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Havre of the past: In 1898, criticisms of Jim Hill

 

December 6, 2013

Courtesy photo

"Peck's Bad Boys" was apparently being read by young people of Havre in 1898. They were making nuisances of themselves.

The newspaper for this week in 1893 is again not on microfilm, so we return to 1898 when Havre had been incorporated for only five years. Dudley Axtell, editor and publisher of The Milk River Eagle, was clearly not happy regarding a recent visit from Jim Hill. Criticisms of Mr. Hill are not commonly found in local publications, and this one appeared on the front page of the December 2, 1898 issue, complete with misspelling:

Jim Hill

Jim Hill was in town. Hill is president of the Great Northern railway. Jim was here Wednesday. He didn't stay long. He scarcely let his gouty foot touch the depot platform. Even the magnificent breakfast menu of that charming caterer, Mrs. Mae Willis, of the Palace Hotel, could not lure him from his 4c palace car.

The palsied hand of greed grasped the greasy dollar necessary to secure entertainment from mine hostess, Mrs. Willis.

He, whose every aspiration is measured in dollars and cents, whose cramped and sordid soul responds only to the seductive shekel, whose jack rabbit utterances no man believes-he snubbed us, he scorned us. He regards us capitalistic parasites, as pusillanimous dependents, as debased dogs that should bark with joy every time he kicks us in the ribs.

Money is omnipotent. It conceals a copious pusillanimity.

It conceals the great annual railway death-roll.

It conceals the fat vagrancy of "watered stock".

It conceals a multitudinous array of dark and damnable sins against railway employes.

It conceals the dark ways of many a tribe of leeches and usurers.

It conceals the "mighty pilfering" of our modern railway lords.

It blinds the goddess of justice. It will not allow her to reason how corrupt lobbies are maintained, how judges are bribed, how the pulpit is muzzled, how towns have been wiped out of existence, and how the people are robbed-all done by the great railroad barons.

And who cares?

Does any great statesman protest, any great divine cry out, any eminent judge issue an injunction against this spoilation?

No. It is easy to rob Americans. They are the lambs of the earth.

Jim, old boy, Rocky Mountain Dick is on your trail, and he purposes to camp on it for an indefinite period of time. When he receives a fresh supply of ammunition from your dear friend (?) the Minneapolis Times, you will prepare to squeal louder than a stuck pig.

Jim, Dick has been keeping tab on you for lo! these thirty years, and he is going to "holler" right out in church meeting.

"Sic semper tyrannis!"

And Jim Hill was in town?

Phew!

Rocky Mountain Dick is a legend that comes out of the Gallatin Canyon. He was apparently a real frontiersman and was hired by one Sister Angelica from Verona, Italy, to guide her to a place she had chosen for her mission. To make a long story short, initially they were annoyed with each other but later fell in love. However, it was not to last, and brokenhearted he became a hermit and later died.

In order to free his soul, legend has it that Sister Angelica was to perform a deed of valor, and in doing so she died. I'm not sure if this is the boogeyman Axtell is citing, or some other legend, but he leaves no doubt as to his disappointment in Jim Hill.

In the Social pages for this 40th installment celebrating the 120th anniversary of Havre's incorporation, we find:

Several young lads, who have evidently been reading Peck's Bad Boy, or other pernicious trash, have recently made nuisances of themselves about town in various ways. Their latest offense is the cutting to pieces of a new set of $50 harness belonging to Joseph Gussenhoven. It is about time the precious youngsters were sat down on - hard.

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Nearly all freight trains on the Great Northern, between Havre and Blackfoot, are being run as double headers.

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Dr. Almas and Judge Meili are about to erect a 24x24 residence-office building on Main Street on the Col. Sweet property. P. J. McIntye has already made a survey to accurately define the lot limits.

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The Great Northern depot at Pacific Junction is receiving much needed repairs and Messrs. Martin and Moore, the popular lightning slingers at that point will be comfortably housed for the winter. The office will be kept open all season.

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E. T. Broadwater, senior member of the great mercantile house of Broadwater-Pepin Co., of this city, returned from a business trip to Helena, Wednesday morning.

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What might have been a disastrous fire broke out last Sunday afternoon in the "Bad Lands" district. Two frame houses were destroyed but the contents were saved. Loss, $1,500; insurance $300. In one of the companies represented by P. J. McIntyre.

 

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