Thursday, December 18, 2014

On the Road to Bathgate, Act 4i: Robert Dimon Hoskins -- Editor, Publisher, Lawyer, Public Servant and Merchant

R. D. (Robert Dimon) Hoskins was of an extraordinary generation -- a pioneering generation that explored and settled the land we know as the United States of America. They created institutions that made our country great. It is a generation we honor on this blog.

We led off family history blogging with posts on my grandfather (R. D.'s brother-in-law) Isaac J. Foster. We reported on Ike's public and civic life, including two terms as a popularly elected county sheriff. In due time we will plow into his farming and ranching business, dig into his career in real estate and expound on his prolific career as an auctioneer.

We then blogged on my great uncle (another of R. D.'s brother-in-laws) George S. Foster. Uncle George was a notorious Chicago lawyer and Democratic machine politician, who once was elected city alderman, founded several banks (acted as a bank officer and president), and became a landlord with significant holdings. Along the way he was married a time or two, and fathered children with women who were, and were not, his wife.

Then we reviewed the life of Lyndon King Armstrong, my grandmother's brother and yet another brother-in-law of R. D. Hoskins. Uncle Lyndon was a pharmacist, miner, engineer and publisher, and a professional society and trade association head. He was a prominent member of the Spokane community. Book by book, and journal by journal, he accumulated the finest mining library in the Pacific Northwest. Among his peers Lyn was renowned for the the special entertainment he planned for industry gatherings.

Now R. D. ((Rob, Robert, Bob, Hos', Hosk') Hoskins is the fourth member of this generation whom we profile. Each of the four is connected by blood or marriage -- and by having lived and worked in the tiny frontier town of Bathgate, North Dakota. Let's get to know Rob.

R. D. Hoskins Life Summary

This post chronicles the front end of R.D. Hoskins' life, covering the the time from his birth in 1860 -- six months prior to the beginning of the Civil War -- to the turn of the 20th century.

A 1907 history of the then young state of North Dakota yielded this glimpse of Rob's early life.

North Dakota Magazine, Vol. 3, pp. 157-58, 1907

R. D. Hoskins married Florence Mabel Armstrong on Thanksgiving Day, 1884 in Bathgate, North Dakota. Florence was sister to my grandmother, Laura Elizabeth Armstrong Foster, and namesake to her niece (my aunt) Florence Foster King. While my grandparents would remain Bathgate residents throughout their adult lives, R. D. and Florence moved on to Bismarck, North Dakota, and settled in the capital city in 1890. Florence and Robert Dimon Hoskins formed a family there that was enterprise as much as it was clan. 

Rob came of age in Pennsylvania. When he turned twenty-one the manifest destiny bug bit. The young man moved west. Rob Hoskins would work as lawyer, editor, publisher, public servant and merchant -- and he farmed a bit too. 

R. D.'s front page obituary from the January 3, 1946 Bismarck Tribune provides a summary of his fully lived life.

Bismarck Tribune, January 3, 1946
R. D. Hoskins, 85, Pioneer Merchant, Dies in Hospital
Robert Dimon Hoskins, 85, 904 Fourth St., prominent pioneer and retired merchant, died at a local hospital early Thursday morning. He was admitted to the hospital Tuesday.
Mr. Hoskins was born October 3, 1860, in Bridgeport Conn. He was reared in Pennsylvania and received his law degree from Allegheny college, Meadville, Pa.
When a young man he came up to Bathgate, Dakota territory, and on Thanksgiving day, November 27, 1884, he married to Florence M. Armstrong.
Mr. Hoskins was editor of the Bathgate Sentinel at the time of his marriage. Later he was admitted to the state bar. He moved to Bismarck in 1889. He was first clerk of the state supreme court, serving in that capacity for 27 years. He resigned in February 1917.
He became a member of the selective service board in World War I and compiled a roster on every soldier from North Dakota, which was made into book form while working Brig. Gen. G. A. Fraser in the attorney general's office.
In September 1898, he founded Hoskins-Meyer. The company now deals in office supplies, flowers, gifts, film finishing and camera equipment sales. When organized, the company was located at 213 Main Ave. It was moved to its present quarters in 1909.
Mr. Hoskins served as deputy clerk of the federal court until a few months ago when he resigned because of poor health. Mrs. Hoskins died in May, 1941.
He leaves three children, Brooks Hoskins, Mrs. Philip J. Meyer and Mrs. G. H. Dollar; three grandchildren, Mr Marietta Ekberg, Nancy Helen Dollar, and Robert Hoskins; and three great grandchildren.  
He was a member of the Masonic lodge, the Elks lodge and the UCT.
Funeral services tentatively have been set for 3:00 p.m. Friday at the Convert funeral home with Rev. G. W. Stewart, Mandan, officiating.
The body will lie in state at the Convert funeral home from Thursday evening until the time of the funeral Friday.

The Hoskins I Knew

In my youth, I became acquainted with the Bob Hoskins identified as grandson in R. D.'s obituary through my aunt Margaret. Bob and I are in the same generation, but like all the first and second cousins of my generation, Bob was very much older than I. At the time I knew that Bob and I were related but I could not have told you exactly how.

Google Maps satellite view, New London, Connecticut
Amtrak station and Fishers Island ferry terminal.
The last time I saw Bob Hoskins, it was 1980 or so, when he and his lovely wife, Lee, graciously had us up from DC to their Fishers Island, New York residence for Thanksgiving. Fishers Island is a one by nine mile long strip of land in Long Island Sound. It is a short ferry ride from Connecticut. 

To journey to the Hoskins home, we boarded an Amtrak train at Union Station in Washington, DC, and traveled up the Northeast corridor line through Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City, to New London, Connecticut where we debarked and walked across the street to the Fishers Island ferry. Even though it was the afternoon before Thanksgiving, the ferry was not particularly crowded. Fishers Island has only a couple hundred year round residents; it swells by thousands more in the summertime. 

The Hoskins greeted us dockside on the island's west end after a forty-five minute cruise through rolling swells. Our host and hostess lived a back to basics vibe. They heated their home with a wood burning, cast iron, fireplace insert. The scent of burning hardwoods and pines wafted through the air.

Fishers Island Club on the eastern island tip.
Bob Hoskins drove us around on the grand island tour. He stopped here and there to pick up windfall to fuel the home fires. On the island's east end, he showed us the layout of the classic Fishers Island Club, a top 100 United States golf links. In town, I recall Bob pointing out a spacious funky house, "That's where Chip DuPont lives," he said.

Wikipedia says,
The island's more notable residents include former Governor Thomas Kean of New Jersey; former CIA Director Porter Goss; filmmaker Albert Maysles; former Whitney Museum director Tom Armstrong; former Kidder, Peabody & Co. Chairman Albert Gordon; Scudder Sinclair, president of the Sinclair  Pharmacal Co. Inc. (based on Fishers Island); author Rick Moody, who wrote The Ice Storm; and the heirs to IBM. Efrem Zimbalist, violinist and his wife, the opera singer, Alma Gluck, owned and used the G. B. Linderman summer mansion on Fishers Island in the 1920s and 30s. There, they held house parties for eminent musicians of their day.
Residents congregated to pick up their mail at the non-delivery post office -- the island's social hub. Fishers Island is a down home, artsy and monied place. 

Getting back to Bob's grandfather, R.D.'s journey began more than a century prior just seventy miles up the coast. 

Rob Hoskins' Early Days, From Birth To Bathgate

Robert Dimon Hoskins was born on October 3, 1860 to Orlando B. Hoskins and Rachael Penfield Beers in Fairfield, Connecticut. Sometimes it was said R. D. was born in 1861. His parents were wed on June 13, 1860. I imagine Rob's parents had a formal wedding, perhaps with a ribbon tied around the shotgun. 

R. D. had one sibling, George Gillespie Hoskins, born November 4, 1863. The infant child sadly died on January 31, 1864. 

R. D. was baptized on May 25, 1863 in Ann Arbor, Michigan at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Rob's parents lived in Ann Arbor. He was initially raised in Ann Arbor; his mother probably returned to Connecticut to give birth in the company of female relatives. 

By 1870 Rob's family moved to the logging town of Tionesta, Pennsylvania, fifteen miles east of Oil City, lured by the first United States oil boom. In 1850, in nearbyTitusville, Edwin Drake had sunk the first oil well drilled on U. S. soil.   
Drilling derricks in Oil City, PA in the 1860's.
In the early 1860’s Oil City exploded on the map. Not only was it home to a forest of derricks, it was the place where Oil Creek flowed into the Allegheny River and so became the culmination point for barrels shipped downstream from points further north.
The most efficient way to ship oil in those days was by water and Oil Creek was often crowded with barges loaded high with barrels. It was not uncommon for the barrels to get away, go careening downstream and slam into the bridge pylons at Oil City, resulting in the nation’s first oil spills.

