Out of the blue comes this diary entry:

“Fri. Feb. 17.

Poor old Volchavitch hung at 6:15 in the a.m.

I stamped a little dress over. And Ruth worked on a new cap for me.

In p.m. Ruth bathed & we just got cleaned up when Esther nelson came.  She stayed until about 4:30 then we went down town for our walk & got medicine for me & turpentine for Ruth’s side.

Nice warm day.  Snowed a little.”

It may have been modern 1922 with streetcars, movie theatres, and department stores — but this is a shade of the wild west I find chilling, as is our pregnant young diarist’s matter-of-fact description.

Who was poor old Volchavitch, and why did they hang him?  My first step was, of course to search the internet…first, his name was really Joe Vuckovich.  The historic records agree with our diarist; he was hanged on what became a nice warm day, Feb. 17.  Though I doubt it was very warm on those gallows in the pre-dawn blackness of the old jail yard in Montana winter.