Author Archives: probstfield

Community Garden Sign-ups Are Coming!

Interested in a Community Garden Plot? Sign-ups for new gardeners are coming!
April 8 (Sunday), 3-5pm
April 9 (Monday), 5-7pm
Location to be announced soon.
For more information check out our garden pages here, or contact our garden coordinator, Sarah.


Garden plots are filled on a first come first serve basis.


The Jefferson of the Valley

The final product for Dr. Angela Smith’s Fall 2014 NDSU Digital History class, this documentary explores the legacy of Randolph Probstfield, an early settler of the Red River Valley of the North. Led by graduate students Lynsay Flory and Dan Newland, undergraduates John Wells, Luke Koran, and Typhanie Schafer also contributed in various ways to the production. The documentary premiered on December 12, 2014 at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Old Trail Tavern

tavern open 1933

“July 22, 1933.  Saturday.  Cool. Raymond and I out on mail Route A.M.  Opened South Market with beer and lunch P.M.  Rained all afternoon about 1/2 inch.”

Congress declared that on April 7, 1933, 3.2% alcohol beer could once again be sold.  After 13 years of national Prohibition, beer was back.  They called it “New Beer’s Day.”  Ray Gesell, Randolph and Catherine’s grandson, opened the Old Trail Tavern that July just outside the city limits of Moorhead.  Today, that bar is Jerry’s Tavern on 11th Street North, Moorhead.  Here is a page from the diary that shows the opening day.

Homemade is Okay!

orchard photo

Randolph Probstfield and two grandchildren in the apple orchard, taken about 1905.

Throughout history farmers have used fermentation to preserve fruit harvests.  The Probstfield family of Oakport could not possibly eat all the apples grown in their orchards before the fruit rotted, so they turned their apples into alcoholic cider which could be enjoyed throughout the year.  The juice would naturally start to ferment (turn alcoholic) after just a day or two!  As long as the family did not sell it or move it off their property, making cider or other fruit wines did not violate Prohibition laws.

homemade is okay

New Beer’s Day!

bars open

Map of Clay County showing rural 3.2 bar locations.

Congress declared that on April 7, 1933, 3.2% alcoholic beer could once again be sold.  After 13 years of national Prohibition, beer was back!  They called it “New Beer’s Day.”  Applicants had to get permission from their Township Boards before applying for a license from the County Commission.  All ten rural 3.2 beer establishments in 1933 opened in the more alcohol-friendly western part of Clay county.  The Downer Mercantile and Baker Confectionery were the first in line for licenses.  Adopted from the Clay County Auditor’s Records.

The Wambachs–Probstfield Family Friends

wambachs bar

In the spring of 1904, Matt Wambach and his brother-in-law Nick Zenk turned an old machine shop in Georgetown in the Palm Saloon.  From the looks of the place, most of the money went into the beautiful wooden bar.  The wooden bar from the Palm Saloon survived in a local basement until the Flood of 1997.  

The Wambachs are Clay County pioneers who have been close neighbors and friends of the Probstfields since the 1870s. Here we see the Palm Saloon in Georgetown, opened by Matt Wambach in 1904.


A “Wet” Family Legacy


Cornelia Probstfield Gesell moved to Wisconsin and became active in the fight for women’s suffrage in La Crosse.  According to family lore, this pennant and a matching banner, were also used in a parade in Fargo, ND.  HCSCC Collection – donated by June Probstfield Dobervitch

The Probstfield family was Progressive in their politics. Randolph and Catherine’s daughter Cornelia was active in the Women’s Suffrage movement. She married and moved to La Crosse but her son, Ray Gesell, returned to the Probstfield Farm in 1916. He was the driving force behind the farm until his death in the 1980s. Although the Women’s Suffrage movement was often Dry in their politics, Cornelia’s father (Randolph) owned a saloon for a time, her brother (Andy) worked in a brewery, and her son (Ray) opened a bar after Prohibition.