Havre Daily News - News you can use

Celebrating history: Put a lid on gambling


January 29, 2016

In last week's column, there was a letter from a Mr. Wilson calling Havre "One Wicked Little City." Its contents had clearly been maligning Havre's vices and its prominence within the business district. There was no response in Havre's defense in the newspapers this week, but on the front page of The Hill County Democrat's Jan. 29, 1916 issue, the city of Havre was finally taking notice-again:


Mayor D. S. MacKenzie, through the police department, has put the lid on gambling in Havre, and the town is shut up so tight that they are not turning a card or casting the dice for a little liquid refreshment.

It was several days ago that the lid was clamped on and it was evidently put on to stay, for a visit to those places where men once disported with the tiger found them closed.

There was no longer the musical clinking of the chips, or the soft purr of a spinning wheel, or the coaxing tones of the crap shooter appealing to the bones to come out on a natural.

Mayor MacKenzie said last evening, "Yes, the lid is on, and it will stay on as long as I remain in office."

So far as I have been able to ascertain there is no gambling being done now in the city. The police are instructed to see that it is closed and that it is kept closed, and I am going to see that these orders are obeyed.

Havre had a previous "clean up Havre" campaign after Jim Hill, owner of the Great Northern Radilroad, sent some high level officials to town and they came upon the same vices plus fighting citizens in the streets and sent a less than stellar report to Hill. It was then Hill told Havre officials to either clean up or he was moving his operations out of town. So, the vices disappeared from public view for a while and simply went underground - literally. The passage of time and the death of Jim Hill simply simmered the vices back up from the bottom, where they most assuredly returned for a while after the publication of the Wilson letter.

The following short article appeared in The Havre Plaindealer's newspaper of the same date, and the Wilson letter may have had something to do with it:


A fine of $25 each and short notice to depart from Havre was meted out in the court of Judge W. B. Pyper on Wednesday to Tom Rooney of Chester and Dolly Jerome, a one time Concert hall artist of this city, who were taken into custody at one of the local rooming houses charged with unlawful cohabitation. The fines were paid and the accused left for other fields.

Dolly Jerome worked at C. W. "Shorty" Young's infamous Montana Concert Hall, also known locally as the Honky Tonk. It was located on 1st Street roughly where a boutique and the former Cenex station are currently located. The Honky Tonk was a tough saloon featuring a stage for dancing girls and other vaudeville acts, as well as a crib row for prostitutes just off the main building. The only thing that remains of the Honky Tonk, aside from a few pictures, court documents and newspaper entries, are some vines that come back every year toward Main Street.

In more progressive news, both newspapers proudly carried the following:


The work of removing the county offices from their various locations over the city to the new courthouse, which is conceded to be one of the best structures of its kind in the entire state, has been under way for the past four days, and several of the county officials are already ensconced in the new structure. Among the offices moved this week are those of the treasurer and county clerk and recorder. These offices are both on the main floor, the first on the left and the second on the right of the building as one enters. The assessor's office is also on this floor, and this official is also located in the new building now.

Sheriff Loranger will transfer his office to the new structure next week, and the next term of court for the county will take place in the well appointed room at the court house.

In other progressive news, Postmaster Pepin was requesting proposals to lease space for the post office; the "Good Roads Initiative" was choosing to go through Havre, promoting good, safe and passable roads for business and travel; and a special election was announced to build an industrial track on the North side of Havre's Main Street.

For all of Havre's shortcomings, there were people who chose more gentile activities, and we read about them as well. Here is one such gathering in the "Society" column of the Plaindealer:

Gives Miscellaneous Shower.

On Monday evening Miss Edith Holland gave a miscellaneous shower for Miss Lillian Lepper, whose marriage takes place next week.

Future happiness and good wishes, written in verse, by each guest, were offered to the bride-to-be and many beautiful gifts for the new home were received.

At a late hour Miss Holland, assisted by Mrs. Holland and Miss Hess, served dainty refreshments. Those invited were: Mesdames Haglund, Kapernick, Devlin, Jas. G. Holland, Sanderson, Cronin and the Misses Lepper, Cosgrove, Guay, Harvey, Boyle and de Lorimer.


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