October 12, 2017

The Green Paradise of William A. Clark III

by Kelly Burton, Film Archivist

cover page of Our Last Frontier, SC 993

title card for Green Paradise, PAc 2017-56

It is always rewarding to piece together a historical narrative that spans various formats and collections within the archives, and such is the case with a 1931 camping trip taken by William A. Clark III into the wilderness of western Montana. As the namesake and entrepreneurial grandson of the famous copper magnate, the 28-year-old Clark not only had the means with which to generously outfit his month-long excursion, but also the materials needed to document the outing in detail. A 60-page manuscript chronicling the trip arrived at the Montana Historical Society in 1949 under the title Our Last Frontier, with eleven still photographs serving to illustrate the outdoor activities of Clark and his camping party. Six unidentified home movie reels were brought to the Historical Society by a separate donor in 1976, and title cards from one of these films have recently allowed us to match them with the Clark writings and photographs from 1931. Named Green Paradise: The Story of a Camping Trip by their creator, the film reels serve as a wonderful complement to the Our Last Frontier materials and provide us with a unique viewpoint concerning the Clark family story.

The Rovero brothers flanking Gene Kelly
"Repacking Supplies at Danaher Camp", PAc 77-17
Gene Kelly, "A Native Trout from the Sun River", PAc 77-17
In the first paragraph of the manuscript, Clark states three reasons for his lengthy trip to the wilderness: “One was the fact that I had become greatly interested in colored motion picture photography, another than I had just planned to pass two years in Arizona, and the third was that I felt the need of a trip into the woods. The last reason, a manifestation of relish for the wilderness, can better be understood by those who have been intimately associated with the mountain trail and the camp fire.” (3) In addition to the companionship of his attorney, friend, and previous camping partner E.J. (Gene) Kelly, Clark also procured the assistance of brothers’ Pete and Dennis Rovero, who would in turn “buy twelve head of pack horses and four saddle horses, as well as the necessaries to establish a base of supplies at White River.” (4) As the cards from the titled motion picture boast, these four men ultimately “covered 300 miles in 31 days, established 15 camps, forded many streams and rivers, and crossed the Continental Divide four times.” The motion picture films, still photographs, and written words all serve to document the following locations within western Montana and what is now known as the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area: Chinese Wall, Kootenai Mountains, Morrell Falls, Cottonwood Lake, South Fork Flathead River, Sun River, Twin Peaks, Big Salmon Lake, McDonald Peak, and Holland Lake.

"Bull Elk with Horns in Velvet", PAc 77-17

fording the Sun River, from Green Paradise, PAc 2017-56
Of the six film reels donated to the Historical Society, we find one edited product with title cards accompanied by five reels of additional footage. Though the manuscript does not always differentiate between the taking of still photographs and moving images, Clark does make direct references to the shooting of motion picture film on a few occasions: “The purpose of the trip would be to photograph in natural colors the scenic beauty of the country we had in the past covered by trail, and the attempt to again photograph the wild game of this section of Montana. Since the film was not to be for commercial exhibition but rather for our own use we decided to use the Eastman sixteen millimeter Kodacolor camera.” (3) The film on all six reels is in fact 1931 Kodacolor stock, so it’s unclear as to why the images appear in black and white rather than in color.
at the Chinese Wall, from Green Paradise, PAc 2017-56
At another point in his writings, Clark describes a failed attempt at capturing moving images of an elk: “The first morning we were honored by a not unwelcome visitor – a bull elk that strolled boldly into camp just at daybreak. He awoke us all with his seemingly annoyed stomping, probably occasioned by the total lack of ceremonial greeting to which so eminent a member of forest nobility is entitled, and remained inquiringly within fifty yards of camp until the sun came over the hill when he reluctantly and with many backward glances at us returned to the brush. We took some excellent still pictures of him but unfortunately were unable, due to the dim light, to ‘feature’ him in any motion pictures.” (37) Rectification of this missed opportunity can be found near the end of the narrative, and Clark states that “to this time we had recorded only about fifty feet of the animals, but Dame Fortune favored me most generously at this last attempt.” (53-54) While this elk footage did not make Clark’s edited version of the home movie, these images can be found on the outtake reels.

the final page of Our Last Frontier, SC 993

The two sentences that comprise the final page of Clark’s memoir speak of the group’s reluctance to leave the Montana wilderness at the end of the trip: “The next morning it was all too apparent that the end of our trail was in sight. We dawdled about camp as long as we dared, changing packs here, splicing ropes there, taking pictures of scenes that we had taken the afternoon before just to procrastinate the longer, but we finally made a most reluctant start and by three o’clock that afternoon we arrived at the Holland Lake Lodge and – well – the trip was over.” (60) The melancholy of this sentiment is punctuated by the fact that William A. Clark III died less than a year after these documents were created, making this perhaps his final trip to the Montana wilderness. An aviator, Clark died in an airplane crash on May 15, 1932 outside of Clarkdale, Arizona – the company smelter town founded in 1912 by his industrious grandfather.

