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.”