April 16, 2015

Montana's Ties to the Titanic

Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

My first response to the recent question, "Were there any people from Montana on the Titanic?" was not historical.  Rather, the only thing that came to mind was the very contemporary link with Montana resident Al Giddings.  Mr. Giddings participated in the 1991 joint Russian-Canadian-American expedition to the wreck and later played an integral role in the production and underwater filming for the blockbuster 1997 movie, Titanic.

Within moments of hitting the microfilm machine, however, I became obsessed with the stories of the men and women who both perished as well as survived the sinking.  Not only were there 17 or more (depending on the source) passengers of the RMS Titanic who planned to make Montana their final destination, there were also numerous personal and professional Montana connections.  The aspirations and make-up of these individuals—miners, emigrants, carpenters, homesteaders, and millionaires—represent the story of 1912 Montana.

Several third and second class passengers were headed for Butte and other Montana opportunities.  These included at least four railroad workers who had worked in Butte the previous fall, but returned to their homes in Bulgaria for the winter.  Menko Angeloff, Hristo Danchoff, Stanio Georfieff, and Ivan Staneff, all steerage tickets, were well known by Butte's Bulgarian community.  According to the Anaconda Standard, Staneff was "considered a leader among his countrymen."  Frederick Pengelly, a 19-year-old miner, boarded the Titanic with 23-year-old blacksmith William Ware, both from Cornwall, England.  The young men listed Butte as their final destination with hopes of earning employment in the booming mining town.  Carpenter William Gilbert, on the other hand, had lived in the Butte area for 20 years.  The Butte Miner reported he was returning from a trip to Cornwall to visit his mother.  Sadly, just ten days before the Titanic disaster, his siblings had received a letter explaining that he missed boarding the California, his initial ticket, so he was reassigned to the Titanic.  These men's dreams died with them the night the Titanic sank.

Four other men, all steerage passengers from Croatia, also listed Montana as their destination.  Three married brothers, or perhaps cousins, Bartol, Ivan, and Liudevit Cor, ages 35, 27, and 19, respectively, hoped to end their travels in Great Falls.  Jovan Dimic, age 42, was traveling to Red Lodge.  Their stories wait to be discovered.  None of these men were among the survivors.  Another passenger, Edward Larsson-Rondberg, was heading home to Missoula after a visit to Sweden.  He had saved enough money from cooking at the Atlantic Hotel and Restaurant on North Higgins to bring his childhood sweetheart, Berta Nilsson, to Montana.  The Butte Miner described how Berta survived after boarding Lifeboat D, the final boat to be lowered from the steamer, just 15 minutes before it sank to the ocean floor.  Edward was never seen again.
Lifeboat D, with Berta Nilsson aboard, just prior to rescue by the Carpathia
(source: National Archives–Northeast Region, New York City, RG 21, Records of District Courts of the United States).
Deer Lodge resident, Imanita Parrish Shelley, and her mother, Lutie Parrish, were seasoned travelers returning to the States from England.  Following the collision with the iceberg, the mother and daughter boarded Lifeboat 12, one of the few lifeboats to later take on additional survivors.  These included  approximately 16 men found clinging to the sinking collapsible Lifeboat B just before dawn.  The ladies arrived in Deer Lodge ten days after the sinking.  Mrs. Shelley would later send an affidavit to the U.S. Senate inquiry describing her experiences in detail.

Gilliam and Anna De Messemaeker, recently married in Belgium, were on their way to Gilliam's log home and homestead outside Tampico, Montana.  Anna was lifted into Lifeboat 13, filled with over 65 second- and third-class women and children.  Gilliam, not allowed to join his wife, began assisting with the next boat, number 15.  Believing Gilliam to be a crew member, an officer ordered him to take up oars.  The couple was reunited aboard rescue boat Carpathia.  According to the Glasgow Valley County News, they arrived in Valley County on April 27th.  The newspaper printed a detailed interview of the couple's frightening experience less than a week after their return home.

In addition to the 17 souls described above, the Titanic carried many others with ties to Montana.   These included first-class passengers Mr. and Mrs. Walter Clark, both born in Montana and with solid ties to Butte.  Clark, the nephew of Copper King and Montana Senator William Clark, assisted his wife into Lifeboat 4, which also carried several first-class passengers and their staff, including the young Mrs. Astor, her maid, and nurse.  Young Mr. Clark was last seen with Mr. Astor helping others onto the remaining lifeboats.  By April 25, Virginia Clark had returned to their Los Angeles home to grieve.

