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Celebrating History: 'Long George' Francis guilty

 


By Emily Mayer

There was a lot of interesting news in the Havre Plaindealer’s March 2, 1918, edition, none more so than news of one of Havre’s most famous criminals.

JURY PRONOUNCES FRANCIS GUILTY

Sentence Will Be Passed by Court Next Monday

The trial of George Francis, president of the Stampede association and a well known character of this city, which began in district court Monday morning last, was concluded Thursday evening when the jury in the case returned a verdict of guilty. The punishment was left to the court, and Judge Rhoades will pass sentence next Monday.

Francis was charged with stealing a horse belonging to Phil D. Clack. The horse originally disappeared in the fall of 1914, and in the early part of 1917 was found by Clack upon the Carruth ranch near Kremlin. Francis had sold the animal to Carruth, and Clack removed the mare to his ranch, claiming that his brand had been worked over and that of Francis placed upon the animal. The mare again disappeared from the Clack ranch after steps were taken to prosecute Francis, and it was the contention of the prosecution that the animal was killed in order to destroy evidence of brand mutilation.

A score or more witnesses were examined during the four days of the trial, and the legal talent on both sides fought every point stubbornly. The state was represented by Assistant Attorney General Grorud with Attorney George Hurd of Great Falls as an associate, and the defense was handled by Attorneys Donnelly and Carleton of Havre. Whether the case will be appealed to a higher court has not a yet been determined.

The jury that heard the case was made up of the following twelve men:

T. J. Axel, Rudyard; O. A. Sharfe, Laredo; Milo R. Wilson, Joplin; Daniel Dolph, Hingham; Carl E. Sorenson, Kremlin; R. M Hadlock, Joplin; Thomas Alex Abbott, Lothair; H. E. Denton, Goldstone; O. F. Harvey, Kremlin; H. M. Reams, Box Elder; John Ratergaard, Gildford; E. J. Rice, Gildford.

Work was commencing on replacing the Havre High School that burned during the waning days of 1917.

BOARD REQUESTS BIDS HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING

In this issue appears the official call for bids from the board of trustees of School District No. 16 for all necessary work in connection with the erection of Havre’s new high school building. The bids are to be opened on the evening of March 19. Separate bids have been called for the plumbing and heating.”

The bid for the structure specifically stated:

…for the furnishing of all material and labor for the erection and completion of a three-story reinforced concrete High School Building to be erected at Havre, Montana, according to the plans and specifications prepared for the same by F. F. Bossout, architect.

Of course, the war was the big news and Havre was not going to be left behind. It was doing plenty to contribute to the cause, and entries could be found throughout the Plaindealer of Havre’s contributions. The following was on the front page.

WAR FUND DRIVE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL

The war fund drive conducted by the Knights of Columbus in Havre, which started Monday last, has thus far proven highly successful, over two thousand dollars having been raised in Havre alone. From other points in the district, notably Chinook, comes the encouraging word that their allotment has been over-subscribed. The drive will close this evening.

The Society column had an entry regarding the local nurses association.

Nurses Given Reception.

On Tuesday evening the Hill County Nurses Association gave a reception for Misses Bowman and Boyle, who have been called to the service of the Red Cross. A theatre party at the Orpheum followed by a banquet at the Grill café were the main features of the affair. Place cards were emblems of the Red Cross. The tale was decorated with carnations. Miss Lange acted as toastmistress and responses were given by Misses Coad, Vosen, Mariette, Sousag, Mrs. Tripp and Mrs. Dinen. Those who enjoyed the pleasant affair were: Misses Boyle, Bowman, Coad, Lange, Vosen, Lafournaise, Sousag, Mariette, Cannon, Kownatzky and the Mesdames Dineen, McDaniel, Tripp and Kinnie. A box of candy was presented to the nurses by the Havre Commercial company.

Two entries regarding local soldiers also made the Of Local Interest social pages, complete with misspelling:

Geore Ell, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ell, who reside north of Havre, is enjoying a furlough at home from Camp Lewis, where he is stationed.

H. A. Miller of The Plaindealer is in receipt of a letter from Caleb Nystrom, who is with the American forces in France, explaining many details of their life on French soil. Like everyone else who is “over there”, Caleb says that what they miss most is a letter or paper from home.

Caleb Nystrom had worked for the Plaindealer as a typesetter prior to being drafted.

 

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