Some Questions Do Get Answered


By Carolgene Wolf

Retired Jamestown, ND Teacher 

l'amour & franklin school letter

Louis L’Amour Letter to Franklin Third Grade, Jan. 25, 1983

Louis L'Amour Letter -Note from Carolgene to CsiBack of Louis L’Amour Letter to Franklin Third Grade  Jan. 25, 1983

Back of framed letter: Carolgene’s note to CSi* with a note from Kathy L’Amour

upon the opening of Louis L’Amour elementary school on Sept. 30, 1990.

*Framed letter hangs in the CSi 2nd floor conference room. CSi is housed in the old Franklin School.


 “Did anyone famous ever go to Franklin School?”

“Maybe somebody famous once sat in my desk!”

“Or had class in this very room?”

“Let’s try to find out!”


“The library! The Librarian knows everything! Well, maybe just about everything.”

Thus, a conversation was begun in the third-grade classroom on the 2nd floor in the SE corner of Franklin School. The project took a few weeks and included a field trip to the Alfred Dickey Free Public Library. Amazing! That librarian did know Louis L’Amour went to school at Franklin School.

“Let’s write him a letter!”

One student volunteered to help compose the letter to Louis L’Amour. Of course, it had to be taped to the wall, so everyone could contribute and be written on a giant piece of Palmer Penmanship Paper. It needed to be proofread again and again because it was going to “Somebody Famous.” Third graders are not patient! When the letter got to the “good enough stage”,  it was folded and stuffed into a large envelope. Another Field trip! This time to the Post Office which was NOT just across the street where it is now, but…a few blocks away. Surely the Post Master would know how many stamps we needed on the huge envelope the Franklin School Principal had offered with a twinkle of the eye.

The third step was taking turns going down the steps to see if the Third Grade had any mail.

“Only once a day, please!”

It maybe was okay to kind of look over the railing and get a glimpse of the mailman coming or going. Nearly all the students lived in the area, so that mailman had 20+ third graders, their parents, and even some of their grandparents for best friends that month.

Louis L’Amour must have chuckled at our letter and realized how impatient kids can become. In a loooooong three weeks we had an answer. Wow! EXCITING! The student who delivered the letter got to read it to the class. It was even typed! Several of our grandparents had read his books and a few of our parents even owned one or two of his books. One can only imagine the after school and dinner table conversations that night.

More questions the next school day,

“How do we know it came from Louis L’Amour?”

That was a great question.

The postmark looked authentic. After much scrutiny, it was decided the letter was written by Louis L’Amour himself. His typewriter must have been worn and well used because several keys had nicks in the letters produced. It needed a new ribbon!!

The letter itself told us that:

  • Louis thought he had gone to Franklin School until about the fifth grade.
  • He did remember that his classroom had been in the SE corner room because he always liked looking out the window to see what was going on in Jamestown.
  • Whenever he was about to describe a scene in one of his books, he would spend time just sitting quietly in a similar spot. He would listen carefully and observe every single detail from the sound of the whistling wind, to how the cattails smelled, to the way the water rippled in a light breeze.

I kept the letter until it started getting frayed around the edges. When I retired, I had it framed and took it to Chris and Roy Sheppard who had renovated Franklin School. It may very well still be there.


22 March 1908:  Louis L’Amour born.

1910: Franklin School Opens.

1916-1919: Louis L’Amour attends Franklin School.

Dec. 1982:  Franklin 3rd Grade sends letter to Louis L’Amour.

Jan.  1983:  Louis L’Amour writes back.

Sep. 1990:  Louis L’Amour Elementary School opens in Jamestown, ND

Apr. 2003: CSi moves into Franklin School

Jul.  2010: Carolgene Wolf donates Louis L’Amour letter to CSi

Mar. 2018: Louis L’Amour Stories published by Friends of the James River Valley Public Library System



Louis L’Amour Story – Western Writers Count


by Jay Marie Nitschke Current Library Board Member, Retired Spanish Teacher, Drama Director, Fiction Teacher

          Several years ago, when teaching in New Rockford, North Dakota I had an English fiction class on my schedule for the last half of the year.  That year was a bit different than other years because I had three very reluctant readers in my class that were all seniors and all needed another half year credit of English to graduate with their class.  They were not happy to be in the class and made that very clear to me and the others in the class. They did understand that passing that class was necessary for them to graduate and there was not another English class being offered that they could take that would allow them to meet the standards necessary to accomplish the task needed for graduation.

