Thursday, April 18, 2024

Time Capsule: Now there was a fight – er, dance

Reporter | February 15, 2024 12:00 AM

Mission Valley News, Feb. 7, 1979

Early Days: Now there was a fight – er, dance

By Miss Beaver

Oh, the dances they had up Valley Creek!

The Morins, Morigeaus, Hansens, and Whites had come as homesteaders. Their homes were scattered up Valley Creek. All week every member of the family worked hard, putting up buildings, tilling the virgin soil, fulfilling the requirements of the Homestead Act.

Money was scarce, not only up Valley Creek, but all over the country. They worked long and hard, not an eight-hour day but from sunup to sunset. Think of working those hours for a dollar a day and board. 

Walter Morigeau bought a farm, 40 acres, working for Arthur Morin for a dollar a day. You seldom dealt in hard cash. The housewife sold butter and eggs for any necessary item at the grocer’s. The farmer traded produce and livestock. 

The Morins got a John Deere tractor in exchange for cows and horses. 

Money was scarce but that didn’t stop the Saturday night dances held in each other’s house or barn. 

This particular dance was held in a kitchen that had a woodshed opening off it. Everybody went – the four Morigeau boys: Octave, Eli, John and Mike. The four young Morin boys attended, Bert, Steve and Arthur were married while young Walter was courting a pretty girl who was at the dance.

Valley creek homesteads were on the newly-opened Flathead Indian Reservation and therefore no liquor was allowed. However, what is a dance without a drink and that night the moonshine came in, over the hills from Frenchtown, and was stashed in the woodshed. Some claim it was bad liquor; others admit that it was unusually potent.

As the dancers grew warm from the Schottisches and square dances, they took a drink and drifted outside to cool off. Someone (it was thought it was a Morigeau boy) made a remark about Walter Morin’s girl. 

Instantly a fight was on. At first just the two were involved. But as the crowd came to see, they each grabbed a stick of wood as they came out the door. 

There were no rules, at first fists and feet were used. Then sticks and clubs began to fly. Everyone was beating on someone, why they did not know. 

Bert Morin seemed to be losing out, and full of moonshine, he grabbed a long pole and made a clean sweep through the crowd knocking everyone down.

Bert won the fight but he had lost an eye, perhaps from that fence post that someone used as a weapon. Arthur had a broken finger and Steve was stunned by a blow on the neck. 

The injuries on the other side were not remembered. 

The pretty girl’s honor had been defended and by the next Saturday night dance, all were laughing and describing the feats they had performed during the fight.