Montana Expansion, Labor, Transportation and Citizens

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The progress of Montana in mining, as indicated in the previous chapter, had received a partial check from about 1870 to 1880. The reason of this was that surface mining had declined, the placers being exhausted, and deep mining had not yet been sufficiently developed to give equal returns. There were other causes operating at the same time, such as the great cost of transportation of machinery, and the financial crisis resultant upon the suspension of Jay Cooke & Co., with the consequent embarrassments of the Northern Pacific railroad company, to whose advent in the territory all eyes had been turned in hope.

Neither had agriculture advanced materially; for no other market than the mines could be reached by wagons, the only means of transporting farm products to consumers. Besides, a few years were needed in which to build more comfortable houses, erect saw and grist mills, fence farms, lay out roads, start schools and churches, and set in motion all the wheels within wheels which move the complicated machinery of society. Perhaps from having so long observed the processes of state building, I have come to render more willingly than others the need of praise to these men of sturdy frames, intelligent brains, and deft hands who robbed the secret treasury of nature to spread over the mountains and plains thriving cities and happy homes. In hew little have they failed! Great is an army with banners, but greater is a hest with ploughs and picks. One destroys, while the other creates.

Time enough had elapsed between 1870 and 1880 to establish the comparative capabilities of the several counties[1] when the railroad era dawned, which solved the transportation problem for Montana. The Utah Northern branch of the Union Pacific railroad reached Helena, then the principal commercial city of the territory, in 1881, and the Northern Pacific reached it from east and west in 1883. The completion of this road was celebrated with imposing ceremonies on September 8th at Independence Creek, on the north bank of Deer Lodge River, sixty miles west of Helena, the place being named Gold Spike Station, in commemoration of the joining of the last rails by a spike of the chief Montana product. The event of the opening of the Northern Pacific was of greater interest than simply a commercial one, because it carried out the original Jeffersonian idea of a highway to the mouth of the Columbia, and thence to China. No other route or road was ever the theme of so much argument, eloquence, and poetry.[2]

The advent in the territory of the Union Pacific and Northern Pacific gave a wonderful impetus to every branch of industry, and encouraged the construction of other lines. In 1889 there are three transcontinental railroads within its boundaries, each doing a profitable business. Numerous short branches or feeders have been extended to mining centers or agricultural valleys, and several local roads are rapidly being constructed by home companies.[3] The third of those was the St Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba railroad, running from St Paul, Minnesota, to Great Falls, Montana, with the intention of extending its line to the lower or northern end of Puget Sound. So true is it railroads create the business they thrive upon that each of all these in Montana were earning good receipts. The imports into Montana by the Northern Pacific in 1888 were 132,696 tons; the exports, 100,181 tons. The business of the Union Pacific was 55,833 tons imports, and 47,990 tons exports, the local business of handling ores, coal, lumber, and merchandise not being included in the tonnage, but which far exceeds the through freight in amount. The value of the exports from Montana in 1888 were reported by the governor, “at a very conservative estimate,” as being $45,750,000. These consisted of gold, silver, copper, lead, beef cattle, horses, sheep, wool, hides, pelts, etc.

One of the latest developed resources of Montana is coal, which until the advent of railroads could not be profitably mined. It is now known that along the eastern bases of the Rocky Mountains coal of excellent quality exists in practically inexhaustible quantity. The mines on Rocky Fork, in Park County, in 1888 produced 500 tons per day; these of Sand Coulee, in Cascade County, 500 tons; and these of Timberline, in Park County, 200 tons daily. Choteau, Beaver Head, and Gallatin Counties are also rich in coal. The output during the year ending June 30, 889, was 118,000 tons, and this amount was expected to be doubled in 1890.

The most serious drawback to the general prosperity of the last decade was the great loss of cattle in the extraordinarily severe winter of 1886-7. The previous season had been one of unusual drought, in which large areas of forest were burned over, destroying timber to a large amount, and adding by heat and smoke to the discomfort of men and animals. This was followed by terrible winter storms, high winds, deep snows, and extreme cold, prevailing for a period long enough to destroy cattle valued at several million dollars. The loss resulted, as such losses usually do, in better provision for the support and safety of herds during these occasional inclement seasons. The increase of stock on the ranges since 1886-7 has not yet brought the number up to the previous amount, judging from the assessor’s returns, although it is probable that with so many railroads carrying stock out of the territory fewer remain upon the ranges than heretofore.

Mining continues to be the leading industry of the Montana people. Notwithstanding the low price of silver, copper, and lead, an ever increasing amount of capital has sought investment in mines, giving them a remarkable development from 1886 to 1889. In 1883 a table prepared from official returns gave the mount of gold and silver produced in the United States at more than two billions of dollars. It placed California first, with an accredited product of over one billion. Montana came third in the list, with a trifle more than $468,000,000, as a total of the production of its mines for twenty years, an average of $23,400,000 annually. The output of 1887 was bout $30,000,000, and that of 1888-9, $41,000,000, which makes Montana the leading mining state of the union. The single camp or mining town of Butte, in Silver Bow County, where are located silver and copper mines, and which produced $1,000,000 in 1880, increased its product to $23,000,000 in 1888. Owing to a fall in the price of copper, the output of this district in 1889 will not be valued at over $18,000,000, but the mines seem inexhaustible.

