John O. Fadden

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Pioneer Citizen Dead
John O. Fadden, 67 years old, the oldest pioneer of Grand Forks, died suddenly at his home here last night.
Had Passed 67th Birthday Quietly Day Before Death.
Named for Indian Chief Who Led Parents in Uprising. 

John Otherday Fadden, for more than 50 years a leader in the civic life of Grand Forks, died suddenly last night at his home, 1216 Cottonwood Street.

Death came at 10:30 P. M., shortly after Mr. Fadden had retired, and was due, physicians said, to a heart attack.

Friday was Mr. Fadden’s sixty-seventh birthday and he had passed the day quietly, attending to business affairs in the city and at his home.  He told friends that day that he was “too old to celebrate birthdays.”

Returning home Saturday evening after having been downtown most of the day Mr. Fadden had dinner and retired early.  Suddenly he was stricken, and he called to his wife to turn on the light.  Mrs. Fadden rushed to his aid and called a physician, but before he arrived Mr. Fadden was dead.

Came Here in 1871. 

The passing of Mr. Fadden takes from the life of Grand Forks the oldest living settler of the city. When he came here as a boy in 1871 the town had between 25 and 30 residents.  His father built the first lumber home in the city.

Mr. Fadden also was one of the last connecting links of the present time with the Indian massacres in Minnesota in 1862.  He was named for Chief John Otherday, Sioux Indian, who led 62 white people from a government building at Yellow Medicine, Minnesota, across the Minnesota river and to safety.

Both Mr. Fadden’s father and mother were members of this party who escaped the wrath of the Sioux in the early outbreak, and Mr. Fadden was named John Otherday in keeping with a promise made to the Indian chief.

Mr. Fadden’s father, familiarly known in Grand Forks as Uncle John Fadden, was of Scotch-Irish descent and came to the United States from near Montreal.  In 1861 he accepted a position as assistant manager of farm work on an Indian reservation near Henderson in Sibley County, Minnesota.  It was while he was there that the Indian massacre occurred.  John Otherday Fadden was born April 18, 1863, a short time after his parents had returned to Henderson following the Indian outbreak. 

Drove to Grand Forks.

Mr. Fadden went with his parents to New Auburn, Minn., in 1869.  Two years later on April 10, 1871, the family started for the Red River valley.  Mr. Fadden recently described the journey from New Auburn to Grand Forks as follows:

“Our caravan consisted of a lumber wagon, canvas covered with boxes of clothing and food, and seats for Father, Mother and two sisters.  My parents sat in front and I rode a horse rake and drove the cows, six of them, all the way.  Allie and Sadie (his sisters) rode in the wagon.  A stock of cured meat, flour and other small necessaries were added.  The cows furnished milk and cream and Mother baked scones over the coals to eat with milk.  We were all well all the way.  The cows became lame from the rough roads and we stopped at Whiskey creek for three days.  The little creek is located about one mile north of Fort Abercrombie.  Brother Dick met us at Benson and escorted us through to Grand Forks.  He came from Fort Rice where he was scouting for the government.”

The Fadden cavalcade arrived in Grand Forks on June 6, 1871, and spent the first night in their wagon in what is now Central park.  Grand Forks was the only postoffice at that time between Georgetown and Pembina, and the postmaster here was Sanford C. Cody, who died recently, and who was not only the first postmaster, but had the honor of naming the city of Grand Forks.  Mr. Cody married Sarah I. Fadden shortly after the Fadden family arrived in Grand Forks and this was the first white marriage of the city.

Filed on Homestead.

John Fadden Sr. filed on 80 acres of land in the south end of Grand Forks.  It was on part of the original homestead of his father that John Otherday Fadden lived until last July, when he moved from his home at 1023 Reeves drive to the smaller house where he died.

Mr. Fadden’s parents built a sod roof house and it was in the early

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life of the frontier settlement with Indian scares constantly changing scenes that Mr. Fadden spent his boyhood.

Describing this sod roof house, Mr. Fadden said in an article published recently in the Herald that the wagon served for shelter until they cut logs and built a house 14 feet by 16 feet with a dirt floor and sod roof.  Sods were placed on top of the dirt on the roof and packed until the covering became fairly watertight.

Mr. Fadden’s father established the first ferry across the Red river at Grand Forks about 100 feet north of the present point bridge.  The ferry consisted of a scow-shaped boat and a cable across the river.

The first frame house in Grand Forks was built by Mr. Fadden’s father in 1873.  It was on the site of the present Grand Forks Creamery building on South Third street.  The new home was at first a boarding house or hotel for the hundreds of transients seeking new lands in the West and constantly passing through Grand Forks.

Family Was Prominent.

In the early life of Grand Forks the Fadden family took an important part. Richmond Fadden, a brother of John Otherday, was first elected sheriff of Grand Forks county, and also first marshal of the village of Grand Forks which was organized in 1878.  The family residence, according to a statement Mr. Fadden made shortly before his death was in Grand Forks ever since the arrival of the family except for three years when his father served as customs house officer at Neche from 1874 to 1877.  The elder Fadden was one of the early aldermen of Grand Forks, serving for a number of years.  He also took the contract for several telegraph lines running out of Grand Forks.

Mr. Fadden was married in Grand Forks on April 12, 1886 to Nora Catherine Kelly and immediately thereafter went to farm six miles south of Arvilla.  They lived there for several years and came to Grand Forks when Mr. Fadden was elected sheriff in 1890 and served four years.  One son, Harry Blain Fadden was born in 1887 and died in 1902.

Makes Home in Grand Forks.

Returning to the farm after his retirement as sheriff Mr. Fadden then came to Grand Forks to live.  He built a home on Reeves drive and had lived in the city up to the time of his death.  In 1926, Mr. Fadden was elected to the board of county commissioners, and was serving in that position at the time of his death.

While Mr. Fadden always claimed to be a farmer “by every law of my being,” and devoted a great deal of his life to that work, he was engaged in the banking business with A. I. Hunter of Grand Forks at Arvilla, Gilby and Munich.  He also had extensive land holdings around Arvilla.

In addition to his wife he is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Sidney A. Papke of Grand Forks, and two granddaughters.  Funeral arrangements have not been completed.

Grand Forks Herald
Sunday, April 20, 1930
Volume XLIX, Number 147, Page 1


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