Sunday, January 23, 2011


The Western Lumber Company saws whined, men sweated and swore all day long, struggling with huge logs. Dust swirled around the hooves of big draft horses and from the logs being skidded to the landings. Timber was wealth. Visible. Available for the taking. Japan and the world were clamoring for it. The lumberjacks, the sawmill men, the population that had surged westward in the comfort of Northern Pacific Railroad cars, were eager to turn the great evergreens into products. For cash.

Ed Hampton, who came from England, was licensed to sell liquor at Noxon in September, 1884.1. Woodsmen and prospectors alike hunkered up to his bar at days end. Prices for outfitting, the best way to measure trees, and this good life in the west were bandied about with a mixture of laughter and curses.

Flour was selling for $12 a sack; coffee, 60 cents a pound; sugar, beans, candles, and dried fruit each for 50 cents a pound. Tea cost $1.25 a pound; bacon, 40 cents; tobacco, $1.00; potatoes, 25 cents; lard, 40 cents; soap, 25 cents; jam, 75 cents; soda and cheese, 25 cents; canned fruits, 2 1/2 pounds, $1.00; crackers, 50 cents; butter, 75 cents; two pounds corned beef, $1.00; gallon of syrup, $4.50; coal oil per can, $12.50.

Other necessities were as expensive as food. Cigars sold from $40.00 to $150.00 a hundred; a gallon of liquor was $8.00. Saws cost $1.00 a foot; whip saws from $12.00 to $16.00 each. Stoves from $15.00 to $35.00; shovels $2.50; picks $2.00 to $5.00; axes $3.00; buckets $1.75. Canvas cost 30 cents a yard. Shirts, $2.50 to $5.50; boots $7.00 to $12.00 a pair.2.

If a man wanted supplies hauled from Thompson Falls to the end of the wagon road (to the mines in Idaho) freight was 5 cents a pound. Rates jumped to 12 cents a pound the rest of the way. All prices were subject to fluctuation due to the condition of the trails.

Chinese were acceptable as pack animals on the different trails, the rowdy men guffawed. However, they'd best stay away just the same.
"The fiat has gone forth that no Celestial can ever gaze upon the woody gulches of the Coeur d'Alene and live. This camp, like Leadville, will never feel the curse of Coolie cheap labor. There is but one voice upon the subject. A man who would advocate Chinese immigration would be snubbed. The first representative of the Flowery kingdom will meet with a reception, which in all probability will satisfy his countrymen that the mines won't pay. John Chinamen got into the California mines, into many other mines, but he must not think of attempting a visit to those of Northern Idaho. If he insists in coming, however, let him bring a roast hog, plenty of firecrackers and colored paper, and all the essential for a first class Chinese funeral. He needn't bother to bring the corpse. It will be in readiness."2. 
Kate and Ed Hampton. Courtesy Stewart
and Agnes Hampton collection.
The best way any person, "however ill-informed" might get at the exact height of the giant forest trees which "rival the famous big redwoods of Calaveras county, California" took little equipment.
"When the sun shines, or during bright moonlight, by marking two lines on the ground, three feet apart, and then placing in the ground on the line nearest to the sun a stick that shall stand exactly three feet out of the soil. When the shadow of the stick exactly touches the furthest line, then also the shadow of the tree will be exactly in length the same measurement of its hight (sic).... the sun will be at an exact angle of forty-five degrees."3.
September 3, 1884, School District 22 was created from the Idaho line to Noxon station.4. Children needed the influence of education and whatever refinement the gentler sex could give them. That same month, Frank Weileman shot Charles Roloff in a fight over a blanket.5. The shot was not fatal and before long Roloff was out at the shingle mill. George Howell of Spokane had moved to Heron to be engineer of the shingle mill.6.

Amos C. Knottingham homesteaded downstream from Trout Creek on the north side of the Clark's Fork River. His wife would arrive the next year. He put in a ferry above Noxon rapids.7.

On November 4, the first election was held at Heron Siding precinct in Clark's Hotel. Judges were Ed. Clark, Tom Savage, and Asa H. Bradley.8.

Election of one man, Clyde Eastman, to the Montana Territorial House would directly effect the villages struggling to be born on the northwestern edge of the territory.8. Eastman, a twenty five year old bachelor, came to Montana in 1881. He was born in Michigan in 1859. He served during the session January 12, 1884 to March 12, 1885.9.

Fifty-three votes were cast at the Tone City election precinct at Peter Tone's Hotel. Tone, Franks and James Cunningham were the judges.8.

Property was moving fast. Everyone seemed to want a piece of the area but no one was holding on long. The Pioneer Hotel in Heron sold no less than five times during the first eight months in 1884. In September it sold again. For $700 to James Colovan.10.

In April 1885 the Montana Improvement Company shingle mills at Noxon were destroyed by fire at a loss of $18,000.11. That ended the sawmill era in Noxon for the time being.

