Thursday, December 3, 2015


A little puddle where it shouldn't be.

My work day kind of got washed out.  It’s a long story, but it’s about water.  A week ago a nice little reflecting pond formed in front of my house.  No bubbling, no spreading, just a quiet little pond in about the same place we dug up a year or so ago.  So I let the Town Hall know.  Nothing happened.

There are two employees of the town.  Both have been here decades and much of the vital info about the infrastructure is in their heads.  The previous mayor, McKenzie Graye, got them to draw maps and write accounts, but that’s never enough.  In the last few days one man’s family sustained tragedies and the other man was struggling with his health, which has suffered for a long time.  The men are aging and wearing right along with the infrastructure.  They are human infrastructure.

This small town accumulates complaints, resentments, vendettas -- just like any small town.  Actually the dynamics are a lot like a small church except without the constant attention to morality (if they have a decent minister).  A church is based on consensus of moral standards; a town is not, esp. in a time like this when the shifting of populations is at a high and unpredictable rate.  Some have fantasies, some are struggling with low income, some don’t look different but are, and so on.  The upshot is a LOT of complaint and accusation, building and building and building . . .

An example from elsewhere

All my training in “getting to yes,” “building consensus,” “creating mission-statements” and organizational development are useless.  The people are blind to them.  Not myself nor anyone else has the credibility to move intransigence out of the way so we have space for a future.  Every viable candidate for the last decade has been almost immediately hamstrung by gossip and semi-secret, often irrelevant accusations.  At the moment we’re voting by mail.  The present mayor is a space-holder, not a candidate.  He was strong-armed into the job and will be relieved to escape.

Today, pursuing how to get my water leak fixed, I was told that our water master had quit.  I am kerflummoxed.   He has found another job, better suited to his health issues.  Now some people will have to come to terms with hating him so much.   In any case, his gout has become so severe that sometimes he can’t make a grip on a shovel handle, much less dig. (Somehow I’m not surprised that in the last windstorm the trees in his front yard fell on his pickup.) The plan is for him and Leo, the other worker, to dig on Monday.  I’ll be surprised.  There are no backup younger men who have been groomed for the job.  Everyone has used up their energy hating and resisting the two workers.  Who wants to walk into a shit storm?

The alternative is to hire an outside contractor.  There’s one right here in town who knows the pipes, has worked for the town before, and has been on the town council.  A kafuffle about a gravel purchase ballooned into a bitter quarrel and he’s been out of the loop for years. Maybe he won’t be willing to dig.

I haven’t been an activist but rather a monitor, attending the town council meetings, trying to see both the small trip-wires and the big national forces that are affecting us.  It’s worth doing partly because I’m living here and partly because people from across the continent tell me that the dynamics where they are defeat their towns in the same ways of neglect and blame.  It seems to be our present culture.

Death by water

We want what we see on television and what advertising tells us are markers of virtue.  We don’t have strategies for getting those things, but somehow it seems as though other people are doing it.  They must be cheating.  (See the pieces I’ve been writing about trying to reconcile gut feelings with logical deduction.)

All I’ve done is talk to people who I feel fairly sure will understand what I’m saying and who won’t react with rage.  There aren’t many.  My confidence in who is peaceful is not high.  Too many are so invested in their widely shared accusations that they can’t back out of them.  Big city liberals would be amazed at the woman-haters, Indian-haters, white-haters, poverty-haters, stigma-mongers.  Unless we come to a crux point, it mostly stays hidden.  Outside journalists would probably not detect it and they don’t really care about anything that’s not sensational enough to win prizes.  The whole nation is based on sensationalism, and that’s not good for civics.

One of the most uncontrollable and predatory aspects of this situation is a state capital out of touch and imposing restrictions, building hatred and small town determination to avoid any kind of restrictions, let alone cooperation.  They don’t see the need.  Another equal force is economic: there isn’t enough work to make a living, civic organizations have faded, hobbies have given way to passive TV.  Even something so virtuous as “National Geographic” is hard to assimilate through a beer haze or while chatting on a handheld.

Front lawn of the City Hall

The residents of the town live there and vote for town leaders, but the surrounding service areas (school districts, gas lines, electricity) mean people who use the town -- in fact, are the reason for the existence of the town -- don’t live there and don’t pay taxes or vote there.  But these are not anarchists nor inclined to be laissez faire.  They have to do SOMETHING to protect themselves so they use sock puppets, cat’s paws, proxies, raw personal influence, and the county machinery.  This is not to mention the shell corporations who try to pick up the tax lien debris of a shrinking town.  “Lakeside Montana Property!”  Sales won’t be to locals.

The money involved in town government has exploded because it is capital investment fueled by grants and loans in major amounts (check the billboard in front of the City Hall) and laws that would impose huge fines for OSHA offenses, lagoon water quality offenses, failure to repay loans, etc.  You can’t lock up the town, but you can make the people suffer by adding penalties to infrastructure bills.  For the last fifty years I’ve watched businesses run to failure, the last assets simply abandoned.  

And then there are the dynamics of living up against the reservation, not very far from the Canadian border.  In a little town everyone thinks is Mayberry, USA, no one suspects drugs, smuggling, etc.   How does one find the balance between suspecting everything and ignoring everything?

One of the fascinations in reading the historical records is that it soon becomes clear that the more things change, the more they remain the same.  A few buffalo wandering through the picture is not going to make the water stop running downhill.  But once the railroad is built and running, things get a lot easier and faster, except for the lives of human beings.  The lives of the Conrad brothers, William right here,  Charles in Kalispell, and John surviving for a while in Billings, until his wife left, taking the children to Europe.  John was last sighted in Alaska.  These sibs went from pleasant Virginia, to bloody Civil War, to risky frontiers, to ventures dependent on cattle and capital, to irrigated grain.  The stories are exciting but end with diabetes, isolation, suicide, broken families, the usual alcoholism.  In short, us.

This book is on Amazon for one penny plus shipping.

Barnaby Conrad III is the surviving great-grandson.  I strongly recommend his book about all this:  “Ghost Hunting in Montana”.   His father, Barnaby II,  was a classic adventurer.  Look for his books as well.


From The Valerian,  2-26-14
The Town of Valier’s Roger Skogen was presented the 2014 “Wastewater System Operations Specialist of the Year” award last weekend at the annual conference of Montana Rural Water Systems, Inc. in Great falls.
Skogen was described during the award presentation as an “individual who always has a quick smile, a positive attitude and customer service skills that go above and beyond.” In recent years, Skogen has been “very proactive in researching problems with the town’s wastewater lagoon system. This research was key in the decision making process to perform a major construction upgrade.”
Skogen’s foresight was credited with the Town of Valier beginning the process to apply for funding and in securing an engineer prior to receiving an Administrative Order on Consent from the Department of Environmental Quality.