Investigating Montana's ties to the Titanic taught me that Mr. Giddings was not the first Montanan to look upon the notorious ship.  Cooks, homesteaders, and laborers, all boarded the Titanic with hopes of creating a new life upon their arrival in the booming young State of Montana.  The sinking ended those hopes and dreams.  However, their stories reflect those of thousands of people heading to Montana in 1912.

Helpful Sources:

April 15, 2015

What are you having for Easter dinner?

by Barbara Pepper Rotness, MHS Research Center Library Technician

According to the Secretary of State's Business Entity webpage, the first incorporation papers filed with the newly-established State of Montana, in November 1889, were for the Helena Hotel Company. Officially becoming an incorporated business on November 8, 1889 - the same date that Montana became a state - the hotel didn't open for business until the following year and held its grand opening on February 3, 1890.

According to the Helena Independent newspaper, dated November 12, 1911,
"The Helena Hotel on Grand Street, which for many years, under the management of L.A. Walker, was the finest hotel in the state. It was about the Helena Hotel that the great political fights of early statehood days centered, and in the lobby of this hotel during state conventions and legislative sessions could be found practically every man of prominence in the state."           
1894 Helena Polk City Directory,
"Presented by Cornelius Hedges"

Built of brick and standing five stories tall, the Helena Hotel provided high-quality amenities, such as passenger and freight elevators, steam heat, and electric light.

This ad (right) from the 1894 Helena Polk City Directory boasts that the Helena Hotel is "The Only First Class Hotel in the City." At that time, the charges for a stay at the Helena Hotel started at $3.00 per day. Baths and private parlors were extra.

Unfortunately, the Helena Hotel was gutted by a fire on February 4, 1912 and the decision was made to not restore that business.

The Montana Historical Society has this remnant of the Helena Hotel from its heyday -  an 1894 Easter holiday dinner invitation and menu (below).

This multi-course meal certainly sounds first-class; however, the types of foods (such as, Sea Turtle) were commonly listed on other menus of the time.
Look for more menus in the Ephemera files at the Montana Historical Society Research Center.

March 27, 2015

A Life Through Newspapers: Andrew Jackson ("AJ") King

By Natasha Hollenbach, Montana Digital Newspaper Project Assistant

Historical newspapers can reveal people who were important in their time and place, but whom history has deemed unnecessary to remember. During the 1902 election, the Kalispell Bee ran several political cartoons directed at Andrew Jackson (AJ) King.

However, concerted searching through the Montana Historical Society catalog, Google, and Ancestry.com revealed very little about this man. So an experiment was proposed. How much of AJ King’s life could be revealed using just Montana digitized newspapers available on Chronicling America? Using the advanced search, limiting to Montana and using “a j king” as the search term under "with the phrase," 163 pages were returned. These results ranged from 1892 to 1921 including papers from Libby, Great Falls, Anaconda, Cut Bank, Butte, Missoula, Helena, Havre, Glasgow and Fort Benton. While there was a surprising amount of information available, not all articles that mentioned 'AJ King' actually pertained to this AJ King. For example, during this period there was also an A (Alfred) J King in Missoula who worked for the Daily Missoulian. However, there is enough to provide a reasonable account of AJ’s professional life.

When Flathead County was created in 1893, AJ King was appointed county treasurer. He was elected to this position twice--first in 1894 and again in 1898. During the 1896 campaign, he was chosen as one of the delegates to represent the county at the Democratic State Convention. It appears to be his first attempt to expand his political career. In 1902, he ran for State Senate, but lost in an election that was a blowout for the Republican Party.

From the end of the campaign until he was appointed collector of customs in 1913, he appears only twice, both concerning land transactions. In 1910, AJ was one of the individuals who offered land for sale to the federal government that wanted federal buildings in Kalispell, Miles City and Bozeman. In 1912, the Libby Herald reported a land transfer from AJ to his son, Carlisle. In 1913, AJ was appointed collector of customs for Montana and Idaho with his headquarters in Great Falls, a position paying $3,500 per year for a 4-year term. He would serve two terms in this position (1913-1921). Over the next several years, most references to AJ are about smuggling activity. Because this was the time of prohibition, whiskey smuggling from Canada was a regular occurrence, with articles often describing how it was smuggled and the amount of liquor poured into the city’s sewer.

In addition to whiskey, a number of other items were smuggled from Canada during AJ’s tenure: horses (1915), grain through Scobey (1915), and a diamond worth $200 (1920). Nineteen-nineteen was a busy year for AJ. He spoke to the Woman’s Club in favor of the League of Nations; aided in a collection campaign for the Salvation Army; attended the state fair; heard President Wilson speak in Helena; attended a conference in New York; and visited family and friends in Kentucky and Nebraska. In 1920, AJ King's activities with the Democratic Party received significant coverage, as did his business affairs. The creation of two oil companies, Missouri River Oil & Gas Company and Cat Creek Devil’s Basin Oil Company, both had AJ as one of the primary owners. One story highlights a different aspect of his job. On May 14, 1921, he was in Boise, judging whether art imported from Europe for the new Catholic Church could enter the country duty free or if money was owed.