But Heron still had a shingle mill. Coupled with the vast stands of timber it made Heron valuable to a nation hungering for lumber to build with. Property continued to be a profitable investment. Joe Rogers sold the Pioneer Hotel to Wm. Halstead March 12, 1885. Halstead kept it only until October 26 when he sold it to Wm Cheney. Cheney also bought the Exchange Saloon from Ira Hawes the preceding month.12.

Although the population remained mainly transient, early in January of 1885 some of the people living in the northwestern sector of Montana territory began agitating to have a county separated from Missoula County. Letters began appearing in Missoula newspapers.13.

Perhaps it should be called "Hardscrabble", some said, with the county seat either at Horse Plains, Thompson Falls or Heron Siding.13.

On January 30, 1885, Eastman, a republican, introduced an Act creating the County of Pen d'Oreille, said boundaries not certain, other than taking a part of Missoula County. (During this time that part of Clark's Fork River from the mouth of St. Regis to Paradise was called Missoula River. Also the Flathead River was then called the Pen d'Oreille River.) The boundaries were said,
"Probably to start at the source of St. Regis, down to Missoula River, down the Missoula to the junction with the Pen d'Oreille; up the Pen d'Oreille to north line of the reservation; east to county line and north to British America; west to Idaho and south to the start. (This would have included present Sanders, Lincoln, Flathead and most of Lake counties plus some of Mineral County.) The county seat to be at Thompson Falls."14.
At the same time that Eastman introduced his bill to create Pen d'Oreille county, Martin L. Emigh introduced a bill to create a county called Bitter Root (this was amended to change the name to Ravalli).15. The introduction of Eastman's bill caused a furor in the county.

Men indulged in fistfights. Tempers ran high. Friendships ended as sides were taken on the issue of government that would bring control closer to home and increase taxes. The fledgling population was not ready to assume a greater tax burden. Especially if it were voted on to them by a transient population.

January 16, 1885 the Missoulian published a letter from Nep Lynch of Horse Plains, which said a division of the county would be a hardship on taxpayers; a petition was signed mostly by transient packers, and only two of fifteen who had signed paid more than $100 in taxes. If the county divided, a new one would have to assume part of Missoula County indebtedness for Missoula's courthouse and jail and also then build another new courthouse and jail.

January 21, 1885, and also in subsequent weeks, The Missoula County Times published detailed discussions of any county division and its problems. In the January 23, 1885 Missoulian,  a letter to editor from A. W. Moore of Thompson Falls said 120 there signed the petition for a new county; the heaviest taxpayers, Glidden Griggs and Company, were not opposed as their representative Mr. Blakesly signed; next heaviest taxpyer, J. M. Robert signed. Letter to editor from AHB (Asa H. Bradley presumed) of Heron Siding said 100 had signed there, including all the businessmen; also that 70 had signed at Horse Plains.

Missoula County Times, January 23, 1885, wrote that if the county seat is at the Head of the Lake (Flathead) it would be a long way for the rest of the people to go to the county seat. Horse Plains was a long way for the Flathead people to go. Thompson Falls or Heron Siding would mean leaving teams at Horse Plains to continue travel by NPRR to get to the county seat as the road didn't go through. On February 18, it reported that people at Horse Plains signed petition asking that the bill be amended to permit vote on the location of the county seat. Eastman's original bill put the county seat at Thompson Falls.

When the Ravalli county bill was defeated in Council 11-0, Eastman announced he would no longer push his Pen d'Oreille county bill. For the time being the drive for a separate county was a dead issue. The settlers returned to what was most urgent: making a living, building log cabin homes, and improving trails into wagon routes.
* * * * *
Nine months after the school district was created, in June 1885, E. A. Brown was appointed school clerk at Heron. Thirteen children began attending classes in the one room frame building in Heron. By December there were twelve children in school between the ages of four and twenty-one plus five youngsters under four years old. Two more under four years old were added.16.

Tom McLeod and Ernest Kilburn started a branch of their Eddy Hammon and Company store at Heron. It was to be comparable to their Missoula venture.17. But the growing community, secreted among the great trees was still not a completely safe place to live. Justice of the Peace, William J. Quirk sent the colored cook at the hotel, John Reed, to the lockup in Missoula for nearly killing a Chinaman with a poker. Quirk also sent Ah Sue to jail for burglarizing houses on July 4th.18.

Bobsledding on Olver's place west of Noxon. Courtesy Steward and Agnes Hampton collection.
Reed awaited trial until November when the court finally decreed "no true bill" existed and freed him. Later still in November Ah Sue pleaded guilty and received a sentence to one and a half years at hard labor at the penitentiary.19.

