Buying drinks on the frontier
Sunday, May 3, 2020 8:16 PM
Francis Jameson Rowbotham wasn’t cut out to be a homesteader. Still he made a claim on a quarter section south of Windsor, in what is now North Dakota, in the spring of 1884.
Rowbotham was a writer from England, in his later career he wrote biographies of musicians and scientists from the early 20th Century.
As a homesteader, he was probably a good writer. His adventures in the Dakota Territory were published in 1885 as “A Trip to Prairie-Land.”
His adventures included shooting, at close range, a critter they thought was a badger but turned out to be a skunk.
That is the kind of mistake you don’t make twice.
He had another adventure when he and a companion traveled the five miles or so to Windsor for mail and supplies.
A stop at the saloon, the center of the social scene in the little town, was an education.
“It is considered ill-manners in these parts to decline a drink,” Rowbotham wrote.
And it seemed that everybody in saloon was expected to buy a round of drinks one after another.
“Then I believe it begins again at the first,” Rowbotham wrote in the book. “I never waited for the second round.”
Rowbotham speculated that “teetotal folk would run a poor chance of making converts in these parts.”