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Saturday, March 18, 2006

This Record Listing summarizes various supporting information listed on this site, and is grouped into readily accessible general categories. If you are researching these files, and require additional information, email the WebMaster.


Montana GenWeb – Yellowstone County


All material located within this composite site is the sole property of the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum (YGF), Pioneers of Eastern Montana, and the original contributors. You may copy any of this information for your own personal research, but any commercial use is strictly prohibited without expressed detailed permission from the WebMaster & the Contributors, as applicable.


© 2004 YGF - WebMaster




Welcome to Yellowstone County, Montana reference page. Here you will find links to the detailed presentation summaries available within this site. Click on the referenced topics, and summary locations for the information will be identified.  You should examine each link for supportive details, as various researchers provided conflicting information.  Please note that much of the information has links and crossties with other types of records.

 The various types of Vital Records are noted in the left column of the following table. Sub categories are listed in the second column, followed by short descriptions in the 3rd & 4th columns.

Examples are:

1.     Billings – Identification of the town, its beginning, and related information about the land. Not listed below is a graphic timeline (Excel Format) that identifies the major events described in these documents that NPR took to relocate its track from the planned Miles City crossing southward and pass through the Coulson area. See also the bios for Rowley, Foster & North. Compiled mainly from Court Records and personal notes from the settlers throughout the United States. The original NPR route was platted in 1853-1855 and ran from St. Paul northwest to Fort Union, and west to Fort Benton. The map created by the members of this team was accurate to today’s map within one mile in longitude. The Surveyor General of Montana for some unexplained reason didn’t use it.

2.     Pioneer Biographies – Listed by persons, or business, these bios collectively help to explain why there was such a strong bond between them. These are listed in different categories.





To locate a source and or a record file, review the listings below, or use your computer’s search engine to quickly identify the files that contain information desired. [Example: To locate Paul McCormick’s activities, his cabin or history, enter CTRL + F, followed by “mccormick” into the FIND screen. Paul could also be used.] Click on the website link to visit that page. These files are being updated and revised whenever more information is made available to the WebMaster. The vital record information as presented is primarily a collection of original source record extractions, plus some memoir & other research finding related details when applicable to the subject matter. To obtain a complete historical summary about any one topic, it would be necessary to collect the individual website records listed on that topic. Paul McCormick has ten website locations to visit.










Vital Record


Description of Record Material

Additional Information









Billings area Records


In 1925, the Commercial Club (predecessor to the Chamber of Commerce) sought to have a Billings-Cheyenne mail route. This led to the desire for an airfield. In 1927, Ben Harwood took an option of 120 acres of land for $1,000 cash. Summary details of the creation of Logan Field (Billings Airport) and its roadway are presented.

Workers from the Heffner Quarry built the steps, located behind the MSU-Billings campus. Students from the Billings Polytechnic Institute cut a second set of steps, north of Rocky Mountain College. These steps originally led to a cross that was located at the top. The Myers family cut a third set of steps.


Land Plats

The Abstract Guaranty Company generously provided a number of documents that describe the original land plats that created Billings, to the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum for their use. Not all plats and detail record extractions were made available to the Forum before their destruction. (Has thousands of names.)

Identifies the early sub-divisions and details of ownerships, including deed registry throughout the United States during this early time.


Some of the historical events that established Billings as a City, and its various businesses are summarized below. About 20% of the information from available files at the YGF is presented. Information is primarily extracted from old court titles and survey maps.

How the city got its name, and a detailed chronology of specific events is noted. Has numerous links to other sites.


The NPR track runs through the town at an angle of about 55 degrees, and is between Montana Avenue and Minnesota Avenue. These were the “prime” locations for business development in 1882. The original townsite (platted 1881) is divided into Southside & Northside by the track.

Shows Early City Plat and has link to Montana Avenue Businesses (Under continuous revision and improvement)

Early City Pictures

Pictures of early Billings, Pompey's Pillar and Coulson taken on July 1, 1882 and later in 1883, are captured for posterity.

 Photograph collection was originally created for City of Billings in 1906, and later provided to the YGF. Taken earlier by Edward Bromley - Photographer & Publisher of the Herald Newspaper in Billings.

Sugar Factory

In 1883, the town of Billings established an irrigation system and a created the ability to eliminate ‘crop rotation’ in the fields, and the sugar beet industry was created.

On March 14, 1905, articles of incorporation for the Great Western Sugar Factory were filed by I. D. O’Donnell, Col. H. W. Rowley, P. B. Moss, & M. A. Arnold of Billings, and F. M. Shaw, a non-resident and sugar specialist. The charter called for the creation of land plats for homes, methods for collection of money, and other business enterprises.

Original surveys

Survey Notes – Establishing the Montana Prime Meridian Baseline. Baseline through Ranges 16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,25, &26 East of the Principal Meridian in the Territory of Montana as surveyed by Dumas L. McFarland, deputy surveyor under his subcontract No. 79 leaving date the 5th day of March 1878. Survey commenced April 4th, 1878, Completed April 12th, 1878.

Included is the Walter W. deLacy field notes of 1878 and others through 1904. Also shown for interest are the Mason-Dixon, Oregon survey, Wadsworth Trail in Nevada, DAR Santa Fe Trail Markers, Kansas-Nebraska Land Survey, Idaho Survey Records, and History of Survey Notes.


Billings’ population from 1880 to 2000.

Various collection sources of information.

1883 City Directory

Billings’ Businesses owners listed in the 1883 City Directory. Note that this directory and the ‘1883-1884 directory’ have some minor differences.

Locations by street address or location are noted. Additional details added as information becomes available.

1885 City Officials

Although the city was created in 1882, no local administrative offices were created until a special charter was granted to the city in 1885 allowing it to be incorporated.  On January 11, 1893 it was re-incorporated as the “Town of Billings.” In May of 1885 officials were elected, and since that time the number of offices has grown dramatically. Elections were scheduled annually for the first Monday in April.

Coulson didn’t have a formal grouping of city officials. John Alderson, in late 1881 tried to rally the town into an activity that might have created one, but apparently the movement failed. Local residents simply got together and made decisions when an occasion arose. Such was the case in 1880 when John Alderson shot Dave Currier, and a trial was held by a gathering of local citizens to determine his fate.

Early Car Pictures

Yellowstone County reportedly had its first car in 1904. W. J. Youman (local lumberman) purchased the “self-propelled” buggy, but soon were glad to get rid of it

Local photographers and family members have captured images of some of the cars owned by local citizens, and businesses

Early Hotels

Listings of early hotels in Billings.  [Collected from various Forum Gen-Room books and magazines]

Pictures and short bios are noted.

Real & Paper Land Titles

The Clark’s Fork Valley area was settled in three basic manners; and in tracing ones ancestors’ history, could prove to be misleading. It is not possible to use the Bureau of Land Management Warrant or Patent Title files by themselves to determine where an ancestor was over the approximate period of time during the 1877 to1882 land rush.


Many obtained Land Patents in name only. Please consider the following when searching for your ancestor’s trail. The Forum land files supplement the BLM files, and are filled with thousands of names and events. Details of the MMLIC and others are detailed. The land speculation sale that created Billings is defined.

Pictograph Cave

The Indian Caves southeast of Billings have provided a significant amount of information about the inhabitants who used them for centuries.

The “pictographs” within the caves themselves have little significance, as most were recently created. The ones in red show evidence of the white men, and the ones in black are comparatively new

Indian Rock

Indian Rock was a naturally occurring piece of sandstone jutting out from the ground in the northeast section of where Billings was located. From its appearance, it seems to indicate that it fell from a nearby ledge and buried itself into the ground. Inscriptions are noted. The Immel & Jones massacre is said to have occurred near or at this site.

. During 1903 Mr. Vermilye had secured all of the right of way, with most of it at virtually no cost ($1.00 and consideration – e.g., land value being worth more with water available than without); some rights were exchanged for use of the water. In preparation for the ditch’s route in 1904 he dynamited the rock, which was in the path of the 1903-planned route.

Immel & Jones Massacre

The Immel & Jones massacre took place during the bonanza days of the fur trade in Montana, and centered near the area where “Indian Rock” was located. The incident was so severe that it attracted the attention of the Prime Minister of Great Britain and a US Senate Committee.

At one time the Chamber of Commerce had a sign erected on the Black Otter Trail near Alkali Creek to identify the ambush. The rock cover they used was called “Indian Rock.” Pictures are available.

Area Locations & Their Name Origins

This report depicts various source material extracts relating to the identity of these Sacrifice Cliff & Skeleton Cliff along with the smallpox epidemics that afflicted the Crow Indians in or near to Billings, Montana. Included is the Josephine Riverboat’s 1875 journey end at Duck Creek.


Please note that a great amount of detail work is still ahead to establish and verify the original sources of the names. There were no direct-recorded uses of Sacrifice Cliff for Buffalo Jumps or Indian Sacrifices by the Crow Indians, according to Crow History research.

Area Trek from the 1950’s

Take a trip through the Billings’ valley area and “pretend” that you were there before the numerous settlements took over the land. Pretend that you can envision the scenes and the people of that era, and the turmoil or joy that they faced


[Lists and describes the early signs of Billings Area attractions]

Virtually all signs have long since vanished, only their words remain, hidden in obscure publications. As the years passed by, the efforts created by the concerned local citizens seems to have been lost into the “faded memory” of our lives. The colorful language used was replaced by modern words with different meanings.

Pioneer Biographies


William Alonzo Allen, son of Robert Allen and Rachel Guiler, was born in Summerfield, Ohio 2 September 1848. [Some burial records indicate town was Summerville

He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a dentist in Billings.


Albert L. Babcock started out as a printer’s devil (an apprentice who does chores and becomes ink-black from the dust) in Illinois.

He then worked in a grocery firm then became a partner before age 21. He read an account about the city of Billings and in 1882 moved here.


