Wednesday, December 31, 2014

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. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dec. 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1890 news came of the tragedy of the massacre of Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Many of Montana’s Native Americans lost friends and family there. Since the victory of the Indians at the Battle of the Little Big Horn the Montana Native American population had dropped from an estimated 19,300 to 10,300. With their land taken and their food sources decimated, Native Americans saw their traditional way of life come to an end.  

Friday, December 26, 2014

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.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

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.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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.   

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dec. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1930 novelist Ernest Hemmingway was released from St. Vincent’s Hospital in Billings where he had been hospitalized for more than a month following an automobile accident near Red Lodge. Hemmingway had friends and spent time hunting in Montana in the Cooke City area. Some of his Montana experiences wound up in his novels.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Dec. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1919 the Rev. W.W. Van Orsdel, known fondly as “Brother Van” across Montana, died in Great Falls. Brother Van arrived in Montana in 1872 and held his first services on the steamboat dock at Fort Benton. During his life he traveled the state preaching the gospel and helping organize churches and other civic missions. He was widely mourned throughout the state.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dec. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1876 the final battle of what was known as the Great Sioux War occurred. Lt. Frank D. Baldwin, who was a Civil War veteran and holder of two Congressional Medals of Honor, and 140 troopers attacked and destroyed Sitting Bull’s camp of 122 lodges and about 1,000 Native Americans on Ash Creek, a tributary of the Redwater River south of Brockway. The weather was bitter cold, and surprisingly neither side suffered any casualties in the encounter. But the action forced most of the Native Americans back to reservations and ended the conflict that included the famous Battle of the Little Big Horn.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dec. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1961 Santa used a helicopter to come to Great Falls where he landed on the roof of the downtown O’Haire Manor Motel. It brought thousands of people to see the spectacle and do some shopping. Santa noted that he wasn’t giving up on his traditional Christmas transportation: “Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer are home resting up for Christmas Eve,” he said.
Dec. 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1961 Santa used a helicopter to come to Great Falls where he landed on the roof of the downtown O’Haire Manor Motel. It brought thousands of people to see the spectacle and do some shopping. Santa noted that he wasn’t giving up on his traditional Christmas transportation: “Rudolph and the rest of the reindeer are home resting up for Christmas Eve,” he said.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dec. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1893 the North West Tribune proudly proclaimed that Stevensville had been “lit up by electricity amid much rejoicing, band playing and whistles blowing.” Montana towns were racing to enter into the modern age of electricity.

Friday, December 12, 2014

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.

Friday, November 28, 2014

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. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nov. 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1864 the miners who had flooded into what became the Montana Territory to Bannack and later Virginia City had little time, or food, to waste celebrating Thanksgiving Day. But legendary Sheriff Henry Plummer, who was later hung by vigilantes, invited friends and neighbors and other leading citizens of Bannack to his home to celebrate with a turkey that was shipped in from Salt Lake City at a cost of $50 in gold dust. And you think food costs are high today.

Friday, November 21, 2014

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.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nov. 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.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nov. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1883 the Livingston Daily Enterprise had a short story on a problem that travelers are still dealing with today. The Northern Pacific Railroad had earlier announced it would allow up to 150 pounds of baggage for each first-class passenger for free.  Not to be left behind, the paper reported that the Central Pacific Railroad was going to match that offer. Makes carry-on offers today look a little light on limits.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nov. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the Yellowstone Monitor in Glendive reported that the Glendive Creamery was open for business. “The equipment is the best money can buy,” the paper said, and in addition to producing “ice cream” year round, it would be a boon to farmers throughout the area. It was also noted that it would help the war effort by meeting the federal government goal “for the use of home products.” 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nov. 17 – On this day in 1935 the Montana Works Progress Administration reported that 10,616 people were on the WPA payroll. They were at work on projects across the state. But Butte was taking its first steps toward recovering from the effects of heavy mining. More than 700 WPA workers there were “busy on a civic beautification project to remove remains of old mine dumps  and many unsightly conditions.”

