Broadwater County Museum
Open Daily 1pm to 5pm Except July 4th
May 15 through September 15
Free Admission
Museum is located at 133 N Walnut St

Mail: PO Box 614
Townsend, MT 59644
Phone: 406-266-5252
Email: bwcomuseum@mt.net
Web Site: www.broadwatercountymuseum.com

Museum Information & Broadwater Bygones Excerpts
Broadwater County Museum Open
May 15 through September 15

2014 “Year of the Buffalo Robe”

One of the artifacts housed in the museum is an authentic painted buffalo robe. We have recently had this robe replicated and are very proud of the results. The theme for the 2014 season is “Year of the Buffalo Robe”. We will have the original robe and the replication on display for the season. Following the 2014 season, the original robe will go into storage so it can be preserved. We will have a program on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at 2:00 describing the robe and what the different drawings tell us.

During some of our research we have found that we are missing several of Broadwater County High School annuals. The years we are missing are: 1922 through 1928; 1934; 1942; 1945; 1986 through 1993; 1999; 2002; 2009 and 2011. If you have possession of any of these annuals and would like to find a good home for them, please consider the Museum.

Museum History

The July 4, 1976 dedication of the Broadwater County Museum and Historical Library culimnated seven years of planning and promotion by probably more county citizens than any previous event.

October 7, 1969 the Canton Women’s club called a meeting to stimulate interest in a Historical Society. The first official meeting of the Broadwater County Historical Society was August 21, 1970 and Lloyd Heberle was elected President. There was one silver dollar in the treasury left over from a previous historical society.

The priority project was to buy or build a museum. The need for a museum became urgent because artifacts were disappearing to the dump or to dealers. The project was motivated by the farm Bureau and other community organizations.

At the first annual meeting of the Historical Society on April 30, 1971 the treasury had $814 and there were 329 members.

The Board of Directors considered such alternatives as moving into the old Canton Church and buying the ranch home from the Cook Estate. In 1973 the County Commissioners offered for lease the lots on which the museum now stands. The membership had increased to over 500. The building fund was also increased from revenue sharing, a county mill levy, estates, memorials, life and annual memerships, private companies, school children,the Bicentennial Commission, and local merchants and service organizations.

Inflation was increasing, but the project appeared to be supported by most of the county. A bid was received from a local contractor which appeared to provide the building desired with the budget available. Construction began in April 1974 and one year later the annual meeting was held in the completed building. An Exhibit Hall Committee was named and worked under the direction of Rose Flynn designing and building the displays of artifacts collected for the grand opening. The museum is open to the public throughout the summer, closed only on the Fourth of July.

Work continues on registering, indexing, abstracting, repairing, displaying and filing acquisitions. In 1977, publication of a county history book, the Broadwater Bygones was completed; marking of all historical sites in the county is underway; and a rock veneer was added to the museum. A framed addition was built in the fall of 1986. It has a display hall, a workroom, storage/shop room and second floor storage.

In 2000 work was completed on the newest addition. It measures 60’x80′, and containes a half-scale model of a dugout canoe of the type Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery built on their voyage along the upper Missouri. Also featured in this addition are an authentic sheep herders wagon, a horse drawn carriage and a buffalo skin.

We deeply appreciate the enthusiastic support we have received throughout the years for historical projects.

Board of Directors

The Broadwater County Historical Society & Museum has a board of directors which consists of eleven members. The officers of the Board are as follows:

Brian Kimpton, President
Keith Kirscher, Vice President
Terry Love, Secretary
Helen Turcotte, Treasurer

Other members of the Board are:

Ross Johnson
Chuck McLane
Connie Shindoll
John Stoner
Paul Putz
Vic Sample
Matt Nelson

The Curator of the Museum is Linda Huth.

The Eleanor Marks Library

The Museum features an extensive library. Included in the library are copies of most of the local newspapers. These date back to the 1800s. Copies of these newspapers are also available on microfisch and are available for public use.

We have extensive records of obituaries of local residents and the location of their burial. This information is also available to the public. Below, in the Additional Information section of this site is comprehensive information on the cemeteries and burial sites in Broadwater County. To access the information, click on the cemetery you desire. A deep debt of gratitude is owed to Mike Castleberry and Charlene Spaulding for compiling this information.

Of interest to many who visit the Museum are the “Family History” files. These files contain histories of many local families, both past and present. We always welcome additional information for these files.

