Friday, December 21, 2012

Dec. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1863 outlaw George Ives was hanged from a log beam in a cabin in the rough and tumble Montana mining town of Nevada City near Virginia City. He was hanged for the murder of Nicholas “Dutchman” Tiebolt. A short “trial” was held on the street and presided over by Wilbur F. Sanders. When Tiebolt asked for time to write his mother before they hanged him, a member of the crowd shouted out: “How much time did he give the Dutchman!” Not much.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dec. 20 – On this day in 1985 the Montana Standard  proclaimed “ ‘Lady’ Mission Accomplished.” The “Lady of the Rockies” statue -- with the help of a helicopter -- was in place high above the city after a project  that lasted five years. It was reported that fire engines sirens, honking horns and shouting people all welcomed the 90-foot-high  “Lady” to the mining city.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Dec. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1919 the Rev. W.W. Van Orsdel, known fondly as “Brother Van” across Montana, died in Great Falls. Brother Van arrived in Montana in 1872 and held his first services on the steamboat dock at Fort Benton. During his life he traveled the state preaching the gospel and helping organize churches and other civic missions. He was widely mourned throughout the state.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dec. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1876 the final battle of what was known as the Great Sioux War occurred. Lt. Frank D. Baldwin, who was a Civil War veteran and holder of two Congressional Medals of Honor, and 140 troopers attacked and destroyed Sitting Bull’s camp of 122 lodges and about 1,000 Native Americans on Ash Creek, a tributary of the Redwater River south of Brockway. The weather was bitter cold, and surprisingly neither side suffered any casualties in the encounter. But the action forced most of the Native Americans back to reservations and ended the conflict that included the famous Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dec. 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1920 the state was mourning the loss of pioneering leader Paris Gibson who was called the “Father of Great Falls.” Gibson laid out the city of Great Falls and took great pride in the trees, boulevards and spacious streets and parks he created. He also worked tirelessly to attract new people and commerce to Montana. The Montana Historical Society has in its collection a beautiful, hand-drawn map of Montana that Gibson used to show his vision for all that Montana could be.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dec. 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 Montana Representative Jeannette Rankin listened to fragmentary reports on the radio of the attack on Pearl Harbor as she packed her bag for a trip to Detroit to deliver a speech on international peace and nonintervention. Ironically, her lone vote against entering World War Two would force her from office.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dec. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1878 the first woman ever incarcerated in the Montana Penitentiary, Felicite Sanchez of Deer Lodge, was getting used to her new surroundings and starting a three-year sentence for manslaughter. As officers delivered her to the pen, Sanchez “put her feet on the stove and proceeded to roll a cigarette, which she fabricated with great skill and smoked with manifest enjoyment.”

Dec. 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1908 the Little Rockies Miner in Zortman, Choteau County, had a front page headline proclaiming “The Home of Divorce.” In a strangely competitive lead, the paper took issue with South Dakota claiming to be the national leader in divorce rates. “Statistics recently made public by the Department of Commerce and Labor show that, instead of South Dakota being the whole thing in the matter of divorces, Montana is holder of the belt and is in a class by herself.” South Dakota’s rate was 95 per 100,000 and Montana’s was 167 per 100,000. It’s more difficult to determine who was the real winner, socially speaking.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Nov. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 eight young Montana women were leaving for Chicago to attend the 20th National 4-H Club Congress. They had taken top honors in the state in competitions ranging from dress making, to food preparation to livestock production.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nov. 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1939 crowds were turning up at the U.S.-Canada border to see American-made military plains being handed over to the Canadian military. It was part of the “Cash and Carry” or Lend Lease plan pushed through by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to provide Canada and those fighting Nazis in Europe with material to keep then in the war.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nov. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1926 Montana grain growers were racking up awards at the International Livestock Show in Chicago. Of the 125 awards given in the wheat category, Montana grain growers won 53 of them including eight of the 15 awards for white spring wheat and those were the top seven places in the category. C. Edson Smith of Corvallis won first place for hard red winter wheat. Montana Gov.  J.E. Erickson said it was a great achievement and the “world-wide publicity” would firmly establish Montana as a wheat growing leader.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nov. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 an early morning fire destroyed the Circle Post Office and the Kalberg Building in which many thousands of dollars worth of farm equipment was lost. Postal authorities were setting up a temporary office to try to determine loses  and restore postal service for the busy Holiday mail traffic in the community.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Nov. 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1976 a train derailment in Belt created a holocaust in which 2 people were killed and more than a dozen injured. The first call for help: “A train is wrecked. There’s gas all over. .. we need help …” and the telephone line went dead. The train wreck caused a propane tank car to explode that caused extensive fires in the southwest section of the town and destroyed several homes and damaged many others. “It broke windows all over town,” one person said.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nov. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 the first issue of Life magazine hit the newsstands. On the first of its famous covers was a striking photograph of the Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River. Making it even more famous, the photo was taken by legendary Life photographer Margaret Bourke-White.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nov. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1883 Ed Stone, representing the Northern Pacific railroad, secured the rights to the proposed town site of Gardiner. Lots were being readied for sale, and the extension of the rail line from Livingston to Gardiner and its nearness to Yellowstone National Park meant the “town will grow and flourish.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nov. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1877 Montanans were talking about reports that Native American survivors of the Nez Perce battle in the Bear Paws who had made it into Canada were suffering from a lack of provisions. Many were quietly slipping back across the border, and Indian scouts said that of the nearly 300 Nez Perce who made it into Canada only about 100 remained there.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nov. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1877 an American Commission had returned to U.S. soil after meeting with Sitting Bull in Canada where he went after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The Helena Daily Herald reported  “The Canadian authorities were puzzling over the disposition to be made of Sitting Bull and his band.” One of the commissioners reported that Sitting Bull was making threats to attack people in the United States. A Maj. Walsh reportedly said to Sitting Bull: “if he attempted to attack the American troops or traders from Canadian soil, (they) would shoot him on the spot.” 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Nov. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1883 the Livingston Daily Enterprise ran together a variety of news tidbits that give insights into how communities grew. A 1,200 foot “shed” was being built at the west end of the Mullan tunnel. The United States Geological surveying party that had been working out of Livingston “has disbanded and gone east.”  Basinski Bros. had put up 2,000 head of sheep on their range at Tongue River. And a “runaway team attached to a load of wood made a lively scene on Main street this morning, but fortunately did no damage except to the outfit.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nov. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1877 The Helena Daily Herald reported the dedication of the “first church edifice” in Beaverhead County at Bannack. Noted religious leaders from across the state took part in the services, and the Herald said “they have the satisfaction of knowing they have one of the most comfortable and pleasant church buildings in Montana.”

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nov. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1886 an arctic storm brought heavy snow and freezing temperatures to Montana. It was to become one of the worst winters in recorded history, and the death of thousands of cattle brought an end to the open range period of cattlemen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nov. 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1871 a bitter hand was dealt to the Salish Tribe when President U.S. Grant issued an executive order to relocate the tribe to a reservation in Jocko Valley from their traditional Bitterroot Valley home lands. Chief Charlot and a band of 360 Salish refused to go, but were finally forced to accept the move after fighting the government for the right to stay free.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nov. 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1902 the Dupuyer Acantha had an advertisement that reminds us of how much we take creature comforts for granted now days. Mrs. F.H. Dean, the “proprietress” of the Dupuyer Hotel, announced the hotel was under new management. “First Class in Every Respect. Board by the Day or Week at Reasonable Rates,” the ad said. In bold letters the ad then screamed out its main selling point: “Hot and Cold Water.” 