William A. Clark III, from Green Paradise, PAc 2017-56

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: Original Governor's Mansion

The first two governors of the State of Montana, Joseph Toole and Edwin Norris, lived in their own homes while serving. When Samuel Stewart, who was from Virginia City, was elected, the state legislature appropriated funds to purchase and maintain a furnished home in Helena, where the governor and his family would live and host receptions for dignitaries.

Key dates

1888—William A. Chessman builds a residence at 304 N. Ewing for his own use.
1913—The state buys the Chessman home to serve as the executive mansion.
1913-1959—Nine governors and their families reside in the mansion.
1959—Governor Hugo Aaronson moves to the new governor’s mansion at 2 Carson Street.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: governor’s mansion, executive mansion, chessman, helena.

Written by Catherine W. Ockey

September 28, 2017

Montana in the Green Book

by Kate Hampton, Community Preservation Coordinator

Placer Hotel Construction, Helena, Montana, December 9, 1912.
Catalog #953-553
Between 1936 and 1967, Victor H. Green & Company published The Negro Motorist Green Book, which offered listings of lodgings, restaurants, service stations, and recreation opportunities for African American travelers. The first two issues – 1936 and 1937 – limited listings to New York state. By 1939, however, the book aided travelers in places across the country. That year, the only Montana entry was that of Mrs. M. Stitt at 204 South Park in Helena, whose two-story boarding house offered “tourist home” accommodations. Mrs. Stitt died in 1939, but her family continued to advertise under her name in the Green Book through 1951. In 1956 and 1957, through the last issue in mid-1960s, more Montana lodgings advertised in the Green Book, including places in Billings, Butte, Livingston, Missoula, and East Glacier. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, at least in theory, made the Green Book unnecessary, and publication ended shortly thereafter. 

Follow this link to a map that includes information about each of the Montana establishments listed in the Green Book.

For a spreadsheet of Montana listings in the Green Book, click here.

September 21, 2017

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: University of Montana's founding

As soon as Montana became a state in 1889, the legislature set out to establish a state university. Missoula city leaders gave up a bid to become the state capital in exchange for becoming the site of the university.

Key dates

February 1893—After a debate over whether existing colleges should be consolidated, Missoula was appointed as the location for the University of Montana.
September 1895—Classes begin with an initial enrollment of nearly 100.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for these terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: university, oscar j. craig

September 14, 2017

Home Movies: Both Common and Distinct Documents

by Kelly Burton, Film Archivist

While home movie collections in general have become a ubiquitous feature of the twenty-first century moving image archives, it is important to remember that the individual films which constitute such collections often exist as unique historical documents. Films of this type are most frequently created for personal use rather than broader public exhibition, so there is typically little concern when it comes to reproduction or duplication on the part of their creators. As potentially one-of-a-kind items within the historical record, the value of home movies to an archives – particularly facilities that focus on regional history – cannot be understated. Few names from Montana’s past carry the historical weight of copper magnate Marcus Daly, and the eleven film reels that constitute the Daly Family home movie collection provide us with a fascinating view of European opulence as viewed through the prism of Montana mining culture.

Though the patriarch passed away a full two decades before his family’s home movies were created, Marcus Daly’s legacy of hard-won wealth is evident in the stark contrast between the lavishness of the Daly Mansion and its rugged backdrop. The western Montana town of Hamilton was founded by Marcus Daly himself as a hub of business, and the frequently-remodeled mansion on the Daly property – a homestead purchased in 1886 – served as the most prominent structure in the otherwise rural area. Daly’s widow was largely responsible for incorporating the previous Queen Anne style into the newer Colonial Revival style by 1910, and this is the version of the mansion shown in the family’s films. The home movies themselves contain various family members and guests enjoying the amenities of the grounds, with one film canister label even listing aged Daly rival William A. Clark and his wife among those present.

The Daly Family home movie collection
PAc 97-56

The films in the Daly Family collection date from 1919 to 1921, and the very act of owning a personal motion picture camera at this point in the medium’s evolution displays an affluence that is mirrored in the images themselves. Several guests to the home arrive in automobiles, which would have been an equally rare possession. Lighting would have made the filming of interiors difficult, so all scenes are of recreational activities on the European-style grounds of the Daly Mansion. Activities in the films include: boating, duck hunting, tea parties by the pergola, horseback riding, swimming in the mansion’s pool, driving go-karts, and hitting golf balls off the home’s front drive on the Fourth of July. The camera also turns to the area surrounding Hamilton itself, with special attention given to the mountains that border the town’s west side.

Lele Von Harrenreich Daly teeing off at the Mansion, July 4, 1921

The home movies left by the Daly Family become still more unusual when we consider the materials with which they were created, specifically the gauge of the film itself. Looking for a smaller and less flammable alternative to 35mm nitrate motion picture stock, French company Pathé Frères introduced 28mm diacetate to the upscale home market in France in 1912 and the United States the following year under the name American Pathéscope. Though World War I brought a swift end to 28mm film production in Europe, the stock continued to thrive in the United States until the advent of still smaller gauges such as Pathé’s 9.5mm gauge and Kodak’s 16mm gauge in 1923. Kodak eventually bought American Pathéscope’s film stock factory in 1926, which brought an end to the business in the United States. Just over 100 of the 190,000 film and video assets currently held at the Academy Film Archive are 28mm, which testifies to relative rarity of the gauge itself.

