I chose Ransom Man as the name of my blog because my family is rooted in the prairie lands of Ransom County, N.D., where I was born and where both of my parents grew up and where their families of Norwegian and Swedish stock were among the early pioneers.
Home base was Fort Ransom, a village that sprang up on the Sheyenne River near the site of a former army post (18671-72) named for Civil War Union Major Gen. Thomas Edward Greenfield Ransom, who died of dysentery (that’s the shits) in 1864 while chasing Gen. John Bell Hood’s rebel forces near Rome, Ga.
My dad moved us to the Puget Sound area of Washington state when I was a twerp, but I feel tied to Fort Ransom through visits and extensive genealogy research.
Ten Things to Know About Fort Ransom
- Scorching summers.
- Sub-zero winters.
- Mosquitoes the size of humming birds. (When the University of North Dakota gets around to changing its Fighting Sioux nickname, it might well consider Herc’n Bloodsuckers in recognition of the insect.)
- My uncle told me you could put a canoe in the Sheyenne and paddle all the way to Hudson’s Bay.
- Great place to shoot gophers. (Buffalo are gone, but deer and antelope still play there.)
- My cousin Virgil’s place on Bear’s Den Hill near the ruins of the old fort includes a spring-fed natural amphitheater steeped in antiquity as a probable vision quest site for Native American people, and a nearby “Writing Rock” features cup marks in an astrological arrangement similar to the oldest cup marks found anywhere in North America.
- Mooring stones like those used by the Vikings were found in the vicinity, proving absolutely that Norse might’ve made it there (no doubt fighting the current all the from Hudson’s Bay).
- Lefse, lutefisk and my mother’s ring cakes were all perfected there; also home of the Internet venture Youbetchatube.
- There’s still a tavern in town, but the venerable Fort Ransom Cafe is no more. (So, if you go, you might want to pack your own lunch. But don’t worry about coffee; there’ll be a pot anywhere you go, and the Writing Rock contains the oldest cup marks . . . )
- If you’re from there, too, we’re almost certainly related.