Dusting Off the Old Ones was published in 1961 by W. B. Clarke, Miles City, Montana.
Early Car License Plates
The first law enacted in Montana providing for the registration of motor vehicles was enacted by the l3th regular session of the Montana Legislature held during January and February, 1913. At this session Custer County was represented by O. C. Cato as Senator, and by Elmer Holt, W. H. Kelly and Frank D. O'Neil as Representatives. Parenthetically we might add that Custer County must have gone Democratic at the election held in November, 1912 as each of these gentlemen were members of that political faith. Under the provisions of the new act, in order to obtain a certificate of registration for a motor vehicle, it was necessary for the owner to file with the Secretary of State at Helena a written application, sworn to before a notary public, giving a brief description of the vehicle, including the name of the manufacturer, the manufacturer's number, the character of the motor power, and the amount of such motor power stated in figures of horsepower, together with the name and address of the owner and the name of the county in which he resided. Upon receipt of this application and a fee of $2.00, if the Secretary of State was satisfied that the statements contained in the application were correct, it was his duty to register such vehicle with the name and address of the owner and the facts stated in the application in a book or index to be kept for that purpose and to assign to the owner a distinctive number and registration mark for such vehicle to be displayed on the front and rear of the unit, securely fastened, so as not to swing. For the convenience of the public, it was also necessary that the Secretary of State submit to the county clerk of each county, once a month, a list of cars so registered, together with the names and addresses of the owners and the numbers assigned.

An inquiry addressed to the present Secretary of State as to who obtained the first certificate of registration under the first law brings the information that those records are not available now, but, undoubtedly it was issued to Edwin L. Norris (another Democrat), who was then Governor of Montana, as it was the custom during the first few years of the operation of the Registration Act that the Governor be issued Registration Plate No. 1. Remember, this law provided only for the registration of the automobile. There was another law passed at the same session of the legislature which provided for licensing of the vehicle and the fees therefor. These licenses were issued by the county treasurer, and the fees collected were divided between the general road fund of the county and the state highway fund.