December 31, 2014

James Bradley’s Historical Baggage

by Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian, Montana Historical Society Research Center 

Every spring, the MHS Research Center offers two James H. Bradley Fellowships to graduate students, faculty, and/or independent scholars pursuing research on Montana history.

Past recipients and topics reflect the dynamics of Western U.S. historical interests, from Native women’s work wages/opportunities to Lee Metcalf’s role in environmental politics. The naming of the fellowship was no accident. Rather, its title represents just a hint of the invaluable legacy left to Montana by Lt. James Bradley, an historian who collected, created, and carried history.  
James H. Bradley, 1st Lt. 7th U.S. Infantry [no date]
MHS Photo Archives # 941-317
Born in Ohio in 1844, James H. Bradley served in the Ohio Volunteer Regiment during the Civil War. Following the war, he reenlisted and was quickly promoted to First Lieutenant. From 1866 through the next eleven years he was stationed primarily in Wyoming, Utah and Montana Territories.  His deployments consistently put him in harm’s way. During a brief 1871 assignment in Georgia and Alabama to suppress the escalation of Ku Klux Klan activities, he met and married Mary Isabella Beach. He returned to Montana with his new bride in January 1872. The couple was stationed at Fort Benton and Fort Shaw until 1877.[1]

The developing Montana Territory and its major players consumed much of Bradley’s spare time. He studied historical resources, such as volumes of the 1872 “History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke." Bradley sought out and recorded stories told to him by early Montana history makers including Alexander Culbertson, one of the founding fathers of Fort Benton. He created historical sketches of Crow, Gros Ventre, Blackfoot and Sioux [2].

While under the command of General Gibbon, Bradley detailed daily events of the 1876 campaign against the Northern Cheyenne and Lakota. As Commander of the Scouts, including 23 Crow and two white, Bradley had the unenviable duty of repeating the Scouts’ report to Gibbon of a “horrid” battle involving Custer. Bradley’s final journal entry, dated Monday, June 26, conveys the reactions prompted by the report. Less than 24 hours later, Bradley and his scouts discovered the remains of Custer and his men.[3]

Bradley himself died on August 9, 1877, during the Battle of the Big Hole. Bradley’s passion for Montana history did not die with him, though. Upon the news of his death, Mrs. Bradley sold several of her husband’s books to trader J.H. McKnight. She then packed the bulk of Lt. Bradley’s writings and took them with her as she arranged passage back to Atlanta, Georgia aboard the steamboat Benton.[4] Just two years later, in 1878, she sold the collection to the Montana Historical Society. [5] 

One hundred thirty-six years later, Bradley’s legacy, both literally and figuratively, lives on at the Montana Historical Society Research Center. The numerous journals which he carried, such as the handwritten journal of the 1876 “Sioux Campaign on the Yellowstone,” along with The James H. Bradley Papers, 1872-1877 (Manuscript Collection 49), are retained in the MHS archives. 

A few books from his personal library are housed in the MHS library's collection, including both volumes of "History of the Expedition under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke," which Bradley signed and dated after picking them up in Fort Benton Feb. 21, 1874.[6] The volumes, small enough to fit in an inside pocket or saddle bag, still evoke the smell of camp fires.
This spring, the MHS Research Center will once again accept Bradley Fellowship applications. The Fellowship is just one of many legacies left by Lt. James Bradley’s passion for Montana’s history. 
Bradley's signature in his personal copy of "History of the Expedition
 under the Command of Captains Lewis & Clarke"
[1] Jon G. James, “Lt. James H. Bradley, The Literary Legacy of Montana’s Frontier Soldier-Historian,” Montana, the Magazine of Western History, Winter 2009, v. 59, no. 4: 46-57.

[2] James H. Bradley Papers, 1872-1877, MC 49, Box 2, Folder 10.

[3] Lt. James H. Bradley, The March of the Montana Column, A Prelude to the Custer Disaster, ed. Edgar I. Stewart (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), 153-162.

[4] "Mrs. Bradley,” The Benton Record, August 17, 1877, p. 3.

[5] Jon G. James, 56.

[6] Meriwether Lewis, History of the expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clarke : to the sources of the Missouri, thence across the Rocky Mountains, and down the River Columbia to the Pacific ocean: performed during the years 1804, 1805, 1806, by order of the government of the United States, ed. Archibald M’Vickar, (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1872). MHS Library Locker 917.8 L58HM 1871, Vol. 1 & 2.


December 18, 2014

The Christmas Goose – or was it Buffalo Tongue?

Molly Kruckenberg, Research Center Manager

Food is an important part of celebrations.  From eggs at Easter to cold lemonade on Independence Day to turkey and cranberries on Thanksgiving, food is integral to how we celebrate together.  Christmas food, while not as prescribed as the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, certainly has its customs.  Whether you have ham or turkey or roast beef on Christmas day, there are probably mashed potatoes that accompany it, along with lots of pies and cookies.