          One would think that in and of itself, that would have been a good motivator for them and they would have been putting their best feet forward toward meeting the necessary goal.  That however, did not seem to be their objective. Doing as little as possible, constantly complaining about the reading material and disrupting the class as often as they could did seem to be their objectives.  After the first novel the class read or should I say the entire class but three boys read I was at my wits end.  I needed to stop the frustration for the other students in my class as well as for myself and the three difficult students.

          That motivated me to call a meeting with my three non-reading students, the principal and their parents. My plan was to seek to find a solution to the problem and to get these boys to graduation with their class.  I knew in my heart they really did not want to not graduate. But did not want to read what we were reading.  I also knew that doing more of what we were doing with the texts I had available in the classroom was not going to motivate them to read or much less discuss literature, so seeking an alternative was a goal for that meeting.

          Like many of that style of meeting, it began with the parents telling the boys they would do the work, the principal agreeing to that statement and the boys looking as dejected as they did every day in class. Seeking to bring about a miracle I ask them what type of novel could they see themselves reading.  Two boys said none and one quietly said why can’t we read a western. Leaping on that simple suggestion, I readily said I would not be opposed to us reading a Louis L’Amour novel in the classroom, stating that he could qualify for a regional writer so it would meet the standards of the class. I knew the principal did not want us adjusting the class for these reluctant students as he was tired of their actions and did not want students in other classes to think they could set the curriculum. By stressing that Louis L’Amour lived in Jamestown, ND for a period of his life he could qualify for the regional writer portion of the class and it could solve the problem.

          After further discussion with the group the principal did agree to buy enough Louis L’Amour novels for the class and the boys had to sign an agreement stating the requirements they had to accomplish for each class or they would be removed and would not be able to graduate. I walked out of the meeting excited that we had a plan a signed agreement and all would be good going forward. 

          That however, did not prove to be the case. Some of my regular students in the class were not happy when I announced that when we finished the novel we were on we were going to read a western novel by Louis L’Amour. One even stated that she did not think we would be able to discuss the things we normally did like, development of character, style of writing etc.  When I asked why she thought that she said, western writers were not “high quality writers.”

          I pushed my relationship with that student a little and asked if she thought I would bring a poorly written novel into the classroom.  Well, she agreed that would be out of character for me and agreed to give it a chance.  The result, Louis L’Amour came into the classroom.

          Discussion of all aspects of literature, like foreshadowing, plot developing, charter building, vocabulary selection continued as was normal in the classroom.  Tests weregiven and the entire class managed to pass the class. My reluctant readers thanked me for letting them read something a little different and some of my standard readers in the class stated in their final essays about the book or the author that they were amazed the quality of writing was more complex then they had imaged and they enjoyed the variety.

          One could say Louis L’Amour saved that class and all involved with the class.  The following year when I was again teaching that fiction class I had students asking if we were going to read a western again. I smiled and said sure, Louis L’Amour was a fine western writer.




  1. Dina FlorenceWRITING MEMOIR, A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Worlds, will be taught by Dina Laskowski on June 22 at 5:00 pm at Alfred Dickey Library. Two more classes will follow.                                                                                                                  Click here to register: Adult Program Registration
  2. kellerMARKETING BALANCE IN A DIGITAL WORLD will be taught by Rob Keller on June 24 at 6:00 pm at Alfred Dickey Library.                                                            Click here to register: Adult Program Registration
  3. Broadcast ImageCAREERS IN BROADCAST will be taught by Kyle Dean on July 8 at 5:00 pm at Alfred Dickey Library.                                                                                               Click here to register: Adult Program Registration
  4. There were 194 kids programs in 2014. 4,388 attended.
  5. 9,644 patrons visited the library in 2014.
  6. 112,491 total items were checked out in 2014. 6,437 were electronic materials. 59% were from the children’s collection.  
  7. Computers were used 23,254 times in 2014.
  8. There are 9,359 registered library card holders in Stutsman County.
  9. The Bookmobile makes 23 stops each month checking out over 1,100 books. 14 of these stops are in Jamestown. On days it is out, it is 35% of the total circulation.
  10. You can borrow e-books and e-audio from Overdrive/Library2Go on the library website. Streaming movies, e-magazines and other resources are also available.
  11. You can see a list of books that you have checked out over the last 12 months on-line.
  12. You can set up a “Watch List” by author. An email will be sent to you when the book arrives.
  13. You can renew on-line.Our staff will find just about any book you want through “Inter-Library Loan.”
  14. JRVLS has Jamestown High School Yearbooks going back to 1946.
  15. JRVLS has microfilm of Jamestown newspapers going back to 1878.
  16. You can recommend books for the library to include in their collection. Send an e-mail to adpl@daktel.com
Libraries, Uncategorized