Butte, which fifteen years ago was a small placer mining village on a mountain side, is today the leading town of Montana in population, having 30,000 inhabitants, and is the first mining camp in the world, with handsome business houses and elegant residences. To the workmen in its mines and smelters is paid $500,000 per month in wages, its more than a hundred smoke-stacks, ever pouring, sending out day and night great volumes of dense smoke which testify to the ceaseless industry of the place.

The Anaconda, which was at first worked for silver, is now the most celebrated copper mine on the American continent, and with the other mines in this district, and one or two others, furnishes one third of the dividends paid on mining property in ten states and territories having dividend-paying mines.[4] The Anaconda was visited by a fire, which broke out November 23, 1889, in the adjacent St Lawrence mine, and was communicated by a cross cut to the Anaconda on the 500-foot level, cutting off from escape a body of miners on the 800-foot level, who perished miserably, as did four others who attempted their rescue. The mines were closed to extinguish the fire, but in January 1890 they were still burning. The destruction of the timbers in the several levels will occasion serious caving-in of the walls, and a very large loss to the owners. The city of Butte sustained a loss of $350,000 by fire in September 1889, adding another to the curiously coincident conflagrations of this year in the northwest.[5]

Phillipsburg, in Deer Lodge County, is another great mining camp. The Hope silver mine is the oldest in Montana, having been opened in 1866, and successfully worked, the ore being of the free-milling kind, the greater operations of getting silver out of base and refractory ores having to wait for the advent of railroads. The original Hope mill of ten stamps is still pounding out the precious metal, and paying regular dividends in the midst of its over-shadowing rivals. The corporation owning it is the St Louis and Montana Company, the stock in which is held principally in St Louis. The most important group of mines, although not the oldest, is the Granite Mountain group, discovered in 1872, but not profitably developed until about 1884. The principal mine is the Granite Mountain, now producing more silver than any in the world. It is stocked for $10,000,000, and also owned in St Louis. Although so recently developed, it had paid in dividends to its stockholders, 1 November 1889, $7,600,000, or ten dollars per share on 400,000 shares of a par value of $25.[6]

Next in importance to this group of mines is the West Granite group, opened in 1886, and owned by a Montana company, of which J. K. Pardee was in 1887 general manager.[7] Money for the first development of the mine was raised by the sale of 30,000 shares at a dollar a share. A number of other companies, St Louis and Philadelphia corporations, own lines in this district.[8] The town of Phillipsburg was named for Phillip Deidesheimer, famous for his connection with mining on the Comstock. The camp has bout 300 population.

Other towns in this county depending upon mining re in the full tide of prosperity in 1889. Anaconda,[9] Deer Lodge, and Drummond may be mentioned. Deer Lodge is less important as a mining town at present than as the seat of the United States penitentiary, the only federal building, except the assay office, in Montana. It is, however, in the midst of mining districts, and derives support from them.[10] A private institution of learning called the Montana College[11] is located at Deer Lodge. The population is about 1,000.

The Helena mining district is the third in importance in Montana, containing several dividend-paying mines, of which the Drum Lummond is the most prominent, and dividing $100,000[12] quarterly among its share-holders. The Drum Lummond is a gold mine, and is situated at Marysville, twenty miles in a northwest direction from Helena. The Helena and Northern Railroad, a remarkable piece of engineering, connects it with the capital. This road for ten miles scales the sides of a steep mountain, and is built almost a third of the distance on trestles. The Drum Lummond has but recently been sufficiently developed to display its qualities as the first gold producer of the world, but has greatly increased the expectations of his district. A movement is on foot to organize a company to purchase the old Whitlatch-Union property at Unionville, near Helena, and resume operations. It is believed this mine would still produce gold in paying quantities.

The city of Helena, which is now inferior in population to Butte, is still the chief commercial city, with 5,000 inhabitants, and the improvements for 1888 cost $3,055,000. It has a number of handsome public buildings. The Lewis and Clarke county courthouse cost $200,000, and contains the legislative halls of the territory. The high school, graded, and ward schools are constructed of brick, and supplied with every modern convenience. The city has a good water supply, a well-organized fire department, gas, electric lights, and well-equipped street railways. Its rail-bed facilities are excellent. It has five banks of deposit, whose capital stock, surplus, and undivided profits amount to $8,322,699, more than can be found in any city of equal size in the world. The name of Heleena City is not an inappropriate one.[13]