Maintaining certifications as the Town of Valier’s wastewater and water operator, Skogen was appointed by the Governor to the Water and Wastewater Operator’s Advisory Council and is currently serving as president of the council.
Roger in the middle


The new water tower and pump house

This morning my shower siphoned my toilet.  Somehow the cross-connection backflow had gone bonkers.  This is the what backflow means:

Later in the day, the problem ended.  This is our first week without one of our city workers, the one who was in charge of “dirty” water.  Could that be the problem or is my house trying to do me in  -- again?   The two aspects of the town’s piping is one that brings the potable (clean enough to drink) water into the house and one that carries the used water out to the sewage lagoon.  In the past the two men had divided the work between them with the dirty water being managed by Roger, who was wooed away by a different town.  I don’t know whether this backflow problem was about “dirty” or “clean” water but it hardly matters since now one guy must do both.  His health is not good.  Water masters are in short supply.  City employees here take so much criticism and second-guessing that it won’t be easy to hire.

Clearly, we citizens need to get informed about managing small town water systems very quickly.  Luckily the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has posted on YouTube a whole series about this, called “Managing a Small Town Public Water System”.  The link above is to the fifth vid in the series.  It’s not the only YouTube series about such practical matters.  Other towns also register advice, and I’ve begun watching them all.  I realized what a great household resource YouTube is when my toilet shut-off valve wore out months ago and the replacement wasn’t the familiar bulb-on-an-arm I’d dealt with before, but rather some puzzling tube thing.

The actual well house for the new well.

Maybe no one realizes how much maintenance and management a water system needs.  We have two water-towers now, four wells, different kinds of pumps, and several miles of “tubing” through the town and out to the sewage lagoon.  All this stuff is vulnerable to weather, usage, and small disasters like pipe collapse.  There’s a lot of checking, adjusting, and just monitoring.

This lady speaks about the planetary version of water distribution and says there is always the same amount of water on Earth.  I had no idea.  It changes states (vapor, liquid, fluid) but not amount.  I keep having realizations: like water towers are only needed if there’s no hill to get the water tank up high for gravity flow.  This is an excellent thing to remember if you’re siting a new town.  Heart Butte, Cut Bank, Shelby and Conrad all have that advantage.

When I first came to Browning in 1961, the water system was poorly understood.  One tank was up by Parsons -- you could see it along highway 89 -- and a water tower was a few blocks from me.  The line between the two had just been reinstalled without an engineer, so the trench had been dug a certain depth, the pipe was put in and connected, but because it followed the contours of the land, it airlocked all the time.  Most of it had been dug up and realigned.  The water tower itself was sometimes filled with a pump turned on by hand and sometimes the operator forgot to come back and turn off the pump on time, so that it overflowed.  The sound always made met think it had begun to rain, usually at night when no one was drawing water.  That water tower has been torn down recently.

This is the old Valier water tower.  
I think the pump house must be one of the little brown buildings at the foot.

All water distribution systems vary in pressure, which is much of what has to be watched and adjusted.  A water master must be in town 24/7 to deal with emergencies from broken pipes or failed pumps.  That’s why there are two.

One takes classes to learn about how to become a “water master”  who is certified to manage a town water system.  This website provides news about the tests and YouTube practice questions.  “MOST” stands for McLean's Operational Services Training.  There are specific variations in various locations.

One that struck me right off was the one about “blue baby syndrome” which is about nitrates that get into the water systems, particularly when there is a lot of nitrate use for fertilizer in conjunction with irrigation.  Once I helped deliver a calf with nitrate in it’s system: it lived only as long as the mother’s oxygen was in its blood.  Nitrates replace hemoglobin, producing chemical suffocation.  The calf seemed fine but with a minute was inert -- no convulsions, no bleeding, no wound.  Just dead.  I hope local obstetricians check for nitrates in the mother’s blood as a standard part of prenatal care.  I know of one ranch well that was contaminated.  There was a pregnant female in the family. 

By now I’ve subscribed to three separate u-tube “flows” of information about town water systems.  No one is going to hire a tubby old lady to be a water master, but maybe I’ll take the exam just to see whether I could pass it.  The fees cost a few hundreds of dollars.  The problem we’ve got here is that $15 an hour is not enough to attract a prepared water master, so we would have to take a chance on fronting the money for the tests -- the state allows six months to a year to pass -- for someone who might not pass or might get discouraged and quit.   

These YouTubes are called “virtual training” rather than “online education.”  They tend to be practical demonstrations, video courses that ought to prepare one for the state exam.  Each of the following (which is the list of lessons offered by MOST) costs $10, which should be added to the cost of the test.  As you can see, this is not the same as turning a garden hose on and off.  Skills needed are chemistry, geology, hydrology, but -- most of all -- math.  Roger has needed marksmanship in order to remove muskrats who burrow through the outer earth wall, threatening to drain the lagoon.

The lagoon, improvement nearly complete.
A storm coming in from the north.

The factor that haunts us here is extreme low temps.  After we failed our coliform tests repeatedly last winter, we had to add a cover and circulation pumps to keep the “bugs” warm enough to digest waste.  It’s just being finished. The state requires engineers because too many amateurs think things are simple when they are not.  But engineers slip up, too.  I don’t know what their excuse is, but it’s not helpful when they come from some other ecology.

Some of these water master subjects may seem a little exotic.  The one about iron and manganese treatment is what made reservation water impossible to use for dialysis -- when chlorine hit, it precipitated into little black dots.  It was an expensive struggle to find a local clean water source, but a necessary one to keep people from having to travel a hundred miles to a dialysis center several times a week.  We used to joke about the local water guy in 1990 in Heart Butte -- which was either before the state standards were passed or so remote a community that no one checked.  If he needed to go to town and wouldn’t be there to dump in the chlorine that day, he just dumped in double, figuring that it would average out.  Sometimes the teachers looked a little pale, but we were “pale faces” anyway.  (Jokes.  I’ve learned to mark my jokes since some people mistake them for insults.)  We were constantly afflicted by low-grade GI upsets.

The Valier Trash Roll-off
When the wind is blowing hard it hums fiercely.


The Hydrologic Cycle
Pipe Systems
Flow Meters
Chloramines in the Distribution System
Back flow and cross connections
Dimensional Analysis
Area Calculation
Volume Calculation
Flow Rate Calculation
Velocity Calculation, Friction, and Hydraulic Grade Lines
Chemical Feed Calculations: The Pounds Formula
Chemical Feed Calculations: Chlorination  (2 parts
Static Hydraulics: Density, Specific Gravity, and Pressure
CT Calculations
Activated Carbon Adsorption
Ion Exchange
Iron and Manganese Treatment
Lime Softening
The Nature of Water
Secondary Standards
Microbiology for Operators
The Total Coliform Rule and Measuring Coliforms
Disinfection By-Products
General Source Water Characteristics
The Surface Water Treatment Rule
Filtration (2 parts)

Lately the work load for the city employees has increased because the postal service changed their schedule and cannot deliver water samples to the lab in the time window.  Since Leo can't leave town because he's the only water master, the town clerk must drive the samples to Cut Bank where they go by UPS to the closest lab.