Throughout the 1860’s and 70’s Oil City was a greasy, sooty place, reeking and stained with oil. Today it is an idyllic community stacked neatly on the hillsides surrounding a placid bend in the river.
 The Genealogy of the Dimon family of Fairfield Connecticut, 1891.
R. D. 's family has deep roots in the New World. R. D.'s father, Orlando Hoskins, 1833-1901, was variously a miller, oil man, grocer and landlord. R. D.'s grandfather, Thomas Hoskins Jr., born in 1797, was a physician and farmer. R. D.'s great grandfather, Thomas Hoskins Sr., was a colonial era immigrant. R. D.'s middle name, Dimon (variously Dimond), comes from his mother's side of the family. The Dimon family lineage in the U.S. traces back to the mid 1600s.

During Rob's residence in Tionesta we find the initial references to him in the press, and the first inklings of his life-long interest in news, the media and commerce.

Young R. D. Hoskins had a fascination with the oil exchanges.
The Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), December 22, 1880
Oil exchanges were locations for trading and selling oil and oil stocks, operating like the commodity, mercantile, and stock and bond exchanges that are platforms for trading and selling securities today. 
Before the 1870s, oil buyers took on-site delivery in wooden barrels they provided. Soon a rapidly growing pipeline infrastructure spawned “oil certificates” or “pipeline certificates.”
These negotiable new instruments were based on the number of barrels in a pipeline issued for delivery in kind. Since these certificates could be bought and sold, trading flourished in oil exchanges at Titusville, Petroleum Center, and Oil City.
R. D. attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, 50 miles west of Tionesta.
The Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), March 23, 1881
Later during the summer 1881, the Orlando Hoskins family, including man about campus Rob, were attendees at an original Chautauqua in Chautauqua Lake, New York.
The Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), August 17, 1881

The Chautauqua Calender for 1881 included a School of Languages, a Teachers Retreat, a Foreign Missionary Institute and an Assembly. Among the special days were a Temperance Day, a Christian Commission and Army Chaplain Reunion; a Formal Opening of the Chautauqua School of Theology, a Children's Processional Day and a Sunday-School Competitive Examination. Speakers included priests, pastors, bishops, a governor and a multitude of Ph.D.'s. 

Chautauqua was a popular movement in U. S. adult education.
The original Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly in western New York, founded in 1874 by John H. Vincent and Lewis Miller, began as a program for the training of Sunday-school teachers and church workers. At first entirely religious in nature, the program was gradually broadened to include general education, recreation, and popular entertainment. In later years the summer lectures and classes were supplemented by a year-round nondenominational course of directed home reading and correspondence study. William Rainey Harper, later the founding president of the University of Chicago, directed the Chautauqua educational system for several years starting in 1883. 
The success of the Chautauqua, N.Y., assembly led to the founding of many similar “chautauquas” throughout the United States patterned after the original institution. By 1900 there were hundreds of “tent” chautauquas and nearly 150 independent chautauquas with permanent lecture halls, many of which continued the tradition of the lyceum movement.

The Day Garfield Was Shot

In this modern era, those of us of a certain age, remember moment and the place where we learned that president John F. Kennedy was shot. Back in R. D. Hoskins' day the seared in memory was of the assassination of James Garfield. R. D. recalled the July 2, 1881 event in a letter to the editor fourteen years later.
Bismarck Tribune, July 5, 1895
A Piece of Newspaper Enterprise.
Your editorial of Thursday regarding the assassination of President Garfield reminds me of one certain Saturday afternoon in Tionesta, Forest County, Pennsylvania, a town in the lumbering region. Word came over the wires that the president had been killed. All was excitement and full particulars were wanted. No Sunday trains ran on the road at that time. How to get the full particulars was the question. Finally a "pot" was made up and a team hired and I was sen£ over the mountains and through the forests to Titusville, thirty five miles, for the then "Petroleum World." On arriving at the office of the paper, everything was excitement; printers were scarce and I was told to take off my coat and grab a rule and stick and get at the case. I did this and 'for my pains had the first copy of the paper that rolled from the cylinder. Finally at four in the morning I had a bundle of 800 papers and started back for the home town. I will never forget that night's ride through the tall pines. I knew that every person at home would be out for information. About eight in the morning I reached the long bridge that crossed the Allegheny river and such a pushing and scrambling for the still damp papers I have never seen since. Enough to say that every person read a full account of the memorable tragedy.                           R. D. HOSKINS.
Bismarck Tribune, July 12, 1895
A week after R.D.s reminisce was published, a gentleman who had served with the Titusville Herald confirmed R.D.'s story and supplemented it with his personal recollection. In the newspaper item to the right, former managing editor Tuttle wrote, "Hoskins was a good looking youth in those days and his achievement was one that was heroic and enterprising." 

R. D. Hoskins had been bitten by the newspaper bug big time. It was an interest that would define his early professional career.

Early Newspaper Years in Crookston and Bathgate

In 1882, after finishing college, Pennsylvania friends reported that 22-year-old Rob Hoskins moved west to Carman, Minnesota. The young man published a newspaper known as the Carman Courier.
Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), November 11, 1882,

We notice by the Carman  (Minn.) Courier, that our energetic young friend, Rob D. Hoskins, has become its publisher, and that under his management the paper has much improved, mechanically and editorially. Rob is brim full of push and enterprise, and it does our soul good to note his prosperity in the far west. His large circle of friends east will be delighted to hear of his success. Stick to it, Bob, and our word for it you will come out on the top shelf.
Today, Carman is not an incorporated city or town but a neighborhood located within Crookston, Minnesota (pop. 7,891), located 25 miles southeast of Grand Forks, North Dakota. 
Carman, in the early days, was a separate town site with its own government, fire department. water wells, and school. The town was platted September 4, 1884, by E.D. Childs, Ellwood Carson, James Hill, Walter Bailey, N.P. Stone, and Joseph Netzer. It was named for a Baptist minister, Rev. John Carman, who served this area. Carman in later years became the fifth ward of Crookston. 
The Courier had a short run. It began publication in June, 1882 and ceased publication in April 1883, after Rob Hoskins picked up stakes and moved to Bathgate, North Dakota, where he took over the Bathgate Sentinel. The Sentinel itself was a nascent publication, having published its first edition on March 14, 1882.

R. D.'s friends in Tionesta, Pennsylvania reported Rob's next move to North Dakota.

The Forest Republican (Tionesta, Penn.), April 11, 1883

Mr. R. D. Hoskins for some month(s) past local editor of the Chronicle has purchased the Bathgate Sentinel, and goes up to take charge of it this week. During Mr. Hoskins stay with us he has made many friends here who will be sorry to see him depart. He is a first-class newspaper man, and will give the citizens of Bathgate and vicinity one of the best papers in the valley. -- Crookston (Minn.) Chronicle.
R. D. wasted no time. Up in Bathgate he upgraded equipment.
Pembina Pioneer Express, April 20, 1883
The new press attracted note and patronage. R. D.'s mates back in Pennsylvania thought the result "very neatly printed."  They said the Sentinel bore "evidence of a nice patronage in the advertising line." Ca-ching, ca-ching.

The Forest Republican (Tionesta, Penn.), April 25, 1883
R. D. wrote back to  Pennsylvania. He bragged on the commercial success of the Sentinel and favorable spring weather. "Regards to all," Bob said.

The Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), May 9, 1883

In no time at all, a back-east friend came to visit Bathgate, and was tempted to stay on to "undoubtedly invest some of his capital." This was in May. Rob's friend might have viewed the Dakota territory quite differently in January or February.

Pembina Pioneer Express, May 18, 1883
In mid summer, R. D. went for a Sunday drive with one of his new friends. Since gasoline powered cars had not yet been invented we imagine they drove a team of horses or oxen pulling a wagon or buggy.
Pembina Pioneer Express, July 13, 1883

In the fall of 1883, one of R. D.'s associates came to spell him, and clear out time and space to sell subscriptions.

Pembina Pioneer Express, September 28, 1883
R. D. got himself a bird dog just in time for the fall duck and goose hunt -- it was time to stock in protein for the winter.

Pembina Pioneer Express, October 5, 1883

In November, R. D. checked out the "Mountains."

Pembina Pioneer Express, November 16, 1883
So you knew nothing of mountains in North Dakota? Well lookie here
The town of Mountain in Pembina County was settled by Icelanders in 1873. Mountain is situated on the former shoreline of glacial Lake Agassiz, and the view to the east from there, over the Red River Valley, is impressive. Just north of Mountain, the hilly area along the Pembina River Valley in northeastern North Dakota is sometimes referred to as the "Pembina Mountains," but the term "Pembina Hills" is also commonly used. The steep escarpment is also referred to as the "Pembina Escarpment" or "Manitoba Escarpment."

Today Mountain, North Dakota's population is 92. 

The Armstrongs Come to Bathgate

In 1882, my great grandfather, J. A. (John Adams) Armstrong and his wife, Laura Valeres Hollembeck Armstrong, settled in Bathgate. They had ten children, including my grandmother and her brother, Lyndon King Armstrong, Several of the children remained with relatives in Winnebago, Minnesota to finish their schooling. J. A. Armstrong opened a a general merchandise store with partner Bowen, and became postmaster of the booming town.

