December 22, 2016

Carnival of Spoils 1893 - Locating State Institutions

by Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Services Technician

Most Montanans have heard the story of the capital fight.  With the coming of statehood, the competition for state capital was fierce.  None of the seven contending cities won a majority in the first vote in 1892, so a runoff vote between Helena and Anaconda was announced for 1894. At this point, the contest escalated becoming part of the feud between copper kings Marcus Daly (Anaconda) and William Clark (Helena).  After a contest costing around three million dollars [1], the vote in 1894 declared Helena the state capital by about 2,000 votes.  However, the capital was only one state institution to be created in the aftermath of statehood.  The 1893 legislature proposed, argued, and finally located a number of state institutions, including the state prison and educational facilities which included a state university, an agricultural college with experimental station, a mining school, and a normal school.

“The carnival of spoils goes merrily on.”  This description from the Weekly Tribune of Great Falls on February 10, 1893, vividly describes the energy with which the legislature debated the placement of state institutions.

Educational Facilities
The Columbian
January 19, 1893, p.2

The location of the state’s educational facilities (state university, agricultural school with experimental station, school of mines, and normal school) drew the most controversy.  Two competing groups argued over the fundamental question of whether state institutions should be colocated or separated.  While originally the consolidationists wanted all state institutions located in the same city, they quickly decided to make their stand over the location of the four educational institutions.  Their main argument held that consolidated schools would reduce duplication of facilities and faculty.  Instead of separating these schools resulting in multiple tiny institutions competing with each other for funding, their vision was of a single institution serving all of these needs.  They accused their opponents of serving their local interests at the expense of Montana’s greater good.

Senator Paris Gibson of Great Falls led the consolidationists with energy and determination, always claiming that he was putting the best interests of the state above any other consideration.  His goals are called into question by the consistent impression that while claiming not to care where the consolidated school is located, the end goal was making Great Falls the consolidated location.  Many of the communities supporting consolidation indicated that they wanted it in Great Falls.  On the day the Senate debated the University Bill (SB 3), the first of the education facilities to come up for vote, Senator Gibson proposed an amendment that “Missoula must donate to the university 160 acres of land and $40,000 as an endowment fund”.  Later in his speech he offered on behalf of a consolidated university at Great Falls, 320 acres and $100,000 as an endowment fund.[2] Senator Elmer Matts, leading the segregatists, called Gibson’s amendment and speech an ambush intended only to delay the bill.  Both the amendment and the consolidationist cause failed, and the legislature proceeded to locate state institutions across Montana.

Even as the battle between consolidation and segregation waged, cities vied for state institutions.  The most heated of the educational fights was over the agricultural college.  The debate between Bozeman and Miles City came down to altitude.  Whose elevation was better for the experimental station: Bozeman at ~6000 ft or Miles City at ~2000ft?  The placement of the agricultural college influenced that of the normal school as well.  At various times Dillon, Livingston, Twin Bridges, and Deer Lodge were reported as wanting the normal school.  As the contest came down to Dillon and Livingston, the common refrain against Livingston was best summed up by the Red Lodge Picket “if Bozeman gets the agricultural college the normal school will hardly be located within twenty five miles”. [3]

State Prison
With statehood, the prison at Deer Lodge was transferred from federal to state control.  However, during the 1893 legislative session, Billings put up a strong challenge.  Since the Deer Lodge facility opened in 1871, overcrowding and maintenance had been continuous issues. [4] (Historic Structures Report Montana State Prison, prepared by James R. McDonald Architect, prepared for Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation, Deer Lodge. 725.6 M14h)  Billings advocates argued that Billings could build a new prison at less than the cost needed for upgrading and expanding the Deer Lodge facility.  Billings sweetened the deal by offering land and money even offering to pay the cost of transporting prisoners to the new prison.  The question of why Billings went after the state prison as opposed to one of the other state institutions is an interesting one.  The Anaconda Standard suggested one possible reason on January 15, 1893.  “As for the penitentiary, Billings wants it and wants it bad, not so much because she considers it a very desirable institution or especially beneficial in a pecuniary sense, as because she thinks it will insure the coming to Billings of the Burlington railroad, which otherwise may give her the slip.” The legislature declared that both cities would have a state prison:  the Western State Prison at Deer Lodge and the Eastern State Prison at Billings. Problems arose soon after when lack of funds put building plans in Billings on hold.  Due to the Economic Panic of 1893, the state treasury found itself unequal to the task of funding two prisons.  In 1896, the Board of State Prison Commissioners recommended that the Legislature “should make an appropriation to complete this building at once or else dispose of the materials and supplies on hand.” [5] The next report mentions using materials from the Billings facility at Deer Lodge. The Eastern State Prison was no more.

