1885 Dakota Territory census records show J. D. Bacon (age 25, farmer, born in Ohio) married to Edith (age 21, born in Iowa). The couple had one son, Pierce (age 1, born in Dakota Territory).
An 1889-1890 Grand Forks Directory showed Jerry D. Bacon living in Grand Forks, Dakota Territory. His occupation was a horse dealer, at 116 North Eighth.
HON. JERRY DEMPSTER BACON occupies a prominent and influential position as a businessman and citizen of Grand Forks, North Dakota. He is a man of excellent business qualifications and whatever enlists his attention is sure of meeting with success. He is one of the proprietors of the Dacotah, the leading hotel of the city, and is also interested extensively in other business enterprises. His portrait occupies a place of honor in these pages.
Our subject was born at Waverly, Bremer county, Iowa, June 24, 1865, and is a son of Elijah F. and Sylvia A. (Barker) Bacon, natives of New York. The parents moved to Iowa in 1864 and his father is proprietor of the German-American Bank, Renwick, Iowa. The grandfather of our subject also resides at the old home in Des Moines, Iowa, and has reached the advanced age of one hundred years, having been born in Oneida county, New York, December 19, 1799.
Mr. Bacon was reared and educated in Iowa and remained there until 1882, assisting his father and in that year he came to North Dakota and located at Ojata, and followed farming there four years and then moved to Grand Forks in 1886, and the following year engaged in the livery business, which he continues to conduct and he also buys and ships horses extensively. He has probably handled more heavy draft and fine driving horses than any other man in the state. His present stables occupy 100×140 feet, two stories high, with steam heat, electric lights, elevator and all modern appliances, making it a first-class up-to-date livery business in every respect. In 1898, in company with Mr. W. B. Wood, our subject erected the Dacotah Hotel, at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars, and the hotel is now conducted by our subject and Mr. Wood with marked success. Mr. Bacon is also extensively interested in agriculture and operates about two thousand acres of land, all but a small portion of which is in crop the present year.
Mr. Bacon was married, in 1886, to Miss Calista L. Brundage. Mrs. Bacon was born in Iowa and is a daughter of G. W. and Maria (Griggs) Brundage, old settlers of that state. Mr. and Mrs. Bacon have two sons living, namely: J. Myron and Keith V.
Mr. Bacon has been a Republican since attaining his majority and has been an active worker in his party and taken a strong interest in public matters. In 1898 he was elected to the legislature to represent the sixth district and is now serving in that capacity. He was president of the state prison board two years and has served as a member of the city council eight years and the same period as a
member of the school board. He is a gentleman of broad intelligence and is deeply interested in educational affairs and all enterprises that tend to upbuild or strengthen good government. He holds membership in the A. O. U. W., the M. W. A. and B. P. O. E. (Compendium of History and Biography of North Dakota, Geo. A. Ogle & Co., Chicago, 1900)
The 1900 United States census records show J. D. Bacon (age 34, hotel proprietor, born in Iowa) married to Calista (age 32, born in Iowa). Their children were Myron (age 7, born in North Dakota) and another son (Keith, age 1 month, born in North Dakota). The family resided in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Bacon Hasn’t Quit. J. D. Bacon of Grand Forks, candidate for speaker of the lower house of the North Dakota legislature, was in St. Paul yesterday on his way home from Iowa. Mr. Bacon and family have been visiting in Des Moines, at the home of his grandfather, Noah Bacon, who has turned his one hundred and second year. (The Minneapolis Journal, Wednesday Evening, January 2, 1901, Page 7)
Just a word personally, for the proprietors of the Dacotah. Mr. Bacon came to Grand Forks from Waverly, Iowa, in 1882, and engaged in the livery business, also selling horses. He has continued in the livery business ever since, and during recent years has become one of the foremost breeders of horses and cattle in the state. He owns some of the most valuable horseflesh in the northwest, and has perhaps done more than any other one man to stimulate an interest in this section. He also owns some valuable pure bred cattle, which have few equals in the state. For a young man Mr. Bacon has seen considerable public service. He was for years one of the influential members of the city council and has been a member of the board of education for the past fourteen years. He has taken a deep interest in maintaining the schools at their highest standard of excellence. He was for several years president of the board of trustees of the state penitentiary. He was elected to the upper house of the state legislature in 1898 and served his constituency with such signal ability that he was reelected in 1900, and then to the senate in 1902. He was one of the most influential members of that body at the last session and made a splendid record. He is a staunch republican and one of the local party leaders. (Grand Forks Herald, Silver Anniversary Edition, June 26, 1879 to June 26, 1904, Page 87)
