Stories in the Rear View Mirror

Delta Daggett

Grandpa Daggett bought one of two livery stable in Frazee in 1909.   I have an ad from the Frazee Paper in October 1909, advertising that he rented out buggies with “Courteous Drivers and Prompt Service”.  Nothing changes, Daggett still offers those.

I believe he had the first or one of the first cars in town.   Later he had a 1925 Rickenbacker that was the largest car in town and could hold six passengers plus the driver.   He often rented it out for funerals because it could hold six pallbearers.   Vernon Daggett was in his early 20’s and was usually the driver.   A prominent person in town died.   He was successful in his businesses, but was known for being very slow in paying people he hired.   At the cemetery it began to rain.  As the pallbearers climbed back into the car one remarked,   “Well, he soaked us one last time”.

Grandpa Daggett had many teams of horses and began subcontracting as a grader when roads were being built.   Among the roads were 78 south from Perham and 59 north of Detroit Lakes.    One year, they had a camp set up at the Flowing Well east of Mahnomen.    He needed a cook for the camp and hired his wife.   She demanded being paid a $1.00 per day and payment every week.     A wood stove and ice for refrigeration in a tent was what she had to work with.   Dad always insisted on hard butter on our table because they always had soft butter from the heat at the camps.     I still hate hard butter. 

When school started Dad stayed in Frazee but Grandpa had a driver take him to the camp after school on Friday.   They would stay overnight at the hotel in Ogema and then arrived at the job site the next morning.  Dad would drive a dump wagon, a three horse version of today’s dump truck hauling about     1 ½ cubic yds. of dirt.   He was 14 and told his parents he wanted to quit school as all he was going to do all his life was to drive dump wagon.    Now he has a great-grandson who wants to be an astronaut. 

Grandpa Daggett bought three used trucks in 1920 to haul gravel.    They also hauled goods from area farms to Frazee for shipment on the rail.   Roads were not great and trucks did not have much power.   Dad told me he was very good at steering a truck backwards down a hill when the truck powered out, by looking straight ahead at the road .  Trucks had more power in reverse than in first gear. They often hauled pulpwood which was loaded and unloaded by hand.  If the truck became stuck, some pulpwood would have to be unloaded, the wheels jacked up, then put pulpwood put under the wheels so he could drive it up to firm land. Then reload and continue on to load onto a rail car at Frazee.   Now we know why he had a bad back.  

Transportation has been in the family genes for six generations so far.  

Great Grandfather, William R Daggett was a Hogie.     This was a person that drove the horses, mules or oxen pulling the barges on the canals and rivers.    The Maumee Canal was 500 miles long, starting near Toledo, Ohio, running southwest all the way across Indiana before turning southeast to Cincinnati.  When the railroads came in, the freight traffic moved to the rails and William was out of work.   His  family lived in Antwerp, Ohio and were large farmers.   There is a Daggett Street that crosses Hwy 49 in Antwerp three blocks south of downtown.  The railroad agent in Frazee was a brother in law who telegraphed that there was work in Frazee at the saw mill.   William and his son Delta, who was 13-14, arrived in Frazee 1n 1896 to work in the saw mill, where Grandpa lost a finger.   

Grandpa Daggett was a land person, owning four farms when he died in 1946. .  One in Evergreen, one in Silver Leaf, I think they adjoined each other, and two on the Ponsford Prairie.  Holmer families ran three of the farms.   D.W. was not very supportive of his son buying trucks and building trailers to haul livestock from Fargo to St Paul and Austin.  He would often sarcastically call the trucks, “real money makers”.   The first load from Fargo to Austin paid the truck $54.00.  Workers were always paid at the end of work at 5PM Saturday by cash.   There were some Saturday mornings where Vernon did not have funds available but sold enough during the day of parts or gas or someone paid his bill so there was enough to pay his men.     He often said people talk about the “Good Ol Days but I like it better now”.   

The Schrandt family, including daughter Helen and several siblings, moved to Frazee from Winona, Mn. In the early 1900’s.   Helen was 16 and told how all her friends were scared for her because all there were in the area were Indians and she would probably be scalped.   Later the Schrandts moved to Ponsford where they had a grocery store.   Grandpa was 20 and Helen was 18 when they were married.    Grandma told me how rich they felt as one of their parents gave them a cow as a wedding present.  

When the sawmill closed grandpa bought the “big house” west of the water tower.    Many of the houses in Frazee had been heated by heat from the sawdust fire at the mill.  The heat was carried to the houses through a series of tunnels.   Grandpa jacked the house up and used horses to pull scrapers and dig out under house to build a stone foundation basement.     Then he could put in a furnace for heat.  

The house had many bedrooms upstairs with an outside stairway and Grandma provided room and board for renters.     Many were school teachers and that still happens there today.   

Grandma was a strong person.  When a brother’s girlfriend became pregnant, his friends advised him to leave town and he left for Minneapolis.     When Grandma found out, she told the girlfriend that her brother had just left town to find work so he could earn enough to marry her.  Then she wrote to the brother and told him the girlfriend was now ready to be married.    The wedding was held in the Daggett living room.  The marriage lasted over 40 years.