Other Institutions
While some cities lost the institution of their choice to another city, Boulder ran into a different problem.  At the beginning of the session, Boulder wanted the insane asylum.  However, as The Anaconda Standard explained on January 15, 1893 “there seems to be an impression that there is no need of haste in locating the asylum as the contract of Mussigbrod & Mitchell has still some time to run.” Eventually Boulder changed focus and obtained the State Deaf and Dumb Asylum (now Montana State Training School).  Both Miles City and Twin Bridges, who had lost their first choice were awarded other institutions, the Montana State Reform School (now Pine Hills Youth Correctional Facility) and Montana State Orphans’ Home (closed in 1975) respectively.

How many of us can imagine these institutions being somewhere else?  How many of us can imagine these cities without their institutions?  Sometimes decisions of the past seem inevitable, but really they were decisions made by people.  What decisions of today will seem inevitable in a hundred years?

Works Cited
[1] Montana: Stories of the Land, Chapter 10, p195
[2] The Yellowstone Journal. February 3, 1893, p1.
[3] Red Lodge Picket. January 21, 1893 p2.
[4] Historic Structures Report Montana State Prison, prepared by James R. McDonald Architect, prepared for Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation, Deer Lodge. Call Number: 725.6 M14h
[5] Sixth Annual Report of the Board of State Prison Commissioners of the State of Montana. For the Year 1896. Helena: State Publishing Company, 1896, p21. Call Number: S353.39PR 1873, 1891-1906.

Additional Resources:
Laws Resolutions and Memorials of the State of Montana Passed at the Third Regular Session of the Legislative Assembly. Butte City: Inter Mountain Publishing Company, 1893. REF345.12M76

December 15, 2016

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: Calamity Jane

Martha Jane Cannary (or Canary) is a unique character in the lore of the West. She spent a portion of her childhood in Virginia City (Montana Territory) but was orphaned at the age of twelve. The eldest of six, she worked at a variety of jobs to support her younger siblings. It was as a scout for the U.S. Army that she first traveled to Deadwood (Dakota Territory), where many of the tall tales about her life took root. The source of her nickname is uncertain. Cannary claimed it related to her acts of heroism, i.e., she was a good friend to have in a calamity. As an adult, Cannary ranched near Miles City, Montana, and for many years, Calamity Jane sightings appeared in Montana newspapers. These accounts documented her heavy drinking, which is said to have contributed to her death at age 51. At her request, she was buried in Deadwood next to her friend, "Wild Bill" Hickok.

Key dates

1852—Born in Missouri.
1865—With her family travels by wagon to Montana Territory. During the five-month journey, Martha hunts with the men, honing her shooting skills.
1876—Meets James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok in Deadwood, South Dakota.
1882—Buys a ranch on the Yellowstone River.
1895—Travels throughout the Midwest with Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, performing astride her horse as a sharpshooter.
1903—Dies in a Terry, South Dakota, hotel room.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: calamity jane, martha jane cannary (or canary), wild bill hickok, buffalo bill cody

Written by Catherine W. Ockey

December 9, 2016

How to Do Research in the Photograph Archives

Christy Eckerle, Associate Editor of Montana The Magazine of Western History

In a collection of more than 500,000 historic photos, how do you find the one perfect photo you want? I face this quandary every day. As an associate editor for Montana The Magazine of Western History, it’s my job to gather the historic photos that illustrate each article.

