March 10 -- On this day in Montana History in 1864 J.A Slade was the victim of what became known as “A Decent, Orderly Lynching” in Virginia City, Montana. Slade had developed a reputation for toughness and some said meanness as a boss on the Overland Trail. He came to Virginia City, Montana, in 1863 and his drinking and problem behavior soon had him at odds with the Vigilantes who administered and carried out their justice in the boom town. On March 10, it came to a head when he took a leading member of the vigilantes hostage and threatened to kill him. He was convinced to free the man, but was immediately taken prisoner and told the Vigilantes’ executive committee had just met and voted to hang him. A friend sent for Slade’s wife, but before she could get to the makeshift gallows behind Pfouts and Russell’s Store to say her goodbyes, the order was given “Men, do your duty.” The box was kicked away and Slade was later carried off to boot hill.
Friday, March 7, 2014
March 7 – On this day in Montana History in 1962 the Billings Gazette reported that a series of explosions linked two separate drill holes together creating 850 feet of diversion tunnel and 1,235 feet of spillway tunnel to make one tunnel that included an 80-degree turn for the Yellowtail Dam project in eastern Montana. “Engineering was so accurate you could not see where the blast which linked the two holes occurred,” the paper reported. “It was quite an engineering feat.”
Friday, February 28, 2014
Feb. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1925 Petroleum County became the final county created from splitting up other counties from the original nine giant counties created by the Territorial Legislature in 1865. It became the 56th county in Montana. By the 1930s and up until today, many politicians began to argue that the state has too many counties and that consolidation and elimination of some of them would save taxpayer dollars and improve the efficiency of local government and providing services.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Feb. 27 – On this day in Montana History in 1943 Montana was reeling from a major explosion at the Smith Coal Mine near Red Lodge. Seventy-five miners went to work at the mine, and only three of them returned to the surface alive. Miners from as far away as Butte and even Salt Lake soon rushed to the mine for rescue and recovery work. It took eight days for the last body to be brought to the surface. Methane gas was eventually identified as the killer, but no one will ever know what sparked the explosion. Some miners had time to scribble notes before they died. Emil Anderson wrote in halting English: “It’s 5 minutes pass 11 o’clock, dear Agnes and children I’m sorry we had to go this God Bless you all. Emil with lots kiss.”
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Feb 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1912 the Livingston Daily Enterprise was writing about the new town of Wilsall as “a busy town with big prospects.” “People here seem very much interested in the new town and are not very well acquainted with it,” the paper noted. It wrote about the area’s rich farm land and its role as the terminus of the Northern Pacific branch road out of Livingston. In 1968 Wilsall was put on the world map when an extraordinary archaeological find of 13,000-year-old stone tools was discovered near the town. The tools are now on exhibit at the Montana Historical Society.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Feb. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 Billings sports fans were gloating over their local high school basketball teams double victories over the team from Sheridan, Wyo. Sheridan had beaten the Billings team two week earlier on their home court, and some revenge seeped in with the story about the return games. “(They) will go home with two large goose eggs in their little basket that they brought up with them in which to convey the scalps of the local basketball players on their return trip,” a local sports writer opined. And we think rivalries in sports are tough today.
Monday, February 24, 2014
Feb. 24 – On this day in 1883 The Post newspaper in Billings proudly announced the creation of Yellowstone County. The headline said “Sound the Loud Timbrel;” “Billings a County Seat.” Noting the bitter political and social fight for creation of the county, the paper said: “We are at last cut loose from the Miles City Ring.” The art accompanying the story was a woodcut of a strutting rooster.