Monday, September 3, 2012


Happy Labor Day! Montana has seen its share of strikes and turmoil between investors and laborers, but let's commemorate Montana workers with this humorous story...

Harry Child came to Montana in the early 1880s to learn the mining business from his uncle, wealthy investor A. J. Seligman. Child’s vast interests eventually included mines and smelters, the Flying D Ranch in the Gallatin valley, and Yellowstone Park’s hotel and transportation companies. One of Child’s many adventures has been recorded for posterity. Just before the Northern Pacific came to Helena in 1883, the two mining companies Child managed had stored their gold and silver bullion awaiting transport by rail. But the New York capitalists who financed the mining enterprises neglected the payroll and owed mine employees more than 125,000 dollars in back pay. The son of one of these millionaire investors had come out to Montana to learn the mining business under Harry Child. The angry miners decided the fastest way to get their money was to kidnap Child and the millionaire’s son. This they did and held the hostages in one of the mines. Child convinced the kidnappers to let him go to Helena to negotiate the ransom. Obtaining an open line through Western Union, Child succeeded in getting the money wired to Helena within twenty-four hours. Carrying the cash and fearful of bandits, Child made the hazardous twenty-five-mile trip by sleigh following a circuitous route. He later discovered that several parties of miners indeed had planned to rob him. Once paid, the miners returned to work. When the railroad finally came through, the first east-bound train out of Helena carried the gold and silver bullion to its investors, and everyone was satisfied.

Harry Child is pictured at left in Yellowstone National Park in 1894.
Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, F. Jay Haynes Collection

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