Dec. 31 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Helena Independent had a front page story bemoaning the death of “King Barrleycorn.” The town was abuzz with people marking the end of legal liquor and the beginning of prohibition. It was reported that most saloons had sold out their liquor supplies even before they had to close their doors at midnight.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Dec. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1905 the dedicated the current Montana Club in Helena, replacing the former home of the exclusive club that burned two years before. It cost $117,00, which was a hefty amount in those days. Ironically, given the host of wealthy men who belonged to the club, it took nearly 40 years to pay off the new building.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Dec. 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1890 news came of the tragedy of the massacre of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Many of Montana’s Native Americans lost friends and family there. Since the victory of the Indians at the Battle of the Little Big Horn the Montana Native American population had dropped from an estimated 19,300 to 10,300. With their land taken and their food sources decimated, Native Americans saw their traditional way of life come to an end.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Dec. 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1928 one of the most important photographers in Montana and western history died. Evelyn Cameron. She came to Montana in 1890 leaving behind a comfortable life of British gentry. She took up photography and took an incredible collection of life on the Montana frontier from a woman’s perspective. The collection and her diaries are at the Montana Historical Society.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Dec. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1856 came a lesson of what Christmas is. Frank Woody had come into the Missoula Valley from Ross’ Hole. Fort Benton was the nearest established town. On Christmas day he and six other men worked on their cabin in the morning and then took time off to celebrate the season. “All we had to drink that day was water, coffee,” he wrote later. They sat on a cured buffalo hide. “There was no linen and no silver, but it was a merry meal, and we all enjoyed it.” They had some laughs and told stories about Christmas past.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Dec. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1874 the bachelors on Bozeman Creek in the Gallatin Valley were given the “Christmas party of their lives.” The Montana Daily reported that Mrs. James Mardis and Mrs. Ada Alexander were talking about their upbringing in Iowa when Mardis said she wished she could “see a man in a white shirt once more.” It led to the idea to invite bachelors to a Christmas party only if they wore a white shirt. It was a rousing hit, and forever became known as the “boiled shirt” Christmas party.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Dec. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1971 advertisements in the Helena Independent Record show that Christmas gifts really were simpler and cheaper in the “old days.” Play-Doh was selling for 59 cents, slinky toys for 88 cents, Radio steel wagons for $7.77, and even a “delicious” box of Brach’s chocolates for $3.99. Santa must look back nostalgically.