John O’Leary


John O’Leary, saloon, 203 South Third (Grand Forks)  (Grand Forks and North Dakota Manual for 1885, William L. Dudley, Plaindealer Book and Job Rooms, Grand Forks, 1885, Page 97)

(Grand Forks) County Commissioners – …J. J. O’Leary.  (Grand Forks and North Dakota Manual for 1885, William L. Dudley, Plaindealer Book and Job Rooms, Grand Forks, 1885, Page 69)

East Grand Forks Re-Elects Mayor.  Special to the Globe.  Grand Forks, S. D. (N. D.), Nov. 4. – In the municipal election in East Grand Forks John F. Brandt was re-elected mayor by a vote of 249 to 225 over the candidate on the so-called reform ticket, J. J. O’Leary.  (The Saint Paul Globe, Thursday Morning, November 5, 1903, Volume XXVI, Number 309, Page 3)

The name at the head of the list of signers (of municipal graft and corruption) is that of John O’Leary, the candidate of the reform element for mayor, who was defeated by twenty-four votes at the recent municipal election.  The league has announced its purpose to see that the city is given a clean government and this is the first formal movement in that direction.  The league has retained Bronson & Margeson of East Grand Forks and Guy C. H. Corliss, former chief justice of North Dakota, as counsel.  Mayor Brandt is a young hardware merchant who has lived in Grand Forks and in East Grand Forks several years.  He has been mayor since 1901.  He was captain of the Fifteenth Minnesota volunteers which attracted a good deal of attention by rioting when one of its members was assaulted by a saloonkeeper in Georgia for insulting his wife.  “Spite,” Says Brandt.  Mr. Brandt asserts in a public statement that the sensational charges are the result of spite work and soreness as a result of the defeat of the reform league at the recent election.  The affair has caused a tremendous sensation in both East Grand Forks and Grand Forks where Mayor Brandt is prominent in both business and social circles.  It will no doubt result in the airing of more sensations in connection with East Grand Forks city affairs.  (The Minneapolis Journal, Friday Evening, November 13, 1903, Page 19)

Grand Forks, N. D. – John O’Leary defeated James E. Sullivan for mayor of East Grand Forks by sixty votes, the O’Leary ticket electing four of the six aldermen, with a tie in the first ward between James Jarvis and Cornelius Borchers.  The election of an O’Leary council is taken to mean that the Tri-State Telephone company will be given a franchise, that being an issue of the campaign.  (The Minneapolis Journal, Wednesday Evening, November 8, 1905, Page 15)

John O’Leary was the eleventh mayor of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, from 1905 to 1907.

Barmaids are a little too English for East Grand Forks.  Mayor John O’Leary has issued an executive order that barmaids will not be allowed in any of the local saloons.  As a result of this order two barmaids who have been employed in a DeMers avenue saloon are out of employment.  (The Princeton Union, Thursday, January 25, 1906, Volume XXX, Number 7, Page 3)

Hugh Dunlevy Elected Mayor of East Grand Forks.  East Grand Forks, Nov. 6. – (Special to Pioneer.) – In what was one of the warmest campaigns that was ever fought here, Hugh Dunlevy was elected mayor East Grand Forks yesterday by a majority of four votes over O’Leary, the present incumbent.  T. A. Sullivan was elected municipal judge over Attorney Massee.  It is believed there will be some decided changes in municipal regulations – which will tend to fasten the lid down even tighter than it has been for the past few days.  (The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, Wednesday, November 6, 1907, Volume 5, Number 169, Page 1)

Lid Is Tilted.  East Grand Forks – Six affidavits were mailed to Attorney General Young to call his attention to the fact that Mayor John O’Leary has failed to put the lid on open gambling in East Grand Forks.  The affidavits are signed by parties who claim to have gambled in resorts openly conducted.  A communication was served on the mayor telling him of the affidavits and making a demand that he enforce the law.  It is claimed that the mayor has wholly failed to keep his promise.  (Warren Sheaf, Thursday, November 7, 1907, Volume 27, Number 48, Page 2)

East Grand Forks – The Sunday “lid” is to stay on in Grand Forks as long as Mayor John O’Leary is mayor of this city.  This is the announcement made by Police Chief Franklin, who saw that the law was rigidly enforced.  Chief Franklin says that the growing sentiment for law enforcement in Minnesota has reached East Grand Forks, and saloon men must close on the Sabbath day.  (Warren Sheaf, Thursday, November 21, 1907, Volume 27, Number 50, Page 7)

