June 16, 1904
It's a Thursday that will go down in literary history, and the night of the second Great Bearmouth Train Robbery.
The 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis is well into its second month. The girls of the Fort Shaw Indian boarding school, who arrived by train two days ago, played and won their first exhibition basketball game on Wednesday. In the next three months, they'll go unbeaten and claim the "world championship."
In Chicago, intrigue over next week's Republican National Convention is minimal. Theodore Roosevelt has the presidential nomination sewed up after his main rival, Sen. Mike Hanna if Ohio, died in February.
James Joyce picks this day to set "Ulysses," his novel of nearly 800 pages. The book details the wanderings and meditations of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom on an ordinary Dublin day. June 16 will become known around the world as Bloomsday, and in 1999, "Ulysses" will be ranked first on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
There is, of course, a Montana connection.
Actress Millicent Bandmann Palmer's name pops up three times in "Ulysses." At one point, Bloom spots a theater touting Bandmann Palmer in the lead role in "Leah."
"Like to see her in that again. Hamlet she played last night. Male impersonator. Perhaps he was a woman," he thinks.
Half a world away and two days later, Bandmann Palmer's ex-husband will gavel to order a meeting of the Montana farmers institutes in Missoula's Union Opera House.
Daniel Bandmann is an eccentric German-born actor who was among the famous names of American theater in the 1870s and '80s, when he was married to Millicent. Now he's retired from the professional stage, married to another actress, and pursuing an agricultural lifestyle at his ranch east of Missoula.
Saturday's meeting attracted instructors from the agricultural college at Bozeman. At the top of the agenda is the establishment of a co-operative creamery in Missoula. A committee is appointed to look into the proposition.
Next January, Bandmann will sell an option on 20 acres of his ranch to Sen. William Clark, who'll soon start building the Milltown Dam on it. Bandmann will die unexpectedly in November 1905 at his ranch, the site of the Canyon River golf course a century later.
Somebody robs the North Coast Limited, blasting the safe through the side of a Northern Pacific express car to get at the $65,000 in diamonds, silver, securities and cash.
The holdup occurs at 11 p.m., near the site of a similar holdup in 1902 that resulted in the death of the train's engineer. No one dies this time. Engineer Wade finds a gun in his ribs as the engine takes water near the Bearmouth depot west of Drummond. He's ordered to get behind the wheel and start the eastbound passenger train without commotion.
Two miles later, deep in a canyon, Wade is ordered to stop. At least one other accomplice joins the original holdup man in dynamiting the safe.
Posses from Drummond, Deer Lodge and Missoula arrive on the scene within hours, one of them with bloodhounds. But a two-day manhunt will go for naught.
George Hammond will be arrested in Spokane in July and confess to his part in the robbery. He'll be brought to Helena and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
John Christie will be captured in North Dakota in early August. He'll lead lawmen to a cache worth $50,000 some eight miles below the scene of the holdup, and a smaller one three miles farther up in the hills. Christie will receive a seven-year sentence.
Kim Briggeman can be reached at 523-5266 or at email@example.com.