Grand Forks (N. D.) Street Railway. – E. J. Lander writes that this company has just been organized and new officers elected. The company has not, as yet, fully outlined definite plans for the ensuing year, but has under consideration the purchase of a 2.5-mile line owned by the Grand Forks Transit Company, which extends from the heart of the city to the State University. If this plan to purchase the Grand Forks line is carried out, and a mile or two of additional track is built the company by the end of the year will have about 5 miles of line in operation. Capital stock, authorized, $250,000, of which $60,000 has been subscribed. Officers: R. B. Griffith, president; J. D. Bacon, vice-president; O. A. Webster, secretary; D. H. Beecher, treasurer, all of Grand Forks. (Electric Railway Journal, February 6, 1909, Volume XXXIII, Number 6, Page 265)
Northwestern Trust Co., Grand Forks, N. D. Officers: Fred L. Goodman, president; E. Y. Sarles, vice-president; D. H. Beecher, vice-president; J. D. Bacon, vice-president; J. R. Carley, secretary-treasurer and manager bond department. Directors: Tracy R. Bangs, J. D. Bacon, E. Y. Sarles, J. R. Carley, W. J. Murphy, Fred. L. Goodman, Wm. Spriggs, D. H. Beecher, J. A. Dinnie. Operates in North Dakota. (The Insurance Year Book 1909-1910, The Spectator Company, New York – Chicago, 1909, Page c-133)
The 1910 United States census records show J. D. Bacon (age 44, hotel keeper, born in Iowa) married to Calista (age 42, born in Iowa). Their children were Myron (age 17, born in North Dakota) and Keith (age 10, born in North Dakota). The family resided in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Electric Farm Motor Installation in Operation Five Years. Inquiry among the Byllesby properties concerning farm power business has brought to attention an installation near Grand Forks, N. D., which has been in successful operation for five years. The Lilac Hedge Farm, operated by J. D. Bacon, installed electrical equipment for the first time in 1911, for both lighting and power purposes. The load is connected to the lines of the Red River Power Company, one of the Northern States Power Company’s subsidiaries. Electric drive has been used ever since for milking and other purposes – an average of 60 cows being milked twice a day. About 1000 tons of ensilage are cut each year; all the threshing, feed grinding, wood sawing, water pumping, etc., is done by electric motors, two of which are stationary, one for driving the milking machine and one for pumping water. The rest of the farm work is done by a 35-hp. portable motor, so arranged that it can be plugged in at various places on the farm. The installation has been a very satisfactory revenue producer for the central station company and has more than satisfied the owner of the farm, both as to the amount of work done and the cost of doing it. (National Electric Light Association Bulletin, November 1916, Volume X, Number 10, Page 845)
JEREMIAH D. BACON
Jeremiah D. Bacon, a capitalist of Grand Forks, whose business career has been characterized by unfaltering enterprise and keen sagacity, was born in Waverly, Iowa, June 24, 1865, a son of Elijah F. and Sylvia Adelaide (Barker) Bacon, the former a native of the state of New York and the latter of Indiana. With their respective parents they removed to Wisconsin. The paternal grandfather, Noah Brockway Bacon, lived to the notable old age of one hundred and three years and passed away in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1902, while his wife, Mrs. York Bacon, died in Wisconsin, in 1888, at the age of seventy years. The maternal grandfather William Barker, removed from Indiana to Wisconsin, where his wife passed away about 1875, and later he became a resident of Waverly, Iowa, afterward moving to Rudd, Iowa, where he died in 1884, when more than eighty years of age. Elijah F. Bacon became a prominent business man of Waverly, where he carried on general merchandising and the grain business, afterward becoming interested in banking and farming. Later in life he removed to Grand Forks, where he died in April, 1915, at the age of eighty-four years. His widow is still living in Grand Forks and is enjoying excellent health at the age of eighty. In their family were eight children, of whom seven are yet living: William F., engaged in the machinery business at Cando, North Dakota; F. C., a traveling salesman residing at Grand Forks; J. F., manager of the Grand Forks Herald; Mrs. J. E. Drake, of Des Moines, who is now deceased; Mrs. M. H. Allen, of Grand Forks; Mrs. C. L. Van Alstein, of Grand Forks; Mrs. S. X. Way, of Watertown, South Dakota; and J. D., who was the fifth in order of birth.