Great Falls, in the new county of Cascade, established in 1887, is rapidly growing in reputation. It is situated upon a sloping site at the junction of Missouri and Sun Rivers, commanding a view of four mountain ranges. Here are the great cataracts of the Missouri, having a total fall of 512 feet. The first, or Black Eagle fall, has a sheer descent of 28½ feet, and an available fall of 54 feet, which will be utilized the present year (1889). The Rainbow fall has a perpendicular descent of 49 feet; Colter’s fall, 14 feet; Horseshoe fall, 20 feet; and the Great fall, 100 feet, with rapids between – the whole constituting a waterpower unequalled. Coal, iron, and limestone abound within a few miles of the new town of Great Falls. The advantages of the place have been recognized, and a million dollar smelter has been erected, with a capacity for reduction of 250 tons of ore daily; although the works are only one fourth their proposed size, as it is intended to make this the largest smelter for the reduction of silver-lead ores in the world. The population of Great Falls is 2,500, and its improvements, exclusive of the Manitoba and Montana Central Railroad properties, are valued at $2,500,000. There is a branch railroad line to the Sand Coulee coalmines, where 350 persons are employed, and will be extended to the silver, copper, and Galena mines in the Belt range. A stone and iron wagon bridge 1,000 feet long spans the Missouri at Great Falls. The town is a shipping-point for stock and wool. About 29,000 sheep, 10,000 cattle, and 1,000,000 pounds of wool were shipped from there in 1888. It has been incorporated as a city, has water-works in progress, has a large saw and planing mill, the largest flour-mill in Montana, two agricultural implement houses, three churches, and a $20,000 school building. Such is the vigor of Montana’s population.[14]

Benton has 1,000 inhabitants, and is a well-built, thriving town. A substantial iron bridge 875 feet long spans the Missouri at this place, at a cost of $65,000. The town has electric-light and water-works systems, a fire department, board of trade, a public-school building costing $33,000, a court-house costing $60,000, two fine hotels, one costing $50,000, and a First National bank building costing $20,000, besides private banks, handsome mercantile houses, several churches, a hospital, and other evidences of the intelligence and prosperity of its citizens. Benton is in the wool-growing district of Montana, and the town is supplied with wool compressors and warehouses for the convenience of shippers. But although the counties of Cascade and Choteau have been regarded as grazing districts, good crops of cereals are raised upon the bench-lands, as well as in the rich soil of the valleys bordering upon streams, and the quality of the upland grain is superior, while thirty bushels to the acre is garnered from land that has not been irrigated. It is but recently that the value of these northern plateau for farming purposes has impressed itself upon the consciousness of a people chiefly interested in mining and grazing – in gold and grasses – to which should now be added grain. The opening of the great reservation extending from the Missouri River to the boundary of British Columbia has added 18,000,000 acres of government land which is open to settlement, embracing the Milk River valley, traversed by the St Paul and Manitoba railroad. With all these fertile acres, and a transcontinental railway, northern Montana has a grand future, by no means very distant, in which Benton will have its share.[15]

The northeastern and eastern portion of Montana remains a great stock range, of which Miles City, in Custer County, is a shipping centre, and the third town in population in the state. A board of stock commissioners, with a member in each county, looks after the administration of the written and unwritten laws concerning the sole industry which rivals mining in Montana,[16] and to which a very large amount of its money capital is due.[17] It is contended by these capitalists that the government is unnecessarily jealous of their aggressiveness, for the territory occupied by them is too broken for agriculture. Opinions change with circumstances, and expediency will determine the limit of indulgence, which the future shall discover.

I have here gathered together some evidences of the material prosperity of Montana. It was once wittily said that mining-towns consisted of ophir-holes, gopher-holes, and loafer-holes. All that has been changed as far as Montana is concerned, if we except the ophir-holes, which are as much as ever sought after. Merchants are no longer compelled to store their goods in caves in the earth to protect them from fire or plunder; the rude first dwellings have been replaced by elegant, or at the least tasteful and comfortable, homes; the fashions of good society prevail in place of unseemly revelry; education and religion are fostered,[18] as in the older commonwealths.

Education, being a matter of public polity, and not of private conscience, received more attention from the beginning, schools being formed under a school law in 1866. In 1867 there were two public-school teachers in Madison County, and three in Edgerton (Lewis and Clarke) County. The amount raised for their support and for schoolhouses was $7,709. The number of persons between four and twenty-one years of age in Montana was 1,920, of whom 222 attended school.[19] Since that period the standard of education has advanced within the last ten or twelve years, until it is upon the same plane with the school systems of the older states. Children are admitted from four to twenty-one years of age; and fourteen years’ tuition is required to be graduated from the high school, where one exists. Teachers’ institutes are required by law, to aid in promoting the best methods of instruction.

The school lands not being salable until the territory became a state, the people were compelled to support the schools by taxation. The amounts raised the several counties varied from $9,207, in Yellowstone County, to $33,766.91, in Choteau County, and aggregated, in 1884, $231,229.42, making an average $17,786 of school money furnished for every county, The school fund collected in 1888 averaged twenty dollars annually for each child in Montana, of which amount $317,442.37 was from county tax. There are 316 schoolhouses, valued at $646,679; and the number of children of school age was 27,600; while e teachers were 442. Several of the counties having the largest school funds elected women for supertendents.[20]

Of the literature of Montana there is little to be said. Newspapers abound, there being, before 1885, one in every county except Jefferson, which was supplied from Helena. The leading journals were of usual merit and interest, for interior newspapers.[21]

The dramatic taste of the people was not early developed by the theatre. There has been too much real life among them to leave a craving for mimic life. The towns, also were too small to support good companies. In 1866 Virginia City had a theatre, which was well patronized by its crowds of flush miners now passed away. Helena had then occasional seasons of the opera and drama. It has now a handsome open house. Miles City early supported a theatre, and a the principal towns had halls which served for musical and dramatic entertainments. When it is remembered that twenty-six years ago the first step was taken toward subduing the wilderness to the uses of civilized men, who could withheld the judgment, we done, hardy and energetic sons of America!