Nov. 12 – On this day in Montana History in 1809 David Thompson, for whom Thompson Falls is named, started work on his Salish House trading post on the north bank of the Clark Fork River in the Flathead Valley. It had three log structures -- a warehouse, an office, and living quarters. It was Montana’s first trading post and remained the center of the fur trade in the valley for 40 years.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Nov. 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1919 artist Edgar Paxson died in Missoula at age 67. He started out as a sign painter, and one of his signs is on display in Virginia City. His later artworks, including beautiful murals in the entry way to the House Chamber in the State Capitol, tell the story of Montana in its early years. Paxson also was a veteran and died from complications of wounds he has suffered during the Spanish American War where he served in the Montana Volunteers that are now the National Guard.MHS has a major Paxon exhibit up currently in the Museum just east of the State Capitol.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nov. 8 – On this day in Montana history in 1889 the key in Helena’s Western Union telegraph office clicked out the message that President Benjamin Harrison had just signed a proclamation making Montana the 41st state in the union. The news came as a surprise, and the Great Falls Tribune headline read “News Not Expected So Soon – A General Celebration Deferred.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Nov. 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1869 John Bishop and Richard Reynolds brought the first sheep into Montana to their ranches on the Beaverhead River near what is now Dillon. They brought the sheep in from Oregon and said it took 80 days which was “a pretty slow trip to the tune of blatting sheep.” Cattlemen were upset, but sheep became an important part of agriculture in Montana.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nov. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 an advertisement in the Circle Banner reminds us that no matter how much things change, the more they remain the same. The Jacobs Wind Electric Co. took out a half-page ad touting the future with “Self Governing, Wind Electric, Farm Lighting Plants.” Complete with a photograph that looks surprisingly like the windmill generators popping up across the country today, the ad noted that the secret was “the three-bladed, centrifugal governor-controlled, propeller type wheel” that always face into the wind -- like those used today. The future was here, but not quite yet.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Nov. 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1887 a young visionary named Sword Bearer was killed in a skirmish with U.S. Cavalry on the Crow Reservation. Sword Bearer had a spiritual experience that caused him to see himself as a prophet and savior of his people. He had caused such a stir on the reservation that the people of Billings were talking about forming a militia to put the uprising down. The uprising was even more surprising because the tribe had a record of peaceful relations with whites for a full decade after suppression of hostilities on the northern plains. His death is still controversial, and even the Billings Gazette said this about his vision: “It was one of the most remarkable incidents in the history of the northwestern Indians that nearly 200 of them should stand before 15 companies of soldiers and a battery of Hotchkiss rifles on the strength of such a belief.”

