January 15, 2020 — A strange court case was reported from Fargo on this day in 1904. J. H. Hanson, a hired farm hand, filed a lawsuit against his employer, Mrs. Eliza A. Francis. Hanson claimed that Francis had cheated him out of a contract, and five months worth of pay; Francis contended that the man was a lazy scoundrel that had refused to leave her farm after she had fired him for unsatisfactory work. The presiding judge, Justice Ryan, grew even more perplexed as the entire story unraveled before the court.

It seems that sometime around November 20, Hanson had secured employment under Mrs. Francis working on her small farm about ten miles south of Fargo. Additionally, his wife was to work in Mrs. Francis’s house during the week, and Francis was to provide the couple’s son with room and board. For these services, a winter contract was made outlining the various terms of the agreement.

For his work on the farm and his wife’s household duties, the Hanson’s were to receive $25 per month, and Mrs. Francis was to receive $2 per week for the boy’s room and board. The duration of the contract was set at five months. A month later, though, Mrs. Francis found the couple’s work ethic lacking, and she asked the couple to leave her farm. Hanson refused and continued working at the place. Mrs. Francis realized that she would have to find other means of removing the family from her home; she quickly contacted her sons in Fargo and filled them in on her situation.

That day, Hanson loaded up a wagon of wheat and drove into the city. One of his employer’s sons approached him and told him that Mrs. Francis would like to speak to him. While Hanson was in conference with Mrs. Francis, the son unhitched the wagon and drove it back to the farm, leaving Hanson stuck in Fargo without a way of returning to the Francis farm.

Meanwhile, a second son drove out to the farm and told Mrs. Hanson that her husband needed her in Fargo. Mrs. Hanson and her children were taken to Fargo, and also abandoned on the streets. The Hansons secured housing and Fargo and filed suit against the employer for breaking the terms of the contract. After sorting through the jumbled facts, Justice Ryan awarded Mr. Hanson $38 for two months salary, minus his son’s room and board. The story was reported under the heading, “Apparently, Life is Real.”

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