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Manuscripts by Subject - Family / Local History - #11262

Title: William B. Falconer family
Dates: ca. 1875-1986

Collection Number: MSS 11262

Quantity: 1.25 ft.

Abstract: Consists of the personal papers of attorney Hazel Falconer and photographs of the William B. Falconer family, their Burleigh County farm, agricultural operations, and Bismarck (N.D.).

Provenance: The Hazel Falconer papers, photographs 11262-000102 - 11262-00119, and photograph albums were donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Kathleen Walsh and Amy Waelhof on June 3, 2015.  The photographs and slides, images 11262-00001 - 11262-00101 were separated from the Frank Vyzralek Papers (MSS 10553) and added to the collection in May 2016. How Vyzralek acquired the images is unknown.

Property rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to the collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.  Permission to use any radio or television broadcast portions of the collection must be sought from the creator.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Transfer: Two photograph albums were offered to the Ontario Archives on July 5, 2016.


William B. Falconer – aged 78 – April 23, 1889-May 29, 1967

Judge Falconer was a judge from 1949-1962, and the last judge of the Burleigh County court before voters approved the new court of increased jurisdiction. His parents were Dakota pioneers.

Judge Falconer was born April 23, 1889 in Bismarck, Dakota Territory and attended the Lincoln School No. 1 and Bismarck High School. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church, Masonic Lodge No. 5, Scottish Rite, and the North Dakota Farmers Union. He married Kathryn Lewis June 26, 1918 in Bismarck.

Judge Falconer served on the Lincoln Township school board for 30 years. He was a member of the House of Representatives from Burleigh County in 1933 and again from 1942-1947. He was state purchasing agent for 2 ½ years and was named US commissioner in 1950. He served as Burleigh County judge for 14 years.

Judge Falconer was known as a poet and historian and he wrote dozens of poems dealing with North Dakota pioneer history and folklore. He farmed south of Bismarck.

In addition to his widow, Mr. Falconer leaves three sons, William L., Donald W., and Harry McLean, and one daughter, Hazel L., all of rural Bismarck, plus five grandchildren, and two sisters, Mrs. S. R. (Gladys) Day, Mesa, Ariz., and Mrs. R. J. (Clare) Smith, Bismarck. A brother and sister preceded him in death.

Source: Bismarck Tribune


Hazel Falconer, 83, great-niece to Bismarck's first mayor, started out gutsy and stayed that way, according to family friends and relatives.  She was about 7 when she first started climbing onto her palomino horse and with no bridle or saddle would ride it at a gallop down the pasture, her arms held out from her sides, related a family friend, Kita Schadler. "She was totally fearless," Schadler said.

In adulthood, Falconer became a Marine, and later an attorney. There was only one other practicing female attorney in Burleigh County at the time. Falconer was quoted in a 1969 Tribune article about her admittance to the bar: "I can never remember not wanting to be a lawyer. I always knew I was going to be one someday."

Mayor John A. McLean, who became the city's first mayor in 1875, was a great-uncle. Also well known in her immediate family was her father, William B. Falconer, who was a Burleigh County judge for 16 years. The family farm, south of Bismarck, near United Tribes Technical College, was known for its corn. Corn seed from that farm was a wanted commodity, sold and sent to buyers around the country, Schadler said. The farm has been in the family for 135 years, and Hazel Falconer lived there for much of her life. She was married briefly, 18 months, but that ended up in divorce court. Her sister-in-law, Doris Falconer, remembers Hazel telling her that the guy "was a mama's boy, and she wasn't going to put up with that." "She was a strong-willed, independent gal. She did her own thing," Doris Falconer said.

Hazel Falconer was only about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed about 115 pounds, but when a brother, who was in the U.S. Army, started good-naturedly teasing her about how many Army men it would take to protect one little Marine, she got physical. The little Marine, who served stateside for a while as secretary to a Marine chaplain, used some of the hand-to-hand combat moves learned in Marine training to throw him over the dining room table - taking the breakfast dishes with him. Her mother reportedly turned to her and said, "Later today, my dear, we must go into town to buy new dishes."

She attended the University of North Dakota School of Law. But she also worked at various jobs to pay her way, including teaching in a one-room school and working as a switchboard operator and sales clerk. At the time she was admitted into the practice of law in 1969, she was an office manager at Gerlach's Sheet Metal Works. She would specialize in estate law, working out of her home on the farm. She's recognized for her accomplishments in the first and ninth editions of Who's Who in American Law. She was a lawyer in pants. Family members remember seeing her in a dress maybe three times. And she smoked and refused to quit, saying, "I'm smoking here and in the hereafter."

Schadler, whose family were close family friends with Falconers for decades, became Hazel Falconer's caregiver about a year ago. Falconer, diagnosed with lymphoma, told Schadler that a "wimpy thing like cancer" wasn't going to beat her. She was declared cancer-free in November 2004. Schadler said Falconer loved "to go, just go." They'd get into Schadler's silver Ford Mustang, which Falconer especially loved because of the horse emblem on the front. The faster Schadler would drive, the better she liked it. They'd go to Jamestown just for a piece of pie. One day Schadler convinced her to go shopping, something she wasn't keen on, and they spent six hours in Kirkwood Mall trying on hats. Just last Tuesday she told Schadler that when she started to feel better they'd go shopping, but "not for a damn hat."

That was their last conversation. Now that she's gone, so is the farm. Her brother Don Falconer sold it before he died in 1998, to Hazel's dismay. But Don Falconer also required that the new owners let Hazel stay on to the end. Since Hazel would have refused to go anyway. "Moving was never an option. She would have never moved from this house," Schadler said. And who would have dared to make her?