Charles M. Bair was born on June 18, 1857 in Ohio.  He started farming in Michigan; then became a train conductor for the railroad.

He came to Montana in 1883 and was a conductor on the Billings to Helena run with the Northern Pacific for eight years. 


Fredrick Billings became associated with the Northern Pacific in 1869 by purchasing 1/12th interest from Hiram Walbridge. He was director of the lines from 1870 onward. In 1873 this line collapsed, and he became its president in 1879. In 1881 he resigned and Henry Villard became president of the line after a hotly contested battle and had controlling interest.

The site has Frederick Billings’ will, and a short bio. Much information about him is located in the Parmly Billings Library, Montana Room.





Identifies where James (Jim) Bridger was during the periods he traversed the western areas of the Indian Lands. This extensive history was developed to assist in locating the critical wagon roads in the Yellowstone County regions that he made or helped create plus those that were identified at later dates.

Section 1 – Birth through 1838

Section 2 – 1839 to Death

As an adventurer, Bridger moved about the countryside, cutting through a wide swath of terrain during his tenure as mountain man and guide. The information presented below is compiled mainly from original manuscripts and diaries of those who were with him at the time.

James Bridger (or Jim, as most people called him), was born March 17, 1804, probably in Richmond, VA. He was the son of James Bridger and Chloe Tyler who were married in 1803. The elder James was a Tavern Innkeeper in Richmond, and the County Surveyor. Included is the lineage of his family.

In 1812 the family packed up and moved to a spot just outside of Saint Louis called Six-Mile Prairie. His close friend Jeremiah Smith, likened him to the Angel Gabriel, and thus called him “Gabe”. Others quickly adopted the name, and as time went on it was quite naturally changed to Old Gabe.

Jim Bridger’s timeline of his lifetime events. Used to assist in establishing his locations and activities; collected from various source materials.

Details from 1822 to 1826. File under construction, and used to support his biography (listed in two parts.)



Yankee Jim Bridger as a genial fellow who had never seen a railroad but was ready to squeeze anything he could from the Northern Pacific. [Not to be confused with Jim Bridger, Trapper]

“Yankee Jim” had a toll road through the second canyon of the Yellowstone (valley area between Livingston and Gardiner).


General James S. Brisbin published a book “The Beef Bonanza” in the early 1870’s, trying to entice easterners to invest in cattle in Montana.

The Magic City name for Billings was created by the General


Edgar B. Camp read an article about Montana, and in 1881 sold his general store in Illinois and moved to Glendive. There he got his first job, loading buffalo hides into boxcars; and he also worked in the rail yards.[In January 1887 he bought the Billings Gazette]

He proceeded to Miles City as the NPR rail crews advanced, and was there when the first train arrived. He then moved to Coulson, and on May 12, 1882 he opened a hardware store in a tent with A. W. Miles as partner.


Thomas D. Campbell was born in a North Dakota sod hut in1882, son of a Scottish farmer who came to America (via Canada) to introduce steam power farming to the Red River Valley area

He married Bess Bull, daughter of the ‘Cream of Wheat’ founder, and took her to California in 1912 for health reasons. . Campbell met with J. P. Morgan and secured a $2,000,000 loan to start farming 200,000 acres on the Crow Indian Reservation north of the Big Horn River


No town would be complete without a written and photographic history of the events that took place, and Charles Chapple was one who provided that service for a long time. Most of the early day pictures of Yellowstone Valley are from his collections, many of which are shared by the libraries and the Forum

. Charles John Chapple was born in Bowmanville, Ontario on March 9, 1877. He married Jane Winifred Rixon (daughter of John Rixon[1] & Susannah Panton) on June 12 1901. (Combined with Yellowstone County Memoirs)


Joseph M. V. Cochran reported that “he filed homestead papers for land in Clark’s Fork Bottom at the Bozeman Land Office in 1877”. He stopped by the land office in Bozeman, quite by accident he stated, on his way to the valley and the land plats from Washington had just arrived. Records of the filing are missing.  Two years later Congress revoked his patent filing. Extensive biography included, along with The Josephine Riverboat’s trek into the area.

Numerous articles and histories about his past exist in the newspaper files for Billings. Additionally, several people had interviewed him, and their findings published in booklets, including a summary of his life conducted by Judy McNally in 1981.

Cooper, [Squawman]

Interlocking family history of Lulu Cooper, Major Fellows David Pease, James B. Cooper, Samuel Davis, and Oscar Vanaman.

Extensive biography of family members and their activities in Yellowstone County.


In 1881, Panton and others, as part of a survey team who were locating the railroad’s Yellowstone division up-river from Coulson into Yellowstone Park, where they met Horace Countryman.

Horace Countryman had a running feud with the Crow Indian agent, with neither willing to let the other anchor a cable for a ferry on the side of the Yellowstone that each controlled.



In 1910, Carl Dallman, considered to be the first settler in Lake Basin, brought his family from Sheboygan, WI to the area just east of what was to become Rapelje. The railroad, built some seven years later, went through the middle of his farm, only a few yards from his house.

Included are short bios of Nez Perce, Murphy & the 79 Ranch, Molt, Thomas Brothers, Keefer, Martin, McMahon, NPR Hesper spur, Stickley, Crawford, Riopel, and Nora.



Crow Davis, as Samuel Davis was called, had a ranch on the Crow Reservation, on the west side of the Clark Fork River where it enters the Yellowstone. This was where his Indian wife, half-breed children, and his wife’s relatives camped. Panton started a rumor (unknown to Davis) that when voting rights were offered to the Indians, he would have the controlling vote.

He was born in 1868 in Fort Berthold, Dakota Territory.  He died about 1918 in Billings, Yellowstone Co., MT.  There is one Samuel Davis, who died in the local area that could possibly be this Samuel. He died on 6 May 1918. No specific details have been researched for confirmation.

Interlocking family history of Lulu Cooper, Major Fellows David Pease, James B. Cooper, Samuel Davis, and Oscar Vanaman.

Extensive biography of family members and their activities in Yellowstone County.



In October 1883, the Marquis De Mores proposed to the Billings’ residents that he be permitted to erect a Beef Slaughter House in the vicinity. To support his request, the Daily Herald on Saturday, October 14, 1883, published an announcement requesting that each resident attend a town meeting within two hours to decide the issue.

The residents agreed to the proposition, and appointed John R. King, Fred H. Foster, J. R. Hathaway, George R. Hulme and J. A. Babcock to a committee to determine the cost of the and the ice house and ice.



Mary F. Drake was a registered nurse. She came to Billings about 1900. Her cousin Leon Drake was a partner in the Steven and Drake Mercantile and Livery Barn business. She served as the private nurse for members of the Yegen, Cardwell and other families for births and illnesses. In 1909, when the Duck Creek Area was opened for homesteading, she filed on forty acres; and in 1911, she filed on three hundred twenty adjacent acres.

On January 9, 1918, George and Verna were married at J. T. Williams' homestead on Duck Creek. In late November, the first son Norman was born. Raymond, Vernon, David and Glen followed in the next nine years. Vernon was an architect, and was president of the Eastern Montana Pioneers. Vernon Drake prepared the bio.



Fred Haskell Foster arrived in Montana along with others in the Northern Pacific railroad engineering corps on August 18, 1879. He formed a business partnership with Perry W. McAdow in 1881, at Coulson, which lasted until 1883, when he was discharged. [He was a 5-time mayor]

In 1882 his father patented a piece of land, and platted a section to become the Foster Addition to Billings. Following this, he went to Washington DC and spent a year there lobbying for opening of the Crow Reservation western end for settlement.



Some researchers referred to Henry Albert Frith as being the first settler in the county, arriving before Thomas McGirl, and settling in the Huntley area. All biographical references of other settlers at the time in 1877 indicate that he arrived after Thomas. A link to his Indian adventures is included.

. His biographical sketch (April 15, 1922) stated he departed Fort Concho, TX and traveled by train, rail and steamboat arriving at Standing Rock, ND in the summer of 1876 immediately after the Custer Battle (June).



The National Airplane and Motor Co., had its plant located at 4th Ave N and 27th Street in 1935.  A. B. Green was founder and president of the company.

The Bluebird weighed 453 pounds and could carry a 450-pound payload. It was a two-passenger craft, with a wingspan of 35 feet, and could cruise at 75 mph.



When Bill Hamilton was first in Coulson in the winter of 1881, Panton did not become well acquainted with him

. Later, during a fishing trip on the Stillwater River with Walter and J. D. Matheson, Panton found Hamilton in a log cabin trying to assimilate a book of statutes following his election as justice of the peace


Heffner & Quarry

The quarry was placed on 80 acres of land, bought from NPR by William H. Heffner before Billings was established. It was located at the end of Virginia Lane at the base of the rims and 27th Street.  It was positioned 800 feet east to west, and extended 1,000 feet toward the rims.

In Billings the stone was used in the Parmly Billings Library, the original courthouse, the Gazette building, Billings State Bank, and most schools, churches and various government buildings.



John Brooke (Jack) Herford, Yellowstone County pioneer, served in three wars.  He came to America from England at age 18, along with his Unitarian father, Brooke Herford, and within two years was in the cattle business in Texas and New Mexico.

He helped organize the Maverick Hose Company (early volunteer fire department in Billings), and was secretary of the Bearcreek Coal Company, and the Bearcreek Townsite Company.



Accounts vary as to why or how John Johnston got the name of ‘Liver Eating Johnson’, but generally it appears that in July of 1870 Mrs Captain Hawley was picking Juneberries with an Indian Squaw about 300 yards from a post on the Musselshell River when she was hit in the neck by a bullet from a Sioux war party of nine men. Johnston and nine others found the woman, scalped, but alive.

In the fall of 1843, the steamboat Thames from St. Louis transported Johnson to the St. Joseph eddy in the Blacksnake Hills of Wyoming. Three years later, he became well known to the steamboat captains as a reliable supplier of wood for their boilers.


