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March 23, 1896

J.C. McLeod of Philipsburg stops by Missoula for a Sunday visit on his way home from the Rock Creek mining district in western Missoula County.

It’s a busy place up there, he assures a reporter. The “beautiful” town of Quigley, where the Golden Sceptre mines are operating, is “running over with life and prosperity.”

Minerals can be found all over the district, “which will in a few years be developed into one of the greatest gold producing region that was ever discovered in the state,” according to McLeod, the Daily Missoulian, or both.

The Rock Creek country “is one great, grand bustle every day, accommodations being at a premium, boarding houses taxed to their utmost stages loaded with people and freight teams busy as bees.”

Among the investors in the Golden Sceptre is Grover Cleveland, president of the United States. He and his group have dumped $1.5 million into development of the mines; a stamp mill; an aqueduct more than 7 miles long from Rock Creek; and a 12-mile railroad grade, built with Chinese labor.

Within months it will become clear that gold is just a rumor in these parts. Quigley and most of the mines are abandoned and in November, the Golden Sceptre Mining Co. will officially fail.

March 21, 1940

Ruth Larison, Louise Leland and Mabel Robinson join three men on a coroner’s jury impaneled in a murder case in Missoula. They are the first women in Montana to serve on a jury.

The case is to decide whether murder charges should be filed against Sylvester (Ole) Ward had fired the gun that killed Robert Rooney, a 21-year-old university student from Whitefish, at a house on South Fourth Street West after the bars closed two nights ago.

Ella M. Stucky, the county coroner, leads the questioning of witnesses that includes a young companion of Rooney and Ward; a taxi driver who drove the three men home from a North Higgins bar, and police officers who responded to a call from the scene of the shooting.

The jury deliberates 45 minutes before arriving with the verdict that Ward should be tried. County Attorney Edward Dussault says formal charges will be filed tomorrow but does not specify the degree.

Leland’s name was the first of the three women drawn for the jury. Larison, who manages the Watson Apartments on East Pine, has other connections to court rooms in the future. Her daughter, Mary Ruth, is married to Russell E. Smith, who is destined to become federal district judge for the western district of Montana.

Reporter Kim Briggeman can be reached at 523-5266 or at kbriggeman@missoulian.com.

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