Walter J. S. Traill


W. J. S. Traill came to this county in 1870. He had charge of the Hudson Bay company’s business and continued in their service for several years. He then located at Pembina, but last summer he came to Grand Forks. He is president of the Northern milling company, their mill in this city being one of the best in the state. (Grand Forks Daily Herald, Friday Morning, December 11, 1891, Volume XXI, Number 35, Page 2)

The old (Hudson Bay company) post at Georgetown, Minn., had a succession of “factors” as the agents were called, the last one in charge there being Walter J. S. Traill, for whom Traill county was named. The post consisted of a few buildings constructed of hewn logs, and, at times, there was stored here peltries of enormous value. In 1873 the buildings were sold and the business was moved to Grand Forks where the company acquired property interests. Mr. Traill also came to Grand Forks to take charge of the company’s affairs here. They bought out the store and saw-mill already located here and proceeded to establish a general store of their own, also a hotel called the Northwestern (at the corner of Third street and Kittson). (History of Grand Forks County, With Special Reference to the First Ten Years of Grand Forks City, H. V. Arnold, Larimore Pioneer, Larimore, North Dakota, 1900, Page 76)

Walter John Strickland Traill. W. J. S. Traill was born in Canada in 1848, the son of Catherine Parr Traill. At the age of 18, he entered into service with the Hudson’s Bay Company. Between 1866 and 1870, W. J. S. Traill was based with the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada, at Fort Qu’Appelle, Fort Perry, Fort Ellice, or Last Mountain House. (Hudson’s Bay Company personnel records)

W. J. S. Traill, who owned 120 acres east of Mrs. (John) Griggs’ land, platted an addition during the winter of 1881-82, and placed it on the market in March, 1882. (The City of East Grand Forks, Polk County, Minnesota, Illustrated, William L. Dudley, Grand Forks, N. D., 1901)

Walter J. S. Traill, for whom Traill County was named, was agent at Georgetown for the Hudson’s Bay Company (in 1870). (Early History of North Dakota, Clement A. Lounsberry, Liberty Press, Washington, D. C., 1919, Page 365)

Traill filed on land in Belmont Township section 22 (Traill County) in 1871 and worked at the Caledonia and Frog Point stations. (Traill County Historical Marker)

In 1872, Traill was assigned as clerk in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Company business along the Red River of the North, in Dakota Territory, United States. The company had posts at Georgetown, Frog Point, Caledonia, Grand Forks, and Red Lake. (Hudson’s Bay Company personnel records) In 1873, W. J. S. Traill was placed in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Company interests in Grand Forks.

Traill sold off all the Hudson’s Bay Company assets in the Red River Valley between 1874 and 1876. He then went on a leave of absence in Florida and Arkansas and then resigned from the company in 1877. (Hudson’s Bay Company personnel records)

On October 16, 1878, Walter J. S. Traill platted an addition to the city (Grand Forks). Traill’s Addition in Grand Forks is generally located between Fifth Avenue South (north), Eighth Avenue South (south), Cottonwood Street (west), and Belmont Road (east).

Traill also had an addition in East Grand Forks named after him. Traill’s Addition in East Grand Forks is generally bounded by Division Avenue (west), Warren Avenue (east), Casman Street (north), and Sibley Street (south). Traill was an early brick maker in East Grand Forks.

On Adams avenue in St. Vincent, Minnesota, W. J. S. Traill co-owned a frame grain warehouse with the firm of G. S. Barnes & Co. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Saturday Morning, June 14, 1879, Volume II, Number 151, Page 2)

Walter S. J. Traill married Mary E. Purdy in 1881. (Hudson’s Bay Company personnel records)

In 1882, the Walter J. S. Traill house was built on Summit Avenue in St. Paul. This house was designed by Abraham M. Radcliffe.

In this city at 11:30 a. m. Nov. 23, 1882, Walter Archibald, only son of Walter J. S. and Mary E. Traill, aged 2 months and 22 days (died). Funeral from residence 538, Summit avenue, at 11 a. m. Saturday the 25th inst. Friends of the family are invited to attend. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Friday Morning, November 24, 1882, Volume V, Number 327, Page 8).

Articles of incorporation were filed in the register of deed’s office yesterday, of the Yellowstone Line Stock company. The object of the company is to carry on the general business of farming and buying, raising and dealing in horses, mules, cattle and sheep. The capital stock is $100,000, divided in 20,000 shares of $50 each. The officers are: Walter S. Traill, president; Chas. W. Wane, secretary and treasurer, and Robt. A. Fox, manager. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Friday Morning, August 10, 1883, Volume VI, Number 222, Page 8).

Walter J. S. Traill, who represents the Hudson Bay Company at Pembina, is in the city. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Tuesday Morning, March 24, 1885, Volume VII, Number 83, Page 3)

Mr. Walter J. Traill and Mr. L. E. Booker are buying all the frozen wheat offered, consequently making St. Vincent the best wheat market at this end of the valley. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Friday Morning, November 20, 1885, Volume XI, Number 283, Page 1)

The first day of the St. Vincent Union Industrial association fair was favored with good weather. The native pony race was won by Jim, Shylock second, Kate third. The trotting race was won by Julia, Dan second, Topsey third. The judges were Walter J. S. Traill, C. C. Law and D. Livingstone. (The Saint Paul Daily Globe, Thursday Morning, October 10, 1889, Volume VII, Number 324, Page 5)

He (Traill) has since, for many years (1890-1910), resided in the Kalispel Valley (Montana). (The Company of Adventurers, A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson’s Bay Company During 1867-1874, Isaac Cowie, William Briggs, Toronto, 1913, Page 185)

After living in Kalispel, Montana, Traill moved to Grand Forks, British Columbia, where he unsuccessfully tried a fruit farm. Next, he moved to the American Okanogan Valley (Washington). He returned to British Columbia in 1927 and died there on June 20, 1932. (The Company of Adventurers, A Narrative of Seven Years in the Service of the Hudson’s Bay Company During 1867-1874, Isaac Cowie, William Briggs, Toronto, 1913, Page 194)


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