That May the Bathgate Sentinel noted,
Messrs. Armstrong & Bowen are having a cellar dug preparatory to laying the foundation of their mammoth store. The young men go the right way to work and we predict that they will meet with the success that always rewards energy and integrity.
By mid-June the Sentinel noted construction efforts were accelerated to make way for a July opening.
Messrs. Armstrong & Bowen are rushing their big store up and count on having it complete by July 20, when a huge stock of merchandise will be put in.
After the store opened, Armstrong and Bowen became a major advertiser in Rob Hoskins' Sentinel.
Bathgate Sentinel, December 4, 1884
In May of 1883, the Sentinel reported Bathgate's post office revenues had grown to the point where it became a money order post office.
Bathgate has been made a money-order post office and yet P. M. Armstrong, does not seem to be very much stuck up. The new departure was made necessary in order to accommodate the increasing business.
In 1884 J. A. Armstong earned $429.15 (about $10,000 in today's currency) for operating the Bathgate post office.
Official Register of the United States, 1885, Civil Service Commission, Compensation

In July of 1883 Postmaster and Mrs. Armstrong welcomed two daughters who had remained behind.
Bathgate Sentinel, July 26, 1883
Misses Maude and Florence Armstrong arrived here Tuesday evening form Fairfield, Minn., and will enjoy Bathgate life for a time.
To the right you can see editor R. D. Hoskins' name listed below the Sentinel masthead. It is noted above his name that the Sentinel is "[e]ntered at the Bathgate Post Office as second-class matter." To assist with the booming merchandise business and bustling post office, John Adams Armstrong would put his 20-year-old daughter, Florence, to work to staff the same. 

Rob Hoskins Settles In

R. D. Hoskins was just a couple of years older than my grandfather, I. J. Foster. They became friends and business associates early on. When Rob returned to Crookston for a visit, Ike pitched in to run the printing press at the Sentinel.   

Pembina Pioneer Express, Nov. 18 1883

Five years before the Dakotas were split into North and South, the north (small "n") Dakota press association was formed, consisting of representatives of newspapers in the northeast corner of what became the state of North Dakota. Rob Hoskins was a charter member.

The Saint Paul Globe, March 19, 1884

In May of 1884 Rob took a vacation for a spell and issued a sunny fishing report from back east.
Pembina Pioneer Express, May 9, 1884
R. D. Hoskins of the Sentinel informs us that the weather and trouting in Pennsylvania are fine and that he is having an enjoyable time.
But Rob's assessment of the economic and social prospects in Pennsylvania was downcast, "dull beyond expression," he said.
Pembina Pioneer Express, June 6, 1884
Rob Hoskins was in Dakota to stay.

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

During his first summer in Bathgate, Rob returned to Crookston on a looking for love visit. He came back empty handed  -- a theme that would be repeated.

Pembina Pioneer Express, July 27, 1883
In the spring of 1884 R. D. Hoskins and compatriot M. L. Vought were on the prowl back east.
The Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), April 30, 1884
Messs. R. D. Hoskins and M. L. Vought have "come out from the west" for a few weeks' visit with their many eastern friends. Both of the boys are looking unusually robust and healthy, and it gives us pleasure to state that they are meeting with fine success in their journalistic enterprises out west, the former being located at Bathgate, D.T., and the latter at Ashby, Minn. Dame Rumor has it that Luther will take with him one of Tionesta's fair young ladies on his return and Rob -- well, he'll like stand up as "best man."
The Saint Paul newspaper reported Rob's goal more directly.
The Saint Paul Globe, May 6, 1884
R. D. Haskins (sic), the fascinating young editor of the Bathgate Sentinel, has gone east to secure a wife. A friend selected a fair maiden for him and he has expended much of his income and postage stamps in bringing the matter to a happy consummation.
R. D.'s postage stamps invetment seems to not have earned a return after all, as he returned to Bathgate sans maiden.

Ah, but there is no place like home. Rob's stamp expenditures and many post office visits paid off in an unexpected way. R. D. Hoskins married my great aunt, Florence -- the girl behind the post office counter.
Pembina Pioneer Express, December 5, 1884
Thursday of last week was a day of special thanksgiving for Bro. Hoskins of the Bathgate Sentinel. On that day he received the blessing of an helpmeet, in the person of Miss Florence Armstrong, daughter of J. A. Armstrong, postmaster of Bathgate. We tender our congratulations to the happy couple and hope for that day they will have reason to be thankful all their lives.  
Rob Hoskins' Sentinel published nothing but the facts

Bathgate Sentinel, December 4, 1884
An awesome helpmate and leader in her own right my great aunt Florence truly became. Florence Hoskins became grand matron of the North Dakota state chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star, and served as president of the state chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Locally in Bismarck she would head numerous committees and charitable drives.

Competing for Business and in Politics

The Pembina Pioneer Express is the source of much of our material on R. D. Hoskins during the Bathgate years. The Pioneer Express was the newspaper of record in the then county seat of Pembina city, well funded by publication of legal notices. 

Back in the day newspapers were sent postage free through the mails. Via that conduit publications would share content widely and reciprocally with other newspapers. Much of the news content of most newspapers was republished from neighboring towns. Through these arrangements, the Pembina Pioneer Express and the Bathgate Sentinel were mutual suppliers week after week, and their editors became close friends. 

But the newspapers were avid competitors as well, especially when it came to securing the county government's advertising dollars and legal notice business. The Sentinel and its editor Hoskins were persistent in attempts to capture official business, as is evident in this defensive letter to the editor authored by the Pembina county treasurer.

Pembina Pioneer Express, 
September 5, 1884

In a late issue of the "Bathgate Sentinel" the Editor devotes a large part of his valuable space to me, and the way that the tax list is to be printed. In answer I have to say, that at the first interview, July 22nd (by the way, the same day he got the "startling exposure letter" written) he came to my office and asked if there would be any chance of getting the tax sale this year. I answer I saw no reason to change from the PIONEER EXPRESS, its Editor was my friend, it was the official paper and I saw no reason why I should go out from the county seat. At another interview in Walhalla the editor of the Sentinel spoke of competition, and I made immediate reply that I doubted its legality. The editor said he had legal advice, and good lawyers had told him it was competitive. I still doubted but the business was already far advanced and I did not investigate further then. At a later day he came to the office in Pembina and asked if I still had the same opinion. I then looked up the law more particularly, and admitted to him that it looked somewhat different then I had thought, but explained to him difficulties in the way of carrying out that which the law might seem to contemplate. That the effect of saving $200 to the county would be for the county to make $200.00 without value returned. I further told the editor that a considerable part of the matter was already in type; upon learning which he went down town and wrote out his bid at 50 per cent, saving the county, served it on me and asked for a direct answer, whether I would accept it or not, I answered "the circumstances, no." Upon the appearance of the fall "Sentinel" last week, I wrote to District Attorney Ball at Fargo, for an opinion, he telegraphed the following. 
DATED FARGO, Sep. 3, 1884.
Tax laws are strictly construed. There is no provision for letting to a low cost bidder. Think your only safe way is to publish it, pay full price and collect full rate from the tax payers.   W. F. BALL
The total cost of advertising the tax sale will be in the vicinity of $500.00. Mr. Hoskins offers to do it for half that. Let us see how that would come out. It can be proven that the extra type, extra help and extra paper, necessary to get up a job of this kind in an ordinary country printing office will amount to over $300.00. Do you know your business or was your bid put in for another "crusher" on Wardwell? As to the accusation that I would favor the EXPRESS before the Sentinel, other things being equal I offered guilty, and presume that Mr. Sentinel would favor Mr. Vaughn before he would me and if elected Mr. Vaughn would favor him with the tax sale before Mr. Young.                           F. A. WARDELL

R. D. Hoskins did not relent. He continued to press his claim for county business in following next years, bolstering his case by combining with a partner to offer increased circulation.

Pembina Pioneer Express, February 6, 1885

To the board of county commissioners of Pembina county.
GENTLEMEN: -- In consideration of being designated the official paper of Pembina county, and as such entitled to the printing, the undersigned, publisher of the Bathgate Sentinel would make the following offer: -- Publishing the proceedings of your body, 15 cents per inch  solid nonpareil measure. All other work requiring the publication of the same in a newspaper 25 per cent. reduction from legal rates. Job work at established rates. As to my circulation in Pembina county January 1, 1885, I attach hereto my affidavit. In consideration of the above I also agree that the minutes of your body shall be published in the St. Thomas Times simultaneous with the Sentinel and at no expense to the county, a copy of the contract between the publisher of the St. Thomas Times and myself is hereunto attached; also affidavit of circulation of said paper January 1, 1885. In witness to the above I have set my hand and seal this 28th day of January, 1865.
R. D. Hoskins
February 6, 1885.
Pembina Pioneer Express, February 6, 1885

But there was a challenge to the St. Thomas Times circulation figures, so its publisher was brought in to account. The county commission minutes so reported:

At this point, there being a dispute as to the circulation of the St. Thomas Times, Mr. Hager [publisher of the Times] desired to correct his figures, by subtracting 230 therefrom, stating that he read the affidavit hastily and did not think it referred to Jan. 1 1885.
Resolved, that the PIONEER EXPRESS be and is hereby appointed the official paper of this county its circulation being shown to be much the largest in the county, and its tender on the whole being as favorable as any other.
R. D. Hoskins was competitive and creative, but he could not seem to find any way to pull off a coup to gain the county's business.

