Starting Sunday, Hill County will celebrate its 100th anniversary.
In 1912, the cowboy town of Havre was rapidly changing into a city of its own — the business, educational and cultural center of the Hi-Line.
Many of those who arrived in the are in that era took a huge gamble, leaving their lives back east so they could plant their hopes on the Hi-Line. They worked hard to provide a life for themselves and worked harder to build a vibrant community that they would now call home.
Their work was chronicled in the history book "Grits, Guts and Gusto," the three traits Hill County residents of 1912 displayed.
The Havre Daily News will celebrate the county's anniversary by looking back at the triumphs and tragedies Hill County has celebrated and endured over the last century.
And more important, we hope to spark a discussion on what the county should look like in the future — and how we can meet our goals for the future.
We start today with a look back at what life was like in 1912. We have a lot to learn from the early settlers. To know where we are going in the future, we have to know where we came from.
Then, we try to figure out what life may be like on the Hi-Line for the next 100 years. That's the hard part.
As technology develops, will there be more dependence on computers and less on classroom learning? Will school districts merge to cut costs and improve opportunities? Will people be studying the classics in the future, or will the key be math, science and technology?
What will happen in Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation? There appears to be a resurgence of interest in Chippewa and Cree culture on the reservation, and the economy is moving forward, though way too slowly. How can the Native Americans maintain their vibrant culture as their economic improves? What can be done to harness the talents of many Native American youth who have for so long been ignored by the majority population.
Experts agree that farming will be at the heart of the Hi-Line economy. People will still eat, and they will want the quality products that can be made from Hi-Line agricultural producers. Technology and consumers' changing tastes will have an impact on how farming will develop, but there is no question that it will develop.
Will there be fewer but larger farms, exacerbating a trend that has happened during the last century? If so, how will this affect the small communities that are such a vital part of Hi-Line living?
We've already seen several smaller farm-based communities in Hill County virtually vanish because there are fewer farm families to support them. Businesses have closed, school districts merged and churches shuttered.
What can be done to preserve remaining Hi-Line towns, their rich cultures and the warm sense of community? Can computers be the savior? Can people who now have to work in big cities live in Havre and do their work and communicate with their offices via their laptop? Will people be able to make the very wise decision that Gildford offers a far more attractive quality of life than Los Angeles and depend on technology to spare them trips to the smog-filled cities? What can we do to encourage these people to move here?
We won't be answering these questions in the course of the next year, but we will ask the questions and spark discussions. We hope people will join in the talks, in letters to the editor, on www.havredailynews.com and on our website.
The folks who traveled across the country to come to Havre in 1912 did so with a strong hope in the very uncertain future.
Havreites of 2012 have the responsibility to see that the special spirit that marks the Hi-Line, that the strong sense of community, the very special beauty of our landscape, that our special religious, educational and educational institutions remain strong in the next 100 years.
We don't know what we and our descendants will face in the next decade. But we suspect it will be a challenge — and a real kick — getting there.
It will require grits, guts and gusto, but we've had that for a century.