This sign stood by the highway near Eureka, Montana, a
t the height of the region’s Christmas tree boom. Richard
C. Shirley, photographer, MHS Photograph Archives, Helena,
PAc 99-34 p. 28 24a
Our forthcoming Winter 2016 issue features an article about western Montana’s Christmas tree industry, which boomed between 1926 and the 1950s with much of the activity centered around the town of Eureka. So, I had to find photographs of people cutting and shipping Christmas trees near Eureka in the twentieth century.

Luckily, the Photograph Archives here at the Montana Historical Society are a treasure trove of historic images. I started my search with the Research Center’s marvelous online catalog. I typed “Christmas tree” and narrowed my results to photos. The eight results included photos of Christmas trees at celebrations, but nothing of the industry itself. So, I tried searching “Eureka.” Among descriptions of photos of the local baseball team and postcards of the town, I found a collection called “Tobacco Valley News photos.” The description read: “Photographs taken to document information and events for the Tobacco Valley Newspaper of Eureka, Montana.”

Lois Workman ties trees at the J. Hofert Christmas Tree Company yard,
circa 1950s.  Richard C. Shirley, photographer, MHS Photograph Archives,
Helena, PAc 99-34 4x5


With the catalog number of the collection (PAc 99-34) jotted down on a scratch paper, I headed for the Photograph Archives.
Handing a catalog number to an archivist is like handing a claim ticket to an infinitely knowledgeable valet. The archivist whisks the boxes you desire from their temperature-controlled storage room, sets them on a reading table, and hands you a pair of gloves.

The collection, “Tobacco Valley News photos,” is an unprocessed collection. Unprocessed means that no archivist has yet done his or her scientific and thorough sorting, arranging, and indexing of it. The collection remains in the disorganized state it was in when the donor dropped it off and the archivist plunked it into an acid-free Gaylord box.

Side note: most archives have many unprocessed collections—the culprit is understaffing and underfunding. Archivists spend much of their time helping us eager yet uninformed researchers answer questions like “Do you have any photos of cowboys?” (The answer, by the way, is: “We have several thousand. Can you be more specific?”) Even the most dedicated archivist has only so much time to divide between helping patrons and cataloging collections. So, should you ever run into the maddening phrase unprocessed collection in your research, instead of getting upset, consider donating to help solve the problem.

Jim Fuller’s family works together to bale Christmas trees at the
G. R. Kirk Tree Company yard in Eureka, circa October 1969.
Steve Shirley, photographer, MHS Photograph Archives, Helena,
PAc 99-34 p. 25 17a
Anyway, I had a strong hunch that the collection of Tobacco Valley News photos contained images of the Christmas tree industry. With no index to guide me, I sorted through photo by photo. And my hunch proved right. I found scores of images of people cutting, baling, and shipping Douglas fir trees.

The only remaining problem was that many of these photographs were unidentified. No dates, locations, or names were listed. I could, of course, sift through decades of the Tobacco Valley News on microfilm to try to find the photos with their original captions. But, I was saved from this daunting task by serendipity.
Workers load Christmas trees on a Great Northern Railway
freight car at the Eureka station, November or December 1972.
Richard C. Shirley, photographer, MHS Photograph Archives,
Helena, PAc 99-34 p. 324 9

While I was looking through the collection, the son of the former editor of the Tobacco Valley News walked into the Photograph Archives reading room. How such a coincidence is possible, that he should drive down from Eureka on the very day that I was looking at his father’s photographs, I don’t know. But he identified all the unidentified photographs that I wanted.

So, after my determined searching with the help of an archivist and a lot of luck, when Montana The Magazine of Western History subscribers open up their Winter issue in a few weeks, they’ll see these marvelous photos with captions chalk-full of information—not only about western Montana’s Christmas tree industry, but also about the people who worked it.

P.S. If you’d like to receive Montana, you can subscribe online or by calling (406) 444-4708.

P.P.S If you want to do research at the Montana Historical Society but can’t make it in person, you can submit a research request, and one of our talented staff members will help you.