The last named attended school in Waverly, Iowa, and on leaving the high school took up the occupation of farming, engaging quite extensively in dealing in horses and cattle, which he shipped from Iowa to North Dakota. In 1883 he removed to Grand Forks, where he began buying and selling horses and later he entered the livery business, at the same time continuing as a dealer in horses. He has been continuously engaged in that line since 1887, and at Grand Forks erected the largest livery barn in the state. He also built the largest hotel, The Dacotah, in the state in 1897 and still conducts it, making it, by reason of his careful management and high standards of hotel service, one of the leading hostelries of the northwest. He also has extensive farming interests and personally superintends the cultivation of a large tract of land. He is a director in the Street Railway Company of Grand Forks and of the Northern Packing Company, is president of the Times-Herald Publishing Company and a director of the Nelson Grain Sower Company. His activities have been a most important element in the substantial development and upbuilding of Grand Forks along business lines. He is today a director of many of the most important industries and leading corporations not only of Grand Forks but of the entire state. In the conduct of his business he has always followed constructive methods, never building up his own interests at the sacrifice of the business of others. His connections now cover a broad scope and in the conduct of his affairs he has displayed notable foresight and keen sagacity combined with marked persistency of purpose. He owns much valuable property in Grand Forks and is the proprietor of the Lilac Hedge Farm of Grand Forks county, which is one of the finest farms in the state, supplied with every modern improvement in the way of buildings and machinery. The fame of this farm has been perpetuated by a local quartette of singers, one of whom, Hiram Gibbs, a resident of Grand Forks since boyhood, was the composer of a song which is a description of the Lilac Hedge Farm and which is sung to the tune “Where the River Shannon Flows.” It is as follows:
“There’s a spot in North Dakota
Where the English Coulee flows,
Where they breed the pure Red Duroe
And the sweet alfalfa grows
Where the Holsteins roam and flourish,
And the horses keep on edge
Where the Brundage family did their part
To make the farm called Lilac Hedge.
There’s a Spot in North Dakota
Where the poultry are well fed,
Where they raise the fat bronze turkey
And the big Rhode Island Red,
Where the Pekin honk and wander
Down by the water’s edge,
And they all know Roy the foreman,
On the farm called Lilac Hedge.
There’s a spot in North Dakota,
Where they raise the best of corn,
And they feed it from the silo
At supper, noon and morn,
Where the golden wheat and barley
Fill the granaries to the ledge,
‘Tis the pride of Jerry Bacon
That farm called Lilac Hedge.
So we’ll get up and holler
For this ideal farm,
Where they have a lot of fruit trees
And the lilacs add their charm,
There is not a place can beat it.
And that’s the toast we pledge,
If you want to see a real farm
Take a trip to Lilac Hedge.”
On December 1, 1886, Mr. Bacon was married to Miss Calista Louise Brundage of Rudd, Iowa, a daughter of G. W. and Maria Brundage. Mr. and Mrs. Bacon have become parents of three children: Myron, who spent two years at the Northwestern Military Academy and later graduated from the high school at Grand Forks, after which he attended the University of North Dakota for two years; Keith, who is attending Northwestern Military Academy; and Newell, who died while visiting in Iowa when three years of age.
