Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dec. 31 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Helena Independent had a front page story bemoaning the death of “King Barrleycorn.” The town was abuzz with people marking the end of legal liquor and the beginning of prohibition. It was reported that most saloons had sold out their liquor supplies even before they had to close their doors at midnight. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dec. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1905 the dedicated the current Montana Club in Helena, replacing the former home of the exclusive club that burned two years before. It cost $117,00, which was a hefty amount in those days. Ironically, given the host of wealthy men who belonged to the club, it took nearly 40 years to pay off the new building. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dec. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1894 the famous outlaw known as Kid Curry killed his first man, Pike Landusky, at Jake Harris’ saloon in Landusky. The details are sketchy, but most accounts say Landusky’s last words were: “My God, Kid, let me up. I have enough, Kid, I never done anything to you.” Curry went on to ride with the famous Hole in the Wall Gang.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Dec. 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1928 one of the most important photographers in Montana and western history died. Evelyn Cameron. She came to Montana in 1890 leaving behind a comfortable life of British gentry. She took up photography and took an incredible collection of life on the Montana frontier from a woman’s perspective. The collection and her diaries are at the Montana Historical Society.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Dec. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1856 came a lesson of what Christmas is. Frank Woody had come into the Missoula Valley from Ross’ Hole. Fort Benton was the nearest established town. On Christmas day he and six other men worked on their cabin in the morning and then took time off to celebrate the season. “All we had to drink that day was water, coffee,” he wrote later. They sat on a cured buffalo hide. “There was no linen and no silver, but it was a merry meal, and we all enjoyed it.” They had some laughs and told stories about Christmas past.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dec. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1874 the bachelors on Bozeman Creek in the Gallatin Valley were given the “Christmas party of their lives.” The Montana Daily reported that Mrs. James Mardis and Mrs. Ada Alexander were talking about their upbringing in Iowa when Mardis said she wished she could “see a man in a white shirt once more.” It led to the idea to invite bachelors to a Christmas party only if they wore a white shirt. It was a rousing hit, and forever became known as the “boiled shirt” Christmas party.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dec. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1971 advertisements in the Helena Independent Record show that Christmas gifts really were simpler and cheaper in the “old days.” Play-Doh was selling for 59 cents, slinky toys for 88 cents, Radio steel wagons for $7.77, and even a “delicious” box of Brach’s chocolates for $3.99. Santa must look back nostalgically.   

Friday, December 20, 2013

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.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dec. 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1977 Anne McDonnell, who was librarian at the Montana Historical Society from 1924 to 1953 died in Helena at age 93. She was known as “an encyclopedia of Montana history.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dec. 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1965 Montana rodeo star and rodeo producer Oral Zumwalt was one of eight people honored as the first inductees into the Rodeo Hall of Fame at the Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City. Zumwalt lived for many years in the Wolf Creek and Augusta area and later moved to Missoula where he headquartered his rodeo production company.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dec. 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1900 the Billings Gazette had a story that proves entrepreneurs  are nothing new. Under a headline “Competition in Popcorn Selling,” it reported that two brothers age six and seven had talked their mother into popping corn for them that they would sell on the streets after school. Things went great for awhile, but as with all new business ideas competition soon set in with other young boys copying them. “The business is so overdone now that hardly any of them are making enough to pay for their trouble,” the paper said. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dec. 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1934 chemist Harold Clayton Urey was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of heavy hydrogen. He is the only University of Montana graduate to ever receive the prestigious honor. During WWII Urey went on to head a team of scientists researching heavy water and other elements for the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. Most importantly his team found a way to separate uranium 235 from uranium 238.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dec. 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1866 legendary cattleman Nelson Story arrived in Virginia City with supply wagons for the booming mining town. Story had made it up the “bloody” Bozeman Trail with a herd of Texas cattle and the wagons. He had left the cattle that were to stock his new ranch at what was then Bozeman City. He lost only one man as he fought his way up the trail against Red Cloud’s Sioux warriors.

