Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On the Road to Bathgate Act 4b: I. J. Foster the Land Man -- Before He Was Sheriff

Microfiche -- anyone remember that?  At the Historical Society of North Dakota a helpful archivist gave me a refresher course today. When we got the reader warmed up and a spool of old Pink Sheet (Bathgate, ND) newspaper images (starting in 1905) installed, we fast forwarded, and the reel stopped randomly at the following image. We had barely started and we were already drilling down into sources on Grandfather Ike.

In early 1905, I. J. Foster, "The Bathgate Land Man," beseeched readers to look for and buy land through him and then secure the purchase with hazard insurance -- a one stop shopping concept. He brought buyers and sellers together and serviced the sales.

I. J.'s advertising evolved. By 1906 the one man land show was an agency ("Foster Land Agency") adding loans, leasing, purchasing for investment and managing properties for non-residents to the portfolio. The advertising was tweaked again.

In 1907 Ike de-emphasized the purchasing role and highlighted the lending facility. One can surmise that buying land for his own account was not doing as well as arm's length transactions.

1908 was the year of diversification.  Lest there be any doubt, I. J. informed the Pink Sheet's readers that picking up the auction sales role did not mean he was out of the real estate business, "for I am in that to stay."

In 1910 the message was simplified to a picture and a short declarative. Later that year Ike ran for Sheriff of Pembina County -- and won.


  1. Remember that in 1909, Isaac had yet another hungry little mouth to feed.

    1. I found the 1909 birth announcement yesterday. By all reports, after becoming sheriff, Isaac's auction business boomed as well.