This blog is about the history of the Elg family, originating in Säfsnäs county, Sweden (note that there are several unrelated Elg families from Sweden). It is a complement to the family history website at http://web.telia.com/~u85435856/ , I intend to post new information - and questions - here, where you can get access to it before I have time to update the website.
When the beautiful young daughter of a Swedish
immigrant entered the rough and tumble of Capital City politics, the opposition
Frances C. Elge's political career has spanned a half
century — from her own campaign wars in Lewis and Clark County, her service as
secretary-treasurer for the first congresswoman, to her on-going fight for the
Equal Rights Amendment.
"Born a feminist," she will be back in
Helena if the 1981 Legislature attempts to rescind its ratification of the ERA.
And she will be right at home.
It was in Helena in 1932 when she entered politics.
With the ink still fresh on her license to practice
law, she ran for public administrator. Then, as now, it was a minor office, but
"Fran" Elge made national headlines when her probate of an old man's
estate uncovered a hoard of moldy bills in a tarpaper shack.
"An old man died in the county hospital and $750
in war bonds were found under his mattress," she recalled.
" I went to his home, a tarpaper shack, and a
neighbor warned me not to go inside. She said I would find the place crawling
Public Administrator Elge padlocked the door, waited
for a killing frost and then entered to find $5,000 in an old bread wrapper.
The story made the national news wires and Fran was
flooded with letters from heirs and pretenders from across the nation.
She also shared the national limelight as a defense
counsel in the famous Baldwin Radio Mail Fraud case. The case involved a stock
promotion, the inventor of the Baldwin headset, and a number of salesmen.
Also on the defense team was Sam Ford, a former state
Supreme Court Justice and a future Montana governor.
The young lawyer was in good company when she lost
after the case went all way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Nor was it a disgrace to lose to the man acting as
prosecutor: Wellington Duncan Rankin, the state's most noted lawyer, largest
individual landowner and perhaps Montana's richest man.
”W.D.” as he was known was young Elge's friend and
mentor. His sister, former Congresswoman Jeanette Rankin would become an Elge
inspiration and cause.
It was on "W.D's" urging that Fran ran for
the county attorney's post in Lewis and Clark County.
That's when the opposition screamed, ”Rape!”
It was clearly a sexist campaign tactic. In those days
women were not allowed to sit on Montana juries. "Women were not supposed
to be exposed to the lurid testimony of the courtroom," Fran explained.
Her opponent was Undersheriff Walter Nylan, who had
been admitted to the bar but had let his license lapse 10 years earlier.
Nylan backers asked, "Do you want to put a woman
in the position of prosecuting rapists?"
Before the election, the number of statutory rape
cases on the docket began to accumulate, reaching an even dozen before the
with a newspaper ad which included the endorsement of a number of the state's
most respected lawyers.
"It was plain, I was better qualified," she
said. The voters in 1934 agreed.
She clearly was the best looking prosecutor in
In two years,
she only lost one case.
You guessed it. The defense attorney was the man who
lent her lawbooks to begin her career - W.D. Rankin.
"It was a murder case," she recalled.
"There had been a highway accident and a woman shot the man who caused
At the coronor's inquest, the sheriff reported she had
"I shot him and I hope I killed him."
It appeared to be a solid case, but between arrest and
trial a few things happened.
First, the sheriff became smitten by his prisoner. The
prisoner hired W.D. Rankin and Rankin evolved a couple of new angles.
The sheriff - now a prisoner of love - testified,
"She might have said, 'I shot him and I hope I didn't kill him."
In the closing arguments, W.D. told the jury his
client was pregnant. "You wouldn't want the baby to be born in
prison," he said.
The woman was acquitted.
She never had a baby.
And the sheriff insisted he wasn't the fatter.
But prosecutor Elge had a few angles of her own.
When Kid Jackson, a former boxing champion, sauntered
into the "Bucket of Blood" and shot owner Johnny Philips, Fran scrambled
to find witnesses.
She found Alice Shahaha, a Yakima Indian, who
enterprized as a roller of sheepherders and "lady of easy access," in
the mental hospital at Warm Springs.
Alice had been sent there by Billings Police on a
trumped-up-charge of drug use, Fran recalled.
The prosecutor knew Alice was straight because months
earlier Ms. Shahaha and one of her "sisters of the night" had come to
Fran's office to ask for a jail term to kick their narcotics habits. Fran
obliged with 30 days for vagrancy and watched the pair gain weight as their
earnings began to go for food instead of into their pusher's pocket.