Mr. Bacon is a prominent Mason, having attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite. He also belongs to the Elks lodge of Grand Forks, in which he has filled all of the chairs, to the Modern Woodmen of America and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. His political allegiance is given to the republican party and his ability naturally renders him a leader in political circles as well as in other connections. For eight years he was a member of the city council of Grand Forks, and for four years represented his district in the house of representatives, while for a similar period he was a member of the state senate and left the impress of his individuality upon the legislation enacted during those periods. For twenty consecutive years he has been a member of the school board and the cause of education indeed finds in him a stanch champion. There are indeed few phases of public life in which he is not deeply and helpfully interested. He was chairman of the committee for raising fifty thousand dollars for the purpose of building an addition to the Young Men’s Christian Association building and he was largely instrumental in securing that amount within a few days. From a comparatively humble position Jeremiah D. Bacon has worked his way steadily upward to a place of marked prominence, being today regarded
as one of the leading and honored residents of Grand Forks, standing high in connection with the public life of the state, and one who has been a leading factor in its growth and development. On removing to Grand Forks he displayed remarkable prescience in perceiving the growth and progress of the state. He built what is known as the Dacotah Hotel, at that time the largest in the state and still considered one of the best, remaining the leading hotel of Grand Forks, among its guests having been some of the most notable men of the country. He has also erected a number of the most prominent buildings of the city, and among the structures he has erected in the last few years are the Bacon flats. He stands as one of the prominent representatives of agricultural life in North Dakota. His is one of the model farms of the country and all who visit that section of the state and are interested in farming go to see it. He is not only the owner of a model property but he thoroughly understands the work of scientific farming in principal and detail and is equally well acquainted with every practical phase of the work. He has delivered many public addresses upon questions of farming and with others traveled in 1915 in many states, speaking upon the question of diversified farming, one of which lectures was given at the capitol building
in Madison, Wisconsin. In his addresses he never fails to speak a good word for North Dakota and its possibilities. In fact he has done much to advertise the state and its natural resources and climate, and his words have been productive of good results in its upbuilding. Mr. Bacon believes that the bracing air of North Dakota makes bigger and broader men, more hospitable and better citizens. In December, 1916, it is his intention to be one of a party of about four hundred North Dakotans to take a special train to Chicago to attend the Fat Stock Show and boost the state. He is a director and treasurer of the Elks Building Society of Grand Forks; also a director of the State and County Fair Board, of the Grand Forks Street Railway Company, the Grand Forks Oratoric Society, the Nelson Grain Sower Company, the Patent Cement Concrete Company; and a stockholder of the Great Northern Life Insurance Company and the Scandinavian American Bank. He enjoys hunting and kindred sports and wisely gives to recreation a sufficient amount of time that enables him to maintain his best balance in all of his life work. What he has accomplished represents the wise use of his native talents and his time, showing him to be a strong and resourceful man, ready to meet any emergency with the confidence that comes from personal strength and a correct conception and acknowledgment of the rights of others. North Dakota has reason to feel thankful to him for what he has accomplished in making its resources and advantages known, for he has done splendid work in exploiting the state and its possibilities and his labors have been attended by most excellent results. (North Dakota History and People, Clement A. Lounsberry, Volume III, The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, 1917)
HE IS SOME FARMER. J. D. Bacon of Grand Forks Writes a Letter to Mr. A. Thilquist of Milaca. Mr. Bacon’s Cattle Captured a Basketful of Premiums at the Several State Fairs. Last spring, it will be remembered, the Union published a letter from Mr. J. D. Bacon of Grand Forks, relative to a controversy he had with a Mr. Thilquist of Milaca over a champion cow that Mr. Bacon claimed to own – Mr. Thilquist disputed Mr. Bacon’s veracity. Mr. Bacon is one of the leading farmers of North Dakota and it was he who first unmasked Mr. A. C. Townley and showed him up in his true light. Now it appears that Mr. Bacon has captured prizes galore on his cattle at the Minnesota State fair, the South Dakota State fair, the District fair at Grand Forks, and the Northwestern fair at Crookston. Referring to the Lilac Hedge Farm herd owned by Mr. Bacon, Hoard’s Dairyman, the most popular and widely circulated dairy paper in the country, says that the 1918 Minnesota fair has never been surpassed by the fifty-nine which have been held; that the State of Minnesota alone has increased her cattle in 1917 140,000, of which 26,000 were dairy cows, and makes her the first state in the union in the production of butter. They also state that this is the first year that the Bacon herd has left its own state for exhibition, but the guess around the ring-side is that it will not be the last. The long list of premiums awarded Mr. Bacon on his herd as a whole as well as individual members of said herd is too lengthy to publish, but it certainly goes to prove that he is some farmer and cattle-raiser. Annexed hereto is the letter that Mr. Bacon forwarded to Mr. Thilquist on this subject.