A month earlier, on October 27, 1885, Trout Creek post office was started.20. By December, the railroad had installed night telegraph operators at both Heron and Trout Creek.21. A letter published by the Missoulian, signed, "Maple" described Heron,
"First place I stopped off was Heron Siding and were it not for the Railroad Hotel, it would remind one of Goldsmith's deserted village. A long row of empty saloons told the story of the Coeur d'Alene boom ... at lower end of town a large number of Chinese were camped."22.
Business didn't die out completely in the west end of Missoula county although certainly the area was not often the concern for action taken by the county commissioners whose meetings were held over one hundred miles east of Trout Creek, Noxon and Heron. Occasionally someone got around to letting the rest of the territory know there were still people living on the borders of the territory. On March 19, 1886 an unsigned news item from Heron said business was improving;
"Clark Hotel and restaurant are closed now but will open soon; Bert McClellan and C. McElvaney are the boss fishermen of the area.23.
A party was held for Mr. and Mrs. W. J. Quirk's tenth wedding anniversary. Quirk operated a general store and the post office. He was also Justice of The Peace. Wishing them well were Charles Morton, the lawyer who also sold notions; McElroy, the depot agent; William Halstead, proprietor of the Pioneer Hotel; J. N. Strong, proprietor of Mountain House; Deputy Sheriff, Asa Bradley; Constable M. Fitzgerald; Henry Schwindt, the brewery owner; A. R. Kennedy, the orchard owner, plus all the others; saloons keepers, miners, blacksmith, liveryman, carpenters and M. McDonald, the shoemaker.23, 24.

Bill Fitz, W. J. Quirk and E. A. Brown bought toboggans from St. Paul for the children of the town and a marvelous new sport added enjoyment to the lives of not only the children, but the adults as well. Sleighing parties were held all winter on the best hills and fields.23.

Gradually civilization and law enforcement began displacing some of the earlier activities as development crept into the rich forests. J. F. McElroy, NPRR station agent, was tried for embezzlement. He was charged with selling a ticket to Garrison at a cost of $15.60, filling in the stub with a ticket to Cabinet Landing which cost 40 cents, and pocketing the difference. Constable Ray was the detective who discovered the "trick" with this one ticket for which McElroy was fined $40 and costs to the total of about $200. McElroy was said to have done this many times, but proved only once. Other agents were suspected of having done the same trick.24.

Although little settlement was reported at Noxon yet, early in the year Charles Morton was boss of the railroad section at Noxon. He and his wife lived in the section house where she conducted a boardinghouse for the 60 Italians making up the work train.25. Knutson had gone over to the Coeur d 'Alene's to supervise railroad building at St. Maries.

Freight and passenger business dropped so severely that the NPRR closed Noxon station the first of May, 1886. Summer settled on a silent and nearly deserted spot at Noxon. Ed Hampton, Dan DeLong, and Felix Evans remained. The trains no longer disgorged throngs of prospective settlers.26.

Those who remained were keenly interested in politics and elections were lively affairs. Charles Morton was appointed, in September 1886, Noxon's delegate to the Republican county convention. F. D. Payne, Wm Cheney, and Henry Schmidt joined him as delegates from Heron for the county convention.27.
At election time Cheney, Wm. H. Quirk and Henry Schwindt were the election judges who counted up 102 votes cast at Clark's Hotel in Heron.28. At Trout Creek, W. P. Brayton, Kelly and James Toohey served as judges and counted the 59 votes cast in that precinct at the polls in Kelly's saloon.28.

It was also in 1886 that the roaring red tongue of fire consumed several hundred acres of timber in the middle portions of the Bull River valley. By the time it subsided, the great green stands had been reduced to whole mountainsides of standing dead poles amid charred dead brush. Deep ashes covered the virgin soil laid waste by a careless travelers campfire.29.

Tom Greenough's tie hackers were furnishing thousands of ties to the railroad by late summer, cut from timber in the western part of the county. In November, Greenough and his subcontractors were arrested for cutting on government lands. The case was dismissed in December but the issue would rise up again. Mainly because of disagreements between the railroad and the government over land surveys, it would be in the courts for years before it was finally settled.30.

In November, 1886, John Oliver of Heron died after being run over by a switch engine and A. H. Bradley left Heron when he was appointed under sheriff of Missoula county in December.31.

On a cold blustery day in January 1887 Mrs. L. Wooldridge moved from Thompson Falls to Noxon to join her husband who was now agent and night telegraph operator at the re-opened railroad depot. She was to have charge of the NPRR section house.32.

Wooldridges were there in the bloom of early summer to greet two men who stepped down from the train never to leave the valley again. In June of 1887 the Berray brothers, James (Jim) and William Caspar (Cap), arrived in Noxon ready to stay. To put down roots.

The lumber company fire had burned a wide swath up Pilgrim Creek and much of the Bull River valley had burned the year before. They walked through ashes still ankle deep, looking over the land.33.

Noxon consisted of only a couple of shacks, the railroad buildings and a few trappers and transient lumberjacks. The railroad was buying lots of wood then for their steam engines and had a big woodshed. Woodsmen had inhabited the area, but they were as transient as the trappers. No real record of them remains. They came. They left. Many went west to the big sawmills being built in northern Idaho.34. In their wake were small amounts of cutover forestlands close by the river and the railroad tracks. They contributed little to permanence save possibly the clearings that were left by fires searing through slash and brush left from their wood cutting operations.

