Havre Daily News - News you can use

Celebrating History: Drought and crop problems in the news


August 30, 2019

By Emily Mayer

The prolonged drought and subsequent crop issues continued to make headlines in The Havre Plaindealer. While wheat yields exceeded hopes in some cases, the state issued a statement that it estimated losses for the 1919 season at $60 million and counting. As a result of crop failures and the potential of farmers going bankrupt, the State of Montana was allowing counties to put on the ballot measures that would create a bond that would be used to help farmers purchase seed grain for next season.

Hill County commissioners acted upon petitions, and they received two, one for $200,000 in aid and the second for $800,000. The election was slated for Sept. 2, 1919. Results will be posted in an upcoming article.

The proposed creation of Liberty County was also top news in the papers 100 years ago. The Havre Plaindealer in its August 9, 16, 23 and 30, 1919, editions contained several pages of the transcript of meetings discussing the measure.

Long George Francis was also popular in the Plaindealer. Amid all of the court proceedings, he still found time with good buddies Ray Ellis and Clayton Jolly to participate in a rodeo. This is from the August 9, 1919 Plaindealer:


Ray Ellis, Long George Francis and Clayton Jolly left Friday for the Wild West show at Bozeman. Mr. Jolly will give a drunken ride and Mr. Ellis and Long George will contend in the roping and bulldogging contests in which Long George holds the record. Long George is taking his famous horse Tony with him and the Stampede management is sending the stage coaches.

The next week saw counter affidavits from several jurors denying claims that they heard the bailiff say anything about the case, that they never heard anything at Hockett’s barber shop about the case, or that a man named Sorensen was threatened, among other statements made by others to jurors. The first set of affidavits had been gathered by the defense team in an effort to show undue influence placed upon the jurors for Long George’s horse thievery case. The counter affidavits were filed to show no such undue influence existed.

In the August 23, 1919, edition, the Hill County district court denied Long George’s motion for a new trial, and his defense lawyers, Odell McConnell of Helena and local attorney J. P. Donnelly, were in the process of filing an appeal on the ruling.

Not only that, but good buddies Jack Mabee and George Coulter were out their bond, according to the local district court. That’s because Long George failed to show up for his sentencing the year prior. They planned to appeal the ruling to the Montana Supreme Court.

Remember the case of L. E. Johnson, who was arrested for taking off with an automobile without the banks’ permission? Mr. Johnson was engaged in business and had to leave the area to do his job. Not only was his auto confiscated, but so were his tools for his trade. Well, Mr. Johnson was suing Farmer State Bank of Havre, as well as R. A. McBrayne, for the sum of $54,850. J. P. Donnelly was the attorney for this case, as well as Helena attorney firm Nolan and Donovan.

Events for Labor Day were being planned, this one from the Masons.


Baseball Game With Eastern Star Ladies will be Feature

Oh Boy! The second annual Masonic picnic on labor day is going to be some party. There will be races for young and old, the fat and slim, and at 2:30 there will be a baseball game between the Eastern Star ladies and the Masons. The Hon. Tommy McKanzie will umpire. The committees have not yet perfected their plans but there will be a contest for every one. In addition to the baseball game the ladies will have a tug-of-war with Mrs. P. W. Wallinder and Mrs. Leroy McKenzie as captains. The kiddies will have races and other contests. In the evening there will be a dance with a thirteen piece orchestra and a professional caller to call the old-fashioned dances. During the afternoon the Havre Masonic band will give a concert under the direction of O. P. Thayer.

Invitations have been sent to the Masons and Eastern Stars of the neighboring towns and at least 500 people are expected. Everyone will bring their own lunch and eat on the porches of the buildings. Coffee will be furnished free and during the afternoon and evening ice cream cones and lemonade will be sold. There are no other charges. Electric lights have been put in the dance hall and there will be a dance from 8:30 to 12:30.

The following committees have been appointed:

Transportation-C. C. Brundage, chairman; Earl Clack, Herb Schwartz, George W. Wilson and Paul Beese.

Dance-Curtis Nelson, chairman; O. L. Whitlock, Mrs. Kendig, Mrs. Bonine and Mr. Wallinder.

Program-James Martin, chairman; Mrs. Stranahan, Mrs. Wilkie, Mrs. Phil Clack and Raymond Hullfish; C. B. Elwell, announcer.

Finance-O. G. Skylstead, chairman; Mrs. W. B. Rhoades and Mrs. Whitlock.

Publicity-Mrs. Withycombe, and Mrs. La Bertew.

Publications today would not be able to announce activities for both the “fat and slim” without creating some sort of controversy. Here is another entry, found in the “Personal Mention” column that would also invite comment if published today:

Four drunks were brought before Judge Pyper this week. They pleaded guilty and were fined.”

Two articles in the Aug. 30, 1919, edition stood out. The first, well, quite frankly, the City of Havre deserved to be sued:


Mayor and C. W. Swearington Also Included in Action Directed Against City

Yesterday application was made to the district court for an injunction restraining the city of Havre from emptying its sewage into Milk river. The action was filed by the office of attorney general on relation of the state board of health and directed against the city of Havre and its officials including the aldermen, the mayor, and C. W. Swearington who is described as the city engineer. An order was issued by the court directing the defendants to appear a week from Tuesday to show cause if any why the injunction should not be granted.

In the complaint is recited at some length the various actions that have already taken place in this Milk river sewage case. It charges that an order of the state board of health issued the first of the year directing that certain progress be made before a certain date later in the spring towards solving the sewage nuisance has been disregarded by the city.

The successful solution of the sewage problem means a big outlay and financial condition of the city offers a serious obstacle. Whether another bond issue will be the means of meeting the financial problem will probably be decided shortly.

The other article is simply a reminder that our ancestors were far from angels.


Lined Up With Other Little Children Along the Wall She Nervously Drops Hands and He Fires

Thursday afternoon at the George Johnson home about 18 miles south of Chester occurred a brutal holdup of six children and the wounding of a girl by an unknown man according to the meager details of the affair received over the telephone yesterday. The sheriff’s office was notified by telephone yesterday morning and in the afternoon two deputies left by auto for the scene of the crime. The names of the children could not be learned yesterday but it was understood that the little girl was not seriously injured. The man was described as young and slim and immediately after the shooting is said to have mounted his horse and rode away. The horse was described as bay in color and it is thought possibly that the man was headed Fort Benton way.

Apparently the children were at the ranch home alone when the bandit rode up and dismounting forced them to line up along the wall. The little girl frightened probably dropped her hands unconsciously and then the man shot. Two explanations were suggested yesterday, one that the man was insane and the other that, arising from the youthful description of the assailant, that it was a would be imitator of the bandit heroes pictured on screen and read about in cheap fiction. Some report the case is expected at the sheriff’s office today from the two deputies, Lineweaver and Johnson who are supposed to have reached the scene late yesterday afternoon.

As carved on the building of the National Archives and in the words of William Shakespeare: “What Is Past Is Prologue.”


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