Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
Cahn's Coulee
Practically all the small coulees and creeks in this vicinity have names. If one could run down the origin of those names, many interesting stories would be revealed. Take, for example, that little creek that runs into the Yellowstone from the east just a few miles this side of Terry. The Highway Department has made travel over, Montana highways more interesting by putting "name plates" on most of the bridges crossing streams, large or small. On the bridge over this coulee appears the name "Conn's Coulee." Although the name is misspelled, it nevertheless calls the traveler's attention to the fact that there must be a story connected with that particular coulee--and what a story! In the first place, we will get the spelling of the name cleared up--there is nothing more important than the correct spelling of names. The sign on the bridge spells it Conn--while the man for whom the coulee was named spelled his name Cahn. While the spelling is different--the pronunciation is the same. Morris Cahn was an early day merchant in Old Miles Town and in Miles City. He came up the Yellowstone on the steamer the F. Y. Batchelor, and his entry caused considerable excitement. The river boats in those days had a "landing" or "dock" at a point just about where an extension of Haynes Avenue to the north would hit the Yellowstone. As soon as the "Batchelor" had been moored on this particular trip, the gang plank was run out, and the passengers began coming ashore. The arrival of a steamboat in those days was quite an occasion, and there was usually a crowd on hand to look over the passengers and see what cargo was brought in. You can imagine the surprise of those rough and ready characters in the crowd when the hero of our story appeared on the gang plank, his head adorned with a high plug hat and in his hand carrying the case in which the hat reposed when not in use. The epithets that were hurled at him were not calculated to warm the heart of one who expected to become a resident of the commnunity. Notwithstanding this unusual reception accorded him at the steamboat landing, it was not long before Cahn had established himself in business in Miles City--his specialty being the buying of hides and selling of whiskey. In the operation of his business it was necessary that he make frequent trips to the eastern markets. And it was on one of those trips that the incident occurred, which caused the little creek this side of Terry to be called "Cahn's Coulee." It was also necessary that he establish a home for himself here in Miles City.

There is a little story connected with the establishment of that home that might be interesting, as showing the sagacity of our hero and how a hardware merchant outwitted him. The site chosen for the home was the present location of the Herb Abel home. On this tract of land, Cahn built quite a pretentious dwelling with a Mansard roof, which was quite a rarity in the community at that time. Any number of the older residents will remember this house, as it was occupied in later years by Joe Western, Milo Hill and Charlie Van Horn, in that sequence. Cahn had purchased special hardware from a local hardware merchant. He did not spare expense when it came to finishing the house, but did overlook the little item of paying for the hardware. The merchant, believing that Cahn would pay, let the time run out for protecting himself by filing a lien against the property. And so the bill stood until nearly a year afterwards, when something went wrong with a couple of the locks in the house and Cahn sent his repairman to the merchant for replacements, as the locks were special and this merchant was the only one handling that make locally. The merchant sold the locks to the repairman and talked him into letting the items be charged, thus reviving the lien. This was done immediately and the entire amount of the account was collected. But, then what has this to do with the naming of Cahn's Coulee?

As we have stated, it was necessary, in the operation of his business it was necessary that he make frequent trips to eastern markets. These trips had to be made by boat or by stage coach. As the steamboats could only navigate the Yellowstone when it was in its high water stage, it was necessary for Cahn to travel overland most of the time. On one of these occasions when Cahn was leaving for the east by the Bismarck stage, he carried with him, as was his custom, government checks and cash in a large amount to be paid to his eastern creditors. When the stage approached the little creek which is the subject of our story, a number of masked men appeared and ordered the driver to stop. These men relieved Cahn and other passengers of their cash--and that is how the little creek came to be known as Cahn's Coulee. The records show that a number of men were arrested and hauled into court, charged with the holdup, but the evidence was insufficient to hold any of them and they were turned loose. The record of that court hearing is now in the possession of the Montana Historical Library at Helena. There is a story to the effect that the loot was buried somewhere near the scene of the holdup. Whether there is any truth to the story or not is purely conjecture, but we do know that there are some folk who believe it and make periodical visits to that locality in an effort to locate it. So, the next time you drive to Terry and come to that little creek, just try to visualize an old stage coach lumbering eastward, a group of riders approaching from the south and east--the holdup and Mr. Cahn shelling out his cash--and there you have the story.