Friday, December 6, 2013

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.” 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

“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.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dec. 4 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 the Circle Banner carried a story had been heard all the way from Butte: “Drys Plan Long Stay in Butte.” It reported that the Mining City’s bootleggers had been “startled” that federal prohibition agents were going to be quartered in the community for the winter. Agents were using crowbars to break locks and barricades set up in speakeasies.  Feds were quoted as saying they had never seen a town so wide open and licensed by a city as “soft drink parlors.” 

Friday, November 29, 2013

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 planes 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.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nov. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1875 the first issue of the Rocky Mountain Husbandman was published by Robert Sutherlin in Diamond City near Helena. It was the first Montana newspaper devoted to agriculture. Advertisers came from as far away at Corrine, Utah, and Augusta, Maine.

Friday, November 22, 2013

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.”

Thursday, November 21, 2013

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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

May 20 – On this day in Montana History in 1904 the first “interscholastic athletic and declamatory contest ever held in the state” was underway in Missoula. Students from across the state gathered for track and field competition in the day, and the “declamatory contest” in the evening . Declamatory  performances included speeches and musical solos. The contestants were judged “10% for selection, 10% for enunciation, 10% for pronunciation and 70% for general delivery.”

Friday, November 15, 2013

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.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

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.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

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.” 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nov. 11 –  On this day in Montana history in 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month World War One ended. Newspapers were filled with the news. The Great Falls Daily Tribune had an ad and story buried in the back pages. “Victory Boys – Victory Girls Attention!” the ad screamed. It called on youth 12 to 18 to attend a rally and pledge to raise money on their own for the aid and comfort of those who had been involved in the fighting or in dangerous war production. It might carry a message for today. Many who are quick to offer the “Thank you for your service” to an active duty military member or veteran could almost be saying “have a good day.” One of the founders of the Victory Boys and Girls called for a new interpretation of thanking those who sacrifice. “(Youth) should be made to realize what true sacrifice means, because from their number in the years to come will be demanded a more unselfish leadership than has ever been demanded from their fathers and mothers.” The words were proved true by future wars. It should never be forgotten that freedom isn’t free and much is owed to those who give their all to stand for it. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

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.”

Thursday, November 7, 2013

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.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Brought to you by your friends at the Montana Historical Society

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 types wheel” that always face into the wind -- like those used today. The future was here, but not quite yet.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nov. 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1893 the Rocky Mountain Telephone Company completed its line from Livingston to Missoula with a conversation “distinctly heard” between “agent Sax and agent H. Somers, superintendent of the line.” Connections were now available with Drummond, Philipsburg, Granite, Garrison, Deer Lodge, Anaconda, Butte, Helena, Townsend, Bozeman and Missoula – and a line between Great Falls and Helena was expected to be completed in a few months.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oct. 31 – On this day in Montana history in 1974 the Montana Historical Society held its first 3-day Montana History Conference in Helena.  “Technology and the Environment in Montana History” was one of the first sessions. The conferences have been held annually ever since.   

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oct. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1864 Helena held its first town meeting in the cabin of Capt. George Wood. Actually, one of the first things those in attendance did was to take a secret ballot that resulted in the mining camp being called Helena. The first job they ordered done was to survey and lay out streets, and plot building sites into thirty-by-sixty foot lots and record them. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oct. 29 – On this day in Montana History in 1877 wagon trains carrying Nez Perce prisoners captured at the Battle of the Bears Paws Mountains left from Miles City headed for internment at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Two days later a mackinaw flotilla also carrying captives departed up the Yellowstone River to take more Nez Perce to prison.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oct. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1942 B-17 flying fortresses roared over Lewiston’s Main Street with their bomb bay doors open and landed at the Lewistown airfield. They were the first of many that came to bases on the high line to train on the then highly secret Norden bombsight. More than half the men trained there later died in bombing raids over Europe.

Friday, October 25, 2013

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.

Friday, October 18, 2013

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.”