East Grand Forks. – John O’Leary was elected mayor here over Neil Kelleher, head of the citizen’s ticket, by a majority of 145, after one of the most fiercely contested campaigns in the history of the city.  O’Leary had the support of the saloon men and those in favor of a wideopen town, while Kelleher was backed by the present administration.  The aldermen elected were also of the O’Leary faction.  (Warren Sheaf, Thursday, November 11, 1909, Volume 29, Number 47, Page 6)

John O’Leary was the thirteenth mayor of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, from 1909 to 1911.

O’Leary Faction Triumphs.  East Grand Forks, Minn., Has Hottest Election in Its History.  East Grand Forks, No. D. (Minn.) – In the hottest election the city of East Grand Forks has known in years the O’Leary faction, in power during the past two years, came through the battle of votes with the reins of city government still in hand, winning one of the most significant political victories of the city’s history.  With one exception, that of John Busch in the First ward, the O’Leary faction put every one of their candidates in office.  The election of W. J. Rasmussen to the municipal judgeship was the most surprising victory of the election.  His election was significant in that it marked the exit of Judge Sullivan from that office, which he has held for 16 years, and probably from city politics.  Rasmussen carried every ward in the city, winning by a majority of 60.  Mayor John O’Leary was re-elected for a second term, defeating John Vossler, the Sullivan candidate, by a majority of 53.  N. J. Nelson and George Barlow were re-elected aldermen at large, while J. Culliton was elected alderman from the Second ward, Frank Tessier from the Third ward and John W. Logan from the Fourth.  Pat Liston was the only Sullivan man to be elected, defeating Busch for alderman of the First ward.  McIllrath was re-elected for the fourth time as city treasurer.  The anti-brewery control ordinance passed by the present council caused a bitter fight against the O’Leary faction.  (Hendricks Pioneer (Minnesota), Thursday, November 16, 1911, Volume 12, Number 26, Page 2)

John O’Leary was re-elected mayor of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, from 1911 to 1913.

John O’Leary was re-elected mayor of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, from 1913 to 1915.

Page 1.  Warm Campaign In Polk.  County Option Election to Be Held Monday and Both “Wets” and “Drys” Making Active Fight.  Steenerson Opposes Saloons.  County optionists are now devoting their attention to the election which is to take place in Polk county next Monday and the liquor industry in Crookston and East Grand Forks is possibly doomed to be wiped out at the polls.  Optionists claim that the 32 saloons of East Grand Forks, with 12 wholesale distributing depots and a brewery will be closed.  Crookston and East Grand Forks are the only “wet” strongholds in Polk county.  The remainder of the precincts are admitted to favor prohibition.  Conditions confronting the “wets” in their fight to retain the saloons are interesting.  One farm after another is waving a white flag in the breezes – “This farm is dry; no wet need come on.”  There are those who assert that it was liquor, and North Dakota’s thirst, that brought East Grand Forks into being in 1889 – that being

Page 4.  the year North Dakota became a state, and when, by virtue of the constitution it adopted, it put a ban on the saloon.  Grand Forks in North Dakota had many saloons when the prohibitory law went into effect, and the most of them moved across the Red river into Minnesota, and in that manner was the city of East Grand Forks created.  Previous thereto it had been a mere village, founded several years earlier under the name of Nash.  There was a time when East Grand Forks was a city of 1,500 and had a total of 49 saloons – one saloon for about each 30 residents.  Of course, the city of Grand Forks, on which the East side saloons depend for much of their retail business, contributed its patronage.  It had, at that time, a population of about 10,000.  At the present time, the 32 saloons cater to a local population – in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks – of about 17,500 – 15,000 in Grand Forks and 2,500 in East Grand Forks.  The liquor element is conducting an active campaign in every section of the county.  They have imported speakers, and are pressing into service many local men.  The “dry” element has the support of Congressman Halvor Steenerson and also has the service of several other prominent local men.  (The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, Thursday Evening, May 20, 1915, Volume 13, Number 121)