Broadwater Bygones

The Broadwater Bygones is a history of Broadwater County. This history book was copyrighted in 1977. The authors of this most interesting book were: Barbara Baum, Edna Gaab, Agnes George, Grace Hollaway and Eleanor Marks. In addition to the authors there were many people who assisted with the publication of this book. Many, many thanks go to those who had the foresight to compile such a work.

The Bygones is for sale at the museum. The price is $50.00 for a hard cover and $35.00 for a soft cover.

The following are some excerpts from this book:

Canton

by Edna Gaab

If we pause but a moment and compare our mode of living with the way pioneers lived, we can’t but feel a debt of gratitude for the future they carved for us. Their foresight, ingenuity and courage is amazing. How could they have dug those canals on grades like the Yankee and Irish ditches which remained the best until the lake came? Without realizing it, they had a great knowledge of engineering. They had to depend on each other. There is a quotatation: “The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the fruits of the future.” In recording pioneer life we are repaying part of the debt we owe them.

We are prone to think of the hardships the early settlers went through, but they didn’t think of them that way. With their great resourcefulness, they made the best of everything and formed lasting friendships. Old timers had friends in several adjoining counties. They attended the same dances, probably taking two days going and two days returning. They had community dances too, the Canton Dance Hall was built early. There was an organ and the Perkins brothers played the violin and furnished the music in early days and after them the Daniels brothers. Will Daniels played the violin, Ed, the piano and Hal, the horn, and they played together for many years. Tom Lenahan later played the violin with them.

CANTON STORE – Ed Ragen, who came from Illinois at the age of 19, in 1881, was employed by W.E. Tierney. One of the things he did was to drive a four-horse team to Helena to purchase goods for the store, and he was always trusted with great sums of money.

The land where the Canton Store stood was first owned by Billy Myersick, who was one of the earliest settlers of the valley and a freighter to Diamond City. Billy Myersick sold all his property at an early date and moved to the Lewistown country. He sold his property to Thomas Neild, who later sold to W.E. Tierney.

Diamond City

by Eleanor Marks

Diamond City, considered the mining capitol of western Montana, rose quickly, burned brilliantly, flickered and died in six years.

Located in Confederate Gulch, former hunting ground of the Peigen Indians, it was the headquarters for fourteen other gulches and it was fourth in size in territorial towns with a population of 5,000 in 1867. By 1870 the population had dwindled, the gold mined out. Hydraulic mining and dredging continued another 50 years, but none of the output of these operations approximated the early production.

There are two stories about how Diamond City was named. One version is the path in the snow connecting four cabins formed the rough shape of a diamond and gave the miners the idea of so naming it. The other is that the town was named for the first child born there in 1866.

JOURNALS OF CHAUNCEY WOOD – One of the most interesting things to come to light at the time of this research (1964) were a series of journals kept by a miner named Chauncey Wood. These were willed at the time of Wood’s death to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Miller. Mrs. Miller made them available. These covered the day-to-day living of the miners from 1899 to 1916.

Wood was born in Westown, Orange County, New Jersey on April 23, 1837. He came to Diamond from Alder Gulch in 1865. He saw the rise and fall of the gulch and stayed there until old age necessitated his removal to Helena in 1917. While never striking it rich, he always had adequate money until he became too ill to work and became a county charge. He kept records of the meagher supplies he got from the county, undoubtedly to repay if funds were ever available.

Radersburg

by Elsie Ralls

Radersburg, a boom mining town from the early 1860s, one of the first in the Territory, has a unique history of true Western charm. From a dignified county seet of Jefferson County as well as a rough mining camp in 1869 with a population of 1,000, it developed and boomed by rich mines opening on all sides.

Radersburg received its name from the founder, Reuben Rader, and is located 10 miles from Toston on Crow Creek, the former hunting grounds of the Crow Indians evidenced by the tepee (tipe) rings, buffalo jumps and artifacts still being found in the area. In 1865 when Jefferson County was formed, Reuben Radar was appointed one of its first county commissioners.

Unlike so many mining camps in Montana, Radersburg did not lapse into a ghost town even though its population dwindled from 1,000 in the early 1860s to 200 in 1880; 1900 305, and climbed again to 425 in 1910 and now claims about 75 inhabitants. Rather it maintained its identity as an important center with prosperous people, a postoffice, bars and a general store. The store only closed a few months ago.

Radersburg is a spot for those who like a marvelous mountain view in all directions, clean air, hunting and fishing and wide open spaces. Radersburg seems to hold its former citizens and is welcoming new residents who are building homes in the vicinity today.