Thursday, October 17, 2013

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.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

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 11, 2013

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.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

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.”  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

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, 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. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Oct. 8 – On this day in Montana history in 1942 the nation woke up to find that some things in troubled times are worth far more than gold. The national War Production Board and War Manpower Commission announced that about 300 of the nation’s largest gold mines that had produced $209 million dollars in gold the year before were being shut down. The government was paying the expenses to transfer roughly 4,000 miners to jobs in copper, zinc and molybdenum mines, which at the time were far more valuable to the national interest than gold. The order affected hundreds of Montanans, and brought others to the state for the first time.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Oct. 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1944 Montanans did what they could to help the Russians fight off the might of the Nazi German army that was threatening not only the Soviet Union but nations across the globe. 7,320 pounds of clothing were shipped from Bozeman to Portland where they would be loaded on a ship and sent to Russia. “Share Your Clothes with Russians” resulted in donations of 189 ladies coats, 91 overcoats for men, more than 300 pairs of shoes, and numerous other items ranging from bedding, underclothing, sweaters, shirts and even garments for babies.

Friday, October 4, 2013

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.” 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

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.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

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.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sept. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1911 young aviator Cromwell Dixon in a Curtiss biplane crossed the main range of the Rocky Mountains for the first time in history. He had left from the fairgrounds in Helena. He flew to Blossburg in half an hour and delivered a message from Gov. Edwin Norris to the crowd there that stated that its delivery was the proof of the record setting event. Air mail came later, but this might have been one of the first air mail deliveries. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

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.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

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.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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.
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 20, 2013

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.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

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.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sept. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1955 the death of Maggie Smith Hathaway, who was one of Montana’s first two women legislators, was reported in Montana. She died in Tacoma, Wash., As a representative from Ravalli County she served in the Legislature from 1916 to 192215, 16 and 17 Montana Legislatures and was elected the same year as Emma Ingals of Flathead County. If you want to read more about her, her life story “Maggie and Montana” published in 1954 by MSU political Science professor Harold Tacher is available In the MHS Research Center.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sept. 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1945 Philip Douglas Jackson was born in Deer Lodge. Jackson, better known as Phil, went on to graduate from the University of North Dakota and to basketball fame as a player for the New York Knicks and later as a coach for the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers winning championships at all three stops.  He also wrote books including “Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior,” which delved into his Zen influenced philosophy of life and basketball.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sept. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1926 Sarah Bickford, a black woman who owned the Virginia City water system, brought suit against the city for failing to pay its bills for rental of city water hydrants. She eventually was successful and ran the mining city’s water system until her death in 1931. She was a groundbreaker for black people in the state and a respected business leader.

Friday, August 30, 2013

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.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

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.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Aug. 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1862 the first official hanging in what became Montana took place on a tree at Gold Creek near present day Garrison Junction on the Interstate between Missoula and Butte. C.W. Spillman, 25, reportedly from Kentucky was found guilty of horse stealing by a miner’s court headed by Walter Booth Dance. Spillman admitted his crime and asked only to be given time to write a letter to his father asking his forgiveness. Noted Montana pioneer Granville Stuart said Spillman was not a hardened criminal but a firm and brave man who met his death with great nerve. Some still call Gold Creek “Hangtown.”

Friday, August 23, 2013

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.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Aug. 22 – on this day in Montana history in 1874 the Madisonian newspaper in Virginia City offered some tips on how to deal with the heat under a headline “Modern Health Rules.” Perhaps with tongue in cheek one of the guidelines offered was: “Clothes prevent the escape of heat from the body; wear only a loose shirt and drawers.” One never sees photos of early day miners dressed like that – and it’s probably a good thing..

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

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.”

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Aug. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1905 Butte was mourning the deaths of 10 people and injuries to more than 20 others after a railroad freight car crashed into a crowded trolley returning from the Columbia Gardens amusement park. Butte reporters wrote that the trolley was crushed into kindling and that many of the faces of the dead could not be recognized. “Men cried out for members of their families from whom they had been separated and mothers begged piteously concerning their children.”