Cpt. Marsh

A letter protesting a dam on the Yellowstone River, was prepared by Captain Grant Marsh was submitted to President Roosevelt on 21 November 1907, and relatives issued the copy retained by Captain Marsh to the archives of the North Dakota Historical Society at Bismarck, along with the President’s response.

Included are details of the 1873 trips on the Yellowstone, his permit from Sitting Bull, and Captain Buesen’s receipt of the first pilot’s license to operate on the Yellowstone. [This letter was later altered to accommodate theatrical productions. See Cochran’s biography.]



John D. Matheson was the editor of “The Gazette”, followed by a number of other professions. He came to Billings at the time it was platted (1882) by the Northern Pacific Railway, Co. He previously was mayor and newspaper owner-editor in Milton, Ontario, Canada before coming to Montana.

He lived in Billings for over 30 years, and had insurance and real estate offices in the Stapleton Building. He married Rebecca Panton in 1872




Perry W. McAdow (Bud) was among the Billings’ area first settlers and real estate dealers. He is probably best known of the Montana gold mining men. He arrived in Fort Owen [Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana] in July1861. Details about Coulson and Billings are provided.

Perry created the McAdow Subdivision from his land, with Cleve & Wadsworth as agents specializing in selling his lots. In 1886 he quit the area and moved to Judith Gap, where he mined a little and operated yet another sawmill. He struck it good, and established the “Spotted Horse” mine that gave him his eventual fortune that had eluded him earlier in Coulson and Billings. Extensive details are listed.






Paul J. McCormick was a native of New York, born in Greenwood, Stuben County, NY on 14 June 1845. His father, James, and mother, Margaret were both from Ireland. He wrote a lot of early western history before his death at age 75, on January 26, 1921. His Junction City log cabin was moved to Billings, and it became the Yegen Yellowstone County Museum. Details noted.

After the Custer battle in June 1876, McCormick was honored to raise the first American flag commemorating the new fort in Big Horn County, located at his original trading post site and renamed Fort Pease. Many other details provided.

Portions of some relevant letters written by Paul McCormick to Senator Power are summarized herein to help explain when he relocated from Junction city to Billings (March 1893); and to describe some of his business dealings

The letters are extracted from: Senator Power’s collection held at Helena, Montana storage boxes.

Land deed record listings of Paul McCormick. These tell a tale of his life.

There was no evidence of any sale of his Junction City property or extensive mining leases after 1895 recorded in the county deed books. It appears that he simply abandoned the land and the mining rights.

After looking around for a home, Paul McCormick and his wife purchased property from Jacob Ellis in 1879 [Lots 15-16, Block 85] under a Warranty Deed.[2] The deed was eventually recorded in Paul’s name on 6 July 1885. Here he constructed his log cabin that later might have been reconstructed onto his Billings property. Additional notes for the cabin from city maps show that the cabin in Billings had extensive reconstruction before being made into a museum through the efforts of Peter Yegen, Jr.

Paul established several business partnerships in Billings by 1891, but did not relocate his family until two years later. In 1893 Paul moved his family to Billings, and immediately thereafter started to acquire all of the property located in Block 6, of the town site.



Henry Frederick (Doc) McFarlin was born 1 March 1866 in Milwaukee, WI, son of James McFarlin (OH) and mother Frances K. Bell (London, Eng).

Henry together with his brother Charles, John D. Matheson, and Alexander Devine consolidated three local newspapers to form The Gazette in 1885.



Thomas McGirl was an Irish native who operated a ferry at Baker Ground. This was a stopping point on the Yellowstone River for travelers. He arrived there in May 1877 and immediately filed for a Homestead. In 1878 he opened a post office there, and renamed the place Huntley.

Originally, long before 1882, the NPR planned to cross the river at Huntley, and lay track to Fort Benton. Surveys for this route were completed after 1875. NPR intended to lay a branch line south to Coulson, and place another bridge there. NPR changed their mind, and selected the Coulson crossing as the prime route.



Preston B. Moss was a lumberyard owner and banker in Missouri before arriving in Billings in 1892, with his bride. He took over the First National Bank in December of that year, and during the panic of 1893 discovered that the previous bank managers had invested most of its assets in sheep

Moss owned the Billings Gazette from 1908 to 1914. In 1914 he started the Billings Utility Company, and in 1937 he sold that business to the Billings Gas Company.


Ed Newman acquired 120 acres of land (Lots 2 & 3) in Section 15, Tp 1 S, Rn 26 E in 1883. Date that he took pre-exemption is not available as the BLM records were lost. Included are bios on the other Newman homesteaders.

He placed a fence around the property soon after arriving according to the survey notes made by de Lacy in 1878.



Austin North had a significant part in the building of Billings, and through the research files of the YGF the direction of his interests that intertwined with Paul McCormick, Fred Foster, NPR and the City of Billings is outlined. His ties to the Creation of Billings are noted, along with his conversion of the Prison into a home.

This extensive research changes some of the events that have been rumored as fact for many years. Only a few examples are listed. The files contain approximately 2,000 legal transactions, and each lead to another claim or settlement


I. D. (Bud) O’Donnell was referred to as the “best farmer in America.” He was born in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada on 19 September 1860.

He was responsible for the rebuilding of the Big Ditch, serving farmers in the local area valleys, and in 1892 he arranged for the farmers to own the ditch. 


Barry O’Leary arrived in America from Ireland in 1917. He traveled to Billings and started working at the Billings Brewery.

A year later he started his own business with assets of only a bicycle, a pick and a shovel.


Mrs. Mary James Osborne homestead cabin with sod roof lived on Flat Willow Creek 27 miles north of Roundup.

She was the only registered nurse in the area in 1909. She assisted at most of the births in the area.



S. P. Panton was the first reporter for the Billings Gazette. He arrived here in 1881 at age 33 to work for NPR survey team. His job was to record his impressions of the effort for the eastern and Canadian papers


. From 1881 through 1887 he met and recorded interviews with most of the early-day characters and prominent persons. (Combined with Yellowstone County Memoirs)


Interlocking family history of Lulu Cooper, Major Fellows David Pease, James B. Cooper, Samuel Davis, and Oscar Vanaman.

Extensive biography of family members and their activities in Yellowstone County.


Family histories of the Peckhams, Newmans, Coopers and Walks. Under Construction.

Under construction.




Henry Ward Rowley was born 1 October 1858 in Newport, Oneida County, NY, son of Nelson Burr Rowley (NY) and Abigail Coffin (NY). He lived there until age nine, when his parents moved to Minnesota and settled into the Farmington area, near St. Paul.

Partial details of his identity and creation of Billings, and the NPR route change to the area are noted. His close association with Austin North & Fred Foster is explained.

At age 22, in 1879, he was employed by the Northern Pacific Railroad to assist in the construction of line passing through the Dakota Territory. He quickly rose to the position of Chief Engineer and for two years successfully managed the construction of the line. Seeing an opportunity for great personal achievement, he left the railroad in the spring of 1882 to become an engineer for the newly formed Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company, which established the townsite of Billings.


Alice McCleary is generally referred to simply as Mrs. Schock, wife of the Ferry owner and operator in Coulson. Her tale of travels from England to Utah, and on to Coulson describes some of the hardships early pioneers had to endure

Her diary extracts helps to establish a timetable on the arrival dates for other settlers in the Yellowstone County area, including Dr. Alonzo Allen.


Settler’s Bio Summaries

Until after the Custer Battle in June 1876, the area bordering the Crow Reservation to the mouth of the Powder River inflow into the Yellowstone River was no place for white men. Congress broke early treaties with various Indian tribes making the area a hostile environment for trappers, tradesmen and settlers. Many stayed away.


From the biographies of the early settlers, a time frame of Yellowstone Valley’s local area settlement can be created in order of their appearance; some of actual land records defining their origination have been located, and most of the others appear to have been lost or destroyed. From these early pioneer settlers, a timetable for the creation of various first towns in Yellowstone County can be made.


Muggins’ Taylor was the scout for Custer who helped carry the news of his defeat from the Little Bighorn to Helena.

In 1881 Panton first met ‘Muggins’ in Coulson, where he was complaining about the bacon and groceries he bought from the McAdow store.


Ten Eyck

William B. Ten Eyck was born 26 April 1858 in Lumber City, PA[3]. He died 25 August 1929 in Billings, from a gunshot wound[4].

He is listed on most records as “Ten Eyck” without mention of a first name[5].  After arriving in Billings, he became a saddler and had a harness business at 2611 Montana Avenue.



At age 13 Matt Tschirgi got his first taste of cattle business when he worked for his uncle, Frank Heinrich. He continued to ride herd for his uncle until his death on 27 October 1928 in Billings, MT. After that he went into business for himself. [Details of his ranch and death are presented}

He married Bertha Weidman in 1915 about the same time that the first buildings were erected on a ranch ten miles south of Wyola, MT. Later the ranch became known as the Antler Ranch, or more simply put “the Tschirgi Spread.”


Interlocking family history of Lulu Cooper, Major Fellows David Pease, James B. Cooper, Samuel Davis, and Oscar Vanaman.

Extensive biography of family members and their activities in Yellowstone County.


John J. Walk, early pioneer came to Montana, and settled in the local area.

Biography of his life is recorded in PDF.


James T. Webb came to the Billings area about 1896. He was a livestock inspector for David Pratt and large cattle companies, and was made Yellowstone County Sheriff.


Extensive details about the posse and Webb are available at the Parmly Billings library.


Pierre Wibaux was an influential businessman in the Yellowstone Valley, although his main interests were centered on the border of Montana where US 10 and the Northern Pacific Railway enter Montana from the east. In 1881, the railroad crossed over into Montana and established a line station called Mingusville.

He made a second ranch that stretched from his Wibaux location along the Yellowstone River from the Little Missouri west to the Yellowstone, and from the Missouri to the Northern Pacific area. His line cabins were located 40 miles apart.



