Yellowstone Genealogy Forum

Billings, Montana Plat Maps

(Revised Wednesday, November 23, 2005– NPR Land Titles)

In December 1894 the United States Government, in accordance with orders from the General Land Office (originally issued on 31 May, 1870), from President Grover Cleveland, granted various tracts of land in America to the Northern Pacific Railroad Company. These tracts were given to them in advance of construction as an effort to aid in the construction of a Railroad and Telegraph line from Lake Superior to Puget's Sound via a northern route. Twenty alternate sections of land (one square mile per section) per mile of track were allocated to the railroad toward this construction. In Montana, due to the spars areas and mountain ranges that had to be crossed, the land allotment was doubled to 40 sections per mile. These section allotments were not always on opposite side of the tracks, but appeared to include prime real estate suitable for resale over land near to the actual track. From these holdings a myriad of complex resale’s and transfers occurred. Many areas of land developments in and around Billings away from the actual track were granted to the railroad. Other land belonged to the Indian Nations or the Federal Government. Before Billings was created, a small river town, called "Coulson" was established in 1877, near where the Metra is presently located, and the settlers there had hoped that the railroad would actually pass directly through the town. Original railroad land section Patents for some of the property have been identified and located on a sketch of the Billings area. The Billings Historical Committee has prepared a detailed story about the formation of Billings, from a Tent City to a real Town. This is a MUST READ article.


In 1904 Billings had a panoramic map created, and used as a calendar backdrop. The Moss Mansion has an original from which this was created. A wee bit blurry perhaps, but a 'Trip to the Moss' will correct that problem!

From these tract and land grants, the City of Billings was established. Billings is located within 12 miles north of the ceded portion of the Crow Indian Reservation, and has an elevation of 3,112 feet above sea level. It was incorporated in 1885 and re-incorporated in 1893. The main part of town was originally on the south side of the railroad. One of the key instruments in the formation of Billings was the deeding of 1102.35 acres of land in Section 3, T1S & Section 33, T1N (reserving a 400 ft wide strip about the railroad centerline) of Rn 26E. The land sits basically centered around the original railroad wheelhouse that was situated between Montana Avenue & Minnesota Avenue at about 20th Street. This was later equipped with a steam generating plant that was used to clear the rail lines during winter months. Wheel replacements and other repairs took place at this yard during the early years. The original plat for the city was recorded in Miles City, Custer County, Montana on 17 May 1883. Value of the transfer recording was estimated to be $40,000. The transfer was between the railroad and the Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company. The Northern Pacific Railroad had acquired the land on 1 January 1881 and completed payments due to the government on 13 November 1899. Various adjoining properties completed the city formation. During the intervening years the railroad changed its name several times.

Yellowstone County has changed shape several times, and other sites describe those events. In looking for early towns within the county is not an easy chore, for many have simply vanished. The listing provided attempts to identify the towns that existed within Yellowstone County.

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. Each of these original plat files contain assignments, cost of the land, mortgages, lawyer fees, liens, quit claims, court judgments, homestead declarations, wills & intestate decrees, and tax assessments for many of the buyers of land parcels within each section, plat, or references to those features. If you locate a family member living within the city, by referring to the appropriate plat map, the original costs and land transfers et al can be found. The city directories and old letters for the periods in question are a good companion source for that information. From these records the final trace at the Court House can be more easily completed. These records tell a story of the land that cannot be found in the Court House records. Chronology of the founding of Billings and some related history is found in the Document Summary from some of the abstracts.

If research into any of these property titles is desired, please contact the Web Master via email for preliminary information as to whether or not your relatives resided in one of these plats. Please identify the persons name, tract, city block and approximate dates. I will reply soon as possible with the information. These files have not been indexed; and they contain thousands of names, history of the acquisitions, and some wills.

Caution: These plat map files are approximately 400,000 bytes each and contain views of numerous city blocks & lots; so the loading time may be 30 seconds or longer.

Original Townsite, First & Second Addition (Filed 4 November, 1896)

Abstract 15914, 20036, 24480, 45715, 50976, 57412, 57877

Plat map identifies the complete city, as it was originally platted, before release for filing. The actual date for the first addition filing hasn’t been established, but the railroad switching yards on 21st St and 5th Avenue North were created.

