100 Years ago – Clifford D. Brown (AKA Richard Earl Brown) (AKA Richard Earl Durand)

Arthur Durwood Brown Family abt 1912
Clifford (Dick) is 3rd from left in suspenders.
Source: Personal Photo Collection

In 1914, 11-year-old Clifford was living with his parents, Arthur Durwood and Mary Elizabeth Manning Brown in Merkel Township, Kidder County, North Dakota. It was a large family of 10 children (at that time). (An 11th child, whose name and sex we do not know, had been born and died before 1900.) His father worked as a laborer on a farm and the family rented their home. His youngest brother, Charles William Brown was born the previous July.

Neighbors to the Browns included a Russian family headed by John Merkel. Living with John was his wife and six kids plus Edd and Dertha Merkel Brown. Dertha was John Merkel’s daughter and Edd was Arthur Durwood Brown’s youngest brother. Near them was another John Merkel, presumably a son of John. The 1910 Census indicated 111 families in the township, many more than exist today. The 2010 Census indicated only 21 housing units in the township and a steady decline in population over the previous several censuses. It is clear though that the Brown family lived in a tight community of family.

Photo by by JBTHEMILKER
Source: Panoramio | Google Maps

The 1910 Census also indicates that Clifford was attending school. It is unclear where the three Brown children, Victoria, Cora, & Clifford, went to school. It was more than 30 miles to Fessenden or to Steele so the children must have gone somewhere closer. The published by Geo. A. Ogle and Co. in 1912 shows that there was “School Land” about three miles south of the land the Browns were working. I’ve looked for evidence that a school was ever built there and I have been unable to find any. I think it likely that the children attended the school in Robinson about 8 miles away. The public school building from 1916 is still standing and it is likely that the tree attended that school.

  
Historically, October, 1914, was a very important time.  Although the Brown family was isolated in the
North Dakota plains, they most assuredly knew the great war was beginning. Archduke
Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28th. Those
two shots sent the world into the chaos known as The Great War (World War I).  In July, Austria-Hungary declared war on
Serbia. In October of 1914 the perpetrators of the attempted bombing
assassination and the successful shooting assassination of the Archduke were sentenced. 
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