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oct. 26  -- On this day in Montana history in 1903 the Amalgamated Copper Company, which had followed through on its threat made a few days earlier to lay off thousands of butte miners, brow beat the Montana Legislature into a special session to pass a new change of venue law to allow them to eventually win a lawsuit that they claimed would have forced them out of business.” If they crush me today they will crush you tomorrow,” an amalgamated owner told miners. The affair gave enormous power to Amalgamated and spelled the end of an era of cooperation between mine owners and their workers setting the stage for decades of bitter relations between them. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oct. 25 -- On this day in Montana history in 1945 Vice Admiral John Hoover, who was one of the state’s most famous sailors, attended the Navy Day Luncheon in Great Falls. The Great Falls High School graduate was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1903 by Congressman Joseph M. Dixon . He received the Navy Cross for his service in World War One and had three Distinguished Service medals for World War Two. The Navy aviator served as deputy commander in chief of the Pacific fleet under Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oct. 24 -- On this day in Montana history in 1926 Cowboy Artist Charles M. Russell died at his Great Falls home.  He was mourned across the Montana he loved and painted and by art lovers across the nation. His artwork told the story of the Montana he knew as a cow puncher, artist and observer of all about him. The Great Falls Tribune headline read: “Genius whose brush portrayed the colorful life of Montana’s early days, lays down his palette to answer great call.” The title of one of his most famous paintings done shortly before his death and now in the collection at the Montana Historical Society sums up his philosophy: “Laugh Kills Lonesome.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Oct. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1844 Louis Riel who would become in Montana was born in a Métis Indian farming colony in the Red River Valley in what is now Manitoba, Canada. In his tumultuous lifetime, Riel led two unsuccessful rebellions in Canada against that nation that cost him his life. His happiest years were spent in Montana where he worked for the rights of his people and began the decade’s long fight to win them a reservation in Big Sky Country.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oct. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1903 representatives of the Amalgamated Company in Butte said in a banner statement in the Butte Miner that a decision by Judge William Clancy to enjoin the company from doing business “branded” them an outlaw. Under a complicated suit the judge ruled that $3 million in stockholder dividends could not be paid. It said Amalgamated would shut down Montana operations costing 15,000 workers their jobs. It was one of the worst mining crises Butte endured.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oct. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1947 what was called “The greatest sports crowd in state history” was savoring – some happily, others not – one of the most exciting games played in the Grizzly and Bobcat football series. The game was held in Butte because of the great interest in what was the 50th game played in the series and the larger venue there. Special trains brought students and fans from all over the state and a record crowd of more than 11,000 people, many peering in from outside the packed stadium, watched as the Bobcats beat the Griz 13 to 12.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Oct. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1935 Helena was rocked by a major earthquake that struck at 9:52 p.m. and lasted for more than 10 seconds. One person was killed and many injured and millions of dollars of damage were left in its wake. In typical Montana resolve, a joke soon went around: “Helena was renamed Lena, not because the earthquake left it leaning, but because the earthquake had knocked the ‘hel’ out of it.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Oct. 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1945 state newspapers were reporting that Bud Linderman of Red Lodge, one of the toughest rodeo stars that ever lived, won the bareback bronc riding competition at a national event in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Linderman lived a hard and short life that included being accused of killing a man in a barroom fight. He died at age 39 with a friend lamenting that “he was just too stubborn” to go to a hospital.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Oct. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1902 a column in the Dupuyer Acantha had a classic in the social history this blog likes to bring to you. The headline read “Parasol Pointers” and the first advice was “a plain white sunshade is useful and pretty.” It advised against “grotesque handles” and “strapped parasols.” No lady should be without one, and “the parasol may be really a part of a costume.” Baseball caps now apparently serve the same purpose. Times change.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oct. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1889 Capt. C.P. Higgins the founder of Missoula died suddenly in the community that loved him of “catarrh of the bowels.” He was mourned across the state with the Helena Herald echoing the sentiments of many: “Capt. Higgins was one of the oldest and best known and most universally respected men in Montana.” His mark remains on many of the historic buildings of the city and one of the reasons he might have been so popular was the tribute in the Missoulian about his business dealings: “(His) pioneer business house had never sued a customer for debt.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Oct. 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1964 thousands of Montanans turned out in Butte to greet President Lyndon Johnson who was on a whirlwind campaign trip through the West. The Montana Standard got a jab in against Republican contender Sen. Barry Goldwater with a related headline that screamed “LBJ Finds Friendly Faces in Barryland,” a reference to his earlier stop in Arizona.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oct. 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1890 the Fortnightly Club was established by Mrs. Frances Webster Wickes in Helena “for the purpose of studying English literature. It was the first such group established in the state, and continues to meet in Helena to this day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Oct. 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Yellowstone Monitor in Glendive printed the entire statement of Jude A.C. Spencer in sentencing former Dawson County Clerk and Recorder R.L. Wyman to not less than six years nor more than 12 years at hard labor for sedition. In the dark days of WWI near hysteria gripped Montana and the rest of the nation and Spencer’s questioning of the good of the war led to his conviction. But even the judge seemed conflicted:  “It hardly seems possible to me that any man who has occupied the position that you have … can be guilty of the offense of which the verdict on the jury has found you.”  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oct. 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1902 a long column in the Dupuyer Acantha reminds us that few things in entertainment are new. Almost in the same language as Martha Stewart uses in her popular television show, the writer shows the reader how to make a “pretty table fernery” at home. “Make a birch bark box six inches wide, nine inches long,” it begins. “Gather, during a walk through the woods, an armful of ferns selecting perfect ones.” With a few more flourishes and touches– voila – “it’s a good thing” for your table. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Oct. 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1877 a dramatic attempt that began in Oregon by Chief Joseph and his band of Nez Perce to outrun the U.S. Army and escape to Canada came to a tragic end at the Battle of the Bear Paw Mountains in northern Montana. Although it is now disputed, Chief Joseph was quoted by a reporter at the surrender to Gen. Oliver Howard and Col. Nelson Miles: “Hear me my chiefs, I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Oct. 4 – On this day in Montana history in 1902 a grizzly and fiery train wreck on the Northern Pacific Railroad between Park City and Columbus killed two and injured many others. Passengers had to be cut from smoking cars. The Billings Gazette struck out angrily in the lead paragraph of its story on the crash: “Although nobody could be found who seemed to know, or knowing would tell; the facts when they leak out will probably show that somebody was responsible for the collision.” 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oct. 3 – On this day in Montana history in 1907 a car owned by legendary Montana sheep rancher Charles Bair set the automobile world record for five-miles at the Helena fairgrounds horse track. The winning time was five minutes and 17 seconds. The car was a steam driven Stanley nicknamed “Whistling Willie.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Oct. 2 – On this day in Montana history in 1901 Edward Brady was lynched by a vigilante mob in Helena. Brady, who had been in trouble with the law before, had been accused of sexually molesting an adolescent girl two days before the lynching, and she had identified him to authorities. Vigilantes had taken Brady from the jail and hung him from a telephone poll with the order: “Pull Away, Boys!” That same day a County Coroner’s Jury found: “We, the jury find that James E. Brady came to his death at a place called the Haymarket in Helena … between 1:30 and 2:30 at the hands of unknown parties.” Whether it was justice or not, it was swift.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Brought to you by your friends at the Montana Historical Society
Oct. 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1952 President Harry S. Truman was in Montana to dedicate the $102,900,000 Hungry Horse Dam. Speaking to a capacity crowd at Flathead County High School gymnasium, Truman took the opportunity to attack “power monopolies,” the Republican Party and then Gen. Dwight Eisenhower of standing in the way of public power development. Truman praised Montana Sen. Mike Mansfield for his tireless work in getting the dam built.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sept. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1909 President William Howard Taft visited Butte. During his parade though the Mining City, Taft remarked, “Your city has grown wonderfully. It is a real live city, and not altogether a mining camp.” When asked if he had any qualms about going down into one of the mine shafts, Taft said, “Do You think I’m made of sugar?”  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sept. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1870 Henry Comstock shot himself in the head and died dead broke and alone in a shack near Bozeman. Ironically, his name is associated with the famous Comstock Lode in Nevada. Although he was part owner of a claim that others found silver on, he bragged so much about it that the whole area became known as the Comstock Lode. It yielded 400 million dollars in precious metals, but Comstock sold his share for $11,000 which he soon squandered away. His grave marker still stands near Bozeman.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sept. 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 the first successful public flight in the state of Montana was made at the Montana State Fair Grounds in Helena. Pilot J.C. “Bud” Mars made two successful flights in his Curtiss plane. The flights dispelled skepticism of many who doubted it would be possible for a plane to take off at Helena’s altitude of 4,157 feet.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sept. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1963 President John F. Kennedy came to Billings and was greeted by 17,000 cheering people at the Midlands Empire fairgrounds. He spoke of many things, but most on his mind was the recently passed nuclear test ban treaty. “We now have a chance for a more secure existence,” he told the crowd. On the platform with Kennedy were Sens. Mike Mansfield and Lee Metcalf and Gov. Tim Babcock.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sept. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1841 Father Pierre Jean DeSmet planted a cross on the banks of what is now the Bitterroot River in western Montana establishing the historic mission known as St. Mary’s of the Rockies. One can call it coincidence or divine providence, but DeSmet came to Montana from Council Bluffs on the Missouri River after meeting Native Americans from the Flathead country who were on their way to St. Louis to plead for a “black robe” to bring “powerful medicine” to their people. DeSmet went with them to St. Louis and convinced Catholic officials there to allow him to return with his new found friends.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sept. 21 – On this day in 1919 the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt, was greeted by a large crowd on a trip to Butte, which was embroiled by mining labor disputes with owners. The Butte Miner reported that the president’s son “minced” no words in urging labor and management to resolve their differences peacefully and not turn to “bolshevism.” “Riots and Disorder have no place in this country and peace and order must be restored before rights can be debated,” Roosevelt said.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sept. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1942 quotas were established by the War Production Board in Helena for all Montana counties to save kitchen fat. Advertisements appeared across the state urging housewives to “Save Waste Fats for Explosives” for the World Was Two effort. It was said that 3 pounds of fat could provide enough glycerin to make a pound of gunpowder.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sept. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1933 the Santa Rita oil pipeline began carrying most of the oil in the Cut Bank oil field to the rails near Cut Bank. The  Montana Oil and Mining Journal reported that the cost to producers to get oil to the market was cut from about 40 cents per barrel, which had been the cost to using trucks, to 28 cents per barrel using the new pipeline. The economy of the area was booming.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sept. 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1894 the Montana Colored Citizen newspaper reported that black man J.P. Ball Sr. had been nominated at the Republican county convention meeting in Helena for the position of coroner of Lewis and Clark County. “The disposition to ignore the colored citizens grows less and less as time rolls on, and the time is near at hand when he shall be accorded the full and just recognition to which he is entitled,” the paper said. Ironically, Ball said that his business interests would prevent him from accepting the nomination.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sept. 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1944 250 German prisoners of war were being used to help harvest sugar beets in the Hardin area. A work camp was set up on the fairgrounds with the U.S. Army providing the “fencing and armed guards.” 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sept. 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1907 a Great Northern Railroad Oriental Limited express car was held up and robbed near Rexford. Two men who were onboard the train climbed over the tender and forced the engineer to stop the train in the wilderness near Yaak. They blew up one of two safes in the car and reportedly netted about $40,000. George Frankhauser and Charles McDonald were eventually convicted of the crime, but not before escaping from the Lewis and Clark jail and eventually being recaptured.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sept. 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1969 Montana’s first and pioneering radiologist Dora Walker died in Great Falls. In 1918 she came to Great Falls and opened the Walker Laboratory “specializing in X-ray, chemistry and pathology.” She also was a leading cancer specialist and founder of a medical program for Cascade County’s poor.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sept. 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1884 headlines lit up with “The First Fires Started in That Mighty Structure” as the Anaconda Smelter – still a landmark visible for miles on the Interstate – was lit up for the first time. It was hailed as “the most important and extensive smelting enterprise yet known in connection with the mining history of Montana.” The plant manager said in ceremonies at the smelter the furnaces were lit “for the hope that they may never be extinguished.” It is historic evidence that nothing lasts forever.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sept. 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1904 the Havre Herald reported on the success of Labor Day events with 500 working men marching and dozens of floats in the parade. In its reports of major speeches given touting the need to organize labor, W. G. Conrad’s speech on the need to “fight against” the threat of “Orient labor” to American workers was said to have riled up the crowd. Some things never change, it seems.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sept. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1923 the Absarokee Enterprise was touting tobacco as a major crop for Montana. J.W. Tucker of Worden, who had been a tobacco grower in Kentucky, said his experiments in growing tobacco in Montana over several years were successful, and produced “leaves equal to, if not superior, in quality to that grown anywhere else.” His neighbors in the Huntley irrigation project were following his experiments carefully.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sept. 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1927 famous aviator Charles “Lucky” Lindbergh landed in Butte and into a throng of fans anxious to greet a true American hero. Extra police and soldiers from Fort Missoula handled security and made sure the field was safe and clear for landing. Lindbergh spoke at a sold-out banquet in the evening and thrilled the crowd with stories of barnstorming in Montana in his early days with a lot of his old friends.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Aug. 31 – On this day in Montana history in 1953 Montanans experienced their first television commercial. KXLF owned by famous broadcaster Ed Craney in Butte moved the station’s only camera to the street where automobiles for sale by the Wilson Motor Company were paraded by it as an announcer described them. Depending on your point of view, the ad was said to be successful and millions more were to follow.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aug. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1901 one of the worst train wreck disasters in Montana and U.S. history occurred near Kalispell when 28 cars broke loose from a train stopped for water, and crashed into another train. Thirty-four people were killed in the wreck, many of them burned alive in the fire that quickly engulfed the wreckage.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Aug. 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1916 actor George Montgomery was born on a farm near Great Falls. One of his favorite things to do when young was to sneak in to the Mint Saloon and look at the Charlie Russell paintings there. He starred in many films including Riders of the Purple Sage and the Battle of the Bulge. He was married to singer Dinah Shore for 25 years.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Aug. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1878 the first corporate use of a telephone took place at the Hecla Mine. It was a project of the Stuart, Cable City and Phillipsburg Telegraph and Telephone Co. Stuart was located near Opportunity in Deer Lodge County, and Cable City was in Warm Spring Canyon. The Hecla mine was west of Melrose. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Aug. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1864 the first newspaper published in Montana Territory, the Montana Post, hit the streets of the gold boom town of Virginia City. Although Thomas Dimsdale is often credited with being the first editor of the Post, the first four issues were edited by John Buchanan. Dimsdale was hired as editor for the fifth issue. The paper was moved to Helena in 1868 with the discovery of gold there. All of the extant issues of the Post and 95 percent of all the newspapers ever published in Montana are available at the Montana Historical Society. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aug. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1975 Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in northwestern Montana was dedicated. It was called the “key element” for plans to develop the Columbia River Basin for flood control, power generation, and recreation. It also destroyed historic Native American sites and had a major impact on fish and wildlife. The total cost was  nearly half-a-billion dollars.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Aug. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1866 a heavily guarded wagon with $1.5 million in gold left Helena for Fort Benton. Most of it was taken from Last Chance Gulch, and it showed that what became the Capitol City was overtaking Virginia City as the territory’s new gold capital.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Aug. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1870 the Washburn Expedition led by Lt. Gustavus Doane set out from Fort Ellis near Bozeman to explore the nearby wilderness area reported to be filled with geysers and other natural wonders. They verified what were thought to be the tall tales mountain men about the area. While sitting around a campfire, the group had the first discussion about setting aside the area for what eventually became Yellowstone National Park – the first in the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aug. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1884 an incident occurred that reminds us that domestic violence has long been a serious problem. A couple identified only as Mr. and Mrs. Westlake got into a family fight in Butte and Mrs. Westlake was knocked off a veranda suffering severe injuries. “Mr. Westlake, unfortunately, was not hurt,” the Weekly Herald reported. Later he tried to take his own life in jail. The headline called it “Domestic Discord.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Aug. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1883 President Chester Arthur arrived with his party at Mammoth Hot Springs. Montana journalists had a little fun with the “big city” group: “They were all very much fatigued with the journey on horseback to which they were unused.” Reports that Arthur was ill were “untrue, as he was only fatigued from travelling, and is otherwise in the best of health.”

