Welcome

The goal of this blog is to help readers locate their lineage and discover the forces that motivated them, and learn how they lived their lives--told in their own words in the BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS trilogy, from the 1860s to the early 1930s. The indexed names will be published here frequently, along with an excerpt and a historical photograph if available. ** Scroll Archives at right.

Order Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III [.pdf editions on DVD] via email to mtscribbler [at] air-pipe [dot] com OR email: ooslegman [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thank you ~~ Mona Leeson Vanek ~aka~Montana Scribbler



Friday, November 16, 2018

Tiptoeing Into World War I

Vignette Vol. 1 No.11
Resource: BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS 


Situated in the Clark's Fork River Valley and surrounded by mountain ranges Noxon, Montana is a spectacularly beautiful scene any time of the year and especially so when it appears serenely blanketed with fresh fallen snow, circa 1916-20, courtesy Harry and Sarah Tallmadge collection.


Excerpt - Noxon 1917. Picks swung vigorously in the frosty January air. Three men carved out a grave for John Schiller. He had the audacity to die when the ground was frozen as solid as the rocky Montana mountains sheltering the wee cemetery, hewed from shrub covered forestland a half-mile up Pilgrim Creek Road from Noxon. The old, gray haired, German had lived up along Bull River, the ribbon-like northwestern Montana valley two miles as the crow flies from the buildings huddled near the Noxon Depot on the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks. But twenty-miles by cold sleigh, and colder ferry ride across the Clark's Fork, up the riverbank, across the flats and railroad line. A stop at Maynard's Saloon. Warmed inside and out, the driver snapped reins on tired horses, and a growing crowd followed the sleigh to the cemetery.

Two feet of pure white snow muffled the laughter of the burly, young homesteaders, recounting John's most daring exploits. He was one of their own.

"Old Man" Green, with his wife and three little kids, "Dutch" Henry Scheffler, a butcher from Helena, Montana, who kept a passel of dogs, and Pete Hatch, a man referred to as "Old Man" Hatch, had been Schiller's neighbors for a time. Schiller, a frequenter of dances in Heron, had also brought beef to market there in earlier days. Until the forest service had "reserved" part of Marion Cotton's homesteader lands, and built a ranger's headquarters next to his place, in 1908.

The pick handlers recalled McJunkin had been the first one living and logging in the Bull River Valley, sixty some miles south of the Canadian border, before Schiller wandered in. Before the forest service existed. Before there was any road at all.

McJunkin had a sawmill. Doc Smith acquired the place when McJunkin pulled up stakes and left. Smith let Green and his wife have it. Greens burned out and moved to Heron. Marion Cotton and his partner, Tom Moran took up the place next. Then the forest service snatched it away from them eleven years ago. John had neighbored with them all.

Now a cold arctic storm had ushered in 1917. And they were burying "Old Man" Schiller in the Noxon cemetery.

Bull River Valley would never be the same.

But then, would anything be the same? With war raging across the ocean? The damned Kaiser was getting too big for his britches. Who could say. Who could predict what the future held, even in the security of these Montana mountains they'd called home for the past two decades.


 
 
Visit: Five Star Review

[Resource is also available free online @ Behind These Mountains, Volume II ]
In addition to eKindle editions PDF editions of  "Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III" are available on a DVD - $50 S&H included. Plus author's permission to print or have printed buyers personal copy of each of the approximately 1200 page books which contain about 1,000 photographs from homesteaders personal albums.

Order here:

Mona Leeson Vanek
13505 E Broadway Ave., Apt. 243
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
 
 
TO HAVE AN EXCERPT PUBLISHED IN BYGONE MONTANANS ABOUT A PERSON WHO MAY BE MENTIONED IN THIS REGIONAL MONTANA TRILOGY Email mtscribbler@air-pipe.com
 
Please visit often, and share with friends and acquaintances. If you find anyone with family ties, please leave a comment and contact information and share a memory to grow your family tree!


