Havre of 1893: Fires, desertions, construction


November 15, 2013

Courtesy photo

This is a photo of the enlisted men's quarters at Fort Assinniboine.

All kinds of national news peppered the front page of the Nov. 16, 1893 issue of The Havre Advertiser. However, there was this small article, tucked away in the middle:

Montana Army Notes

In his report for the year ending June 30, 1893, Brig. Gen. Merritt, of the department of Dakota, says there were in this department 2,338 soldiers, of which the various posts in Montana contained 1,646, divided as follows: Fort Assinniboine, 482; Keough 450; Custer 419; Missoula 195; Poplar River 100. Since his report, however, the post at Poplar river has been abandoned and only part of the troops from that place were stationed in this state, a portion of them going to Assinniboine, so that now the number in Montana is slightly below that stated.

During the year there were 63 desertions from Keough, 40 from Assinniboine, 6 each from Missoula and Poplar River and one from Custer, making a total number for the state of 116. The record of the last named post, with but one desertion from its force of 419 men, is the best in the department. During the same period there were 78 enlistments in the state, or 38 less than the number of desertions. There were also nine deaths from suicide in the department.

As usual, there were all kinds of little tidbits of information in the social pages:

City and State

Joseph Kipp, the merchant prince of Blackfoot agency and also Blackfoot station, spent a night in town last week.


Mrs. S. M. Spaulding, of Pacific Junction, has been confined to bed, seriously ill, but is now convalescing rapidly. Dr. F. J. Adams, of Great Falls, attended her during her illness.


G. R. Atchinson having disposed of his interest in the Bull Hook saloon, took his departure today for Seattle, Wash., at which place he will spend the winter. He expects to return to Havre in the spring.


Several dwelling houses are now under course of erection which speaks well for enterprising citizens of Havre. Also, there are no idle carpenters, bricklayers or plasterers in town which is proof in support of the above.


Carpenters are busily engaged in putting in shape the building formerly occupied by O. R. D. Welburn as a restaurant. As soon as their labors are completed the building will be converted into a billiard hall and sample room by Messrs. Tuhey & McNally.


W. H. Gallagher, of the firm of Phemister & Gallagher, of Dupuyer, was in town on Monday last. This firm have the contract of supplying Fort Assinniboine with cord wood which is being delivered as fast as teams can haul it from the depot.


Mr. J. T. Moran, of Yantic, has leased his hotel at that place to Chas. Arnaud, formerly of Havre, who took charge of the same last week. As Mr. Arnaud has had considerable experience in the hotel business, and knows how to run one, there can be no doubt but what he will meet with success in his new field of labor.

The town of Yantic would later change its name to Lohman. What is left of the town is about half way between Havre and Chinook.

One week more and the Advertiser office will be put into such a shape that 45 degrees below zero will take no more effect upon the mechanical force than 80 degrees above would take upon a native of Greenland. When this is accomplished we would kindly invite all those who have never seen the inside workings of a first-class country printing office, to call and inspect the same.


Several marked, and much needed improvements, have been made on the building owned, and occupied by Messrs. Baily & Purnell. A large and commodious cellar has been added in which to store their liquors. It will be remembered that these gentlemen have unbounded faith in Havre's future, are always awake to the best interests of the town, and to this end purchase their wines, liquors and cigars by the car load, hence their success in the business.


Last night, about midnight, a fire broke out at the Sam Sing restaurant, which only for its timely discovery the business portion of the town would have been ashes today. When the alarm of fire was given men and women rushed frantically to and fro, each realizing that they had a duty to perform.

A heavy wind was blowing from the southwest at the time, and for a moment it seemed that all was lost. Only the building being built of logs, there could have been no hopes of saving anything. Water pitchers, buckets, wash-tubs, etc., were brought into requisition and after about a half an hour of hard labor the fire was gotten under control.

The fire was not of incendiary origin, but the result of mere carelessness. No less than three times within a month have the Chinamen, who have the building leased, been warned about throwing red hot coals out of the kitchen window, but all to no avail; and we would say right here-there should be some means of protecting the property, and possibly lives, of others. Necessary steps should be taken at once to guard against a repetition of such carelessness.


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