Rob Hoskins Was a Loyal Republican

Rob's root problem was that he was a Republican who operated a Republican newspaper in a Democratic county. North Dakota was and is a Republican state, but not so its most northeastern reaches. 

In the fall of 1884 Rob Hoskins attended the territorial Republican convention. On the train ride down to Pierre, Rob had a layover in Fargo.  He used the occasion to author a letter back to a friend in Pennsylvania.
The Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), September 24, 1884
Letter from Bob. Hoskins.
Fargo, Dak., Sept. 15, 1884.
In the famous city of Fargo I am stranded this day, waiting for a chance to go out and take in the many sights which this wonderful "creation of a night" contains. Out of doors the rain is falling in never-ceasing abundance and I am afraid I must forego the pleasure, for the present at least. Perhaps you wonder how I strayed sofar from the city of my adoption --  Bathgate. When I mention the one word, "politics, it is cleared up. You all remember the old saying of tho son to his father: "Go west dad; mighty mean men get office," If we are to take that expression as true it will follow that Dakota is brim full of hard citizens. Such a strife for political honor it was never my luck to see before. My own county of Pembina has just had a Republican convention and before that august body came no less than 100 men (and be it remembered one woman) seeking a chance at eight local offices. Did you ever see such a strife in the Keystone state? It is perhaps needless to say a large number of the self sacrificing gents failed to reach the summit of their ambition. The one representative of the gentle sex was also snowed under and she can not wield authority over the public schools of the county. But how did yours truly strike Fargo? I am on my way to Pierre, Dak., to represent a portion of the great territory in a convention which comes off next Wednesday. Congress sees fit to allot territories a single man in their halls to champion our cause. To place in nomination such an individual is the object of the meeting. Perhaps a dozen men are in the field and the fight promises to be a warm one. The present incumbent wants to go back, as is quite natural. One of his main opponents is Gen. Harry Allen, formerly of Warren, Pa., and who is now filling the responsible post of marshal of Dakota.
Pierre is about 800 miles from Bathgate and makes quite a nice little trip. All the North Dakota delegates gather at Fargo today and take a special Pullman train Sunday evening. Something like 150 delegates and spectators are here now and the chances for a lively gang are good. Quite a fair showing of newspaper men are amongst them. And by the way. I had the pleasure of meeting S. J. Small today. S. J. is a son of Rev. F. M. Small, of Fagundus and it was he who started the Millerstown Herald some years ago. Your humble servant received his first lesson in the"art preservative" from him. "Ves" as he was called has a responsible position in the Fargo Daily Republican, has married one of Dakota's most charming young ladies and to all external appearances is enjoying life hugely. 
But the rain has ceased and now to see the elephant. If he is worthy I will describe him again.
The Saint Paul Globe noted R. D. Hoskins was elected a temporary secretary of the convention.

The Saint Paul Globe, September 18, 1884

Bismarck Tribune,
September 26, 1884
Rob Hoskins was among dozens of "newspaper men" who attended.
Hospitable Pierre.
Those who attended the Pierre convention will not forget the kind treatment received at the hands of the citizens of Pierre. Unfortunately the building originally intended for the use of the convention had burned down the week before, and an old railroad warehouse had to be substituted. The building was mostly decorated, however, and considering, the citizens done the best they could, gave general satisfaction. Music during the convention week was furnished by the Rochester band, the excellence of which organization was the subject of general conversation. A grand free ball was given Wednesday evening, and figuring conspicuously on the reception committee was Henry Blakely, formerly of Bismarck, agent of the Northwestern State and Transportation company. On Thursday evening a grand banquet was given by the Pierre Press club, and never before in the history of the territory were there so many newspaper men congregated together. The following is a complete list, with the exception, possibly, of three or four.
On the train ride home from Pierre, Rob Hoskins was recognized for his fidelity to honor and duty.
Jamestown Weekly Alert, October 2, 1884
"Give my Mother all the the Praise."
Amidst the whirl of political excitement it is encouraging to know that there are some men who will wear the mantle of honor which characterized the times of the early political patriot of the nation. North Dakota is proud to own one of these men in the person of R. D. Hoskins, editor of the Bathgate Sentinel, Pembina county and the youngest member and a secretary of the late territorial convention. Mr. Hoskins took with him the eight proxies of his county for which he was repeatedly offered $800. But he steadfastly refused to sell the honor of his constituents On their return home a meeting was held on the train bearing the North Dakota delegation, at which there was considerable speaking. Mr. Hoskins being called upon and praised for the noble manner in which he had resisted every temptation, said that his "Mother living away back on the Atlantic coast, was the one to receive all the praise for his steadfastedness; that her last words on leaving home were, "To the best thou knowest be always true." This brought down the car, and when thee cheers were voted for that Mother there was not a single dry eye in the car. -- Barnes County Record.
Rob Hoskins' friends at the Democratic leaning Pioneer Express would soon twist his mom's words against him in a scathing editorial. 
Pembina Pioneer Express, October 31, 1884

Our friend Hoskins, of the Bathgate Sentinel, in championing the candidacy of Jud LaMoure, is making the political mistake of his life. "To the best thou knowest be always true," were the last words our friend Hoskins' mother whispered in his youthful ear when quit the East for the West. This is the testimony of Mr. Hoskins himself, given on a public occassion; hence we feel we are at liberty to use it in calling attention to LaMoure's legislative and lobby record. The Sentinel editor knows full well that if this were a contest exclusively within the borders of Pembina county Jud Lamoure would be defeated. He depends upon Walsh and Ramsey counties to pull him through.
The Inter-Ocean feels fully justified in refusing to endorse LaMoure for the council. He is regarded as a bad man -- a tricky politician and a piratical lobbyist -- and his candidacy bodes no good for the honest residents of Pembina county. That Dr. Roger was nominated by the same convention that nominated LaMoure, is no reason why we should support LaMoure because we support Dr. Roger. The Inter-Ocean advocates the election of Dr. Roger because we know him to be a clean and honest man; we oppose LaMoure because we know him to be the very reverse. Should Dr. Roger upon trial turn out to be an unclean and dishonest legislator and professional lobbyist, the Inter-Ocean in the future will oppose him with all the energy at its command. We have no legislative axes to grind and we owe no allegiance to the bartering individuals who have disgraced the territory with the bad record they have made at the territorial capital in times past. LaMoure has been a legislative lobbyist for the past eight years; that is his calling. He has been concerened in every job that came up to the legislature, and he now seeks to go to the upper house, where the opportunities for his nefarious business will be enlarged. 
LaMoure would go on to be elected to the state senate. LaMoure county in southeast North Dakota, and the city of Jud (pop. 72, 2010 census) located therein, were later named after the venerable public servant.

Rob Hoskins Visits the New Territorial Capital

In early 1885, Bob Hoskins took the train down to Bismarck to celebrate the festivities attendant to the dedication of the new territorial capital building. Bismarck was a boom town. Previously the capital had been in Yankton. It was moved on the recommendation of a nine-member commission. 

The Commission met at Fargo in June, 1883, and after a number of ballots, Bismarck was selected by a vote of 5 to 4 as the territorial “seat of government.”
As might be expected, the choice was hailed with glee by the Bismarck residents. It became a “boom town” almost overnight. People rushed into Bismarck in the belief that, the town would soon become a metropolis. While the boom lasted, $20,000 for a 50 foot lot was reported to have been offered for downtown property. A man owning a section of land adjoining the town is said to have been offered $200 per acre; he refused to sell, kept the land until 1918, and then sold it for $35 an acre!
In Yankton, on the other hand, there was bitter reaction. Residents there first attempted to overthrow the action of the Commission on the grounds that it was all illegal. Under the provisions of the “Organic Act,” they argued, the capital was to be selected by the Territorial Governor; the Legislature had no authority to appoint the Commission to make the selection. The case was tried in District Court at Yankton, and the Judge, himself a citizen of Yankton, ruled in favor of the Yankton partisans.

Laying the Territorial Capitol Cornerstone, September 5, 1883. This view from the back of the construction site at the Territorial Capitol in Bismarck captures the people gathered for the building's cornerstone laying ceremony. (SHSND C0865)
McKenzie and the Commission appealed this decision to the Territorial Supreme Court, which reversed the decision of the District Court.
Failing in this attempt, the Yankton partisans vented their fury on Governor Ordway, charging him with corruption in office and of accepting a bribe of $30,000 for his part in the capital removal. Goaded into action, President Chester Arthur removed Ordway from office, but Bismarck remained the capital of Dakota Territory.
The cornerstone of the new Territorial Capitol was triumphantly laid September 5, 1883, by Henry Villard, president of Northern Pacific Railroad. Among other honored guests present at the ceremony were General Ulysses S. Grant; Henry M. Teller, Secretary of the Interior; the Honorable Sackville-West, British Minister; the Imperial German Minister; members of the Austro-Hungarian, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish delegations; Governor Ordway; and numerous United States Senators, governors, and mayors.
The Bismarck Tribune noted the geographical advantages of their location further up the Missouri River.
Bismarck Tribune, January 16, 1885
The proud city sponsored and paid for the dedication.

Bismarck Tribune, January 2, 1885

Rob and friends reported a good time was had -- business was booming in the shadow of the new capital.

