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Virginia City in Madison County, Montana — The American West (Mountains)
 

Fight of the Century and Flour Riots

 
 
Fight of the Century and Flour Riots Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 17, 2016
1. Fight of the Century and Flour Riots Marker
Inscription.
J. A. Nelson built Leviathan Hall in 1863 with a "special view to the development of muscular talent." Torn down just five years later in 1868, the hall dominated Wallace Street with its impressive 28 feet wide and 100 feet long footprint.

On January 2, 1865 saloon owner Con Orem, age 29, the son of an Ohio blacksmith and veteran prizefighter, faced Hugh O'Neil, age 34, a native of Ireland, a well known miner and whiskey drinking, barroom brawler. All respectable saloons in Virginia City sold reserved seat tickets at ten dollars, while pit seats were only five. At the end of Round 185, O'Neil knocked down Orem and Nelson, the referee, called the fight a draw, much to the dismay of all in attendance.

Later in 1865, Leviathan Hall again played a role in the community as a storage vault for precious flour. Snow had closed all transportation routes to Virginia City, literally cutting the town off from the rest of the world, which severely limited storekeeper's offerings as well as household supplies. As the winter wore on and flour levels dropped, local anxiety rose along with the price of flour. By March 1865, flour sold for $1.50 per pound in Virginia City, more than twenty times the price in the rest of the country.

As spring arrived, the passes and roads remained snow-clogged and tension
Fight of the Century and Flour Riots Marker (<i>tall view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 17, 2016
2. Fight of the Century and Flour Riots Marker (tall view)
continued to mount. Sheriff Neil Howie, aided by the Vigilance Committee, supervised the first organized flour riot, when 438 people marched into Virginia City residences and confiscated all the flour they could find. They did not balk at entering private homes, searching Colonel Wilbur Fisk Sanders' home, once when Mrs. Harriet Sanders was home, and again when she was in town attempting to buy the much sought-after flour. The rioters searched the home of Mary Sheehan as well, but to no avail – her mother hid the flour at the bottom of a bin of beans. The presence of beans does indicate that starvation was not imminent and beef was still plentiful as well. Ultimately, the rioters rounded up over eighty sacks of flour, stockpiling them Leviathan Hall and later redistributed the flour to the town's residents.

The present-day log house was built by Julius Kohl about 1815. "Aunt” Julia Elledge, daughter of Lucien Romey, a Virginia City pioneer, lived there from the 1920s to 1950's.
 
Location. 45° 17.584′ N, 111° 56.91′ W. Marker is in Virginia City, Montana, in Madison County. Marker is on Wallace Street (State Highway 287) east of Main Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is a composite plaque, mounted on a waist-high post, located beside the sidewalk (boardwalk) and just inside the fence west of the Dance and Stuart Store. Marker is in this post office area: Virginia City MT 59755, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dance and Stuart Store (within shouting distance of this marker); Smith & Boyd Livery Stable (within shouting distance of this marker); J.F. Stoer Saloon (within shouting distance of this marker); Sauerbier Blacksmith Shop (within shouting distance of this marker); Green Front Boarding House (within shouting distance of this marker); Frank Prasch Blacksmith Shop (within shouting distance of this marker); Kramer Building (within shouting distance of this marker); S.L. Simpson Building (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Virginia City.
 
Also see . . .
1. '185 Rounds In 185 Minutes': The Bare Knuckle Fight That Made History.
Finally, after OíNeil dominated the 180th through the 185th rounds, but didnít have enough left in the tank to put Orem down, the men who were attending to the fighters had had enough. Ring money divided. Wagers returned. Everyone was happy except for the two men who endured 185 rounds without a winner. Con Orem seems to have come out of it OK. An ad in the following week's Montana Post reminded residents of Virginia City that Orem, owner of the Champion Saloon, was offering "private lessons in boxing and sparring once a week." Hugh O'Neil wasn't as fortunate. A notice in that same issue announced that his friends were planning a benefit in his honor. (Submitted on May 4, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Aunt Julia's.
Aunt Julia's was built on the site of the Leviathan Hall, which was built in 1863, and torn down in 1868. The Leviathan Hall was appropriately named because of its enormous size 28 by 100 feet this was a large building, which hosted many events. By 1875 the Leviathan Hall was gone and the site was occupied by a small one-story building. The present-day log house was built by Julius Kohl in about 1875 and was used as a carpenter shop and house. Kohl lived here until around 1920. (Submitted on May 4, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Historic Bread Riot in Virginia City.
This link presents a research paper detailing all the issues and events of the 1865 Flour Riot. (Submitted on May 4, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
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Credits. This page was last revised on May 5, 2018. This page originally submitted on May 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 55 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on May 3, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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