Monday, August 19, 2013

Aug. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1969 the first McDonald’s in Montana opened in Billings noting in an ad it was time to “stop building walls, and start building hamburgers.”  A & W Drive-in was fighting back offering a ham sandwich for 30 cents. Meanwhile actor Dustin Hoffman took time to take a photo on the set of “Little Big Man,” which was being shot in Virginia City and other Montana locations. A low flying plane had halted productions.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

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.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

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. The Montana Historical Society has a new state-of-the-art studio funded by the Greater Montana Foundation named in honor of Ed Craney.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

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.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Brought to you by your friends at the Montana Historical Society

Aug. 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1970 the Flathead Courier reported that a “new monster”  had been seen on Flathead Lake in Polson Bay. Maynard Nixon (not to be confused with artist Maynard Dixon) showed up with a drawing of the new monster to add to the “strange denizens of the Flathead deeps.” He said it “was a cross between the original monster and the buffalo.” Noting there might have been “a bit of hanky-panky goin’ on,” the paper said it would be referred to “as the Great Flathead Fubbalo.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

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.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Aug. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1929 author Mary MacLane died. While still a teenager in Butte in 1902, she wrote “The Story of Mary MacLane” which at the time was considered a scandalous reflection on men, morals, customs and events in Montana’s booming copper town. It was translated into more than 30 languages and brought MacLane international recognition.     

Monday, August 5, 2013

Aug. 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1949 the Mann Gulch forest fire in the Gates of the Mountains near Helena killed 13 firefighters etching their names into history with the passion of “Young Men and Fire.” Their tragic deaths forever changed the way that forest fires were fought and touched hearts across Montana and the nation.

Friday, August 2, 2013

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.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Aug. 1 – 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. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

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.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1934 The Blackfeet Tribe of Browning was receiving high praise for the musical performance its 23-member band gave at the Calgary Stampede. The band members were all graduates of Indian schools and colleges. They were about to embark on a tour of eastern Canada and the United States.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1860 Capt. John Mullan reached the summit of the Continental Divide west of what is now Helena. He had first been at this point six years before on a survey trip for the U.S. Army. This time he had a road building crew with him that was laying out the first  overland route between Fort Benton – the terminus of Missouri River boat traffic – to Walla Walla and the gateway to the Columbia River. The pass is now known as Mullan Pass in his honor. The next day the crew experienced a solar eclipse.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1806 the William Clark and part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which had split up on its return trip, crossed the Bozeman Pass and began its descent on what is now known as the Yellowstone River. Clark reported in his diary that the current was rapid on the ”Rochejhone.” He was busy looking for a large cottonwood tree so that he could build a canoe that could navigate the water.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1933 the famous Going to the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park was dedicated. A crowd of about 5,000 people gathered at the summit of Logan Pass. Part of the event was a ceremony involving the Blackfeet, Kootenai and Flathead Tribes. Tribal leaders passed a peace pipe between them signifying an official end to traditional enmity that has separated the tribes. National Park Service Director Horace Albright the road gives all people access to see “the glory of Glacier’s peaks and crags.” In summary he said: let there be no completion of other roads with the Going to the Sun Highway. It should stand supreme and alone.” It still does. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

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.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

This day in Montana history is brought to you by your friends at the Montana Historical Society.

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.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

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.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27 – On this date in Montana history in 1925 the first significant earthquake in the state’s recorded 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.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

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.

Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1966 Lou Fontana, a veteran of both World Wars and a nationally known high ranking professional boxer, died at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Helena. Born in Italy, Fontana came to Butte in 1918 and moved to Helena in 1932. He held 17 medals including two from France and Belgium for action in both World Wars. He fought 73 professional bouts and was ranked as high as eighth in the Featherweight division by Ring Magazine. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 more than 100 elders of the Crow Tribe were gathered and honored at a ceremony in Poplar. The oldest honored was Bush Man who was 101. Reservation officials urged the elders to provide their knowledge and experience to help the tribe survive the Great Depression.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1921 the record for rainfall in a 24-hour period was set at 11.5 inches. It was recorded in Circle, and if you have been to Circle you know the odds against the record being set there are high. In fact, the average rainfall for the entire year in Circle is 13.3 inches. The resulting floods on the Redwater swept away homes and killed at least one person. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 19 – On this day in Montana History in 1938 emergency crews were searching through the wreckage and trying to recover bodies from the worst train disaster in Montana history. The legendary Milwaukee Railroad Olympian went off a bridge over the flooded Yellowstone River in Prairie County. Eventually, 24 dead bodies were identified in a temporary morgue in Miles City, and dozens others were injured. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

June 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1929 two masked men robbed the Ronan State Bank of $3,000 and shot two employees. They were part of a gang that reflected the “gangster” period in U.S. history. They used fast cars and well thought out getaway plans to elude local police. Eventually six men, including the two who held up the Ronan bank, were arrested and convicted of several other armed robberies across Montana. Perhaps showing that crime doesn’t pay, pack rats at their hideout ate $1,500 of the money taken in the Ronan heist.

