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.”