Reuben Rader laid out the townsite in the spring of 1866 and the Public Land Office entered it as a Town on July 16, 1872 with forty acres and started an important settlement.

BECOMES COUNTY SEAT

The mining boom of the early period was responsible for the shifting of the county seat from Boulder to Radersburg in 1869 precipitating a controversy which lasted fifteen years. During that time an $18,000 courthouse and a $6,000 jail were built on a small hill directly behind the main street.

When the national economy changed lessening the price of gold and other minerals and the railroad made its debute, so Radersburg changed and the county seat went back to Boulder. This did not spell failure for the little metropolis for it survived on its own natural resoures. It not only continued to foster one of the biggest mining districts in the Territory, but stabilized the life of the farmer and rancher who likewise developed the rich Crow Creek Valley.

When it lost the county seat in 1884, it also lost its shipping center. The railroad had come to Toston and Townsend and the majority of Radersburg’s professional citizens moved mostly to Townsend to ceate that town.

Radersburg’s high priced courthouse remained but was used for the school until 1912 when the district built a fine brick school house. Then it was used as a community center for church services, dances, cultural clubs of drama, etc., and public meetings. In 1926 it was sold to Thos. Williams who removed it to his ranch. The jail was turned into a lively bar called The Silver Dollar.

H.R. BARCLAY, M.D. Controversial “Old Doc Barclay” was spoken of by many from the time he arrived here in 1865, after serving three years as a surgeon in the Civil War, until he met his death April 21, 1884. While he was attemptiog to turn on water from the flume, he was shot in the back while at work in Indian Creek (Hassel) canyon. Dr. Barclay was Probate Judge of Jefferson County and besides practicing his profession followed placer mining. He resided in Radersburg. He was also a weather prognosticator, one of his predictions having become a tradition which keeps his name alive. The prediction as given by this man:

“As the wind blows on January 6th, so will it blow from forty days, never being out of its course for more than 24 hours at any time during the 40 days.”

This adage has become accepted by present day publishers and households and January 6th is generally hailed as “Barclay Day”.

He was a familiar figure in early history known for his readiness to help the sick and deliver the new babies and even carried dental tools in the saddle bag to pull a tooth or help in any way he could. He had strong convictions and was determined in fighting his rights over water usages and again working for 12 months in the courts to procure the townsite for the people of Springville.

It was antagonism over water in Indian Creek that he was killed. The person that shot him showed, indeed, a cowardly way to end a dispute and was never brought to justice. He was out early on the morning of April 18, 1884 expecting to turn water into his ditch with which to do some placer mining and a shot from a needle point rifle shot from behind took his life.

Deep Creek

by Grace Hollaway

That area in Broadwater County spoken of as Deep Creek includes the drainage from the headwaters of this the largest creek on the west slope of the Big Belts extending over bench lands from Cottonwood on the north to Greyson Creek on the south.

Deep Creek which starts from a small spring at the top of the divide between Townsend and White Sulphur Springs, has three main tributaries – Russell Fork, getting its source from the blow-out under Edith mountain, flows in at the former Gordon Dean or half-way station; at that point the Castle Fork flows in from the Windy Ridge drainage; North Fork reaches the deep Creek channel at the Pavilion supplied by waters coming in from Spring Creek, Granger and Hollaway Gulches.

The canyon, the low pass between counties with beautiful scenery and an unsurpassed trout stream, reaches the Missouri River at the Paul Hahn Place and provides irrigation water for the stretches of bench and valley lands. It was a coveted picnic area in its heyday when horse drawn vehicles furnished transportation and the stage raced its daily trip from Townsend to White Sulphur Springs, making the dozens of short turns over the thirty-five bridges. As time advanced and a state highway was built, the creek was contained in a straight line, summer cabins appeared and public camp grounds built, to wipe out the camp fires and lunch baskets. Just as camping and fishing parties enjoyed Deep Creek and its tributaries in days gone by so did the huckleberry parties take an annual two-week camping trip to pick berries for winter use and the hunter to supply winter meat from the wild live so abundant.

Land management and greedy hunters soon found the muntain recreation dampened by over usage.

The area evidently was a eell-used Indian refuge for artifacts are still being found from the highest ridges to the low lands. The Flathead Trail crosses at the Dagnall ranch to the Musselshell country.