Grand Forks, Sept. 23, 1918. Mr. A. Thilquist, Route 2, Box 110, Milaca, Minn. Dear Mr. Thilquist: You will remember, about a year ago, we had a little correspondence in connection with the premium I took at the Minnesota State Fair, or at least a premium taken by a cow I had raised. My herd has just returned from a show trip in which it attended the Minnesota State Fair, the South Dakota and North Dakota State Fairs, the County Fair held at this place and the Northwestern Fair held at Crookston. I am enclosing you a statement of the premiums we took, with the exception of many minor premiums taken, such as second and third, which we do not mention. Trusting this will convince you as to who is trying to lie about the matter, I ask you whether you believe Townley and his organizers are really trying to tell the truth when they say to people that I am not a farmer. I will soon have a pamphlet out, which shows many photographs taken on my farm, adjoining town, and will try to think to send you one. Townley and his organizers have made people believe that I am fighting the farmer. On the contrary, my greatest interest is in farming. The better the farmer prospers, the better I will prosper. I have over 6,000 acres of land nearly all of which is under cultivation, and I am for a farmers’ organization where every farmer may have a right to vote, and where the officers shall be farmers who have a reputation for honor, integrity and business ability in their community, and who, while looking for the best interest of the farmer, is willing to be absolutely fair, and I assure you I shall expend as much energy and time in boosting such an organization as that as I have in trying to head off the Townleyite-Bolsheviki hatred-breeding bunch of leaders, who are blindfolding the farmers, and using them to protect Socialism and I. W. W. ism. Trusting you will be fair in this matter and ask your editor to publish a list of the premiums we have taken at the fairs, I am, Yours very truly, J. D. Bacon. (The Princeton Union (Mille Lacs County, Minnesota), Thursday, October 3, 1918, Volume 42, Number 41, Page 1)
J. D. Bacon was the author of The National Nonpartisan League Debate, first published in 1918.
J. D. Bacon was the author of Sovietians, Wreckers of Americanism, published in 1920.
The 1920 United States census records show Jerry Bacon (age 54, hotel proprietor, born in Iowa) married to Calista (age 52, born in Iowa). Their children were Keith (age 19, hotel clerk, born in North Dakota), Jerry M. (age unknown, aviator, born in North Dakota), and Lillie (age unknown, born in North Carolina). The family resided in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
A Herd of State Champions. Lilac Hedge Farm, situated at Grand Forks, houses the champion herd of North Dakota and is the property of Jerry D. Bacon & Son, who are well known to Holstein breeders of the surrounding states. It is the champion herd because it is the home of state champions. Animals from this herd have made good not only in short and long time tests, but also at the great fairs, for individuality and production are correlated in the Lilac Hedge animals.
