According to articles written by the late
Alderson, an early Gallatin Valley pioneer, and corroborated by
other pioneers, it was in the fall of 1863, and the spring of 1864
that the first settlements were made in Gallatin Valley by a few
mountaineers. Joe Wilson, Al Nichols, J. Gallaher, Lotzenheiser
brothers, Dunbar brothers and others settled near the three forks of
the Missouri River, where they started Gallatin City, and W. J.
Beall, D. E. Rouse, Jacob Gum, W. O. P. Hays, George D. Thomas, M.
W. Penwell, Oscar E. Penwell, W. H. Babcock, F. A. Meridith and
others located on the East Gallatin River.
In the spring and summer of 1864, a heavy tide of emigration coming
from the east and the west, settled in Montana, attracted to the
territory by the almost fabulous accounts of the discovery of gold
and silver. Many persons who were disappointed in their efforts to
secure gold, and others who were naturally disposed to other
pursuits, found their way into the agricultural valleys of the
territory, that had previously received little attention on account
of the intense excitement of the mining prospects.
The City of Bozeman was located in 1864. William J.
Beall and Daniel E. Rouse located claims for themselves and one for
John M. Bozeman at his request, on the site of the present city,
early in July. W. W. Alderson and his brother John arrived July 14,
and learned from Mr. Beall and Mr. Rouse that they were holding down
a town site for Mr. Bozeman, who was piloting an emigrant train from
the Platte River to the mining districts of the territory. Mr. Beall
and Mr. Rouse hauled logs from the mountains and built cabins, Mr.
Beall on the north side of Main Street and the west side of the
present Bozeman Avenue, north of the present site of the Masonic
temple. Mr. Rouse built on Bozeman's claim on the south side of Main
Street, east of Bozeman Avenue, Mr. Bozeman taking possession of
this cabin on his return from the mining district. Early pioneers
say that both cabins were finished about the same time; Mr. Beall's
probably having the roof on first.
Naming the City
In August, 1864, a few settlers, prominent among
them being: W. J. Beall, D. E. Rouse, William W. Alderson, John
Alderson, John M. Bozeman, J. Merriwell and John Richau, who had
located claims in Bozeman and vicinity, determined to locate the
town officially, and accordingly, a claim association was formed,
by-laws were enacted, fees for recording were fixed, and other
necessary business was transacted. At the meeting of August 9, 1864,
with John M. Bozeman chairman, and W. W. Alderson, secretary, on
motion of Mr. Alderson, the town was named Bozeman, according to the
official minutes of the meeting now in possession of Mrs. E. L.
Houston, daughter of the late W. W. Alderson. The minutes show that
boundaries of the district were defined, and the sum of one dollar
was decided as the recording fee for claims.
First Buildings Erected
The first house built in Gallatin Valley was that of
Frank Dunbar in 1863, at Gallatin City, near the present town of
Three Forks. Mr. Dunbar used this residence later as a hotel, and
some of the early day meetings of county officers were held there
when Gallatin City was the county seat of Gallatin County.
The first houses in Bozeman, as previously stated,
were built by W. J. Beall and D. E. Rouse. The first hotel in
Bozeman, according to official records, was built by Stafford and
Rice, on the corner of Main Street and Bozeman Avenue, where the
Masonic building of Gallatin Lodge No. 6, A. F. and A. M. is now
located. It was a story and a half log building, and before
partitions were put in, an entertainment was held there, Christmas
Eve 1864, in the form of a grand ball, recorded by early pioneers as
the first important social event in Bozeman. The first wedding in
Gallatin County took place in that hotel, January 11, 1865, when
John Stafford and Miss Sallie Smith were married by the Rev. W. W.
Alderson, who was a local preacher, as well as a pioneer farmer.
In this hotel, women and children of Bozeman and
vicinity were housed for two days during July 1865, when hostile
Sioux Indians were reported on their way to Bozeman, and the men of
the community had to go over the divide in an effort to drive the
Indians back. This they succeeded in doing, though one of their
number, Colonel Kimball, was killed.
The building was purchased by Gallatin Masonic Lodge No. 6, and they
used the upstairs for a lodge room for several years, renting the
first floor for business purposes. Tuller and Rich, pioneer
merchants, who were later succeeded by Willson and Rich, occupied
part of the first floor for a time. This firm finally became the
Willson Company of today. The building was torn down in 1882, when
the Masonic building was erected, and the logs, purchased by W. H.
Tracy, were used to build a barn
on the alley back of Main Street. In 1914, the barn was torn down
and the logs were used for firewood. The Guy House, Northern Pacific
Hotel and Laclede Hotel were among those of pioneer days.
First hotel in Bozeman, built by Stafford and Rice
in 1864. Later
called the Masonic building.
A hotel on Main Street was opened by Mr. and Mrs. G.
W. A. Frazier in 1866, and was conducted for about three years.
Their sign "City Hotel" was one of the first signs on the street.
John M. Bozeman was interested with Mr. Frazier in the erection of
this building. Squire Fitz and son, John S. Mendenhall and A. Lamme
were among the early pioneer merchants of Bozeman.
Fort Ellis was established as a military post three
miles east of Bozeman, August 27, 1867, in charge of Captain R. S.
La Motte, with three companies of United States troops, for the
protection of the people of this part of Montana Territory from the
Indians. Four companies of cavalry came in 1869. The fort was named
in honor of Colonel Augustus Van Horn Ellis of the 124th New York
Volunteers. In 1886, Fort Ellis was abandoned, because it was no
Early History of Gallatin County,
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