The Valier water system does not only serve the residents.  Some ranches have no well, so they must come into town to fill up giant tanks that can be emptied into their underground cisterns.  Aside from household use, they mix the water with herbicides and fertilizer as well as watering livestock.   A little tricky when it’s thirty below.  Of course, anyone who comes to church, school, cafe, service station is using the town water system.  We are learning to think of the town as the center of a wider area that is a service area, like the gas, the telephone lines, the electricity.  Water is the key to life itself, but distribution, use and safety are what turn the key.


I’ve just about reached my limit.  It’s not about writing or anything like that.  It’s about “iatrogenic plumbing”.  Iatrogenic medicine is when the docs, in trying to cure the patient, make him/her worse, maybe even create a new disease.  So I’ve moved the term over to plumbing infrastructure, both in houses and in the streets.  

Yesterday, while I wrote furiously in the next room, a plumber was using the “BIG” roto-rooter to get my main waste drain cleared out.  This was an actual professional plumber from the county seat.  The machine was so big that it was like doing Rubik’s cube to get it into my tiny bathroom, even though I’d moved everything portable out.  The final conclusion was that the pipe was NOT invaded by roots, which is very common in a warm fall like this one, but was probably blocked by collapse of the old line.  This will be the fourth time that this line is dug up and it’s beginning to cost real money.

The first time we dug was when the line sprung a little leak under the sidewalk.  The second time was farther up the line and may have been somehow linked to the first “fix” detaching between the two materials, old and new.  The third time might have been almost any cause, another slow leak.   But this emergency is thought to be a line collapse that’s totally blocking passage of even water.  By the end of today we’ll know more.  In the meantime I have no toilet.  Fortunately, I have a camp version.

We have had two town workers who handled these things.  One of them was hired away for a much better job covering the district.   The other was badly hurt in a trench collapse because the town tried to save money by not buying a “trench box” that fortifies the walls.  They’re expensive, heavy, and awkward, but they save lives.  We have one now.  We’ve had an election in which our competent previous mayor was displaced by a nut case who quit after a week in office.  (He got in by spreading malicious gossip.)  So today the recovering town employee and a Valier citizen who was once on the council, and who runs an excavation and gravel company, will give it a try.  Our new mayor takes office January 1 and we have high hopes.

The county assessor cannot see these things when she does her drive-by estimates.  She assumes foundations and that the interiors are as standard as the houses where she has lived, fully equipped and maintained.  Taxes, sewer and water, electricity, gas, are scaled for parts of the country where the population is much thicker, and so are the Codes.  Many houses in town have for sale signs, but probably many people are just fishing.

By living in a ramshackle old house, I am able at 76 to write all day, hunkered down with my library and internet connection, which is also developing aging and deterioration just like the other infrastructures.  My eyes are my “infra-structure” and they are giving me problems.  Luckily I’ve discovered $20 eyeglasses from China that are better than the $300 ones I’ve always bought from optometrists.

In summary, I may let down my standards for this blog, which were to write at least 1,000 words a day every day.  Not trivia but things that require research and reflection.  I’m still chasing matters that I began reading about in high school, like creativity and what organic really means.  There are many social issues crying out for insight.  I think there are a lot of people out there writing this same way, but no one knows about them and publishing never did pay much attention.  Now they have become blood-suckers. 

My main email is still up.  prairiem at  I have a landline but no smart phone, tablet, or cell connection.  It’s a long drive from anywhere.  If you travel this time of year, you must watch the weather closely.  My water line is working, so I can make coffee.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Water key to cities’ success through Montana history
  1. By ROB CHANEY of the Missoulian Jan 9, 2011 0

If you want to know the history of Montana cities, follow the water.
It's not a coincidence that most of the state's first successful businesses were determined by who got the water. Whether it was Nelson Story setting up the Bozeman Waterworks Co. to power his grain mill and eventually selling it to the town (after he became mayor), or Copper King Marcus Daly building a reservoir on Skalkaho Creek to serve budding Hamilton, water has been a key to future fortune.

Missoula is the only major city in Montana that doesn't own its water supply. Although the first waterworks was started by founding fathers C.P. Higgins and Frank Worden, the company was soon bought by Butte copper magnate W.A. Clark and never left private hands.

Now, in the wake of The Carlyle Group's announcement that it will buy Missoula's privately held water company, Mountain Water Co., residents have asked why - and how - the city wound up without public ownership of its drinking water.

Last week, the Missoulian contacted officials in other Montana cities to hear their stories and found a mixed past of private and public ownership.

Consider the following:
Retired water system manager David Schultz observed: "When most towns and cities are planned and settled, a major consideration is what the source of drinking water will be. Most cities are located near a river or lake or some other water source. However, Butte's location was determined by the presence of mining opportunities."

Putting a city in a basin 5,000 feet above sea level and almost on the Continental Divide guaranteed water troubles. Having mining for a major industry exacerbated the problem. Silver Bow Creek, the basin's only significant water source, was poisoned with mining waste soon after the area was settled.

In 1890, most of Butte's water needs came from the railroads. But in the next few years, increasing mining activity demanded more water. Copper King W.A. Clark built the Butte City Water Co., and soon sold it to Boston-Montana Mining Co. President A.S. Bigelow for $300,000. By 1899, that company was bankrupt and needed a $1 million loan to keep going.

It was also busily developing a pumping system that brought water from the Big Hole River, nearly 1,000 feet lower in elevation. The Anaconda Mining Co. and later Atlantic Richfield Co. owned the system until Missoula industrialist Dennis Washington bought it in 1985. He sold it to the city-county government in 1992.
Great Falls
Private builders started Great Falls' city water supply in the 1850s, according to present-day water plant manager Mike Jacobson. The city bought it in 1895.

But across the Missouri River, the community of Black Eagle had its own water system, built and owned by the Anaconda Mining Co.

"When they shut down, we had to run a water main extension across to Black Eagle, Jacobson said. "Now we're serving the city of Great Falls, Black Eagle and Malmstrom Air Force Base, pulling it all out of the river."
Local businessmen set up Billings' first water system in 1885. Their original Billings Water Power Co. depended on an 80-horsepower waterwheel to generate electricity, and a pump that sent 150,000 gallons a day of untreated Yellowstone River water to the city. The city government bought it in 1915 for $315,000, according to a history recap on the city's website.
Nelson Story left his family name all over the Bozeman basin. After leading the cattle drive fictionalized in the story "Lonesome Dove," he set up a grain mill in Bozeman and powered it with water from the Lyman Creek spring, according to city water and sewer superintendent John Alston. He expanded the system into a municipal water supply, the Bozeman Waterworks Co. When he became mayor of Bozeman in 1900, he arranged for the city to buy his system.

