Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Just how accurate is history? ...

Posted 8/11/15 (Tue)

A couple of weeks ago we brought you information suggesting there are four possible ways that Carpio got its name.

That article was incredibly frustrating to put together because pieces of informaton from one source didn’t match pieces from another source.

As an example, we have information that G.W. Patterson wrote about Carpio’s beginnings in a centennial newspaper edition.

I received information from the State Historical Society that showed what I thought was accurate.

Then, along comes a master’s thesis written by UND student Margaret Tonneson, that suggests a whole new set of dates, times and theories.

So who is correct, or are any of the three correct?

As an example, Tonneson’s thesis suggests that Carpio was named after a Spanish explorer named Bernardo del Carpio.

There was no Spanish explorer by that name, at least not in recorded history. I spent a considerable amount of time researching this individual and the only thing I could come up with is that he was an animated character in Philippine mythology.

One source has Carpio founded in 1886, another in 1898 and still another in 1902.

Collectively, all three suggest there were two different Carpios. One, the community we know now and the other, nothing more than a postal station near the present-day community.

I’ve studied history a lot during my time at UND and pursued a major in that discipline.

After college, I continued digging into history and significant events; Halley’s Comet, D-Day, World War I, the Non Partisan League here in North Dakota, the Stock Market crash in 1929, Roger Maris, the Ford Model-T and I could go on.

The point is every student of history is taught to cross reference dates. Never should we assume something is correct just because KFGO radio reported it. Always cross reference.

And that is what became so frustrating with this Carpio article. The dates and some of the information didn’t match when it was cross referenced.

I’ve never run across that before in my studies of history, although the Germans, French and Americans have a slightly different slant on World War I, all are in agreement with the dates and significant events.

So who was this Bernardo del Carpio? Did he exist? Was he in present-day North Dakota, or the United States for that matter?

This all leads to another big question. Just how accurate is history?

And, how many significant things happened in history that didn’t get recorded and are all events true and accurate because after all, we are human and if we don’t have a passion for this stuff, we might get sloppy?

How many things didn’t get recorded along the Lewis and Clark trail even though part of that trip was for documentation.

What kind of obscure details were left out of the Kennedy assassination in 1963, or made up by some historian to connect the dots? There may be clues hidden in a suitcase somewhere that could provide the accurate answer to what actually took place?

Dakota Territory is another example of foggy history in many ways. We don’t know much about the rift between Yankton and Bismarck or what was going on in Dakota Territory while the Civil War was happening.

On the other hand, we do know that Pembina was founded in 1797, two years before George Washington died. The town sprang up because the Northwest Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company both had forts at the confluence of the Pembina and Red rivers.

We also know that 50 years before Dakota Territory was established in 1861, there was a Metis community of 5,000 people on the site of what is now Walhalla.

What I find really fascinating is that most of eastern North Dakota (the Hudson Bay drainage area), from Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to the establishment of the Canadian border in 1818 was neither part of Minnesota or the Louisiana Purchase. It was called Assinaboia or Lord Selkirk’s Land. What took place there during those 15 years?

Family histories are something else altogether. We’ve listened to the immigrant stories, we tell others, who tell others and the story gets completely changed.

That’s why it’s so important to document these conversations. It will help preserve accuracy and help avoid family arguments.