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Eli Gooselaw, Red River's Baseball Hero


Kelly Lofberg

Sixth Grade


If you were to approach the little gray house across fromthe St.Vincent School, you would be aware that the old gent that lives thereis alert and active, for the sidewalks and steps are neatly shoveled andswept. Inside this simple dwelling you will find Eli Gooselaw sitting inhis favorite chair eager to tell of days gone by.

Eli was born in St.Vincent Township in the year 1890, onDecember second. In this family of twelve children, there were nine boysand three girls. Eli was the fifth child.

The Gooselaw house was located on a low spot near Noyes,Minnesota. Each year they got flooded out. So finally, in 1897, they movedthe house to St.Vincent by way of horses and wagons.

Every morning Eli got up at 8:00 a.m. to saw and carrythe wood. There were always chores for the boys to do, as they had six milkcows in addition to chickens and pigs. He had a dog named Sport and a horsecalled Fox.

Eli attended St.Vincent School for six years. He only hadto walk three or four blocks. But country kids had to come on horses orin cutters. They would put their horses in the livery stables.

Games and activities were a part of every pioneer child'slife. One of the games he played was shinny. This game was similar to hockey.Another favorite game was hide and go seek. Some of the favorite placesto hide were in haystacks in the summer and in snowbanks in the winter.

Winter provided lots of activities especially with theRed River so close by. They kept a place clean on the river to skate. Elihad skates that were strapped on to his boots. His day either sent awayfor them or bought them at Emerson. Toboganning on the river bank was fun,too, but the bad thing about it was that you had to do more walking thansliding. The toboggans were homemade and greased with animal tallows. Skiswere also homemade. They used barrel staves. Then they would take anotherwooden piece and attach it to the end, so it would curve up.

Spring time brought fishing and hunting. Eli's father neverallowed him to fish alone. He didn't hunt much until he was 15 or 16, becauseguns were scarce. His father owned two muzzle loaders, and they were powerfulenough to knock him over.

St.Vincent was a booming town, with four stores, sevensaloons, and three hotels. Two policemen were on duty - one at day and oneat night. St.Vincent had a depot and in 1904 the Soo Line came in.

St.Vincent boasted of many good athletes. Eli was one ofthe best. On the St.Vincent baseball team there were four Gooselaw boys.Eli played the position of a pitcher. Because of his superb skill, Eli washired by many other teams. He played for Drayton, Hallock, Pembina, GrandForks, Brandon, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. These teams hired him for twohundred and fifty dollars a month. They won nearly all of their games. Eli'sbaseball career continued through his military service. Later he was offereda job with a Minneapolis professional baseball team. He refused the jobbecause he felt he was getting too old.

Eli enlisted in the Army at East Grand Forks, in 1917,because they were drafting men. This was the time of World War I, and mostof his two years of service were spent in China. Eli is one of the few peoplewho can say he's been to the big cities of China. Tientsen, Shanghai, andChin-huang-taoo, along with Tokyo, Japan, the Philippine Islands and HawaiianIslands.

His pitching arm was kept in good shape as he played forCompany I. The biggest thrilling game of his military service was when CompanyI won the baseball championship of the Orient played in Shanghai. The scorewas 4-1. Eli was pleased when the war was over. It was a long trip homefrom China. It took twenty eight days and nights to sail from Chin-huang-taooto San Francisco.

Eli worked for my grandpa, Frank Cleem, in the 1930's.He did seasonal work: seeding in the springtime, haying in the summer, andshocking and threshing in the fall. The farm was big enough to keep sixhired men working part time. He recalls the crops grew well and there wasa lot of rain. He remembers one time when an engine was bogged down in themud and separated from its load.

Eli's life has been filled with excitement and adventure.Now he is happy to sit around and as he says "chase squirrels."If you ever go by his little gray house, stop in and see Eli and he'll thrillyou with his stories of days gone by.


Gooselaw, Eli, St.Vincent, Minnesota, Interview, February8, 1975

P>Gooselaw, Eli, St.Vincent, Minnesota, Interview, February8, 1975