Friday, October 31, 2014

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.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oct. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1879 liquor and wine merchant John Denn was murdered in Helena. He was known to keep large sums of cash in his store and that was the apparent reason for his murder. The death ended the relative tranquility Helena had enjoyed through the 1870s and revived calls for a vigilance committee to go after the rough men in the community. The 3-7-77 warning signs of the 1860s left on the doors of people to tell them to leave the community made resurgence, but many people did not know what they meant. It showed that law and order was still a nebulous thing in the Queen City.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Oct. 24 -- On this day in Montana history in 1926 Cowboy Artist Charles M. Russell died at his Great Falls home.  He was mourned across the Montana he loved and painted and by art lovers across the nation. His artwork told the story of the Montana he knew as a cow puncher, artist and observer of all about him. The Great Falls Tribune headline read: “Genius whose brush portrayed the colorful life of Montana’s early days, lays down his palette to answer great call.” The title of one of his most famous paintings done shortly before his death and now in the collection at the Montana Historical Society sums up his philosophy: “Laugh Kills Lonesome.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oct. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1844 Louis Riel who would spend a lot of his life in Montana was born in a Métis Indian farming colony in the Red River Valley in what is now Manitoba, Canada. In his tumultuous lifetime, Riel led two unsuccessful rebellions in Canada against that nation that cost him his life. His happiest years were spent in Montana where he worked for the rights of his people and began the decade’s long fight to win them a reservation in Big Sky Country.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oct. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1903 representatives of the Amalgamated Company in Butte said in a banner statement in the Butte Miner that a decision by Judge William Clancy to enjoin the company from doing business “branded” them an outlaw. Under a complicated suit the judge ruled that $3 million in stockholder dividends could not be paid. It said Amalgamated would shut down Montana operations costing 15,000 workers their jobs. It was one of the worst mining crises Butte endured.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oct. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1925 a largely forgotten part of Montana economic history was celebrated in Chinook when a major sugar mill was opened and shown off to a large crowd. Sugar beets were a major crop in Montana for many years until other sources and methods proved cheaper for production of sugar.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oct. 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1908 the state was abuzz with news that one of the most notorious con men in state history had been arrested in St. Paul, Minn., for vagrancy. Starting out as a telegrapher in Kalispell, Gordon P. Brown received a $7,500 settlement – a large sum in those days – for an injury he received in a train mishap. He took the money to Washington and passed himself off as a millionaire from Montana, and spent his way into the good graces of the McKinley White House. He was a Washington darling until the money dried up, and he disappeared leaving a host of bills unpaid behind him.

Friday, October 17, 2014

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.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

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.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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, September 26, 2014

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.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

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.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sept. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1862 the first recorded meeting of Masons in what would become Montana took place on the Mullan Road just west of what was to become Helena. Nathaniel Langford served as acting master, and with fellow Minnesotans David Charlton and George Gere in attendance went through the ritual of opening and closing a lodge. The event is recorded on an oil painting in the Masonic Library building in Helena.   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sept. 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1927 the Miles City airport had “planes bob out of the skies like birds.” It was a stopover on an air derby race between St. Paul and Spokane. Miles Citians cheered as local flyer “Flying Cowboy” C.B. McMahan buzzed the city and came in in first place. He eventually finished ninth, but in Miles City on this day he was number one.

Friday, September 19, 2014

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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

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.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sept. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 The Newspaper of Chester published what it called the “Ten New Dry Landers’ Commandments” on its front page.  Among them was “thou shalt plow deep,” “thou shalt summer fallow when rainfall is less than 15 inches,” “thou shalt add organic matter to the soil.” The list ended with “he who obeys these commandments shall reap abundant crops.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sept. 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1907 a Great Northern Railroad Oriental Limited express car was held up and robbed near Rexford. Two men who were onboard the train climbed over the tender and forced the engineer to stop the train in the wilderness near Yaak. They blew up one of two safes in the car and reportedly netted about $40,000. George Frankhauser and Charles McDonald were eventually convicted of the crime, but not before escaping from the Lewis and Clark jail and eventually being recaptured.

Friday, August 22, 2014

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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

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.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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 Columbian 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.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Aug. 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1969 the first McDonald’s 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.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Aug. 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1920 the Silver State Deer Lodge newspaper had a story that portended one of the greatest presidencies in American history. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was the vice presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, spoke at the Deer Lodge Valley Farmer’s Picnic. The paper noted that Roosevelt was applauded and praised by “all parties” and their voters. Roosevelt’s appeal to the “common man” would make him the nation’s only four term president. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

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.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

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.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aug. 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1919 Missoula police announced a “Vag Roundup” to clear the city of “undesirables.” It was a repeat of a similar campaign from the previous year. Police Chief Moore said: “Missoula gained a reputation through hobo circles, as a poor place for loafing.” Those arrested and convicted of vagrancy were put to work on the city’s “wood pile.”     