Alston said the city eventually outgrew the Lyman Creek supply, and now depends on Hyalite Lake and Sourdough Creek to keep the taps flowing.
"Water is going to be a limit to growth here," he said. "We're in the process of obtaining additional water rights."
The Yaw Yaw ditch delivered Helena's first municipal water supply in 1864. According to the city's history archive, the name was the reply to the question: "Should we build a ditch?"
The Helena Water Works was owned by a New Jersey company until 1910, when the company went bankrupt and the city acquired it for $400,000. Wooden pipes ran the water from Grizzly Gulch and Dry Gulch (now Davis Street). William Chessman built a reservoir on Ten Mile Creek and extended a water line to the city in 1921. The 1935 earthquake dried up the Dry Gulch supply and forced several rearrangements of supply sources. Some of the old wooden pipes remained in action through the 1970s.
"When city started, they had a reservoir off of Skalkaho Creek, and they would gravity-feed off of it," Hamilton Public Works director Keith Smith said. "We're not sure if (Marcus) Daly did it or the other town fathers, but he wanted it. At some point it was probably owned by city, then it was private, and now the city owns it again."

Hamilton bought the water system from Valley Water Co. around 1982 for about $1 million. Smith said the widening of Highway 93 through downtown precipitated the sale. The private company lacked the resources to expand the main lines, so the city had to arrange the financing.

"Now we've got a water facility master plan for 2009 that looks 20 years out to the future," Smith said. "We're in good shape for another 10 years, but if we see the growth like we saw in the '90s, we'll have to expand."

Friday, October 23, 2015



The Conrad Brothers

Let’s do some Conrad begats.

In the beginning were three brothers: William, Charles and John. In 1868, William (16) and (14) were sent to Montana by their father, Colonel James Conrad, an officer in Mosby’s Raiders and once a plantation owner. He kept John two more years until he turned 14. The first two soon found work with Isaac G. Baker, merchant, river master and whiskey trader. They supervised ox teams, built trading stockades, and John, as soon as he came, handled the gold dust and acted as a courier and road escort. He was six foot three. By 1873 he brothers had a controlling interest in the Baker Company and were operating eight trading posts spread out clear to the Arctic Circle.

Charles Conrad found his first wife at one of the Canadian forts in the 1870’s. “Singing in the Middle,” a Blood Indian, and formally married her. In 1876 she gave birth to a son, also named Charles. She drifted off and remarried to an Indian but died in childbirth in 1881. Charles Jr., at his mother’s request, was sent to a Catholic boarding school in Montreal and raised there. By then Charles Sr. was a 37-year-old prosperous trader and banker. Letitia Stanford arrived from Nova Scotia with her mother and and sister to start the Select School for Ladies and Children. Charles Sr. married her and built her a red brick house on the corner of Washington and Sixteenth Street in Fort Benton.

In 1882 Lettie had a son and they named him Charles. So now Charles had two sons, Charles Edward, the half-breed (metis), and Charles Davenport, the all-white. Charles Senior, known by the Indians as “Spotted Cap,” had a reputation as a special friend of the Indian and gave advice in the sale of the Ceded Strip (Glacier National Park) to the government. It had to do with how the payout was made; whether it was good advice depends on opinion.

William became deeply involved in cattle ranching, though all the Conrads were ranchers for a while. The village of Valier was once part of the Conrad Circle Cattle Company, specifically the Block Hanging Seven. Founder of Conrad, William helped develop irrigation along the southern edge of the reservation. Lake Frances, next to Valier, is the man-made impoundment lake for that system which starts at Swift Dam in the mountains. He cooperated with Jesuits to bring in Belgian grain farmers and occasionally worked behind the scenes (unsuccessfully) to move the reservation boundary farther north so that the work done there at Blackft expense would be part of his system.

There was a Fort Conrad at one point, but it was eaten by the flooding of nearby Marias River. Charles Sr. ran it, as one among a string along the Whoop-Up Trail, now commemorated by markers. The whole complex was based on running what passed for whiskey. James Willard Schultz (sometimes accused of using “grass”) was a friend of the Conrads, especially Charles. Mounties were specifically sent to close the whiskey trade and in 1874 they had about succeeded. Joe Kipp, Schultz, Hiram Upham, and Charles ran the fort for a few years, then sold it to a rancher in 1885. The buffalo had been used up in 1883-84, so there was nothing for Indians to trade.

But the prairie was emptied for the great open-range cattle operations. In 1878 the three Conrads put half a million dollars into cattle. William ran these operations and was not sentimental about feeding Indians. For a good price the Conrads supplied over five million pounds of beef for Mounties and reservation Indians in 1880. By then they were thinking about railroads and coal.

In 1890 James J. Hill was building tracks and Charles Conrad agreed to found a town that would provide a meeting point -- the result was Kalispell. In 1892 Charles Conrad opened a bank and built the fabulous house that appears in “Heavensgate.” He enjoyed inviting Indian leaders to formal dinners, complete with crystal, silver, china and linen. Then all repaired to the Great Entry Hall where there they settled before the huge fireplace to share cigars and stories. Charles’ daughter Alicia said that she would crouch on the stairs to listen, watching the firelight play across their faces and make their eyes glitter. She also remembers the first appearance of her half-Indian brother, Charles Edward, who picked her up and swung her over his head. She loved him.

Neither of the junior Charleses was a success. Charles Edward, handsome and proud, married Marie Blanche Lionais, a French girl from a fine family, in Montreal’s cathedral with the archbishop presiding. Charles Sr. gave the newlyweds a fine house and created a trading company for his son. Edward ran it into the ground. More money was sent, but it was never enough and then Charles Sr., knowing he was dying of diabetes, turned his attention to designing his own mausoleum. He died on Thanksgiving, 1902, aged 52. Edward took as much more money as he could get from the estate and from his stepmother until business and wife were gone. In September, 1905, not quite thirty, he committed suicide.

Charles Davenport, the all-white son, was no better. He was a party-hearty guy even after he married Kokoa Baldwin, daughter of a prominent lawyer. Insulted beyond bearing, she rode her horse to the bank, carried her riding crop into his office and lashed his face. She filed for divorce in 1915 and left to be in silent Western movies. After not-enough-success she returned to Kalispell and is rumored to have died of suicide.

Charley D. remarried. In 1930 his 21-year-old son went into the woods and died of a shotgun blast to the chest, maybe another suicide. Lettie died in 1924, leaving a fortune to Charley D. and his sisters, Alicia and Katherine. He managed to get control of all the money. His last scheme was to turn that elegant big house into a casino and bordello, but Alicia found out in time and saved the house with a secret down payment from the last of her money. In 1940 a group of Kalispell businessmen bought the Conrad bank and two years later he died of lung cancer.