November 17, 2016

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: Helen Piotopowaka (The Bird That Comes Home) Clarke

Born the daughter of a prominent Scottish-American and his Blackfeet wife, Helen (Nellie) Piotopowaka Clarke spent most of her childhood at a Catholic school in Minneapolis, returning to Montana a polished and well-educated young woman. She worked as an actress, a schoolteacher, and an Indian agent for the U.S. government. She was the first woman elected to public office in Montana, becoming the superintendent of public schools for Lewis and Clark County at age 38.

Key dates

1846—Born at the mouth of the Judith River.
1869—Father murdered by a group of Blackfeet men.
1875—Takes a teaching position in Helena.
1884—Elected Superintendent of Schools for Lewis and Clark County.
1889—Leaves Montana to work for the Indian Bureau as an allotment agent.
1909—With her brother, Horace, is granted tribal membership and allotments.
1923—Dies at East Glacier Park Village, Montana.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for these terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: helen clarke, nellie clarke, malcolm clarke, horace clarke

November 10, 2016

Montana Historical Society Archives Receives Grant to Start the Montana Brewery Oral History Project

Anneliese Warhank, C.A., Archivist/Oral Historian

With a $4,500 grant from Humanities Montana, MHS begins the initial phases of a project aimed at capturing the stories of Montana’s current brewing industry. The Montana Brewery Oral History Project will capture and record the history of Montana’s modern brewing industry from the last decades of the 20th century through 2008; the point the craft beer movement began to reemerge in the state, up to the creation of the Montana Brewers Association. As an archivist/oral historian, you might be wondering why I’d feel the need to build an entire project around this topic.

Montana’s brewing history runs deep, stretching all the way back to the territory’s first mining camps. Although prohibition and the rise of the domestic beers brought Montana’s craft brewing industry to a complete halt by the 1960’s, the 1980’s saw a new generation of brewers emerge. It was at this point that Montana’s modern craft brewing industry began to flourish into what many of us know and love today. Anyone who has spent just a short time in the state should be quick to recognize Montanans’ appreciation for local, craft beer. Craft breweries dot the landscape, while mom and pop as well as national chain grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores devote large sections of cooler space to Montana made brews.  Not to mention that if the local eatery offers beer on tap, it likely traces its origin to the community or county. Montanans love their beer as much as their big sky.

from the "Breweries, Montana" Ephemera file
Montana Historical Society
Photo courtesy of Natasha Hollenbach
Since legislation was passed in the 1999 session allowing breweries to operate taprooms, the state has seen steady growth in number of breweries. This has promoted job growth in some economically stagnated communities and increased demand in Montana agricultural products necessary for the production of craft beer. These breweries and their adjoining taprooms have become cultural hubs, with many hosting community events, raising funds for local non-profits, and serving as a communal center for local citizens and their families. Montana breweries have impacted the state economically, politically, and socially; as such, the oral history project will address all three topics, to some degree, with the selection of the narrators.  

The project will capture up to twenty oral histories from individuals who played a significant role in the development of the industry in Montana, selected by a five member board still in development. This project will provide insightful and valuable information for the academic and lay person alike who have an interest in Montana’s craft brewing history. The recordings and transcripts created through this project will become part of the permanent collections of the Montana Historical Society Research Center and will be accessible to the public for research and study. MP3 recordings of the oral histories will also be made available via the Montana Historical Society’s digital collections website. Upon completion of these interviews, I will begin phase two of the project, which will focus on the industry from 2008, to the present.

October 27, 2016

Great Falls and the Anaconda Copper Company

by Barbara Pepper-Rotness, Library Technician

Of course, we know that images evoke different responses depending upon the perspective of the viewer. Just as a painting may be pleasing, puzzling, or even off-putting, a photographic image contains elements that may or may not draw us in for a closer look. However, providing context for and a description of those elements may spark an interest we never anticipated.