Alice was given the full treatment at a beauty salon
before taking the stand. She made an excellent witness.
A second prostitute took the stand wearing fine white
gloves. She, too, gave credible testimony. Fran was grateful - grateful that
the gloves she had given the witness hid the needle tracks on her hands.
Justice prevailed and Kid Jackson was convicted.
Justice took various forms during her tenure as
When a 70-year-old woman was brought in on a
shoplifting charge, the Sheriff asked, "What are you going to do with
Fran replied, "I'm going to give her a talking-to
and turn her loose."
The sheriff, who profited from feeding prisoners, left
muttering, "She ought to be taught a lesson."
Fran said, "If she hasn't learned by now, she
isn't going to."
Juveniles were lectured on Saturdays and their parents
made to pay for their vandalism. "I never sent a kid to reform school,"
In 1939, Fran was lobbying the state Legislature for
the passage of the Women's Jury Service Act.
As county attorney, she had faced only all-male
juries. ("Of course," she said, "that inurred to my
In the course of the battle, she enlisted the aid of
FDR's Butte campaign manager, a woman with political savvy and clout who lined
up a labor-farmers union coalition in support of the bill.
After the bill had passed and women became peers
sitting in judgment, Fran was in the presence of two judges when one turned to
the other and said, "Say, Judge Downey at Butte has ladies on his jury.
"And do you know, they are showing 'remarkable
Fran Elge, considered a lawyer, not a woman, by her
collegues, never batted an eye.
In 1940, she became Jeanette Rankin's campaign
Rep. Rankin was the first women to be elected in 1916
to the U.S. House of Representatives. She lost her bid for reelection when she
was one of only a few to vote against America's entry into World War I.
The war machines were loose again in Europe when Miss
Rankin took the the campaign trail in 1940.
Fran served as ghost writer for pro-Rankin articles
that appeared in the Montana Catholic Register. Rankin's opponent was Catholic
but in trouble with his constituents over a bad debt at Carroll College.
"We carried the Catholic vote," Fran
recalled, "although Jeanette was probably not Catholic."
Congresswoman Rankin returned to Washington. The
Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and she stood alone opposing the U.S.'s entry into
World War II. That vote cost her a career.
Fran left Montana for Washington as Jeanette's
administrative assistant and later held "a number of very good jobs,"
including a post on the Admiralty Claims and Litigation staff of the Maritime
In the nation's capital she met the same sexual
discrimination she had first encountered in her race for county attorney.
She used "political connections" to fight
discrimination and resented having to do so. "Being better qualified than
the men I served with should have been enough."
In 1954, she returned to Montana and served as an
administrative law judge for the Department of the Interior in Billings until
her retirement in 1970.
She was back in Helena in 1971, lobbying for feminist
On the list was the repeal of a law that made it
illegal for women to work more than 8 hours a day - a law that gave employers a
handy excuse not to hire women.
A second law which banned discrimination on the basis
of race, color or creed was amended to bar discrimination on the basis of sex
But a third piece of legislation in the package, Fran
Feminists were being smeared as "a league of baby
killers" and Fran refused to dilute her influence by taking a stand on an
A charter member of the Montana Council for the Equal
Rights Amendment Ratification, she has testified at every legislative hearing
considering adoption or rescission of the ERA.
"And I will continue to testify at every hearing,"
Anyone attempting to debate the ERA with Fran will
find her dipping into her purse for a card that carries the full text of the
amendment in three paragraphs.
"That's what it says. And that's all it
says," she will tell them.
However, a 10-year research project involving both historians, metallurgists and archaeologists has now overturned this view. The study has shown that blast furnaces were in use in Sweden as early as the 11th Century, and since these are the earliest findings of this kind, it is not unlikely that the technology was in fact developed here.
And the Swedish tradition of exporting high quality iron and steel started already with the vikings, as production capacity exceeded what the local market needed.
The study, Bengt Berglund et al "Järnet och Sveriges medeltida modernisering" (Iron and the medieval modernization of Sweden), is currently only available in Swedish, and has been published by Jernkontoret, the Swedish Steelmaking Industry Association, an institution which itself dates back to 1747.
across this notice while searching the digital newpaper archives of The Library of
Congress ( http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
).The loss to Mr Elg of USD 1500 translates
to at least 36 900 USD today – or as much as 1.6 MUSD, depending on the
method used to compute the current value. For the complexities of understanding the historic value of money,