In late 1921, his term was up and a Republican president was in power. The last mention of him is November 21, 1921 in the Great Falls Daily Tribune, stating that he was moving back to Kalispell after buying the Ford Hotel.
Not only do these articles track AJ’s working history, they also provide insight into his family life. AJ’s wife was active in the social scene, as  found in articles about the Great Falls Woman’s Club, musical club, bridge club, and Ladies’ Auxiliary to the American Legion. She and AJ had two sons, Carlisle and Dean. When Carlisle returned from WWI, the event was recorded in the newspaper.

Several years later, when Carlisle stopped in Great Falls to visit his parents on his way back home to Seattle and, then, when AJ and his wife visited Dean and his family for Christmas, the newspaper reported it. In the last article about AJ, it mentions that part of the reason he chose to return to Kalispell was that his son, Dean, was County Attorney.

And, so ends a life through digital newspapers!

March 26, 2015

Now Playing at the MHS Research Center!

Lory Morrow, Photograph Archives Manager

Recognizing the importance of motion pictures and the need to preserve them as historical records, the Research Center’s Photograph Archives began collecting films in the 1960s.  Our collection includes films produced by Montana film makers, production companies, and by state agencies.  As an archive, we are primarily concerned with preserving our film holdings and making them available for viewing by researchers.  With this goal in mind, in 2009, Molly Kruckenberg, the Research Center’s Director, applied to the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) for a grant to preserve and digitize three of the Research Center’s films.

NFPF gives grants for film preservation to United States public and 501(c)3 nonprofit institutions that provide public access to their collections. These grants target orphan films (films “that lack either clear copyright holders or commercial potential” to pay for their preservation) made in the U.S. The grants must be used to pay for laboratory work involving the creation of: 1) new film preservation elements, 2) two new public access copies (one of which must be a film print), and 3) closed captioning for sound films destined for Web or television exhibition.

View of water running through lower tunnel portal of Tunnel #2,
Fort Peck Dam, circa 1939. Still from film titled
Construction of the Fort Peck Dam (1939–1950) taken
by Jerold Van Faasen.
From our first grant application in 2009 until 2013, the Research Center has been awarded five NFPF awards for the preservation and duplication of eleven historic motion picture films in the collection:

2009 Grant
Construction of the Fort Peck Dam (1939–1950), three (color and silent) films taken by Jerold Van Faasen, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil engineer, of the construction of Fort Peck Dam and events that took place during this massive Public Works Administration project near Glasgow, Montana; including footage of President Harry S. Truman’s visit to the dam in 1950.  Catalog #PAc 94-31

2010 Grant
• Ceremonial Dances of the Pueblo Indians (1934), two black and white, silent films containing rare footage of Native American dances, filmed by Glenn C. Morton, an amateur photographer and film maker from Lewistown, MT.  In 1934, Morton traveled to New Mexico, where he filmed Indians of the San Ildefonso Pueblo dancing the Buffalo Dance and the Flag Dance.  Catalog #PAc 85-16.
• Growing Baby Beef in Montana (1933–1934), ranch manager Glenn C. Morton’s film documentation of ranch operations at the Green Ranch, operated by Ed T. Grove and the Pioneer Ranch Company, Inc., located west of Buffalo, MT.  The three black and white, silent films have subtitles that explain the ranch’s operations and the footage illustrates the methods used on the ranch to raise Hereford cattle (including calving, branding, testing for diseases, feeding, and the final shipment by rail of the “Baby Beef” to Chicago).  Catalog #PAc 85-16

2011 Grant
Rosebud County Fair and Rodeo (1926), one home movie (black and white and silent) filmed by Walter B. Dean, Jr., who was a jeweler, optometrist and amateur photographer from Forsyth, MT.  The film contains footage of the 1926 Rosebud County fair rodeo and of the interior of the Dean Jewelry & Drug Store in Forsyth.  Catalog #PAc 92-34

2012 Grant
Montana…Land of the Big Sky (1973), was produced by Robert Henkel and Jim Graff of Sage Advertising in 1973 as part of a series of tourism films.  The 27 ½ minute, color film was produced as a promotional piece and was narrated by Chet Huntley.  The film showcases summer tourist locations in Montana, including helicopter views of Glacier National Park; the underground geological formations in Lewis and Clark Caverns; a tour of the Little Big Horn Battlefield including a reenactment of the battle; trail riding on high-country trails; camping, fishing, boating, water-skiing and other outdoor recreational activities; historic Virginia City; Yellowstone National Park; and local rodeos.  Catalog #PAc 2011-51

MHS Photograph Archives, Catalog #PAc 2001-51
Front and back cover of brochure advertising the film
titled Escape to Montana's Glacier Park. Film sponsored
 by the Montana State Advertsing Dept. and Glacier Park, Inc.

