livery, 22-24 Roberts St. with an exchange stable at 509 3rd Ave. N. (and a snazzy ad picturing a rig with two prancing horses); William H. Doyle, 625-629 NP Ave.; the Fargo Cab Line, 107 5th St. N.: A. F. Kuhnert, 421 NP Ave. and Welsh & McLean, Seventh Street at the northeast corner of First Avenue.

By 1901, Doyle, Kuhnert, Marsh & Loomis were still listed in addition to T. J. Young & Co. at 706 1st Ave. S.

In 1911, Doyle and T. J. Young & Sons were still there plus Burgess & Lukyn, 1307 3rd Ave. N.; Huntoon & Holcomb, 415 1st Ave. N.; Charles Johnson, 10 4th St. S., A. T. Peterson, 101 5th St. N. and W. R. Smith, 65 5th St. N.

The T. J. Young entry also said they offered, “Livery, Bus and Transfer: Ambulances, Hearses, Broughams, Carriages, Coupes, Train calls a specialty.”

There are two livery stables listed in 1924 but by 1930, they are gone. However, there is a listing for Doyle Motor Co., 116 5th St. N. in 1924 and in 1930 for Doyle Finance Co., 504 First National Bank building.

It’s hard for me to imagine being hauled around in a carriage pulled by horses let alone in a horse-drawn ambulance. But before automobiles clogged our streets and highways, it was the only way to travel in town.

The only vestige of the horse-drawn hearse is at the chapel at Riverside Cemetery in south Fargo. The doorway on the east side is high off the ground so that the horse-drawn hearses could back up to the door and the coffins easily slid into the chapel.

I was disappointed to see that there was no livery stable at Bonanzaville, so I will just have to imagine what they were like from the information gleaned from old photos and the city directory.

The only horse-drawn vehicle I’ve ever been in was a sleigh one winter when our family visited Al and Irene Arneson on their farm in Glyndon, Minn.

But if for some reason you yearn to ride in a vehicle propelled by horses, Fargo’s Dakota Carriage Company can satisfy that need.

Sources: Institute for Regional Studies at NDSU, Forum files, Fargo City Directories

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