Alicia was married long enough to lose the last bits of money and to produce a daughter, Alicia Ann. Alicia and a stepfather lived in the big Conrad house while it fell apart around them. There was no money for rehabilitation. When it became impossible, the couple lived in a mobile home in the driveway. In 1973, the stepfather died, and in the late 1970’s Alicia Ann’s son Chris made arrangements to transform the building into a museum.

Rewind to 1880. Now we turn to John Conrad. His cattle were in the Hurlbut-Conrad Cattle Company, based in the notorious Johnson County, Wyoming. It’s unclear whether he was part of the cattle mogul vigilante groups, but certainly his cowboys were also gunslingers. By 1891 he had sold out his cows.

He met Mabel Barnaby during the 1884 Democratic National Convention. She was nineteen, accompanying her father, who was a Rhode Island merchant and politician. John was 29, identified by the newspapers as a “Western millionaire.” In 1887 he installed his wife in a log cabin home in Billings and opened a fancy store. He also established an attachment to Samuel Hauser (banking, railroad, mining, and cattle) who was one of the Big Four. the others were Charles Broadwater (railroads and a fabulous health spa in Helena), Marcus Daly and Willliam A. Clark (both copper kings). John’s goal was becoming governor. He bought a house as 702 Madison Avenue in Helena.

In the spring of 1891, Mabel’s mother was poisoned to death in Denver. John went berzerk in pursuit of the poisoner, who might well have been a doctor who had ingratiated himself with the woman. The doctor had a mentally unstable wife who eventually collected $25,000 from her will, but the doctor poisoned himself before he could be convicted. Under the pressure the John Conrad marriage came totally unglued -- the master and mistress accusing each other of repeated adultery and the household so disorderly that at one point there was an in-house riot featuring the coachman wielding a stick and the Chinese cook swinging a frying pan. John was the loser.

The divorce was complete in 1895 and Mabel took her children (Florence, Maud and the first Barnaby) back to civilization in Europe. Since she had her own fortune, it was not difficult to marry an American named George Choate Kendall and move into a chateau in France.

John Conrad disappeared for a while, popped up again in the Yukon and made a mighty effort to repeat the past on this new frontier. At sixty, his Venus Mine was a success until 1912. He died in 1928, drunk and indigent, in an SRO hotel in Seattle.

The three Barnaby Conrads all grew up educated, sophisticated world-citizens. Absinthe and martinis are a far cry from the product sold on the Whoop Up trail, flavored with tobacco and hot peppers. Barnaby Conrad II has written 37 books, and Barnaby Conrad III is in close pursuit of that record. Any of the three could be portrayed on the screen by Kris Christopherson. Maybe Barnaby Conrad III is a little young -- let’s say Brad Pitt as in “Legends of the Fall” -- not such a different story.


A.B. Guthrie Jr's beloved Ear Mountain from the air.
Five of his genre novels were in sight of this formation.

There has always been a discussion of “regionalism” among writers: is it a limitation, a sort of provincialism, a failure to compete or be universal in global terms?  In the other direction, there are efforts to connect “specialness” and privilege to certain places: the Left Bank in Paris, SF in the Beat years, and Montana either as a 19th century cowboy place or as a contemporary environmental paradise.  For a while Montana books were guaranteed to be popular, but now it is Portland books.

It struck me as an issue because several times now when I’ve told people that my “prairiemary” blog has readers all over the planet, maybe as many from China or Australia as in Montana, their reaction is “well, everyone romanticizes cowboys and is interested in the West.”  They give a "we're so special" smug grin.  But constant readers will know that though I privilege the high prairie -- the old Blackfeet territory -- I allot most space to stuff like sex or neurological research or something I have a hard time naming -- sorta like "the design of peak experience" (liturgical theory).  I spend time on small town dynamics and infrastructure, which seem to be universal in a way that transcends one continent or another.

In a way, thinking of something as “regional” like cowboys and scenery is to be confined by it and put down, but in another way it is a kind of pride, a confidence that the place is special, enviable.   (Last Best Place, God’s Country.) It invites visitors, but it’s an exclusion of anyone from “outside,” a xenophobia.  The newspaper makes a great fuss about local places to eat, local bumper stickers, weather jokes, creating an “in” space, a kind of club.

There is resentment of the more sophisticated and moneyed people who come in here and establish grand empires without having any ancestors who broke their backs and risked their lives to develop the prairie and establish the towns.  But then there’s pride that these big shots would WANT to come here and put up massive log entrance gates in the middle of 3-strand barbed wire fences.

There’s a certain kind of conservationist who brags about how deep into the wilderness they’ve gone, how many mountains they can name and how many trails they know from backpacking.  There are a lot fewer who are trying to understand aquifers and how to manage a sewage lagoon when the temps are thirty below zero.  Some are trying to get their cows up into the deep mountain grass for 19th century government fees, and others are plotting to get as many wolves and bears as possible down as low as people will tolerate.  Some want the profit and some want the romance.

The great commonality is that everyone wants the money.  Money is ironically the great leveler and equilibrium among all the types who try to occupy this long section of horizon.  Somehow we fail to notice that an island off the East Coast called “Manhattan” has a grip on the money valves of Montana and has had since the earliest days of extractive mineral industry.  This is also true of literary efforts, though most of the people in Manhattan have a weak grasp on what Montana is like.  

When I was circuit-riding for the Montana UU Fellowships, occasional big shots would come from Boston for ceremonies.  Invariably, when they first stepped out of the airplane, they gasped.  Sheer size finally dawned on them.  Even more so after being driven around my circuit.  Each location (Missoula, Bozeman, Helena, and Great Falls) was unique and didn’t much understand the style and circumstances of the other three, nor did they feel any need to find out. So the provincialism (if you want to call it that) of the state was echoed in each town.  That was more true in the Eighties when I was traveling.

Television made some difference, but the Internet has transcended the state and the nation for those who know to reach out.  The farther the reach, the more shared the basis for sympathy and understanding.  In some ways, the UU denomination I served has been exceeded by the world-wide population of people who are in cahoots with each other, which means that local physical groups are only a small part of the movement, not necessarily aware of anything but their own friends.  They are content with what they know.  Scientific mysticism hasn't been institutionalized, so it isn't yet considered religion.

Be very careful about praising the scenery to me.  I become contemptuous of people who rave about how beautiful Glacier Park is.  It's not that I don't think the mountains are beautiful -- it's that they are so much more than that. They are NOT the dwellings of the Gods, although when I was circuit-riding, I called the statewide newsletter, “How Beautiful Upon the Mountain Are the Feet of the Messenger.”  