Monday, August 11, 2014

Aug. 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1926 Montana, the rest of the Northwest U.S, and Canada were mourning the death of Col. James T. Stanford who died of pneumonia in Conrad while on a trip. At the time he was head of the powerful Conrad Banking Company of Great Falls and a statewide financial leader. Born in Nova Scotia in 1856, Stanford became a Canadian Mountie and played a pioneering role in the early development of the Canadian and U.S. Northwest. While still a Mountie, He came to Helena in 1875 as part of the inquiry into the Cypress Hills Massacre in which five Montana citizens were accused of killing 200 Cree Indians. He eventually settled in Montana.

Friday, August 8, 2014

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.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

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.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Aug. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1929 internationally known author Mary MacLane, whose “The Story of Mary MacLane” created a sensational stir with its then shocking account of morality and everyday life in the mining city of Butte, died. The book was translated into more than 30 languages and made MacLane into an international celebrity. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

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.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

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. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 The Western News in Libby reported that it has learned that the Milwaukee railroad was going to use Kootenai Pass for its new main line and that it would be completed within two years. The line was to leave the then present main line  near Martinsdale and go north of Helena about 20 miles and then on to Spokane through Libby. That meant that Kalispell, Libby, Troy, Leonia, Bonners Ferry and Spokane would all be on the main line and economic prosperity would follow.

Friday, July 11, 2014

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.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

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.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

July 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1930 15,000 people turned out for the dedication of the first bridge over the Missouri River east of Fort Benton near Wolf Point. The Wolf Point Herald wrote “Seen at a distance of 15 miles this massive structure appears as vaporous as the ethereal substance of which dreams are made.” It brought families and friends closer together and was a boon to economic development in northeast Montana. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July 8 – On this day in Montana history the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported that Montana was in the international news after two pilots flying over the Spanish Peaks area near Bozeman reported 8 or 9 flying discs at an altitude of 32,000 feet that forced them to dive to 25,000 feet to avoid them.

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7 – On this day in Montana history in 1884 noted Montana pioneer Granville Stuart sent a group of his vigilantes to a rustler’s cabin on the Missouri River near Rocky Point. They had a fight with a group of rustlers, and confiscated a large herd of horses with the brands of many central Montana cattle operations on their hides. The Vigilantes are often associated with the early mining days in Virginia City and Helena, but their wrath and “justice” were known across Montana well into the ranching days.

Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4 –On this day in Montana history in 1923 Shelby held the first and only national boxing championship in the Treasure State. A special wooden arena was constructed for the event between Jack Dempsey and challenger Tommy Gibbons. Dempsey won the fight. The ring bell used in that fight is on display in the Montana Historical Society Museum.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 3 -- On this day in Montana history in 1901 Kid Curry, whose real name was Harvey Logan and was one of the Hole in the Wall Gang, held up the Great Northern train near Malta. As in the famous movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Logan had trouble blowing up the safe, and had to increase the dynamite he used in three different tries before blowing the money car up. But he got away with more than $100,000 -- a lot of money in those days.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July 2 – On this day in Montana History in 1872 William Wesley Van Orsdel who had just arrived at Fort Benton by steamboat was preaching a street corner sermon and beginning to build a legend all across Montana for his circuit-riding, missionary, educational efforts, health care and children’s activist work in Montana. He came to be known simply as Brother Van. When asked why he wanted to come to Montana he said: “To preach, to sing and encourage people to be good.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1867 Acting Montana Territorial Gov. and Civil War Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher was reported drowned in the Missouri River at Fort Benton at age 41 Territorial Gov. Green Clay Smith in his official proclamation of mourning for Meagher wrote: “He was a man of high social qualities, great urbanity, a high order of intellect, a brave soldier, a true gentleman, and an honor to his Territory and Government.” Meagher’s body was never found and controversy still swirls about the circumstances of his death.    

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 newspapers proudly announced that “Montana formally added another natural wonder to its manifold vacationland attractions.” It was reported that hundreds of people attended the dedication ceremony hosted by Gov. Sam Ford.  The park is now known as Lewis and Clark Caverns near Three Forks. It was the first official Montana State Park. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

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.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1936 a major federally sponsored project to study and preserve local and county records from across the state for historical purposes was well underway. In addition to identifying and copying important records and learning more about such things as “the private life of Calamity Jane” and other famous Montanans, officials reported that the effort had sparked formation of local history groups across the state. All of the work from the project was passed on to the Montana Historical Society where it is still used today.

Friday, June 20, 2014

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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

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. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

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.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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.

