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.