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.