Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31 – 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.  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% for casualties above any other state per population. Montanans have always answered their nation’s call in time of war.

Monday, May 30, 2016

May 30 – 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.” 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May 29 – On this day in Montana history in 1916 railroad and Northwest U.S. empire builder James J. Hill died in St. Paul, Minn., at age 78. Montana was shaped by his Great Northern Railroad, and especially his efforts to promote Glacier National Park. Train traffic on his Montana and other railroad lines was stopped for five minutes in tribute to Hill.  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

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.      

Friday, May 27, 2016

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.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May 25 –On this day in Montana history in 1964 what was called the Montana Centennial Cake that measured 8 feet wide by 16 feet long was baked as a fund raiser for the Centennial Bell project. It took 120 pounds flour and 100 pounds of sugar plus other ingredients to create. It took 74 hours to make the cake that was valued at $700. The recipe is in the Jean Baucus Centennial Bell Scrapbook at the Montana Historical Society. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 24 – On this day in Montana history in 1898 what were called rough riders from the !st Montana Volunteers left Montana headed to Cuba to fight there in the Spanish American War. That part of the war was over by the time they got to Florida. However, the 1st Volunteers were sent to the Philippines to fight the Spanish there. They fought for nearly two years in a part of the war that was largely forgotten in history.

Monday, May 23, 2016

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. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

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.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

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.

Friday, May 20, 2016

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.”

Thursday, May 19, 2016

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May 18 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 the commanding officer of the battleship U.S.S. Montana wrote to Mrs. H.R. Cunningham, president of the Women’s Auxiliary in Helena for the Navy League, with a list of “knitted articles” the crew needed. It included 2,000 pairs of woolen socks, 1,000 pairs of mittens, and “700 visored caps to pull down to the shoulders.” She said the only thing holding her group back was getting the sewing stores to get the needles and yarn they needed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 17 – On this day in Montana history in 1931 Great Falls Diocese Bishop Edwin O’Hara was in Vatican City for the 40th anniversary of the ordination of Pope Leo XIII. In addition to his congratulations, O’Hara discussed problems of “religious work in rural districts.” The Pope offered his blessing.

Monday, May 16, 2016

May 16 – On this day in Montana history in 1812 in Italy Father Anthony Ravalli was born. He was to become  the “DaVinci of the West.” He came to Montana in 1845 to St. Mary’s Mission and later with his Indian parishioners built the Cataldo Mission in what is now Idaho which still stands as a masterpiece of frontier architecture. Ravalli County in Montana was named for him and he is credited with being the first doctor in what was to become Montana also having degrees in mechanics, sciences the arts and farming from universities in Italy. He died at Stevensville in 1884 and hundreds of people from miles around came to the funeral.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

May 15 – On this day in Montana history in 1917 T.L. Martin, secretary of the Helena T.C. Power Company, was returning from a trip to Canada with news of WW1. He told of Canadian towns being “depopulated of their young fighting men,” but confident of ultimate victory in Europe. He also made a comment that should have prepared Montanans for what was to come. “The entrance of the United States in to the world conflict has added to their hopes of an early conclusion of the struggle.” Hundreds of Montanans died in that war.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

May 14 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 the Daily Inter Lake had a front page headline, “Electric Signs Invade Kalispell.”  “Most of the largest business houses have at this time adopted one form or another of the great variety of electric lighting devices with which to attract the eye,” the paper said.  It also claimed the largest electric sign in Montana was above the Kalispell Brewery “the letters being four feet high, the sign 65 feet long and the number of lights used in it 258.” The times were a’changin and apparently the light bulbs too.

Friday, May 13, 2016

May 13 – On this day in Montana history in 1920 a Butte jury found that miner Thomas Manning was killed by a pistol “in the hands of some person unknown to this jury.” The working class of Butte knew that Manning and 15 other people injured in an attack against picketers fighting the Anaconda Mining Company. They asked “Did the 16 miners shoot themselves.” It was “The Company.” They were all shot in the back while fleeing. Manning left behind a young wife and a small son still living in Ireland.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 12 – On this day in Montana history in 1922 Yellowstone Park Superintendent Horace Albright was predicting “one of the best years, if not the greatest season this summer” for the world’s first national park.  He expected that more than 100,000 people would visit “Wonderland.”  The park has come a long way baby.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

May 11 – On this day in Montana history in 1910 the president was set to sign the bill creating Glacier Park. It included an appropriation of $10,000 for preliminary surveys and building of roads and trails.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

May 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 125 Italian prisoners of war from WWII arrived at Fort Missoula and were put to work. They were reportedly smiling and waving to the newspaper reporters and others who gathered for the arrival. The prisoners renamed the camp “Bella Vista” for its beautiful view. A lot better than facing American soldiers on the battlefield.
May 10 – On this day in Montana history in 1941 125 Italian prisoners of war from WWII arrived at Fort Missoula and were put to work. They were reportedly smiling and waving to the newspaper reporters and others who gathered for the arrival. The prisoners renamed the camp “Bella Vista” for its beautiful view. A lot better than facing American soldiers on the battlefield.

Monday, May 9, 2016

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.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

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. 

Saturday, May 7, 2016

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. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

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.” 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May 4 – On this day in Montana history in 1939 Gov. Roy Ayers signed a bill establishing the Montana Parks Commission to supervise an envisioned network of state parks. The bill was prompted by the 1937 state acquisition of the ”Morrison Caves” complex in Jefferson County that was renamed “Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park” in 1946.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3 – On this day in Montana History in 1941 schools and civic organizations across the state were teaming up to hold outdoor competitions for students. In Billings more than 500 students competed in events ranging from traditional runs to sack races and shuttle races with prizes awarded by the Elks.

Monday, May 2, 2016

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.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

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.”