The line is from Isaiah 52.7 and in context goes like this:  "Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, 'Here I am.'" How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"  Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout joyfully together; For they will see with their own eyes When the LORD restores Zion.…”  

A ranch family actually named Zion lived nearby.

I doubt many people looked it up.  It was meant to get them to think about what the purpose of this circuit-riding gig was: a chance to grow, to learn, to form new connections.  I think they mostly thought in terms of “hiring,” a status upgrade, and making it easier to run meetings.  At the time I just sort of skipped over that.  I was still idealistic and believed in the “spirituality” of the denomination.

Now I feel much differently about mountains, esp. the Rockies.  My chapter of John Vollertson’s book, “Landscape and Legacy: The Splendor of Nature, History and Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front,” emphasized the deep canyon refuges on the east slope where literary types and fiddler-playing Metis built quiet cabins.  Others identified the mountains with freedom and adventure.  Many fond memories. 

View south from the summit of Ear Mountain, photo by Ralph Thornton

Today I see that long sinuous cordillera as a living creature, pulsing over time with the forces of deep underground tectonic clash, breathing with hurricane-force storm and erosion, carrying snowpack, rains chuting down couloirs, the force of relentless sun heat opening cracks, the weight of glaciers shearing off cirques.  Metamorphized stone, sedimentation in a parfait of colors, avalanche to a skirt of scree, roots penetrating into every crevice and followed by the wedging ice, grizzlies levering boulders to get at the sweet-fleshed rodents hiding underneath.  Game trails of deer and elk weave in and out, making double and triple helixes that carry code for predators to read. Mountain goats climb ever higher on their sponge-bottomed hooves and ignore the peaks above them on the assumption that no predators will get that high.  Except humans.  Maybe eagles hoping for meat if they can knock a kid off a ledge.

The rosy alpenglow feels its way across the face of the ramparts in the early morning; all day the sun fingers along and around the knobs and chutes, the standing obelisks and fallen rubble; then at the end of the day sinks down into indigo cutouts of horizon.  A storm can bring shouts of thunder, speaking emphatically, then muting into rainbow whispers when the clouds move on through.  When a storm shelf of cloud stands behind the peaks, it’s an echo, a stanza of repeated chorus.  Often late in the day wind pulls back a wind arch to show the sun as a hymn to the day just past.

This way of talking is a little too twee, too fancy, too sentimental, too purple.  But that doesn’t make it untrue.  Such thick metaphor can mean nothing to people who only look at it as a kuppelhorizont panorama of scenery in a theatre best only visited with camera in hand, not lived in.  Check it off the tick list of things to see.  You could say it is a cathedral, so people will believe you are spiritual.

But it has nothing to do with formal religion or emotional spirituality or any historical legacy.  Nothing human.  It is the foundation of life, the substrate of the holy, before and after any human systems or uses.  It sustains us and destroys us without any meaning we can know.  Thus we are humbled and that is a valid use of the Rocky Mountains, but not one many people seek.


John “Johnny” Francis Grant. (1831-1907)
The Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Montana.
Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell
Coordinator of Métis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute
John Francis Grant was a Métis rancher and entrepreneur born January 7, 1831, at Fort Edmonton, the son of Richard Grant, a Hudson’s Bay Company trader from Montrealm, and Marie Ann Breland, the Métis daughter of a onetime Company employee and Freeman. Johnny was thus related to two famous Métis families, those of Pascal Breland and Cuthbert Grant Jr. 
Shortly after his birth, Johnny’s mother died and he was sent along with his siblings to Quebec to be brought up by their grandmother and aunt. He remained there until at age fourteen (1847), then he and brother Richard returned to the North West to join his father at Fort Hall, Idaho. He learned to trap and hunt, and in 1849 his father sent him to Fort Vancouver to be trained in the fur trade. 
On returning to Fort Hall his father set him up with a trading outfit. He initially lived with a Shoshone woman, partly to cement trading relations with that group. This became a pattern with him and he is known to have had relations with four different Native women who bore him at least twelve children. In 1861, he built a permanent ranch site at Cottonwood (Deer Lodge Valley) and recruited a number of Métis trading families to join him (Louis Descheneau, Leon Quesnelle, Louis Demers, David Contois, and Michael LeClair).
John Francis Grant

Grant was quite successful in the Deer Lodge Valley of Montana. In winter he traded with the neighbouring Blackfoot, Shoshone, Bannock, and Flathead Indians, and during spring and summer he went up the Oregon Trail to trade cattle with the immigrants. By the late 1850s he had over 1,000 head of cattle and by 1863 had over 4,000 head and some 3,000 horses. He supplied beef and horses for the Montana gold rush of 1861, and by 1863 his holdings were valued in the neighbourhood of $150,000. He expanded his businesses by opening a store, saloon, dance hall, gristmill and blacksmith shop as well as a freighting business. Along with the Gold Rush came a criminal element and the advent of taxes in Montana, therefore Grant decided to pull up stakes and move to Manitoba. It is also noteworthy that the year he decided to leave the United States revenue officers seized his 700-gallon stock of alcohol. 
Grant sold his ranch and herd to Conrad Kohrs for $19,000 in 1867. The ranch is currently a park: the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site.  [The Montana writer Patricia Nell Warren grew up on this ranch as part of the Kohrs family.]
Upon arrival at Red River, Grant bought real estate in Winnipeg and bought land for a ranch in the Parish of St. Charles at Riviére aux Ilets des Bois (Carman, Manitoba). He brought a herd of 500 horses, 62 wagons, 12 carts and 106 men with him to Manitoba. He subsequently bought a large herd of cattle from the American Territories to start his ranching operation. He surrounded himself with Métis employees and his closest friends and relatives the Brelands, McKays, Leveilles and Rowands as he had done in Montana. It was here that he entered into his first formal marriage to Clotilde Bruneau, the Métis daughter of a former Judge in the Red River Settlement. 
As with the Breland and the other Grant families, Johnny did not join the Riel Resistance movement. After 1870, he entered into land speculation with Donald Smith (of the HBC) by buying Métis scrip and by 1882 he owned 13,000 acres. Unfortunately this was bought on credit and when the land boom collapsed in the mid-1800s he was ruined financially and had to sell off most of his holdings.
Grant sold his remaining cattle in 1891 and moved to Bittern Lake, Alberta in 1892. He homesteaded and lived there for eight years then went to Grande Prairie where he re-entered the fur trade. This did not go well, so he moved to Athabasca Landing and then to Deep Creek. In 1899, when Treaty Eight was signed in northern Alberta he was living in the ceded territory. He then became a spokesman for the children of the Manitoba Métis who had been disqualified from taking scrip because their parents had taken scrip earlier. His petition was not successful however.
By 1907 Grant was quite ill and he and his wife moved to Edmonton to live with their daughter and son-in-law. He died there on May first of that year. Before his death he dictated his autobiography to his wife Clotilde. The manuscript, “Very Close to Trouble,” was completed in 1909 and is held at the Montana historic site that used to be his ranch. Part of the manuscript has recently been published by Lyndel Meikle (editor) Very Close to Trouble: The Johnny Grant Memoir (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1996). The title of this book “Very Close to Trouble” is a reference to Johnny Grant’s attraction and marriages to numerous women. He was devoted to his children and also adopted many abandoned or orphaned children. He ensured that all of his children eventually obtained their Métis scrip.
Pouch. Northern Shoshone. 1854-1867. This small pouch, with its delicate beaded embroidery, belonged to Métis trader, rancher, and merchant John Francis ("Johnny") Grant. It may have been made by his Shoshone wife, Quarra. 