The area, also, had its prospectors, and while extensive mining operations never developed in comparison with Diamond City, Winston, Hassel and Radersburg districts, there were several endeavors worthy of mention.

THE BREWERY At about the same time the Shelley flour mill was constructed another large enterprise was developing a few yards north of the mill. This was the Thos. Dixon Brewery. The buildings still stand, but every loose bottle, board or piece of machinery have been taken by antique seekers.

This enterprise succeeded so well that Dixon’s beer became popular in all parts of the Territory, reputed to have been the best due to the pure mountain water and Gallatin malt used in its manufacture. Primrose brand gained an enviable reputation as late as 1915, a modern bottling plant was installed where beer was bottled and kegged and soft drinks also installed. Even after the automobile it was a popular place to drive and especially on a hot Sunday afternoon.

But alas, prohibition was voted in and the Brewery, with its famous brand of Export Beer, was closed. The wagon with the open racks for kegs was relegated to the shed and the perishable brew was grabbed at sales.

Thomas Dixon was a brewer in Radersburg, assisting Mrs. Hamper in 1887. Four years later he was in business with a saloon in Townsend and the brewery which lasted thirty-five years. After the founder’s death in 1913, a nephew Tom Dixon was the manager.

Crow Creek

Crow Creek is spoken of both as a creek and a valley. The source of the creek, formed from the confluence of Big Tizer Creek and Wilson Creek in the Tizer Mountains of the Elkhorn Range of the Rockies, flows down thru the broad and beautiful valley and reaches the Missouri River at a distance of about thirty-seven miles. The valley is approximately twelve miles square, headed by Radersburg to the west and Toston to the east.

The Crow Idians who frequented the area long before white man were recognized in the naming of Crow Creek.

The story of the development of the Valley began when the first travelers, following the Helena-Bozeman trail in the early 1860s made their crossing over Crow Creek at a point where Cold Springs (Swamp Creek) flows into Crow Creek – near the Ben and William Webb places. Ben says the ruts made by the heavy travel can still be seen.

Synonymous with Crow Creek Crossing was Crow Creek City, which was shown on the earliest maps – the W.W. Lacey map used by the first Territorial Legislature in 1864. No one can pin point the exact location of Crow Creek City now for too many changes were made during the mining boom. Old timers said the post office was right where the old mining dump was on the Radersburg road where the tailings from the mines obliterated the area completely filling the low recesses and covering cabins and evidence of community life.

HARRY W. CHILDS Among the pioneers of Crow Creek Valley was Harry W. Childs. The ranch he acquired is bounded on the north by the Doughty property and on the south by the former Townsley property (also Doughty property).

The following is taken from an article published in the Townsend Star June 11, 1932: “Harry W. Childs, 74, president of Yellowstone Park Hotel co., and of the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co., died at his home in LaJolla Calif., last week after an ilness of ten days. Mr. Childs, who was a resident of Helena and owned a large ranch in Crow Creek Valley, is survived by his widow, one son and one daughter. After cremation, the ashes were brought to Helena.

“Mr. Childs was born in California in 1857. Though he never permanently changed his residence in southern California, he had a home there as well as in Helena. Until recent years he generally spent his summers in Yellowstone Park. His experiences in the Treasure State varied from a developer of mines and smelter, to farming and livestock raising on a vast scale, and he was president of Yellowstone Park Hotel co., and in 1891 the Yellowstone Transportation Co. was formed. The firm developed an efficient system, largely a result of the efforts of Silas S. Huntley, Mr. Child’s brother-in-law.

Mr. Childs became associated with Huntley, and when the latter died he succeeded to management of the company, control of which he exercised until his death.”

Mr. Childs came to Crow Creek Valley and bought land from L.D. & Hester Smith, Frank Shull and the Northern Pacific Railroad.This information is on file at the county courthouse in Townsend.

On this vast ranch Mr. Childs raised and pastured the thoroughbred horses he used during the summer in connection with the Yellowstone Park Transportation Co.

Thomas Williams bought the ranch from Harry Childs in 1911. Mr. Williams, too, raised and sold horses as well as cattle on this ranch until 1952 and he sold the property to his son, John.

The old landmark (the pole mill) just recently crumpled to earth, but the barn still stands.


Air Guard Tribute

Air Guard Tribute Sept. 16, 1947 – Click Here

This Day in History

This Day in History Articles are listed below under Additional Information.
These articles were written for the Broadwater Reporter, however because of space constraints they did not all get published.

Additional Links