Monday, June 16, 2014

June 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1916 the Wibaux Pioneer was reporting “Happenings on Circus Day.” The circus was a huge event at the turn of the last century. And the paper in back hand fashion was praising its workers – sort of. One of the workers nearly lost his leg when a wagon ran over him, but the paper noted “The circus people gladly paid the Doctor’s bill.” Another incident had “some smart fellow” whom the paper reported “got Gay with one of the female performers who was on crutches.” She hit the man on the “bean” with her crutch and it took many stitches to sew up the wound. “The victim left with an idea that it was an expensive proposition to insult even a circus woman.”

Friday, June 13, 2014

June 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1896 Gen. “Black” Jack Pershing, who became a famous U.S leader in World War One and had the Pershing tank named in his honor, led cavalry Company D from Fort Assinniboine on a surprise raid of a Cree encampment outside of Great Falls. His company remained in the field for two months working to force Native Americans back on to reservations. Although his actions would be questioned by many today, most Montanans continued to Call Pershing ”Montana’s own” throughout his military career.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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.”

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

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!

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 9 – On this day in Montana history in 1948 Butte leaders were congratulating themselves on the successful parade and speech the day before by President Harry Truman who had come to town on his presidential campaign. Thousands turned out for the events. Presidential aides said that they were by far the largest crowds the president attracted on his trip through the West. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

May 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1921 statistics for service in World War One were released. Montana had provided 11,709 volunteers for WWI or 236% per every 10,000 population in the state. That put it at the top of the list of states for the proportion of volunteers being 100.4% above the national average. Montana lost 821 men killed in action, and 2,437 were injured.  That put it 2% above any other state per population. Montanans have always answered their nation’s call in time of war. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

May 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 Cpl. H.H. Huss wrote a letter back to his friends in Miles City. World War One was raging in Europe but Huss and his fellow soldiers in Company E Were assigned duty in Montana. Huss noted that one of his buddies had shot his finger off while cleaning his rifle. It was excitement that their duty didn’t always provide. They were assigned to guard two train tunnels against saboteurs near Bonita. “This is sure a fine job we’ve got this year, guarding a couple of holes in the mountains to see that nobody blows them out of the way so the trains can’t get through.” 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1903 The Helena Independent was celebrating the visit of President Teddy Roosevelt, who was the first sitting president to come to the Capital of Montana. The people of Helena and others from across the state greeted Roosevelt in style. “Roosevelt Received Such a Welcome as Only a Patriotic People Are Capable of Extending” the headline read.      

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1953 The Daily Inter Lake reported the deaths of two park employees and injuries to two others who were working on a snow removal crew on the Going-to-the-Sun  Highway in Glacier Park. The accident was blamed on a snow avalanche.

Monday, May 26, 2014

May 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1864 President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill that created Montana Territory. The first Territorial Capital was in the mining town of Bannack. Montanans were soon clamoring for statehood, and newspapers at the time often characterized nonresident appointees to territorial office as “pilgrims and carpetbaggers, political convicts, and party-hangers-on.” Montanans have long been at least a little skeptical of the folks in Washington.

Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1908 the National Bison Range was created by Congress at the request of President Teddy Roosevelt on 18,500 acres of land in the Flathead Valley. It was the first federal purchase of land for a wildlife refuge. The American Bison Society later raised more than $10,000 to buy 34 bison that formed the nucleus for the herd that still grazes their today. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

May 22 – On this day in Montana history in 1914 The Red Lodge Picket reported a tale that reminds us today of the ease of automobile travel that for many years could not be taken for granted.  Local attorney R. Wiggenhorn and Deputy Game Warden George Mushbach decided to drive their families to Billings for an outing.  They fought the roads until five miles from Billings when the added difficulty of a heavy rain storm left their cars buried in “gumbo” along the road. The paper reported that the ears of the children in the cars had to be covered when the two men vented their anger “about the weather man, about the roads, about automobiles and about things in general.” The families of the two men returned to Red Lodge on the train, leaving the two men to dig out their cars.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1956 Gov. J. Hugo Aronson called for a “highway litterbug cleanup campaign.” He said that state highway funds were limited and trying to deal with the problem took money away from other needed highway and bridge projects. He urged groups like the Jaycees to undertake a statewide campaign to clean Montana up. Perhaps showing how far ahead of his time he was, Aronson said it was just as important to keep Montana green as it was to keep its roadways clean.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20 – On this day in Montana history in 1904 what the Missoulian called a “Memorable Day in State Athletics” was wrapping up the second and final day of the first statewide track and field meet in Montana history. As the students gathered for the event, the Missoulian noted “It was the first introduction that many Montana persons, especially among the younger generation, had ever had to a track meet.” The paper went on to predict – and correctly so – that “interscholastic track meets shall become a household word and an event to be looked forward to with the keenest of growing interest from year to year.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19 – On this day in Montana history in 1945 Army Tech 4 Laverne Parish who grew up in Ronan and Pablo was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. He volunteered shortly after the outbreak of WW11 as a medic telling his family he “wanted to save more lives than he took.” On Jan. 18, 1945, in an action in the Philippines Parish repeatedly crossed open grounds to rescue and care for his comrades being racked by hostile fire. After saving and treating 37 injured soldiers, he was killed by enemy mortar fire.  Only seven Montanans have received the Medal of Honor.

