Editor's Note: This article and photo was published in the Great Falls Tribune of Sunday, October 1, 1916. Thanks to The History Museum in Great Falls for allowing us access to their archives.
FAIRFIELD – Fairfield town hall was dedicated to use today. It was made the event of the season for the people of Fairfield bench and all that section of Teton County. It was made an event notable in the town’s history by the presence of Governor Sam V. Stewart, Montana’s Chief Executive. It was an unusually pleasant event for everybody from the children to the grandmothers, and there was a quorum of both classes with a lot of healthy looking voters, male and female, in addition thereto. It brought out the voters; it attracted the candidates. It proved to be as happy a neighborhood gathering as been held in this section of Montana in many a day.
Those present at the meeting today came in automobiles of various makes, sizes and conditions; in buggies and in wagons, and some who lived on homesteads reasonably close to the townsite came in that old and ever honorable way, on “shank’s mares.” Before the meeting started after 3 this afternoon, there had gathered more than 300 on a conservative estimate. There was a delegation from Choteau, another delegation from Great Falls; Cascade was represented; Gilman sent delegates; Power was accounted for and others and divers towns and villages had their several delegates present to help Fairfield rejoice and be glad the new town hall was a reality and ready for the speaking ceremonies and then for the hour when some one, figuratively speaking, might truly shout, “Let the dance go on.” But no, that is hardly correct for it is not a “town hall,” ni the Fairfield view; it is a “community hall” and that term appears the better to fit the purpose for this hall has been dedicated not alone for the people of the town of Fairfield – using town in the western sense – but for the larger unit of population, the community which here includes the great reach of agricultural land known as Fairfield bench.
So it was the Community hall which was dedicated at Fairfield today, be it remembered.
Early Settler Presides.
Governor Stewart arrived in the town this morning about 11:20, coming with H.A. Templeton and party, the others in the party being H.W. Brown of Cascade, Dr. Powell of Valier and John A. Curry of Great Falls. They were followed shortly afterward by H.B. Mitchell and party, in that party being Fergus Mitchell and Louis Heyn. These were entertained at a luncheon by Elmer Genger and the other members of the committee in charge of the celebration, the luncheon being provided at the hall by the local branch of the W.C.T.U.
The luncheon was served at 1 o’clock and from then until the speaking the visitors met the local people who came in a steady stream until the program had been started.
The honor of presiding over the exercises at the dedication fell to Josef Thorud, on of the pioneers of the Fairfield bench, he being the first to file for a homestead within the first unit of the irrigation project to be watered next year. Mr. Thorud is one of the substantial farmers and well respected and popular citizens, whose selection by the committee highly satisfactory to all concerned.
School Children Perform.
An orchestra furnished the music for the afternoon and again this evening for the dancing. The orchestra opened the program at 3 with a march, which was the signal for the crowd which had collected in front of the hall to file into the building and take seats to listen to the address. First Chairman Thorud announced that there would be an exercise by the school children under their teacher, Miss Ruth Beardsley, and 20 boys and girls marched upon the stage and gave a flag drill, ending in singing “America.” This elicited applause from the audience, all the people rising while the children sang the national anthem.
The youngsters showed that they had been carefully drilled for the exercise. The pupils taking part were Helen Crittenden, Paul Breckenridge, Rhoda Breckenridge, Ruth Breckenridge, Madeline Breckenridge, Margaret Moore, Beatrice McLean, Helen Genger, Bernice Rice, Orris Romney, Mary Cunningham, Leona Smith, Mary Cunningham, Leona Smith, Dean Crittenden, Hugh Taylor, Paul Taylor, Joseph C. Genger, Howard Rive, Maurice Bonney, Floyd Eastwood and Henry Smith.
Following the drill by the children, Miss Garrall rendered a solo, her accompaniment being played by Mrs. McVicker. Then came the brief address by Chairman Thorud, in which he stated the occasion of the gathering and expressed for the community the great pleasure they felt on having the governor of the state as their speaker. He then presented Governor Stewart.
Governor Avoids Politics.
Governor Stewart, although he is a candidate for re-election, scored strictly to the advance announcement that he had made, in which he stated that he would adhere to the non-political lines. He never once mentioned that his is campaign year, but reviewed something of the achievements if Montana and made a speech that held the attention and the [unreadable] interest of everyone in his audience. He told the people that he had not seen this town of Fairfield before – a thing that was natural, for it has been built since the summer opened a few months ago – but that he had been most favorably impressed with it and the possibilities it holds for a busy trading center.