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aug. 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1959 at 11:37 p.m. a “night of terror” began in the Madison River Canyon. A massive earthquake struck killing 28 campers in rock slides and resulting flooding causing more than $11 million in damage as well. It created Quake Lake which is a lasting reminder of that terrible night.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Aug. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1972 pioneering cattle woman Susan Haughian died at age 84 in Miles City. She and her husband Dan came to the state from Ireland to establish a homestead near Miles City in 1905. In 1931 Dan died leaving the ranch to Susan and their 10 children. She survived some difficult years, and made some shrewd business decisions. By the 1950s she had grown her ranch to 90,000 acres and became a very wealthy woman. She once said in her Irish accent: “If ye don’t have land, ye’re a drifter.”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Aug. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1953 the first television station in Montana went on the air in Butte. Legendary television pioneer Ed Craney actually put on a test pattern on his KXLF at ten minutes before midnight on Aug. 14 but programming didn’t begin until the next day. The reason he hurried the opening of his station was that KOPR in Butte was in a race to become the first in the state.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Aug. 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1908 the railroad town of Taft on the far western edge of the state was consumed in a fire of near biblical proportions. News accounts described the town this way: “Women of the underworld, gamblers etc. flocked to the mushroom railroad town, and it was soon a place of about 1,000 inhabitants.” The town was rebuilt but once again was leveled by fire in 1910.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Aug. 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1920 eastern Montana was “a buzz” with talk of “aerial mail service.” The Broadus Independent said “as a direct result of the activity of the Chamber of Commerce” that Broadus had been designated a station on the branch aerial mail route from Cheyenne, Wyo., all the way to Miles City. Air mail was the e-mail of its day.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Aug. 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 Bozeman was preparing to celebrate the first Sweet Pea Festival. It was hailed as “the prettiest” event in the history of the state. Festival Lord High Chancellor John Luce proclaimed: “For the first time in the history of the state of Montana a carnival has been inaugurated, and its citizens have laid aside the cares and responsibilities of business for a day to indulge in fun and frolic and the worship of the beautiful.”    

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Aug. 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1877 Lt. James Bradley came upon an encampment of Nez Perce led by Chief Joseph that were moving across Montana in an attempt to seek freedom in Canada. In what became known as the Battle of the Little Big Hole near Missoula, Bradley charged the camp and lost 31 men including himself,  with 39 wounded. The Nez Perce lost about 90 men women and children but beat off the attack and escaped. It was one of the most devastating battles of the Indian wars in the West.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Aug. 8 – On this day in 1920 K. Ross Toole, the father of the modern Montana Historical Society, was born in Missoula. In 1951 after graduating from UCLA Toole became director of the newly reorganized Montana Historical Society and put it on the national history map with among other things the acquisition of the Mackay collection of Charlie Russell artwork and the construction of the current home of the Society and its museum across from the Capitol. He wrote “Uncommon Land” and went on to become a professor at the University of Montana and a preeminent leader in Montana history.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Aug. 7 – On this day in 1958 the Missoula Timberjacks celebrated a 14 to 5 come from behind win in baseball against the Havana Cuban Giants in a game played in Kalispell. This was a good will tour before the days of the Cuban trade and travel sanctions and the two teams played the next night in Libby. It was not reported whether the Americans celebrated by lighting up any Cuban cigars.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Aug. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1929 internationally known author Mary MacLane, whose “The Story of Mary MacLane” created a sensational stir with its then shocking account of morality and everyday life in the mining city of Butte, died. The book was translated into more than 30 languages and made MacLane into an international celebrity. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Aug. 3 – On this day in Montana history in 1949 the Montana Historical Society received one of the rarest books in the world of which only eight were printed. The Cheyenne-English dictionary was created by a Swiss Mennonite missionary who came to the West in 1880. The five-inch thick volume took 11 years to compile. It is still used by researchers today.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Aug. 2 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 labor organizer Frank Little was found hanging from a trestle under a bridge in Butte. A 3-7-77 vigilante warning was attached to his body. Although it remains officially an unsolved murder, thousands of workers turned out for Little’s funeral and had no doubt that the Anaconda Company was behind it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Aug. 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1934 Landusky was gearing up for the Little Rockies Rodeo. “Cowboys from the badland brakes and from the Indian reservation, where such stunts as bronc riding and calf roping are a part of the day’s work, will compete for prizes.” The paper talked about amenities, but Mrs. “Tex” Fletcher deserved some kind of trophy for her part in the event. She was “serving a fried chicken dinner each day.”

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31 -- On this day in Montana history in 1934 Robert Yellowtail was installed as superintendent of the Crow Reservation. What made the event unique was that Yellowtail was a member of the Crow Tribe, and it is believed that he was one of the first tribal members in the nation to become a superintendent of a reservation. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 the Hingham American carried a prayer from a local Hill County minister: “Oh, Lord, we pray thee in accordance with the request of this people that Thou send the rain to make their crops flourish, bring forth fruit abundantly; but, oh Lord, thou knowest as I know, as they ought to know, that what they need is good plowing, better cultivation and more summerfallowing, Amen.”  There was a minister using God and science to make the Montana land produce.

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 the Carbon County Joliet Journal reported that a “game of baseball between Joliet and Carbonado proved a sensational and spectacular event.”  Proving that taunting and “dissing” opponents is nothing new, the paper said “the Carbonado team was handicapped from the start on account of having became used to pitching hay and plowing beets.” It said the score “stood 2 to 24” when “the Joliet runners became so tired they could run no more.”

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1810 fur trapper Pierre Menard arrived in St. Louis after exploring the Montana wilderness less than five years after it had been traveled by Lewis and Clark. A letter written by Menard to his brother-in-law Pierre Choteau, which among other things discusses the dangers of trapping at Three Forks due to hostile Native American attacks, is the earliest documentation in the collections of the Montana Historical Society regarding the U.S. attempts to open the area to the fur trade. Ironically, it is written in French.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1806 William Clark carved his name into the rock on Pompy’s Pillar on the Yellowstone River near what is now Billings. The inscription, “Wm Clark July 25 1806,” is the only permanent record left along the route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In his journal, Clark noted that the “Indians” had built two stone piles on the rock, which we now know is sacred to the Crow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1902 W.T. Hornaday of the New York Zoological Society and now famous Miles City photographer  L.A. Huffman found the fossil remains of a “gigantic lizard” on MacScriber’s ranch on Hell Creek near the Missouri River that measured 37 feet in length. Hornaday would later shoot and use taxidermy to record the last free-ranging buffalo in Montana.   

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Bozeman Weekly Courier had a big headline: High-Class Entertainment Is Object of Chautauqua.” Opening the next day it claimed to be one of the first held in Montana. “Every man, woman and child who misses the sessions will miss something that should be seen.” Lectures, band music, magicians and other attractions at the Chautauqua would “Replace the old-fashioned street carnival and its vulgarities,” the paper predicted.

Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20 --  On this day in Montana history in 1893 the temperature hit a blistering 117 degrees in Glendive. The Glendive Independent quipped in its report of the record heat wave: “Don’t the Bible say something about burning up, brethren of the press?”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

July 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1913 the AAA Glidden trophy was presented to Dr. J. D. Park of Duluth, Minn., who beat out several other competitors in a harrowing reliability road trip by automobile from Minneapolis to Glacier National Park. The trip took nine days and put the national park on the map as a drivable destination for motorists. Park’s Locomobile  beat out a Hupmobile for the prize.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1860 Capt. John Mullan and his party of road builders were on top of the Continental Divide at what is now called Mullan Pass west of Helena. They were talking about the solar eclipse that had forced them to end work briefly. Mullan built the first road from Fort Benton to Helena and on to the West Coast.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1920 The Butte Miner ran a story on rancher C.D. Harper and his quest to change his life. “Chicago’s the place to find a wife. The thing that is troubling me now is how to pick one from all these answers,” he told the paper. Dozens of letters had been sent in response to an ad he ran seeking a wife in the Windy City. “I’ve got a car and I keep five men employed all the year around. I’d get my wife a hired girl and she wouldn’t have to kill herself working,” he said. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

July 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 headlines across the state mirrored those of today. “State Drought Loss Computed in Mounting Millions of Dollars” the Daily Interlake streamed. Wheat losses were estimated at $6 million and rising, 750,000 cattle in the eastern third of the state were being moved to market and railroads were offering special rates to move sheep to better areas for pasture. Similar stories were appearing across the Midwest and West.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 12-year-old Terry Palo won the soapbox derby held at Great Falls. More than 1,500 people lined Central Avenue to watch the event. Even then controversy was a part of racing. One young driver was disqualified for having an “illegal steering apparatus.” Palo said afterwards that he hadn’t ever driven a real car, but wanted to become “a racing pilot and drive on the Indianapolis speedway.” Helena held Soap Box races as early as 1936.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1923 in the Cabinet Mountains forest in western Montana Ranger Howard Larsen had a harrowing experience with a grizzly bear. While blazing a trail armed with only a small marking axe, the bear charged Larsen, who managed to scramble up a tree. The bear followed and managed to get a paw on the ranger’s boot and tear it off before it fell to the ground. The incident rekindled the argument about whether bears should be considered game animals, or killed off as dangerous predators.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

July 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1861 the river boat Chippewa blew up at what became known as Disaster Bend on the Missouri when it was nearing the end of its trip to Fort Benton. The disaster blew goods intended for Native Americans more than three miles away. Perhaps in some strange form of justice, the accident occurred when a deck hand with a candle was trying to get a drink from illegal whiskey being smuggled for the Indian trade. He set off 25 kegs of black powder in the hold. Captain Joseph LaBarge was one of the victims. It was LaBarge who in 1859 took the first steamship all the way to Fort Benton.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1894 units of the 22nd Infantry arrived in Livingston to open the Northern Pacific Railroad lines and stop what had become a nationwide railroad strike known as the Pullman Strike. Capt. B.C. Lockwood reportedly said upon the arrival of his troops: “I am running this town.”  It was a harbinger of the major labor strikes that were coming in the next century.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1930 more than 15,000 people from across the state and even Canada gathered near Wolf Point to dedicate the first Missouri River bridge in eastern Montana.  It was described as a modern transportation wonder, but the people knew that it would bring them closer together and change the way they lived. As one journalist put it: “Seen at a distance of 15 miles this massive structure appears as vaporous as the ethereal substance of which dreams are made.”

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1964 Gallatin County authorities were investigating  a “mob rampage” in West Yellowstone that saw about 30 residents of the community using ax handles against what was called a “mob of about 1,000 teenagers and college-age young people” who had come to the town to celebrate the Fourth of July.  “Illegal possession of beer” was seen as the cause of the incident that saw several fires, many tipped over outdoor toilets and other damage. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1884 Lewistown law officials were trying to sort out a variety of crimes including the death of two “desperate characters” that attempted to “hold up the town.” The incidents were confusing and news accounts offered different versions. But the headline in the Mineral Argus put it best: “A lively Fourth will go into history as the first in Lewistown, and the most thrilling in the United Sates in 1884.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4 –On this day in Montana history in 1923 Shelby held the first and only national boxing championship in the Treasure State. A special wooden arena was constructed for the event between Jack Dempsey and challenger Tommy Gibbons. Dempsey won the fight. The ring bell used in that fight is on display in the Montana Historical Society Museum.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3 --  On this day in Montana history in 1901 Kid Curry, whose real name was Harvey Logan and was one of the Hole in the Wall Gang, held up the Great Northern train near Malta. As in the famous movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Logan had trouble blowing up the safe, and had to increase the dynamite he used in three different tries before blowing the money car up. But he got away with more than $100,000 -- a lot of money in those days.

Monday, July 2, 2012

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 in Montana. 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.”

Friday, June 29, 2012

June 29 – On this date in Montana history in 1936 state Public Works Administration Director V. H. Walsh reported that 51 projects costing $6.7 million had been completed in Montana since the federal program was begun in 1933. He said 17 more projects costing $3.4 million were underway, and announced new plans for a new Bozeman high school, Livingston irrigation ditch, Billings drainage system, Park County Irrigation canal, and a Flint Creek water conservation project.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 28 – On this date in Montana history in 1982 a terrible hail storm with grapefruit-sized hail stones ripped apart the Capitol City of Helena. Insurance adjusters were called in from across the nation to deal with the thousands of insurance claims. Millions of dollars in damages resulted in the region -- from dented and windowless autos, to 35 heavily damaged National Guard helicopters, to crop damage. Roofer’s nails were still causing flat tires months later as nearly all roofs had to be repaired.  Montana Historical Society personnel spent the night in the building protecting priceless artwork and collections when 47 windows were knocked out in the building.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 27 – On this date in Montana history in 1925 the first significant earthquake in the state’s history occurred. It was centered near Three Forks and had a magnitude 6 on the Richter scale. It was felt throughout the state as well as in bordering states. It stranded trains, caused major property damage including destroying the courthouse in White Sulphur Springs, but resulted in only a few minor injuries to citizens.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 26 – On this day in Montana history in 2008 Crow historian Joe Medicine Crow was belatedly awarded the Bronze Star for his service in France in WWII and also made a knight of the French Legion of Honor by the French army. Medicine Crow said “it’chik” the Crow word for “very good.”  French Counsul General Pierre-Francois Mourier said in ceremonies at Garryowen: “France has not forgotten – France will never forget – your sacrifices.” In addition to counting four coups in the war, Medicine Crow was honored for being the first American into Germany – a feat captured on film by a Stars and Stripes photographer.  “I was the first American soldier to jump into Germany and an Indian Warrior at that,” Medicine Crow said.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1876 when the gun smoke cleared on the hills above the Little Big Horn River, Gen. George Armstrong Custer and about 260 of his men including his Indian Scouts lay dead. The Sioux called it the battle of Greasy Grass and it was the last major victory for Sitting Bull and the estimated 2,000 Sioux, Arapaho and Cheyenne warriors who had once called the area home.

Friday, May 18, 2012

May 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 the commanding officer of the battleship U.S.S. Montana wrote to Mrs. H.R. Cunningham, president of the Women’s Auxiliary in Helena for the Navy League, with a list of “knitted articles” the crew needed. It included 2,000 pairs of woolen socks, 1,000 pairs of mittens, and “700 visored caps to pull down to the shoulders.” She said the only thing holding her group back was getting the sewing stores to get the needles and yarn they needed.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 Great Falls Diocese Bishop Edwin O’Hara was in Vatican City for the 40th anniversary of the ordination of Pope Leo XIII. In addition to his congratulations, O’Hara discussed problems of “religious work in rural districts.” The Pope offered his blessing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1812 in Italy Father Anthony Ravalli was born. He was to become  the “DaVinci of the West.” He came to Montana in 1845 to St. Mary’s Mission and later with his Indian parishioners built the Cataldo Mission in what is now Idaho which still stands as a masterpiece of frontier architecture. Ravalli County in Montana was named for him and he is credited with being the first doctor in what was to become Montana also having degrees in mechanics, sciences the arts and farming from universities in Italy. He died at Stevensville in 1884 and hundreds of people from miles around came to the funeral.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 T.L. Martin, secretary of the Helena T.C. Power Company, was returning from a trip to Canada with news of WW1. He told of Canadian towns being “depopulated of their young fighting men,” but confident of ultimate victory in Europe. He also made a comment that should have prepared Montanans for what was to come. “The entrance of the United States in to the world conflict has added to their hopes of an early conclusion of the struggle.” Hundreds of Montanans died in that war.

