125 years ago, Havre gets ready for the Fourth


Courtesy photo

This undated photo shows downtown Havre after a snow storm. Shown in the photo is Havre Mercantile the owner of which, Olaf G. Skylestead, was married 125 years ago.

This series starts in 1893, 125 years ago, just before Havre’s incorporation as a city.

The Havre Advertiser was the newspaper. A one-year subscription to this weekly publication cost $2, or for six months it was $1.

Most of the news in the paper was taken from other newspapers, as well as national sources and serial articles to read and be entertained. Local news included this story found in the June 27, 1893 edition:

The Glorious Fourth

Havre will endeavor to eclipse herself next Tuesday, the 4th of July, the greatest of American holidays. The delayed meeting of the committeemen duly took place relative to the arrangement of the programme, and descriptive posters of the day’s proceedings, distributed conspicuously broadcast, inform us of the attractions that will be set forth, to entertain the crowds of visitors who will put in an appearance on the popular anniversary of Independence. We append a summary of the entertainment for the benefit of those not yet advised of the particulars of Havre’s “celebrate”

1. Grand procession, headed by the 20th U. S. Infantry band from Fort Assinniboine, engaged for the occasion.

2. Reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by an oration from the Hon. J. Wade Williams, of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

3. Sport. Pony race (14 hands and under.) Indian pony race. Cowboy dash. Foot race. Boys race. Catching the greased pig (winner to take the pork.) Fireworks. Grand ball.

Havre is bent upon enjoying herself — is going to get a comfortable jag on. “There will be ham, and lamb and beer by the bucket and imported cham.”

It was typical for newspapers back then to report who checked into the local hotels. This appeared toward the bottom of page 4:

Hotel Arrivals At The Merchants

W. H. Green, C. H. South, P. H. Pobin, R. C. Holten, C. F. Barnum, St. Paul; B. A. Fiends, F. B. Bassdit, Butte; T. E. Collins, J. Gamble, C. Murhead, Great Falls; J. Connors, Kalispell; H. Neale, Glasgow.

T. E. Collins was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States. He came to Montana looking for gold, but went into law and politics instead.

He served in the Territorial Legislature and was one of Great Falls’ founding fathers. He was also engaged in banking, helping to organize the First National Bank in Great Falls.

In 1891, he built a beautiful Steamboat Gothic style Victorian Mansion at 1003 2nd Avenue Northwest. It was restored in the 1990s by Connie and Diana (their last names escape me) and they turned it into an elegant bed and breakfast. They later sold the mansion and it still operates as a bed and breakfast.

Of course, the newspaper also had its social pages, this one titled “City and State.” In this column, we find:

Engineer Nelson, who has just completed a comfortable residence on Second street, has left for Fergus Falls, Minnesota, to bring his family out to their new home.

Messrs. Phillips & Cunningham are getting a rustle on with the new building to be known as the Sam Wah restaurant. They expect to complete the contract in about another week.

Married: At the Lutheran Evangelic church, St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 17th, 1893, Mr. Olaf G. Skylestead to Mill Anna Troye.

Mr. Skylestead is the head of a prosperous business enterprise in Havre, trading under the title of the Havre Mercantile company, as the hearty congratulations of his many friends in this part of the world, who wish him and his young bride every happiness.

Advertisers in this week’s paper include: Merchants Hotel, E. C. Shelton, proprietor. “Rates $2 per Day. Table Board $5.25 per Week. Opposite Great Northern Depot”; Sam Wah Restaurant “Single Meals, 25 cents. Table Board $5.00 per Week. Opposite Post Office”; The Hub Billiard and Sample Rooms, Jno. McNally and Jas. H. Tuhey, proprietors; Baily & Purnell Sample Rooms and Billiard Hall, J. C. Baily and G. M. Purnell, proprietors; All Nations Saloon, Morrow & Co. proprietors; and Bull Hook Saloon, G. R. Atchison, Proprietor, “Opposite Pioneer Restaurant.”

All saloons touted their superior stock of hard liquors, beer, wines and cigars.


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