Mandan News

Diane Boit: Family of five perish by murder-suicide, 1938

Diane Boit25 Years Ago – 1988

Mandan’s Dakota Farms / Granrud Chevrolet defeated Rausch Liquors, Fargo, using the 10-run rule, to earn the Old Pro 35-40 Division I state slow-pitch softball championship held in Minot. Pitcher Steve Charlebois was down 6-0 but held on to take the win with a score of 16-6. Ken Maher led the way with three hits, a double, two triples, scored three runs and was good for three RBIs. Other teammates getting hits, along with Charlebois, were Kirby Johnson, Gary Olmsted, Gary Bentz, Dale Lantz, Don Cross, Mike Schwede, Larry Guenther, Bob Schulte, Dave Lindgren, Henry Schroeder and Mike Rinas. Eight teams competed in the tournament.

It had been an extremely hot week in the Mandan area. Temperatures climbed into the 90s during the second half of July, rising to a blistering high of 105 on the 27th and dipping to a “cooler” 103 the following day. The heat wave was broken when a half inch of rain fell from July 31 through Aug. 2, bringing a welcome relief to area residents.


50 Years Ago – 1963

Five tax laws passed by the 1963 State Legislature were soundly trounced statewide in a special referral election held this past week. The election’s outcome was never in doubt as early returns from urban and rural areas alike showed citizens shouting “No” to three income tax measures, a special urban renewal property tax for Fargo and a higher ceiling for school district property taxes. Robert P. McCarney and Harold Schafer, a pair of prosperous Bismarck businessmen, led the referral for three of the five tax laws, while the N.D. Taxpayers Assn took on the remaining two tax laws.

Mrs. Evelyn Kiser has been selected as office manager at the new Mandan Hospital. She will be in charge of accounting and the admitting and discharge of patients. She will also supervise the work of six other office employees.

Raging flames destroyed two barns and two silos, and extensively damaged another silo at the State Industrial School, southwest of Mandan. More than 8,000 bales of alfalfa hay were destroyed along with $20,000 worth of dairy equipment and 15,000 pounds of frozen meat. The fire apparently began in the hay loft of the three-story dairy barn where it is believed the green alfalfa spontaneously ignited.

Funeral services were held at Enderlin for 57-year-old Representative Hjalmer Nygaard, R-N.D., who died unexpectedly in the Washington, D.C., office of Dr. George Calver, physician to Congress. The former school teacher, school board member, mayor of Sharon, N.D., and North Dakota legislator, was serving his second term in the U.S. House.


Hjalmer Nygaard

Hjalmer Nygaard

75 Years Ago – 1938

Hundreds of relatives and friends packed into Mandan’s First Presbyterian Church on Saturday, July 30, to pay their last respects at the mass funeral, conducted by Rev. G. W. Stewart, for the five members of the August “Gus” Macklem family who died so tragically this past week. Placed in front of the altar were four caskets, the final resting places for the five members of the Macklem family, with the fifth member, a year-old baby boy resting in the same casket with his mother.

As the audience left the church, organist E.A. Tostevin played Chopin’s “Funeral March.” More than 100 cars were in the funeral procession to Union Cemetery where the final rites were read.

Earlier in the week, the quadruple murder-suicide tragedy was revealed in its entirety when neighbor Vincent Butler discovered the body of 53-year-old August Macklem Sr. in a cornfield not far from his home, near the pump station in northeast Mandan. He had committed suicide with his own shotgun.

After notifying Sheriff Lidstom and Coroner J.K. Kennelly, the two men went to the Macklem home to convey the news to Mrs. Macklem. But the house was vacant. However, they did discover a suicide note on the kitchen table which stated, “The first shot was an accident. After that, I lost all sense of reason until it was too late.”

Moments later, they were told that neighbors had gone to the younger Macklem’s home situated less than half mile west, and had reported seeing the lifeless bodies of son August Lee Macklem, 25, his wife, 24, and their year-old son, along with Mrs. August Macklem Sr., 48, in one small room of the house.

Sheriff Lidstrom, seeking a motive for the murders, theorized that the elder Macklem may have quarreled with his wife, and she had gone to the son’s home for protection and was followed by her angry husband. The senior Macklem had been employed at the pump station until losing his job two months previous. Neighbors said that he had been in poor health and was despondent.


100 Years Ago – 1913

“Four acres of land, including the greater portion of the site of old Fort Rice, was last Sunday deeded to the State of North Dakota, following an impressive dedication program heard and participated in by more than 3,000 patriotic citizens of the district. Special trains were run from Mott, Mandan and Bismarck, and settlers from miles around drove by wagon to attend while the owners of more than 125 automobiles were driven from Mandan and Bismarck.

“The location of all the Fort Rice buildings were marked by signs, and the big crowd wandered about the grounds until one o’clock when the reenactment of a battle from more than 45 years ago began, featuring a covered wagon of emigrants being attacked by a band of howling Indians. After the Fort Rice soldiers finally chased the Indians away, and peace had returned to the grounds, the Star Spangled Banner was played by the reform school band and the deed to the land was presented to Governor Hanna. In return, the governor, on behalf of the state, unveiled two one-ton brass cannons for placement on each side of the flag pole at the Fort Rice historic site.

“Occupying an honorary section near Governor Hanna were several old soldiers who had once belonged to the famous Custer Seventh Cavalry: Joe Marsh, James Flanagan, J. C. Creighton, all of Mandan; Herman Bindewald of Sweet Briar; and Walter Sterlund, Jacob Horner, M. C. Caddell, all of Fort Rice. Caddell is the only survivor of Reno’s command from the Custer massacre.”


A picture of First St. N.W., looking north at the McDonald & Royer barn, which is about to be demolished for the new U.S. Post Office. Notice dirt streets and the courthouse on the hill in the background.

A picture of First St. N.W., looking north at the McDonald & Royer barn, which is about to be demolished for the new U.S. Post Office. Notice dirt streets and the courthouse on the hill in the background.

125 Years Ago – 1888

The village of Mandan was organized in the spring of 1881; by 1888 its population was at 2,600.

Aug. 2, 1888: “On Friday, August 2, at 3:30 p.m. the thermometer stood at 75 degrees above zero.

“A local republican has recently been wearing a number of human teeth as a watch charm. This, at first, may seem a strange thing to do, but it must be remembered that the teeth are a campaign sign and are emblematic of the chewing which it is hoped the democrats will receive this fall at the hands of the republicans.

“The Mandan Roller Mill has the contract of supplying the Indian agencies of the Northwest with 1,300,000 pounds of flour.

“Mr. W. E. Martin commences this week to cut the year’s supply of hay for Fort A. Lincoln.

“Last night the Board of Education met and decided to accept the offer of Professor Alexander Strahan of Scotland, Dakota, to act as principal of the schools at a salary of $100 for the time the schools are actually open. Messrs. Hawkshaw and Kidd were re-employed as janitors of the schools. The schools will open September 10th.”


(To contact Diane Boit, email