Children of Johnny Grant:
Children with Aloysia Larpantis, also called Louise (b. 1833), a Shoshone woman.
  1.   Marie Agnes b. 1851 Marie married William Dease 
  2.   Jane b. August 1854 
  3.   Aloysius or Louise b. c. 1855 
  4.   Mary b. 11/28/1855, d. 1/25/1933 
  5.   Richard b. c. 1858: Richard married Rosalie Hogue in 1881 at St. Charles 
    Children with Quarra (b.c. 1840, d. 2/24/1867). Quarra was a Shoshone, the sister of the noted chief Tenday. She died of tuberculosis at age 27. 
    1.   William b. 10/1/ 1856 
    2.   David b. 10/17/1858 
    3.   Julienne b. 1/7/1860 
    4.   John b.c. 1862 
    5.   Ellen b. c. 1863, d. 1/19/1868 
    6.   Charles Henri b.c. 1866 
      Child with an unknown woman who worked at the settlement of Cottonwood, located in the Deer Lodge valley in Montana. Quarra objected to Johnny bringing this baby home and he asked John and Mary Dempsey to adopt her. 
 Mary Dempsey b. November 28, 1854. Robert Dempsey and his wife Margaret adopted Mary as a baby. Margaret was John Grant’s sister-in-law, being the sister of his wife Quarra.
Children with Isabel Lucier (also Ruis) (described as a Blackfoot Half-Breed). She later married Captain D.W. Buck.
  1.   Emma b. 1862, married Isaac Cooper. 
  2.   James or Joseph b. 3/6/1869 James married Marie Sarah “Jane” Delorme at Red River. 
  3.   Isabella married Philip Carr. 

  1. Children with Clothild Bruneau (b. 1850 at St. Boniface) married May 7, 1868. 
  2.   Charles Alexander b. 5/30/1869. He married Annie Sparks in 1907 at Edmonton. 
  3.   Marguerite Marie Anne b. 12/15/1870, died as an infant 
  4.   James b. c. 1871, died as an infant. 
  5.   Sarah b.c. 1874, married Colin Fraser Lennie. 
  6.   Maria, b. 1874, married Frank Nutt, in 1894 at Edmonton. 
  1.   Alice b. c. 1878, d. Feb. 1951 
  2.   Marie Corinne d. 3/23/1883 
  3.   Francis baptized and interred 5/9/1881 
    Child with Cecile Boyer. 
 Cecile Welsh b. c. 1867
Children with Lily Bruneau, sister of Clothilde.
  1.   Sara b. c. 1870 
  2.   Clara b. c. 1872 
    Adopted children: While in Montana Johnny adopted an orphaned Bannock Indian boy and brought him to Manitoba, he ensured that the boy got Métis scrip. Johnny also adopted three Afro-American Métis children, a boy and two girls, the orphans of Phil Barnes and his Shoshone wife. He left the oldest girl in Montana when he moved to Manitoba. It was John/Jack and Annie Barnes who came with him. In Montana the La Vatta family (Thomas and Angélique) had worked with Johnny Grant. They were one of the many families who accompanied him on his move to Manitoba. Thomas LaVatta was known as the “Red Headed Spaniard,” he was a freighter and trader. His wife Angélique was called Poor-Oh-Ge in Shoshone. Ultimately, they did not like Manitoba and returned first to Idaho and later moved to the Fort Hall Reservation. Their children Laura Delores LaVatta and Edward LaVatta remained in Canada with Johnny Grant and were educated at St. Boniface. Laura married Johnny’s nephew, Joseph Richard Grant, however she died in 1885. She applied for Métis scrip (attested to by her adoptive father Johnny Grant) and the application was approved. Edwards' scrip application was not approved, he likely returned to join his family in Idaho before this could happen.
Philip Vasquez-Grant was another adopted child who accompanied Johnny to Manitoba. Philip was the son of Emilie Langie Grant; Johnny's widowed sister-in-law, who had married Pike Vasquez in California. The marriage did not last long. Philip used the Grant surname almost exclusively. John F. Grant successfully applied for scrip on Philip’s behalf. Philip left Manitoba for Philadelphia in 1910.

Edited and Compiled by Lawrence Barkwell 
Coordinator of Métis Heritage and History Research Louis Riel Institute
James Cuthbert Grant

GRANTJames Cuthbert  (Son of Richard Grant & Sarah aka Indian Woman At Oxford House)              
Following the death of his first wife, Richard Grant was assigned from 1837-1840 as Chief Trader to Island Lake, York Factory and Oxford House, respectively. During that period Richard and a woman known until recently only as Indian Woman At Oxford House were married 'according to the custom of the country'. By the time their son, James Cuthbert Grant, was born, c1836, the tradition of marrying according to the custom of the country had fallen out of favour with the Hudson's Bay Company and considerable pressure was put on Grant to end his relationship with the Indian Woman from Oxford House. In 1842 Grant was promoted to Chief Trader of Fort Hall, necessitating his move to what is now Idaho.  He left behind his second spouse and the very young James.  So far, no records have been found indicating Richard and his spouse had other children.

Following the separation, James' mother married a John Slater. For the company to avoid the increasing costs of supporting 'abandoned' country wives and their children, yet insure the spouse and  any children were cared for, the HBC, in some instances, 'married off' the wife and paid a maintenance type fee to the new husband, another company servant.  In other instances, the leaving husband would arrange his spouse's remarriage, thereby attempting to secure her well being and that of any children involved. In this instance, it's unknown which, if either, of these practices was used. What is known is Grant spent ten years attempting to have the company bring his Oxford House son to Fort Hall.  

