Early Halloween

By Mick Holien

A plethora of some of the usual Missoula historical characters spun life’s yarns on Sunday as grave sites at the Cemetery sprung to life for a few hours.

The annual Stories and Stones was advanced from near Halloween a few weeks both for the benefit of attendees and actors and weather couldn’t have been more cooperative.

Folks traipsed through 40 acres of stone monuments and markers representing a checkerboard of Missoula history when imo

Mick back with the north side Missoula cemetery already holding some 21,000 graves but with an additional 40 acres of undeveloped sites there’s plenty of room for another century of the town’s history, a tiny portion of which was portrayed graveside by about a dozen and a half actors.

Some families, like the Deschamps told by District Judge Robert L. Dusty, were represented by a family member.

Others like Gil Mangels, curator of Miracles of America museum who told the history of Polson’s namesake David, represented an area of their interest or expertise.

A walk through the cemetery is a history lesson corresponding with many of the city’s streets and prominence.

Dr. Robert Brown, former executive director of Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, in era garb presented his longtime reprisal of C.P. Higgins while Deschamps waxed of the family’s deep significant connection to Missoula starting on a ranch west of the current airport.

Suzette Dussault spun the story of Jeannette Rankin, the nation’s first distaff congressman, who not only made news voting against the entrance into WW1 but also led the drive for women’s voting rights, whose story she said, is the story of Missoula.

Originated in 2004, the afternoon serves to revive the area’s background not just for the newbees but maybe more importantly for residents who sometimes shows no interest in the city’s background and area importance.

Of particular interest to me in among more than two dozen biographies a soft-cover book is the story of serial killer Wayne Nantz, shot to death by gunsmith Doug Wells during what we now call a home intrusion in 1986.

The number of murders Nance was implicated in is unknown but the story was told in a 1992 John Cotton book “To Kill and Kill Again.

I covered the fall episode, which occurred on Pullman Court near my house, and interviewed Wells at length on KGVO.

It remains, along with the Unabomber, the most chilling story of my career.

Just sayin’ though maybe we should consider hosting a stories and stones program in Polson.

What say you?        


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