July 2 – On this day in Montana History in 1872 William Wesley Van Orsdel who had just arrived at Fort Benton by steamboat was preaching a street corner sermon and beginning to build a legend all across Montana for his circuit-riding, missionary, educational efforts, health care and children’s activist work. He came to be known simply as Brother Van. When asked why he wanted to come to Montana he said: “To preach, to sing and encourage people to be good.”
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
July 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1867 Acting Montana Territorial Gov. and Civil War Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher was reported drowned in the Missouri River at Fort Benton at age 41 Territorial Gov. Green Clay Smith in his official proclamation of mourning for Meagher wrote: “He was a man of high social qualities, great urbanity, a high order of intellect, a brave soldier, a true gentleman, and an honor to his Territory and Government.” Meagher’s body was never found and controversy still swirls about the circumstances of his death.
Friday, March 13, 2015
March 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 the World Theatre opened in Billings to “show unique films from all over the world.” One of the movies was “Seven Little Sins” a French film starring Maurice Chevalier. “Like other art theaters the World will have a coffee hour before showings,” organizers said. And you thought coffee shops were a new thing.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
March 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1854 George Gore reached St. Louis where he introduced himself to leaders of the American Fur Company. They helped him hire 40 men with wilderness experience for his hunting trip into Montana. The English royal from his luxurious tents enjoyed fine wine and other comforts on his trip. He left more than 4,000 bison, 1,500 elk, 2,000 deer and 500 bears dead during his “gory” hunting trip.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
March 11 – On this day in Montana History in 1962 “throngs were attending” the Building Material and Home Show in Billings. The show offered the latest in home building and furnishing materials. The want ads in the Billings paper of the day show how much things have changed. 3-bedroom homes were going for as little as $50 down and $71 a month. “Fabulous Colonial Casual” divan and matching chair was selling for $75 or only $7.20 a month. In contrast, the latest in “quality picture and stereo high fidelity” televisions were going for $328 – if you had a good trade in!!!!
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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.
Monday, March 9, 2015
March 9 – On this day in Montana History in 1880 the first railroad was completed into Montana. The Summit of the Rocky Mountains Utah and Northern Railroad brought a special train filled with dignitaries to Monida Pass south of Butte on the Montana Utah border for the driving of the Silver Spike. Yes, silver spike, apparently the golden one used for completion of the Union Pacific was not available. Corrine, Utah, had been the terminus for getting equipment, supplies and people to the booming gold towns of Montana. The line eliminated most of the 500-mile stagecoach route that ran from Corrine to Virginia City, Montana.