The year of 1912 was the backdrop of many historic events: the disastrous end of Robert Scott’s South Pole expedition, Theodore Roosevelt’s last stand as the candidate of his own Bull Moose Party, the admissions of Arizona and New Mexico into the Union, and the sinking of the Titanic. On the lighter side, 1912 was also the year the Oreo cookie was introduced, the first neon sign was displayed in Paris, France, and prizes were added to Cracker Jack boxes.
In 1912, the world mourned the deaths of surgeon Joseph Lister, writer Bram Stoker, and aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright, as well as the 1,500 victims of the Titanic disaster; and noted the births of painter Jackson Pollack, musician Woody Guthrie, chef Julia Child and future First Ladies Patricia Nixon and Lady Bird Johnson.
Locally, the area that would become Lake of the Woods County was not only well on the road to recovery, but flourishing after the devastating fire of 1910.
A judicial ditching project, began in the area in 1912, provided roads and opened up lands never before accessible to settlers, and the enriched soil of the areas cleared by the 1910 fire brought forth bounteous crops. In addition, the new Homestead Law of 1912 eased the burden of new homesteaders by reducing the time of residency required for patent from five to three years. It also reduced the period within which a homestead entry could be completed from seven to five years.
Social gatherings in the county at that time were abundant. On July 4th, picnic lunches were prepared and parasols at the ready as young and old alike gathered on the riverbanks to watch log rolling competitions and rowing contests. Parades, baseball games and tug of war matches also entertained the crowd. Fishing, boating, participation in a newly-formed gun club, and even a traveling circus were among the entertainments enjoyed by folks that year.
The late summer and fall of 1912 saw record crops across the area. The ash-fertilized soil produced tremendous yields of grains, produce, wild fruit and berries. The blueberries, in fact, were so plentiful that summer that a common harvest was 100 quarts in five to six hours.
In November 1912, Woodrow Wilson was elected President of the United States by an overwhelming majority of voters across the country. Locally, Baudette and Spooner’s votes showed Wilson and incumbent President William Howard Taft on practically a par, while former President Theodore Roosevelt received meager support here.
Christmas of that year saw elaborate public celebrations the likes of which had never before been seen in the area, and both children and adults witnessed with awe the lighting of Spooner’s first public Christmas tree.
As 1912 drew to a close, unusually mild winter conditions gave residents hope for a prosperous beginning to the new year, and continued success in 1913 and the years to follow in the rugged country they chose to call home.