Typical of the generation who arrived in the west, the Berray brothers came looking for a better life; a chance to improve their circumstances. Both were strong young men with confidence that they would prosper and become somebody. Natives of Mankato, Minnesota, the Berrays had a grandfather who was killed in the War of 1812. Their ancestry was Pennsylvania Dutch plus mixed British Isles strains. They had worked in sawmills near the Pennsylvania border at Little Valley, New York and were working in a cutlery factory in New York when a man named Dufendeck told them of the great possibilities for riches in the newly accessible lands of Montana Territory.35.

Jim and Caspar Berray with horses.  Circa 1890s.
Courtesy Julia Higgins Berray collection.
Timber, minerals, free land, jobs; a life of opportunity, indeed. Dufendeck had a sawmill on a creek where they could begin. Snow lay in the hills yet when they arrived. And in July it snowed eight inches in an unusual spring storm.35. When they arrived, Jim and Cap went exploring on snowshoes. Crossing the small creek rushing from the mountains to the south to join the Clark Fork east of the railroad station of Noxon, they stopped to camp. The mountains surrounding them seemed so formidable and uninhabited that they named the creek, "Pilgrim" because that was how they felt. Like pilgrims set out to tame a new land. It was the creek the railroad used to supply their water tanks at Noxon.35.

Before Cap's twenty-year-old wife, Julia, and their six-month-old son, Algie, could join him that December, living quarters had to be erected. The men's mother, Chloe Flena Whitmore Berray and their two sisters, Amy and Margaret Berray, came with them, settling in Heron.

Caspar Berray, lst homesteader
in the Bull River alley. Courtesy
Frank Berray collection.
 The small house Cap and Julia moved into was log. It had been built by a man named Divers, and was located on the west side of Pilgrim Creek between the railroad tracks and the Clark Fork River. Julia bought fish from the Indians who caught them in the teeming river. Other food supplies were ordered in by railroad from Rathdrum or Missoula.35.

Timber along the banks of the Clark Fork had not yet been cut and floated downstream to the sawmills being built in Idaho. A lanky young man name Frank Lyons began walking toward Noxon, riding the rails, sleeping at homesteads, traveling from Oregon toward Montana Territory. One night, just after dusk, he stepped up on the porch of a homestead to ask permission to sleep in their barn. No lamplight lit the doorway when the man and woman answered his knock. Telling Lyons he was welcome to stay they apologized for not having a lamp to light the way. They had kerosene, the woman told him, but the wick had run out and they had no replacement.

Lyons grinned broadly and told them he was just their man. Removing his hat he took from inside the band a length of wick and gave it to them. He always wore a wick in his hat, he said, "It makes the best sweat band."36.
Looking east up the Clark's Fork River at Smeads on the right bank. Circa 1890s. Courtesy Maxine Higging Laughlin collection.
A few days later he arrived in Noxon. Lyons got acquainted in Smith's establishment, and soon set to work locating a place east of Pilgrim creek, and began to build a sawmill.37.

Early in the summer season of 1887, T. L. Greenough and Almon W. Bascomb established the Noxon Lumber Company. They put in a sawmill on the flat land between the slough behind the railroad depot and the river.38.

Before long, Cap and Jim helped William H. Smead build a shingle mill on the south side of the Clark's Fork River five miles downstream from Noxon station, where Bull River flows into the Clark's Fork from the north.33. Jim was severely injured while working on the construction of the new sawmill at Smead's Spur. There was no doctor so Cap cared for his brother. When blood poisoning set in he put strong carbolic acid solution on the wounds, saving his brother's leg and his life.
Julia Higgin Berray, lst homesteaders
in the Bull River alley. Courtesy
Frank Berray collection.

A railroad spur was put in, a few log houses went up, and soon the settlement was called Smead's Landing or simply Smeads.39.

W. H. Smead was born in Wisconsin, graduated from the University of Illinois and came to Dillon, Montana in 1883. He was interested in lumber, grain and mining.40.

Cap and Jim walked five miles from Heron to Smeads each day all summer to work in the shingle mill.
"Swinging along in the early dawn everything fine and with nothing wrong but all too often when they returned home along about dusk their tranquility would be shattered and they'd stop to stare up in a tree where a body swung, dangling by the neck. Other nights they'd waken to the report, 'So and so' was killed last night at the Blind Pig ... robbed of all his things. Yet doors were never locked for people didn't steal from a house, even when no one was home."41.
A Blind Pig was an unlicensed place that served as a saloon, with whiskey dispensed from a barrel; the liquor often liberally cut down with water.

Saw dust from the cedar logs aggravated Cap's asthma until he had to leave his job. He then took up contract logging for the new mill.33.

(Insert picture)
Caption: Bull River valley. Courtesy Vanek collection.

There were more than a dozen big beaver houses on one short stretch of Bull River that Cap and his brother liked. Julia and Cap went up Bull river from Noxon by canoe one fine day and counted eighteen or twenty drowned beaver in traps set on the the river bottom. So Cap and Jim tried their hand at trapping, figuring that would be an easier way to make a living.