Pre-printed Pathéscope film leader from the Daly Family reels, circa 1920.

The Daly Family home movie collection was donated to the Montana Historical Society by Francis B. Bessenyey, a step-great-grandson of Marcus Daly, in 1997 (collection PAc 97-56). A VHS transfer of excerpts from the films was also donated, and is available for viewing in the Historical Society’s Research Center.

August 24, 2017

L.A. Huffman: Photography in Motion

by Barbara Pepper-Rotness, Library Technician

L.A. Huffman on Horseback, [1879-1930]
MHS Photo Archives # 981-929

Much has been written about frontier photographer, Laton Alton Huffman, and those writings provide an indispensable view of this prolific man, who saw “an opportunity to record a disappearing era [and] made both beautiful and historic photographs.” [1] He could capture the harsh beauty and expansiveness of the plains in a way that was expressive and seemingly three-dimensional. Additionally, he recorded, through his pen and his camera, meticulous details about life in eastern Montana during the late 1800s-early 1900s, some of his best being those of early frontier cowboys and their ways. And, he was rather poetic in the telling, as in this statement - printed on many catalog brochures - of his own work.

“Kind fate had it I should be Post Photographer with the Army during the Indian Campaigns, following annihilation of Custer’s command. Round-about us in this Yellowstone Big Horn land, unpenned of wire, unspoiled by railway, dam or ditch, un-kodaked, hunters, Red and White, exterminated, for robes and tongues, the last great herds of Buffalo on this continent. With crude home-made Cameras, from saddle and in log shack, I saved something – built better than I knew.” [2]

Killing Cows and Spikes on the Snow, near Cohagen, 1880.
MHS Photo Archives Catalog # 981-699 

When he arrived at Fort Keogh for work in the winter of 1879/1880, L.A. Huffman set up shop in the log cabin provided to him in lieu of a paycheck and quickly established himself as a participant, not just an observer, of life on the short-grass plains. And by doing so, he understood the beauty, along with the hardships, of living in this vast, remote land.

Corner of my old log studio at Fort Keogh, 1879.
MHS Photo Archives Catalog # 981-139.

“From where I lay, through the wide-open door, I looked long at those eternal, turreted, cold, moonlit Western hills; outlined against them stood, saddled and picketed, sentinel like, the wrangler's gray night horse, listening too to the myriad voices of the night that unfailingly come to the senses once a camp is stilled. I wondered, as I had a thousand times in years that are gone, when, by some dying campfire I drowsed, up-gazing into the always new, yet changeless star-studded, glittering vastness, what the indescribable charm of this life was, that one failed always to put into speech.” [3]

But, he didn’t need to speak his observations, he had a camera to record those. In addition to his great skill in doing so, though, he was a prolific writer, corresponding frequently with his father; taking copious notes to go along with his photographic output; and publishing articles, such as this one for Scribner's Magazine.

When he wrote to his father, who was a photographer himself, Huffman often included samples of his work. “Please notice when you get the specimens that they were made with the lens wide open and many of the best exposed when my horse was in motion.” [4]

Roping a wild horse, 1904.
MHS Photo Archives Catalog # 981-505.
Bucked Off, [1879-1903].
MHS Photo Archives Catalog # 981-583

Not only was he in the saddle of a horse juggling heavy photographic equipment, he was able to capture cowboys in the midst of their fast-moving physical feats: at the moment a rope swirls just over the head of a horse before dropping around it; or, just as a bronco in mid-buck releases its rider. Even in those situations that appear staid, there is a sense of movement, of something more about to happen. It’s ironic that he signed letters to his father, Late (short for Laton) as he seemed to have perfect timing when it came to his photography. He was patient enough to capture and document those activities which required good timing themselves. He wasn’t often late.

“I am as ever Late” from MHS Archives Small Collection 1702, Box 1

You can browse the Montana Historical Society Photo Archives’ L.A. Huffman images on the Montana Memory Project.

[1] L.A. Huffman: Pioneer Photographer. intro. by Donna M. Forbes, essay by Terry Karson. (Billings, MT: Yellowstone Art Museum, 1990), 3. 
[2] Copy of catalog brochure. L.A. Huffman MHS vertical file. 
[3] L. A. Huffman. “The Last Busting at the Bow-Gun.” Scribner’s Magazine 42 (1907): 78.
[4] L.A. Huffman to P.C. Huffman. 7 June 1885. Small Collection 1702, Folder 1. L.A. Huffman Papers. Montana Historical Society Archives. 