Pembina Pioneer Express, January 23, 1885

Rob Continues His Civic, Political, Professional and Married Life

Rob Hoskins was one of the three Pembina county enumerators for the 1885 territorial census. That enumeration is the source of much of our information on the status of the Armstrong and Foster families in Bathgate during the time.

Pembina Pioneer Express, May 29, 1885
Married life frequently entails reshuffling the house and moving around furniture. But in Rob Hoskins' case it seems to have precipitated moving the house altogether. At the same time his father in law, John Adams Armstrong, prepared to move into larger diggings.
Pembina Pioneer Express, April 16, 1886
Mom came to visit Rob in the summer of 1886.

Pembina Pioneer Express, June 2, 1886
Rob Hoskins was active (his wife even more so in the Order of the Eastern Star) in the Masons throughout his adult life.

The (Huron, S.D.) Daily Plainsman, June 13, 1887
He traveled down to South Dakota for regional meeting of the Grand Lodge.

The (Huron, S.D.) Daily Plainsman, June 13, 1887

Need a Lawyer?

Rob Hoskins had spent much time representing his own interests and the interests of the Sentinel. In 1888 he decided to represent others. He qualified for the bar and put the newspaper business aside.
The Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), 
March 21, 1888

-- By a copy of the Bathgate Democrat we observe that R. D. Hoskins has donned the legal harness, and will hereafter thump the daylights out of Blackstone, and rend the air with eloquence in behalf of his clients in the courts of Pembina county, Dakota. Sucess, Rob.

Rob's friends at the Pioneer Express noted his new legal eagle role frequently during the next two years.

Pembina Pioneer Express, March 29, 1889

Pembina Pioneer Express, August 17, 1888

Pembina Pioneer Express, April 5, 1889
Pembina Pioneer Express, July 19, 1889
Pembina Pioneer Express, August 30, 1889
Pembina Pioneer Express, July 12, 1889
In the summer of 1889, attorney Rob put his eyed real estate development opportunities as well. He purchased land from my grandfather William Foster, and platted it as Hoskin's addition to Bathgate.
Pembina Pioneer Express, July 26, 1889
Also that summer, Rob reported that he "may go to Bismarck." Whether that was statement of intention for the day or the rest of his life (as evolved to be the case) we do not know.

Pembina Pioneer Express, July 28, 1889
Pembina Pioneer Express, August 30, 1889

Maintaining party ties, Rob was secretary of the Republican county convention held at Hamilton (five miles south of Bathgate) in September, 1889. The first statewide elections were held in October of that year, when, significant for Rob, the first three justices of the North Dakota supreme court were elected to office. 

Rob Hoskins Appointed Clerk of the North Dakota Supreme Court

The Bismarck Tribune did not even mention the appointment at first.
Bismarck Tribune, November 8, 1889
Attorney R. D. Hoskins passed through Bismarck on his way home from the Pacific Coast (presumably after visiting his parents who had moved to Tacoma, Washington). By then the deed was done. The day North Dakota was admitted to the union, November 2, 1889, Rob Hoskins was appointed the first clerk of the North Dakota supreme court, his service effective December 1, 1889. Rob Hoskins and family would be resident of Bathgate no more.

To effect the transition, the newly elected judges ordered that territorial supreme court records be turned over to Rob Hoskins.

Bismarck Tribune, November 8, 1889
Rob would serve as court clerk for twenty-seven years. During terms of the court for the first twenty years of that tenure R. D. Hoskins would lead a peripatetic professional life.

But Rob's home office was first rate. 
Jamestown Weekly Alert, December 18, 1889
Minor appointments that the Supreme Court clerk appointment carried with it included membership on the state Board of Canvassers,

and an ex officio membership and asssignment as secretary and treasurer of the state Board of Bar Examiners.

R. D. Hoskin's association with the court and the bar involved him in interesting stories for years to come. Here is one such story on the lengths an individual went to to be admitted to the bar.

Jamestown Weekly Alert, May 26, 1898

An applicant for admission to the bar from Towner county recent was J. Howard Bell. Bell, a former resident of Virginis, corresponded with Clerk Hoskins of the supreme court, and learning that it would be necessary for him to appear before the court, started from Cando to Bismarck on his bicycle, a distance of about 200 miles. When fifty-five miles form Bismarck, he pulled a valve out of his bicycle and was forced to walk the rest of the distance, not knowing the country and striking no habitation where he could secure assistance. He left Cando Tuesday night, and the accident happened Wednesday afternoon, so that he was forced to walk all Wednesday night. He arrived in the city Thusday and secured his certificate on a certificate from the state of Virginia. Bell had his bicycle repaired that afternoon and started on the return trip to Cando, where he desired to appear in district court Monday.
Rob also got involved on the back end when individuals sought to use the bar to pursue vendettas against personal and political enemies.

Williston Graphic, August 31,1899
Associating with people who sold liquor -- imagine that!

Settling in at Bismarck

In the beginning Rob commuted to Bismarck.
Bismarck Tribune, January 3, 1890

Hoskins' original Bismarck residence was on Ninth Street.

Much of the early news of R. D. Hoskins in Bismarck is of his service on the court or his goings to and from from the same. Later in the decade Rob would branch out. The Supreme Court gig hit the ground running.
Jamestown Weekly Alert, December 18, 1889

First Term of the Supreme Court.
The first term of the supreme court for the state of North Dakota will be held in Fargo, beginnng January 14. Clerk Hoskins states that a term of some length is already assured, and that many of the cases will be of great importance. Stuntsman county will have four cases at least on the calendar and possibly more than that number. There are thirty-five cases already entered for hearing. Taking it all together, it will be a notable event in legal circles. Several of the cases to be hear are those wherein one or two of the supreme judges have acted as attorneys. In these cases the bench will be completed by requisition upon the services of the judges of the district court.
Rob and the court stayed busy into the spring.
Bismarck Tribune, April 25, 1890
Business for May Term Supreme Court.
R. D. Hoskins, Clerk of the supreme court: We expected there would be but few cases for the May term of the state supreme court in Bismarck, but we have already received notification of sixteen cases. Four are petitions for re-argument of cases Nos. 9, 10, 22, 17 being the two Devils Lake tax cases, the Grand Forks Gas company controversy and the case of Bowman vs. Eppinger of Jamestown. Among the new case of special interest is one involving the validity of $2,500 of school warrants issued in Barnes county, and the suit of Billy Budge against the city of Grand Forks to recover $2,000 for erroneous assessment on street improvements. There are also several suits against the railroad companies for damages resulting from prairie fires claimed to be set by locomotives.
Six months into his new job, the Bismarck Tribune gave clerk Hoskins a hearty endorsement, "It will be safe to check R. D. Hoskins, clerk of the supreme court of North Dakota 'O. K.,'" the newspaper declared. Rob is an "efficient, obliging and every way-suitable official."

Bismarck Tribune, May 16, 1890
The Tribune and other newspapers along the railroad line, frequently noted R. D. Hoskins travels to and from court sessions.

Bismarck Tribune, October 30, 1890
The newspapers also reported on Rob Hoskins' fishing trips and their all too frequent less than stellar results.

Jamestown Weekly Alert, August 6, 1891
Editor Jewell, Asa Fisher and Supreme Court Reporter Hoskins, three Bismarck anglers, who spent Sunday at Detroit lake returned last night with a remarkable scarcity of finny tropies. Otherwise there was no scarcity.
Fishing pal M. H. Jewell was editor of the Bismarck Tribune and secretary of the North Dakota state Republican committee. Jewell's mutual interest in politics, printing, fishing and publishing would form the basis for a decades long personal and professional relationship with Rob Hoskins.

The first hint I uncovered that R. D. maintained business interests besides his clerkship was in this ambiguous item published in the Tribune in 1891.
Bismarck Tribune, September 4, 1891
Catarrh is a severe sinus infection. 

Hoskins kept in touch with his newspaper friends throughout the state. He had an open door policy for residents of Bathgate and Pembina county.
Bismarck Tribune, June 17, 1892
Pembina Democrat: Our old friend R. D. Hoskins asked us to remember him to all Pembina county people -- regardless of politics, religion or previous condition of servitude. He loves the county and would be glad to see any or all of her inhabitants at any time in Bismarck, and will do all he can for any visiting there at any time. We owe him many thanks for favors shown while there.
In the summer of July, 1892 Rob Hoskins ferried across the Missouri River to Mandan (widely known as the location of Lewis & Clark's first winter bivouac) to gather funds for the Masons.

Bismarck Tribune, July 29, 1892
Rob's 1892 fishing trip, rated at "fair," was apparently only a bit more bountiful than his 1891 sojourn. 
Jamestown Weekly Alert, August 18, 1892
Clerk R. D. Hoskins got back to work in time to prepare for the October term of the court.

Bismarck Tribune, October 7, 1892
For a time, R. D. worked at the court in a dual capacity as Clerk of the Court and as Court Reporter.
Bismarck Tribune, October 28, 1892
Reporter Hoskins produced Volume II of the North Dakota Supreme Court reports, covering the term from January 15, 1891 to May 31, 1892.

Among the numerous reports of Clerk Hoskins' trips along the line between Bismarck and Fargo, and Bismarck and Grand Forks some had a folksy twist.
Bismarck Tribune, March 18, 1892
The Tribune would also report on personal travel, such as this time Rob Hoskins was called to Bathgate by the sickness of a child.

