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.