Allen, Gene and Bev. The Collotypes of L.A. Huffman: Montana Frontier Photographer. Helena, MT: Gene and Bev Allen, 2014. 
Brown, Mark H. and W. R. Felton. Before Barbed Wire: L. A. Huffman, Photographer on Horseback. 1st ed. New York: Holt, 1956. 
Brown, Mark H. and W. R. Felton. The Frontier Years: L. A. Huffman, Photographer of the Plains. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995. 
Huffman, L.A. “The Last Busting at the Bow-Gun.” Scribner’s Magazine 42 (1907): 75-87. 
L. A. Huffman: Pioneer Photographer. Intro. By Donna M. Forbes. Essay by Terry Karson. Billings, MT: Yellowstone Art Museum, 1990.
Peterson, Larry Len. L.A. Huffman: Photographer of the American West. 2nd ed. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company, 2013.

August 17, 2017

EXTRA! Montana Newspaper Stories 1864-1922: The Capitol Building

After Helena won the popular vote to be the capital city of the new state of Montana, lawmakers immediately created a capital commission to oversee the construction of a building to house state government. Amid scandal, the original commission and the architect were dismissed, but a new commission soon contracted with different architects, and the completed building was dedicated on July 4, 1902. Two additional wings, to the east and the west, were completed ten years later.

Key dates

1895—Capitol Commission is appointed.
1897—Contract for building the capitol is awarded to Charles E. Bell and John H. Kent.
1902—Montana State Capitol dedicated.
1909—Legislature authorizes addition of east and west wings.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: montana capitol building, capitol commission, george r mann, bell and kent, capitol wings

Written by Catherine W. Ockey

August 11, 2017

Trials of a Prairie Photographer

By Christopher Gray, Digital Projects Intern

Evelyn Cameron’s photography was born from necessity and love for the art. The Camerons were frequently out of cash, so Evelyn sold vegetables, hosted boarders, and took up photography to supplement what little income they had.

Living on a ranch, Evelyn was no stranger to hard work. Photography in the 1890s and early 20th century was a demanding and tricky endeavor, so adding the business of making photographs to her daily routine would have taken a great deal of energy and motivation.

Though photography was rapidly becoming more accessible to the public, it had not reached the level of efficiency it has today. Evelyn had only what was technologically available in Montana at the turn of the last century. Living on the prairie, her options were further limited to whatever mail-order equipment she could afford. Despite these limitations, Evelyn managed to excel at her work.

Some of the other difficulties she faced included a camera with slow shutter speeds [1] and photographic plates that weren’t very light-sensitive.

Catalog # PAc 90-87.G002-016
“Mary Phillips, May 4th, 1905.”
Photograph by Evelyn Cameron

For example, this picture, taken with a 5x7 Kodak in 1905, illustrates how Evelyn worked within those technical limits. She wrote her camera settings for this picture in her diary, noting a shutter speed of 1/5 of a second and an aperture of f32—slow shutter, small aperture [2]. These settings were necessitated by the slowness of the plate (about ISO 5 or 10) and Evelyn’s aesthetic preference [3]. She preferred well-defined backgrounds for her pictures, and a small aperture allowed that. 

Slow shutter speeds are no nuisance if the subject is stationary, the camera is mounted on a tripod, and the wind is calm. However, Evelyn’s subjects and the prairie wind were seldom still. 

Catalog #PAc 90-87.G003-002
“Cat sitting in hole in rock. 1900”
Photograph by Evelyn Cameron

Cats especially fall into the “seldom still” category. Pet photography is best done with a fast shutter speed, but here Evelyn used a slow shutter speed and a small aperture (perhaps out of habit). That the cat, Patchy, stayed still for this picture seems like a miracle. However, that Patchy appears unblurred in a handful of other photos suggests the cat was a more agreeable model than most. 

Catalog #PAc 90-87.G059-011
“[[Railroad crew on handcar]. 
[Five railroad workers standing on handcar.] [ca. 1910]”
Photograph by Evelyn Cameron

This photo of Northern Pacific workmen on a handcar may look ordinary for a moment, but its odd nature soon becomes apparent. Evelyn took two images on the same plate, most likely by accident. Looking closely, it seems she took one picture without the workmen and one with them. Note how the man on the far right looks translucent!

Catalog # PAc 90-87.NB067K
“[Family on parsonage porch, Marsh, Montana]. 
At the Lutheran Church parsonage. July 25, 1920”
Photograph by Evelyn Cameron

Finally, some unintentional elements in a photo can actually improve it. This would be a normal, staid family photo were it not for the mischievous young’un peering from behind the screen door. This may have gone unnoticed by Evelyn as she took the picture, but given her sense of humor she probably knew the girl was there and proceeded anyway.

[1] Only until late 1905, when she received a more advanced camera.
[2] Cameron diary, 7 May 1905
[3] Cameron diary, 27 June 1904

August 1, 2017

Remembering Frank Little

by Rich Aarstad, Senior Archivist, and Martha Kohl, Historical Specialist

Slain by capitalist interests for organizing his fellow men
This epithet appears on Frank Little’s headstone in the Mountain View Cemetery of Butte, MT. 

Portrait, Frank Little, 1910s
Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

A top field organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World (the IWW, or the Wobblies), Frank Little stepped gingerly from the train in Butte on July 20, 1917, still bearing marks of a beating he took while agitating on behalf of striking copper miners in Bisbee, AZ. Life as the Wobblies top field organizer had few perks and more than a bit of personal risk.  Like a prophet from the Old Testament, Frank wandered the West from one labor hotspot to another, preaching the gospel of the One Big Union.  His mission was simple: affiliate the Metal Mine Workers’ Union with the IWW and force the company officials running the Anaconda Company from the sixth floor of the Hennessy Building “’down below with a muckstick.’”

