August 25, 2016

Supporting Your Presidential Candidate: Free Speech or Contempt of Court

by Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Services Technician

Before we start, this article is about an Idaho event.  However, it's important to remember that Montana newspapers reacted to events across the nation, and internationally.  These stories influenced Montanans and therefore can be considered part of Montana history. See Further Reading at the end of the article for many Montana newspaper articles.

The Daily Missoulian
January 4, 1913 p2

Researchers will tell you that while they’re researching one topic they’ll often find little snippets that lead to their next project.  Last year while working on the blog post about A.J. King I ran across the article below in the Daily Missoulian.  Penny contributions for free speech?  What was that about? 

It all started with the 1912 Presidential Election and a contentious Republican primary. In the aftermath of a highly contested Republican primary which pitted sitting President Howard Taft against former President Theodore Roosevelt, the national convention in Chicago nominated Taft as the party’s presidential candidate.  Roosevelt quickly became a third party candidate representing the Progressive Party popularly known for this election as the Bull Moose Party.  This change in party affiliation late in the primary season caused Progressive leaders at the state level to scramble to understand the relevant election laws. A few states saw legal actions to support or reject the nomination of one candidate or the other.  In one of these cases, the Idaho Supreme Court declared the nomination of the progressive electors invalid, thus ensuring that any voter wishing to vote for Roosevelt would be forced to write in the names of electors.

Evening Capital News
October 29, 1912 p12
The Evening Capital News in Boise reacted strongly to the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision.  For weeks afterwards, every issue contained at least some reference to the decision.  As seen above, they made it a point to repeatedly emphasize to their readers that in spite of the Supreme Court’s decision, they should still vote for Roosevelt electors. 

Evening Capital News
January 2, 1913 p1
This focus by the newspaper drew the attention of the Idaho Supreme Court who charged the publisher R.S. Sheridan and editor C.O. Broxon with contempt of court.  They were brought before the Idaho Supreme Court who found them guilty.  Both were sentenced to 10 days in the Ada County Jail and a $500 fine. 

(As a side story, the court also charged a third man, A.R. Cruzen.  While the truth is somewhat difficult to pin down, it seems that in an attempt to be a political player, he had claimed to be associated with the paper and to have some control over editorial decisions.  During the trial all three denied that this was the case.  The court disagreed.  He was convicted and in addition to the 10 days in jail and $500 fine he was also required to pay the court costs.)

Evening Capital News
January 3, 1913 p4

The contempt of court charge cited 31 articles that had appeared in the newspaper.  As seen in the above notice, after the conviction the Evening Capital News implied that the main cause was their publication of Roosevelt’s speech. While the speech did account for 6 of the articles cited, there were also a number of editorials and articles that construed political and self-serving motives for the justices’ decision.  Perhaps the best example of these is the article printed November 18, 1912 titled Only Part of Story.  One of the three subtitles reads “Claim Is Made That Action of Court Paved the Way for Election of Haines and Stewart and Later the Naming of Ailshie as United States Senator.”  This article paints a political conspiracy in which the justices rejected the Roosevelt electors in order to aid the Republican party so that there would be a Republican governor and state legislature which would then be grateful and vote Supreme Court Justice Ailshie to the US Senate.  They went on about the district judge who  would get Ailshie’s spot on the Supreme Court and then the Attorney General would move to the District Court.  Interestingly, Justice Ailshie actually dissented significantly with the court’s contempt decision, both on whether some of the articles, including the Roosevelt speech, could be considered contempt and the severity of the sentence.

Both during and after, newspapers nationally reacted to the case.  In Montana, the Daily Missoulian covered it extensively.  When Dow Dunning, an Idaho state senator, started the penny campaign to cover the fines, the Missoulian and many others across the nation supported the cause.  In addition, the case led to discussion about free speech, contempt of court and the recall of judges, and in the end the Evening Capital News used the case as proof their integrity and independence.

