Below was a great story. The Montana Attorney General Sam Ford filing charges against the Hill County Attorney Victor Griggs for supposedly not doing his job prosecuting prostitution cases (the vast majority in Havre didn’t care), then sending one of his henchmen to town to make up trouble, then that person getting arrested himself, the Hill County Attorney calling bull on the Montana Attorney General who happened to be in town for a conference held by a bunch of women with a morality mission. Go figure. It’s much different today, with the Hill County Attorney Jessica Cole Hodgkinson deliberately not doing her job prosecuting cases and breaking employment laws, the current Montana Attorney General Tim Fox’s office turning a blind eye to complaints, and in both cases the Hill County Commissioners remained silent, doing what they do best-nothing. The more things change, the more they stay the same!
Every now and then, there are a series of events that simply have to be put in the “you can’t make this stuff up” file.
The Montana Attorney General back in 1917 was Sam Ford. He had his eye on the governor’s seat and wanted to use Havre as an example of projecting a tough on crime image. Among his actions were charges against then Hill County Attorney Victor Griggs for not performing “official duties” in not prosecuting crimes of prostitution.
An article splashed across the front page of the October 13, 1917 issue of The Havre Plaindealer proclaims: “MORAL WAVE AGAIN SWEEPS OVER CITY. Arrests, Charges and Counter Charges Have Thus Far Proven the Net Result.” A detective of Ford, P. G. Apple of Great Falls, was arrested for gambling and came before the court on October 3, 1917, where he asked Hill County Sheriff George Bickle to be appointed a deputy sheriff under the request of Assistant Attorney General Grorud. Bickle denied the request. On Tuesday, October 10, 1917, Apple went to Griggs’ office to complain about being robbed during a poker game and named three men who he accused of robbing him. Griggs issued warrants for all four men, including Apple, for illegal gambling. One of the men, Oliver Beaton, said to Griggs he had been instructed by his attorney not to speak with him and that Apple and Ford “would get him out”. The Attorney General requested charges be dropped for Apple.
That Tuesday night, Apple again was arrested by City police, this time for employing the service of a local prostitute in the Park Hotel. The charge was illegal cohabitation. Ford happened to be in Havre to attend-get this-the Women’s Christian Temperance Union’s annual conference. Ford issued this statement:
“I have every reason to believe that before my detective was arrested on either of the charges made, the county attorney and the chief of police know that he was employed by the attorney general’s office and was engaged in obtaining evidence for abatement cases to be commenced against houses of ill fame.
“I informed the county attorney of these facts before he filed information against him. Nevertheless, the information was filed and late yesterday a warrant was issued in connection with the alleged raid on the Park hotel.
“I am satisfied that this action was taken for the purpose of throwing discredit upon the man obtaining evidence and of embarrassing the prosecutions in which we are engaged or are about to commence.”
Hill County Attorney Griggs issued his own lengthy statement, calling Ford’s statement “a mixture of untruth and willful misrepresentation”, stated he didn’t know Apple worked for Ford, that Ford did not tell him Apple was in town, that he had arrested Apple for illegal gambling because Apple himself gave Griggs evidence against him for illegal gambling and that Ford had given “strict orders” to Apple to stay away from Griggs. Griggs went on to state that Apple’s appearance before Judge Rhoades was so bad that Rhoades found Apple “in contempt of court and from his very looks, it appears to me that it is not necessary for anyone to throw discredit upon this so-called detective, for the man discredits himself and is anything but a credit to the parties responsible for sending him here.” Griggs further stated Ford was miffed that Griggs wouldn’t drop the charges on Apple, and flat out stated Ford sent Apple to Havre to willingly commit crime and Ford “had the right to send men here to seek out crime, but not to make crime.” Keep reading this column for the outcome!
In other local news, Havre’s Italians celebrated Columbus Day in style:
“COLUMBUS DAY OBSERVED IN THIS CITY
“The Italian people of Havre, to the number of over a hundred celebrated Columbus Day in a fitting manner in Havre Friday. The local lodge of Christopher Columbus met at their hall at 10 o’clock and marched in a body to the Catholic church, where Italian flag was blessed by the priest.
“The procession was headed by the Havre city band who discoursed very appropriate music for the occasion.
“After the ceremony at the church the members of the Italian organization adjourned to Chestnut hall, where the afternoon was spent in talkfest and celebration of Italian rites appropriate to the occasion. Judge W. B. Pyper made a speech in English, which was followed by speeches in the native tongue by Rev. Parisi and Daniel Petrazzini and others.
“One of the most important features of the occasion was the entwining of the Italian and American flags, symbolizing that both countries stood for the highest principles of civilization, equal rights to all and special privileges to none.”
Of course I can’t forget an entry or two from the Society column:
“Week End Party.
“A most delightful event was the week end house party, with Mr. and Mrs. George Bourne as host and hostess at their beautiful country home in the Sweet Grass hills.
“The guests motored out last Saturday returning to Havre Monday. Those who enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Bourne’s hospitality were Mrs. And Mrs. Bossout, Grimmer, Carruth, D. S. MacKenzie, Griggs, Benson, Wright, Raymond Hulfish, George Hulfish, Brodrick and Hirshberg.
“Mrs. Jas. Holland, Jr. was happily surprised on Wednesday evening upon returning home from the theatre, to find relatives and a few friends gathered there to wish her many happy returns of the day. The occasion was Mrs. Holland’s birthday.
“She was showered with good wishes, also many pretty gifts.”