When Little arrived in Butte, the mining city was in the midst of a general strike. Three months earlier, the U.S. had entered World War I. A month earlier, on June 5, miners rioted, protesting the implementation of a compulsory draft. Then, on June 8, a fire in the Granite Mountain/Speculator mine claimed the lives of 165 miners. Workers were demanding safer working conditions and higher wages. The state had responded by sending in troops. Butte was under martial law.

MHS Ephemera File
Neither the Anaconda Company nor the leaders of Metal Mine Workers Union (MMWU) were happy to see Little. The Anaconda Company’s unhappiness was self-explanatory. But Butte’s labor leaders also rejected his radical rhetoric, objecting both to the IWW’s hardline stance against the war and its commitment to overthrowing of the capitalist system.

These inflammatory positions were particularly dangerous since the start of the war. Even IWW president William “Big Bill” Haywood was cautioning his field organizers to lighten up on the rhetoric lest they incur the federal government’s wrath and feel the full weight of its opposition.  But if Frank Little got the message, he chose to ignore it.

Instead, Little passionately preached the IWW message. During a speech at Finlander Hall, Little referred to U.S. soldiers as “uniformed thugs” and stressed his opposition to the draft and the war.  Why, he asked, would workers choose to fight for their capitalist masters, when instead they could end the war by turning on their masters and overthrowing the capitalist system?

The Anaconda Company—delighted to tar labor as treasonous—had its papers report Little’s speeches. It also joined local political leaders in asking U.S. Attorney B. K. Wheeler to arrest Little, claiming that his “treasonous utterances” violated the Espionage Act of 1917. Wheeler refused: according to the attorney, Little had not violated the Espionage Act but had only exercised his right to free speech.

Nevertheless, Little was soon silenced. In the early morning hours of August 1, six men entered the boarding house where Frank Little was staying and physically removed him from his room.  They tied him to the bumper of a waiting car and dragged him to the edge of town where they beat then lynched him from a railroad trestle with a warning pinned to his chest.

Frank Little, Death, Missoula, Montana Free Speech Fight, 1917
Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

In the wake of the brutal murder, Governor Stewart received a flood of messages from across the nation from labor organizations and concerned citizens. The message left on Little’s body harkened back to the vigilante days of early Montana and the initials at the bottom corresponded with the last names of the leaders of the MMWU strike: Frank Little (with the “L” circled), Bill Dunne, Tom Campbell, Daniel Shovlin, Joe Shannon, Jim Williams, and John Tomich.  The use of 3-7-77 legitimized the action in the eyes of some, who believed that if authorities would have arrested Little under the charge of treason reasonable men would not have felt the need to act.  It would also help justify, less than a year, later the passage of the Montana Sedition Act and Criminal Syndicalism Act during a special session of the legislature.

Frank Little, Funeral, Montana Free Speech Fight, 1917
Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

The murder of Frank Little remains unsolved even though most agree the Anaconda Company played some role in his death.  While his message for the most part fell on deaf ears, his murder gave rise to an impassioned citizenry who four days later gave Frank Little an epic send off with the largest funeral in the history of Butte.  They laid Frank Little to rest in the pauper section of the Mountain View Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of the author

Today, his headstone faces “the Hill” and standing at the foot of his grave one can see the memorial the North Butte Mining Company erected to the memory of those unidentified miners who died in the Granite Mountain/Speculator Mine fire.  I think Frank would appreciate that.

July 28, 2017

The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company

by Natasha Hollenbach, Digital Services Technician

 Sanders County Ledger (Thompson Falls, MT)

Newspaper ads for the Mountain State Telephone and Telegraph Co (MST&T) have always stood out to me, but the ad above convinced me that they were worthy of a blog post.  Well, technically the ad I saw wasn’t this specific one because MST&T was prolific in their advertising.  With few exceptions, all the ads I’ve seen were published in multiple Montana newspapers. Considering that MST&T served Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico plus the western corner of Texas, it isn’t surprising that I’ve seen many of them in Idaho newspapers as well.

The truth about blog posts is that most of us over-research them.  Most of the information that we find and sources we consult never make it into the post.  In this case, I clipped an instance of every unique ad I could find. When I found the same ad in multiple places, I choose which one to keep first by image quality and then trying to use as many newspapers as possible.  The ads date from December 1911 (shortly after the founding of the company) until January 1924 (when I realized I had 103 ads and should really stop).

I know 103 ads sounds a little crazy, but I was going to talk about the themes found in the ads and how they changed over time. It seemed like a good idea, but I had a difficult time selecting which special few to share. Instead I thought it would be fun to open the collection up to you all so that you can tell me what you find interesting.