Evening Capital News
January 8, 1913 p6

Further Reading (in other words Additional Articles I really wanted to include) - the dates are links to the page:

Reactions to Contempt Case and Sentencing
“Newspaper Men In Jail. Three Sent to Prison for Contempt of Idaho Court.” Bamberg Herald. Bamberg, South Carolina. January 9, 1913 p6.
“Pertinent News of State With Our Own Comment – The Supreme Court Decision in the Capital News Contempt Case.” Caldwell Tribune. Caldwell, Idaho. January 10, 1913 p1.
“Roosevelt Denounces Decision of Idaho Court Characterizes the Wester Tribunal as an “Instrument of Reaction”. The Daily Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. December 11, 1912 p1.
“Contempt Decision of the Idaho Supreme Court.” Evening Standard. Utah. January 3, 1913.
“Fined for Printing News.” River Press. Fort Benton, Montana. January 8, 1913 p2.
“Idaho Judges Appear to Be Inviting Extension of the Recall Principle.” San Francisco Call.  San Francisco, California. December 14, 1912 p4.

Penny Campaign
“One Million People Asked to Contribute A Cent Each.” Daily Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. January 4, 1913 p1.
“Boise Men Pay Their Fines.” The Daily Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. February 2, 1913 p1.
“Pennies Come In.” The Daily Missoulian. Missoula, Motana. January 6, 1913 p5.
Kendrick Gazette. Kendrick, Idaho. February 7, 1913 p3.

While In Jail
“Liberated Scribes Get Ovation – Friends Send Flowers to Office of Boise Newspaper Men On Release.” The Daily Missoulian. Missoula, Montana. January 12, 1913 p7.
“Progressive Leaders on Visit to the County Jail.” Evening Capital News. Boise, Idaho. January 13, 1913 p2.
“Prisoners Enjoying Music At The Jail.” Evening Capital News. Boise, Idaho. January 9, 1913 p6.

August 18, 2016

What's in your stomach?

by Barbara Pepper-Rotness, MHS Research Center Reference Assistant

Museum accession # x1963 42 01
"Does anyone know what this object is?" asked Amanda Streeter Trum during a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum's stored artifacts.

  • It's a rock. No.
  • It's a prehistoric weapon. No.
  • It's, um... No.
The Curator of Collections for the Montana Historical Society Museum had us all stumped. And, we received an answer that was just as perplexing.
  • It's a bison hairball. What? That thing was in an animal?
Yes, in fact, much like hairballs in cats, hairballs in bison can be created by licking their own and other bisons’ fur. Unlike feline hairballs, bison hairballs can become trapped in the gastrointestinal tract and oftentimes a shell is formed around them. Technically called 'bezoars', these balls develop around not only masses of fur but also antler tines, twigs, gravel, bullets, pebbles – potentially any foreign object that isn’t expelled from the body.

The term ‘bezoar’ purportedly derives from the Persian words for ‘protection from poison’[1], and bezoars were once treasured - particularly by royalty afraid of poisoning by opponents - for this specific medicinal property. “It is said that a gold-framed specimen was included in the 1622 inventory of Queen Elizabeth I’s crown jewels.”[2]    

Example of bezoar pendant that could be dipped in a drinking cup for poison testing.
Netherlands, ca. 1600-1650. bezoar and gold filigree, 11cm.
BK-NM-7082 Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Image used with permission.
Bison and other ruminants, such as cows and oxen, can carry bezoars because of the unique anatomy and physiology of their four-compartmented stomachs. Anything swallowed makes its way to the first compartment - the rumen. From the rumen, food is regurgitated as ‘cud’ for rumination. The cud is swallowed and then travels to the reticulum. [3] “Bezoars are frequently found in the rumen and reticulum and are formed through the rolling movements of these two forestomachs during rumination.”[4] This mass remains lodged in the animal, potentially causing digestive problems or life-threatening situations “if obstruction of the esophagus, cardia, pylorus, or intestinal tract occurs.” [5] 

"University of Minnesota Extension --Dairy", University of Minnesota, Accessed July 22, 2016.
Used with permission.

In the case of the museum’s four inch wide and four inch high bison bezoar, openings in the outside layer allow us to see the "matted, compacted brown hair inside"[6]. One can see the rock-like formation surrounding the hairball. In an email several years ago, Dan Sharps, former biologist at the National Bison Range in Moiese, Montana, stated that whatever is at the core of a bison bezoar is “coated with minerals present in the animal’s diet in an attempt to protect the animal from harm” and this shell is described as a calculus or concretion. One wonders how long this particular heavy-looking and obtrusive bezoar was carried around by the animal.

Museum Director, Jennifer Bottomly-O’Looney, suggests visiting the Montana Historical Society Museum to see an example of a bison bezoar in the Neither Empty or Unknown: Montana in the Time of Lewis and Clark exhibit. 