Sunnyside Subdivision, Part of Section 32 (Filed 11 February, 1886)

Abstract 12073, 40693, 53025, 73984

Plat map showing the addition of the Sunnyside Subdivision in April 1937. The United States Government had sold the land to Nathaniel B. Givens prior to 1886, and in 1887 he completed payment of $400.00. It consisted of 160 acres. Earlier, in 1886, a writ of attachment had been filed against the property for settlement of a $250.00 debt. It was later discharged. Warranty Deeds for sale and transfer of title for various parcels of land within this tract through 1969 are available for research.

Sunnyside Subdivision runs between the Canal for Billings Bench Water Association (on the East side of Billings) to diagonal cuts that pass through portions of the City Ball Park on Tenth Ave N, and North 24th Street. The West boundary is North 27th Street.

Sunset Subdivision, Part of Government Lot #2 (Filed 4 November, 1896)

Abstract 49193

Plat map showing portions of the land granted to the Northern Pacific Railroad by the 1870 Act of Congress. Warranty Deeds of land sale and transfer through 1952 are available of the housing lots established within this tract. There are 72 city blocks in this parcel.

Sunset Subdivision is an odd shaped parcel on the east side of 12th Street West from Grand to Lewis Avenue, with Alderson running to 10th, others to 11th or 10th. It is joined by the Cellen Acre Tract and unplatted areas on the north; Wunnicke Subdivision on the south (Alley between Burlington and Alderson), Lauson Subdivision on the east, and other unplatted areas to the west.

Panoramic Heights Subdivision, Part of Billings Heights (Filing Unknown)

Abstract Miscellaneous

Plat map showing the entire subdivision, excepting for a small area extending east of Mountain View Blvd, Lots # 31, 32 & 33. Various original deeds, loans, and property mortgages with their attached documentary stamps are in the files.

Panoramic Heights Subdivision is located immediately north of the Sunnyside Subdivision.

Normal Subdivision, Extension of City of Billings (Filing 7 September, 1887)

Abstract 3558

Plat map showing the subdivision consisting of 60 city lots adjacent to North 28th Street connecting between Northside and Sunnyside Subdivisions; and the Normal School (now University of Montana, Billings) property. Various patents and transfer actions are recorded in the files.

Normal Subdivision consists of 80 acres of land that was part of the Minnesota Land Tract Act of 1854 issued to the Half Breed, Mixed Blood, Dacotah, or Sioux Indian Nations. This land was held in trust through Napoleon Carron until his death in 1864 in Wabasha, MN. At that time various Certificate of Degrees and a tangle of property title documents caused the property ownership to be examined in detail, and to be eventually transferred to Louis Carron on 11 February, 1881 at a cost of $160.00 for the title transfer. Earlier, in 1880, Byron Smith was appointed Administrator of Napoleon's estate, then valued at $2,500. After that, numerous ownerships of the land by persons not residing in Montana were created, and many Quit Claim Deeds were established. Judgments and decrees eventually created the plat as we see it today. To understand the creation of this unique subdivision one would have to study the patent files. These are available to research.

West Side Subdivision, Extension of City of Billings (Filing 17 May, 1882)

Abstract 24868, 32192

Plat map showing the subdivision consisting of 77.90 acres issued by The United States to Anton Manderfeld for homesteading. He apparently did not act upon his homestead rights. It is a square block of land between Divison Street & 4th Avenue West; Broadwater Avenue and Grand Avenue. There are 28 original city blocks in the plat, and it contains some of the most historic houses in Billings.

The land (eventually called West Side Subdivision) was Quit Claimed to his attorney, George Hulme on 10 November 1881 in MN. He in turn sold the land to Frederick Billings on 2 March 1882 for a $1.00 transfer fee. Frederick Billings' Last Will & Testament is in this file; several relatives are noted. The original grants and many land transfers for these city lots are also in the file. This section of land contains the original 2.5 acre site for the St. Vincent’s Hospital on Broadwater & Division Streets in block #1; and the Moss Mansion on Division Street. The hospital property was torn down many years ago and replaced by the Catholic High School. The Moss Mansion originally had 2.5 acres of land in block #3. Over one acre was re-platted by them and several lots created for sale east of Moss Drive access road.

