Celebrating History-January 5, 1918

There was no Havre Plaindealer issue for this week 100 years ago. Why? Havre experienced yet another flood, and the Plaindealer office was flooded, as were several other businesses. The flood happened during the early hours of the last day of 1917. A lengthy article was published in The Hill County Democrat’s January 5, 1918 issue, which stated that melting snow from the Bear Paws overflowed Bull Hook Creek, which at the time ran completely open through Havre. The Democrat reported “In three quarters of an hour the water in the Bull Hook ruse 7 feet and overflowed its banks and then spread over and down the city streets. At ten o’clock the water was at the counter edge in the Hulfish store and was three feet deep at the approach to the viaduct over the railroad tracks.” Basements and first floors of homes, especially those on the east end, were flooded, as were White Bros. Pool Hall, Jestrab Bros. Hardware, Holland and Son Undertaking Parlors, the new Methodist Church, Gamble Robinson Fruit Co., Havre Bottling Works, the basements of the Yeon Apartments, and the Park Hotel. However, Boone’s Drug Store and the Lou Lucke Company experienced no flooding, the Democrat reporting the buildings had “good water tight walls”. The Courthouse basement flooded not due to any structural issues but to an abandoned sewer pipe.

Most of the businesses mentioned were on First Street, Fifth Avenue, and points east, the Hulfish, Gamble Robinson, Yeon Apartments being on First Street and Seventh Avenues.

Personal strife was not spared during the waning days of 1917, thus spilling grief into the new year. The Democrat carried the following story, complete with misspelling:

“While coasting on the hills north of town Sunday afternoon, Harold the nine year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Clayton Stark of East Havre, met with a fatal accident.
“One of his skiis struck a snag, causing the throwing of the young man so that he struck on a rock, causing internal injuries to which he succumbed early yesterday morning.
“He was removed to the Sacred Heart hospital shortly after the accident. All that skilled surgery and careful nursing could do, was done.
“Harold was a favorite with his school companions-being of a cheerful nature. The sympathy of the community is extended to the parents in their bereavement.
“The body was removed to the Kay undertaking parlors where it will lay in state tomorrow from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. at which time it will be removed to St. Jude Thaddeus church were services will be held. Burial will be in the Calvary cemetery.”

Domestic violence was never a stranger during the days of old. The following is for the “nothing bad ever happened in Havre’s old days” crowd.

“A suit for divorce was filed yesterday in the name of Gertrude Sartain against Edward J. Sartain. The complaint alleges they were married at Havre on February 5, 1911, and if the other allegations of the complaint are true, married life has been devoid of joy.
“Mrs. Sartain charges cruel and inhuman treatment of such a nature as to destroy the peace of mind and happiness of the plaintiff. Among other things she charges her hair was pulled, she was called by vile and indecent names and driven from her home.
“More specifically she charges that early in the fall of 1916 at their ranch five miles east of Havre, defendant struck plaintiff on the jaw with his fist in such a manner as to break the drum of her right ear; that he kicked plaintiff on the hip and kicked her left hand with such force as to break her thumb; that in February, 1915, he threw her on the ground with such force that the ligaments of her shoulder were badly torn; that the defendant has repeatedly and at divers times threatened to kill the plaintiff.
“Judgment for divorce is asked and that plaintiff be permitted to resume her maiden name.
“Mrs. Sartain alleges she is the owner of 320 acres of land on which they live and of nine horses, 26 cows and other personal property and she asks the court for an order to restrain defendant from in any way interfering or molesting her in her peaceful and quiet possession and enjoyment of the same.”

Remember, folks, there was no such thing as women’s shelters or any assistance for battered women and their children, if they had them. Although not common, divorce was granted for reasons such as those described above, as well as abandonment, but both men and women were pressured to stay in a miserable marriage for religious reasons and/or social pressure. And yes, men filed for divorce from their wives in the days of yore in Havre, Montana, though those were extremely rare 100 years ago.

This entry in the Democrat’s “Havre Local News” social pages piqued my interest:

“Mr. and Mrs. Frank Carleton and little daughter Kathryn, who have recently arrived here from Helena, will occupy Dr. Hamilton’s house on 1st Avenue after January 1st.”

Mrs. Carleton would explode into newspapers across the country four years later, being involved in what I call Havre’s biggest, most shameful scandal.

The year 1918 was not starting off well.

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