Dry Forces Claim Polk.  Expect That Saloons Will Be Voted Out by County Optionists by Large Majority – Wets Are Hopeful.  Heavy Balloting Forecasted.  With a perfect day, making it possible for the farmers to reach the polling places, county optionists are confident that saloons will be voted out of Polk county at the election which is now in progress.  The “wets” are hopeful, while the “drys” argue that their majority will reach the 1,300 mark.  It is expected that at least 6,000 will vote.  The cities of East Grand Forks and Crookston and the townships of Tabor and Northland are conceded by the drys to the wets.  They also see the possibility of a wet majority at Gentilly.  Outside of these districts, the drys maintain they will have majorities in every instance.  All told, there are 78 precincts in Polk county, and of these the drys concede wet majorities in part of 12, with one doubtful.

The wets, however, challenge these claims, maintaining they will have majorities in most of the northern and western townships of the county, as well as in the two cities, East Grand Forks and Crookston.  Crookston and East Grand Forks, the lone saloon cities, now supply liquor to an immense territory, particularly East Grand Forks, which ships liquor into the dry state of North Dakota by hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth annually.  Should Polk go dry, 32 saloons, 12 brewery distributing agencies and one brewery will be closed in East Grand Forks, the distributing stations and brewery immediately, and the saloons in six months.  In Crookston, there are 21 saloons, two brewery distributing depots and one brewery.  (The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, Monday Evening, May 24, 1915, Volume 13, Number 124, Page 1)

Optionists Win In Polk.  Saloons Voted Out of East Grand Forks and Crookston by Majority of 800 – Carlton and Lincoln Dry.  Was Strong Liquor Center.  By a majority of 800 the saloons of Polk county, one of the state’s strongest liquor centers, were voted closed as a result of a county option election.  As had been expected, East Grand Forks and Crookston, the only saloon towns, gave the “wets” a majority of 794, but this was not sufficient to overcome the vote of country precincts, all strong for prohibition.  Two other counties, Carlton and Lincoln, (the latter dry by 35 votes) also went dry.  Thirty-two saloons and twelve brewery distributing depots in East Grand Forks; twenty-one saloons and two brewery distributing depots in Crookston, and one brewery in each city, are affected by the vote.  The brewery stations must close immediately – the saloons in six months.  Both breweries probably will be closed.

In East Grand Forks, the wets won by a vote of about four to one, the wet vote being 554, while the drys polled but 124.  In Crookston, the wets assumed a lead of 364, the total vote being on a basis of two to one.  With the elimination of the saloon interests now a certainty, instead of a possibility, business men of both East Grand Forks and Crookston are studying more seriously the probably effect.  For East Grand Forks the elimination of the saloon is regarded with more concern than at Crookston.  Its liquor interests really caused the establishment of the city of East Grand Forks, nearly thirty years ago, and during the many years of its existence the city’s saloons have retailed between $500,000 and $1,000,000 worth of liquor across the bars annually.  In addition to this, there was the tremendous shipments of liquor into the dry state of North Dakota.  (The Bemidji Daily Pioneer, Tuesday Evening, May 25, 1915, Volume 13, Number 125, Page 1)

Polk Dry By 1060 Majority.  A Total of 7742 Votes Cast, Largest Vote In History of County.  Polk county at the election held on Monday voted to join the procession of dry counties by a majority of 1060.  The dry vote was 4401, the wet 3341.  Crookston and East Grand Forks voted wet by big majorities against saloons.  Tabor, Angus, Northland and Farley voted wet, while Euclid, Helgeland, Bristlet and Fisher cast big majorities for the dry cause.  The town of Knute, named after Senator Knute Nelson, ahd 10 wet votes to 122 dry.  Winger had 20 wet votes to 152 dry.  By action of the voters, 31 saloons, 12 brewery distributing depots and one brewery in East Grand Forks and 21 saloons, one brewery and two distributing agencies at Crookston will be closed.  The contest in Polk county has been a hot one, but the result of Monday’s election shows that a large majority of the people want the saloons banished.  (Warren Sheaf, Wednesday, May 26, 1915, Volume XXXIV, Number 21, Page 1)

A number of cities and villages in the valley held elections on Tuesday.  In East Grand Forks, Kelleher won over Wilson for mayor by 111 majority.  (Warren Sheaf, Wednesday, November 3, 1915, Volume XXXIV, Number 41, Page 1)


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