Bismarck Tribune, June 9, 1893
Aunt Florence Mabel Armstrong Hoskins became entrenched in Bismarck society.  In the following (below right) she became charter member and Vice President of the Ladies Charitable Society. She would come to hold statewide office in the Order of the Eastern Star and the North Dakota chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. In our research we have come across a wealth of material on aunt Florence's activities, more than enough to justify a separate blog post, which we have added to our list of must dos.

Bismarck Tribune, February 26, 1892
Rob went east fishing to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota again in the summer of 1883. Editor Jewell of the Bismarck Tribune repeated as fishing companion.

Jamestown Weekly Alert, June 8, 1893

R. D. (and wife) visited Bathgate regularly, which in those days meant hanging with in-laws, I. J. and Lizzie Foster, since by this time Rob's parents had moved back to Minnesota.

Bismarck Tribune, September 8, 1893

Like my great uncle George S. Foster in the 1890s, Rob Hoskins was bitten by the bicycle bug.

Bismarck Tribune, May 7, 1893
A meeting of a few of the wheelman of the city held last evening at the store of Frank Moorhouse, and it was decided to organize a bicycle club for the city. A temporary organization was effected by the selection of R. D. Hoskins as chairman, and Manager Dudley of the Western Union office as secretary. It was decided to hold an adjourned meeting next Wednesday evening at the same place, Mr. Moorhouse's book store, when a permanent organization will be effected and a constitution and by-laws adopted. To this meeting all interested in bicycles, who own them or are thinking of purchasing the same are invited to be present. This especially applies to the ladies.
The Tribune reported further the next week.

Bismarck Tribune, May 12, 1893


also there will be found plenty of means for sport. As yet, there has been no organization perfected among the cyclists, but with the approach of summer, with long and pleasant evenings in view, probably there will be efforts made in that directions. The number of bicycles rid­den in the city is increasing day by day, and there are now a dozen or so of the latest improved safeties. Doctor Ed­wards rides one, and finds time a part from the pulling of teeth and making of plates to enjoy himself. Dr. Kendrick also rides with the grace of a Centaur, and combines business with pleasure in the making of professional calls. Messrs. Howell and De Camp of the express company are numbered among the wheelmen, and are artists in the manip­ulation of their safeties. J. W. Dudley is another disciple of the wheel, and handles it with the same grace and ability with which he extracts the unintelligible tickings from the wires and makes meaning thereof. R. D. Hoskins rides to and from his office awheel, and finds time for enjoying the exercise apart from his duties in transcribing the hieroglyphic record of the supreme court. F. E. Moorhouse is another ardent wheelsman, and besides those al­ready mentioned are others who have purchased or intend to purchase wheels.
Uncle George S. Foster was president of the Clover Cycling club in Chicago. Rob Hoskins was elected president of the Bismarck Bicycle Club. 
Bismarck Tribune, May 12, 1893
When R. D. traveled the upper Midwest on business, aunt Florence would frequently accompany to visit friends and relatives.

Bismarck Tribune, September 1, 1893
A Tribune report revealed that R. D. had maintained business interests back in Bathgate with my grandfather Ike.

Bismarck Tribune, September 15, 1893
Reports Good Crops.
R. D. Hoskins who returned Sunday from Bathgate, reports the crops in Pembina county to be such as to tickle even the most pessimistic farmer. From eighty acres of land owned by Mr. Hoskins and his brother-in-law, they re­ceived certificates for 2,400 bushels of No. 1 hard wheat, an average of thirty bushels to the acre, and in some spots the yield was thirty-eight bushels to the acre. He thinks the average for the county will be twenty-five bushels.
While twenty-five and thirty bushel per acre yields were amazing for the time, average North Dakota wheat yields today are about thirty-eight bushels per acre.

Sometimes R. D. Hoskins served up legal gobbledygook to the Tribune.
Bismarck Tribune, February 3, 1893
Bismarck Tribune, March 8, 1893
Supreme Court clerk Hoskins was tight with his number at the federal district court. In later years, Rob Hoskins would add the title of deputy federal court clerk to his portfolio. He was active in that position when the Fargo based federal court traveled to Bismarck to hold sessions. R. D. Hoskins served in the part time deputy position until several months before his death in 1946.

R. D. Hoskins was named to the committee that planned the 1893 Fourth of July celebration.

Bismarck Tribune, June 30, 1893

The Meeting Last Night Enthusiastic—Although the Attend­ance Not Large. 
An Executive Committee Appointed To Prepare a Program and List of Prizes.
An Interesting Letter On World's Fair Matters From the Trib­une's Correspondent.
Decide to Celebrate.
Yes, we will celebrate. There will not be any thousand-dollar display of fire­works, nor any attempted imitations of the Chicago derby in the horse racing line, but there will be a nice, modest, enjoyable little celebration. There will be horse racing and foot racing and bicycle racing and sack racing, Gun club shooting, and all other kinds of outdoor sports, during which young America may howl and yell, and vent its superfluous enthusiasm and patriotism to as great an extent as may be desired. Everyone favors the idea of a celebra­tion like that of last year, to consist principally of sport, and everyone manifests a praiseworthy inclination to push the affair, and there is no reason why the celebration should not be as good as that of last year. Dr. Bentley was chosen chairman of the meeting of citizens held at the city hall Wednesday, and while the assembly was not remarkable for numbers, the push and the enthusiastic spirit was manifest. There was a little preliminary discussion, in which it was decided that no parade could be attempted because of the lateness of the day, and it was finally resolved, as the desire of the meeting, that the chairman appoint a committee of five, to prepare a program, fix the amounts of prizes, whose actions should be sanctioned by the gathering. Accordingly A. N. Leslie, E. S. Allen, J. D. McDonald, R. D. Hoskins and C.A. Bentley were appointed as such committee, and empowered to act as they saw fit in the preparation of a program. The committee will probably meet today and get to work. No definite program has been yet prepared, but one was briefly outlined last night, to consist of a ladies' horse race, half mile bicycle race, sack race, wheelbarrow race, foot race, hose race, pony race, half mile, gun club shoot, free-for-all-race, half mile free-for-all-trial, half mile. There is nothing final about this program, however, and it will be changed at the pleasure of the committee. The Fort Yates club will no doubt come up to take part in the ball game, and a telegram requesting them to come was sent last evening. And now that all arrangements have been made, push is all that is needed.Let the eagle scream, the cannon roar, the firecracker snap, the pinwheel sizzle, the Roman candle pop, the sky rockets soar, the small boy howl, the banners wave, the red lemonade flow, the horses prance, the city council meet—Let us make it a season of jollity and rejoicing, and let each one help out with patriotic ardor.
R. D. Hoskins branched out from his clerk work to act as agent for John Homan, clearing Homan's stock of business machines.

Bismarck Tribune, January 15, 1893

R. D. Hoskins pitched in with the Chamber of Commerce to help welcome visitors to the city.
To Make Arrangments
Bismarck Tribune, February 9, 1894
There was an enthusiastic meeting of the chamber of commerce at the Sheridan house Saturday, called for the purpose of making arrangements for the meeting of wool growers to be held in the city next Tuesday. General arrangements for the reception of those who will attend were discussed. R. D. Hoskins and J. W. Foley were appointed a press committee, to look after the poublicity and promotion of the meeting, and take care of newspaper men in attendance, and Messrs. Baker, Bentley and Dah were appointed a committee to see railroad officials and ascertain what special rates can be secured for the occasion.
One of clerk Hoskins' duties was to forward the record in the courts below to the Supreme Court of the United States when appeals were taken to the highest court in the land.

Bismarck Tribune, March 2, 1894

Bismarck Tribune, March 30, 1894
In March of 1894 Clerk Hoskins rode east to dine with Shriner friends in Bismarck and then continued on to hear McKinley, that would be William McKinley. William McKinley was governor of Ohio and a proponent of high protective tariffs who would be elected the 25th president of the United States in 1896. The synopsis of his address at Minneapolis, March 28, 1894 was protection the true national policy--best for all sections and all states --the only policy that assures national growth and prosperity. William McKinley was slain by an assassin's bullet on September 14, 1901, giving rise to the first presidential term of Theodore Roosevelt.

Rob Hoskins went fishing again in August of 1894, this time accompanied by wife and a child. The newspapers reported him a "fisherman of great industry and a steady run of luck." We are not buying the second part.
Jamestown Weekly Alert, August 23, 1894
Back at work in November, Clerk Hoskins traveled to Grand Forks on court business.

Pembina Pioneer Express, November 23, 1894
The year 1895 was to be a year of moving on up for the R. D. Hoskins family.

Bismarck Tribune, January 25, 1895

The Bismarck Tribune published pictures of the new Hoskins residence some 13 years later in 1908. 
The Bismarck Tribune, August 30, 1908
From outside appearances (below) the Hoskins residence appears substantially the same in 2014.

Google Maps Street View, 904 N. 4th St., Bismarck, ND, 2014
Google Maps Satellite View, 904 N. 4th St., Bismarck, ND, left center, 2014

In due course, the Hoskins sold their old residence on Ninth Street.