Monday, May 14, 2012

May 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 the Daily Inter Lake had a front page headline, “Electric Signs Invade Kalispell.”  “Most of the largest business houses have at this time adopted one form or another of the great variety of electric lighting devices with which to attract the eye,” the paper said.  It also claimed the largest electric sign in Montana was above the Kalispell Brewery “the letters being four feet high, the sign 65 feet long and the number of lights used in it 258.” The times were a’changin and apparently the light bulbs too.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 the president was set to sign the bill creating Glacier Park. It included an appropriation of $10,000 for preliminary surveys and building of roads and trails.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 125 Italian prisoners of war from WWII arrived at Fort Missoula and were put to work. They were reportedly smiling and waving to the newspaper reporters and others who gathered for the arrival. The prisoners renamed the camp “Bella Vista” for its beautiful view. A lot better than facing American soldiers on the battlefield.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1889 a Montana horse won the Kentucky Derby, stunning the Kentucky and entire East Coast racing world. Spokane was born on the ranch of Noah Armstrong, who made a fortune mining in Butte and bought a ranch in the Beaverhead Valley. Proctor Knott was heavily favored to win the Derby, but Spokane beat him by a “whisker.” The race originally was a mile and a half, and Spokane still holds the record for the Derby at that distance.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 the Great Northern Railroad was cooking up a bunch of apple pies “the kind like mother used to make” to serve to its riders on Mother’s Day. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

May 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1901 movie star and Montana native son Gary Cooper was born in Helena. His parents Alice and Charles called him Frank James Cooper – Gary came later. Late in his life he talked about how proud he was to be a Montanan and said he grew up in a family that loved the paintings of another famous Montanan, Charlie Russell. “My dad probably hoped that someday I’d turn out to be a pretty fair painter. I was a pretty fair caricaturist, but that was about all.” Yep, a man of few words. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

May 4 – On this day in Montana history in 1939 Gov. Roy Ayers signed a bill establishing the Montana Parks Commission to supervise an envisioned network of state parks. The bill was prompted by the 1937 state acquisition of the ”Morrison Caves” complex in Jefferson County that was renamed “Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park” in 1946.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May 3 – On this day in Montana History in 1941 schools and civic organizations across the state were teaming up to hold outdoor competitions for students. In Billings more than 500 students competed in events ranging from traditional runs to sack races and shuttle races with prizes awarded by the Elks.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May 2 – On this day in Montana History in 1864 the Montana Territory was approved by Congress. Most people think of this as the start of modern Montana history. But Wilbur Fisk Sanders a political giant in early Montana history and a founder of the Montana Historical Society always maintained that 1862 and 1863 were critical in the development of the state. As he wrote about “the meaning of our settlement and civilization here,” Fisk urged future generations “to preserve sketches of our earlier story … day by day and year-by-year.” That also includes Native American history.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 the Billings Gazette gave some advice on the topic of the day “men going to war.” How to deal with going away parties and letter writing were talked about.  Baby boomers also got their first – sort of – mention: “If a young man meets a local girl at an army dance … may he call her at home?” Answer: “Yes. And he shouldn’t mind if her mother and father are on hand the first time to look him over, after all they know nothing about him.”

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1803 the United States purchased Louisiana from France. The boundaries were not clearly defined, but included the western half of the Mississippi drainage basin from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. It didn’t go as far as Louis and Clark took it with their expedition, but it definitely included what became Montana.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Aril 27 – On this day in Montana History in 1805 the Lewis and Clark Expedition entered what is now known as Montana just above the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. During the summers of 1805 and 1806 the Corps of Discovery made more than 280 campsites in Montana and spent more time here exploring than any other area they trekked through.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 The Anaconda Standard had an interesting story on a strange love triangle. Bart Decker was in jail for larceny. It seems that Decker and another man were both “wooing” Bessie Everett. When her purse came up missing, she thought she had lost it and filed no complaint. However, Decker later bragged to his rival for Bessie that “if he couldn’t get the girl, he at least got her money.” The local officers soon picked him up.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1894 a group of financially stricken and disgruntled Montanans that came to be known as Coxey’s Army commandeered a train in Butte and headed for Washington, D.C. to take their complaints directly to Congress and the president. Northern Pacific Superintendent J.D. Finn said: “Where is the governor? Where is the United States Marshall? Where is the Montana militia? How in the hell do you expect one Irishman to stand off the whole of Coxey’s Army?” The train made it as far as Forsyth where federal troops from Fort Keogh two days later re-took the train. Rumors of heavily armed and “dangerous men” had the whole nation on edge. But when searched, only three guns were found; one broken, one a .22, and the other an 1860s rifle with no ammunition. On the other hand 43 copies of the Bible were also confiscated.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1895 the Yellowstone Journal in Miles City carried a story on a controversy involving wolves. It seems that many people were upset because a new law required “the full pelt from nose to tail” when collecting the state bounty on wolves. For one thing they said wolves sometimes traveled a ways after taking poison before dying, and often the only part that could be recovered later was the scalp. They reasoned that the scalp should be proof enough. But Montana changed the old scalp rule because some enterprising people were getting scalps from furriers in Chicago and elsewhere -- who used the rest of the wolf pelt for clothing -- and turning them in for bounty. “If all men were honest it would be the fair thing to pay on scalps, but they are not,” the paper said.   

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1921 a large bronze tablet was placed at the site of the Montana Club in downtown Helena to commemorate the place where the discovery claim was made that set off the gold rush that created what became Montana’s Capital. The Montana Historical Society and the Society of Montana Pioneers formed a committee that held several conferences with “old timers” to determine where the original site was located.

Friday, April 20, 2012

April 20 – On this day in Montana History in 1887 the town of Castle between the Little and Big Belt Mountains about 75 miles north of Bozeman was named. Between 1886 and 1890 surrounding mines yielded about $1 million in silver. The town thrived with churches, schools and even home delivery of milk. It was one of the richest in Montana. But about 10 years later silver prices plummeted and as the local newspaper reported, “One day, the local boarding house served 135 men. Three days later, it fed only three.” Few people remember the once promising community today.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April 19 – On this day in Montana History in 1959 notorious problem prisoner Jerry Myles and two other convicts at the Montana Prison in Deer Lodge seized rifles and took several guards hostage. In the ensuing 36-hour standoff Deputy Warden Ted Rothe was killed. In all 26 employees and inmates were taken hostage. The riot ended when the Montana National Guard fired shots from a bazooka into the cellblock. Myles committed suicide rather than giving up.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18 – On this day in Montana History in 1916 the famous chief Rocky Boy of the nomadic band of Chippewa Indians in Montana died on the reservation near Box Elder that was named for him about a year later. It was said that his last words were that people remember what he did for homeless Indians in Montana.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1867 John Bozeman left the town that was named after him on a trip to Fort C.F. Smith on the Big Horn River.  He never returned. First accounts said that he had been shot by Indians, and it created panic in the territory. Later accounts doubted the truthfulness of the account and suggested other reasons for him being shot including those who said “he was too attractive to some men’s wives.” The facts behind his death remain a mystery of Montana history.   

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 “Mind Your Manners,” a syndicated newspaper column, focused on how to behave at club meetings. It was a question and answer format. One of the questions was: “When a club invites you to become a member, how can you politely refuse?” The proper answer: “By saying that you are sorry, but that you haven’t time for membership in another club.” This writer was brought up in the Groucho Marx school of behavior. My answer: “I would never become a member of a club that would have me.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

April 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 the construction contract for the new Great Northern Hotel in Billings to replace the one destroyed by fire about a year earlier was awarded. The contract for the 200-room hotel was for $1 million.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12 – On this day in Montana History in 1941 the Billings Gazette had an interesting “Mind Your Manners” column. This one was on meal behavior as a guest, and advised not to ask if a food item is homemade, that it is proper to place the serving silver into a dish when passing it, and answered its own question of whether to stir gravy into potatoes before eating them with “one can, but it is not the proper thing.” Simpler times.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April 11 -- On this day in Montana History in 1911 Montanans welcomed President Theodore Roosevelt to the state with a big parade on Higgins Avenue in Missoula. The Missoulian headline read: “Record Crowd Awaits Coming of Nation’s First Citizen – Arrangements All Complete and Strenuous, Happy Day in Prospect.” After the parade, Roosevelt was off to the Florence Hotel “with his escort of soldiers, Spanish War veterans, cowboys, Indians and citizens.” In its morning edition the Missoulian was confident of great Big Sky weather: “At a late hour the prospects are that the day will be bright and balmy and that the largest crowd ever assembled in western Montana will be here to give Teddy a rousing welcome.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1899 Montana Gov. Robert Smith at the request of the Montana Legislature established Arbor Day creating a legal holiday “to commemorate the arrival of spring and to encourage the planting of trees, shrubs and vines on both private and public property.” 