James was about ten years old when he rejoined his father.  The intervening years are a mystery. A search for a Baptismal record which might have provided an accurate date and place of birth and the name of his mother was unsuccessful. A search for his step father is incomplete. There were a number of James and John Slaters who were employed by HBC but none with records recording a marriage. One John B. Slater, however, was employed as a HBC Slooper and Labourer from 1846- 1851 in the York District.  In 1851 he was a labourer in the Columbia District. In 1852 his contract was cancelled and he was discharged. In 1853, however, he was rehired under "Sundries", and re-employed in the Columbia District.  The connection with this John B. Slater is completely unproven, but it does suggest the possibility that James may have been brought west by family or someone other than the HBC.  Some credence is given to this possibility by the book, 'Blackfoot Heritage' which contains the genealogies of those original families of the Blackfoot Reserve at Browning, Montana. In it, some of James' children identified his mother as "Sarah" and as "a full blooded Chippewa."  Also, census records identify Sarah's birth place as Montana and Jimmy's place of origin as Canada; one even has him originating from British Columbia.  Continuing research may or may not add clarification to James' early history.

Jimmy Grant married Marie Cadotte, c1864, probably at or near Deer Lodge, Montana.  Jimmy would have been about twenty-six years old and Marie would have been about sixteen years old. Marie's father, Pierre or Peter Cadotte, (variously: Cadot, Cadat, etc.) is identified in the same Blackfeet Heritage as a "Half blood" from Canada, but the names of his parents or other family members are unknown. By the time land allotments were received by persons of the Blackfeet Reservation in 1907 and 1908, Marie's father was already deceased. Her mother has been identified as "Many Kill" or "Last Kill" aka "Kills Last", and by the same time, also deceased. One story states Marie was abandoned in infancy (reason unknown) and adopted by Martha Cadotte Robart or Robare aka "Old Mrs. Robare", possibly a paternal relation. 

The couple had the following children:
1.  Julia Grant:  
b.c.1865:   m(1) Alec Red Head (Howling). Children: Joseph Magee, Mary Magee
m(2) Tom Magee.  Children: Thomas B. Magee, George F. Magee, Walter G. Magee, Henry L. Magee, Dewey H. Magee.
2.  Mary Grant: b. c1869;  m. Rides At The Door
3.  James Grant Jr.: b. c1871; m. 1887; Josephine Chocquette; no children.
4.  Richard Grant: b. 1876; m. Rose Teasdale, Jan. 1, 1899, at Holy Trinity Mission. Certificate fr. Blackfeet Indian Agency.
5. John Grant: b. c1878; d. 11 years old.
6. Emma Grant
7. Maggie: d. 8 years old [duplication?]

During the 1850s and '60s, Jimmy's half brother, Johnny Grant, was heavily involved in the cattle business. At least part of that time, Jimmy worked with or for Johnny Grant in the ranching business. Jimmy was shot and killed in August, 1883.  The story of Jimmy Grant's death and information about his life and burial place are related in the following two newspaper articles.

Following Jimmy Grant's death, Marie Cadotte married:
1) Black Face Man; no children
2) Little Skunk. Children: Maggie Cold Body, Cecile Cold Body
3) Cold Body; No children  [were these Little Skunk's children adopted by Cold Body???]

Photos of Jimmy Grant and some of his children may be viewed under Photos-Surname Grant, and under Photos-Unidentified.

1) Newspaper: New Northwest - August 17, 1883 (Deer Lodge)
    James C. Grant Killed
    Shot Through the Heart by His Wife's Paramour
    Special to Independent, Depuyer, Choteau Co., Montana, August 8, 1883
     James C. Grant, the pioneer of this valley was killed last night by the Indian paramour of his wife.  The latter, a half-breed, and the Indian were coming from Birch, and at a point three miles from Dupuyer had gone a short distance from the road to rest.  Grant, having come home from the bay field heard the situation by one who saw them.  He armed himself with a Winchester and sixshooter, and mounting a felle horse, repaired to the scene.  When within eight feet of the Indian he opened fire, the bullet taking effect in the fleshy part of the man's breast, and striking a rib, glanced off.  The Indian returned the fire, hitting Grant in the wrist and shoulder.  Each fired twice and the Indian's second shot penetrated Grant's heart.
      A party of six citizens of Depuyer started this morning at daybreak, separating into three squads, and scouted the adjacent country.  They returned at about nine o'clock and did not renew the search.
      By a squaw just from Birch Creek, the report comes that the Indian Residents in that valley have all left for the agency for protection; also that the murderer was found completely riddled with bullets.
     "Jimmy Grant" was a half breed about forty five years old, a son of Capt. Grant, an old Hudson Bay trader, and a resident of Montana before its settlement by whites.  James Grant's brother, "Johnny" was for a long time a resident of Cottonwood, now Deer Lodge City, and was quite wealthy, but left with a number of Indians for the Red River of the North in '67, when white settlers began to locate in Deer Lodge.  Jimmy Grant lived for a long time in Deer Lodge where he was highly regarded as an honest, industrious and sober citizen.  At the time of his death, he had charge of W.J. McCormick and Capt. C. P. Higgins cattle.  His many friends will be sorry to learn of his tragic death.

2)  "Article From Conrad, Montana; Local Paper 20-22 Nov. 1991"
Jimmy Grant buried along with two children
by Dorothy Floerchinger
      Just east of the Sheep Creek bridge north of Dupuyer are graves of Jimmy Grant and two little children that died of measles.
      For years these graves were unmarked until an old timer pointed them out to Paul Bruner and he placed a stone marker on them.
      Few people are aware of this Grant family's plot in early Montana history.
      In 1843, Jimmy's grandfather, Richard Grant, was a factor in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Hall in Idaho on the Oregon-California Trail.  Grant was married to a convent educated Red River metis; that is a part Indian woman.  Also his two sons James and John were married to Indian women.
      When the wagon trains on their way west stopped at Fort Hall with their worn-out oxen teams they would trade several for one fat one from Grant's herd.  Soon he and his two sons had large herds being taken north into the Beaverhead and Ruby Valleys.
      They established a ranch near Deer Lodge, one of the oldest in Montana in the 1850s.  The Grant sons' sister Julia was married to C. P. Higgins, one of the first men to be involved in a settlement to become Missoula.
     Higgins and McClain had large cattle herds that grazed west of Dupuyer and Higgins' nephew Jimmy Grant was placed in charge of them.  He lived in a cabin not far from where he is buried.
      It is reported that he was gone for a few days and on his return had reason to suspect that his squaw had been too intimate with another Indian buck.  Jimmy shot him in the arm.  The Indian went off and returned with his gun and shot poor Jimmy in the heart.
      His wife moved to the Blackfoot reservation with her other children.  Mrs. Rose Grant, age 84, wife of Jimmy's son Richard, died in the 1984 flood with eight members of her family.
      The home of James and John near Deer Lodge dating back to the 1850s was sold to Conrad Kohrs, a German immigrant in 1866.
      In 1872, it was acquired by the federal government for the purpose of interpreting the western livestock industry and designated as a National Historic Site.
      Many places carry the name Grant in memory of this family.