James Dye

Mr. and Mrs. James Dye

Mr. and Mrs. James Dye were both born and raised in Troy, Ohio, and were married in 1899. In 1904, they moved to Cando, North Dakota with their son, Lawrence.

In the spring of 1906, with all of their household goods in a hayrack, drawn by two horses, they moved to a homestead in McLean County, at what would later become Gate Township. The first building they put up was a barn, which was partitioned so as to be able to use part of it as a residence.

The next summer, they dug a cellar for their sod house. In the fall, Jim dug coal at an Indian mine about eighteen miles from his home, while Mrs. Dye hauled thirty tons home and put it in the cellar. That same fall, and the next two falls, they went with their horses and hayrack to Sawyer to thresh, while Mrs. Dye cooked in the cook car.

The following summer, the floor was laid over the cellar, and sod was laid for the sod house. Once he finished threshing, the roof was built, and more coal was hauled in.

For the first few years, there were no partitions built in the sod house, so it was used as a community center, a place for parties and dances that often lasted until morning. The walls were plastered and kalsomined, so that one would never know they were made of sod. Sometime later, it was partitioned into four comfortable rooms.

Not having any chickens, Mrs. Dye would hunt the sloughs for wild duck eggs to use in her cooking and baking. She also served as a doctor for the community, helping to bring many babies into the world, and saving others from the flu.

Several years it was so dry that they couldn’t even raise feed for the horses, so Mrs. Dye sold them and bought oxen, since they didn’t require grain, and grass was abundent.

Jim and his son, Lawrence, then ten, went with eight oxen to the Reservation, and turned sod from sunrise to 10:00 a.m., and from 4:00 p.m. until dark, as the oxen couldn’t stand the mid-day heat. Here they remained for weeks at a time, and when the food got low, they returned to the homestead.

At one time, Mr. Dye owned eighteen head of oxen. Mrs. Dye always drove one on the buggy. She cooked for several years on Harley Jones’ threshing rig, cooking for as many as twenty-two men. She appeared on many programs at the Old Settlers Picnic.

A daughter, Mildred, and another son, Clarence, were both born and raised in their sod house, in which they lived for twenty-three years.

The Dyes then moved to the William Kennedy farm, where they lived their remaining years. Mr. Dye passed away in 1944, and Mrs. Dye followed in 1948. Their son, Lawrence, died in 1957.

Their children included Lawrence, Mildred, Clarence, Richard, Harry, Marvin, Louella (Mrs. Harold Schoenfisch), Florence (Mrs. Leonard Dahl),  Sue Ellen (Mrs. Leo Boehm), Jerry, and Clifford.