The buildings at Lilac Hedge would be a credit to any breeding establishment in any state. Their size and capacity make this farm one of the show places of Grand Forks. Starting fifteen years ago with a grade herd of Holstein cows Mr. Bacon has experimented, bred and built up his herd until he has around 110 animals, all purebreds. He is ever ready to promote the dairy and purebred interests and last year presented a registered bull to the largest township delegation from Grand Forks County attending the National Dairy Show. Recently there was a gopher hunt at Langdon, N. D. and in order that there might be a suitable prize for the winning team, Bacon & Son furnished the county agent with a real good registered bull at a very nominal price. Mr. Bacon is a prominent citizen of his community. Besides being the main guy of one of the city newspapers, he is the proprietor of the Hotel Dacotah, the leading hostelry of Grand Forks. (The Holstein Breeder and Dairyman, August 8, 1922, Volume I, Number 15)
What Colonel Nelson did on a large scale at his Sni-a-Bar farm, J. D. Bacon, owner of the Grand Forks Herald, Grand Forks, N. D., is doing on a smaller scale, but with equally effective results for his community. Mr. Bacon has established a model farm for the purpose of demonstrating the practicability of diversified agriculture and the value of using purebred livestock. (The Rotarian, Chicago, January 1927, Volume XXX, Number 1, Page 42)
The 1930 United States census records show Jerry D. Bacon (age 64, merchant, born in Iowa) married to Mrs. J. D. (age 60, born in Iowa). Keith V. (age 30, hotel manager, born in North Dakota) was the lone child still living with the couple in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
CAR CRASH KILLS J. D. ‘JERRY’ BACON
Auto Hurtles Off Pavement At Crookston – Gust of Wind Is Believed Cause of Upset in Minnesota – Came to City in ’82 – Victim Was Pioneer and Prominent in N. D. Business, Political Life
J. D. (Jerry) Bacon of Grand Forks, a real pioneer of North Dakota and one of its foremost citizens, was killed Tuesday afternoon (September 19, 1933) near Crookston when his automobile plunged into a ditch and turned over.
Mr. Bacon, who was 68 years old, had been prominent in business, civic and political affairs of his city and state during most of the 51 years he had lived in North Dakota.
He was riding alone, traveling eastward on the pavement out of Crookston on a business trip, when the accident occurred about three-quarters of a mile from town, near what is known as “Bob’s corner.”
Gust Strikes Car.
Death apparently rode in on the heavy winds of the late afternoon, for indications were a sudden gust of high wind, striking the car just after he had passed a grove, caused the light machine to swerve to the right, its right wheels leaving the pavement.
Eye-witnesses said he fought desperately to pull the car back onto the pavement. The shoulder, with little gravel at that point, is about three or four inches below the level of the pavement, and the right front wheel for a time would not mount this rise.
Then, suddenly, the car seemed to hurtle across the highway, almost leaving the pavement as it dove into the ditch on the left side of the road, careening along momentarily before it struck a concrete culvert that spun it over and onto its side.
Aid Close By.
Aid reached his side within a minute or two, and an ambulance was called. Mr. Bacon, unconscious from a fractured skull and other injuries, was taken to St. Vincent’s hospital in Crookston, but died at 3:45 P. M., only a few minutes after reaching the hospital.
His family here was notified at once, and they returned the body to this city Tuesday evening. Funeral arrangements were not completed Tuesday night, but will be announced Wednesday.
The survivors are his widow, Mrs. Calista Bacon, two sons, J. Myron Bacon and Keith Bacon of Grand Forks; his brothers, W. F. Bacon of Grand Forks, F. C. Bacon of Hallock, Minn., and J. F. Bacon of Watertown, S. D.; and three sisters, Mrs. M. B. Allen of Grand Forks, Mrs. S. X. Way of Watertown, S. D., and Mrs. C. L. Van Alstine of Los Angeles.
Won’t Hold Inquest.
Dr. H. E. Nelson, Polk county coroner, investigated the accident and reported it was clearly unavoidable. No inquest will be held. He verified an account of the accident given by Bob Nelson, operator of a gasoline filling station at “Bob’s corner,” one of the eyewitnesses.
They said the automobile, when flipped over by the culvert after hitting the ditch at a 45 degree angle, landed partly on its side, the head of the car pointing to the westward.
One door was broken off the car, and Bacon’s body was partly thrown from the machine, according to the gas station operator, whose place of business is about 250 feet from the scene of the accident.
News Is Shock.
News of Mr. Bacon’s death was a distinct shock to Grand Forks, and somewhat dimmed the enthusiasm for the opening of the Harvest Festival Tuesday night.
Through long years of devotion to agriculture and livestock, Mr. Bacon brought luster to his city and state, winning laurels in competition at livestock shows throughout the country.