 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Northern Pacific Railroad Depots


Vignette Vol. 2 No.9
Resource: BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS 

Excerpt - Noxon 1922. Northern Pacific Railroad depots were a mixed affair, many of them closing within few years after the railroad was completed. The men and women who manned the outposts, originally established ten miles apart, were a mixed lot. Most were diligent and honest. A few were not, and were replaced as soon as word reached the main offices in Minneapolis.



Lyle, Art Yonker, and Minnie Yonker play with Janet
Newton and an unidentified lad on the snow pile beside
the Northern Pacific Railroad depot at Noxon, one of the
remaining twenty-three depot buildings east of the Idaho
border in the 1920s.The ghost town of Smeads had only
a Boxcar depot, and many other smaller stops were flag
stops with no shelter for waiting passengers. The Clark's
Fork River and Noxon ferry crossing are beyond the
cottonwood trees on the north side of the depot.
Courtesy George Jamison collection.


 
Visit: Five Star Review

[Resource is also available free online @ Behind These Mountains, Volume II ]
In addition to eKindle editions PDF editions of  "Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III" are available on a DVD - $50 S&H included. Plus author's permission to print or have printed buyers personal copy of each of the approximately 1200 page books which contain about 1,000 photographs from homesteaders personal albums.

Order here:

Mona Leeson Vanek
13505 E Broadway Ave., Apt. 243
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
 
 
TO HAVE AN EXCERPT PUBLISHED IN BYGONE MONTANANS ABOUT A PERSON WHO MAY BE MENTIONED IN THIS REGIONAL MONTANA TRILOGY Email mtscribbler@air-pipe.com
 
Please visit often, and share with friends and acquaintances. If you find anyone with family ties, please leave a comment and contact information and share a memory to grow your family tree!

Noxon's Celebrated High School

Vignette Vol.3 No.7
Resource: BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS 


Excerpt: NoxonSeptember 1, 1925, Noxon's school opened with grades 1-12, and an enrollment of 19 in high school. Three weeks later, there were 24 high school students.

During the early years of the high school, the principal was also part of the teaching staff. He taught several high school classes, in addition to answering to the Board of Trustees concerning the school's operation.

The Board took the dominant lead in ordering supplies, personally interviewing and hiring each teacher, janitor and school bus driver. Board members also scrutinized each expense before giving authorization for spending school district funds. They were directly accountable to Sanders County School Superintendent and Sanders County Commissioners.

Noxon High School was three years old when, on September 26, 1925, the Sophomore and Junior English classes published the first issue of Noxon Buzzer, the school newspaper. Under the supervision of Principal W.A. Rollwitz, the students dedicated it to "The Bravery Of the Freshmen Class During Their Initiation."

Jack Olver,  first editor of the Noxon Buzzer wrote, "Noxon can be justly proud of its high school. We have as good a building as any in the county and will compare well with any in the state in comparison to the size of the town. Excellent teachers, loyal students and loyal support of the district residents."

The paper included this quip, one of many similar witticisms in subsequent issues: "We have found out that Ina could not kill a poor helpless grasshopper. She sure is not chicken hearted."

On September 18th, "Freshies" [freshman] initiation was a community event, held Friday evening at eight o'clock in the school gymnasium. Each Freshie got an all-day sucker, and were feted for a couple of hours, before everyone had lunch. Dancing and games completed the evening. Among the sixteen students in this early 1920s Freshman Class initiation are Bill Finnegan, Fern McNeil, Anna Mercer, Cora Tempro, Betty Berray, and students whose identities are lost to history, courtesy Jaspar Redfern collection.

 
 
Visit: Five Star Review

[Resource is also available free online @ Behind These Mountains, Volume II ]
In addition to eKindle editions PDF editions of  "Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III" are available on a DVD - $50 S&H included. Plus author's permission to print or have printed buyers personal copy of each of the approximately 1200 page books which contain about 1,000 photographs from homesteaders personal albums.

