Original article by Warner and District Historical Society (1985). Re-edited & posted to web blog by Chris Doering and Jason Paul Sailer.
When the Galt family received their land subsidy to build the Great Falls & Canada and St. Mary’s River Railway lines, they sought independent companies to sell this land. One was the O.W. Kerr Land Company of Minneapolis, who purchased three townships, mostly in the present day Warner area. O.W. Kerr appointed two industrious farmers Frank Leffingwell and Charles Egan, to act as their agents to sell the land to prospective American farmers from Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. Special trains were commissioned to bring the colonists west on the Great Northern and into country on the Galt-owned lines.
Among those who assisted Kerr’s colonists was a porter named John Baldwin. It’s not known if he worked for Kerr directly, or for the Great Northern, or even the Great Falls & Canada Railway. Baldwin was born in Georgia and was among the many hundreds of black Americans who created a proud tradition as Pullman porters on trains in Canada and the US in the golden age of rail travel. Baldwin himself was bit by the land boom bug, and purchased a 1/4 section, NE 2-5-16-W4, near Warner. Baldwin never physically developed this land and rented it out to local farmers, but he always liked to tell the passengers he served about “his ranch in Alberta”, as a promotion for his employers.
Baldwin visited his property often and made many friends in the area. He died in 1957 and the quarter was sold to the Graham family. The Warner and district history book “Wagons to Wings” remembered him for “his cheery disposition and he loved to tell stories of his young life in Georgia and of the people and experiences he had while he was a porter on the train.”
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