Few persons in Grand Forks had so many friends, and few in the state had a wider acquaintance, for throughout the Northwest, mention of the name “Jerry Bacon of Grand Forks” soon disclosed a friend.
Mr. Bacon had engaged in a wide range of pursuits in North Dakota, including farming, operation of a hotel, newspaper ownership, business property investments, and had been active for many years in state politics.
In 1905, he established the Eve-
ning Times, an afternoon newspaper, and in 1911, he and his associates purchased the Herald from George B. Winship. The two newspapers operated in the old Herald building for several months as separate concerns, and then merged as the Morning and Evening Herald. Mr. Bacon sold his interest in the newspapers in 1927 to his brother, Julius, and associates, and they in turn sold the properties in 1929 to the present owners.
He was a member of the Masons, Mystic Shrine and Elks, and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He belonged to the Rotary club, and to several other civic and business organizations.
Born in Iowa.
Jeremiah Dempster Bacon came to North Dakota and settled on a farm ten miles west of Grand Forks while he was still a boy of 17 years, but from this humble beginning he became one of the best known business men in the state, closely identified with its development and politics during his entire lifetime.
Born at Waverly, Iowa on June 24, 1865, Mr. Bacon received his education in the schools of that place, and in 1882 came to North Dakota where he engaged in farming until the winter of 1887-88, when he moved into Grand Forks and opened up a livery and horse sale business.
A year before coming to Grand Forks he was married to Louise Calista Brundage at Rudd, Iowa, and three sons were born to the couple. The eldest, Newell died while still a baby, and the other two are identified with the business interests of their father in Grand Forks. They are Keith and J. Myron Bacon.
Ships in Horses.
While still engaged in farming Mr. Bacon saw the needs and possibilities of North Dakota, and made frequent trips to more settled sections of the country to buy horses which he shipped into the new farming country around Grand Forks, and engaged in the selling of farm lands. Mr. Bacon never lost the early faith that he had in North Dakota, and his constant endeavor during his entire life was the promotion of a better state and city. The most outstanding feature of his life was his loyalty to Grand Forks and Dakota.
While constantly increasing his real estate holdings in Grand Forks and the surrounding territory, Mr. Bacon found time to buy the assets of the defunct Grand Forks National bank and the Second National Bank of this city, as well as the Merchants National Bank which was liquidated.
In 1897, after the Hotel Dacotah had been destroyed by fire, Mr. Bacon again showed his faith in Grand Forks by building the present Hotel Dacotah, which he opened in partnership with W. B. Wood on December 1, 1897. Since that time Mr. Bacon has been identified with the hotel and has made his residence there.
Bought Large Farm.
At about this time, Mr. Bacon began the purchase of the 2,500 acres of land near the city limits of Grand Forks, which at present forms the Lilac Hedge farm. The Lilac Hedge Farm was the particular pride of Mr. Bacon, and it was from this place that he distributed thousands of head of pure bred stock to the farmers of North Dakota, which included Holstein cattle, Duroc Jersey hogs, Pekin ducks, Toulose geese, Rhode Island Red chickens as well as thousands of head of horses. To Mr. Bacon this farm was a practical example to the farmers of North Dakota of the possibilities of the state in an agricultural way. He was especially interested in the raising of new varieties of corn and other grains, sweet clover, alfalfa and potatoes. He also had large gardens in which vegetables and fruit were produced.
With all his political offices, business enterprises, and civic positions, Mr. Bacon was prouder of the fact that he had been a real factor in the diversification of farming in North Dakota than of any other accomplishment of his life.
Founds Times Paper.
In 1905, Mr. Bacon established the Grand Forks Times, which was later merged with the Herald to become the present paper, of which Mr. Bacon was chairman of the board of directors.
In the development of Grand Forks from a village to the present city, Mr. Bacon was one of the prominent factors. He purchased and built a great many buildings in the city, which included three elevators, which he operated at various times during his business career. Amongst the buildings in Grand Forks which he owned are the Hotel Dacotah, the Grand Forks Mercantile building which adjoins the hotel, the Dacotah apartment and garage building and the Barker Baking company building. This is in addition to buildings of something like 5,000 acres of farming lands.