2013 Grant
Escape to Montana’s Glacier Park (1973) was a state-sponsored travelogue; also produced by Sage Advertising and narrated by Chet Huntley.  This 27 ½ minute, color film shows the scenic magnificence of Glacier National Park including Lake McDonald, fields of wildflowers, cascading waterfalls, and the famed Going-to-the-Sun road.  The film also includes footage of fisherman fishing in the Park’s pristine glacial lakes, hikers on the many trails, and the well-known and loved red buses that take tourists throughout the Park.  Catalog #PAc 2011-51

The process of preserving films is expensive and time-consuming and only a few film laboratories in the country specialize in the preservation of historical films.  The Research Center’s film preservation work was done by Colorlab, a motion picture film laboratory in Rockville, Maryland.  Without the grant funds provided by NFPF, we could not have copied these historical films to meet today’s preservation standards.  The costs of preserving our films varied from $944 for the preservation and duplication of one 5 minute, black and white silent film to $8,267.30 to preserve and duplicate one 27 ½ minute, color film with sound.  These costs differ so widely because they are determined by the length of the film, its condition, format (black and white or color) and whether it is a silent film or has a soundtrack.  Color films are more challenging and expensive to copy because the color film often fades and then must be digitally restored.

If you are curious to see any of the films described above, DVD copies of these historic films are available for viewing in the Research Center’s reference room thanks to grant funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF).

• Read more about the National Film Preservation Foundation: http://www.filmpreservation.org/about
• Read more about orphan films at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orphan_film

February 2, 2015

Historic Recipes for an Historic Event!

by Natalie Waterman, Photo Archivist, MHS Photo Archives

In honor of the Montana Historical Society’s 150th birthday, MHS staff decided to bake four different types of cookies from recipes found within our collection of historic cookbooks; ginger, scotch, spiced and chocolate. We selected recipes from Billings (1914), Butte (1923), and Miles City (1974), Montana. These cookies were available for the public attending the 150th birthday party held Monday, February 2, 2015, in the Capitol rotunda.

In addition to owning over 500 cookbooks in the library, the Society also houses over 19,500 books, pamphlets, and state and federal documents; 2,700 maps; 35,000 linear feet of manuscript materials and over 500,000 vintage photographs. Search our catalog for your topic of interest.

Below are adapted versions of each recipe for the modern baker. Enjoy!


Ginger Drops
"Methodist Episcopal Church, Ladies Aid Society: Tested Recipes"
Billings, Montana, ca. 1914

1 cup molasses
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 cup boiling water
2 eggs
4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together the molasses, butter, brown sugar, and eggs until smooth. Sift together flour, ginger, cloves, and baking soda. Mix together the flour and creamed mixture with wooden spoon until smooth. Add boiling water to the mixture until water has been absorbed into the batter (it will get slightly 'runny' before it comes together).

Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet, about a half an inch apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Scotch Cookies
"St. John’s Guild Cook Book"
Butte, Montana, 1923
1/2 cup softened butter                  
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
4 tablespoons cinnamon
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375. 

Cream together the butter, eggs and sugar until smooth. Sift together the cinnamon and flour.

Add the flour mixture to the cream mixture; mix with wooden spoon. Place batter in the refrigerator for two hours.

Roll out dough on a floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies.

Bake in oven for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies have lightened to a golden color and are softer at the center and crisper towards the edges.


Spiced Cookies
"St. John’s Guild Cook Book"
Butte, Montana, 1923

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour milk
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup raisins
1 cup oatmeal
Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together the butter, sugar, and eggs until smooth. Sift dry ingredients together; add chopped raisins and oatmeal. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix with a wooden spoon; pour sour milk into batter and stir until smooth.

Drop small spoonfuls of batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies turn light brown.

Aunt Sally’s Cocoa Drops
"Grandma’s Favorite Recipes: Early Ways in Early Days of Preserving Food"
Miles City, Montana, 1974

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cocoa
*1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
       *not added for the public event

Mix thoroughly butter, sugar, eggs; stir in buttermilk or sour cream and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and stir. Add nuts, if desired. Chill 1 hour.

Heat oven to 400. Drop with teaspoon, 2" apart onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite icing.