Footnotes

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  1. Taking 1883 as a point in time when the railroad era was fairly begun in Montana, twenty years after the discovery of Alder gulch, we have the country producing, aside from its minerals, 745,500 bushels of wheat, 1,614,000 bushels of oats, besides large crops of barley, potatoes, and garden vegetables; and owning 74,500 horses, 5,254 mules, 21,000 milch cows, 378,813 stock cattle, 524,440 sheep from which 2.037,000 pounds of wool were shipped. Of these, 50,000 cattle and 10,000 sheep were sent to market. The value of the stock on the ranges was $16,807,972. The sales aggregated between two and two and a half million dollars, besides these consumed at home. The value of the stock raised brought the income of Montana from livestock alone up to $3,000,000. Montana Husbandman; Portland West Shore, March 1884. The increase from this kind of property being rapid, the total value in the autumn of 1885 is put down at $30,000,000. With her bread and meat raised entirely within her own borders, with the question of cheap and quick transportation settled, and with millions coming in for beef, mutton, wool, butter, lead, silver, and gold, nothing was lacking but an honest and careful administration of county and territorial affairs to place Montana in a position to be admitted to the union, and to take rank at once as a wealthy state. Although still too soon to look for manufactures of importance, there was every facility for their maintenance in the water, forests, salt, iron, copper, wool, lime, coal, marble, hides, and other materials. Helena turned out Concord coaches and excellent farm-wagons. The annual report of the auditor of Montana for 1880 gives 18 gristmills, manufacturing 147,000 sacks, or 588,000 pounds, of flour; 57 sawmills, cutting 20,952,000 feet of lumber; 3 foundries, making 284 tons of castings; 11 wagon- factories, manufacturing 23 carriages, 20 of which were made at Helena; 42 carpenters’ shops, and 16 saddlers’ shops; with an aggregate of all amounting to $45,500. Lime works, tanneries, furniture shops, dairies, etc., are not enumerated. Population, which was first of all needful, was quoted in 1880 at 39, 157, but soon rapidly returning to the 60,000 of the flush mining times of 1865-6.

    In 1880 the territorial auditor, J. P. Woolman, reported 4,115,457 acres of land under improvement in Montana, valued at $9,898,470; and 33,954 town lots improved, valued at 8,997,460; or $18,895,930 as the value of real estate, not including mining ground. In the thirteen counties there were 127,748 horses, valued at $4,333,595; 603,710 cattle, valued at $13,347.815; 968,298 sheep, valued at $1, 952,728; 2,121 mules and asses, valued at $116,145; and 18,837 hogs, valued at $75,713; or stock worth $19,825,999. The capital invested in manufactures was $290,700; in merchandise, $3,493,970. The value of personal property in the territory was $6,615,405.82. Altogether, the real and personal property of the territory, as assessed in 1886, was $55,076,871.53, an increase since 1883 of $10,378,410.25. There were 16 flourmills and 91 sawmills in the territory; 158 blacksmith shops, 5 foundries, 21 silversmiths’ shops, and 43 reduction furnaces. The flour manufactured was 141,500 sacks; the number of feet of lumber sawed was 94,777; castings made at the foundries, 2,605; value of saddlers’ work in 27 shops, $221,000; the bullion produced in the furnaces was 21,481,015 pounds, valued at $18,542.,498.85. The coal produced in the territory from 10 mines was 1,563,350 bushels.

    It will be noticed that the production of flour, lumber, and coal in 1886 was insignificant in proportion to other sources of wealth. Although lumber and coal production has increased, the same disproportion has continued to the present date, the railroads importing these commodities, and exporting such as are more abundantly produced in the territory. From the report of Gov. White made in 1889 and acknowledged to be imperfect, it appears that there were in 1888 4,882 farms in Montana, and that on 26,155 acres were raised 770,200 bushels of wheat, or between 28 and 29 bushels to the acre. On 84,978 acres were raised 3,026,572 bushels of oats, or between 35 and 36 bushels to the acre. Over half the total amount of grain raised was produced in the two valleys of Bitterroot and Gallatin. This was not alone because of the greater fertility and better facilities for irrigation, but because these valleys he contiguous to mining centers which furnish markets for farm productions.

    Owing to heavy losses in cattle and other stock sustained in the severe winter, of 1887, the increase, except in sheep, has been slight, the showing in 1888 being 142,040 horses, an increase of only 14,256 in two years; while in cattle there was still a loss of 175,249; but in sheep there had been a gain of 185,473. The wool clip of 1888 reached ten million pounds, and sold for about $1,600,000. The same year Montana exported and consumed beef, mutton, livestock, hides, pelts, lumber, coal, and farm products of the value of $30,000.000. Add to this $40,487,000 in gold, silver, lead, and copper produced in 1888, and we have over $70,000,000, which, divided per capita among her population of 140,000, would give every inhabitant the sum of $500, which is a higher standard of wealth than that attained by the majority of commonwealths.

