Friday, March 4, 2011


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Signalmen Don Maynard, Alex Peterson, unidentified, and Joe Bedard. Courtesy Ruth Mercer McBee and Don Maynard collections.
Besides the war news and Andy's election, increasing restrictions were on-going topics. Idaho had been declared "dry" the end of the previous year. Laws affecting alcoholic beverages changed life in the valley considerably.

In June 1917, another federal law making it illegal to ship liquor into dry territories for any except medicinal, sacramental or mechanical purposes caused the Montana liquor men who had been doing a heavy business by mail to shifting gears. Dances at Peek's hall became even more popular than before.1.

A. J. Kline, recently from Tulsa, Oklahoma, threw in with Emil Gavin and Alex Davies, operating three moonshine still, making 'moon' for Spokane markets.

Much of their porduct was transported by trainmen on the Northern Pacific Railroad. The boys would deliver it to the freightrains when they stopped at the water tank near Heron, between Emil's cabin and A. J.'s ranch. A small mountain of the five gallon cans began growing rust on the hill behind Kline's srping, remainders of the ingredients for the 'moon.'2

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Caption: Mary Easter turned her camera on everything. This is a view of the inside of the Northern Pacific Railroad signal box near Cabinet, Idaho. Circa 1917-'21. Courtesy Mary Easter Younker collection.

Ever since men entered the valley, card playing had been a favorite pastime. In saloons rummy and solo were played for drinks, cigars or chips. At Noxon, Charley Maynard's pool hall was just east of the store on Main Street that Henry Larson bought from Dr. Peek in 1918.

Don Maynard, a fancy young man, had taken over the business from his father. Lumberjacks from up Rock Creek hiked to town and played games of chance in the evenings and also on Saturdays and Sundays.

The pool hall issued 'hickies,' small pasteboard chips worth a nickel a piece, as winnings for the games. Rummy and pangeni were preferred over poker and other games.
"Kids, whose mothers weren't particular where they spent their idle time, used to hang around the pool hall real handy. Some of the fellows, winning a handful of chips, was bound to share generously," Carmen Moore said.3.
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Caption: Captioned, 'DF Tabblu Beer Joint,' this is a gag photo of a staged 'stick-em-up' scene. Kelly Thomson is at the center of those seated at the table. The others weren't unidentified. Courtesy Ruth Mercer McBee collection.

Under the provisions of the law passed by the legislature and approved March 3, 1918 by the governor, it became a misdemeanor for any proprietor of a saloon, drug store, pool hall or other business establishment to permit these games to be played on his premises.

Enforcement of the law meant abolishing the games, or the proprietors could face a stiff fine and imprisonment. Included were monte, dondo, fan-tan, studhorse poker, craps, seven-and-a-half, twenty-one, faro, roulette, hokey-pokey, pangeni or pangene, draw poker or the game commonly called round-the-table-poker, or any game of chance played with cards, dice or any device.4.

Outlawing of slot machines, punchboards and other devices followed under the anti-gambling law. Sheriff Hartman warned raids would be made. The penalty was a $100 fine with imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than one year, or by both fine and imprisonment.5.

Heron Saloon, at Heron, Montana. Courtesy Georgia
Knott MacSpadden collection.
Opinions were voiced cautiously. To speak out in protest of  a law was to risk censure, or even being branded as a traitor. Patriotism fever flamed as hot and charring as the kerosene lamp wicks, loosing self-serving attitudes, and constituting their own credulity.

Deviation from majority sentiment brought swift penalties. One county resident was jailed for his opinions on ways to end the war. He and his companions were discussing international affairs when one of them remarked that the war would not last long if our soldiers reached Berlin and got rid of the kaiser and a few of his warlords. The Sanders county man replied,
"the war would soon be over if someone would kill the --- --- --- in the white house and his friends."
The outspoken man was quickly lodged in the county jail for his remarks.6.

Sheriff Hartman published the following warning in the weekly newspaper,
"... I would like to ask permission for a small space in your paper for the following: "It has come to the notice of the people of Trout Creek and Larchwood that there are three or four very unpatriotic citizens in and near those towns, who are making remarks not favorable to the government or the Red Cross.
"To those making such remarks I wish to call your attention to the fact that you are in America; you have come here to better your condition and I believe you have done so. You have been welcome. We are glad to have good people come here to make their homes. The government has and will help those who are right.
"On the other hand, we ask you to stand by the government that stands by you. If our government don't suit you any longer, why in hell don't you emigrate?
"Now, you are all well known and if this practice of slurring the government and the Red Cross continues you will be branded as anarchists which you will well deserve and we are prepared to take care of just such people. Let this be the last warning to everyone concerned."7.
Another lumberjack with a loose tongue, Jim Weaver from Martin Creek camp, said it's a capitalist's war that the common people are slaves and have no business mixing up in it. He was arrested for it under the sedition law.

His conversation took place in the presence of Swan Swanson, O. E. Woodson and several others who couldn't appreciate his viewpoint, and he was reported to the sheriff's office. Swanson was deputized to take charge of the disturber. Weaver's partner, I. A. Weiholt, attempted to interfere with Swanson and was also placed under arrest, but was later given 30 minutes to get out of the county.8.

  1. Sanders County Independent Ledger, June 28, 1917.
  2. Roland "Red" Kline, letter June 10, 1991.
  3. Carmen Moore, tape-recorded oral history, 1987.
  4. Sanders County Independent Ledger, Dec. 11, 1919.
  5. Sanders County Independent Ledger, Dec. 11, 1919.
  6. Sanders County Independent Ledger, March 14, 1918.
  7. Sanders County Independent Ledger, March 14, 1918.
  8. Sanders County Independent Ledger, March 21, 1918.


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