Beaver pelts brought 60 to 80 cents a pound. Each pelt weighed around four pounds. Sometimes they got mink and martin. Otter were rare. They found a few muskrats, as well, but only on the meadowland. This took the two men up Bull River where they trapped bear. Bear coats were worth $100 then, although the hides brought only $6 to $8 each. Still, the brothers enjoyed trapping, paddling a bateau or canoe up the river, since there were yet no roads.33.

One morning they found a grizzly bear in their trap. Still alive. They used a toggle on their trap, (a long pole on the trap). The bear could drag it a ways, but he couldn't go far. They were in their cabin on Bull River when they heard this bear bawling. So Cap and Jim grabbed up a gun and went down there. Just when they got there, before they could shoot the bear, he got that toggle loose and made for Jim. Jim made pretty fast tracks and got down the hill. The bear quit its squalling, but was looking for trouble. Although the men made their escape, they'd lost their taste for bear trapping.42.

They were not lone travelers in the Bull River valley. Northern Pacific Railrad land was timbered and opportunity beckoned. No one had officially settled, however many camped and prospected. Three hundred and fifty mining claims, dating from 1887, were recorded in the sixty-two-square mile area later called the Scotchman Peak Wilderness proposal, located on the Idaho-Montana border between Lightning Creek and Bull River; not counting the mines of the southern Clark Fork mining district and the Spar Lake deposits.43. Occurrences of gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper had been reported.

At Noxon, Cap and Jim met a placer miner who had been shot at repeatedly during the Coeur d'Alene miners' war. The yarn swapping helped prevent them from getting the mining fever.35.

Canoes and boats were used to navigate Bull River. Those going north through the valley to its junction with the Kootenai valley could take the river route only less than half way. Despite it's name, Bull River does not flow out of Bull Lake, rising instead from three branches in the high Cabinet Mountains to the east. About three miles of flat land separates the river from the lake. This flat land, laced as it is by small streams, is great land for beaver. Bull Lake is fed by Ross Creek and numerous underground springs. It's waters exit north through Lake creek to the Kootenai river.

The Old Daly Trail preceded any road in the Bull River valley.44. It followed an old Indian route and acquired it's name from a prospector who struck gold in the Libby area. According to Indian legend, a mountain near the south east end of Bull Lake split and portions of it came thundering down, burying an Indian village camped at it's base. From then it was called "Bad Medicine" and although the Old Daily Trail skirted it no Indians would linger there.45.
* * * * *
The population in the part of the Territory, although it hadn't yet attained statehood of Montana had increased enormously since 1880, from less than 40,000 to over 135,000, and the majority of it had not remained on the western border. Inevitably, there were enough people to want some public services at Noxon.46.

Mail service to the little settlement became regular when the Noxon post office was created April 9, 1888. One need only go to the general merchandise store and ask Thomas H. Smith, the first postmaster for it.47. Smith, who operated his store in conjunction with his liquor store, was a congenial fellow. The mail was brought to town in a mail pouch on the railroad. He got it, sorted it, and handed it out at any hour anyone came calling for it. He was located on the mail route between Tuscor and Heron.47.

There were two sawmills, Lyon's and Greenough's, the railroad section gangs, men freighting supplies from the railroad spur at Smeads Landing through the Bull River valley to the Kootenai River valley where the Great Northern railroad was being built. Lumberjacks kept the woods alive with the noise of falling timber, and settlers swarmed over the lands looking for the best place to homestead - if Montana Territory could become a state. Bob Anderson planted his orchard on a clearing by the river wrested from the forest with brawn and by dawn to dark use of an axe, a grub hoe, dynamite, and a springtime though fall fire.48.

Statehood was still not accomplished due in large part to the fact that until now Montana's politics had been firmly in the hands of the Democrats. With only one exception every delegate elected to Congress from Montana Territory from 1864 to 1888 was a Democrat.49.

The Republican Party was in control of the national government during the two previous attempts the citizens of Montana Territory had made at gaining statehood, 1866 and 1884. It was a part of the policy of the Republican leaders in Congress to move very slowly in admitting new states. They looked with particular suspicion on those territories in which the Democrat party was known to be strong.49.

During President Cleveland's first term in office in 1885 the Democrats had a majority in the House of Representatives, but not in the Senate. Montana Democrats received political recognition in the appointment of one of their own number, Samuel T. Hauser, to governor of the Territory. Hauser was the first resident of Montana to fill this office. When the Republicans elected Thomas H. Carter, as delegate to Congress in the fall of 1888 Republican leaders thought that Montana was then safely on the side of their party and ready for statehood".49.

A Democratic candidates meeting was held at Noxon November. 2, 1888. The election was held at Frank Lyon's sawmill upstream from Anderson's ten-acre orchard east of Pilgrim Creek. W. L. Loy, T. L. Greenough and Sam Higgins were the judges. Fifty two men came in from their labors to cast votes.50.

At Heron forty seven cast votes at Quirk's store. Again Quirk, Schwindt and Cheney were judges of the election. Kelly's Saloon remained the polling place at Trout Creek where thirty five votes were cast and counted up by Kelly, A. C. Nottingham and Wm. Criderman.50.

On February 22, 1889, President Cleveland signed the Enabling Act that Congress had passed giving the people of the Territory full power to work out a plan of state government ... with certain stipulations.49.