Monday, June 17, 2013

June 17 – On this day in Montana History in 1832 Pierre Chouteau brought his steamship the Yellow Stone up the Missouri River to Fort Union on the eastern Montana border. It was the farthest steamships came up the Missouri for the next 28 years until shallow draft boats could make it all the way to Fort Benton. On board the ship that day in 1832 was artist George Catlin who became legendary for his paintings of Native American life in Montana and the West.

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14 – June 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1988 the beginning of what was to become the most intense summer of fire in Yellowstone National Park began when lightning started a fire near the northeast entrance of the park. That summer at least six dry cold fronts carrying lightning and up to 60 mile an hour winds brought a conflagration down on the park.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13 -- June 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1971 the Montana State Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs celebrated their 50th Annual Convention in Great Falls. Elizabeth Hill of Great Falls was named the Woman of the Year. The Clubs motto, “We Climb” was the theme of the convention

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 a Northern Pacific passenger train packed with tourists returning from the Seattle World’s fair plummeted off the tracks and down an embankment at more than double its recommended speed 16 miles north of Missoula. One passenger was killed and another 243 were injured some critically. One official said it was travelling more than 70 miles an hour when it left the tracks.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

June 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1971 people gathered on Race Unity Day to talk about problems that continue to face the state and nation today. A panel was convened in Great Falls to talk about “Race Relations in Montana.” A proclamation by city officials called for all Montanans to “focus on the most challenging issue, the race problem.”

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 the Great Falls Tribune reported a major communications breakthrough: “direct long distance dialing.” The service connected 260 Montana communities and about 74 million more in the U.S. and Canada. It reportedly cost the Northern States Telephone Company of Great Falls about $1.3 million to install it. Even the cell phone had a granddaddy!

Friday, June 7, 2013

June 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1964 Montana was reeling from what at that time was called the worst natural disaster in its recorded history. Heavy rains in early June sent rivers raging to a mile wide in some areas with homes, dams, roads and railroads washed away and more than 30 people left dead. On June 7 alone 10 inches of rain fell in Browning, Glacier National Park and Augusta. President Lyndon Johnson declared nine counties in northwest and north-central Montana federal disaster areas, and damages eventually totaled more than $62 million.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

June 6 – Also on this day in 1917 a story circulated statewide about a woman from Columbus, Ohio, who sent a letter to Butte Mayor W.H. Maloney asking him to help her find a husband so she could do her part on the home front during WWI. “I want to do something for my country and at the same time for myself,” the woman wrote. “I want to be a war bride, but I want a western man for a husband, one who will ride a horse in France and distinguish himself. If possible get me a cowboy.”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

June 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 the Billings Gazette featured a story on the great future envisioned for Rapelje. The town was being promoted by the Merchants Loan Company of Billings, and it shows how business played a major role in how Montana developed. “Good weather will see a boom at the new town of Rapelje, at the terminus of the Northern Pacific branch into Lake basin,” the paper said.

Friday, May 10, 2013

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.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

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.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

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. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

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. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

May 6 – On this day in Montana History in 1885 separate fires did major damage in Livingston, Billings and Miles City. The fires were a coincidence, but show how serious and common the scourge of fire was in early Montana communities. The Billings Gazette said “The subject of protection from fire has been so often the theme of newspaper articles that it may become tiresome.” The paper called for fire hydrants, new equipment and a special tax levy because “the present is the time to act.” 

Friday, April 26, 2013

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.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

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.   

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

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.

