July 27, 2012

Married by the Mob

By Caitlin Patterson
Data Technician, Montana Digital Newspaper Project

Montana’s newspapers often published brief announcements about town visitors, residents who were injured or taken ill, and guests at private gatherings. Most “personals” were one- or two-sentence snippets, but once in awhile an event was entertaining enough to qualify for more detailed treatment.

This was the case in a November 1865 issue of the Montana Post, recounting a recent event in Helena. A young man and a young woman—strangers—happened to arrive in town on the same day. By sundown, they were married. What is interesting is the role played by Helena’s townfolk.  

Married from force, Montana Post excerpt, November 4, 1865, page 3
This item appeared in the Montana Post (Montana's first surviving
newspaper), published in Virginia City, on November 4, 1865,
page 3. We can identify with some certainty the International
Hotel (erected in 1865 at the corner of State and Main in Helena),
but we are unable to verify the H___ House mentioned in the story.
The hapless bride and groom remain anonymous.

The term b’hoy emerges from a 1948 play about the Irish in New York’s middle-class entertainment district, the Bowery. It came to mean any spirited street lad.

You can find this and many other tales from Montana’s newspapers in the Library of Congress web site Chronicling America, where over 30,000 pages of historical Montana newspapers are available for online searching and viewing.