    This abundance does not come, as we have seen, from the agricultural resources of the state, which are still undeveloped, but from its mines. The principal mineral lodes as at present developed are in Silver Bow, Deer Lodge, Lewis and Clarke, Beaver Head, and Madison counties, although minerals exist in almost every part except the most eastern. There are in operation in 1889, 10 gold-mills, 18 silver-mills, 7 lead-smelters, 8 copper-smelters, and 25 concentrators, the combined capacity of which is 5,000 tons per. diem, and as soon as the Anaconda new smelter is completed, 7,000 tons. The number of men directly employed in mining is estimated at 10,000, and number of persons indirectly supported by mining and its cognate industries, 75,000. The dividends paid by mining companies in 1889 amounted to $4,000,000.

    The production of lumber from 98 mills for 1888 was 67,474,575 feet, and for 1889, 150,000,000 feet, all of which was consumed in the territory, a proof of rapid building and other improvements. The value of this product at $15 per thousand was $22,500,000. The area of timbered lands in Montana is variously estimated at from 34,000 to 40,000 square miles. The increasing use of wire fencing, of coal and coke instead of charcoal in smelting- furnaces, and of coal by the railroads, will enable the state to preserve its timber supply for a much longer period than it otherwise would. The forests, however, have suffered heavy losses by fires during the dry summer weather, when Indians, hunters, tourists, teamsters, and prospectors, by carelessness in leaving campfires, cause the destruction of more timber than would supply the whole population for a generation.

    Wages in Montana were high, even at this period, bricklayers receiving from $5 to $6 per day; stonemasons, $5; plasterers, $6; carpenters. $3.50 to $5; miners, $1150; and tradesmen generally from $3.50 to $5. Teamsters were paid $75 by the month; male cooks, from $50 to $100 per month, and all domestic service proportionately high; prescription clerks, $100 per month; dry-goods clerks, $65 to $125; bank clerks, $100 to $125; stenographers and type-writers, $100; male school-teachers and principals, $75 to $150; female teachers, $50 to $75; printers, 45c and 50c per M; bookkeepers, $75 to $150.

    ‘The laws of Montana,’ says Gov. White, ‘are especially in the interests of wage workers. They give them preference, and make their wages a hen for all sums earned sixty days prior to any assignments to the extent of $200.’ The same preference is given to claims for wages against the estate of deceased persons, coming first after funeral expenses, expenses of administration, and legal allowance to the widow and minor children; also in case of execution, attachments, and writs of a similar nature issued against persons or corporations. The constitution adopted in 1889 also has an article in the interest of labor, as follows: ‘The legislative assembly may provide for a bureau of agriculture, labor, and industry, to be located at the capital, under the control of a commissioner appointed by the governor, subject to the approval of the senate It shall be unlawful for the warden or other officer of any state penitentiary or reformatory institution in the state of Montana, or for any state officer, to let by contract to any person or persons or corporation the labor of any convict within said institutions.