Works Cited:
[1] “Hairballs: Myth and Realities Behind Some Medical Curiosities,” National Museum of Health and Medicine, last modified October 5, 2015, accessed June 24, 2016,
[2] Stefi Weisburd. "Chemistry." Science News 132, no. 12 (1987): 190.
[3] Amy Lisk, email message to author, July 20, 2016.
[4] Jacqueline M. Zdziarski and Bush Mitchell. "Clinical Challenge: Case 3." Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 22, no. 4 (1991): 508.
[5] Ibid.
[6] “Bison Bezoar.” x1963 42 01. Montana Historical Society Museum.
Thank you to previous National Bison Range (NBR) biologists, Dan Sharps and Brendan Moynahan for their expertise and contributions; and to current NBR biologist, Amy Lisk for her expertise and for reviewing this article.

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: The Great Fire of 1910

On August 20, 1910, in the midst of a drought, lightning, locomotives, and backfiring crews sparked mutiple fires in northeast Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana. The flames soon converged into what became known as The Big Burn, a forest fire that took 80 lives and burned more than three million acres in 36 hours.

Key dates

1905—The U.S. Forest Service is founded, in part to protect forests from fire and from "exploiters" like poachers, loggers, and livestock grazers.
June–August 1910—A three-year drought culminates in 1000-3000 small fires in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.
August 20, 1910—Gale-force winds cause small fires to burn into each other, creating an unstoppable inferno and leading to widespread destruction across northwestern Montana and northern Idaho.

In the newspapers

To find more

Search for these terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: forest fire (limit by date range), wallace, st. regis, st. joe, taft, haugan, thompson falls, avery, forest service, gifford pinchot, ed pulaski, 25th regiment, big blowup, devil’s broom fire

Written by Catherine W. Ockey

August 2, 2016

Facilitating Access: The Work of an Archivist

by Christy Eckerle

Photo Editor for Montana The Magazine of Western History


These days, it’s easy to find information. Just type a question into Google’s search bar, and within less than a second, answers appear. But what if the information you need is from 1880, and it’s contained in acid-free boxes in our archives? How do you find it then?


Lot 35, Bud Lake & Randy Brewer Crow Collection.  "Crow's Child or (Pappoose)."
[Studio portrait of young Crow girl with dog].  Photograph by O. S. Goff, Fort Custer, Montana. 
Archivists work behind-the-scenes for hours—sometimes days or weeksto make historic documents findable. Take, for example, contract archivist Sue Jackson. She has spent the last few months arranging about two thousand historic photographs of Crow people, places, and events and putting them in acid-free sleeves. Next, she’ll give every photo a catalog number. Then, she’ll catalog the entire collection, meaning that she’ll type a description of every photoall two-thousandincluding the photographer, date, subject, and title. After Jackson finishes describing each photo, the information, known as a catalog record, will be uploaded to our MHS online catalog and to OCLC, where it will be available through WorldCat. Jackson expects the final catalog records to go online sometime around January 2017.


Lot 35, Bud Lake & Randy Brewer Crow Collection Throssel #T116
"In the Tobacco fields (note: Medicine Crow 4th from right facing camera)"
1906-1911.  Photograph by Richard Throssel
Once the catalog records have been uploaded to our catalog, you can type a search and locate a photo in seconds. To actually see the photos, you’ll still need to visit our Research Center Photograph Archives, or, for a small fee, you can order a print or scan. Thanks to Jackson’s meticulous cataloging, you won’t have to sift through all two thousand photographs to find the one you want.


Stereograph Collection – Rinehart
"Spotted Jack Rabbit," 1900. 
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, Omaha, Neb.
The photographs that Jackson is cataloging came to us from collector Bud Lake, who spent over thirty years buying historic photograph of Crow people from dealers, shows, and even eBay. By the time he was done, his collection held photographs dated from 1880 to 1940. There are portraits of people wearing their regalia, photographs of Crow fairs, and images that show early reservation life. Lake plans to use some of the photographs to illustrate a biography of Crow chief Plenty Coups, forthcoming from the Montana Historical Society Press. But in the meantime, Lake has done the world a service by entrusting those photographs to us. Gradually, we’re making them available to you.

The moral of the story is that historic documents—including photosbelong in public archives, where heroes like Sue Jackson will make them accessible. Then, they can be found and used by historians, students, or anyone else who has an interest in the past.