In the spring of 1882 the Yegen brothers moved to Billings and opened a store on the corner of Minnesota Avenue and 28th Street, under the name of “P. Yegen and Co.”

[Refer to Indian Rock for more details.]

Their business enterprises soon became known as the “Yegen Bros”, and the name was spread across the valley as they expanded their operations. Their slogan was “We pay for ashes and sell dirt cheap.”


YGF Books & Materials



The YGF has several items offered for sale.

Please check the listings for descriptions and prices.

A referenced Order Form identifies various cemetery & marriage books, available for sale, with specific costs and details are listed.

Included are School records from 1914-1930, information about POLK City Directories available for research.

Wagon Road from Fort Laramie to Virginia City (Bozeman Trail)



After the initial trail from Fort Laramie to the Big Horn River (Platte Road) and on to Virginia City was established in 1864, the government took steps to create a safe haven for the emigrants traveling through that area. Numerous reports from Dodge, Wheaton, Connor, Pope, Price, Sanborn, Barnes, Stagg, Moonlight, Halleck, Curtis, and Fisk are included.

This later became the Bozeman Military Road, and although it was very short lived, the Military had a great deal to do regarding its foundation. File records contain the commander’s reports about the road, and President Lincoln’s decree of March 18, 1865.

Bozeman Military Trail

Jim Bridger was directed by Col. Carrington to establish the Military Wagon Road across the region (called the Bozeman Trail) that would provide access to the gold fields of western Montana and a third fort (Fort Fisher) to be constructed on the Clark’s Fork or Yellowstone River.

Note: Bridger was in the Pryor area prior to 1831.

James Sawyers’ route was followed until they reached the East Pryor Creek crossing. From there they traveled northwest, essentially paralleling the current BIA Route 19, with deviations to avoid hills and gullies.



Sawyer’s Trail

Sawyers’ route passed through the Pryor Gap on East Pryor Creek for about two-three miles then crosses Hay Creek. The other wagon trains apparently missed this route, and crossed Pryor Creek (called Pryor Gap by the writers) by passing straight across the creek. This cutoff brought them about two miles north of Sawyers’ 1866 trail.

Mileage & locations reported by the diaries from Sawyer, Fox and Land of Gold are tabulated for cross-referencing and to establish the most probable location of the wagon trains as they passed through the Pryor Mountains’ foothill areas. Listing used to support the trail locations.

Sawyers Expedition June 13, 1865 [Notes for the route through the Yellowstone Regions. [18 to 26 September Journey] used to locate the trails on old topo maps.

Extracted & tabulated from Journey to the Land of Gold, Susan Doyle’s emigrant diary extractions. Part 1 of 2.

Sawyers Expedition June 13, 1865 [Notes for the route through the Yellowstone Regions, 18 to 26 September Journey]

Extracted & tabulated from Journey to the Land of Gold, Susan Doyle’s emigrant diary extractions. Part 2 of 2.

Hurlbut Wagon Train

At Richard’s Bridge the Allen Hurlbut’s train departed the Platte River and headed north, along the trail, or closely to, the one created by Jim Bridger in 1859. The Hurlbut’s wagon train initially preceded John Bozeman’s wagon train, but was soon passed as most of his train members wanted to prospect for gold

. On July 25th, Abram Voorhees captained the remaining members, after Hurlbut and some prospectors left the train.

John Bozeman Train

John Bozeman was camped on the Platte River in Wyoming at Richard’s Bridge for at least two weeks, trying to collect enough people for his wagon train to Virginia City. In 1891 John T. Smith wrote about his activities on the train. This is the only reported record.

He was planning on using the route he located earlier while on horseback in 1863, and again tried to trail with a wagon train some months earlier, but was turned back by Indians. He failed to follow his original route, but set the stage for future travelers.



1905 Montana Ave Buildings

Some of the buildings and businesses in existence on Montana Avenue in 1905 and in 1925 are listed for reference. Some pictures are included. This is one of a series of building locations summary sites. Site is under continuous update as more details are added. Montana Ave and Minnesota Ave were named for the town’s founders, the MMLIC.

The Northern Pacific Railway is the city dividing line. In 1905 Montana avenue ran from N 19th Street West to Division Street, and it was the first street north of the railroad track. It extended east beyond the city limits (19th street) for several blocks. Billings in 1905 boasted as having 26 saloons.


IXL Building

Block 109, located on Montana Avenue between 27th Street and Broadway (28th Street) had 24 lots for cash sale by MMLIC, and it contained the lot for the Bailey & Billings Bank. Most of these lots were resold, and the new investors constructed permanent buildings on the premises. The original owners are listed in a diagram. There were several changes to the buildings over the years, and the ownership path becomes very cloudy as time progresses.

Details about the Bailey & Billings Bank (IXL Building)




1894 RR Arrival

In late 1892 the Burlington Railroad procured the franchise of Big Horn Southern Railway, and had the purchase validated by Congress and the Montana State Legislature. Identification of the construction is noted.

Mr. Castor, right-of-way specialist for the railroad, enlisted the exclusive services of Paul McCormick to get permission to cross the Crow Reservation. NPR would control all Burlington traffic movement into, through and out of Billings to designated points where they again tied into their own rail system.

Custer Cattle Company


TC Powers

T. C. Powers (Ex-Montana Senator), A. C. Johnson (Helena resident), and Paul McCormick (of Billings) formed the Custer Cattle Company. Paul McCormick was the president and the on-site operations manager from 1879 to 1905.

The facility contained a self-contained waterworks system, with water supplied from an artificial lake, and coming from the Northern Pacific Railroad yard. The ranch extends outward to the Tinker Ranch, which was managed by Paul’s cousin Emmet McCormick. Wind power is used to chop the feed and saw wood.


Cemetery Information & Records

Bear Creek

In June 1988 a team of YGF members visited the Bear Creek Cemetery, located a few miles outside of Red Lodge, to record burial sites and related information about the area.

Contains history of the persons buried and pictures of tombstones.



The Boot Hill Cemetery stopped actively serving the community in 1884 after Billings established the O’Donnell Cemetery (Now the Old-Section of Mountview Cemetery.) There are four rows of gravesites still visible within the plot. The dates presented provide a variety of dates, spellings and events leading up to the individual burials.

Identifies 105 individual burials, and details about its creation and the persons buried there.

Ygf Cemetery Book

The YGF has published a Cemetery Book, from which the Yellowstone County cemetery locations are represented, and may be purchased from the YFG for a nominal fee. The three-volume book is certified by the Montana Statehood Centennial Commission and contains extensive details. Additionally, most of the burial location details and tombstone transcriptions are available for those that might be interested in specific persons

Includes maps and directions to the sites. Many of the small personal family graves, which were located on private family land, have been located, but not included unless specifically permitted by the owners. 

Poor Farm Records

Records for burials in the Poor Farm of Parck County have been mainly overlooked, and not generally included into the master index for the State.

Compiled and edited records have death or burial dates.


Contact listing identifying persons who are the contact point for information about their cemeteries. Smith’s Funeral Chapel, Billings, provided listing in 1999.

Has cemetery identification and local contacts in the area counties surrounding Yellowstone County.

Cemetery Records

There are four volumes to the complete set of YGF Cemetery records; three are contained within bound volumes depicting 24 cemeteries within the county, and one is a computerized printout of Mountview Cemetery located in Billings. The Carbon County Cemetery book, prepared by YGF is listed.

Co-companion to the Cemetery Book. Links to online research of Mountview Cemetery, plat map of the cemeteries and other research aids are provided.

Mountview Headstones

Members of Mrs. Greene's K-12 Middle School class in April 2000 visited the Mountview Cemetery in Billings, Montana. There they gathered data from the headstones and recorded basic information from about ½ of the gravesites.

The website links identifies name, birth & death year, sex, and age at death (recorded on tombstone, and calculated from dates on tombstone, with some pictures.)

Cemetery Listings On-Line

A Cemetery Listing that summarizes various supporting detailed information listed by the Forum, and is grouped into readily accessible general categories. Locations and links are tabulated for easy access.

On-Line links are provided where available.

Yellowstone County has 28 registered cemeteries, and numerous unlisted private ones [1995]. Burial information from many of these ‘unlisted’ cemeteries has been extracted, but their locations have not been identified so as to protect the current landowners’ wishes.

Census Records

School Census (1914-1930)

The Yellowstone Genealogy Forum® has transcribed the school census records for Yellowstone County, Montana for years 1914 through 1930 onto a CD-ROM in an effort to preserve the information for future generations. The use of these census records is often overlooked, yet they are one of the most valuable sources of reliable information.

Over 100,000 names are identified throughout the 57 school districts. District #2, Billings City is not included. These records are in excellent condition, and available at the Court House.

Montana State 1880 Census

Census data for Montana extracted from the 1880 Federal Records does not quite match the original information reported by that census, due primarily to omissions and voided entries created by the census takers and extractor personnel.

Included are the crossed-out entries noted by the census takers, and they are so noted, plus personnel from selected military posts not included in the formal 1880 data.

Germans from Russia Listings

The criteria used for the listing of Germans from Russia settling in the local area are: “the individual, either parent or either of the grandparents had to be of German descent, and from Russia.”  This provides the
ability in some case to find three generations.

This is an extraction from the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for “Yellowstone
County” identified on film number 1820978 available from the Family
History Centers.

County Towns



Pioneers & the Towns

Much of the history of how some towns in Yellowstone were created, and the pioneers and corporations behind them, can be found in the ancient Title Abstract documents of Yellowstone County. Here are listed thousands of persons, major businesses & their owners, and how they got started. Summary details about the NPR operations and affect it had on the locales are noted. Many links to persons and related areas of interest.

For those researchers who would like to know a little more about the local area ancestors who helped form these towns, delve into their wills and personal statements they made regarding their life during the early years in Montana, then this is the place to start.