Like most traditions, though, the food that we eat on the holidays has changed over time.  In 1882 Nannie Alderson planned a Christmas feast in her new home on a ranch near Lame Deer.  The highlight of her meal was fresh oysters, which she had arranged for a neighbor, who was traveling to Miles City, to bring back.  She set a lovely Christmas dinner table, decorated with pine cones, wild rose berries, and her grandmother's silver candlesticks. The dish of scalloped oysters were front and center.*

The cover of the Christmas menu at the Grand Central Hotel, Helena, MT, 1889
(courtesy of the Montana Historical Society Research Center;
see entire menu here on the Montana Memory Project

In 1889, the Grand Central Hotel in Helena served Christmas dinner with a multitude of foods.  There were a few of the traditional foods we see today on their menu, such as mashed potatoes and stuffed goose.  But some of the foods served would not be seen on a holiday menu today, including green turtle soup, smoked buffalo tongue, and braised calve's brains with truffles.  There wasn’t a single pumpkin pie for dessert, but they did serve a Christmas plum pudding.

Whether you are eating turkey and mashed potatoes or stuffed buffalo tongue and oysters, the MHS wishes you Happy Holidays and pleasant eating!

(* Unfortunately for Nannie and her guests, the oysters had been tainted before they were frozen.  Nannie recollected that, "In spite of the bad oysters, we did have a merry time before the disastrous effects began to appear.")

December 11, 2014

Remembering Montana’s Chet Huntley

by Susan R. Near, Development & Marketing Officer, Montana Historical Society
Norma Ashby (nee Beatty) presenting Chet with a Montana
Territorial Centennial medallion in his NBC Office, New York, 1964.
  [MHS Photo Archives # 942-937]
Native Montanan Chester Robert “Chet” Huntley (December 10, 1911-March 20, 1974) was a national television newscaster best known for co-anchoring NBC’s evening news program with David Brinkley. “The Huntley-Brinkley Report,” which ran for 14 years beginning in 1956, had an estimated nightly audience of 20 million people at its peak. Huntley received numerous prestigious awards, including the Alfred I. DuPont award, two Peabody Awards, two Overseas Press Club awards, and he was named the International Radio and Television Society’s “Broadcaster of the Year” in 1970. In Huntley’s memoir, The Generous Years: Remembrances of a Frontier Boyhood, published in 1968, he credited family and his Montana roots as his influences. 

Huntley as a young thespian, c. 1935
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]

Chet was born in Cardwell, Montana to Percy and Blanche Tatham Huntley–the only son and oldest of four children. His father was a telegraph operator for the Northern Pacific Railway. The family moved often throughout his childhood, living in Cardwell, Saco, Willow Creek, Logan, Big Timber, Norris, Whitehall and Three Forks. Chet graduated from Whitehall High School and attended Montana State College in Bozeman. He also attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle before graduating with a degree in Speech and Drama from the University of Washington in 1934.

Huntley landed his first broadcasting job at Seattle’s KBCB radio where he was writer, announcer, and sales representative making $10 a month. News broadcaster and commentator positions for radio stations in Spokane, Portland and Los Angeles followed. He worked for CBS Radio from 1939-1951, then ABC Radio from 1951-1955 and joined the NBC Radio Network in 1955. Critics considered Chet Huntley to have one of the greatest broadcast voices ever heard.

Huntley and Brinkley at the NBC "Convention Central", 1960
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]
NBC tapped Huntley to anchor a half-hour news program in early 1956 originally called “Outlook,” later known as “Chet Huntley Reporting”. The show aired for 7 years and covered issues like segregation, civil rights and immigration. Later that year, NBC looked to replace their news anchor for coverage of the national political conventions; both Huntley and journalist David Brinkley were in the running; however, there was disagreement on who should take that role. Eventually the decision was made that both would share the assignment. Their on-air chemistry—Huntley’s straightforward presentation countered by Brinkley’s acerbic wit—was immediately apparent and popular with viewers. Their partnered success led them to co-anchor the NBC nightly news program debuting in October 1956.  It was the very first dual anchor national evening newscast, with Chet Huntley from New York and David Brinkley from Washington, DC. “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” was a ratings success and garnered several team awards, including eight Emmys and two George Peabody Awards. Chet Huntley’s last broadcast on “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” was July 31, 1970. 

Huntley was interviewed in 1961 by Newsweek magazine and was quoted describing himself as a “solemn, frozen, horse face that some people seem to like. He thinks awfully lucky to be where he is and sometimes feels it’s all transitory, fleeting. He’s aware of all the incredible things he does not know. He can’t stand ignoramuses or stuffed shirts.” 

“Maybe where there’s clarity of air, there's clarity of thought." - Chet Huntley
Huntley at Big Sky, Montana, 1973
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]

Chet Huntley returned to Montana where, in retirement, he conceived and spearheaded the development of Big Sky Resort – an 11,000
acre year-round ski resort and recreation complex on the West Fork of the Gallatin River. He worked with large corporations to fund the Big Sky development, which included an Arnold Palmer designed golf course, tennis courts, indoor swimming pools, a dude ranch, condominiums and the famous Big Sky ski runs. Chet Huntley died of lung cancer in March 1974 at his home in Big Sky, just days before the official opening of the resort. 

Enjoy listening to "Chet Huntley's Montana," a short tribute to the many quaint and unusual places in the Big Sky State. This fine example of Huntley's unique voice was recorded in 1959 for the 10th anniversary of the Montana Broadcasters Association. In 1993, Chet Huntley was inducted into the Montana Broadcaster Association’s Hall of Fame.
Chet Huntley, 1960
[Photo: Museum of the Rockies Collection]