Monday, April 22, 2013

April 22 –On this day in Montana History in 1865, Montana’s first newspaper, “The Post,” reported that 480 hungry and angry Nevada City prospectors marched to nearby Virginia City “with an avowed determination to take all the flour in town and divide it among those who had none.”  Flour like most other supplies were short in the gold-boom town area, the miners discovered about 82 sacks of flour hidden away in Virginia City. A few days later things settled down and supplies came in from Salt Lake City, and the ringleaders were ordered to pay for the confiscated flour and damage caused in the search. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

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.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

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.   

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

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.”

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 a “rum runner” was captured after a lengthy cross-border chase between Saskatchewan and Montana that involved U.S. and Canadian law officers. Mickey McDoolan of Great Falls was spotted with his load of Canadian “rye” liquor in Montana and fled back across the border where he was eventually captured. His comment at arrest: “There goes $700 of soldier gratuity.”   

Friday, April 12, 2013

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.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

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.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

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.” 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

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.

Monday, April 8, 2013

April 8 – On this day in Montana History in 1877 Dr. Armistead Mitchell and Dr. Charles Mussigbrod, owners of a hotel and spa at Warm Springs, were awarded a contract for the care of the Montana Territory’s mental patients. In those times it was known as the State Insane Asylum. Stories from the time leading up to the opening of Warm Springs use words like lunatics and worse to talk about the people they wanted off the streets and out of mind. But it was a first step in mental health development. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

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.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

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. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

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.”

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

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.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1927 it was no joke – well there were some jokes – that famed humorist and columnist Will Rogers came to Billings. The Billings City Council in special session had named him mayor for the day. Rogers told the Billings Gazette “Much oblig’d friends. Somebody is always wishin’ a job on my but I’ll take it. I don’t know, jes, what is the matter with your darn town, but I’ll scout aroun’ and soon find out.” Rogers said they gave him a vote in the Democratic Convention and he found out about it when he was playing in the Follies in New York.“  I rushed right out into a taxi and went those 10 blocks to the convention as fast as possible, but before I could go 10 blocks the darn interest had had me bought out.” No one has ever understood U.S. politics better than the man who never met a man he didn’t like. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

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!!!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

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.   

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

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 22, 2013

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.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

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.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

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.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March 18 – On this day in Montana History in 1963 it was easy to see that driving was getting a whole lot safer in Montana. The Highway Patrol for the first time was allowed to require eye exams for all persons renewing their driver’s license. Eye exams had been required on initial applications for several years, but it was not required for renewals if done on time. Supervisor Alex Stephenson of the Patrol said, “many senior citizens driving on our highways today have never been required to demonstrate their ability to operate a car safely and never had an eye examination.” The roads will be safer, he said, because “few admit they failed to see other cars when involved in an accident.”   

Friday, March 15, 2013

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.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

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.

Friday, March 1, 2013

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 chronicled in “The Red Corner” published by the Montana Historical Society Press and available by calling toll-free 1-800- 243-9900.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

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. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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.”  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Feb. 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1812 explorer David Thompson reached the Missoula Valley and climbed what is now Mount Jumbo. He sketched the countryside from the vantage point, and traced the local routes that were used by Lewis and Clark a few years earlier. He used a letter written by Meriwether Lewis as his guide.  On March 1 he reached the foot of Flathead Lake.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Feb. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 the high school boys from Billings played the boys from Sheridan Wyoming in basketball. Under a headline “Sheridan Again Defeated,” the Billings Gazette showed that rivalry has always been a part of sports. In addition to saying “pride goeth before the fall,” the newspaper wrote: “The Sheridan basketball team will go home this morning with two large goose eggs in their little basket that they brought up with them in which to convey the scalps of the local basketball players.”  Today they call that locker room poster material.

Friday, February 22, 2013

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.”

