Lost Butte, Montana, a book by Richard I. Gibson, is in stores and museum gift shops around Butte. Or order from the publisher. It's also in E-book formats at all the usual places. And read an interview with Gibson, here, and on KXLF here. The Facebook page has many historic photos of Butte, and the Butte-Anaconda NHLD project showcases many historic buildings. Location-oriented posts can be found on HistoryPin. On Mondays beginning in January 2016, look for Gibson's "Mining City History" column in the Montana Standard.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cricket in Butte

By Richard I. Gibson

In 1902, Butte boasted two cricket clubs. Not associations of entomologists, but organizations devoted to the English national sport.

The Centerville Cricket Club was established in 1898 – and became state champions. The 30 members were captained by Dave Rundle, a miner who lived at 17 Lexington Terrace in Walkerville. Club President Thomas Scaddon lived at 123 East Center Street (a little cottage still standing) and worked for the T.J. Bennetts General Store that stood at the northwest corner of Center and Main Streets. T.J. Bennetts himself was the Vice President of the Cricket Club and lived at 1200 North Main.

Secretary-Treasurer William Whitford lived at 104 Missoula Street and co-managed the Whitford and Youlten Saloon at 966 North Main. The club was managed by John M. Spargo, another saloon manager (Tickell & Spargo, at 30 West Broadway, the Columbia Block – gone today, the lot where the western, 1-story part of the Piccadilly Transportation Museum is today). Spargo lived at #11 West Copper Alley (gone today, but his little house was just north of the Scott Block on West Copper).

The team practiced on a field in east Centerville, but in 1902 they had obtained permission from Jesse Wharton to use the ball park at Columbia Gardens when baseball games were not scheduled.

Apparently the Centerville team was undefeated in 1901. Helena, Great Falls, and Anaconda had cricket teams, and in 1902, the Centerville Cricket Team schedule included games in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Denver.

“A good cricket batter must be more scientific than a baseball batter.” —Anaconda Standard, May 25, 1902.

Butte’s cricket team in 1902 included Gerald Knott, Captain, a miner at the Steward who lived at 23 West Quartz, and William Argall, who worked at the Gagnon Mine and lived in the same boarding house on Quartz Street (the Maryland Block, which stood immediately west of the Fire Station, today’s Butte Archives).

A city-wide picnic organized by the Butte lodges of the Sons of St. George, at Mountain View Park in Anaconda, was highlighted by the “battle royal” between the Butte and Centerville Cricket Teams. The cricket match was followed by a tug-of-war between the two teams. Centerville “put it all over Butte” in both events. The cricket victory prize was a set of cricket bats and balls, and the tug-of-war victory gained the Centerville team 32 gallons of beer and 200 cigars. I wonder which prize they prized the most?

There was a frightening incident at the Sons of St. George Picnic when a woman participating in one of the “numerous” ladies’ races stumbled and fell, knocking herself out for a half hour. Once she was revived, she appeared to suffer no further “evil effects.” The picnic organizing committee was led by Chairman John Nance, a miner who lived at 943 Caledonia Street. The main Sons of St. George Hall was at 959½ North Main in Centerville. It was called the “Peace and Harmony Lodge” and met every Monday evening, with Joseph Richards as President in 1900. He was probably better known as Richards the Undertaker, with his funeral home at 140 West Park and his residence at 409 S. Montana.

The Sons (and Daughters) of St. George was an organization established in 1871 in Pennsylvania, set up to counter the attacks by the radical Irish Molly Maguires in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. The Sons of St. George evolved fairly quickly into a fraternal organization whose goal was to provide benefits to Englishmen and women in distress in America. In addition to social activities like the picnic in Anaconda in August 1902, they provided death and sick benefits to members. The organization was similar to others of the day in having passwords, secret signals, and fancy regalia.

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Resources: Butte Inter Mountain, Aug. 25, 1902; Anaconda Standard, May 25, 1902 (including photo of Spargo), April 19, 1903; 1900 City Directory; Sanborn Maps.

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