Monday, April 9, 2012

April 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1866 Montana’s first-ever Constitutional Convention opened in Helena. The land was still a territory and the Helena gathering was organized by Acting Territorial Gov. Thomas Francis Meagher. Politics were at a boiling point in the territory and less than half the people chosen to write the constitution showed up. Essentially what happened was they passed a measure without a quorum, it was never offered for a state-wide vote, and therefore was never submitted to Congress. On top of all that, the first Constitution was lost on its way to St. Louis to be printed and no copy survives.

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6 – On this day in Montana History in 1951 the big news in Billings was the grand opening of the new Dairy Queen “A Brand New Product.” The company was trying out some new marketing gimmicks and offered “curb service” after 6 p.m. The slogan back then was “The cone with the curl on top.” You could get “hamburgers to eat in your car” for 35 cents.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5 – On this day in Montana History in 1872 what became known as the first battle of Cypress Hills occurred. There now appears to be little doubt that a group of wolvers working the area mistook some Assiniboines for Piegans or Bloods who had stolen some of their horses and attacked them. This was the first event in what eventually led to the tragic Cypress Hills massacre which occurred in Canada in the spring of 1873.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April 4 – On this day in Montana History in 1917 Jeannette Rankin went to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time as the first woman elected to Congress in the nation. Ironically, it was to hear the debate on the resolution for U.S. entry into World War One. She eventually voted against entry into war and it led to her defeat in the next election. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3 – On this day in Montana history in 1885 in Miles City, Montana Territory, the Eastern Montana Livestock Association founded in 1883 and the Montana Stockgrowers Association founded in 1884 merged their operations under the name of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. The purpose of the group was “to unite cattle and horse growers in Montana Territory; first, for the enforcement of livestock laws; second, for the protection against rustlers; third, to devise plans to protect the open range against fires; fourth, for the uniformity in just claims against railroads and other corporations; and fifth, to promote harmony in range work and roundups.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

April 2 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 rain was falling across Montana. It was the start of what is called the “wet years” of the Montana homestead boom. “Nature has left the door of fortune open in Montana,” the state Department of Agriculture boasted. The population of Montana nearly doubled in the next few years. By 1916 the abundant rain period was over. In 1919 the state experienced its lowest rainfall ever and a large section of the state produced no crop or pasturage while other areas had but small returns. Nature’s whims resulted in thousands of people going broke and leaving the state. Boom and bust once again reared its ugly head in the Big Sky State.

Friday, March 30, 2012

March 30 – On this day in Montana History in 1868 Montana’s brief history of the Pony Express came to an end. The Pony Express began in 1880, and in 1867 the Northern Overland Trail route was created running from Minnesota into Montana Territory. It wasn’t the coming of the telegraph, but “many mishaps, killings and destruction of stations and mail” that spelled the doom of the Pony Express in Montana.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 29 – On this day in Montana History in 1911 the Billings Chamber of Commerce voted to support the Sunday closing of the local Post Office.  Opposition had been building nationwide from church groups and others to close all Post Offices on Sundays. And you thought that weekend curtailment of Post Office service was something new.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March 28 – On this day in Montana History in 1915 people across the state were fiercely debating the Legislature’s passage of a referendum to prohibit the manufacture, shipment and sale of alcoholic beverages in Montana. It was the culmination of a decade’s long campaign by women’s groups and church leaders, who argued that liquor should be classified “with explosives, poisonous drugs and decayed foodstuffs.” In 1916 the referendum was approved by 58 percent of Montana voters and on Dec. 31, 1918, Montana went dry – 13 months before Congress passed nationwide prohibition!!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1927 work was gearing up for what is now a mostly taken for granted part of the Billings transportation network – city officials called it the “Rimrock Scenic Road.” It was begun as part of a city park project, and had been a priority for the Billings Commercial Club for several years.   

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1939 a headline in the Helena Independent must have caught the eyes of many who were struggling through the Great Depression: “Small Fortune Is Discovered in Old Cabin.” It was found in the old cabin of George Mitchell, a long-time Helena resident who made his living selling poultry and eggs. Stashed in various sacks, socks and tied up wrapping paper was about $1,365. The city had bought the cabin after Mitchell died for a part of Pioneer Park. If that doesn’t sound like much, in today’s dollars it would be more than $20,000. There were no heirs so the city kept the money.

Friday, March 23, 2012

March 23 – On this day in Montana History in 1901 Dolly Smith (Cusker, Akers;  she survived two husbands) was born in Wolf Point to Irish and Assiniboine parents. On the Fort Peck Reservation the diminutive five-foot-one inch woman was known as Day Eagle Woman. She was was a bronc rider and welfare worker in her early days, and went on to represent the tribe as chairman and on many trips to Washington, D.C. In 1932 she became the first Native American elected to the Montana Legislature.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

March 22 – On this day in Montana History in 1870 word was spreading among early settlers of a herd of buffalo in the Milk River Valley that was migrating north. It was reported that the herd was virtually one mass of animals and that it took three days for them to move out of the valley. After it was gone, people reported that their trail was more than eight miles wide and that the ground was trodden to fine dust to a depth of six inches. By 1880 the wholesale slaughter of the Northern Great Plains herd was underway, and by 1886 buffalo were virtually wiped out in Montana and the West.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March 21 – On this day in Montana History in 1913 Pierre Wibaux for whom the Montana town and county are named died. He came to the Wibaux area in 1883 and established the W-Bar Ranch that covered more than 70,000 acres of open range. He was known as the king of cattle kings in Montana and at one time it is said that he owned more cattle than anyone else in the nation. He also controlled the State National Bank in Miles City, and had financial interests as far away as a textile factory in France. There is a museum dedicated to him in Wibaux, and his office was put on the National Register of Historic places by the Montana Historical Society in 1972.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1934 the editor of the Great Falls Tribune wrote about “Financial Independence Week,” which his community was honoring. After talking about several community events, the editor wrote something that echoes down to today: “In these days when the bitter experiences of millions of Americans in speculative investments are still fresh, there is more hope than ever before that the lessons of wise investment, whatever it may be, will be learned.” A question still being asked today.

Monday, March 19, 2012

March 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1885 at a mass meeting of Métis including many from Montana formed the Provisional Government of the Saskatchewan. Louis Riel is most remembered for leading the Métis against the Canadian government, but Gabriel Dumont, who also spent much time in Montana, was elected “Adjutant General of the Métis nation at the head of the army.” Montana provided a safe haven for Métis, who fought two unsuccessful rebellions against Canada. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

March 16 – On this day in Montana History in 1901 a unique document was created that is now part of the Montana Historical Society Archives collection. After a bitter fight in the Montana Legislature a bill was passed in February changing the name of Deer Lodge County to Daly County in honor of Copper King Marcus Daly. After a court fight and several other less dignified fights, the law was soon changed. But on March 16 Judge Welling Napton signed a document declaring that William Kelleher formerly of Ireland was now a U.S. naturalized citizen. The county listed was “Daly” not Deer Lodge. Even though Daly, who was an ardent Irish supporter, eventually lost the war, he was probably pleased that the document bearing his name as that of the county declared that Kelleher “renounced allegiance and fidelity” to King Edward VII of England.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 15 – On this day in Montana History in 1962 Billings Mayor Carl Clavadetscher announced he was resigning to take a new position with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. It was a new position in Montana and he was to be based in Great Falls. The purpose of the new position was to adjudicate differences of opinion between labor and management to prevent work stoppages. “It’s the Service’s job to nip labor troubles in the bud,” he said. He said nothing about management problems

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 14 – On this day in Montana History in 1935 speeders and bad drivers across Montana were greeted with the news that there was kind of a new sheriff in town. Gov. Frank Cooney in an emergency act created the Montana Highway Patrol. It was deemed an emergency because of a big rise in Depression-era crime and greatly increased traffic on Montana’s improving road network.  There was some opposition primarily from Butte labor unions. The act specifically banned the new patrol from any involvement in labor disputes, strikes or boycotts.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 “The World Theater” dedicated to “showing unique films from all over the world” opened in Billings. One of the first features was “Tunes of Glory” an English film starring Alec Guiness, who would go on to achieve fame as Obi-wan Kenobi  in Star Wars. Billing itself as an “art theatre” there was a “coffee hour” before each movie, and the Billings Art Association maintained an art display in the lobby.

