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.