Friday, May 9, 2014

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.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

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. The MHS Museum Store has "Dining Car to the Pacific: Famously Good Food of the Northern Pacific if you want to get this and other receipies. Call 1-800-243-9900 to order or stop in while in Helena. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

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. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

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.” 

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5 – On this day in Montana History in 1971 Emmanuel Taylor “Manny” Gordon died in a White Sulphur Springs Hospital. His mother was born a slave and moved with her husband to Montana where Manny was born in 1893. He became a famed vaudeville performer and spiritual singer in the U.S. and Europe. He was a friend of circus owner John Ringling and authored several books including his autobiography “Born to Be.” He returned to Montana in 1959 to live with his sister, Rose, in White Sulphur Springs. He gave several more concerts in Montana before his death.

Friday, May 2, 2014

May 2 – On this day in Montana History in 1864 the Montana Territory was approved by Congress. Most people think of this as the start of modern Montana history. But Wilbur Fisk Sanders a political giant in early Montana history and a founder of the Montana Historical Society always maintained that 1862 and 1863 were critical in the development of the state. As he wrote about “the meaning of our settlement and civilization here,” Fisk urged future generations “to preserve sketches of our earlier story … day by day and year-by-year.” That also includes Native American history.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 the Billings Gazette gave some advice on the topic of the day “men going to war.” How to deal with going away parties and letter writing were talked about.  Baby boomers also got their first – sort of – mention: “If a young man meets a local girl at an army dance … may he call her at home?” Answer: “Yes. And he shouldn’t mind if her mother and father are on hand the first time to look him over, after all they know nothing about him.”

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30 – On this day in Montana history in 1803 the United States purchased Louisiana from France. The boundaries were not clearly defined, but included the western half of the Mississippi drainage basin from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. It didn’t go as far as Louis and Clark took it with their expedition, but it definitely included what became Montana.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29 – On this day in Montana History in 1906 the papers headlines show that election controversy wasn’t limited to competing political factions in state government. The National Daughters of the American Revolution after a three-year fight settled what became known to the group nationally as “the Montana incident.” Mrs. Walter Harvey Weed, at the time a resident of Washington, but a member of the Silver Bow Montana Chapter, claimed to represent the chapter on the national DAR board. The Montana chapter said that Ella Knowles Haskell was their choice for the job. Haskell finally was seated in the national congress, and the fight was settled – this time with local Montanans winning. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28 – On this day in Montana History in 1933 the first Montana recruits for the emergency conservation corps, part of the Great Depression jobs legislation, were selected. They were destined for camps in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. Interestingly based on current problems with bark beetles, some of the men were also to be assigned to efforts to fight an outbreak of white pine beetles.

Friday, April 11, 2014

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.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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.” 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7 – On this day in Montana History in 1983 Gov. Ted Schwinden signed a legislative act to designate the grizzly bear at the Official State Animal. Fittingly he put on a grizzly-bear hat for the public signing. The designation resulted from a statewide contest and vote aimed at getting young people interested in politics. The grizzly beat out the next highest vote getter the elk by nearly two to one. Although some legislators held out for the elk, the grizzly finally won out in the real legislative process. The kids were happy.

Friday, April 4, 2014

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. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

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.”

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

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.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

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. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

March 31 – On this day in Montana History in 1911 Daisy Underwood became the first female mail carrier in the state. She had a 28 mile rural route near Billings. The local paper noted “Miss Underwood owns a horse and vehicle and is arranging to buy another horse, since two are necessary for the work.”

Friday, March 28, 2014

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!!!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

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.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

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.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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.” 

