Dwight Harris came with his parents to Fairview in 1912 when he was 12 years old. Mike went back to South Dakota and loaded boxcars with livestock and other things they needed to start life in Fairview. At that time, Dwight was not old enough to get a pass and Mike needed his help so Dwight had to stow away in a stockcar. A big dog kept him from freezing to death. When they landed in Mondak they hauled their things across the river on the ice to Fairview.
His parents, Michael and Rachel, leased lots on State Street and built a restaurant. Both bridges were being built then with many men working on them so their restaurant was a busy place. When Mike lost the lease to his café, he traded the restaurant for some land in the hills on Four Mile. Mike built a building at Dore where he could grind feed, starting an alfalfa mill. Alfalfa was first cut in inch-long lengths and ground into meal, sacked and shipped to Northrup King in Minneapolis. A lean-to was added to their house and Rose started serving meals to farmers who hauled grain to Dore. Charlie Johnson was elevator man and stayed with them.
In 1916 they moved back to Fairview. Mike built and operated what was known as the Blue Front Store. He also had a store in Sioux Pass operated by Roy and Ellen Barnhart. Just to the east of the power house at the mine sat the “Red Onion Eating Place” run by Mrs. Owens. Dwight remembers his dad handing him a grocery list that Mrs. Owens had brought in that was as long as his arm and he had to deliver it to the boarding house. This store was built on the Montana side of State Street just east of Len Gardner’s meat market. There were nine saloons on the Montana side. Johnny Waters’ saloon was just across the street from their first café, next to him was a drug store, another business and then the old log store.
The Mike Harris house, which still stands today, was across the street from the Blue Front Store. Mike passed away in 1923. Dwight and his mother operated the store for the next year. When one bank went broke they lost $1,200. The other bank also closed its doors and they lost another $3,000.
On March 8, 1924, the store burned. Most of the insurance went to pay for the building and contents, which left Rose only $1,100.
Dwight married Hazel Bell Petrik and worked at the Fairview Coal Mine and Flour Mill until 1939. In 1949 Dwight Purchased the Frank Taylor farm southeast of Fairview and farmed until 1954. Dwight owned and operated his own insurance agency.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Information compiled from Courage Enough and the Fairview News.