Source: "Feisty Hazel Falconer remembered" by Virginia Grantier, Bismarck Tribune, February 21, 2005


Box 1:
1 Correspondence, 1917-1985
2 Genealogical materials and coats of arms, 1983 & n.d.
3 Miscellaneous: "The Hector" (vessel), "42nd Royal Highland Regiment" and candidacy card for W. B. Falconer as County Judge, n.d.
4 Clan Maclean Association, 1975-1986

Box 2:    Photographs: 11262-00001 - 11262-00101

Box 3:    Photographs: 11262-00102 - 11262-00119


11262-00001       Parade, Bismarck (N.D.), 1952
11262-00002       Buggy, Bismarck (N.D.), 1952
11262-00003 - 00008        Horseback riders in parade, Bismarck (N.D.), 1952
11262-00009       Covered wagon, Bismarck (N.D.), 1952
11262-00010       Horseback riders in parade, Bismarck (N.D.), 1952
11262-00011 - 00012        Girl in field, 1957
11262-00013       Girl on Falconer Hill, Burleigh County (N.D.), 1957
11262-00014       Girl sitting in chair, 1957
11262-00015       Girl sitting in chair with doll, 1957
11262-00016       Horses, Burleigh County (N.D.), 1957
11262-00017 - 00018        Cattle, Burleigh County (N.D.), 1957
11262-00019       Man with bow and harvested deer, 1957
11262-00020       Boy with bow and harvested deer, 1957
11262-00021 - 00022        Missouri River, Huff (N.D.), 1957
11262-00023       W. B. Falconer Ranch, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1957
11262-00024       A. R. Falconer Farm, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1957
11262-00025       Cow and calf, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1957
11262-00026       Missouri River, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1957
11262-00027       Field, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1957
11262-00028       W. B. Falconer House, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1957
11262-00029 - 00031        Woman sitting by flower bed, Burleigh County (N.D.), 1958
11262-00032 - 00038        Man operating tracked bulldozer, 1958
11262-00039       Man operating tracked bulldozer, October 1958
11262-00040 - 00041        Spring in Bog Coulee, September 1958
11262-00042 - 00043        Bog Coulee, September 1958
11262-00044       Woman posing in Bog Coulee, September 1958
11262-00045       Reeds in Bog Coulee, September 1958
11262-00046 - 00053        Bog Coulee, September 1958
11262-00054       Bog Coulee, October 1958
11262-00055       Bog Coulee, September 1958
11262-00056 - 00057        Bog Coulee, October 1958
11262-00058 - 00059        Trees, September 1958
11262-00060       Sibley Island Park (General Sibley Park), October 1958
11262-00061 - 00062        Horses, October 1958
11262-00063       Woman standing a field, October 1958
11262-00064       Woman standing in a clearing, October 1958
11262-00065       Field, October 1958
11262-00066 - 00067        Apple Creek, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1958
11262-00068       Large tree in a field, October 1958
11262-00069       River bottoms, October 1958
11262-00070       Horseshoe Bend, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1958
11262-00071       Missouri River, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1958
11262-00072       Horseshoe Bend, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1958
11262-00073 - 00074        View from Falconer Hill, Burleigh County (N.D.), October 1958
11262-00075       Woman and girl in woods, 1959
11262-00076       House, Burleigh County (N.D.), December 1959
11262-00077       Frost covered trees, December 1959
11262-00078       Girl in clearing, ca. 1960
11262-00079       Bridge over Apple Creek, Burleigh County (N.D.), ca. 1960
11262-00080       Dog on porch, ca. 1960
11262-00081 - 00082        Rainbow over cattle, ca. 1960
11262-00083       Tree, ca. 1960
11262-00084       Missouri River, Burleigh County (N.D.), ca. 1960
11262-00085 - 00087        Sibley Island Park, Burleigh County (N.D.), ca. 1960
11262-00088       Pasture, Burleigh County (N.D.), ca. 1960
11262-00089 - 00090        Trees, ca. 1960
11262-00091       Tree, ca. 1960
11262-00092       Apple Creek, Burleigh County (N.D.), ca. 1960
11262-00093       Tree, ca. 1960
11262-00094       Clearing in woods, ca. 1960
11262-00095 - 00097        Unidentified man with harvested deer, ca. 1960
11262-00098       Unidentified boy with harvested deer, ca. 1960
11262-00099       Unidentified man and boy with harvested deer, ca. 1960
11262-00100       Unidentified boy with harvested deer, ca. 1960
11262-00101       Unidentified man, woman, and boy with harvested deer, ca. 1960
11262-00102       Robert MacNider, partner of John A. Maclean, wholesale and retailer store June 1915
11262-00103       Portrait of unidentified women with boy, ca. 1915
11262-00104       Portrait of two unidentified boys, ca. 1900
11262-00105       Portrait of Mary Louise (Falconer) McLean, ca. 1920
11262-00106       Portrait of Mary and William J. McLean, ca. 1920
11262-00107       Portrait of Mary McLean and children William, Harry, Clarence and Walter Falconer, 1888
11262-00108       Portrait of Jennie McLellan Falconer, ca. 1880
11262-00109       Portrait of Harry Falconer McLean, ca. 1900
11262-00110 - 00111        Portrait of John A. McLean, first elected mayor of Bismarck, ca. 1900
11262-00112       Portrait of Clarence McLean, ca. 1875
11262-00113       Portrait of five unidentified men, ca. 1900
11262-00114       Portrait of woman, last name Morris, ca. 1900
11262-00115       Portrait of Kathryn McLean, ca. 1900
11262-00116       Portrait of Daniel A. Falconer, Mattie (Falconer) White, and Norman Falconer ca. 1910
11262-00117       Portrait of Clarence McLean, ca. 1910
11262-00118       Portrait of Walter Scott McLean, ca. 1910
11262-00119       Copy of a portrait of William John McLean, ca. 1915

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