Celebrating History-December 29, 1917

Last week’s column focused on what the Havre churches were doing for the Christmas season. This week, what was going on in Havre during the weeks of December 22 and 29, 1917 will be featured, and there is quite the collection of activities!

First, the good news. Hill County’s generosity was in full-force as explained in this article that ran on the December 22, 1917 issue of The Havre Plaindealer:

“Oversubscribes Its Allotment for the Y. M. C. A. Fund
“That Hill county citizens are generous and always ready to respond to calls for aid for the soldier boys in camps and at the front, was shown during the Y. M. C. A. war fund campaign the second week of November under the able leadership of H. Earl Clack of Havre, chairman for Hill county, assisted by energetic committees in city and surrounding towns. The allotment for the county was $1,500 and subscriptions to date are $2058.25, of which $1,784.75 has been paid in. $1,700 of this amount has been sent to H. M. Allen, state treasurer for the Y. M. C. A. war fund for Montana.
“O. G. Olson, treasurer for Hill county submits the following report dated Dec. 17, 1917:
“City of Havre, Subscribed $1,492.85, Paid in $1,274.35
“Laredo, Subscribed $27.00, Paid in $27.00
“Lothair L. P. Sanford, Subscribed $5.00, Paid in $5.00
“Inverness, Subscribed $50.00, Paid in $20.00
“Gildford, Subscribed $93.50, Paid in $68.50
“Fresno, Subscribed $11.00, Paid in $11.00
“Box Elder, Subscribed $77.00, Paid in $77.00
“Joplin, Subscribed $148.50, Paid in $148.50
“Rudyard, Subscribed $45.15, Paid in $45.15
“Chester, Subscribed $80.60, Paid in $80.60
“Cottonwood, Subscribed $27.65, Paid in $27.65
“Total Subscribed $2,058.25, Paid in $1,784.75
“H. M. Allen state treas: $1,600.00
“H. M. Allen state treas: 100.00
“Montana Power Co. bill: 16.50
“Havre Commercial Co. bill: 8.00
“Piper Howe Lmbr Co. bill: 2.95
“Total $1,724.45
“Cash on hand and deposit: 57.30
“Donations and unpaid subscriptions can be sent to treasurer or H. Earl Clack, chairman of Hill county Y. M. C. A. war fund, Havre.”

Also in the same issue was a list of thirty-two people who had received American citizenship in Hill County. Many of us today know many of Scandinavian heritage came to Hill County to find new opportunity, but I’m consistently surprised to read over the years the number of British subjects who also came here for the same opportunities and gaining American citizenship. In the article, 15 were from Great Britain, 7 from Norway, 3 from Sweden, 3 from Denmark, 2 from Italy and 1 each from Switzerland and Greece.

Now for some not so fun news. The local high school burned the morning of December 22, 1917, but unfortunately my copy didn’t reproduce very well so right now I don’t have the whole story. Please accept my apologies. What did copy well was that other buildings were being used for classes, again showing the community’s generosity when it comes to the education of our youth. New science equipment and typewriters were being ordered, and even basketball was not going to cease, though it was thought the number of games might decrease as a result of the fire. Superintendent Abbott made this plea to students’ parents:
“Superintendent Abbott has asked the Plaindealer to make the request that any parents who are thinking of sending children elsewhere to school because of a feeling that the work of the high school will suffer from the results of the fire would call and talk the matter over with him or with Principal Grace M. Easter, before coming to any decision on the matter. Mr. Abbott has his office now in the court house, where Mr. L. K. Devlin has kindly volunteered the use of his office. He can be reached there or at his home on Fifth avenue, No. 1028, phone 474.”

In the “Of Local Interest” social pages were these entries regarding the burned high school:
“Supt. N. C. Abbott, whose office was destroyed in the fire of last Saturday morning that the devastated the Havre High school, has taken temporary quarters in the office of L. K. Devlin, human officer, at the court house. From this office Prof. Abbott is directing not only the work of the schools now operating but also the plans for resuming high school duties after the Christmas holidays. The auditorium, which was saved; the Methodist church basement, and perhaps one or two other rooms will be impressed into service to carry on the high school work, and despite lac of room there will be no lack of efficiency when the school work is resumed in January.
“The city firemen wish The Plaindealer to extend their thanks to the residents of south Havre for their thoughtfulness in supplying the fire fighters with hot coffee during the long and tedious fight they had at the burning of the high school building in the early hours of last Saturday morning.”

There was also quite the terse exchange between another local newspaper, The Havre Daily Promoter, and jurors of the recently dismissed “Long” George Francis trial, who the newspaper had accused of “boasting that they had “fixed” a list of jurors from whom it would have been impossible to secure a conviction”. The jurors had sent a letter to the Promoter emphatically denying the accusation and demanded to know how the Promoter had come to that conclusion. The jurors signing the letter were O. G. Skylstead, A. J. Brodrick. H. E. Loranger, C. C. Brundage, F. O. Kaste, Warren M. Smith, A. W. Dollard, B. L. Schwartz, H. B. Schwartz, Chas. Katzenberg, Geo. F. Colter, T. E. Bimrose, C. S. Hanson, F. E. McCarthy, George M. Cuser, J. S. Carnal, Otto Hertzgaard, C. C. Roper, C. W. Young (yes, “Shorty”), Raymond Hulfish and H. L. Short. So far, the Promoter had not responded to the jurors’ demand.

The Plaindealer also shook its finger at “penny patriots”, persons who advocated entering the Great War for profit. It also stated a local attorney had been engaged in such an operation and that Judges W. B. Rhoades and J. P. Donnelly and Hill County Attorney Victor Griggs had issued a notice to the unnamed attorney. If there is more in the papers, I will certainly make sure the information is in a future column.

The Plaindealer also took aim at the city for not supervising public dances, one of which ended up in a street fight earlier in the year.

Let’s find out about some less barbaric gatherings in Havre, found in the Society column:
“Masons Will Entertain.
“Havre Lodge No. 55 will be host to the local order of Eastern Star, all Masons and their wives and friends at Masonic Temple on Thursday evening of next week. The occasion will mark the annual installation of officers of both the Eastern Star and Blue Lodges, and it is intended to make it one of the best social sessions in the history of the order. A unique feature of the entertainment will be in the fact that refreshments will be prepared, cooked and served by the masculine element, no ladies being permitted in the kitchen during the evening. Thayer’s orchestra will furnish music during the installation and lunch, and later for dancing, which will conclude the evening.
“Dine Former Neighbors.
“Mr. and Mrs. C. R. Stranahan were hosts at Christmas dinner to six or eight of their former neighbors and friends from Boulder, who happened to be in Havre Tuesday. A most delightful time was had recounting many pleasant events that all had participated in at Boulder in former years, and the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Stranahan was greatly enjoyed by those whom circumstances forced to spend the holiday away from their own firesides.”


It has been my pleasure selecting local stories to share with readers of this column for the past six years, and I look forward to a very interesting 1918/2018. When I write this column, I share the articles written as they appeared in the newspapers of old, including misspellings and grammatical errors, because I feel it is important that readers share in the same experience I am reading, thus “keeping it real”. A special thank you goes to Havre Daily News editor Tim Leeds and Publisher Stacy Mantle for publishing my submissions, and to the readers of this column, who are very kind and supportive in reading my column.

Happy New Year to all!

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