Order here:

Mona Leeson Vanek
13505 E Broadway Ave., Apt. 243
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
 
 
TO HAVE AN EXCERPT PUBLISHED IN BYGONE MONTANANS ABOUT A PERSON WHO MAY BE MENTIONED IN THIS REGIONAL MONTANA TRILOGY Email mtscribbler@air-pipe.com


Please visit often, and share with friends and acquaintances. If you find anyone with family ties, please leave a comment and contact information and share a memory to grow your family tree!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Families Without Interconnections

Vignette Vol.2 No.8
Resource: BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS

Excerpt: Noxon 1915 - Families without a lot of interconnections were more numerous, and included the Hamptons, Browns, Engles, Lyons, and numerous other early settlers. Many young people, now grown to young adults with babies and youngsters, worked hard to stay and prosper. Most had lived through the devastating 1910 fires and found the courage, or the desperation, to remain. The majority lived in log homes, used kerosene lamps, outhouses, and icehouses. Year in and year out, they consumed enormous woodpiles.

This group of young mothers and children are an example
 of family relationships, and includes [L-R] Freeman, Mable
 and Ruby Fulks, and sister, Goldie [holding baby], Mary
 Hampton [holding baby], Fern Saint [with towel] and
 daughter, Montana 'Tana' standing between her and Mary,
 plus children, Bob, Dan, and Maude Saint, circa early 1920s,
courtesy Ben F. Saint collection.

Families grew sizeable gardens, and carefully preserved the produce, shot and ate venison, caught fish, and gathered and preserved large quantities of wild berries from surrounding mountains.

Although much ado was made over appropriate attire outside of their homes, men wore durable high-topped leather boots, sturdy, functional pants, and shirts and coats when working in the woods, in sawmills, or farming.

Family men enjoyed advantages over lumberjacks, in that their clothes were washed regularly. Itinerant men had only their "bindle", and minimal opportunities to measure up to society's dress codes of the time. Attendance at a Parent-Teachers meeting, church, wedding or funeral, mandated wearing coat, hat and tie. And a suit, if they owned one.

The few details that remain about these early settlers presents a glimpse into life in the west end of Sanders County. Zenus Carmichael, a harness maker, came to Noxon in 1915. He settled back at the base of mountains in Bull River, and built the bridge linking his 160-acre homestead with Caspar Berray's and LaFaun's places. He kept a good, well-stocked root cellar. After the forest service arrived, in 1906 and began installing lookouts, Zenus spent some time manning the Squaw Peak Lookout as an employee of the USFS.



Visit: Five Star Review

[Resource is also available free online @ Behind These Mountains, Volume II ]
In addition to eKindle editions PDF editions of  "Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III" are available on a DVD - $50 S&H included. Plus author's permission to print or have printed buyers personal copy of each of the approximately 1200 page books which contain about 1,000 photographs from homesteaders personal albums.


Order here:
Mona Leeson Vanek
13505 E Broadway Ave., Apt. 243
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
 
TO HAVE AN EXCERPT PUBLISHED IN BYGONE MONTANANS ABOUT A PERSON WHO MAY BE MENTIONED IN THIS REGIONAL MONTANA TRILOGY Email mtscribbler@air-pipe.com

Please visit often, and share with friends and acquaintances. If you find anyone with family ties, please leave a comment and contact information and share a memory to grow your family tree!
 

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Log Drives on the Clarks Fork River: Settlers of Sanders County Montana: Vignette Vol. 3 No.7

Vignette Vol. 3 No. 7
Resource: BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS


1920. Excerpt -- Noxon: Jim Finnigan, Strawberry and Zin Caza worked together on log drives on the Clarks Fork River, taking logs downstream to sawmills in Idaho. Jim's stepson, Carmen Moore, told how the drunker Zin got, the straighter he'd get, until he'd fall over backwards, and his money would fall out of his pockets. The watching kids picked up Zin's money and gave it to him. But he'd give his coins back to the kids.