There are a couple of ways to view the collection.  If you’d like a collage-type experience, you can see the Pinterest Board here.  If you’d like a more organized approach, they can be viewed here in an exhibit where you can look at the ads by location (using the map), title (on the right) or chronology (using the timeline at the bottom).  When you click on an item, the item's record will pop up.  Scroll to the bottom to find the image and then click on it to view.

Is there an ad that really stands out to you? As you look through the collection, what do you notice?Do you have a favorite? I’d love to know so comment below.

Below are a few of my favorites to get you started.

I like these two together to show the difference in attitude towards WWI between 1914 and 1917.

Big Timber Pioneer
November 5, 1914     
Mineral Independent (Superior, MT)
June 28, 1917

This ad is a good visual representation of how the company tries to explain their financial situation.

Mineral Independent (Superior, MT)
November 16, 1916

This one always makes me laugh.  Probably because when I first saw it, I was starting a walking challenge, which constantly emphasized “More Steps”.
Choteau Acantha
June 14, 1923

Lastly, this one has my favorite image.

River Press (Fort Benton, MT)
February 9, 1915

July 13, 2017

Montana History online

by Tammy Troup, MHS Digital Services Manager

History researchers employ a variety of strategies to gather and organize historical evidence. While we’re collecting evidence, we’re thinking about what we’re discovering, developing hypotheses, and ignoring tangents. Finally—if we’re fortunate—we draw evidence-supported conclusions which contribute to the scholarly record.
In this blog post, we’ll outline methods to help researchers conduct online research:

Database Search

You can search many online databases such as the Montana Memory Project (CONTENTdm), Digital Vault (Omeka), Internet Archive, Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Chronicling America, and MONTANA NEWSPAPERS using Structured Query Language (SQL).  Several online databases (including the databases mentioned above) include a Graphical User Interface (GUI) which structures (organizes) data into specific fields (e.g., Title, Creator/Author, Type, etc.) or which allows multi-faceted (categorical) searching.
For Google-trained online researchers, database research can be frustrating. Simple keyword searches are not effective. Researchers will have more successful results by employing a few SQL-derived techniques:
  • Look for Advanced Search options. Advanced Search provides researchers with an interface to organize and search specific fields and by specific types of searches (exact phrase, any words, all words, none, etc.);
  • Use Boolean operators to focus a search and connect related pieces of information. These operators include AND (all search terms must be present), OR (any of the search terms may be included), and NOT (none of the search terms will be included);
  • Use special characters to expand search results. An asterisk * may be placed in a word such as wom*n  to return results with woman or women.
  • The order of your search commands will determine the order of your results.  You may use parentheticals, which will determine the execution order of the commands you use (e.g., Homesteading AND (Norwegian OR Swedish).
Google Search

Complex websites with thousands of pages, pdf attachments, and links can be difficult for search engines to index and even more difficult for researchers to use efficiently. However, researchers may search the entire site if the understand the functionality which Google builds into the search bar (of course Google also features an Advanced Search option). Another resource, Nancy Blachman’s Google Guide is a well-organized tutorial to help people structure useful queries. A few of these query inputs include the following:
  • Special Characters:
    • - Operator (minus sign) to exclude specific words (same as NOT)
    • * Operator when a wildcard or placeholder is needed or you may use it before a word so search results will return synonyms of the word searched.
    • .. Operator between two years will produce a time range of results
    • “ “ will return results exact phrase results
  • Specific fields:
    • intitle: will return results which include metadata of a specific type (in this case title). This type of search is useful if you know what you are searching for may have specific metadata (e.g., title, creator or author, date, publisher, subject, etc.)
  • site: domain restricts search results to a specific domain
  • filetype: will restrict search results to a specific filetype
History Online

While the Montana Historical Society collects a wealth of information about the history of Montana, there is also a vast amount of data collected and owned by other individuals and organizations. We create billions of gigabytes of information every day.  Meanwhile more and more Montanans create digital information and place it online.  Printing or formally archiving the bulk of this information (image, text, moving image, software, database, etc.) will never occur. As such, historians will need to develop new research methods to identify, find, and collect evidence of the past, and we will need to carefully monitor information policy related to access to these collections.

EXTRA! Montana Newspapers Stories 1864-1922: Extermination of Wolves

Wolves were abundant in newly created Montana Territory in the 1860s. The same merchants who shipped bison hides to the East found a ready market for wolf pelts; the fur was widely used as trim on clothing. Between 1871 and 1875, an estimated 34,000 wolves were killed in northern Montana and southern Alberta. As the cattle industry rose in prominence, the territorial government began paying bounties for wolves, coyotes and other predators. By the end of the 1880s, the total extermination of wolves became a goal of ranchers—one that was finally achieved by government-salaried hunters in the 1920s.

Key dates

1883—Territorial legislature offers a $1 bounty for a full wolfskin. At the end of 1884, the treasury reports paying bounties for 5,540 wolves, 1,774 coyotes, 568 bears, and 146 mountain lions.
1887—Bounty claims are so numerous, the territory can no longer afford to pay them, and bounty laws are repealed.
1899—Under pressure from stock growers, bounties on cattle predators are reinstated, funded by a new tax on livestock.
1905—The latest bounty pays $10 per full-grown wolf scalp. Because an immature animal cannot kill cattle as efficiently as an adult, the bounty per pup is only $3.