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Feb. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 Gov. Sam Stewart signed the state’s first gun registration law. 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.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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 15, 2013

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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

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.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

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.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Feb. 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1915 two armed men robbed the Farmers State Bank in Medicine Lake in Sheridan County during broad daylight. In a daring horseback chase one of the robbers was wounded and captured, but the other escaped into North Dakota “with the posse hot on his trail.” He was later captured after a gunfight. In its first report of the broad daylight robbery the Medicine Lake Wave said it all in its headline: “Robbers Make a Daring Get-a-way with Boodle of Nearly $3,000.” 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Feb. 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1961 one of Montana’s ugliest and most public fights between a legislator and a lobbyist ended with a legislative resolution that said Sen. William Cashmore, R-Lewis and Clark County, “reasonably believed” he had been threatened and intimidated by James Umber, president of the Montana AFL-CIO. The bitter dispute – that virtually tied up any legislative action for about a week – arouse over a bill proposed by Cashmore that would have required a secret ballot on union strike votes in labor disputes not covered by federal laws. Umber said it would kill small unions in Montana.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Feb. 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1911 31-year-old Jeannette Rankin returned to Montana from a successful suffrage campaign in Washington State and addressed the Montana Legislature. The Helena Independent newspaper reported that her appeal for the right of women to vote lasted 20 minutes. “She neither begged for support, threatened, cajoled, or appealed to the chivalry of men. Rather, she simple advanced her argument and asked for a sincere and earnest consideration of it.” The House leadership order spittoons removed from the House floor out of “deference for the ladies present.” The 1913 Legislature placed the women’s vote issue on the ballot and in 1914 male voters approved the Constitutional Amendment for the right of women to vote.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jan. 31 – On this day in history in 1925, chickens and dogs had the people of eastern Montana excited, as the Midland Empire Poultry Association held its annual show in Billings. People apparently knew why dogs and chickens were in the same show, because the Billings Gazette didn’t explain it. More than 300 birds and 50 dogs were entered, and as a special feature the association brought in an English Dorking, Australian Kiwi and a Jersey Giant with officials proudly announcing they were rare birds: “none of which has ever been shown here before.” No mention of how their eggs tasted!!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jan. 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1911 the Great Northern Railway added “a mammoth locomotive” to its equipment headquartered in Butte that was said to be “one of the largest locomotives ever seen in the West.” It was used to pull ore trains from Mountain View to Woodville up a very steep grade. The engine had 14 drive wheels and was 86 feet in length. “It is built in the new style of low smokestacks, small bell, and everything close and compact so as to reduce resistance to the minimum,” the railway said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jan 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1953 Montanans awoke to the news that Belle Anna Conway, who was 66, had died in Helena. She was the last survivor of the Fort Shaw girls’ basketball team made up of Native American girls that won what was called the world championship at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904. She later served as a practical nurse in hospitals in Browning and Blackfoot, and was in government service for 23 years. The story of the team is told in “Full Court Quest” available in the Montana Historical Society Museum Store or calling toll-free 1-800—243—9900.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jan. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1865 the Montana Territorial Legislature authorized the first brand registered in what would become the state of Montana. Thomas Pitt was authorized to use the “84” brand “on all his property, horses, mules, cattle, hogs, sheep and all personal property of every description or species.”  Why 84? Pitt was an admirer of abolitionist John Brown, and a line in the famous song “John Brown’s Body” notes that his knapsack bore the number 84. It was said that Pitt loved to sing the song in a booming voice, and the line earned him the nickname “84.”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Jan. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 Montana Republican Gov. Charles Nutter, two of his top aides and three flyers were killed in a plane crash during bad weather near Wolf Creek. His Lt. Gov. and friend Tim Babcock, who had a trucking business in Billings, took office with a heavy heart. Republicans and Democrats were in the midst of a major fight over the future of the state, but the deaths brought the state together for at least awhile. Montana U.S. Sen. Lee Metcalf, a Democrat and fierce opponent of Nutter, said: “Regardless of our political differences, Don Nutter and I were friends.”  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Jan. