Havre, for the most part, was taking a break between the two big events of the first Great Northern Montana Stampede that had just finished, and the upcoming Chautauqua. The courts, however, were filling that void by naturalizing many new American citizens. Canada, Norway, Russia, Great Britain, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Germany were our newest citizens’ place of birth, most of them being from Norway. They were all brought here seeking what most people sought-economic opportunity. Whether it was a “free” farm from Uncle Sam, working on the railroad, setting up business, or shipping goods to or from the area to sell or to buy, economic opportunity is what brought most people here, others were brought to serve out their tour of duty at Fort Assinniboine and chose to stay, or came along for the adventure mostly with family.
To show off the area’s agricultural abilities, county fairs were hosted throughout the country as a way for farmers and ranchers to compete with one another for the best grains, produce and livestock. If people were not engaged in agriculture, open exhibits for crafts such as woodworking, baked goods, and needlework were an option for those who lived in town, and by reading the results from previous fairs, competition was stiff and keen. This being the West, rodeos and horse races of various sorts were also popular events held during the fair. Havre was an area that also bred terrific horses in addition to sheep and cattle, and several articles announced who was bringing in new stock or who was selling the best horses for transportation, work, or service into the military (we will get to that one eventually, based on other reports published in the newspapers). Things such as the midway carnival rides and vendors were side attractions and not the main focus or intent of the fair. As our own fair is going on this week, 100 years ago Hill County was preparing for its annual fair. The Chautauqua wasn’t going to be the last big event in Hill County of 1916-not by a long shot! Here is a short entry in the July 23, 1916 issue of the Havre Plaindealer:
FARMERS ARE URGED PREPARE GRAIN SAMPLES
“Arrangements are under way for the annual Hill county fair to be held here in September and the management is out in request that all farmers prepare samples of grains, grasses, and vegetables for the agricultural exhibit.
“It is the intention to try and make the 1916 county fair the best ever held, from every standpoint.”
New businesses were still being created in Havre 100 years ago, also from the pages of the Plaindealer:
NEW WAGON YARD OPENED TO PUBLIC
“The new wagon and feed yard recently built by Ed B. Thomas is now open to the public. The yard is located upon west Second street, near the Creamery, and is capable of caring for a large number of teams and wagons all of which are placed under cover and thoroughly protected from the elements.”
Livery stables and wagon yards were important businesses to communities 100 years ago, as not everyone owned an automobile and still relied on the train, horse or oxen for transportation. City lots, by nature, are small, therefore offering little or no room to board a horse. Those owning horses and/or wagons would rent out space and pay for the upkeep of them. When they were needed, owners simply went and got them, or called for them to be delivered. Suffice it to say, proper care, safety and security of both equine and wagon were paramount. Just like today, no one wants their ride stolen or vandalized!
Of course, it wasn’t all work. Here are a few entries from the Plaindealer’s Society column:
- “An ice cream social given by the ladies of the Baptist church was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Percy Doles on Friday evening.
- “Mrs. V. R. Griggs and Mrs. A. M. Grimmer entertained a few friends at bridge on Saturday afternoon, honoring Miss Dobbins and Mrs. Samuel Walker of Everett, Wash.
- “A number of Havre people are spending their vacations at Glacier Park and Lake McDonald. Among them are Mrs. Frank Reimer, the Misses Gaston, Fitzgerald, McHugh, Messers. Schiek and White, some of whom returned to the city yesterday.”
This article was printed in the Havre Daily News on July 23, 1916.