Transformers at Zinc Electrolytic Substation. [Great Falls, Montana] January 29, 1920.
Catalog #PAc 81-34.2577

The Anaconda Copper Company Photograph Collection [PAc 81-34] includes images of smelting and refining copper and of the electrolytic zinc plant in Great Falls, Montana - not your typical ‘pretty’ pictures. However, Lory Morrow, Manager of the MHS Photo Archives, notes that the predominantly glass negative collection doesn’t just capture the day-to-day functions of an ore processing plant. It also contains images of people at work and play, along with wonderful views of the city of Great Falls and of the Missouri River over the course of sixty years.

First Aid Contest - A. C. M. [Anaconda Copper Mining] Club Orchestra, [Great Falls, Montana]. June 23, 1928.
Catalog #PAc 81-34.3059

To help researchers access this photograph collection, volunteer Anthony Schrillo, a retired mechanical engineer, is entering data found in record books provided by the ACM concerning over five thousand negatives in a Microsoft Access database. With the negative number, the title and description of each image, and the date the photo was taken, we get a visual record of the entire operation - machinery, supplies, buildings, and more - specific to the industrial complex at Great Falls between 1900 and 1958.  The work involved in cataloging this great collection will enable us to delve more deeply into a significant aspect of Montana’s history.

Built in 1892 under the auspices of the Boston and Montana Company (B&M Co.), the Great Falls plant originally conducted the full spectrum of copper ore processing. However, by 1910, the Anaconda Copper Mining Company had acquired the B&M Co. and set out to reorganize its operations. Gradually phasing out the pre-refining processes of concentrating and smelting, the Great Falls plant began specializing in the refining aspects of copper processing and added an electrolytic zinc plant in 1919. (MC 169 Historical Note)
During that same year, construction of the Washoe Smelter in Anaconda was completed. In addition to designing the Great Falls smelter twenty-seven years earlier, Frank Klepetko (MC 389 Biographical Note) designed the tallest (585 feet) brick structure in the world at the time. It is believed that the Washoe Smelter - “The Stack” - still holds that record and has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Gen. [General] View of Plant From Across River (File card: "… of Plant From South East From …"), 
[Great Falls, Montana]. July 18, 1928.
Catalog #PAc 81-34.3076

Unfortunately, the Great Falls stack was demolished on September 18, 1982 and nothing remains of any building in the once vast complex. However, with the aid of this photograph collection and its descriptive text, we can learn much about its different phases of operation. Depicting the people, the place, and the processes of this industrial facility over the years, we may be inspired to take a closer look at this rich photograph collection and its ancillary collections*.

*For further investigation, the Anaconda Mining Company archival collection, MC169, provides much documentation about the company’s history and the people who worked there, including a list of employees who were missing or were killed in World War II action. For those Anaconda, Butte, and Great Falls employees not on the battlegrounds of that war, the Copper Commando  newsletter was published to illustrate the importance of their contribution to the war effort and features stories and images of employees, housewives, and schoolchildren.

Additionally, you can see the demolition of the Great Falls stack by watching this KRTV program.

October 20, 2016

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: Montana Tech's founding

The Enabling Act of 1889, which created the State of Montana, provided for the establishment of a school of mines. Although the proposal faced controversy in the state legislature, the Montana School of Mines finally opened its doors to a class of 21 in 1900. The sole cost of attendance for a Montana resident was the $5 registration fee.

Key dates

1889—The federal Enabling Act appropriates 100,000 acres of public land for a school of mines.
1893—The state legislature appropriates $15,000 for the creation of the School of Mines in or near Butte; however, bank failures in Helena prevent construction from starting.
March 1895—State representative Howard Paschal’s bill, providing solid funding for the school, is approved.
December 1896—Cornerstone laid in Butte.
1897—Complaints and charges of fraud slow construction.
1900—Both female and male students start classes.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for these terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: school of mines, howard paschal, n.r. leonard

