Posted 6/07/16 (Tue)
By Cecile Wehrman
Gail (Points) Kostek, 73, has a unique window into Crosby’s pioneer past, having spent a lot of time as a child with her grandpa, R.H. Points, one of Crosby’s early entrepreneurs.
“I was grandpa’s little tag-a-long and I was with him when he would go check property,” said Kostek, though in her era, the heady days of Crosby’s genesis were long past.
R.H. (Rudolph Harold) Points had just graduated from law school when he arrived in Crosby in 1906. The Roaring Springs, Pa., native hung out his shingle on the muddy Main Street offering legal services, land location and even loans for the early settlers looking to grab some of the last homestead parcels available in the United States.
As an early day newspaper reported in March 1906, “Our town is growing so fast that it is difficult to get a sufficient water supply. The hotels are now compelled to haul water from surrounding farms . . . A large number of people arrived in town this evening and the hotels are taxed to their utmost capacity.”
Points was already there to offer his services, having arrived a few weeks earlier.
“The first mention of Points came in the Crosby Review, Feb. 16, 1906: “R.H. Points of Portal has a card in this issue. Read it -- and if you want any Points on law he ought to be the man to go to.”
A few weeks later, the Review added this commentary: “We predict a bright future for him in his new location.”
Indeed, by the time Points passed away, in January 1978, at the age of 98, he could claim to be Crosby’s longest-lived businessman, having dabbled in everything from real estate to potato farming. He traded horses and raised sheep, building a flock of 1,200 ewes at one time. He served a stint as Divide County States Attorney, in 1935.
Because he owned so much property himself, he traveled widely.
“His car was famous,” Kostek laughs -- famous for getting stuck. The lack of a good track to travel never stopped Points from attempting to get where he wanted to go.
“He would go flying over these really rough roads and he would get in a jangle and he would have to walk,” said Kostek, to seek help to pull his car out of whatever mishap he’d driven into.
“There’s pictures of this nice car stuck,” said Kostek. “He’d either get stuck or broken down because he was always going places.”
One place he seemed to end up at frequently was at the home of Peg Nygaard’s parents, Kay and Red O’Neil, south of Larson, because he loved Kay’s pie.
“She always had something for him,” Kostek laughs.
Nygaard herself recalls, “He was the most unique gentlemen. He would go down and check his land and come through the pastures in his car and stop. And he was up in his 80s at that time.”
In his most advanced years, said Kostek, he was still driving.
“People would see him coming and they would take a different street! The car played a big role in his life,” she said.
When he went to the nursing home in 1976, said Kostek, “We had to park his car so he could see it outside his window and he had a set of keys.”
Kostek recalls of her grandfather’s office that it had previously been a jewelry store.
“There used to be humongous glass cases in there. He always said that was from the ‘jewelry store.’”
Kostek actually lived with her parents when she was very young, behind Points’ Main Street office.
Kostek’s aunt donated the building to the Divide County Historical Society shortly after R.H. passed away and it was moved to Pioneer Village in recognition of the important history it represented.
Kostek recalls having to dispose of reams of early day legal papers, “because what was legal at that time was no longer anybody’s business.”
Though there may have been some documents of historical interest, the risk of private information getting into the wrong hands was too great, she said, and the family felt the papers from his practice “should close with him.”
Once set in place on the grounds of Pioneer Village, the building sat locked and in recent years, there had been discussion of tearing it down. Historical Society president John Tysse and volunteer Danny Hansen wouldn’t hear of it.
An effort got under way to try to restore the building and Kostek said, “we decided we would pick up where the grants wouldn’t go” to pay the cost.
This year, the building will be open to visitors for the first time, with displays relating to Crosby’s earliest history.
“We’re so pleased because there’s no way we could have figured out what to do,” said Kostek.
It’s a model for preserving the past the historical society has successfully employed several times in recent years -- enlisting the help of families to help supply the money to preserve early-day iconic buildings, then providing or hiring the manpower and expertise to bring history to life.
“We were just glad to be able to do this,” said Kostek, to preserve the history for future generations.