Towns Listings

Yellowstone County Towns, Train Stations & Post Offices

The towns, rail stations and post offices were extracted from the listings and addresses identified in the City & County Directories for years 1905 through 1928. Includes Army Camps assigned to protect the NPR construction.

Basically there is one train station town site located on every six miles of rail track. Many of these locations have vanished, or turned into Ghost Town. Many of the sites are now located in other counties.

Crow Indian Affairs


In examination of wagon roads created in the Reservation (1888 through 1920), various Crow Indian Agents were assigned to look over the interests of the Government (and the Indians

.) It appears that if the Agent showed loyalty to the Indians needs he was certainly to be removed from office. A detailed listing of agents is presents.


Land Leases

The purpose of the Crow Indian Land Leases is to assist in locating the primary trails that were used by wagons prior to 1920. During the time period that land leases were popular, virtually all of the area occupied by the Crow Indians was opened for leasing. Additionally there was a great deal of traffic throughout the region for distribution of feed and food supplies. Various Crow Treaties are presented, along with numerous articles clipped from the local papers.

This created many wagon trails that to some may appear as portions of the “Bozeman Trail.”  To isolate the real trails from the service supply routes, the land leases were examined in depth. Charles Crane Bradley, Jr, who published his findings in August 1970, reviewed the source records available at Crow Agency in detail.


Reservation Trails

“After the Buffalo Days,” a book by Charles Crane Bradley, Jr’s, published in 1970 is used to assist in locating the leaseholds and wagon trails that eventually passed by the Twin Monuments located at the edge of the South Hills. This book is a “must” for any serious investigation into the operation of the Crow Indian Reservation. Many details are noted about the leases.


It was an accepted practice in 1884 to permit local cattlemen to enter the Reservation during the spring and fall roundups to reclaim strays, but some violated this practice by deliberately driving their stock across the river so they would have free grass.

Plenty Coups

Chief Plenty Coups located near to Pryor, MT. He urged his Crow tribesmen to follow the ‘ways of the white man’, and gave his 190-acre farm and this cabin to Big Horn County to be used as a park for both Indians and whites.

During the dedication of the tomb of the “unknown soldier” in Washington’s Arlington Cemetery, he was selected to represent all American Indians at the ceremony. As a result he considered himself chief of all American Indians.



This Yellowstone County chapter created the basic foundation of historic preservation and better education that exists throughout the area. Founded on February 22, 1918, the DAR had 25 founding members.

Monuments established by the DAR are detailed, with pictures, along with listing of the society members.

Family history book

How to Make a Book

It is relatively easy to create a family history book for pennies and give it to family members and loved ones as a gift. It will be much more appreciated than if they paid the high price demanded from book publishers, and which they probably didn't like the manner in which they were presented in the book.

A 200-page book can be made for under $3.00. Details on how to make the book are presented in easy to follow steps with pictures.

Fire Department


Maverick Fire Dept

Soon after Billings was created, in 1884, on July 15th, fire broke out in the rear of the Bank Exchange Saloon on Montana Avenue, the busiest block in Billings. A bucket brigade was formed using ditch water to try and put out the fire and rescue the “liquid assets” of six saloons, two wholesale liquor houses and stores in the 100 Block before trying three kegs of powder to check the blaze.

Several fires burned unattended before petitions got volunteers to a meeting in the courthouse on January 14, 1889 to form the Maverick Hose Company (named for an unbranded bull from an advertisement), with the understanding that the group would be under authority of no one but themselves – particularly the mayor




The Gen-Bug Newsletter is a publication of the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum, and it is published quarterly. Current and past events, materials offered for sale, and general genealogical information and research techniques are presented. Full schedules of genealogical events throughout the Yellowstone County area are presented for the ensuing several months.

The site identifies where hard copies can be obtained, and which ones are available for downloading or viewing on-line.




The Forum presents classes to be taught by leading professionals in the field of genealogy on specific announced dates. Check with this link to determine the time periods.

Dates of the classes announced through this listing. Normally updated once annually.

Old Documents Examples

There are numerous forms of knowledge held within the documented past, each telling a small bit of a tale or fact about a person’s life. Photos are provided, and it is encouraged that others will add to the listing.


This living page is dedicated to showing illustrations of various documents so that one can become more knowledgeable in the never-ending search for ancestral truth.

PAF Classes

The YGF hosts genealogy classes throughout each year.

Supporting those classes are listings of significant places to conduct research. The best are listed for your research efforts.



Research for information by YGF members for anything on this page, or what else you might need from the extensive library resources in Billings, and we will attempt to respond as quickly as possible. Link to GenWeb query site is provided.

Fees are noted for research time and costs in examining the  newspaper files, college & school records, lodge records, obituaries & mortuary record files. A Research Form is provided to assist the YGF in your lookup and material research needs.

Surnames on File

Information about family trees and their history, family news letters, persons and dates, are located in a file cabinet and stored in file hangers labeled A, B, C ... etc to Z. These are generally loose-leaf materials, although some bound files exist.

The file presents a listing of surnames held in the files.

Web Sites to Visit


There are numerous search engines and web sites available for the serious researcher, and we have summarized the ones that may provide the quickest access to the information you need.

Some sites require membership fees, others are free. Many offer free web site space for expressing your own genealogy efforts. Many have bothersome banner ads.


The Forum has several wills and testaments of persons who had a definite part in the formation of Billings. They are contained within the Title Abstracts that discuss the property they or their heirs owned.

Along with these listed wills are some statements about the true meaning that the descendent intended to be said. This YGF site is linked to the YGF Founder’s Page.

Library Listings

Records of various types, held by the Forum and local Family History libraries, along with a short narrative are defined in each of the attached subsections. The listings are by major categories of counties, towns, types of records, etc. making your research easier.

Please review these pages then follow the recommendation noted. Links to online details for the City & County history locations, the LDS Library file holdings and contents are noted.

FHC File 2

Family History Center listings for Montana cities & counties.

Record #2. Were located at Belevedere.

Info File 1

Family History listings for Montana cities & counties.

Record #1. Are at Parmly Billings Library.

FHC File 3

Family History Center listings for Montana cities & counties.

Record #3. Was at Wicks Lane.




Book Titles

Over a thousand research books from around the world, plus numerous documents and books from the local areas, form a large database within the YGF Library room located on the 2nd floor, within in the Parmly Billings Library. They are available for free research at any time the public library is open. None of the books or documents may be borrowed, although copies of selected materials can be copied on the library's copy machines in the adjacent rooms.

The listings of the research books are identified in a separate link to an Excel spreadsheet. It is recommended that this listing be printed out, and examined for applicability, before going to the GenRoom for research. It will expedite your research.


YGF Member, Rick Hutchinson, has 97 genealogy CD’s available for loan. They consist of vital records, census records, military records and much-much more.

The CD’s are available to YGF Members only. Refer to the listing.


GenRoom Listings

The Gen-Room is a research library sponsored by the YGF, and is located on the 2nd floor of the Parmly Billings Library. It is open whenever the library is open. The room is unattended, but locked, excepting for special times when training classes and support functions are provided to visitors, usually upon request. The access key is obtainable from the Librarian's desk on the 2nd floor.

This is a “MUST READ” document for those visiting the GenRoom to search for ancestors.

The library contains over 1400 volumes. The titles and authors can be search on the indexing list.

Additional lists for the Montana Room. Periodicals, Obituaries, Marriages, Cemeteries, Births, Census, City Directories, Church and locality records are noted.


Germans from Russia Listings

Germans from Russia who settled in Yellowstone County has been compiled.

The compiled listing is available at  Yellowstone County-Germans from Russia.





Example of a Pre-Exemption Certificate for Homesteaders, established in 1841. The full document is on the site.

Whereas _______________ of ________________, _____________ has deposited in the General Land Office of the United States a certificate of the Register of the Land Office at ______________ - Whereby it appears that full payment has been made by the said __________________ according to the provisions of the Act of Congress of the 24 of April 1820 entitling "An (sp) able making further provisions for the sale of the public lands"



Huntley is 15 miles east of Billings, and was located at the head of navigation on the Yellowstone River long before Billings was created. Tom McGirl, an Irish native, was a veteran of the Fifth Missouri Mounted Infantry.

In 1875 he came to Montana and operated a ferry (after 1877) across the river at the stopping place he later named Huntley. [Was Baker’s Balleground]

Indian Treatment

1606 Directive

The letters patent of James I of England, to Sir Thomas Gage and others were issued for “two several colonies”, dated 10 April, 1606.  This letter defines the treatment to be given to the “Naturals.”

A second charter dated 23 May 1609 to “the Treasurer and Company of Adventurers and Planters of the City of London for the First Colony of Virginia” granted full and complete rights to the land as “free and common socage.”



The GenRoom holds numerous genealogy journals of various types. Review the listing.

These are available for viewing at the GenRoom. They are located on special shelves for easy access.

1825 Atkinson Journal Extract

Atkinson & O’Fallon Journal Extract of 1825 Indian Battles.

Brigadier General Henry Atkinson (US Army) and Major Benjamin O’Fallon (Indian Affairs Agent) were commissioned by Congress to establish a treaty with Indian Tribes beyond the Mississippi River and to give peace to the Ricara Tribe located on the Missouri River about 200 miles south of the Yellowstone River confluence.




Junction City

Historical presentation about Junction and ceded Crow land, 1875 adventures of the time, erecting of forts, stealing of the Eschetah post office, biography about Paul McCormick[6], Brown & Davis ferry built in 1878, telegraph line construction in1879, fire of 1893, selling of material for Coulson’s street car line, worthless lots in Billings, Guy’s landing, NPR has ownership of riverboats Josephine and Far West.

Cow Island, Mrs. Draper (Mrs. Woolfolk), Piegan Indians, Liver Eating Johnson, Chief Gall, 1884 Indian battles, Big Ox son’s killing and burial, Sergeant King (first death), Major Thompson’s suicide, Strong killing of Bill Hart, Bob Adair and Johnson. Listings of suicides, Mike Roach killing, land claims before survey, Paul McCormick’s land claims, early justice of peace officers, last buildings to go in Junction, business in Junction, Custer Hotel, famous pioneers, prices for merchandise, permanent families in Junction, Frank McCormick was deputy sheriff.