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17 – On this day in Montana History in 1927 a letter from Anna Hoefer Nink was received by the Billings Land Office that asked about making some changes in her homestead property near Biddle in Powder River country and reporting on her progress on proving up her claim. That in itself isn’t unusual. 
What caught the eye of the reporter who learned about the letter was that Nink was a nationally known vaudeville actress. She had been on stage for more than a decade completing “nine circuits” of the nation. She was known as “Sally of the Sawdust” and primarily did a comedy act using a small cart pulled by a goat with two ducks as passengers. In her letter she reported that “the goat and ducks are doing fine and we are all enjoying life on the homestead.” So, you see, famous actors moving to Montana is nothing new.

Friday, March 14, 2014

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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1962 “The World Theater” dedicated to “showing unique films from all over the world” opened in Billings. One of the first features was “Tunes of Glory” an English film starring Alec Guiness, who would go on to achieve fame as Obi-wan Kenobi  in Star Wars. Billing itself as an “art theatre” there was a “coffee hour” before each movie, and the Billings Art Association maintained an art display in the lobby.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 12 – On this day in history in 1854 Sir St. George Gore reached St. Louis and prepared for his journey into what would become Montana.  The 42-year old baronet had his valet, dog handler and a pack of 50 hunting hounds with him that he had brought from England. He hired legendary mountain man Jim Bridger as his guide. Before he left the country he had engaged in one of the grossest slaughters of wildlife in western history. In two months alone he killed 105 bear, more than 2.000 bison and 1,600 elk and deer in the Yellowstone Valley. Perhaps fittingly, Sioux Indians surrounded and took the supplies, horses and weapons of Gore’s hunting party on his return trip. It took the group nearly five weeks to struggle back to a friendly Hidatsa camp, and they were naked and nearly starving when they got there. This isn’t the origin of the word gore, but Gore certainly lived up to his name and reaped his reward.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March 11 – On this day in Montana History in 1962 “throngs were attending” the Building Material and Home Show in Billings. The show offered the latest in home building and furnishing materials. The want ads in the Billings paper of the day show how much things have changed. 3-bedroom homes were going for as little as $50 down and $71 a month. “Fabulous Colonial Casual” divan and matching chair was selling for $75 or only $7.20 a month. In contrast, the latest in “quality picture and stereo high fidelity” televisions were going for $328 – if you had a good trade in!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10 --  On this day in Montana History in 1864 J.A Slade was the victim of what became known as “A Decent, Orderly Lynching” in Virginia City, Montana. Slade had developed a reputation for toughness and some said meanness as a boss on the Overland Trail. He came to Virginia City, Montana, in 1863 and his drinking and problem behavior soon had him at odds with the Vigilantes who administered and carried out their justice in the boom town.  On March 10, it came to a head when he took a leading member of the vigilantes hostage and threatened to kill him. He was convinced to free the man, but was immediately taken prisoner and told the Vigilantes’ executive committee had just met and voted to hang him. A friend sent for Slade’s wife, but before she could get to the makeshift gallows behind Pfouts and Russell’s Store to say her goodbyes, the order was given “Men, do your duty.” The box was kicked away and Slade was later carried off to boot hill.

Friday, March 7, 2014

March 7 – On this day in Montana History in 1962 the Billings Gazette reported that a series of explosions linked two separate drill holes together creating 850 feet of diversion tunnel and 1,235 feet of spillway tunnel to make one tunnel that included an 80-degree turn for the Yellowtail Dam project in eastern Montana. “Engineering was so accurate you could not see where the blast which linked the two holes occurred,” the paper reported. “It was quite an engineering feat.”

Friday, February 28, 2014

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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

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.”  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Feb 26 – On this day in Montana history in 1912 the Livingston Daily Enterprise was writing about the new town of Wilsall as “a busy town with big prospects.” “People here seem very much interested in the new town and are not very well acquainted with it,” the paper noted. It wrote about the area’s rich farm land and its role as the terminus of the Northern Pacific branch road out of Livingston. In 1968 Wilsall was put on the world map when an extraordinary archaeological find of 13,000-year-old stone tools was discovered near the town. The tools are now on exhibit at the Montana Historical Society.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Feb. 25 – On this day in Montana history in 1906 Billings sports fans were gloating over their local high school basketball teams double victories over the team from Sheridan, Wyo. Sheridan had beaten the Billings team two week earlier on their home court, and some revenge seeped in with the story about the return games. “(They) will go home 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 on their return trip,” a local sports writer opined.  And we think rivalries in sports are tough today. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Feb. 24 – On this day in 1883 The Post newspaper in Billings proudly announced the creation of Yellowstone County. The headline said “Sound the Loud Timbrel;” “Billings a County Seat.” Noting the bitter political and social fight for creation of the county, the paper said: “We are at last cut loose from the Miles City Ring.” The art accompanying the story was a woodcut of a strutting rooster.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Feb. 21 – On this day in Montana history in 1918 the state’s first gun registration law was enacted. 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.”