There must be full religious toleration; all claims to public and Indian lands must be given up; taxes must not fall more heavily on property owned by non-residents than upon that owned by citizens living within the state; all territorial debts must either be paid or assumed by the new state; systems of public schools, free from all sectarian control must be provided.49.

The constitution must follow the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution of the United States. The state government must be republican in form. No distinctions could be made among its citizens because of race or color, except in the case of Indians, not taxed.49.

The constitution was to be submitted to the people of the territory for their approval on the first Tuesday of October, 1889. Seventy five men, elected May 14, 1889, 37 Democrats, 34 Republicans and four Independents assembled on July 4th in Helena to begin work on the Constitution. Six weeks later it was complete and on October 1, 1889 the people overwhelmingly passed it. Montana Territory became Montana State. Settlers were jubilant ... even though politics was still far from a clean game in Montana.50.

The Polk Gazeteer recorded the addition of the following businesses at Heron for the year 1888-89: blacksmith, carpenter, barber, engineer, two more restaurants, a painter, and another miner giving Heron at least 32 occupations and businesses. Yet no election judges were appointed at Heron for this most important of all elections as the county commissioners in Missoula "didn't know anyone to appoint".50.

Thirty five votes were cast at Frank Lyons mill at Noxon. J. V. Nesbitt, T. L. Greenough and Samuel Higgins were the judges.50.
* * * * *
Early settlers were extremely aware of educational opportunities for their youngsters. Each family jealously guarded against exposure to ideas they considered alien. The population was mixed, and except for the Chinese, all white. Still, from the beginning, there have often been keen conflicts over who would serve as school board trustee since trustees had overwhelming powers. Their authority over finances and taxes in the early days was not great, stemming as it did from State laws. School Codes had been set in 1879 but finances were dependent on the wealth, or lack of it, of each individual county.49. Heron was the most western hamlet of Missoula County, far removed from the county commissioners meetings. So the selection of the teacher and the rules to be abided by was something else again.

In April 1890 Edward Knott, NPRR division section man, Levi Dingley and J. K. Honberger, saloon keeper, were elected school trustees at Heron, with Honberger also the school clerk, responsible for paying of bills and keeping of all trustee records. Bertha Young was the teacher in the spring of 1890. In the fall, Janet Walls was teacher.53.

Another newcomer arrived in Noxon to add his voice to the clamor demanding education from the new government. Charles H. Barnard bought a liquor license for Noxon store in December 1889.51.

On December 3, 1889 the boundary for School District 22 was changed to include the area from the Idaho line twelve miles east to the mouth of Bull River.52.

* * * * *
Activity in the timber industry was increasing along the Clark's Fork River. Needed supplies were purchased on buying trips taken in the comfort of the new railroad. Michael Keef traveled to Missoula, found what he needed, bought it, then shipped it by railroad to Noxon where the Montana Improvement Company mill would be turning out more shingles the winter of 1891 than all other western mills combined.53a.

The new waves of lumberjacks moving into, or through, the area were hard working and hard drinking men. Liquor dispensing was the most licensed occupation of the time with a dozen different people licensed at Smeads between May 1891 and February 1893.53b.

By the early 1890's the Great Northern railroad was building through the Kootenai valley less than thirty air miles north of Noxon.( Cindi's list. )

It was impossible to get supplies in to the section to be built between Troy and Libby either upstream or downstream along their line.*54. Rails, steel, ties, and other necessary supplies were shipped to Smeads spur on the Northern Pacific railroad. Here they were transferred to the ferry and taken across the Clark's Fork River to be freighted north to the Kootenai valley. Rutherford, who'd had the ferry license at Smeads had lost it to Tom Stanton. But when Stanton got into the freighting business he could no longer operate the ferry so in September 1891 John Williams took it over. Williams gave it up and in January 1892 B. S. Baker brought the barge like affair with it's heaving loads across the Clark's Fork to where contractors and freighters had been hacking out a tote road from Smeads north through the Bull River valley toward Troy, roughly following the Old Daly Trail.55.
Higgin's home at Smeads. Circa 1880s. Courtesy Maxine Higgins Laughlin collection.
Cap and Jim's sister, Amy Berray married ambitious young Sam Higgins. The newlyweds homesteaded about a mile upstream from Smeads on the south side of the Clark's Fork. As soon as their log house was built Amy hung curtains, made rag rugs for the board floors, bucketed water from the spring and grew a garden in addition to raising chickens. Higgins, a daring and resourceful man, got a contract to unload heavy steel and tote it through the Bull River valley to the Kootenai. Using sixteen horse teams and a large crew of men the arduous task was begun.

To carve a route through the Bull river valley meant traversing rough terrain at the base of numerous mountains that edged the twisting river and natural meadows of the narrow valley. Along the rivers edge great swamps of boggy land were covered with a mean plant called "Devils Club" that grew as high or higher than a mans head and almost as thick as a hedgerow. Its prickly thorns left scratches that burned and festered. Mosquitos were a constant nuisance, though not of the infectious kind that carried malaria. Enormous cedar trees grew in the bottomlands, their roots, like tentacles, swelling the ground around them making it impossible to pioneer a road through without great difficulty.