Bismarck Tribune, April 26, 1895
That summer Clerk Hoskins received a letter reflecting the very different abortion laws of the time.
Bismarck Tribune, June 14, 1895
R. D. Hoskins has a letter from District Attorney Hartell, of Carthage, Ill., who states the the Rev. Julius Bartsch, of Mercer county, who was extradited from this state and taken back to Illinois to answer a charge of abortion, has been convicted in court there after a hard-fought trial of three days and sentenced to five years in the penitentiary for his misdeeds.
Deputy clerk Hoskins assisted with U.S. court proceedings up in Devils Lake mid summer. 
Bismarck Tribune, July 15, 1895 
An unfortunate accident spelled the end for Brooks Hoskins' pony that summer.

Bismarck Tribune, July 19, 1895 
In an effort to salve emotional wounds no doubt, dad took the boy out fishing. Rob had his usual luck -- he could not have been overly pleased with the "sardines."
Bismarck Tribune, July 21, 1895
Rob Hoskins put a plug in the paper for his fast pedaling bicyclist friend at Western Union.

Bismarck Tribune, November 1, 1895

Back in the Newspaper Business

In late 1895, Rob Hoskins jumped back full bore into the newspaper game. His relationship with Tribune editor Jewell came to involve more than bait, rods and reels. 

Bismarck Tribune, December 6, 1895
Although the specific capacity was not clear, R. D. Hoskins was working for the Tribune.
Bismarck Tribune, December 13, 1895

One of the Pilgrims to the Mecca of the South Is Home.
R. D. Hoskins, who represented the TRIBUNE upon the excursion of the North Dakota editors to Atlanta, returned Tuesday from the southern exposition after a two weeks' trip through the sunny south -- although he says it wasn't uncomfortably sunny at any time, the temperature each day reading a degree or so lower than in Bismarck -- and the oldest inhabitant descanted upon the unprecedented weather. The trip, however, was a fine one, the party jolly, and the editors were royally entertained wherever they went. Lookout Mountain was ascended, Chicmauga's battle ground explored, and the sights of different southern cities taken in. The party passed two days at Atlanta, and the fair, Hos. says, is second only to the World's at Chicago.
On the return trip, he stopped off at Minneapolis, and by dint of persuasive eloquence, succeeded in getting inside the jail, and saw the gallows from which Harry Hayward was hanged from Wednesday morning. Gordon Bright, formerly of Bismarck, is one of the night death watch over Hayward, whose cell is kept electric lighted night and day, and with whom one man is kept the entire time inside the cell, and two in front. The greatest precaution is exercised, and since yesterday morning, no one but officers are allowed inside the jail.
Hoskins reports meeting Joe Edgerly in Minneapolis. Joe is collecting for a machine firm in northern Wisconsin. August Johnson, formerly with the TRIBUNE, is operating a type setting machine on an Atlanta paper.
Within six months, Rob Hoskins joined a syndicate that took over the Fargo Argus, a daily morning paper. As was common in the day, railroad interests were involved. 
Jamestown Weekly Alert,May 21, 1896
A Fargo dispatch to the Minneapolis Journal says since President Hill of the Great Northern road took the Fargo Argus from Maj. Edwards, there have been many changes in the morning paper and another is billed to occur within a day or two. Frank H. Irons and Frank L Gage, who have been running it for some time, are frozen out, and Col. Robinson of Mayville, chairman of the state republican committee, buys Hill's interest. It is alleged that Jud Lamoure, Senator Haggart, Bailey Fuller of Jamestown, and Col. Ball are also interested but this is denied and Robinson is said to be the sole owner. J. C. Warnock is to be editor in chief and R. D. Hoskins clerk of the state supreme court, business manager.
Senator Henry Hansbrough
Irons and Gage are to buy the Commonwealth, populist evening paper, and convert it into a morning paper in opposition to the Argus. Some surprise is manifested that Robinson would buy a paper and the move is said to be in the interests of his candidacy for the United States senate against Hansbrough, though Robinson's friends claim he is in no sense a candidate and merely bought his paper as a business investment. The Argus and the Grand Forks Herald, the leading morning dailies of the state, will both be against Hansbrough. The policy of the Argus will probably be changed from its Great Northern proclivities to a policy more favorable to the Northern Pacific.
Colonel William H. Robinson mentioned above served two terms in the North Dakota state senate. Henry Hansbrough was a Republican who represented North Dakota in the United States senate for three terms from 1891 to 1909.

Rob Hoskins' friends at the Pioneer Express wished him well in the new publishing venture.
Pembina Pioneer Express, May 22, 1896
The Fargo Argus has passed into the hands of Col. Robinson of Mayville, R. D. Hoskins of Bismarck and J. C. Warnock of Jamestown. Messrs. Gage and Irons, the former publishers, will buy the Commonwealth and run it as a morning daily. The present Argus force is an ideal make up. Col. Robinson is the astute chairman of the republican state committee and Col. Warnock, formerly editor of the Jamestown Capital, is one of the best editorial writers of the northwest. As for "Hosk." who will be business manager, he graduated from the Pembina county newspaper college and has hosts of friends hereabouts that believe he is the man for the place.
Word of the venture also made its way back east where Rob's old friends in Tionesta who commented, "it is pleasant to note his prosperity and rapid advancement in that land of the hustlers."

Forest Republican (Tionesta Pa.), June 24, 1896
-- Old friends of Rob. D. Hoskins, a former Tionesta boy, will be interested to learn that he is located at Fargo, N. D., where he is half owner and business manager of a flourishing paper called the Argus, a copy of the weekly edition of which is before us. It is fourteen years since Bob, pulled out of Tionesta for the woolly northwest, and we doubt very much whether at that time he expected to remain away as long as he has. But it is pleasant to note his prosperity and rapid advancement in that land of hustlers, all the same.
There was more. Rob Hoskins and an associate launched a monthly newsletter.
Jamestown Weekly Alert, May 21, 1896
The first number of the Fraternal News, the new monthly publication issued by R. D. Hoskins and W. E. Davis is out. Typographically the News is a handsome publication, and contains twenty-four pages of interesting secret society matter. Among the features of the first issue is an article on the trouble in Northern Light lodge, I. O. O. F. at Fargo, where by the lodge lost its charter and the temple was sold at auction; an article on Scottish Rite Masonry; some interesting Pythian matter, and gossipy notes of the workings of different secret societies in the state. Three columns are devoted to the local K. P. lodge of this city.
The first edition of the Fraternal News impressed Rob's friends up in Pembina city.
Pembina Pioneer Express, May 22, 1896

R. D. Hoskins' Fraternal News, published at Bismarck has reached our table. It is artistically printed and full of fraternal news, interesting to all the leading secret orders. It contains an elegant portrait of Bro. A. W. Edwards, of the Fargo Forum, and a fine group out of the North Dakota officers of the Scottish Rite Masons. It is to be published montly at $1 per year.
The Fargo Argus has again changed hands, the material having passed into the management of a company composed of Col.. W. H. Robinson of Mayville, J. C. Warnock of Jamestown, and R. D. Hoskins of Bismarck. Mr. Warnock was formerly editor of the Jamestown Capital, and is one of the ablest writers in the state. Bro. Hoskins is clerk of the supreme court, and for a number of years has been connected with the Bismarck Tribune. This trio forms a strong team, and the Argus will lose none of its vim by the change. Col. Frank H. Irons and Frank L. Gage, the retiring managers have bought the Commonwealth, and still remain in the journalistic arena. 
With Rob Hoskins joining in multiple publishing enterprises it is no surprise there was speculation he would resign his clerkship with the supreme court.

Jamestown Weekly Alert, June 11, 1896
But not long thereafter the Argus was sold to a yet different set of interests.

As for the Fraternal News, we have been able to find no reference to the newsletter since the announcement of its launch, leading us to believe it had a very short life.

Except for an ongoing relationship with the Tribune, R. D. Hoskins was out of the newspaper business. And the band played on, the Bismarck Band that is, with Rob neatly dressed in his spiffy white uniform.

Going Blind

The Hoskins family experienced a horrible shock in September 1897 when aunt Florence was blinded by shards of glass. It was reported in Saint Paul,
Lost Sight From Explosion 
Saint Paul Globe, September 8, 1897
FARGO, N. D., Sept. 7. -- Sunday night an incandescent electric light exploded in Bismarck and pieces of glass were forced in the eyes of Mrs. R. D. Hoskins, wife of the clerk of supreme court. She was brought to Fargo this morning and an eye specialist pronounced her eyesight hopelessly lost. The sufferer is one of the brightest women in the state.
Pembina and Grand Forks reported the same with the following added note of sympathy:

She is well known in Grand forks and her many friends here will deeply sympathize with her great affliction. -- Grand Forks Herald.Hundreds of readers of the PIONEER EXPRESS in this county will unite with us in sorrow for the terrible calamity which has befallen Mrs. Hoskins, who with her husband were so long time residents of Bathgate.
The following week the news on Florence took a welcome turn for the better.

Pembina Pioneer Express, September 17, 1897
Florence Mabel Armstrong Hoskins would fully recover.