  2. The general government has done very little for Montana in the matter of roads and routes. In 1884 congress made a small appropriation, and sent an expedition from Sioux City by the way of the Niobrara and the Black Hills to Montana, under the charge of Capt. Sawyer, who that year escorted a considerable train of immigrants to the gold mines. He came into the old immigrant road near Red Buttes, and left it near the head of Big Horn River, traveling to Virginia City by the route afterwards known as the Bozeman road, which the Indians finally caused to be closed. The money appropriated for improving the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers in more recent years has been almost wholly expended beyond the counties of Montana. Some money was used in improving the lower Yellowstone, and also Dauphin’s and Drowned Man’s rapids of the Missouri, 200 or 300 miles below Fort Benton. A small amount was expended in 1882 by Capt. Edward Maguire, U. S. Engineers, above the Falls of Missouri, but to little effect, owing to meagerness of the appropriation. The Missouri Navigation Company, formed in 1879 with the design of navigating the river above the fall, never carried out its plans, although a steamboat was placed upon that portion of the river in 1883. The Benton Transportation Company’s line plies on the Upper Missouri between Bismarck, Dakota, and Fort Benton, and for many years has been the only form of steam transit in the Upper Missouri country. It has a remarkable record, never having had a passenger lost or maimed on its boats. In 1887, up to the middle of August,38 up trips had been made, and 16,750,000 pounds of freight carried, valued at $1,500,000. The down freight of 800,000 pounds was valued at $800,000. Number of passengers carried, 700. The same company does business between Bismarck and Sioux City. The Yellowstone is sometimes navigated as far west as Billings, but navigation is impracticable upon it except during the months of June and July. Competition with the N. P. K. R., which runs for several hundred miles along the river, would be unprofitable, and no boats are built exclusively for this river. The tonnage of the Missouri River in 1888 amounted to 4,000 tons, 1,000 of which was in exports of wool, hides, and furs.
  3. The home companies which completed their roads before 1889 were the Montana Central and Montana Union. The Montana Central Company was organized by C. A. Broadwater, backed financially by the St Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Company. The Montana Union is a later enterprise. The former connects with the St P. M. & M. Co.’s road at Great Falls, and runs to Helena and Butte, with a branch from Silver City to Marysville, in Lewis and Clarke County. The Montana Union runs from Garrison, on the N. P. R. R., to Butte, with a branch from Silver Bow to Anaconda. The roads under construction in 1888 were the Niehart branch of the Montana Central, 50 miles; the Northern Pacific and Montana, from Gallatin to Butte, 70 miles; Elkhorn branch of N. P. R. R., 20 miles; from Missoula to Idaho, N. P. R. R., 110 miles; Sappington to Red Bluff, 20 miles; Harrison to Poney, 10 miles; Helena to Granite Quarry, 2 miles; total, 283.5 miles. The roads surveyed, but not commenced, were the Manitoba Extension from Great Falls to Missoula, 125 miles; Oregon Railway and Navigation Co., from Idaho boundary to Missoula, 115 miles; N. P. R. R. branches, from Billings to Fort Benton, 200 miles; branch to Castle Mountain, 65 miles; Big Horn and Southern, 1 15 miles; Billings and Clarke’s Fork, 60 miles; Garrison to Missoula, 80 miles; Missoula to Idaho boundary, 110 miles; total, 870 miles.
  4. The total amount of dividends paid in 1887 by the ten mining states and territories was $5,111,894, of which Montana furnished one fourth. Report of Helena Board of Trade,  1887, p. 14.
  5. Early Residents of Butte, Montana
  6. Much credit is due to Charles Clark, former superintendent of the Hope mine, and now one of the principal owners of Granite Mountain, for persistence in developing this mine. He was succeeded in the management by rank L. Perkins, and more recently by John W. Plummer.
  7. The officers were A. M. Holter, prest, Thomas Cruse, vice-prest, C. K. Tells, sec, J. K. Pardee, general manager. Trustees, S. T. Hauser, Samuel Word, H. M. Parchen, T. J. Lowrey, Thomas Cruse, J. K. Pardee, A. M. Holter, A. A. McDonald, and Ed. I. Zimmerman. The property is capitalized at $10,000,000.
  8. The Granite Belle is a St Louis corporation. The Speckled Trout group dates back to 1874, and was opened by the Northwest Mining Company, a Philadelphia concern, in which Charlemagne Tower and Gen. A. B. Nettleton ere largely interested. The Speckled Trout mine was not worked for some time, and is now under lease to the Algonquin Company, managed by J. K. Pardee.
  9. W. L. Hege was born in Illinois in 1846, and removed with his father to Brooklyn, N. Y., in 1857. He was educated in the schools of that city and on graduating entered a bank to learn the business. In 1875 he went to Salt Lake City, where he was teller in a bank until 1882, when he organized the banking-house of Hoge, Brownlee, & Company, of Butte. The following year he removed to Anaconda and organized the banking-house of Hoge, Daly, & Company, which was changed to the 1st National bank in 1889. He was the first mayor of Anaconda.
  10. E. L. Bonner, a native of N. Y., and educated there, was born in 1834, and in 1857 came to the Pacific coast, settling in Oregon. In 1866 he brought a stock of goods to Missoula, Montana, since which time he has been in business in this territory. In 1872 he established the mercantile house of K L. Bonner & Co. in Deer Lodge, and in 1874 the Bonner Mercantile Company of Butte. His home, however, is at Deer Lodge, where he gives personal attention to his business.