Monday, March 12, 2012

March 12 – On this day in history in 1854 Sir St. George Gore reached St. Louis and prepared for his journey into what would become Montana.  The 42-year old baronet had his valet, dog handler and a pack of 50 hunting hounds with him that he had brought from England. He hired legendary mountain man Jim Bridger as his guide. Before he left the country he had engaged in one of the grossest slaughters of wildlife in western history. In two months alone he killed 105 bear, more than 2.000 bison and 1,600 elk and deer in the Yellowstone Valley. Perhaps fittingly, Sioux Indians surrounded and took the supplies, horses and weapons of Gore’s hunting party on his return trip. It took the group nearly five weeks to struggle back to a friendly Hidatsa camp, and they were naked and nearly starving when they got there. This isn’t the origin of the word gore, but Gore certainly lived up to his name and reaped his reward

Friday, March 9, 2012

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.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March 8 – On this day in Montana History in 1917 State Commissioner of Labor and Industry W.J. Swindlehurst reported that “lumbering aside from smelting is the most important manufacturing industry in Montana.” He reported that $7.6 million was invested in sawmills in the state, $1.1 million in logging equipment and $1 million in planning mills. As an odd twist of history, in the same report he noted that there were 19 breweries in the state. Apparently, lumber workers took a little nip once in awhile.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

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, March 2, 2012

March 2 – On this day in Montana History in 1933 popular Democratic Senator Thomas Walsh died suddenly at age 73 on a train in North Carolina en-route to Washington, D.C., where he was set to be sworn in as U.S. Attorney General in the cabinet of then President Elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The lawyer from Helena had risen to what would have been the highest national executive branch post held by any Montanan during an illustrious 20 year career in the U.S. Senate.  He was nationally respected for his honesty and commitment to the rule of law, and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1925. A national journalist said of him just before his death:  “no wise Democratic politician is likely to go to him in his new job looking for special favors. It would be like asking the statue of Civic Virtue for a chew of tobacco.” Historians said his tragic death weakened Roosevelt’s new administration.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1 – On this day in Montana History in 1932 14-year-old Janis Salisbury died in Sheridan County from complications due to appendicitis. But she is remembered in history for her funeral that was held a few days later. It was not held in a church, but rather in the local Farmer-Labor Temple. Socialism and communism had secured a strong foothold in the area stricken hard by the Great Depression. The local  Producers News headlined: “Bolshevik Funeral for Valiant Young Pioneer.” The event shocked many and bitterly divided the county and surrounding area. The funeral and the history of those troubled times are detailed in a book by the Montana Historical Society Press, “The Red Corner: The Rise and Fall of Communism in Northeastern Montana.”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feb. 29 – On this day in Montana history (which only occurs every four years)  in 1871 the Helena Daily Herald had headlined “Leap Year and Its Privileges.” In those days, leap year meant that women could do the risqué act of asking men to marry them. The paper listed 33 of what it called “eligible old bachelors.”  After touting their bank accounts and social status, the editor said he would run a list of “Old Maids” in the next issue who might want to take advantage of leap year. Women’s rights or not, he didn’t run the list in the next issue, instead running a letter from an outraged single lady. “You have been purposely passed by these 10 to 30 years, for good reasons known to ourselves,” she wrote, then threatening to pull the editor’s hair out making it “as bare below the ‘timber line’ as above it!”

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

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. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

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.”  

Friday, February 24, 2012

March 2 – On this day in Montana History in 1933 popular Democratic Senator Thomas Walsh died suddenly at age 73 on a train in North Carolina en-route to Washington, D.C., where he was set to be sworn in as U.S. Attorney General in the cabinet of then President Elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The lawyer from Helena had risen to what would have been the highest national executive branch post held by any Montanan during an illustrious 20 year career in the U.S. Senate.  He was nationally respected for his honesty and commitment to the rule of law, and was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in 1925. A national journalist said of him just before his death:  “no wise Democratic politician is likely to go to him in his new job looking for special favors. It would be like asking the statue of Civic Virtue for a chew of tobacco.” Historians said his tragic death weakened Roosevelt’s new administration.

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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Feb. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 the Billings Daily Gazette featured a story on the Billings Club calling it a “prominent organization.” The club was about to open its new location in the Stapleton Building that the paper described as “one of the most comfortable and most commodious homes of any club in this section of the northwest, with the possible exception of the Montana Club at Helena.” The Hart-Albin Company took the occasion to buy a large ad for the opening of its new department store noting that “one thousand cigars will be presented to men visitors.” Punch was served in the clothing department “under the auspices of Cass.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1925 the Legislature approved the creation of Petroleum County, which was approved by petition and election from Fergus County. The celebration was held in the Broadway Garage in Winnett, and the Winnett Times in its coverage noted that the new deputy county treasurer “Mrs. Bratten recently completed a business course under Mr. Long at the Winnett High School.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Feb. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the state’s first gun registration law was enacted. The measure was approved 72 to 1 in the House, and 26 to 10 in the Senate. “Firearms” were defined as “any revolver, pistol, shotgun, rifle, dirk, dagger or sword.” It wasn’t passed for the reasons it is discussed today, but rather in the midst of World War One war hysteria. It was quickly nullified at the end of the war except for “non-citizen aliens.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Feb. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1918, as United States troops battled in World Was One, Montana Gov. Sam Stewart was calling legislators to Helena for a special session to pass emergency measures he thought were needed to put the state on a war footing. Among those was a seed grain law that allowed counties to furnish seed grain and feed to needy farmers so they could produce food for the war effort. No dance or benefit could be held without the permission of the state, and of probable annoyance to many soldiers who came home on leave, “no intoxicating liquors will be served to any member of the United States Armed Forces.”

Friday, February 17, 2012

Feb. 17 – On this day in Montana History in 1936 a “burning court case” was decided. A Kalispell man was caught by police taking two pieces of wood from the North Star Dairy pile. When told his bond was set at $25 the man immediately took it out of his pocket and paid what was then a significant amount of money. The judge in his sentencing after the trial wrote:  “If you were a poor man with a family in need, instead of a large property owner without any dependents, this offense might seem less serious. As it is, those two sticks will cost you $25.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feb. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 the news was filled with the annual  statewide weather report of W.E. Maughn, meteorologist at the Helena Weather Bureau. Maughn noted that while 1934 received much more publicity for the drought, that 1935 was even dryer. The average rainfall for the state in 1935 was 10.89 inches which was 4.38 inches below what was considered normal then. The hottest temperature recorded in 1935 was 111 degrees at Glendive, and the coldest minus 48 on the Upper Yaak River. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feb. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1927 William Gemmell died in Butte when he threw a mattress from a fifth floor room when a fire broke out and attempted to jump on to it to escape the flames. He was chairman of the Silver Bow County Commission, but was better known throughout the Montana and the West for his successful string of race horses. He was instrumental in construction of the Butte racetrack and head of the Butte Racing Association.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feb. 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 the Billings Gazette had a story on the opening of the new Safeway store at 18 South Twenty-Seventh Street. Big news was “two checking stands have been installed,” and it had a “new style of indirect lighting.” Of course Safeway had a big ad as well. Prices were a little different back then: “Edwards Coffee 81 cents for 4 pounds, Crisco 3 lbs for 47 cents, pork roast 12 cents a pound, and choice cut steaks 21 cents a pound.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Feb. 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1904 the Great Falls Tribune had a major headline: “Outlaw Jones Shot to Death – A criminal who had terrorized (Montana) for years is killed by two special deputy sheriffs – Head of a bad gang is taken by surprise. Jones was killed in a cabin near Fort Peck by the officers who came from Culbertson. The famous Montana outlaw “Dutch Henry” was believed to be part of the gang.