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.”