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.