The mountains rose rocky and steep. Dynamite was used to fracture impassable outcroppings. Swamp grass grew abundantly in natural clearings as much as half a mile wide. Some of these meadows were a mile or more long. Deep drainage ditches dynamited out to channel the water to the river. The soft black soil sucked the tons of freight down. Men cut small poles and laid them crosswise of the freight route, corduroying it, creating a surface strong enough for the struggling sixteen horse teams to pull their loads across. Tom Stanton, newly arrived from the Flathead country, cracked his long black-snake whip, shouted curses, and gained a reputation the winter of 1892 running teams over the road carrying supplies for building of the Great Northern Railroad.55a.

Other men who had come west to work in the mill at Smeads snatched the opportunity to get ahead by becoming their own boss. Some of them left the shingle mill, took a small contract clearing right of way for the tote road, made wood, and went on to bigger contracts. They wound up rich. And then they left the country.56.

Others also toted supplies. A couple of husky fellows who had a packing contract would catch up a bunch of wild horses, cinch on a load and turn them loose. A good packer could put on a load so the toughest bronc couldn't get rid of it. Cap Berray said,
"You'd see packed horses all over the woods at the mouth of Bull river. They'd buck and run, rub against trees and even lie down and roll, until they hadn't an ounce of kick left in them. Then the riders would round them up again and get them going along the trail. The thick woods and brush and the steep mountainsides along the valley trail discouraged them from wandering anymore."56.
Work was plentiful for men who were hardy, determined and willing to endure the hardships of the changing seasons. Spring brought incessant rain and mud from March usually through June with only a short interval sometimes the last week of April and the first week of May. July was balmy with cool mountain breezes afloat with mosquitoes. August dust mingled with sweat and horseflies. Tired men refreshed with an evening swim in Bull River or in one of several small mirror-like lakes along the valley before slipping into their bedrolls.

September brought two weeks of rain again, followed shortly by crisp frosty nights that heralded vibrant fall colors clothing the rugged terrain in unsurpassed beauty. Sun sucked the morning fog from the valley and warmed the afternoons until mist spread from the river over the meadows again at dusk. Gophers burrowed in for a long winter, their shrill call no longer piercing the sunny air. Mountain grouse whirred from the underbrush in short, noisy bursts of flight. Flocks of southbound geese rested briefly on the small lakes where men had quit their summertime evening swims after the first few frosts.

Deer snorted and stomped, peering from alder, buck brush and mountain maple thickets, as the teams and men inched their heavy loads across the forty miles. White tails flagged as antlered kings bounded a retreat up into the peaks that were whitening with snow long before October brought it to the valley.

Snow meant easier work for the men and teams. Sleds skimmed the frozen ground. Loads seemed infinitely lighter. Horses whinnied and jangled hanes and harness. Mulligan stew made from venison, accompanied by thick slices of hot bread, stuck to a man's ribs, hot coffee warmed chilled fingers at the freight stops along the route. Horses were fed, curried and catered to, being scarcer than men in the remote wilderness.

