March 26, 1996 in Nation/World

Town Sees Radical Boon To Business Influx Of Freemen Brings Profits To Quiet Montana Community

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Montana freemen are a headache for law enforcement, but they’ve been an economic boon for some in this town of 500 people.

The ranching community on the wind-swept flatlands of northeastern Montana attracts few visitors, except some hearty hunters and snowmobilers.

But in recent months, the town’s aging Garfield Hotel has been booked full of freemen followers attending training sessions 30 miles away at Justus Township.

“There are license plates here from every state you can imagine,” said Garfield County Prosecutor Nick Murnion.

This in a county nearly the size of Connecticut but with only 1,500 people.

After studying common law and constitutional theory at township headquarters, the trainees return to Jordan for food and lodging.

The hotel owner didn’t want to give his name or talk about the guests who visit the freemen. But he said their stays are good for business.

The recruits shop in the only grocery store in town - directly across the street from three adjoining storefronts: the taxidermist’s, the funeral home and the Chamber of Commerce.

At the bank, tellers pay close attention to strangers who cash traveler’s checks. They are careful not to accept the checks issued by the freemen.

There are a couple of taverns, including the Hell Creek Bar, where the owner said the Justus visitors have a minimal impact on her business.

The story’s different at the only restaurant in town, Q-D’s Cafe, where more deer heads and a stuffed fish stare down at diners.

“They’re big eaters and we like to see them in here,” said a waitress. “They don’t cause any trouble in here, but they also don’t leave big tips.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo


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