From the newspapers

To find more

Search for the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases: wolves, wolf hunting, bounty

July 3, 2017

"Rope in Your Chickens": Picnics and Picnic Food

by Molly Kruckenberg, Research Center Director

An American pastime with European origins, picnics were and continue to be a popular Montana activity.  Picnics often celebrate holidays, like the Fourth of July and Labor Day; gather together school, social and church organizations; or are just simply a way to get together with friends.  Picnics have been defined as “an outdoor meal distinguished by other meals because it requires the leisure to get away from home.” [1]

As a young child, Vera Whitney attended a Fourth of July picnic near Three Buttes in the Sidney area.  Early on the 4th, her mother “killed and dressed the first fryers of the season, made big bread-and-butter sandwiches and packed a jar of pickles.  The potato salad and white layer cake she had made the evening before were packed up” too, for the journey to the picnic area.  Spreading out their repast on a white tablecloth, the Whitney family enjoyed speeches, singing, and the usual picnic activities.  The highlight of the event for young Vera, though, was the call of “’Ice cream and lemonade! Come and get it.’”  That ice cream was made even more spectacular by being served in a cone.  The taste of the cone, her first, was like a “sweet, crisp cookie” to Vera. [2]

“Women with Ice Cream Cones, July 4, 1908.”  Evelyn Cameron, photographer.  
MHS Research Center Photograph Archives, PAc90-87.G027-006.  

Montanans picnic for many different reasons mostly in the summer and fall, when the weather is conducive to eating outdoors.  Whether private group picnics or community gatherings, picnics served to bring people together.  A group of 15 or 20 young people from Helena ascended Mount Helena in October of 1875 for a “genuine frolic.”  After their ascent, they “partook of a lunch . . . prepared in a style commensurate with the jolly occasion and capable of satiating the keen appetites that were engendered by ascending this precipitous mount.”  They were further “pacified” with two kegs of Nick Kessler’s XXX lager beer. [3]   On a larger scale but no less jubilant scale, the citizens of Ekalaka enjoyed a picnic at Medicine Rocks on August 15th, 1909 in a gathering “given by everybody, for everybody.”  Residents were advised to “rope in your chickens and cook ‘em up for the big feed.”  A “pie wagon” was available to take a load of food out to the picnic site.  Featuring baseball, music and speeches as well as a community feast, the Medicine Rocks picnic brought together all the activities and foods often associated with picnics. [4]

The Fourth of July serves as one of the most popular reasons to picnic.  In 1877 residents of the Bitterroot Valley celebrated the Fourth of July with a picnic that took place “about a mile from the home of Charlos [sic], the chief of the Flathead Indians, in a grove of large pine near a clear babbling brook, which meandered laughingly down from St. Mary’s mountain, across the bench land and into the Bitter Root River.”  As for food, the residents laid a table that “fairly tottered with its heavy load of good things,” including bread, boiled ham, chickens and turkey, several types of berries, pies (“great piles of them”), doughnuts, cookies, jelly cakes, confectioneries, pound cakes, and for dessert strawberries and cream.  At the end of the prodigious meal, there “remained enough to supply a meal for as many more.” [5]

Newspaper articles about picnics in Montana reveal three common foods consumed at picnics:  ice cream, lemonade and fried chicken. [6] While Montana cookbooks include recipes for ice cream, recipes for lemonade and fried chicken are not as prevalent, perhaps because the recipes were already known to the women making the dishes.  But a Dillon recipe from the 1908 cookbook Tested Recipes gave instruction to the inexperienced cook:
Chicken, To Fry – (Southern) – After you have killed and dressed your chicken, wash it in cold water thoroughly with a clean linen cloth.  Carve the chicken and season it with salt and pepper to suit taste.  Sift on enough flour to cover each piece and mix the chicken and flour thoroughly.  Put the chicken into a frying pan with equal parts of hot bacon grease and butter, or all butter, and then cover the pan with a lid.  Fry the chicken slowly, and to a nice, crisp brown. [7]

Picnics in Montana are varied, in food, occasion, and setting; yet they are the same in offering a social gathering in a setting away from home.   Whether held for a special occasion like the Fourth of July, to bring together a group of likeminded people, or for no reason whatsoever, picnics allowed participants an opportunity to relax in a social setting while consuming favored foods.  From traditional shared dishes of fried chicken, lemonade and ice cream to hosted events featuring cream cone cocktail or picnic goulash, picnic food was meant to be prodigious in amount, portable, and easily eaten outdoors.  The call of come and get it at Montana’s “recreational feasts” [8] might be at any number of locations for any number of reasons, but it always meant good times and good food.

