Alice Dahners was born on December 2, 1885, to Thomas and Alice (Slattery) Kennedy at her parents homestead near Hazen, North Dakota.At three years of age her father drowned in the swollen Knife River during the spring break up as he was bringing a lawyer across in a boat to draw up the papers for the ownership of their homestead.Her mother then moved her young family to Mandan, the youngest born three months after the death of her husband.Mrs. Kennedy supported her young family for 16 years as a dressmaker.
Alice attended Mandan grade and high schools.In her last year of high school she transferred to Valley City Normal School (today Valley City State University) to study to become a teacher.She recalls the topic of her graduation speech in June 1905, as “The Experimental School at the Chicago University.”
She spent years teaching at Finley and Bowbells, ND.It was at Bowbells she met Henry L. Dahners, who was in real estate in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.She married Henry on April. 8, 1912, then moved to Calgary for four years. They were parents to 3 children; Lucile, Gwen and Gregory.
They were given the opportunity to purchase the Edison Agency in Mandan from her step-father,
C. G. Conyne who found that phonograph music did not mix well with his watch sales and repair business. They obtained the rights from the Columbia and Victor music companies to carry their phonographs and opened their music store in the fall of 1918 in the Hotel Nigey, later the McDonald Hotel. Their store sold phonographs, records, sheet music and player pianos, and later other instruments. Mrs. Dahners demonstrated music by playing selections on the piano.
Their business grew to where they needed to move into a larger building.It was then they moved into the Lewis and Clark Hotel.In 1928 they moved to their last location at 306 West Main Street. With the expanded space, they added gifts and novelties which were sold in the basement.In 1934 they added women’s ready to wear and sold many wedding gowns.Later becoming known as Dahners Music and Department Store.
The store was sold to Bill Eckroth in May 1972 after the death of her husband.
Alice was a member of the Mandan Pioneer Daughters, which she helped organize.She wrote histories on 120 pioneer mothers as special projects which are now on file at the State Historical Society. The histories are part of 3,000 compiled for the North Dakota Federated Women’s Club project in 1929-1932. Mrs. Dahners was proud of her membership in the American Women’s Club in Canada even though she left had left that country many years before.She was given a cherished life membership and Blue Bird pin for her 40 year affiliation. Every Sunday was a special day for the family, with a meal cooked by Mrs. Dahners who was a trim, alert, well dressed and coifed business woman, as well as a loving wife and mother.
Alice also was the hostess of frequent social gatherings, including a ladies bridge tournament in 1932 with a "Depression" theme. Guests came attired in makeshift clothing and newspapers were used as tablecloths when refreshments were served. Alice Dahners passed away on Monday, September 7, 1964 and is buried at Mandan Union Cemetery.
The MHSoc's museum and office is located at 3827 30th Avenue NW; Mandan, ND 58554 Contact us at email@example.com