Joseph Askew: Enemy of Gophers

For today’s post, I’d like to present a transcription of an amusing article from 1890. I haven’t yet seen the article in its original published form, but when I do, I’ll attach a scan of the article to this post. The late Wadena historian Bob Zosel found this article in the May 22, 1890, issue of the Wadena County Pioneer. He transcribed it and sent the transcription along to my great-great-uncle, Gordy Askew. While visiting Gordy last month, I saw this transcription for the first time and scanned it to add it to the family archives.

What I present below is Bob Zosel’s transcription, plus a few notes of my own.

From the Wadena County Pioneer, May 22, 1890:

The Gopher Hunt

Arrangements Made For A Grand Time—Jonny Get Your Gun And Slay The Pests.

The gopher meeting on Saturday evening was largely attended. The chairman, Joseph Askew, addressed the meeting. He said that he was a strong enemy of the gopher; that he would kill all he could see and dig them from their hiding places. He urged the boys on in their warfare and hoped they would soon he masters of the field. It was decided to choose captains and shoot man against man, the losing party to pay for his opponents supper. Provision was made for boys under 12 years of age, they to have a free supper, the successful party to receive a prize—that is the boy who brings in a larger count than the one chosen opposite to him, he then to receive a prize. Wilfred L. Askew and Amos K. Lukens were chosen captains. The call is as follows:

Askew’s Side
S. Askew
F. Traut
T. Lukens
J. Satterhwait
Mr. Richard Elliott
W. West
W. Whalen
J. Traut
W. Anderson
E. Alton
C. Tellis
F. Wilkinson
G. Gree
L. L. Benedict
Luken’s Side
R. Elliott, Jr.
E. Wonser
W. Satterhwait
W. W. Young
Mr. Joseph Askew
J. Elliot
F. Reynolds
W. Schlegel
C. Miller
W. Wilson
I. Edberg
W. Netiens
D. Oliver
Charles Feehan

The final count will take place on Thursday, the 29th of this month at Joseph Askew’s place, he having consented to provide supper for the occasion. Hunters supper 25 cents each. Midnight supper and dance $1 a couple. Hunters will bring in their game by four o’clock on the day of [the] count. To save time in counting, the hunters are requested to sort the gopher tails, putting four in each bunch. The counters of game are C. A. Alron, J. N. Wonser, J. Wilson Jr., and J. Boyd. Good music will be in attendance and a jolly good time may be expected.

I haven’t yet found any indication of the winners of the gopher hunt, or of the total numbers of unlucky gophers.

Joseph Askew himself participated in the contest with two of his three surviving sons, although on different sides. Joseph’s eldest son, William, was not listed. William would have been 26 years old at the time, married and the father of a 13-month-old daughter. Wilfred would have been 16 years old (but six weeks away from 17), and Sam would have been 13 years old.

Amos K. Lukens was a little older than Wilfred; he was 20 years old at the time of the hunt.

Also among the participants was William W. (“Billie”) Young, son-in-law of Joseph by his marriage to Joseph’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth Ann (“Annie”) Askew.

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