Dooley

 

HISTORY OF DOOLEY, MONTANA

(As written in Sheridan's Daybreak published in 1970)

with permission of the Sheridan County Historical Association and Magnus Aasheim

Thanks for this transcription goes to Vicki Koterba!

With the coming of the Soo Line, townsite lots were sold on July 30, 1913. The town was platted by the railroad on the northeast corner of the W.D. Dooley homestead, from which the town got its name.

About forty buildings went up at once. In a few years this was a thriving business and community center. The following is a list of the business and community establishments shortly after the fall of 1913: The Citizens State Bank, which George Epler organized and where he also served as Cashier; one General Store owned and operated by Guy Clarke; another general store operated by the Epler Brothers; a Hardware Store by the Decker brothers (Fred Decker became sole owner later when he bought Chester out); the George Wright Hardware Store; the George Wright Hardware Store building's upstairs was used for church, clubs, social gatherings and a morgue, until the theater was built and the morgue was then moved to the Decker Hardware Store.

George Hanson Drug, Confectionery and Ice Cream Parlor served homemade ice cream. Ted Nelson purchased the Herman Bretzke building and started the first restaurant, which was managed by Mrs. Nelson. Ted then started a meat market and employed Christ Grytnes as meat cutter. Another meat market was short-lived when George Lieback came. George opened a butcher shop, and it was his misfortune to be caught in all three of Dooley's major fires.

Ted Nelson had a Racket (Variety) store. Peter Hegseth had a Confectionery, also the post office. Later, when he rebuild after being burned out, Pete carried some groceries. There were two saloons: one was Hans Nelson's, and the second one was Jim King's.

A newspaper, "The Dooley Sun," was owned and edited by W.R. Vezina. The first edition was dated November 7, 1913.

There was a Feed Mill, built and managed by M.E. Lerbeck and Iver Johnson. They later sold out to Loyal Goss, who set up an electric light plant January 1, 1915. Electricity was turned on every evening at dusk, and turned off at midnight. Every Tuesday the power was on from morning until noon so that the ladies could do their washing and ironing.

Ed Campbell and Newt Shaw started the first Blacksmith Shop, and did a flourishing business sharpening plowshares and keeping the farmers' machinery in shape. Mr. Standorf came to take over in the Blacksmith business. After a few years he moved away, and Henry Franson took charge of the shop.

A cigar factory operated by Ole Ronning was short lived. Britt Chandler started a Pool Hall in 1916; Lee Munson erected a Garage; Ed Estes and Dave Curtin each had a Dray Line, which they sold later to Matt Eaton. Dr. Sells came and set up his practice, and Dr. Cooper lived on his homestead north of town. One Dentist, one Real Estate Office, a Furniture Store, one implement shop, a rooming house run by Bud Okerlund and Henry Satterly, a Photograph Gallery and a Café were also early-day Dooley business houses.

Three elevators were built. A large amount of grain came from across the Canadian Border, as they could realize more on their wheat from the American market, even after paying the duty. The first grain buyer at the Atlantic was Oscar Bergman. Nels Markuson succeeded Anderson's, and became manager of the Farmers Elevator Company. Olaf Rietan was the first buyer at the Occident. Walter Bye was the first barber, the year of 1908; then came Norris and Harry Burnham. At one time there were four lumber yards.

Otto and Arthur Stadig erected a 100' x 32' Livery Barn in 1913. They were so rushed by business that the following spring they built a 100' x 30' addition, and they could then care for more 100 or more horses. Jack Vossen was the contractor, and when the first part of the barn was completed, a dedication and dance was held. Howard Lewis of Plentywood supplied the bursts of oratory for the occasion. Much of the trade at the barn was from our neighbors to the North.

Dooley had a Commercial Club, Fire Department, and a Band. A salaried Baseball team was soon added, and Band uniforms were bought.

It is interesting to note that Dooley is one of the Soo Line towns that has not been moved since its beginning.

In 1913-14, mail was delivered by way of stage from Plentywood. The first postmaster was Peter Hegseth, who maintained a post office in his homestead shack before moving to Dooley. In 1921, Willard Markuson became postmaster and 12 years later, Ambrose Schumacher received the appointment. The Dooley post office was closed on June 29, 1957. A mail route was established out of Westby to serve the community.

The first baby to be born at Dooley was a girl to Mr. and Mrs. P.T. Hegseth in the early spring of 1914. They named her "Dooliette." The town boasted a population of close to 400 at one time.