Carmen said, "That Cabinet Gorge was a narrow gorge. Jim Finnigan rode a 25-30 foot pole down through there in the high water once. The water was so high he just went right through on a channel. He had a pike pole to balance himself as he went through." Finnegan's feat was daring, and much admired.

Cabinet Gorge on the Clark's Fork River in the
Panhandle of Idaho. Photograph courtesy
Maxine Laughlin collection.
Jim was a skilled carpenter. Jim and his brother, Bill Finnigan, also built four houses in a row on Broadway, between Buck's Store and the new Ranger's house. All sat on the west side of Broadway. S.S. Brown bought one of them, Henry Larson bought next to Brown's, and Grandma Ellis owned the one farthest up the hill.

George Phillips, the Northern Pacific Railroad depot agent, had his house built near the schoolhouse. A two-story house, it was the only house in town to have an indoor toilet. The sewer pipe went under the main road into Noxon, and spilled out over the steep embankment, just east of the school grounds.

Visit: Five Star Review

[Resource is also available free online @ Behind These Mountains, Volume III ] .PDF copies of "Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III" are available on a DVD - $50 S&H included. Plus author's permission to print or have printed buyers personal copy of each of the approximately 1200 page books which contain about 1,000 photographs from homesteaders personal albums.

 

Order here:

Mona Leeson Vanek
13505 E Broadway Ave., Apt. 243
Spokane Valley, WA 99216

Email:
mtscribbler@air-pipe.com

TO HAVE AN EXCERPT PUBLISHED IN BYGONE MONTANANS ABOUT A PERSON WHO MAY BE MENTIONED IN THIS REGIONAL MONTANA TRILOGY Email mtscribbler@air-pipe.com

Please visit often, and share with friends and acquaintances. If you find anyone with family ties, please leave a comment and contact information and share a memory to grow your family tree!
 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Montana Miners: Settlers of Sanders County Montana: Vignette Vol. 3 No.5


Vignette Vol. 3 No.5
Resource: BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS

1920. Excerpt -- Bull River Valley: Montana Mining was well known to be a rough and tough game that wasn't always peaceful. It wasn't unusual for skullduggery to occur that went unnoticed by local and regional newspapers. Some local happenings made the news, but most didn't.

One such case occurred during the years King and Lowry were prospecting in Sanders County on the East Fork of Bull River, below St. Paul Lake. When King and Moore from Kalispell owned the mine, Pat Moran mined with King. Tom Moran was the prospector who lived in the basin that bears his name–Moran Basin.

St. Paul Peak, Chicago Peak and Milwaukee  Pass, Copper Gulch, Last Chance Prospect, and Bull River Valley.


During the fall of 1920, King and Lowry were prospecting on the East Fork of Bull River, high in the mountains below spectacular St. Paul Peak. Others were also prospecting on Milwaukee Pass below St. Paul Peak. In Copper Gulch, below nearby Chicago Peak, at the Last Chance Prospect, copper and silver were assaying pretty high.


Frank Berray told of one summer-day tragedy in a prospecting tunnel on the East Fork of Bull River.

"I think his name was Moran, but I'm not sure. Now they don't know whether someone short-fused him or whether he short-fused himself. They always did their blasting at noon. They'd set five blasts and only four went off. He was out of the mine. Maybe it was long-fused. Anyway, he went back in to see why it [the dynamite charge] didn't go off. Then it did.
"When he was blowed [sic] up King took him and laid him out on the ore dump. And then they come for help but the trail got afire.

"The folks noticed the trail afire and when King come down they asked him why he set the trail afire. Well, he said he just accidentally set it afire. So they couldn't get up there. King told them that the boy was dead.

"It was about four days before we got in there on account of that fire. I, and a fella named Jace Edwards, and my dad, Caspar 'Cap' Berray, went up there and packed him out. When we got up there to get him of course he'd laid out there and he was in pretty bad shape. His whole face was blowed [sic] full of rock.