He recalled a former visit three years ago with Secretary of the Interior Lane, when that official was investigating the irrigation worth of the land. The governor told his audience that the town suggested the great strides of development which Montana is now enjoying generally, but he thought that, even with general development which is highly gratifying, he was willing to confess he recalled no section of the state that looked more promising than the Fairfield bench.
Tells of Former Visit.
The speaker recalled that three years ago there had been some differences in the community as to which was the proper thing – irrigation or no irrigation; and he said that with the amazingly large crops of the last two year, Nature has added a happy solution to that difference by proving that both sides were exactly right; that the land in this bench was so fertile that excellent crops could be raised with the rains sent by nature or by the water furnished by the floods stored in the reservoir to be used in irrigating the land of the project.
He declared that one of the greatest pleasures of the office of governor is the one that comes among the people to talk with them and get their views on different subjects, and that in all these visits he has seen no time when he found a people with more to be happy about than the people of Fairfield in dedicating their new Community hall.
He told about the hearing before the secretary of the interior when the knockers were trying to have a certain order made by the secretary, and how he had proposed that if the secretary would come to see the Montana bench land and didn’t find it all that those who were speaking good words for it had claimed it to be, then he, the governor, would resign and quit the office in shame. He told about how the secretary did come, but smilingly recalled that he went away with no disposition to ask the speaker to resign as governor.
Effects of Changes.
The governor declared that with the changing conditions of Montana there had come, now, the agricultural period when the large interests in the state is shifting to agriculture and he said there was no surer foundation for lasting prosperity than well developed and well managed farms. He reviewed the changing scenes from the earliest gold seekers to the present and told how not only the industrial and business life had changed but he said that the more populous state had also established a new standard of morals and living standards. He urged the parents to take special interest in the boys and girls and encourage them to like work on the farm by giving them small partnerships in the pigs and calves so that they would feel a responsibility in the work and enjoy a profit at the selling period.
That this is not a day when the old doctrine of “anybody can farm” is accepted, was another statement of the governor. He said that farming had been developed to a high state of efficiency and while anyone might still get some results from farming, just as anyone might get some results, must be done along well thought out lines and carefully prosecuted to its fullest possibility.
Why Standards Shift.
He reviewed the changes that have come to the social life of the west from the days when the Road Agents ruled and were driven out to the present, pointing out that the driving out of the hose race gamblers from the state fair was one of the latest evidences that the newer and more populous state is viewing life from a different angle to that taken by the settlers of the earlier days. He said this was due to the fact that there is now a population of people who are rearing their children here and they are insisting on making an environment in the social conditions that they believe will be the best for their young people.
The governor’s reference to the legislative act stopping race track gambling brought forth vigorous and long continued applause.
The address closed with a happy tribute to the people of the town of Fairfield on the occasion of the dedication of its town hall and the expression of the wish that the town would grow with the same vigor that had characterized its first few months of history.
Everybody Hears Program.
The business of the town was entirely suspended during the speaking. Business men closed their doors’ mechanics laid aside their tools and everybody turned out to hear the governor’s address. There was a remarkably large number of bright faced children in the audience and the acted like good children, for most of them sat through the speaking program and applauded when their elders applauded. They were happy and interesting children.
One of them made the acquaintance of a Great Falls man, or rather the Great Falls man introduced himself to the child who happens to be seen in the center of the first row in the picture. He is probably about 3 years old, may be no more than 2. He was asked his name and told it plainly. The Great Falls man told the child his name, saying that he as Mr. So and So. Then he took the child to introduce him to some of the other Great Falls man and when he was told the name of another Great Falls man, the one introducing him said: “now tell the gentleman your name,” and the youngster raised a roar of laughter when he answered “Mr. Graves,” his last name being Graves. He made a hit with the Great Falls crowd.
Candidates Are Plentiful.
There was a large number of candidates from Cascade County and from Teton County. In the Great Falls contingent were Harry B. Mitchell, candidate for congress, Judge Leslie, Judge Ewing and Judge Berry, all candidates for judgeships; James Burns and Sheriff L.H. Kommers, candidates for sheriff; John L. Gillin, candidate for county assessor and some others. Among the Teton County candidates looking after acquaintances was A.O. Longmuir of Famington, candidate for clerk of the district court of Teton County on the democratic ticket.
The committees in charge today were as follows: General arrangements, Elmer Genger, chairman and every citizen of the community a member; on ball game, L.A. McGaffery, Harold Genger and D.W. Berry; on dance, Frank Hirshberg, Earl Holliday, F.H. McClean and Fred Kelson.
Word from the Fairfield community celebration brought to the city last midnight was to the effect that there were more than 300 couple attending the dance and that it was one of the happiest events ever in that section of the state