The first Church services were Sunday, September 7, 1913, conducted by the Rev. F.E. Henry of Plentywood, and held in the George Wright Hall. Later, Fr. Hennessey held Mass at the Hall. The first Church to be built in Dooley was the Rocky Valley Lutheran Church. In the early spring of 1915, a double corner lot was donated by the townsite company and the erection of the church was begun. J.J. Vossen, a farmer from east of town, was the contractor, ably assisted by men of the Church. The Church was 28' x 40', and completed by midsummer. The labor alone was $437.75. The cornerstone was laid August 24, 1915, by Dr. Brandt. A pipeless furnace was installed that same fall. The Ladies Aid added the furnishings for the church. The pulpit was made by Walter Berglund. The first minister to serve was Rev. S.J. Fretheim. His first services in the Dooley community were held at the P.T. Hegseth farm home on Ascension Day, Thursday, May 25, 1911. The first confirmation class in the new church was confirmed in 1917, with Myrtle Becklund, Ethel Becklund, Lillian Stifter and George Stifter the confirmands. The last class was in 1940. After 1945, when so many of the people had moved away, the church was sold in the early 60s to a farmer, Joe Marsh, to be used for grain storage.

The school district of Dooley was organized in the fall of 1913. The first school board consisted of Jim King, George Epler and W.D. Dooley. An old homestead shack was hauled in to serve as the first class room. In this crude schoolhouse, Miss Alice Murphy was the first teacher. For the next three years the little tar papered building served as the Dooley seat of education.

In 1915, a schoolhouse was erected and the children were taught on a more formal basis. From this time until 1931, the grade children were taken care of in the larger building. The need for a high school was imperative, and a high school was built. The first class to graduate, in 1932, was: Janet Goss, Blondine Steinke, Rosella Engdahl, Helen Bye and Donald Kersten. Howard Lewis, of Plentywood, was the commencement speaker. The school newspaper was "The Dooley Dew." The name was later changed to "The Eagle Eye," the eagle being the Dooley emblem of athletic endeavors. Pupils of the school reached an ambitious goal in 1932 when they built a radio station. Since lack of power limited the station to a 15-mile radius, it was deemed inadvisable to take out a license. The radio station's call letters were DHS.

Most of the residents near Dooley have moved away; the schools have been abandoned, and the children of the community ride the bus to attend the Plentywood schools.

Dooley was one of the first of four stations to be opened for a depot agent. C.E. Tessier came to open the station in the fall of 1913. J.A. Robieson arrived January 14, 1915, and continued to serve as agent until September 20, 1923. Since that time about ten different agents have served. They were: Shaus, Stevens, Pribbernow, Dwight, Grendal, McCall, J. Phal, Bob Durbin, K. Johnson and Bob Miller. This list may not be complete. The depot has now been closed and moved away.

Dooley was the scene of many fires. In May of 1916, fire swept the west side of Main Street and many business places were destroyed. Among them was a restaurant, pool hall, grocery and general merchandise store. March 15, 1920, the east side suffered a $10,000 fire. The Hansen Drug, Burnham Hotel (formerly Bud Okerlund's), Wright's Hardware, Dr. Sells' Office, Mrs. McGovern's Eat Shop, the Post Office and a meat market, were all burned. One year before, in March 1919, the east side lost a garage and two smaller business places from fire. Destruction again visited the town in May 1934, when a tornado struck. The Stadig Livery Barn was picked up and scattered out over a block wide. The "Brick Block" was torn open and two months later, in July, fire swept through these buildings that had been laid open by the wind.

The hardest winter in the history of the town was in 1915-16, when the Soo Line train was stuck in seventeen-foot snowdrifts a few miles east of town. For weeks the train service was held up by deep snows and inclement weather. Many were faced with a fuel shortage and in danger of freezing. A few of the men helped themselves to some of the railroad ties. The Soo Line refused payment for the ties.

When the town was young, the entertainment was usually right here at home. The Fourth of July celebrations, with bucking broncs, the races (mostly foot), home talent plays, the Chautauqua's that stopped for a few days in as many years, the Bray's and Skarning Talent, the barn dances, the silent movies, and last but not least, the ball games, were important interludes. Dooley had one of the best baseball teams for miles around.

The town gradually disappeared, and now there are but a few houses left, and only one family lives in what was a prosperous little town at one time. Two grain elevators still stand, and are used for grain storage. They are privately owned by Jim Syme.

Please forgive our omissions and mistakes - our memory went with the town.