[Title] "Big Picnic at Medicine Rocks.”  The Ekalaka Eagle, August 6, 1909. P1.
[1] Levy, Walter.  The Picnic: A History.  Rowman & Littlefield:  London, 2013.  P.5
[2] Page 83-85, Vera Whitney Gault Reminiscence.  SC2357.  Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives.
[3] “The Picnic on Mount Helena.”  Helena Weekly Herald, October 21, 1875.  P7.
[4] “Big Picnic at Medicine Rocks.”  The Ekalaka Eagle, August 6, 1909. P1.  Ad, “For the Picnic.”  The Ekalaka Eagle, August 6, 1909. P1.
[5] “Fourth of July on the Bitter Root.”  Rocky Mountain Husbandman., August 23, 1877, p7.
[6] For examples see:  “Boulder Valley.”  Rocky Mountain Husbandman, July 12, 1877, p2; “The Picnic on the Hillside.” The Bozeman Weekly Chronicle.  May 6, 1885, p.3; “The M.E. Sunday School Picnic.” The Wibaux Pioneer.  July 18, 1913. P.4; “Organized Farmers Attention.” The Producers News.  June 13, 1919, p. 1.
[7] Tested Recipes.  Dillon, Mont.: Tribune Publishing Co., 1908. P19.

[8] Levy.  The Picnic. P.5.

June 22, 2017

Edwin B. Trafton, "...aside from his outlaw traits was a pleasant companion..."

Zoe Ann Stoltz, MHS Reference Historian, came across a fascinating true crime story from 1914 Yellowstone Park.  It seems there was a man, Edwin B. Trafton, who robbed at least 15 stage coaches on the same day.  As her research developed, it became clear that this was but one of Edwin's exploits.  Instead of trying to reduce him to a single post, we're trying something different today at Montana History Revealed. Edwin's story has been divided into a 6 part series.  Read one or read them all.

Delinquent Boy and Horse Thief
Stealing from Momma
How Do You Rob 15+ Stagecoaches in 1 Day
Talking with the Tourists
Will Someone Please Catch This Man
Released for Good Behavior

Edwin B. Trafton - Delinquent Boy and Horse Thief

Part 1 of Edwin Trafton series by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian

Born in New Brunswick, Canada in February 1857, Edward B. Trafton  discovered his affinity for theft early in life. At the age of ten, Edwin  was in the Denver Home for Delinquent Boys for theft.   After his release, he lived and worked with his mother and step father at their Denver boarding house, purchased with the proceeds from the sale of their Canadian farms.  For several years Edwin honed his larceny skills by stealing from the boarders.   Although often discovered, his mother Annie Knight continuously protected him from the law and consequences.   At the age of 20, Edwin became convinced that he was destined to become rich in the South Dakota Black Hills. After stealing food, cash, and a horse from his parents, he headed north. [1]

Not long after discovering that success in the gold fields demanded work, Trafton settled in Teton Valley, Wyoming.  Although ostensibly farming, he soon joined the Conant Gang of horse thieves.   By 1887, however, area ranchers tired of losing livestock took steps to round up the gang.  Found guilty, Trafton served just two years of a twenty-five year sentence. As explained by long time area resident, Trafton “ . . . was a clever fellow and aside from his outlaw traits was a pleasant companion. He elicited sympathy from people and petitions were soon signed for his release.” [2]

Return to Table of Contents

[1] Wayne Moss, “Friend or Faux?”  Teton Valley Magazine, 3 November 2015, http://tetonvalleymagazine.com/history-stories/friend-or-faux/ (30 May, 2017) 
[2] Ibid. 

Edwin B. Trafton - Stealing from Momma

Part 2 of Edwin Trafton series by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian


After serving time for horse theft as part of the Conant gang, Edwin Trafton spent the next two decades attempting to balance his criminal tendencies and family life. He married Minnie Lyman on July 3, 1891. They had five children, four girls and one son.

Following another two year prison sentence, this time for cattle rustling, the couple attempted homesteading, sheep ranching and operated a boarding house in Idaho’s Teton Basin. [1] Edwin even served as a postal carrier for the area.
Herald Democrat (Leadville, CO), May 3, 1910 p1
Retrieved from
Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection

In the fall of 1909, Edwin and Minnie now living in Denver set their sights on Annie Knight, Edwin's mother.  He convinced Annie to allow him to take control of several thousand dollars as well as the sale of her house. Surprisingly the couple soon reported that a satchel containing several thousand dollars had been stolen from them during a ride in a street car. [2] Maybe Annie finally realized the truth about her son.

The following May, Edwin and Minnie were found guilty of fraud and the theft of $7200.00 from his mother. [3] Minnie was released in February, 1912, and Edwin the fall of 1913. Reunited after serving their respective sentences, they attempted to settle in Rupert, Idaho.

[1] Wayne Moss, “Friend or Faux?”  Teton Valley Magazine, 3 November 2015, http://tetonvalleymagazine.com/history-stories/friendorfaux/ (30 May, 2017); Land Patent
[2] “Careless Couple Robbed of $10,000 on a Denver Street Car,” Cheyenne State Leader, 2 October 1909, pg.1 & 2 and “Sends Her Son to Prison,” Colorado Springs Gazette, 3 May 1910.
[3] “Sent to Prison for Stealing from Mother,” The Laramie Republican, 10 May 1910, pg. 1, and “Sends Her Son to Prison,” Colorado Springs Gazette, 3 May 1910.