The Latest Library Information

Preliminary Plan New James River Valley Library

During our blog hiatus, we have been working diligently on the new plans to renovate Alfred Dickey and build an addition on the current Maple Mall and Maranatha properties. The addition will reflect the beauty of the stone and brick Alfred Dickey exterior. Those renderings will be available shortly. The new design will honor the past by keeping the integrity of the current Alfred Dickey building and embrace the future with a state of the art addition.

It has been proven over and over that when a new library is built, or an old one renovated, the neighborhood and often the entire community benefits. Once the new library is completed, wouldn’t it be great if an entrepreneur stepped in and turned the Masonic Temple into a downtown attraction.

In the meantime we are gathering signatures to put the 1/4% county wide sales tax on the ballot.We have gathered over a thousand signatures as I write this blog. Our goal is 1,700. They need to be turned into the county auditor by Wednesday, September 3.

If you would like to help gather signatures, or, if you want to sign a petition, give me a call at 252-2217, or email me at billkennedy0@gmail.com.





Libraries, Library, Uncategorized

Downtown James River Valley Library


The JRVLS Board has approved options to purchase two properties adjacent to the Alfred Dickey Library. The two properties, directly north of AD will allow for the construction of a new two level 16,000 sf state of the art addition to the 11,200 sf Alfred Dickey facility. AD will be renovated to take advantage or today’s electronic innovations while preserving the beauty and heritage of the 1919 design. Bringing the classic and the contemporary together allows the board to honor the past and recognize a constantly changing learning environment.

The new facility will bring the Stutsman County Library, the bookmobile and the Alfred Dickey Library under one roof. The estimated cost of the new facility is $9,000,000. Net cost after donations is conservatively estimated at $7,750,000. An initiative for a ¼% sales tax will be on the November 4th, 2014 ballot for city and county approval.  The ¼% sales tax will cost the average Stutsman County family $33.75 a year according to the state tax office.

The option agreements, included in the $9,000,000, are for the property owned by Satrom Rentals, immediately adjacent to AD, and the Maple Mall owned by Helen Ashwell.  The Satrom property purchase price is $375,000. The Ashwell purchase price is $399,000. The option is good untill Feb. 15, 2014.

Volunteers will soon start collecting signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. 1,452 signatures from qualified voters in Stutsman County (15% of the voters in the 2013 general election) are required to get the initiative on the ballot. If you would like to help collect signatures, contact Bill Kennedy at 701 252-2217 or by email, billkennedy0@gmail.com



New Research Shows that Comprehension is Better with Text than Screen

Readers and writers are discovering that comprehension suffers when reading on line, on screens. Comprehension is better when reading printed material.  There is still a lot to learn from on-line reading, but experience is showing that something is lost with speed and distraction. The role of the library is to provide a balance of printed material and on-line access.

Check this article from today’s Washington Post.  Reading Comprehension


March Update

The library board and administration have been very busy since the original site for the new library, the old Essentia location, was sold to a developer for senior housing. New locations are being researched with Mike Schwarz of Dardis Realty providing assistance. The goal is to have the new site finalized by the end of March. The next step is to circulate a petition authorizing a 1/4% county wide sales tax to be placed on the November ballot.

Listed below is the timing and action calendar for key events and dates.

1) Board finalizes the proposed location:   March 31, 2014

2) Submit Petition to put a 1/4% Sales Tax Initiative on the November 4th general election ballot for review:  April 4, 2014

3) Start collecting petition signatures: April 30, 2014

4) Submit a minimum of 1,452 signatures (15% of voters in the 2012 general election)  for review:  August 1, 2014.

5) General Election: November 4, 2014.

6) With approval by voters, close on property:  November 30, 2014.

7) Groundbreaking: August 1, 2015

8) Grand Opening: September 1, 2016

These are the key steps necessary to bring a new library to Jamestown and Stutsman County.

Next week we will post  “Frequently Asked Questions”  with answers that highlight the reasons that the new library is essential for Jamestown and Stutsman County.

If you have any questions, post them in the comment section this week. Chances are the FAQ posting will give you an answer. If it is a new question, we will provide an answer.