Before Laurel was created, only a small railroad section house called Carlton (forerunner of Laurel), was visible on the horizon for five years after NPR extended its line westward through the present site of Laurel.

Some early homesteaders are noted.




M26 Dragon

The M26 Dragon first saw action on the Italian Front of 1943, and was later extensively used in the inland advancement of the Allies following the Invasion at Normandy. In all kinds of weather, in the middle of the night, or under a barrage of enemy fire, the repair crews continually fulfilled their duty to recover and repair damaged tanks.

Billings was selected as one of the assembly sites during WWII, and the facilities at the Fairgrounds were adapted to facilitate construction. About 100 Dragons were assembled in the Exhibition Building and tested on Alkali Creek Road in Billings.




An extensive listing of maps, copies of which have been reproduced in various size formats to minimize storage, support research conducted for the eastern portions of Montana and Yellowstone County. [Held by WebMaster]

 Chronologically they show trends of changing landscapes as location equipment improves.

{In Preparation}




The Yellowstone Genealogy Forum compiled over 1600 early pioneer marriage listings that occurred in Yellowstone County for the periods from 1881-1899.

These were extracted from microfilm, and are also a copy of the listings available in the Courthouse.

Licenses for Free

Marriage Licenses issued within Ohio, Washington & Iowa, retained by Reverend Bennett until his death, were forwarded to the Forum.

These ORIGINAL MARRIAGE LICENSES are listed by name, and are available to descendants who ask.


Past Speeches

Speakers who present materials and topics of interest to the YGF at their monthly meetings have their articles stored in this archive.

The articles start with the June 20, 2000 meeting, and continue to the present; where available for publication.


Meeting Schedules for the YGF are published on this site.  (All are held at the LDS Church – 6th St West & Avenue D, Cultural Hall) Meetings start 7:00 pm with a social at 6:30 pm.

The meetings are open all persons without prior notice of attendance. The subjects for the speeches are published here, and in the GenBug.

Area Resources

Billings’ area information regarding activities in the local area and throughout Montana is actively maintained at the Billings About Site. Numerous links to various events, including: accommodations, arts, entertainment, attractions, genealogy, health, restaurants and the like are included. (Note: This About Site link is not maintained by the YGF)

The genealogy site provides links to Billings and Montana resources, including direct connections to locations for such things as: How to Do Research at the LDS Family History Center in Salt Lake City, Genealogy Events, Calendar Listings and Postings of Meetings, and similar topics.






Military Records

1870 Commands

Military commands established in 1870 for the Plains Indians areas.

Included are the following commands: Missouri, Dakota, Montana, Riverboat Steamers, and various battalions and Indian Scout Detachments.

Web Sites

Presents the best web sites for locating military records and explanations about obtaining copies of the records.

Listings cover the war eras of the USA.

Nez Perce


Flight through Clark’s Fork Valley

The main body of Nez Perce Indians, fleeing from the army attack at Cottonwood Canyon (north of Laurel), had crossed over the mountains as they headed north and saw a stagecoach heading toward the Canyon Creek stop. They attacked it when it reached the Bela Brockway farm. Details about the flight through Yellowstone County.

Perry McAdow, seeing the Indians approach when they reached the Coulson area (this was on his land, not Alderson’s at the time) hastily put up a barricade (breastworks) to protect the sawmill located there, and it wasn’t damaged.


NPR Activities


Presidential Listing

The chronology of presidents for the line presented in this site was created from the biographies of many of the men who held the presidency.

This is one of several companion sites about the NPR.

The corporate records of the line’s operation were donated to the Minnesota Historical Society on December 2, 1968.  On March 3, 1970 the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, Great Northern Railway, Northern Pacific Railway, Spokane Railway, Portland and Seattle Railway merged into the “Burlington Northern Railroad.”

Route Structure

Details about the creation, route, mortgages and finances of the NPR as it made its way into the Yellowstone County area from St. Paul are provided.

This is one of several companion sites about the NPR.

Partial details about the site selection at Billings are noted. This site introduces the Billings Land Plat details.

Land Patents

Describes the railroad’s local area land patents, construction summary overview, and links to NPR history & worker retirement sites.

Links to the Land record titles are shown. Available, but not shown is the NPR area section map for parts of northern Yellowstone Co. (See WebMaster)



1871 & 1873 Surveys

The 1871route survey started out from Bozeman in the late fall, and ran easterly to a point near the mouth of Pryor’s Creek; to a location they called “Place-of-the-Skulls.” The route was on the north side of the Yellowstone River. In 1872 two survey parties were established, one starting out from Bismarck, and one from the place on the Yellowstone River that they abandoned the previous year. They also planned to complete a survey of the valley from there to the mouth of the Powder River. Here the two survey teams were expected to meet.

The military commanders, including Baker’s Battleground activities in detail, report on the routes and Indian Battles.


General DS Stanley was placed in command of the 1873 survey support party. He had 1,500 men at his command, plus an abundance of ammunition and supplies. General Custer, who commanded 450 men of the 7th Cavalry, was a part of the force. He was assigned the duty of proceeding up the Yellowstone and looking for a practical road to be used for the supply wagons and artillery.


1853 Survey

Partial Extract of Washington Territory Governor, Isaac I. Stevens, Report to Congress in which he establishes the principle northern route for the proposed railroad. Map of the exploration was published in 1857. Copy available at WebMaster.

The actual journey starts in Minnesota, and in Washington Territory, but only that portion leading into Montana is represented by the diary extracts herein. There were three main routes being examined for consideration by the Congress: Northern, Central and Southern.


1853 Route Letter

After having reached Fort Benton, Washington Territorial Governor, Isaac I. Stevens, who was placed in charge of establishing the practicality of putting a railroad through the upper portions of Montana, for the NPR, presented his first letter about the Indians he encountered along the way.

As part of the survey, numerous reports, detailing the vile treatment received by the Indians from various white men who were trying to gain financial advantage by using government goods for personal gain, without regard to the pain and discomfort thrust upon the Indians.

1865 Charter

Northern Pacific Railroad Company was chartered by Congress to construct a railroad and telegraph line from Lake Superior to Puget's Sound by the northern route. (Has many inter-linking files)

Timeline summary of the railroad and links to the 1864 charter and associated documents.


Red Lodge Obits

During the research for burial information and cemetery locations within Carbon County performed by the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum in the 1980’s, a substantial amount of research for obituaries in the local newspapers at Red Lodge was accomplished. [Links to online information.]

Many of these obituaries were used to crosscheck the validity of information obtained from funeral homes and cemetery lists. There are about 200 pages of lists describing the location and date of these obituaries.

Pioneers of Eastern Montana & Achievements


1931 Meeting

Identifies members who attended the March 1931 Annual Meeting in Billings.

Copied and presented “as is.”


Application information to join the Pioneers of Eastern Montana and Their Descendants

Instructions and details are provided.


Irrigation Ditches

The Big Ditch Company was incorporated in Billings, Montana on May 15, 1900.[7] An initial capital stock of $64,000 was raised, and the Improvement period was 40 years. There were seven shareholders, PB Moss, LA Nutting, ID O’Donnell, FW Schauer, WD Story, James Steele and Henry Struck. PB Moss was the primary financial backer.

The purpose was to “supply water from the Yellowstone River for irrigation, domestic and other useful and beneficial purposes, to own real and personal property.” Water was to be taken from the river from lot #3, Section 12, Tp 3 south, Range 21 East. [Includes all the local area ditches, and the MMLIC Canal.]



Soon after the Parmly Billings Library opened in Billings, they instituted a practice whereby early pioneer families were invited to prepare their own two-page autobiography.

Several of these documents, in the pioneer’s own handwriting still exist today. Most were born in the early to mid 1800’s and they share a lineage, description of their life, spouse & children, and when they arrived in Montana.


Vernon Drake’s Effort to save the Library

After the Parmly Billings library moved in 1969, the old building fell into disrepair and scheduled to be torn down to make room for a parking lot.  Local architect Vernon Drake heard about the plans and organized a local group to talk Northern Pacific into donating the building and the Yellowstone County commissioners into accepting it. After part of Stella Foote’s collection of historical artifacts was moved into the building, the Western Heritage Center opened in 1971.”


Other accomplishments are noted to this great and inspiring individual. His zeal was second to none.

Meeting schedules

Notices of pending meetings of the Pioneers of Eastern Montana

Updated annually.


Meeting Minutes Listings

This partial listing contains extracted information from the Pioneers of Eastern Montana and Their Descendants meetings held at various times throughout the state. It forms an historical background about the pioneer leaders.

[The meetings minutes are transcribed for each one that has been located.]

Noted are several instrumental events: Parmly Billings Library’s museum opening and call for donations, Yellowstone County Museum opening and call for artifacts, preservation of Clark’s signature at Pompey’s Pillar, dedication of Ralston’s painting “After the Battle,” and the change of membership to those who arrived in the state prior to 1900’s end



This is a collection of short biographical sketches summarizing the lives of many of the early developers and founders of the Eastern Montana area, many of who are virtually unknown, but stalwart citizens before the 1900’s.


This is a “work-in-progress” and will take years to complete, if ever. As bios are made available, the underlined links to their locations will be added.

MMLIC Creation

In the land of intrigue and investment opportunities, there is no better example than the creation of the Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company (MMLIC). The creation of a specialized business venture of this magnitude took great skills and courage, not to mention personal trust and financial resources.

There are a lot of underlying layers to this company, and some of them are presented here, all taken from the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum’s file records.

Water & Power Plant

The Billings Water Power Company was incorporated in 1885 for the purpose of supplying water to the Holly System waterworks. Later, when the facility was being built, they decided to add electrical power to the plant. Maps showing the exact locations when integrated with Coulson are included.

