George Huffaker was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1863 making him approximately 58 years of age at the time of his death. He moved to Helena around 1885 and married Miss Susan Kountz, daughter of the proprietor of the old Overland House. A young entrepreneur, he started a saw-milling operation and was awarded several government contracts. He also ran a livery for a few years and worked for the railroad earning his way up from brakeman to conductor. He served as the Helena Fire Chief from 1899-1902. He was appointed the Helena Postmaster in 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt and remained in that post until 1910. In 1916 he successfully made the race for the state assembly from Lewis & Clark County. He was first elected Sheriff in the November election of 1918 by one of the largest majorities, 1100 votes, in the history of county politics.
He was serving his second term as Sheriff at the time of his death, on Friday, July 8, 1921, at about 11:00 PM on Stemple Hill Road. Earlier in the day Sheriff Huffaker had been notified of three nurses stranded in Lincoln who had been camping in the area during the 4th of July celebration. The Sheriff responded traveling late into the night. While enroute back to Helena with his 3 passengers, they were traveling approximately 15 mph when the car drifted off the road and overturned. The Sheriff was hurled across the front passenger and partially ejected out the passenger side door. His head and neck were pinned under the passenger side door of the car and he died instantly.
Sheriff Huffaker was known as an exceedingly careful driver, especially when others were in the car. The investigation determined that the vehicle steering gear had failed. Sheriff Huffaker had remarked to his wife that morning that he thought his car was out of line and he was going to have it inspected at the first opportunity. Unfortunately he did not get that chance.
Sheriff Huffaker was praised by many throughout the community. He was known for his kindly nature, upright character, good heartedness and absolute honesty. He was a very efficient and capable officer, pleasant and accommodating to all. He was one of the best public officers Lewis and Clark County ever had. He was courteous and obliging and never since his tenure of office had he any complaint to make to the commissioners and was at all times on excellent terms with the board. He was a member of the Morning Star Lodge, No. 5, Algeria Shrine, and the Acacia Brotherhood, Helena Lodge No. 193, B.P.O.E., and the Knights of Pythias.
Sheriff Huffaker is buried in Forestvale Cemetery. For those wishing to pay tribute, the grave is located in the front section of the Ash Grove Extension. I am currently working to have Sheriff Huffaker’s service recognized by the Officer Down Memorial Page and have his name added to the Montana Law Enforcement Memorial at the State Capital.
Published in the Helena Daily Independent,