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Havre of the Past: Christmas food for the poor


January 3, 2014

The newspapers for this week in both 1893 and 1898 were not available, and the best I could muster on microfilm was the Dec. 26, 1903, copy of the Havre Plaindealer for this time of the year. This 52nd installment completes the series celebrating Havre’s 120th anniversary of incorporation.

There was an extremely lengthy article regarding the recent graduation of the Class of 1903 from eighth grade. Each graduate gave a presentation ranging from song to recitations. The graduating students were Vera E. Webber, Antoinette E. Sinaberg, Lenore G. Dowling, Frank W. Chestnut, Clyde W. Knight, Anna W. Bonderson, Lillian Hammond, Isabella R. Gowrie, Mary F. Gorman and Allie Auld. Graduation ceremonies took place at Swanton Hall.

I thought due to recent news, this article may be of interest to the community:

Christmas Dinners

Eagles and Other Fraternal Organizations Cheer Hearts of a Number on Christmas.

It is a source of satisfaction to know that Christmas finds but few cases of want and none of destitution in the city. George M. Purnell, one of the trustees of the Eagles lodge, several days before Christmas, secured from the physicians and school teachers the names of persons whom a little Christmas remembrance in the shape of a Christmas dinner would be acceptable. A careful canvass was made and but seven families of the description located. No reports of actual suffering reached the ears of those playing the part of Santa Claus, and the benefactions were extended only in cases where the people were not suffering but the dinner was given as a present and not in any way as alms. The churches take care of their poor as do the fraternal organizations and so far as reported very few cases of want exist in this community.

In the social pages, we find the following, complete with misspelling:

Havre And Vicinity

Wm. Goggins, switchman in the Great Northern Yards had his foot caught in a railway frog in the yards Monday and had his ankle wrenched.


A real estate deal of some importance was made this week when Patrick Yeon purchased from J. J. Dowling three lots and the Dowling cottage. The consideration $2,200.


A shack occupied by May Brothers, North of the track caught fire Monday night and burned to the ground. The occupants made their escape just in time, in fact not an instant too soon as the building was enveloped in flames when they awoke. The loss was small.


Bunton Brothers, of Wild Horse Lake, have opened up a coal mine in Coal coulee, ten miles north of the city, to supply a portion of the local demand for black diamonds. The coal is of a very superior quality, indeed it grades with the best coal mined in any of the numerous mines about Havre.


T. E. Ronnie, who is arranging the amateur minstrel show to be given here some time during the month of January will call a rehersal of the musical parts for some time next week. Mr. Ronnie is painting the scenery for the new opera house which he expects to complete within a short time. The benefit is to be given to compensate him for his work and outlay for the stage settings. Some bright and sparkling ideas are being worked up and Mr. Ronnie invites the suggestion of any new ideas to be used in the construction of entertainment.

T. E. Ronne painted murals throughout the area. Among the buildings in Havre that contain his work are the C. W. “Shorty” Young home located at 419 4th Ave., and the original murals at the Hill County Courthouse, which no longer exist at that location.

Mrs. L. Newman entertained in honor of her sister, Miss Antoinette Sinaberg, a member of the eighth grade graduating class. Games and music furnished diversion during the evening. The guests were Prof. and Mrs. T. J. Troy, Misses Isabella Gowrie, Barbara Gowrie, Vera Webber, Lillian Auld, Allie Auld, Lillian Hammond, Maud Ling and Mr. and Mrs. Newman.


The Havre Commercial company complete moving its gents furnishing goods stock from the second floor of its big store to the new brick building next to the post office this week. The store is one of the handsomest in the city. There is ample floor space and new lines have been added to the firms already large assortment of everything in the clothing and haberdashery line. If you are looking for men’s togs, right up to date at prices that will fit your purse. Drop in and give the new store a call.


Oliver St. Germain is building a new ice house on this property west of the city. The structure will have a capacity of 1,400 tons. Mr. St. Germain expect to commence ice cutting operations on the river soon after January 1st.

And there you have it — the final installment of this column for Havre’s 120th anniversary. This column will continue in 2014 and will feature the year 1914, 50 years after Montana Territory was established and 25 years after Montana statehood. The intent is to show the progress in this area of Montana since the territory and statehood were created, from unsettled prairie by white man to what has become the North Star of the Hi-Line.

Thank you to all who enjoy this column; many have either called me, sent an e-mail or spoken to me in person how much you like it. A special thank you goes to John Kelleher, managing editor of the Havre Daily News, who agreed to include this column in the paper and helps keep the river of history flowing.


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