Next: Chapter 5

  1. Missoula county courthouse records.
  2. Frontier Times, Thompson Falls, MT, April 12, 1884.
  3. Frontier Times, Thompson Falls, MT, April 24, 1884.
  4. Missoula county commissioner records. Incomplete.
  5. Missoulian, September 12, 1884.
  6. Missoulian, November 14, 1884.
  7. A Heritage Remembered, by Lorraine Dufresne.
  8. Missoulian, November 4, 1884.
  9. Missoulian, September 12, 1884. Clyde Eastman served during the session January 12, 1884 to March 12, 1885.
  10. Missoula county courthouse deeds.
  11. Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, 1885.
  12. Missoula county courthouse deed records.
  13. Missoulian, a letter (anon), January 9, 1885.
  14. Those newspapers are available only at the Helena, MT Historical Library.
  15. Missoulian, February 27, 1885.
  16. Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, June 12, 1885.
  17. Missoulian, February 27, 1885.
  18. Missoulian, July 24, 1885.
  19. Missoulian, November 13, 1885; November 20, 1885.
  20. Missoula county courthouse records.
  21. Missoulian, December 11, 1885.
  22. Missoulian, January 26, 1886. The 1884-85 Polk Gazeteer did not mention Heron.
  23. Missoulian, March 19, 1886; The Polk Gazeteer 1886.
  24. Missoulian, April 16, 1886.
  25. Missoula County Times, April 21, 1886; May 5, 1886.
  26. Missoulian, May 7, 1886.
  27. Missoulian, Sept 3, 1886.
  28. Missoula county courthouse records.
  29. Frank Berray, oral history collected by Fay Cooey, U. S. Forest Service, 1973.
  30. Missoulian, August 27, 1886; Missoula County Times, November 24, 1886. Thomas Greenough was warned by NPRR General Manager I. R. Oakes to stop cutting ties on NPRR land in the lower end of the county (Missoula County Times, December 8, 1886); undated letter from the General Land Offices, Greenough wrote in response to letter from GLO saying he had cut and removed timber amounting to 701,918 railroad ties from the vacant public lands along the Clark Fork river, Sanders County. "You are liable for full market value of timber at the time of its sale by you, 35 cents a tie". (701,918 x $.35 = $245,671.30).
  31. Missoulian, November 12, 1886; December 24, 1886.
  32. Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, January 1887.
  33. Caspar Berray scrapbook. Undated clipping, probably Sanders County Ledger circa 1950.
  34. White Pine-King Of Many Waters, by Charles C. Strong, 1860-1898 John B. Leiberg was commissioned to survey timber on public lands in northern Idaho and the adjoining Bitterroot Mountains. His final report was not submitted to the Department of Interior until 1898.
  35. Frank Berray, tape-recorded oral history 1971.
  36. Stewart and Agnes Hampton, oral history, September 1983.
  37. Frontier Index, 1887.
  38. In the fall of 1887, a famous lawsuit with the Federal Government was started on September 23rd. A bill of equity was filed in Wyoming by the Government for timber cut from government lands. They asked for $2,000,000 and a perpetual injunction to prevent more such cutting. Their bill said the license to cut expired by law in July 1879. At this time, opponents of the land grant roads considered the NPRR should have been completed and thus the NP's right, given in the charter, to cut timber for the road from government lands should have expired. Later, on December 16th, a U.S. Grand Jury in Montana found an indictment against Oakes, Buckley, E.L. Bonner, the NP timber gent, and others for unlawfully taking timber from public lands and shipping from the territory.Chief Engineer Anderson said that the Montana Improvement Co. had cut timber for the railroad and for mining camps working under the laws of Congress. The difficulty lay in the fact that the land was not surveyed. The NPRR charter said the land grant lands must be surveyed as quickly as possible. The NP had tried. But Land Commissioner, Sparks, would not approve surveys and also would not accept railroad money for use in surveying as was permissible. There had been earlier litigation. Anderson stated that the timber was cut for construction and repairs. The Government claimed that it should not have been cut for repairs. The timber directly responsible for the case was cut at Eddy Station, near Cabinet Gorge, in 1884. The case was long and tedious, as were many involving the NP grant. In January 1889, the U.S. Attorney General had another suit involving the same case in the St. Paul Federal Court. This was the result of all parties trying to combine all the various timber trespass cases into one based on an agreement in the fall of 1888. James McNaught was counsel for the NP in these cases and one verdict by the Supreme Court of Montana had been in favor of the NP as the government had made no surveys. The final results of this case were a long time in the future.
  39. Unnamed news clipping, March 17,1888, in University of Montana archives.
  40. 1890 Souvenir of National Irrigation Congress. The State Lumber Company that Smead founded at Smead's was incorporated March 9, 1891 in conjunction with Justin E. Morse and David Lamont from Dillon.
  41. Helen Berray Kirschbaum, tape-recorded oral history October 1978.
  42. Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history, February 1977.
  43. Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Bulletin #12, July 1959.
  44. In The Shadow Of The Cabinets, Libby Writer's Group, Montana Institute Of The Arts.
  45. Tape-recorded oral histories - Frank Berray, Evelyn Berray, and Harry Tallmadge.
  46. National Archives.
  47. Polk Gazeteer, 1890-91. A newspaper clipping (newspaper omitted) in University of Montana files states that Doc Smith had a store at Smeads in 1888.
  48. Clifford R. Weare, tape-recorded oral history 1970.
  49. Montana In The Making, by Newton Carl Abbott.
  50. Polk Gazeteer 1890-91 and Missoula county courthouse records. The postmaster position at Trout Creek was taken over by S. Alfred Bourke April 27, 1888.
  51. Frontier Index, Thompson Falls, MT, December 1889.
  52. Missoula county courthouse records December 3, 1889.
  53. Missoula county courthouse records, April 1890; Polk Gazeteer 1890. An early report listed a high school at Trout Creek, however it must have ended when the railroad division left that town, which drastically diminished the population.
    •  a Missoula Gazette, February 24, 1891.
    • b. Missoula  ounty courthouse license books list: May 1891, Evans and Lloyd. August 1891, Delormer and Dorrison; Mrs. Kate Morris. September 1891, Tom Conroy; John J. Elligan; P. J. Smith. November 1891, Cummins Bros. January 1892, Ames and Carter; E. E. Embody. February 1892, Alfred Vogel. May 1892, Clarence Clay. February 1893, John Miller. State Lumber Company also was licensed to sell liquor as well as lumber.
  54.  In The Shadow Of The Cabinets, Libby Writer's Group, Montana Institute Of The Arts.
  55. Missoula county courthouse records (license books). Caspar Berray, news clipping (undated); tape-recorded oral histories - Frank Berray, Harry Tallmadge, Swan Swanson, and Clifford R. Weare.
    • A Missoula Gazette, January 1, 1892.
  56. Caspar Berray (newspaper clipping - undated).


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