  11. D. J. McMillan was born in Tennessee in 1846, removing with his father to Carlinville, Illinois, in 1854, where he was educated. In 1862 he entered the union army, and served three years, after which he was engaged in teaching in Illinois until 1873, when he went to Utah and organized and conducted a number of mission schools for a period of 10 years. In 1883 he wai elected the first president of Montana College, in which office he remains. In 1889 he took part in politics on the republican side, during the movement for statehood. As a speaker he is logical, forcible, and witty.
  12. For the month of September 1889, this mine, with a 50-stamp mill, crushed 3,238 tons, yielding $64,500; a 10-stamp mill crushed 537 tons, yielding $26,800; a 20-stamp-mill crushed 2,800 tons, yielding $20,000-total, $111.300. The working expenses were $53,000. At this rate the dividends should be about doubled. I might mention here the names of dividend-paying mines as quoted in 1887, at which period $8,134,902 had been paid since 1880. They were the Alice, $750,000; Amy and Silversmith, $331,851; Boston ani Montana, $520,000; Elkhorn, $180,000; Empire, $33,000; Granite Mountain, $2,600,000; Helena M. & R., $192,310; Hecla Consolidated, $l,062,500; Hope, $158,241; Lexington, $565,000; Montana Limited, $1,254,000; Moulton, $350,000; Original, $120,000; Parrot, $18,000.
  13. Among the notable citizens of Helena I mention the following: Early Residents of Helena, Montana
  14. A little personal and territorial history will not be out of place here. About 1881, Paris Gibson, a pioneer of Minneapolis, and who understood the part the water-power of the Mississippi River at the falls of St Anthony had played in the building up of that city, first conceived the idea of founding a city at the Great Falls of the Missouri. His knowledge of this water-power and the surrounding country was chiefly obtained from J. K. Caster of Belt, and late in the above-mentioned year, in company with J. A. Whitmore and H. P. Rolfe, with James Burns as driver for the party, he set out from Benton to personally inspect the described locality. There were no roads, the party experienced difficulty in finding the several falls in order to compare their power, but decided the Great Falls impracticable, and a snow-storm corning on, they returned to Ft Benton. In the spring of 1882, Gibson made several visits to the falls, and in August, with Gov. Edgerton, Charles Gibson, and H. P. Rolfe, selected the present site, and made a preliminary survey of the town preparatory to placing scrip thereon. Soon after, Gibson formed a partnership with James J. Hill, the railway magnate. During the winter, additional land was filed on, and when all was secure, in 1883 a final survey of the town was made, Paris Gibson and Jerry Collins, with Rolfe, marking out the position of the principal business street, which was called Central Avenue, and was made 90 feet wide, all the other streets and avenues being 80 feet in width. In the autumn of 1883, John Woods erected the first log-house, on Tenth Ave. South. In the following April, Rolfe built the first frame-house, and George E. Huey the second, after which the town company’s secretary, H. O. Chowen, commenced erecting an office, and Walker & Carter a restaurant, partly of boards, and partly of canvas. Liberal advertising was restored to. In the mean time the coal mines at Sand Coulee were being opened, and quite a village was growing up there. In the mean time, also, James J. Hill was maturing his plans for bringing the Manitoba railroad to Great Falls by 1888, 700 miles across the great Indian reservation north of the Missouri. During the summer, Col Dodge of Helena visited the Falls and quietly selected the route of the Montana Central. The firm of Murphy, Maclay, & Co. opened a store at Great Falls, with W. P. Wren in charge. This was followed by Bcachley Bros & Hickory’s store. E. B. Largent had a store on the opposite side of the river, and William Wamer opened a restaurant, which served for the hotel of Great Falls for some time. In 1885 Will Hanks, who had been publishing the Rising Sun at Sun River, moved his plant to the new town, and on the 14th of May began the issuance of the Weekly Tribune. A school district was organized this year, a schoolhouse built, and Gibson, Rolfe, and Lee were the first trustees of the district, Rev. J. M. Largent being teacher. A sawmill was erected by McClay & Myers, and they, with Helter & Co., furnished lumber for the improvements of the town. Its growth was slow until, in the winter of 1885-6, word came that engineers were surveying a railroad line through Prickly Pear canon, revealing the purpose of the Montana Central Company. From this time the growth was more rapid and assured. In 1866 the town had 600 inhabitants. By great exertion, the Manitoba railroad was completed to Great Falls in October 1887, when a great celebration testified the satisfaction of the people. In November the road to Helena was opened. Truly the ways of the 19th century town-builders resemble not the ways of their ancestors of even one century ago. Some opposition was offered in the legislature to the organization of the county of Cascade, but the measure was carried through in 1887, and the county officials were sworn in on the 21st of Dec. The first board of commissioners consisted of Charles Wegner, J. A. Harris, and E. R. Clingon; sheriff, C. P. Downing; county treasurer, A. E. Diekerman; probate judge, H. P. Rolfe; clerk and recorder, J. W. Matkin; assessor, R. T. Gurham; attorney, George W. Taylor; supt of schools, Miss Bessie Ford.

