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
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
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.”