August 23, 2018

Mueller Family Internship - One Archivist's Summer of Processing

Derek Corder, Archivist
Oscar Mueller Family Papers
Montana Historical Society

This summer I was honored to receive the Mueller Family Internship. Generous funding from the Mueller Family allowed me to travel to Montana from Bellingham Washington to process the Oscar Mueller Family Papers. I have enjoyed learning of this family’s fascinating history. The collection includes the records of Oscar’s immediate and extended family which demonstrate their deep connection to Montana’s history and committed service to the communities in which they lived.

Oscar Otto Mueller was born March 29, 1877 on a farm near Van Meter, Iowa. After earning his law degree, he relocated to Lewistown, Montana in 1908 where he filled the position of assistant county attorney in 1909 and 1910. Then, in 1917, he was appointed city attorney.

Oscar Mueller Lot 38 B7 F3
He was elected mayor of the City of Lewistown and served one term from 1929 to 1931. As the mayor, he had to deal with the challenge of enforcing Prohibition. One of his actions was to bring charges of bootlegging against the Chief of Police himself. Oscar was dedicated to upholding the rule of law and honorably serving his constituents.

Oscar Mueller Lot 38 B6 F26
On June 9, 1915 he married Josephine Cook of White Sulphur Springs, the daughter of the Montana Pioneer Charles W. Cook. Cook was one of the first stockmen of the state and a member of the Cook-Folsom-Peterson party of 1869 that made the first exploration of the Yellowstone Park region. Josephine shared Oscar’s passion for service and family. She was also fond of writing poetry.

Josephine Cook Lot 38 B1 F16
Charles Cook Lot 38 B6 F16

Oscar and Josephine had three children, Charles, Glenn, and George. Charles died in infancy in 1917. Glenn and George both served in the army during WWII.

Glenn and George Mueller (Lot 38 B10 F11 and Lot 38 B1 F1)
After the war, Glenn worked for the Forest Service while George went to work for the US Weather Bureau. While their work took them from their home state of Montana at first, they both, eventually, made their way back. Like their father, they took pride in serving their communities as leaders.

Glenn Mueller Lot 38 B10 F11

In addition to his work as an attorney, Oscar was an active amateur historian. He was interested in Central Montana history and contributed many historical articles to local newspapers including the Great Falls Tribune. The first issue of the Montana Magazine of History included his work “The Central Montana Vigilante Raids of 1884”. He, along with his son, George, contributed many written and material donations to the Montana Historical Society in Helena. Additionally, he was an amateur archaeologist and paleontologist. In honor of his work, three new species were named for him.

Oscar Mueller (right) and friend (Lot 38 B1 F1)
Native American Pictographs Lot 38 B27 F23
Oscar continued his passion for service both as an attorney and civic leader until his death on January 3, 1964.

The collection contains rich correspondence between family and members of the community. The correspondence also includes Oscar and George’s communication with various Montana publishing, educational, and government institutions. Their research materials and publications provides a detailed look into Montana history.

This collection, along with the extensive collection of photographs (processed by fellow intern Deanna Leiser), will be available for research soon. I want to thank the Mueller family for sponsoring this internship and allowing me this rare opportunity to devote an entire summer to a truly special collection.