From this first arrival Mr. Bacon took a keen interest in both state and municipal politics, having been a member of the state legislature for four years from 1899, then a state senator for four years, from which office he voluntarily retired. He was also chairman of the penitentiary board for a number of years, and a member of the North Dakota State Fair board from its establishment until his death. It was while a member of the legislature that Mr. Bacon introduced the bill that established the Grand Forks fair, and almost single handed he raised the $40,000 guarantee for the first state fair held in Grand Forks. Mr. Bacon raised this guarantee in one day in the city which then had a population of something like 6,000.
Serves School Board.
Education was always a hobby of Mr. Bacon’s and the 20 years that he served on the school board of Grand Forks is a record for that position in this city. While a member of the legislature he was actively engaged in the support of all bills that had to do with the bettering of the University of North Dakota.
In politics, Mr. Bacon was always a staunch Republican, and bore the brunt of the fight that was made against A. C. Townley and the Non-Partisan league, until Townley and the outside of the state members of the league left North Dakota. During World war, Mr. Bacon was actively engaged in the struggle against those who opposed the draft, or criticized the United States for participation in the war. His activities in this line were from the speaking platform, in writings and on various government commissions. His entire political life was an unending struggle against any form of socialism, communism, radicalism or anarchism, and never once did he offer to compromise with any radical departure from the established American forms of government.
During his life Mr. Bacon was probably identified with more various business enterprises than any other man in North Dakota, and he was stockholder and director in numerous companies formed in Grand Forks and the northeastern part of the state. His frequent complaint was that the men who had made their money in Grand Forks did not stay in the city that had made them wealthy. He was always an advocate of a progressive city, and always ready to back any enterprise financially that would better the community. He held stock in practically every business enterprise in the city at some time or other. (Grand Forks Herald, Wednesday, September 20, 1933, Volume 52, Number 279)
Hundreds of Friends Pay Final Tributes to Bacon
Rites Held at Dacotah Hotel and City Masonic Temple
Tears coursed down the cheeks of hundreds of early residents of Grand Forks as they crowded into the auditorium of the Masonic temple Thursday to pay funeral tribute to J. D. (Jerry) Bacon, a power in business and politics of North Dakota for half a century, who was killed Tuesday in an auto accident near Crookston.
The body was taken from the Hotel Dacotah at noon after private services had been held for members of the family and intimate friends.
From the time the body was placed in state a steady line of friends of Mr. Bacon filed past the bier that lay banked in a profusion of flowers, sent from the entire Northwest as a final tribute to the man who was known as the outstanding citizen of Grand Forks.
The auditorium was filled to overflowing when the services opened, and a large crowd waited outside. T. B. Elton conducted Masonic ritualistic services, Dr. H. G. Klemme gave the eulogy, dwelling on Mr. Bacon’s intense loyalty
to this friends, principles and his community.
The Masonic quartet composed of Bert Lee, Elroy Schroeder, H. C. Rowland and H. H. Matt sang “Lead Kindly Light,” and “Home Sweet Home” during the services.
Close business associates of Mr. Bacon, P. R. Fields, A. I. Hunter, J. A. Dinnie and T. J. Smith of Grand Forks, Jud La Moure of Duluth and Dr. H. M. Waldron of Drayton, carried the casket to the waiting hearse and hundreds of friends and admirers followed the body to Memorial Park cemetery, where Jerry Bacon was buried in the family lot beside the grave of his father and mother.
Acquaintances of Mr. Bacon from all over the Northwest attended the services. Governor Langer before leaving Grand Forks for Bismarck stopped for a few moments to look at the features of the man who had been a power in politics of North Dakota from its admission to the union.
S. X. Way, publisher of the Watertown, (S. D.) Public Opinion, a brother-in-law, and J. E. Drake, a nephew came from Watertown, S. D. Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Drake and daughter, Helen, from Des Moines, Iowa, and E. F. Bacon, a nephew from Cando, were among the out-of-town relatives at the services. (Grand Forks Herald, Friday, September 22, 1933, Volume 52, Number 280)