And she would recover the next year too along with her children when they came down with scarlet fever.
Bismarck Tribune, April 15, 1898
R. D. had avoided infection by self quarantining away from home.

Bismarck Tribune, April 2, 1898

Back to Business

It was back to business for Rob Hoskins and the gang. He helped to organize the the city's commercial club.

Pembina Pioneer Express, April 10, 1898


Capital City Merchants Organize Mutual Protective Association.
At the instance of the Bismarck Commercial club a meeting of the business men of the city was held in the club rooms and a permanent organization effected for the best interests of trade.
A temporary organization was effected by the lelcted of H. L. Reade as chairman, and after matters of interest were discussed as a committee, composed of Messrs. Best, Knowles, Hoskins, Nielson and Young, was named to work out the details and report at a meeting to be held at the same place April 2. There were twenty-six merchants present and considerable interest was manifested in the proposed organization.
When local troops were called up to serve in the Spanish American War Bob was there to record the event.

Bismarck Tribune, May 10, 1898

In 1898 Hosk' made his annual fishing trip in July. The Tribune said Clerk Hoskins reported  "fishing at Detroit was never better -- and he tells some first rate fish stories."
Bismarck Tribune, July 8, 1898

The Hoskins Business Empire Is Launched

It is faintly visible, crooked and almost cut off, short stub in the Bismarck Tribune, but it was a most significant announcement for the Hoskins family. R. D. Hoskins was opening a business that would define and support his family for decades to come.

Bismarck Tribune, August 13, 1898
Bismarck Tribune, August 13, 1898
The salvage from the Moorhouse stationery stock was purchased today by R. D. Hoskins, subject to adjustment by the insurance companies. As soon as definite arrangements can be made for a location Mr. Hoskins will put in temporary stock, and when the new building are ready he will have, in a central location, a full and complete line of books, stationery, etc. A first class book store is promised.
The inauspicious start of the Hoskins merchant and media empire was quite literally a fire sale.

Initially Rob called it Capital Bookstore. Its stock was basic as were its advertisements.

Bismarck Tribune, September 9, 1898

The new permanent quarters for Capital Book Store was the front end of the Tribune building, co-locating R. D. with  his friend and business associate editor Jewell.

Here is a description of what was to be found within the jointly occupied building.

Bismarck Tribune, January 6, 1899

Major Sees the Plant.
Fargo Forum: I took a look through the Tribune office this morning and "she's a bute." Hoskins has a bookstore in the front -- the building being a solid brick, with high basement -- on the corner -- entrances from two streets. Back of "Hosk" is ex Mayer Leslie's business office -- where he looks after Tribune accounts -- Editor in Chief Jewell -- who has everything cozy and handly. Back of this with splendid lights are the composing and job rooms, and the Mergenthaler. In the basement -- high and well lighted are job presses and a splendid stop cylinder Potter newspaper press. In the front is a bindery, while in the rear is the engine and boiler rooms -- and a gas plant -- where the light for the whole establishment is made to order. As a first-class printing plant -- nothing is seeming left to be desired -- unless it be already this commodious establishment -- needs more room. Mr. Jewell is certainly to be congratulated upon its design and finish and there is no more active, energetic and accommodating newspaper man in the state -- no more deserving-- and I know all the fraternity will join me -- in wishing him and the Tribune every success.
The Mergenthaler was a linotype machine, which operated much like a typewriter, producing one line at a time filled in by molten lead to become after hardening a line of type used in a printing press.

Merchant Rob expanded his store stock to include various sundries -- stringed instruments too. His new ad entreated. "When in town drop in and look over our stock, just unpacked and marked at bargain prices."

Bismarck Tribune, February 17, 1899
Capital Bookstore had a long and constantly changing list of books available for sale retail over the counter or by mail postpaid.
Bismarck Tribune, September 15, 1899
With the bookstore going strong the Hoskins' usual summer fishing trip to neighboring Minnesota expanded beyond into a multi-stop excursion. 

Bismarck Tribune, August 25, 1899
Bismarck Tribune, August 18, 1899

And then it was back to work with the business of the court.
Bismarck Tribune, September 22, 1899

R. D. Hoskins Goes to Rehab

It seems that R. D. like to hoist a few every now and again, to the point that a supreme court mentor sponsored him in rehab. Before Hezelden and Betty Ford there was the Keeley Institute.
Jamestown Weekly Alert, April 13, 1899
A sensational disappearance is reported from Minneapolis. R. D. Hoskins, clerk of the supreme court of North Dakota, suddenly disappeared in Minneapolis where he was in attendance at the Keeley Insitute, having been recently sent there by Judge Young. He left the institute Saturday afternoon since which time no trace of him can be found. He was in Fargo during the term of the supreme court, returning to Bismarck, from there going to Minneapolis, and to the institute. Mr. Hoskins is of a very nervous temperament, particularly when drinking, and it is feared he might have done something rash.

Dr. Keeley had said alcoholism was a disease and he was out to cure it. 

As for R. D., the alarm issued upon his release from the Keeley Institute seems to have been prematurely sounded, for the next week he was in Bismarck, "there attending to his usual duties as clerk of the supreme court."
Pembina Pioneer Express, April 21, 1899
Rob Hoskins would continue to perform those usual duties for another 18 years, and building his fledgling bookstore business into a merchant and media powerhouse. Those are stories for another time.

Additional Pre-1900 Newspaper Clippings.

Bismarck Tribune, August 10, 1894

Orlando B. HOSKINS
Rachael Penfield BEERS
Husband:  Orlando B. HOSKINS / HASKINS
Birth:  Aug 1833, Greenwich, Washington Co., NY
Death;  16 Dec 1901, Tacoma, Pierce Co., WA
Occupation:  miller, oil man, grocer, landlord
Father:  Thomas HOSKINS
Mother:  Lucretia BARTLETT Most secondary sources show Orlando born in Stillwater, NY, but while his parents did live in Stillwater, Saratoga Co., NY, before they were married, they were in Greenwich certainly by the 1830 census and are said to have married in Greenwich in 1824.
Marriage:  13 Jun 1860
Wife:  Rachael Penfield BEERS
Birth:  29 Feb 1836, Fairfield, Fairfield Co., CT
Death:  21 Mar 1917, Tacoma, Pierce Co., WA
Father:  Capt. Abel BEERS (1790-1874), born and died in Fairfield Co., CT
Mother:  Lucretia DIMON (1796-1873), born and died in Fairfield Co., CTSome secondary sources have Rachael born in Baltimore, MD, but there's no indication of her being born there.  Through five censuses, Rachael consistently gives her birthplace as CT.  Nor is it logical for Rachael to have been born in MD because her parents were born in and died in Fairfield Co., CT.
Children — born in Fairfield, Fairfield Co., CT:
1.  Robert Dimon HOSKINS, b. 3 Oct 1861; bap. 25 May 1863, St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Ann Arbor, Washtenaw Co., MI; d. 3 Jan 1946, Bismarck, Burleigh Co., ND; three children including Henrietta "Etta" HOSKINS (b. Mar 1890, ND)
2.  George Gillespie HOSKINS, b. 4 Nov 1864; d. 31 Jan 1865
3.  1870 Census Every-Name-Index/Images (online at, Image #47 of 54):  "Families and Single men Boarding at the Crittenden House [Hotel]," Titusville P.O., Titusville (Ward 4), Crawford Co., PA, Roll M593_1331, p. 712A, PN 47, 245/300, enumerated 5 Jul 1870, official enumeration date 1 Jun 1870 (extracted by Diana Gale Matthiesen):
Haskins Orlando35MWOil Producer20,00010,000New York
_______ Rachael P33FWWith HusbandConnecticut
_______ Robert D 7MWAt SchoolConnecticut
4.  1880 Census Every-Name-Index/Images (online at, Image #9 of 23):  Borough of Millerstown, Butler Co., PA, Roll T9_1109, p. 567A, PN 9, SD 10, ED 26, enumerated 4 Jun 1880, official enumeration date 1 Jun 1880 (extracted by Diana Gale Matthiesen):
1880:  for an explanation of the column headings, please see
What the Numbers in the Federal Census Mean (missing columns contained no data).
94Haskins OlendoWM46/Retail grocerNYNYNY
_______ RachelWF44Wife/Keeping houseCTCTCT
Plus four boarders not extracted.
5.  1890 Census:  the 1890 Census Pop
6.  1900 Census Every-Name-Index/Images (online at, Image #14 of 35):  934 C Street, Tacoma City (Ward 3, 2nd Pct.), Pierce Co., WA, Roll T623_1748, p. 38B, SN 7, SD 1, ED 169, enumerated 8 Jun 1900, official enumeration date 1 Jun 1900 (extracted by Diana Gale Matthiesen):
1900:  for an explanation of the column headings, please see What the Numbers in the Federal Census Mean (missing columns contained no data).
*93496175Hoskins OrlandoHeadWMAug 183366M40NYNYCTLandlord0YYYRH
_______ RachelWifeWFFeb 183664M4021CTCTCTKeeping HouseYYY
_______ RobertSonWMOct 186138M16CTNYCTYYY
_______ EttaG-DauWFMar 189010SSDNYCTAt School9YYY
*C Street
7.  1910

Pembina Pioneer Express, February 2, 1900

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