Officers of the power company who invested $60,000 for the construction were: Capt. Henry Belknap, A. L. Babcock, H.H. Mund, and Henry Rowley. In 1905 Preston Moss was president

History Preservation

The Pioneers of Eastern Montana has a great interest in the preservation of area history and site preservation. Many stories and tales were created by these early pioneers and published in government documents, manuscripts, letters and miscellaneous newspaper articles. Many articles are stored in boxes at various historical society, state institution and college sites throughout the United States. Some are still in the hands of their descendants.

Tabulated index is included to assist in navigation through the site.



There has been much said about the Eastern Montana State Prison, but very few words ever made it into actual print. This summary is basically compiled from personal awareness, land records and editorial comments presented in the Billings Gazette and elsewhere.

This building was designed and constructed be a showpiece for the state, and that it was. But, it laid empty and alone for nearly a half-century! It never housed an inmate, was destined to become a famed “Country Club”, a personal residence of Austin North, and finally a Federal Prison, but these events did not happen either.


Microfiche Files

Contains Montana historical record files on published articles covering biographies, state history, counties, maps, military operations, Wheeler expedition, Civil War pensioners, railroad employees and guides to genealogical resources. County files depict articles on “Eye Witness Accounts” of the Custer Battle in 1876, vital records and various important articles.

Published on microfiche, the articles span a large cross-section of the areas history and vital record research. Listing identifies source locations for the subject matter. Read the listing to determine if the file might be of interest. (stored at WebMaster location)



1878 Survey Notes

General Description (Tp 1S, Range 26E) W.W. deLacy Field Notes. Oct 22, 1878. Verifies that the packet steamer “Josephine” tied to tree on Cochran’s land in 1877, after he had established a home there. Locates other buildings in 1878.

Copied directly from the field notes prepared by deLacy. This is one of five source notes related specifically to the steamer’s journey on the Yellowstone River in 1877 only.


Josephine Travels on the Yellowstone River

The Josephine was a wooden hulled stern-wheeler packet/snag boat originally owned jointly by John S. Coulson, Elisa Coulson, Sallie Coulson, James McVay and Fanny Maratta (Coulson Packet Co.) so as to conserve on the expense of insurance coverage. [Travel events of the steamer into the local area are recorded by five prime record sources.] Included are the memoirs of the events, which led to the hasty local misunderstandings of the steamer’s landing in Riverfront Park and tying up to a large tree on Cochran’s land.

Captain Grant Marsh piloted it up the Yellowstone River in 1875 when it docked across from Sacrifice Cliff area on June 6th, (tying up to two trees) and subsequently turned around on June 7th at Duck Creek. Captain Grant Marsh commanded it in May 1877 when it delivered supplies to Thomas McGirl at Pryor Creek’s juncture, and then traveled on to Coulson, docking at Cochran’s land on June 7th.

River Navigation

The era of river navigation began in 1836, when a new riverboat Yellowstone made its way up the Missouri to the mouth of the Yellowstone River[8].  [Chronological listings of the boats is noted]

Earlier, in 1831, Pierre Chouteau of St. Louis had a small flat bottom steamboat also named YELLOWSTONE and he brought a cargo of goods up the river[9]. 

American Legion


The American Legion is Nationally Chartered, and for Montana is headquartered in the Veterans & Pioneers Memorial Building in Helena, MT.

Location, information and addresses are provided.


 Yellowstone River

The early land surveyors created an excellent picture of the land conditions during their initial visits to the area south of the Yellowstone River. Compiled from the original 878-1904 Land Survey Notes. Used in locating portions of trails in the South hills area.

These survey notes cover the Yellowstone River’s right bank and terrain eastward into the hilly area, essential to the identification of Sawyers First Expedition across the South Hills area of Yellowstone County for clearing a new trail to Bozeman.


1805-1874 Surveys

Tabulated survey routes occurring in local areas between 1805 & 1874.

Identifies commanders, military protection, survey comments and maps generated.

Survey Notes

Survey summary notes taken from the military journals and used to help locate maps, and where the events occurred. 1870-1876. Instructions for steamer Josephine’s use in 1875 is noted.

Created as a handy source to assist in map-making for the events.

Survey Routes

Portions of the major surveys and expeditions that touch upon or travel through the local Yellowstone area are shown in the table.

Others, such as the De Smet, Hunt, Lewis & Clark, Montana Land Surveys, Nicollet, Bozeman and Bridger trails are not shown here.


Surveys & Reconnaissances

This file of short excerpts from various government files identifies the surveys and reconnaissance of the areas in or nearby the Yellowstone River. Where map sketches are available they are shown in highlighted Blue Titles. There are over 100 such local surveys recorded for the local area, but only a few have been transcribed. The Raynold’s Expedition in 1859-1861 formulated the best description of the local area.

The system of exploration was established to be under the command of a member of the Corps of Engineers, and occasionally supported by the Military Commands for protection. To support the Corps, the leader would occasionally take along qualified civilians as part of their retinue. The Expedition Commander submitted detailed reports about the trip, along with maps and attached sub-corps commander reports.

Trails & Locations

Bridger Trail

Jin Bridger’s route through the Pryors. Also depicted is the Bozeman Military Trail,

Copied from the 1867 & 68 Survey General’s Map of Montana


Monument Trail & Twin Monuments

The Twin Monuments marked a collection point for freighters, who hauled wool to the railroad in Billings in wagons drawn by horses or mules. In 1900 the Burlington Railroad was being built through Pryor Gap. In 1866-68 McAdow and Story freighted food supplies to Fort C. F. Smith along this route.

The lone monuments, located on the Bridger Trail (Bozeman Military Trail section) near where a microwave tower is located today served as a landmark for Red Eye Smith's Roadhouse, which catered to the paychecks and whims of railroad laborers.

The Monument Trail, e.g. Portions are noted as the McCormick trail, is currently non-existent, as farming has removed the route; or where portions are still visible, the route is closed to travel. A PowerPoint presentation is available of the six-mile route section from Pryor Creek to the top of South Hills (5.5 meg.)

It would appear that soon after the new boundary for the Crow Indian Reservation was established, identification of this trail’s existence became evident from the surveyor’s field notes.


McAdow & Story Supply Route

Nelson Story had taken the John Bozeman Trail to Gallatin Valley in 1866, driving with him some 2,000 head of Long Horn cattle [accounts of the actual number vary from 500 to 3,000]. Perry McAdow, a miller and farmer from Missouri, arrived in Montana in 1861, and by 1864 Perry was in Gallatin Valley. He operated a gristmill and a sawmill, which he later sold. Details of the routes and its creation are noted, including a PowerPoint presentation of Monument Trail.

Both men left in the fall of 1867 to seek a government contract for supplying food to the soldiers at Fort CF Smith, on the Big Horn River. [Nelson was 29, Perry 31] They left the fort on October 13th with a contract to supply them with vegetables and chopped wheat. They traveled over a portion of the Bozeman Military Trail created by Jim Bridger that goes from Silesia, across the South Hills area, into the Pryor valley area and onto the fort.


Meeteetse Trail

The Mee-Tee-Tse Trail[10] (Section from Absarokee to Wyoming Border)

On this trek we will visit the St. Olaf’s Lutheran Church, Crow Agency on Rosebud Creek, Tolman Cemetery, Chance Cemetery, and Chance, MT.


[Maps and driving directions included]

This section of the trail is one of the few locations where it is not closed to free public access. Parts of the trail exceeds 12% road climbing grades, and 4-wheel drive is a necessary ingredient.


Twin Monuments Trails

There were two rock-cairns (Monuments) set on the north edge of the South Hills’ rim rock areas overlooking Monument Creek in Section 5, Township 4 South, and Range 25 East. They are called “Twin Monuments”, and several pictures have been displayed in the Billings Gazette over a span of about 80 years.

[Maps and driving directions included]

William Doss first homesteaded this land in the early 1900’s, and city records indicate he arrived here between 1915 and 1916. He received his Land Patent on December 5, 1921[11]. His brother Samuel homesteaded on the property to the east.  They are located directly on the mid section line extension of T3 S, R25 E, Section 32; approximately 160 feet south of the Township boundary line.

 Weatherman Draw Trails

Directions to Golden, Weatherman Draw, Bean and Wade

[Maps and driving directions included]

Listed are burials and other area facts.


Wagon Roads

Early pioneers and fortune seekers traveling into the area for settlement (or just passing through) created trails that have been presented by most genealogical researchers in generalized verbal or visual form. These renditions vary from publication to publication, and soon it becomes difficult to understand where these settlers traveled.

This small section describes precisely where the major trails and wagon roads used by the white man were actually located. The lands surrounding the Clark’s Fork Bottom (Yellowstone County – Crow Indian Reservation) are mainly rugged vertical sandstone bluffs rising about 500 feet above the Yellowstone River’s stream bed.


Report of Collins

February 15, 1865, Lieutenant Col. William 0. Collins, Eleventh Ohio Cavalry, Commanding Eastern Sub-District of Nebraska.

“Saturday, the 4th instant, I was informed by telegraph that Mud Springs, a telegraph station 105 miles east of Fort Laramie, was attacked by Indians. There were at Mud Springs Station at that time nine soldiers and five citizens, one of the latter connected with the telegraph company and the others herding stock in the vicinity for Messrs. Creighton and Hoel [Hod?].”

February 18, 1865, Lieutenant Col. William 0. Collins, Eleventh Ohio Cavalry, Commanding Eastern Sub-District of Nebraska.

I have time honor to report that, in obedience to verbal instructions received from the general commanding district, I moved from post to Fort Rankin, Cob. Ter., on the 30th ultimo, arriving at the latter post on the night of the 3d instant, about 4 a. in., hurriedly taking with me such troops as were available for the march from the various posts of this sub-district, a mounting in all to 300 men, all of whom had but lately returned from the expedition under Brig. Gen. B.B. Mitchell toward the Republican River.

