Donovan, Lauren. "Crib First Held Baby Born on N.D. Statehood day, 1889." Bismarck Tribune, 2 November 2008.
HAZEN — Miranda Mosset sleeps in sunlight and dreams of the love on her mother’s face.
She is the latest in a long line of babies to have sweet thoughts in a crib as old as North Dakota, 119 years old today.
It is our state’s birthday.
Who would have dreamed back on Nov. 2, 1889, that so hard a northern place would yield modern prosperity, like a newborn dreaming of an improbable land of milk and honey.
The first baby to sleep in the crib was born the same day North Dakota was officially named the 39th state in this great union.
That baby was Miranda Mosset’s great-great-grandmother and the crib, originally a cradle, was made by a neighbor with simple woodworking tools. His gift created a space of warmth and comfort for a baby born into an ill-lit sod shanty during the cold months of a long ago winter.
The baby lived and after it came eight more, placed and rocked in the same cradle.
The first baby’s mother, Miranda Mosset's great-great-great-grandmother, tied the treadle of her spinning wheel to knobs on the side of the cradle.
She spun, the cradle rocked and the baby dreamed.
The cradle remained in Frederick and Dorothea Geiszler's sod house until they built a wood frame homestead house in 1909 near what later became Fredonia, down in Logan County.
The cradle was passed on to her daughter the baby Regina, for whom it was made — who passed it on to her son, Leonard Schultz, who passed it on to his son, Ralph Schultz, who passed it on to his daughter, Patty Mosset, of Hazen.
Repainted over the years and modified into a crib when the rockers wore out, the cradle had never left the homestead until Patty and Shawn Mosset's first baby was born in 2003.
Patty Mosset’s mom, Loretta Schultz, refinished it first.
She peeled off five layers of paint, one coincidentally for each generation of babies that has found rest and comfort in it.
Some layers have tears.
After Regina, the first baby, the next four laid in the cradle died during childhood, victims of epidemic, all within a week, as the year 1897 became 1898.
Loretta Schultz has seen the graves and knows from family stories that Dorothea Geiszler buried those children and implored those who survived never to have any of their own.
Heartbreak and survival, North Dakota’s story, was written in furrows of soil and sorrow.
Loretta Schultz said the cradle-turned-crib was just always there, in the old homestead house, where she and Ralph still live.
"It was there for our kids to play with when it wasn't used for babies. Patty played dolls in it," she said.
Never once was anyone ever tempted to haul to the junk pile. It is a family treasure.
Today, Miranda Mosset, born Sept. 20, is the right-sized tiny pink bundle to fit the crib near her parents’ bed in their home outside Hazen.
Patty Mosset said she used it for all three of her girls and plans to pass it along to one of them someday, just as it was passed on to her.
"It’s the oldest thing I have," she said.
It is as old as North Dakota and like it, built sturdy to last for all the babies that come along.
Sweet dreams, Miranda.
Sweet dreams, North Dakota.
Reprinted with permission from the Bismarck Tribune.