"We wrapped him [his body] in canvas and put him on the pack horse."

Visit: Five Star Review

[Resource is also available free online @ Behind These Mountains, Volume III ]



PDF copies of  "Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III" are available on a DVD - $50 S&H included, plus author's permission to print or have printed buyers personal copy of each of the approximately 1200 page books which contain about 1,000 photographs from homesteaders personal albums.
 

Order here:
Mona Leeson Vanek
13505 E Broadway Ave., Apt. 243
Spokane Valley, WA 99216




 
TO HAVE AN EXCERPT PUBLISHED IN BYGONE MONTANANS ABOUT A PERSON WHO MAY BE MENTIONED IN THIS REGIONAL MONTANA TRILOGY Email mtscribbler@air-pipe.com

Please visit often, and share with friends and acquaintances. If you find anyone with family ties, please leave a comment and contact information and share a memory to grow your family tree!
 
 


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Montana Forest Service Rangers: Settlers of Sanders County Montana: Vignette Vol.2 No.7

Vignette Vol.2 No.7
Resource: BEHIND THESE MOUNTAINS

 
About the time Harry Tallmadge [L]
and George  Kaufman [R] shared a
good laugh. Harry was an Assistant
US Forest Ranger and George was 
the Ranger, ca. 1914, courtesy
Harry Tallmadge collection.
1917 - Noxon. Excerpt--Former Montana Forest Service Ranger, Harry Tallmadge, a handsome, young progressive fellow, bought a 1914 Model T Ford from a forest ranger in Troy, Montana. Early one morning he started it with a couple of vigorous turns of the crank, climbed in, grasped the steering wheel firmly, and began his journey over the two-rut road through the Bull River valley to Noxon.

It was a long trip, and in many ways more difficult than traveling by horseback. Like Clifford Weare and other travelers before him, Harry crammed his felt hat down, jumped out several times, grabbed his axe from the T's toolbox, and, muscles bulged by well-directed axe cuts, cleared fallen trees, limbs and brush out of the road.
 The high-centered Ford straddled stumps that were low enough. To navigate around each yielding, muddy spot, he steered his car off the wagon trail and over faint tracks on burned-over forest slopes, the latter threatening to upset the narrow-tired vehicle. Where warm, spring temperatures dried the road, his tires swirled dust that coated the interior and dulled the shine on brass fittings and car body.

Before dusk, flushed with triumph, he waited impatiently at the Noxon ferry landing, hating to wait for the ferry to come from the far side. He'd planned to board the ferry much earlier, cross the Clark's Fork River, and let the resounding putt, putt of his four-cylinder car traversing the uphill half mile wagon road into town announce his arrival. It was close to pitch-black when loggers and miners from Jim Finnigan's Cottage Rooms, Gordon's hotel and Baxter's hotel flocked around the young man and admired his sputtering horseless carriage.


While in Noxon, Harry was able to read the latest bridge news in the Sanders County Independent Ledger. The April 5, 1917, issue headlined a many-columned article:

"Will Sanders County build a bridge at Noxon this year? Will it build one at Dixon? Will it build none at all?
Visit: Five Star Review [Resource is also available free online @ Behind These Mountains, Volume II
 
 
PDF copies of all Behind These Mountains, Vols. I, II & III are available on a DVD - $50 S&H included, plus author's permission to print or have printed buyers personal copy of each of the approximately 1200 page books which contain about 1,000 photographs from homesteaders personal albums.
.
Order here:
Mona Leeson Vanek
13505 E Broadway Ave., Apt. 243
Spokane Valley, WA 99216
 
TO HAVE AN EXCERPT PUBLISHED IN BYGONE MONTANANS ABOUT A PERSON WHO MAY BE MENTIONED IN THIS REGIONAL MONTANA TRILOGY Email mtscribbler@air-pipe.com

Please visit often, and share with friends and acquaintances. If you find anyone with family ties, please leave a comment and contact information and share a memory to grow your family tree!