Dill Report

SEPTEMBER 11—30,1864 - Expedition from Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, to relieve Captain Fisk’s emigrant train under siege while traveling to Idaho Territory

Report of Col. Daniel J. Dill, Thirtieth Wisconsin Infantry.

Trail Index Listing

Each of the trail segments used to establish early activities in the Yellowstone County areas and on the Crow Indian Reservation partially support one another, but specific details can be more readily found by using this index.

Maps and routing details are presented for the sectional areas between the Big Horn and Clark’s Fork or Yellowstone Rivers.

Trail Trek Index Listing

Listing index of treks that can be taken in the local area.

Prepared by Dave Dodge & the WebMaster, they include driving information, pictures and maps.


Raynold’s 1859 Exploration

Exploration of the Yellowstone River – 1859, By Brevet Brigadier General W. F. Raynolds. “To accomplish these objects most effectually the expedition should proceed by the Missouri river to Fort Pierre. Here a large number of the Dakotas will be assembled to receive their annuities, and overtures should be made to obtain their assent to your proceeding to the source of Powder river by the Shayenne and its north fork, by which a new route leading west from the Missouri river should be examined.”

The report was released six years later, on 13 February 1866, following the end of the Civil War. Jim Bridger was guide for the trip into the Montana & Wyoming Territories that took them from Fort Pierre to the Platte River at Richard’s Bridge.



Sawyer’s Trails 1866-1867

The 39th Congress (1st Session) reportedly passed House Executive Document No. 58 establishing the actual construction of the Bozeman Trail by Col. Sawyer. It appears that the original funding of $50,000 established on March 3, 1865, was for two roads, and that additional funds be diverted from the Cheyenne Road in Dakota to the Niobrara road being constructed by Sawyer. [Detailed Congressional Listings, and map]

HR 107 stopped these funding diversions in 1866 for future road improvements. Sawyers didn’t actually build a road, and there is no record of any connecting routes created by Brookings during this time frame.  Details of the route established by John Bozeman, Jim Bridger and Gen’l Connors, and the duplicated waste are noted.

This section identifies the second expedition trail created by James Sawyers in 1866. This trail, passing through the area below Yellowstone County is generally considered to be the “Bozeman Trail”. The trail blazed by Sawyers differs slightly from the Bozeman Trail as defined on current maps.

After Jim Bridger established the route from Fort Kearny to Fort C. F. Smith in August 1886, the Army was created a new Bozeman Trail road section leading to the Big Horn River.

Wagon Roads

The Wagon Roads in the south Hills  identified by the members of the wagon teams that used the 1866 Sawyers’ route appear to follow very closely to the old “Bozeman Trail” identified on the 1878-1903 survey topographical maps.

. The portion of the route passing through “Pryor Gap”, as reported by them appears to be a one-mile section of trail going in a southwest-northeast direction.

Twin Monuments Dedication

Dedication of Vernon Drake’s contribution to the restoration of the Twin monuments.

Has extensive collection of photographs.


Off Site Listing Reference

The names of those who were killed or died of wounds received during any war are listed by Vicki Thauvin, and copied for ready reference

Please contact this site for additions. [Note was on site when current WebMaster took over.]




United Church of Christ

The Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul’s Church was founded and incorporated on March 3, 1923. (United Church of Christ – 3rd Ave South & 34th Street)

Pastor H. Jannsen from Marsh, MT gave the Festival Sermon. Church history (and its congregational lists for the period of 1923 through 1992) were donated to the Forum by Howard Guenthner. The church was officially closed by membership vote on March 29, 1992.

These files are available for research in the GenRoom.


1st Congregational Church

These records are a listing of the 1st Congregational Church Death Records Remembrance and Clergyman’s Records for the individual noted. They are in various forms, and many contain added family history including places of residence and relationships to the deceased.

If any of these records are of interest to you, please email the WebMaster, and they will be mailed to you for your personal use. First come – first served.


Yellowstone County



The boundaries for Yellowstone County were controlled by Montana State legislature.  They identify population segments of the state where voting jurisdiction will occur. Site includes a graphic portrayal of the various boundaries.

Records were maintained as to the political representation for each voting year. The boundaries of Yellowstone County during the pre-statehood date, up to 1899 and later shifted as more people arrived into the state.


Early Survey Listings

A few of the listings below were extracted from the War of the Rebellion[12] compendium that tabulates [in Military Command and date sequence] first-hand correspondence between various commanders during the Indian Wars (Rebellion). They show an intense interest in mapping the Yellowstone Region, and of placing military posts at strategic places. [Used to assist in identifying and location trails & roads.]

Nearly all of the riverboat trips (steamers) required by the Military during the early years are included; as well as some keelboats used before the advent of the steamers. The compendium collection is available for additional research in the GenRoom of the Parmly Billings Library.


Livestock & Ranches

There many claims that the ranchers in Yellowstone and neighboring counties established leasing arrangements with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at the Crow Indian Reservation, to take advantage of the massive land area that was essentially wasting away. Some stats are provided and links to grazing rights it available.

Some of the major Sheep men of the times were CM Bair, Charles Severans (Lake Basin), TA Snidow, Lee Simonsen, George A Martin, the Thomas Brothers, Rudolph Mott, Jim Elliott, George Perrie, Millard Trask, Louis Lehfeldt, Gus Evers, the Rea Brothers, Charles McDaniels, Charles Watkins, and Dan Slayton.


Leasing Details

There many claims that the ranchers in Yellowstone and neighboring counties established leasing arrangements with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, at the Crow Indian Reservation, to take advantage of the massive land area that was essentially wasting away.

This article summarizes the livestock trade during the early years prior to the eventual closing of lands in the South Hills area of Yellowstone County by homesteaders. Prior to that time, wagon roads had to be created to support this vast trade. However, just how large was that trade?


Summary of Early Settlers

Yellowstone County in Montana has a colorful and illustrious past. Most of the activity for the county history centers around the city of Billings, although it was not always so. Includes some “duplicated links” to biographies and major events.

The histories and lives of early residents, summarized below from numerous identified, and many unidentified articles printed in the local newspapers, are by themselves, not complete entities. Most of these early settlers had very interactive lives with the other residents, and therefore it is necessary to review the biographies of the others to obtain a more complete picture about an individual’s life.


Town History Listings

Much of the history of how some towns in Yellowstone were created, and the pioneers and corporations behind them, can be found in the ancient Title Abstract documents of Yellowstone County. Here are listed thousands of persons, major businesses & their owners, and how they got started. Summary details about the NPR operations and affect it had on the locales are noted. Many links to persons and related areas of interest.

For those researchers who would like to know a little more about the local area ancestors who helped form these towns, delve into their wills and personal statements they made regarding their life during the early years in Montana, then this is the place to start.


Towns & Stations

Yellowstone County Towns, Train Stations & Post Offices

The towns, rail stations and post offices were extracted from the listings and addresses identified in the City & County Directories for years 1905 through 1928. Includes Army Camps assigned to protect the NPR construction.

Basically there is one train station town site located on every six miles of rail track. Many of these locations have vanished, or turned into Ghost Town. Many of the sites are now located in other counties.


Depicts history of Yellowstone County events, the land offices, and political boundaries. Extensive file.

Tabulates narratives about local area attractions, rivers and cliffs noted by various sources.

Resources Available

Locating specific detail information about land development, early pioneers, ancestors, historical facts of interest and archaeological findings about Yellowstone County for use in ones own personal portfolio can be a time consuming task.


[Partial Listing]

This Summary is an attempt to categorize the available on-line facts along with other resources so that you might more readily accomplish your research. Information is presented that should allow you to compile family histories, collect historical facts, and even publish a book of the events if you so desire.



Help Wanted

Positions are available to assist in the Yellowstone County & YGF support positions for volunteers.

 Please take a moment to review this list, and get involved with your community.


Application to Join the YGF

Mail-in Form.


Membership Activities & Duties

The Yellowstone Genealogy Forum (YGF®) was founded at Billings, Montana, in 1977. A notice of the pending organization was published in the Billings Gazette on May 24th. Descriptions of the board membership duties are explained.

The Forum promotes the preservation of historical records and assists in the instructional training for various forms of genealogical resources. The Forum is a non-profit society consisting of an operating executive board, standing committees, and general membership. Its meetings are open to all persons interested in the various facets of genealogical research, and record or historical site preservation.


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[1] John Rixon arrived in Billings in 1882 to work for the Herald Gazette. He was 50 at the time.

[2] See Deed Book A-559; Yellowstone County.


[3] Captain Tenador Eyck (probable father to son William) was among the group of men and women in Colonel Carrington’s command, when he marched from Fort Kearny, Nebraska to establish forts on the Bozeman Trail (Fort Phil Kearny, and Fort C. F. Smith, in Dakota Territory) in the spring of 1866.  Jim Bridger, their military guide, directed them northward on this trek. (Anyone with additional knowledge, please contact WebMaster)

[4] Death Certificate record. Cause of death was suicide from a gunshot.

[5] Ten Eyck is a common Dutch (Netherlands) surname, it s often hyphenated, and sometimes as one name. There are various spellings.

[6] Additional details about Paul McCormick are located in Crow Reservation & Burlington railroad files. See People-Places-Events.

[7] Incorporation file #112, County Records.

[8] Jamestown Dam and Reservoir, A Feature of the Garrison Diversion Unit, Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program

[9] Burle County Historical Society {South Dakota} news article.

[10] A century ago the trail was called “Mee-Tse-Tse.” On 130-year-old maps, the trail was generally labeled as “Road to Mee-Tse-Tse.” Somewhere along the span of time the trail itself disappeared and became a road.

[11] BLM Patent Ascension file # 836925.

[12] Volumes 48-1, 48-2, 50-2 and 52-1 dispatches related to the Plains Indians and local area efforts.