    The events of 1888 were the completion of the wagon-road and railroad bridges, the establishment of great reduction works, the holding of two terms of court, which cleared the moral atmosphere to a considerable extent, the building of a jail and two churches, the completion of the Sand Coulee railroad, the creation of a board of trade, and the erection of a large number of business buildings, the public school edifice, and two hotels, one of which is among the best in Montana. Another newspaper, the Leader, was established June 16, 1888. In October the city was incorporated, and Paris Gibson chosen mayor. A hundred years from now, when Great Falls is a great city, these details of its origin will not be without interest or value, but quite the reverse.

    Early Residents of Great Falls, Montana

  15. Early Residents of Benton, Montana
  16. Prominent in that district, which was formerly in Choteau co., but in that portion which is now Fergus County, at Fort Maginnis, on the east flank of the Judith mountains, is Granville Stuart, president of the board of stock commissioners. Stuart has been frequently mentioned in the early part of this history. It was through a letter from Mr Stuart to a brother in Colorado describing the placer mines in the Rocky Mountains that the sudden immigration from Colorado to Montana took place in 1862. He was for many years a member of the Montana legislature, and school trustee since 1864. He was one of the first to prove that this was a superior cattle-raising region, and is himself identified with the cattle interests of the state. Mr Stuart was born in Virginia in 1834, and educated in Iowa. In the spring of 1852 he went to California, “where he mined until 1857, when he, returning east, was, through circumstances already mentioned, detained in Montana, and becoming interested in the affairs of a new territory, made it his home.
  17. Joseph Scott, of Miles City, is a representative cattle-raiser of his district. He was born in Tyrone County, in the north of Ireland, in 1844, and educated there and in Philadelphia, U. S. In 1867 he went to Idaho, mining at War Eagle Mountain for 2 years. In 1809 he went to Utah, purchased some cattle and drove them to White Pine, Nevada, where he remained until 1871, after which for 2 years he travelled about through Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah prospecting, and finally locating in Idaho in the track of the Indian war of 1878, by which he lost a good deal of property in stock. He then went to Elko County, Nevada, and tried cattle raising, but found the ranges over stocked. In 1880 he came to Custer County, Montana, where he follows stock raising, still retaining an interest in Idaho and Nevada.
  18. In 1863-4, Smith and Price, two Presbyterian ministers, and the first protestant preachers to settle in Montana, held services for a time in Virginia City, but it was not until 1872 that a Presbyterian Church was organized in that place, although other protestant churches had been, namely, the Methodist Church south, and an Episcopal and Catholic society. The last-named was under the charge of Father Giorda, the Methodist Church under that of A. M. Hough, and the Episcopal Church was cared fur by H. H. Prout.

    Daniel S. Tuttle, of Otsego, New York, was the first missionary bishop of the Episcopal Church in Montana, appointed in 1866 to superintend Utah, Idaho, and Montana. He was a scholarly man, young and energetic, and labored efficiently in his field. At first a union church edifice was occupied by the protestant societies alternately, but it was ultimately sold for secular purposes. The Methodists erected a church in Virginia City in the autumn of 1867, the corner stone of which was laid on the 12th of September. As in most new countries, they organized in advance of other denominations, but in Montana they were divided by politics long after the cause, which separated them, was a lost cause. Helena was, on account of its importance, the next field sought, the Catholics being first on the ground, and completing the first building for purely religious services in Montana. Two young women, Sallie Raymond and Margaret Irvine, solicited contributions for the first church-bell in Helena, in the spring of 1867. Although religious exercises were held in the various towns and settlements, it required a few years for society to become sufficiently homogeneous to unite upon religious principles and decide to erect temples for their favorite practices. Accordingly most of the churches have been built since 1872. The Methodist Church at Missoula was dedicated that year. The Presbyterians did not begin seriously to organize until that year, when societies were formed at Deer Lodge, Helena, Gallatin City, Bozeman, and Virginia City, by Sheldon Jackson, J. R. Russell, and W. S. Frackelton. The Presbyterian edifice at Deer Lodge was opened for services February 21, 1875, Russell being first pastor of the society. The Catholics erected a new church at Helena in 1876. The Protestant Episcopal society of St Peter of Helena opened their church in October 1879, M. N. Gilbert pastor.

  19. The first public school of Helena was opened Dec. 3, 1867, and taught by William I. Marshal and Mrs R. M. Farley. Rept of Superintendent of Schools, in Virginia Post, Dec. 14, 1867.
  20. Teachers are the least publicly honored of all the public’s servants; superintendents have all been experienced teachers. Therefore, let me record here, for the honor of some of Montana’s most deserving, the names of her county superintendents of 1884: Beaverhead, John Gannon; Choteau, Miss E. Johnston; Custer, A. C. Logan; Dawson, J. H. Ray; Deer Lodge, T. Catlin; Gallatin, Adda M. Hamilton; Jefferson, E. L Fletcher; Lewis & Clarke, Helen P. Clarke; Meagher, Alice M. Darcy; Madison, J. C. Malny; Missoula, J. A. T. Ryman; Silver Bow, T. J. Booher; Yellowstone, F. Shuart. Sixth Annual Rept. of Supt of Public Instruction, by Cornelius Hodges, who has filled the office of territorial superintendent for many years, alternating with C. Wright and W. Egbert Smith.
  21. Pioneer Newspapers of Montana

    As one of these who have done’ much to foster the educational interests Montana should be mentioned Cornelius Hedges, a resident of Helena, who in 1872 was appointed superintendent of public instruction, and after serving for five years was reappointed in 1883, in which year he was also elected secretary of the Territorial Historical Society. A native of Westfield Massachusetts and educated first at the Westfield Academy, then at Yale, and finally the Harvard law school, he began the practice of his profession at Independence, Iowa, where in 1864 he published the Independent Civilian. During that year he came to Montana, and in 1865 to Helena, where he again practice law, and was appointed U. S. Attorney and Probate Judge. To him is due the credit of first suggesting that the National Park be set aside for the present purposes, and in 1870 he was one of a party of ten by whom its site was explored and surveyed. He is also secretary of the Pioneer Association, an has long been connected with the Helena Herald, on whose staff he is recognized as a most able journalist, and as a ripe and accomplished scholar.




MLA Source Citation:

Bancroft, Hubert H. Bancroft Works, Volume 31, History Of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, 1845-1889. San Francisco: The History Company. 1890. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 31 March 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/montana/montana-expansion-labor-transportation-and-citizens.htm - Last updated on Aug 19th, 2013


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