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1870 word began to trickle back in brief news accounts of what was one of Montana’s darkest hours. On Jan. 23 Maj. Eugene Baker and troops from Fort Ellis near Billings attacked a peaceful Blackfeet encampment on the Marias River and slaughtered 173 women, children and old men. Today it is known as the Baker Massacre. Sent to locate Piegan (pronounced Pie-gun) Indians suspected of attacking some settlers, Baker reportedly said when told it was not Piegans: “That makes no difference, one hand or another of them. They are all Piegans, and we will attack them.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Jan. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1890 “noted Scout, Peace Officer and Vigilante” John Xavier “X” Beidler died in Helena. Beidler became famous during the early frontier days of Montana especially for his courage in fighting the feared Plummer gang in Bannack and Virginia City. He was involved in most of the major events in the gold rush towns. The Billings Gazette said he “was a peace officer whose very name became a terror to the evil doers … he will pass into history as a hero of the frontier and every old timer in Montana will drop a tear for the departed X.” The Montana Pioneers Society held a large funeral in his honor.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jan. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1896 Montanans learned of the death of Clara McAdow. Although she died in Michigan, she was famous in Montana for operating the Spotted Horse gold mine in the Judith basin and as an early woman’s rights leader. She came to Montana in 1882 and made a fortune managing the mine. She later returned to Detroit and built “a palatial residence.” She kept close ties to Montana and in 1890 was appointed one of the manager of the Montana exhibit at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Billings Gazette said she was a strong leader of the women’s rights movement in Montana, but “not a crank on the subject.”  “No woman in Montana was more prominently identified with the pioneer days,” the paper said.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Jan. 21 – On this day in Montana History in 1919 Montana newspapers carried large ads from telephone companies attempting to explain new telephone toll rates mandated by the Postmaster General in Washington. There were detailed explanations of station to station rates, person to person, messenger calls, night rates, collect calls and other standard charges. An example: “Collect calls assuming the air-line distance between toll points to be more than 144 miles, but not more than 152 miles have the following initial period rates.” And you think it’s hard to figure out your cell phone bill.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Jan. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1904 D’Arcy McNickle was born at St. Ignatius on the Flathead Indian Reservation to a Métis mother and an Irish father. Perhaps reflecting those mixed roots, McNickle went on to become  a major force in changing how all Americans viewed Native American issues. He was an internationally known author, director of American Indian Development Inc., a community organizer, professor of anthropology, historian, and program director of the Newberry Library Center for the History of the American Indian. His 1936 novel, “The Surrounded,” remains a classic on the clash of Indian and white cultures.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jan. 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1972 members of the Montana Constitutional Convention gathering in Helena were urged by Convention President Leo Graybill Jr. “to look ahead 70 years when rewriting Montana’s 1889 Constitution.” Perhaps harkening to singer Bob Dylan’s popular song of the day, “The Times They Are A Changing,” Graybill said: “The central truth of our time is change – constant accelerating change.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jan. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1908 the Milk River Valley News was celebrating a U.S. Supreme Court decision granting water rights to Native Americans on the Fort Belknap Reservation and the signing of a contract that would bring a sugar beet factory to the area. A mass meeting of farmers was called by the Harlem Industrial Association to talk about the new factory. The water rights decision was “quite satisfactory to all,” the paper said, and there was water enough to go around.  However, the paper put it in terms that reflected some bias: “The suit is the outcome of the Indians embarking in farming and as the white settlers were using all the waters of Milk River, which was very little, the reds were deprived of the waters.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jan. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 the Billings Gazette on its news pages called for a special session of the Legislature to find a way to provide economic support so that farmers could purchase seed for next year’s crop. Drought and tight lending practices threatened not only the economy of the state – as many farmers said they were unable to secure loans for seed – but also the World War One war effort.  Farmers must be “given financial assistance on the broad ground that the war will be won or lost in the grain fields, or in other words on the ability of the combatants to properly feed their soldiers.”  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Brought to you by your friends at the Montana Historical Society.
Jan 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Daily Yellowstone Journal, which was founded in 1879 in Miles City and was the first newspaper established in eastern Montana, ceased its daily operations. The paper hit the dusty streets only three years after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Its first editor and owner was Thompson McElrath, who was the son of the owner of the New York Tribune. He sold it as “the only newspaper between Bismarck, North Dakota and the Rocky Mountains.”  As the leading voice for eastern Montana for many  years, it proclaimed “our functions are of a local character, to record the growth and progress of this new country.” Competition from the Miles City Star and economic changes spelled its demise.