Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Piecing together the enigma of George Montour

 

December 6, 2018

Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Owner of Heritage Office Stop Dee Schmitz published and assembled the journal held by Author Douglas Waldron. Pictured Schmitz, Waldron and Heritage Office Stop employee Lavonne Dunster.

SEELEY LAKE – The last sentence of an article first run in the Oct. 15, 1877 in Deer Lodge's New Northwest News and reprinted in "Cabin Fever" aggravated Seeley Lake resident and author Douglas Waldron, "The death of [George] Monture is not a matter of regret. Much of the apprehension on the frontier was in consequence of his supplying the Indians with whiskey and ammunition and it is hoped he died like Brigham Young, without a successor."

"Why did she write that? She probably never even knew him," said Waldron. "That really bothered me for whatever reason. I was kind of pro-Native American and I knew there was more to this guy."

This began Waldron's quest to redeem a man that little was known about yet was the namesake for many landmarks around Ovando and in the Blackfoot Valley including the Seeley Lake Ranger District's Monture Guard Station.

Waldron has complied more than seven years of research in his newly released journal entitled "George Montour: Heroes on Broken Horses." It is a compilation of journals of Charles Frush, John Owens and other writings during 1856-1858 Indian Wars detailing who Montour was including his murder and the subsequent trial.

* * * * *

Waldron started his research on Montour, also spelled Monture and Monteur, at the William K. Kohrs Memorial Library in Deer Lodge, Mont. with the help of Nancy Filliman. Waldron said she was a huge help and constantly encouraged him to keep researching the man people knew nothing about. She would often mail him clippings and information she found in connection to Montour.

"I wanted to say thank you to her for everything she did because she was the biggest part of me finishing the journal," said Waldron.

He read journals of Major John Owen, Indian Agent for the Flathead Indian Reservation and owner of Fort Owen. These journals are kept at today's Fort Owen State Park near Stevensville, Mont.

Writings of fur trader Charles W. Frush, housed at the Montana Historical Society in Helena, were also helpful..

"Montour was a horse trader, interpreter and guide," said Waldron. "There was more to this guy than people are thinking and saying about him."

According to Waldron, Major Owen wrote good things about Montour in his journals, even requesting Montour receive a raise from the Indian Agency for his services.

Frush touts Montour with saving the life of himself and Major Owen from Yakima warriors.

Waldron wrote "Wild Heritage – The Killing of George Montour" in the summer of 2013 after more than two years of research. While Part I is factual, reprinting journals and articles that give account of Montour, Part II is Waldron's fictional account of the young Montour based on the research he had done.

After asking Waldron to sign and donate his books to the Montana Historical Society, MHS Reference Historian Zoe Ann Stoltz assigned two other researchers to help Waldron in his search for more information. It was through this effort that Waldron found writings by Thomas Harris, rancher on Three Mile Creek north of Fort Owen and one of the first Missoula County Commissioners. His diary entries were the only evidence Waldron could find that Montour was at Fort Owens.

"'George Montour: Heroes on Broken Horses' is a result of her vision," said Waldron who was so grateful for the additional help.

Waldron said members of the Salish Kootenai Tribe, of which Montour was a part, provided information that had been verbally passed down about Montour's life. Montour's descendant Dolly Linsebigler, who was on the Salish-Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee Elders Cultural Advisory Council, was a wealth of knowledge about the tribal culture, language, and Montour.

In 2017, Waldron published his first journal, a non-fiction compilation all of the articles and journals he found while researching Montour. Even though Linsebigler was so instrumental in piecing together Montour's life, Waldron never met her before she passed away in October 2017 at the age of 90.

After Linsebigler's passing, Waldron visited other descendants of Montour in St. Ignatius and St. Regis. After gathering more information, he returned to the Deer Lodge and was able to find additional information to add to the story.

When Waldron had enough new information he decided to publish a second journal that included the first but contained significantly more information. Owner of Seeley Lake's Heritage Office Stop Dee Schmitz put the two together under the original name "George Montour: Heroes on Broken Horses."

"I never thought it would ever get this far and it's gorgeous. I so appreciate all of the work Dee put into this," said Waldron.

Waldron thinks his quest for more information on Montour, a man that many saw as an enigma, is finished saying, "There is no more."

Waldron added, "It's been one heck of a journey. I've learned a lot about Montana, the Indians and Montour. It was a lot of fun and I'm really pleased how the journal turned out."

Waldron donated copies of the journal to Fort Owens, the Montana Historical Society, The Brand Bar Museum in Ovando, the Deer Lodge Library, the Missoula County Public Library to be housed in the Montana Room and to the Salish Kootenai tribe. The journal is available for purchase at Heritage Office Stop in Seeley Lake for $30.

 

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