Written by Catherine W. Ockey

September 29, 2016

Mining the Big Sky's Big Data

Tammy Troup
Digital Services Manager
Montana Historical Society

Datasets are a treasure trove of information for historians and social scientists who draw on relatively recently developed methods of historical analysis to support theories, develop new interpretations, and think deeply about the implication of patterns. While a blog post is too short to delve deeply into this topic, the MHS extends notice of datasets in our collections and we encourage the use and analysis of big data.
MHS Datasets
MHS recently shared three datasets on the Socrata data portal currently supported by the State Information Technology Services Division (SITSD). Since the software, people, and commitments are outside the organizational control of the MHS, researchers should assume links may change and should prepare citations which reference the fact that the dataset is held by the MHS. The MHS will maintain copies of the datasets and we will commit to ensuring access, we will also provide data accuracy and integrity statements. Datasets are presented under a public domain license, which permits researchers to export, use, and append the dataset.

Current datasets
Preparing the dataset
Historical datasets can be complicated to develop since historical data is not always structured consistently and handwritten data can be difficult to read. When data is structured for machine readability, it is fairly easy to map data into new fields, parse information, or aggregate data. Standardized information sets such as a handwritten table are also fairly easy to structure, but unstructured data must be hand-entered and the dataset creator must make decisions about field names, content standards, and normalization. In practical terms, this means that the dataset of a handwritten ledger (Figure 1) will easily map to a table or XML file (Figure 2). However, the dataset creator of military enlistment cards (Figure 3) will need to make the following decisions:
  • Field names – i.e., metadata terms, local terms or drawn from a professional authority;
  • Data content standards – if none are present, a standard will need to be defined or developed. Content standards are simply the rules for data entry which ensure consistency.
  • Data normalization –the process of organizing and cleaning data in order to reduce redundancy.
Figure 1. Enlistment records from Fort Assiniboine
(identified as Assinniboine in original ledger)
in a structured table, from MC 46.
Figure 2. Table of data in Excel (left) and structured data in xml
format (right)


Figure 3. Enlistment card from the
digitized Military Enlistments (Montana) 1890-1918

Example Methodology – State Prison Records

The State Prison Records dataset is drawn from digitized prison records which are presented on the Montana Memory Project in the collection Montana State Prison Records, 1869-1974. A team of stalwart volunteers—Marie McAlear and Anthony Schrillo—led by staff member Caitlin Patterson spent eight years digitizing, collecting metadata, and uploading the materials from the highly used public documents. Information about intriguing and unusual cases is recorded elsewhere on this blog. In order to understand larger patterns, though, researchers need access to the dataset created through metadata development.
We normalized the dataset by reducing the ~28,000+ lines of metadata down to ~15,000 unique records, standardized the content, parsed columnar data, and quantified some of the information. By presenting the metadata as a dataset, researchers may filter fields – Crime, Location, Gender, Descent, Occupation, and Religion—and may look for spatial or temporal patterns using Location or Incarceration Date.
However, simply filtering for a crime or demonstrating a pattern will result in flabby analysis. Trends identified in datasets need to be comparatively analyzed using state and local demographics, labor and culture statistics, and/or national crime data. Broad patterns of movement and human activity must be known and taken into consideration. Secondary sources read in order to understand historical context, original records reviewed, military enlistment cards searched, newspaper accounts studied, and researchers might even visit the Old Montana Prison and Montana towns to reflect on the social, economic, cultural, and environmental conditions which lead to crime and incarceration. It’s also important to look for the impact of incarceration and perhaps use a network analysis to look for generational trends, recidivism, and the haunting social impact of incarceration.
Big data analysis is a powerful tool for historical research, but it is not an end. Look at the numbers, but feel for the pulse.
Please contact Tammy Troup, for more information.

September 15, 2016

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: Montana State University's founding

In 1862, the Morrill Land Grant Act provides land for at least one college in each state to promote education in science, classical studies, agriculture and engineering. When Montana becomes a state in 1889, cities vie for the opportunity to host the college. It was awarded to the city of Bozeman in 1893.

Key dates

February 16, 1893—The Montana State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts is founded in Bozeman, Montana.
April 17, 1893—Augustus M. Ryon appointed president.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for these terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: montana agricultural college, mac, augustus m. ryon (or a.m. ryon)

Written by Catherine W. Ockey

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.