Thursday, February 20, 2014

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.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Feb. 19 -- On this day in Montana history in 1936 The Jordan Tribune reported a “heat wave” when the thermometer registered "slightly” above zero. On Feb. 14 the official weather station in Jordan recorded a record 58 degrees below zero. The next days before the 19th low temperatures were 57 below, 51 below, 45 below, 29 below and then finally went up to slightly above zero. Reports of livestock loss were coming in from all across the area, and the county tractor grader was working hard to open roads to the lignite coal mine.

Friday, February 14, 2014

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.”

Thursday, February 13, 2014

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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

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.” 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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.”

Monday, February 10, 2014

Feb. 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1873, the first brand under the current state brand registration system was entered into the Montana brand books. It was the Square and Compass registered to Poindexter & Ore in the Beaverhead Valley. It was based on their membership in the Masons.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Feb. 7-- On this day in history in 1890, law enforcement officers were on the lookout for eight Democratic state senators wanted under arrest warrants issued ironically by the Senate itself. Lt. Gov Rickards, a Republican, issued the warrants after the senators boarded trains and went in different directions to keep the Senate from being able to officially organize. The bitter dispute badly divided the state, and centered on whom the Senate would elect to represent them in Congress. (And some people think political partisanship has gone too far today)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Feb. 6 – On this day in Montana history in 1920, Chief Montana Stock Inspector Frank Lavigne reported that in the previous year 182 arrests for stealing walking livestock in the state. Of those there were 135 felony convictions with 37 cases pending. “A number of the horse and cattle thieves arrested were dangerous characters, or what is commonly termed ‘had boiled.’ One man was shot resisting arrest, but later recovered, while two were killed outright,” Lavigne reported.     

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Feb. 5 – On this day in Montana history in 1904, consideration was given to give 10 percent of the fines collected from prostitutes to the Florence Crittenden Circle for the care of destitute “women of that class.” It never happened for soon after the group said it would not accept the money gathered in that manner.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Feb. 4 – On this day in Montana history in 1941, things were different when it came to smoking cigarettes.  A column in the Billings Gazette titled “Mind Your Manners” offered some advice. Women were told it was ok to smoke in a store, but not while trying on dresses. “Department stores say a number of dresses are ruined by women who refuse to stop smoking long enough to make their selection.” It also said it is bad manners “to flip ashes on a carpet if you are in a public place.” Like the cigarette ad said, “We’ve come a long way baby.”

Monday, February 3, 2014

Feb. 3 – On this day in Montana history in 1936, a Butte headline noted the “Grim Reaper Calls Man, Wife and Faithful Horse.” For many years a gentle brown horse named Old Doc had pulled James Tallack’s ice cream cart through the city to the double delight of children. Doc had been retired to Barney Salusso’s nearby farm. When Salusso came to town to tell Tallack his faithful horse was dead, he learned that Tallack had died only a few hours earlier. Doubling the irony, Tallack’s widow died shortly after the funeral for her husband. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

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!!!!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

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.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jan. 28 – On this day in Montana history in 1865 Montana Territorial government authorized the 84
brand and trademark. 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.”  The official
registration of brands came later. 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.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

Jan. 27 – On this day in Montana history in 1928, news arrived that former Mineral County State Sen.
O.G. Willet had died the week before at a “leprosarium” in Louisiana. Newspapers reported that he was
the only “white leper” in the state. It was thought that Willet contracted the disease while serving in the
Philippines  during the Spanish-American War. His wife noticed a “white spot” on his face just after they
were married, and the couple lived an isolated life near Missoula for many years before going to


Friday, January 24, 2014

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 Bozeman 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 Pea-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.”

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jan. 23 – On this day in Montana history in 1890, Montana legend and “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.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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 women’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 managers 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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jan. 20 – On this day in Montana History in 1910, the Western News in Libby carried a front page story on the new Lincoln County Jail. The “jail cage” was 14 feet wide and 14 feet long and held four prisoners. The new cells didn’t need keys and were opened by levers located safely away from prisoners. “The construction is so made that it is never necessary for the jailer to enter the cage to handle prisoners,” the article reads. “ George Dunham said he had “inspected every jail along the entire line of the Great Northern Railway, but of them all Lincoln County’s is the strongest.”

Friday, January 17, 2014

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.”

Thursday, January 16, 2014

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.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jan. 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1895 what came to be known as “The Great Dynamite Explosions” in Butte left nearly 50 people dead including seven members of the fire department. “The specter of death hovered o’vr Butte last night, and never in the history of Montana has a newspaper been called upon to chronicle a more appalling disaster,” a reporter wrote. Firemen were fighting a fire at a warehouse on Utah Ave. in South Butte, and a large crowd had gathered. The fire touched off a large stockpile of dynamite stored inside and ripped through the crowd with ferocious thunder. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jan. 14 – On this day in 1918 the final edition of the Daily Yellowstone Journal in Miles City was printed.  “Lack of Advertising patronage and the high cost of production makes this step necessary,” a story on the front page said. The paper had been in publication for 38 years, and was closely identified with the early history of Montana .Editor Sam Gordon was known as a top editorial writer and had even gained a following nationally. The paper went downhill quickly when he left it a few years before its demise. The end of the paper signaled the rise of Billings as the power center of eastern Montana.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Jan. 13 – On this day in Montana History in 1978 Montanans awoke to learn of the death of U.S. Sen. Lee Metcalf. He was praised as a fair-minded but tough man of the people. His legacy of protecting wilderness lands and rivers for future generations continues to this day. The words of one of Metcalf’s best friends, Sen. Jennings Randolph of West Virginia, summed up the feelings being expressed across the nation: “He was a tireless champion of preserving and protecting our nation’s natural heritage for succeeding generations to use and enjoy. This gentle man from Montana loved the Earth and all its living creatures.” 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Jan. 10 – On this day in Montana History in 1864 the vigilantes of the Virginia City and Bannack gold fields ended a wave of crimes and murders when they hanged Sherriff Henry Plummer, Ned Ray and Butch Stinson. Because they denied the crimes to the end, the Plummer gang was known as the "innocents." But the death of Sherriff Plummer and his gang brought the crime wave to a close.

Jan. 10 – On this day in Montana History in 1864 the vigilantes of the Virginia City and Bannock gold fields ended a wave of crimes and murders when they hanged Sherriff Henry Plummer, Ned Ray and Butch Stinson. Although he denied it to the end – in fact the Plummer gang was known as the innocents because that was what they always claimed – the death of Sherriff Plummer brought the crime wave to a close.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jan. 9 – On this day in Montana History in 1877 Florence Fogler of Wolf Point Montana was the first woman admitted to the American Institute of Engineers organization.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jan. 8 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 Maggie Smith Hathaway, a Democrat from Stevensville and Emma J. Ingalls, a Republican from Kalispell were seated in the Montana Legislature. They were the first two women to serve in the lawmaking body. They had been elected in Nov. 1916. Montana women got the right to vote in 1914 – six years before woman suffrage became the national standard. The Montana Historical Society is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the right of women to vote in Montana all this year. You can learn about these two women and many more by logging on to http://montanawomenshistory.org/.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jan. 7 – On this day in 1902 one of Montana’s most dramatic jail escapes and subsequent manhunts came to an end. Alonzo Kilby and Roy Huffman escaped from the Billings jail by fashioning dummies and placing them in their bunk, while they dug their way to freedom. After an extensive search by posses and homesteaders for several days on the prairies of the Musselshell, the escapees were finally trapped. Kilby was shot and killed, while Huffman was returned to jail.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Jan. 6 –On this day in 1869 the Montana Territorial Legislature meeting in Virginia City put aside political differences and celebrated the wonder of the Montana winter. The state’s first newspaper, “The Montana Post,” reported that “The fine sleighing was too much, even for the profoundest of our law-makers to resist, and so today the Legislature adjourned early and went in for winter sports.” The legislators took time to remember how lucky they were to be in Montana. “They all evinced glee, loud laughter, jolly singing, and all the pleasures which ice and snow bring to mortals here below.”  A lesson today’s lawmakers might remember.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Jan.3 – On this day in 1900 Billings Mayor Chris Yegen reported to city aldermen that “the business of the city is being carried on in a businesslike manner.”  It was ordered that all houses in the city be visibly numbered, and there was discussion of whether street lights should be placed over, or along city streets. Proving that some things in politics never change, Yegen pleaded with alderman to adhere to a standing rule, and talk only once on any subject before the council. “It was thought that the council would turn over a new leaf in this particular with the New Year, but the members seemed to have considerable to talk about,” the mayor lamented.