Foster's Subdivision, & North Elevation (Filing 26 Oct, 1882)

Abstract 1852, 4652, 8362, 9412, 27088

Plat map showing the subdivision consisting of 80 acres was issued to Hezekiah James for homesteading under benefits of Section 2306 of the Revised Statutes that granted land to soldiers who served in the Civil War. For $500.00 his widow transferred title to their attorney, C. A. Vedder. Numerous transfers followed before the land was platted. Many records of people who were deceased and owned land here are noted.

Foster's Subdivision runs from 3rd Street West to a diagonal north line cutting through the center of Billings. It joins onto the Normal Subdivision, and consisted of many city blocks. There was no provision for a school in this plat (McKinley Grade School). Records through 1964 exist. An addendum (1170) created in 1906 summarized the liens and transfers for this property. Creation of the city blocks, with clear titles appeared to be virtually impossible. The records identify the old judgments placed on the property, and by whom.

Broadwater Subdivision, Extension of City of Billings (Filing 4 Nov, 1886)

Abstract 41028

Plat map showing the subdivision consisting of 114 plus acres was issued to the Northern Pacific Railroad on 1 September 1879. Later they helped create the subdivision. There is very little information in the files.

Broadwater Subdivision runs between Broadwater and Cook Avenues; Billings Boulevard and 12th Street West. There are 20 city blocks in the plat.

Suncrest Acres Subdivision, Extension of City (Filing Unknown)

Abstract 56634

Plat map showing the subdivision consisting of a small parcel of land between Billings Boulevard and the corner of Parkhill Drive. There are 15 small lots in the tract. Very little information is available about the land tract or its owners.

Tiffany Subdivision, Extension of City (Filing 17 December, 1906)

Abstract 1430

Plat map showing the small subdivision that was a part of a piece of land consisting of 160 acres. The land was sold to Joseph Zimmerman by the U.S. Government. He later sold it to Letha North. Others held title, and a will for the final owner, Elsie Gile Scott is available. Her attorney, Frank G. Tiffany, of La Crosse, WI, had the property distributed to him in 1928. He immediately transferred title to Earle E. Tiffany who lived in Billings, on 12 September 1928. Earlier in 1909, the Cove Ditch Company managed a water rights ditch across the property (and other properties) that carried up to 500 cubic feet per second of water diverted from the Yellowstone River. This water was designated to irrigate 10,000 acres of farmland in the area. Documents describing the ditch and what it accomplished, along with the board members is available in the files. The High Line Ditch Company was originally formed in 1895 to dig the canal used by the Cove Ditch Company. Joseph & Frank Zimmerman were board members. The land was tangled in many legal squabbles across the United States before its ownership and final platting was accomplished.

Tiffany Subdivision runs from Rimrock Road south to the High Line Irrigation Ditch. County Road is on the west. There are 10 lots in the plat.

Ford Subdivision, Extension of City (Filing 20 June, 1887)

Abstract 52381

Plat map showing a small parcel of 160 acres in Section 10 of Range 26E, Tp 1 South, consisted of 16 ten-acre plots of land located near the north side of Yellowstone River and below what is now called Coulson Park. Procurement of the land was linked to the failure of The First National Bank of Billings in 1911, and its re-organization. George Swords was designated as the new Bank's Receiver. In 1902 a firm called the Grey Ditch Company was reformed to supply water to their stockholders, many of who held farmland within the Ford Subdivision. C. Yegen was the company president. It was permitted to extract up to 125 cubic feet per second of water from the Yellowstone River for domestic and farm purposes. The company was established in 1887 to perform the same function, but after formation of the city, a re-release of the water right was required and the firm apparently rechartered. The files contain details on the stockholders, the Grey Ditch Company and specific locations of the land.


Section 15, T2, R27

Abstract 20947

Articles of incorporation for the Merchants Loan Company, and land transfers are noted.


Section 23 (320 Acres)

Abstract 484, 50445

The land was originally owned by the railroad. Title transfers through 1910 exist.


Section 31(160 Acres)

Abstract 2374, 7906, 18634, 24271, 51087, 51659

The land was originally owned by the railroad. Titles transfers start with William Clanton et al, and others through 1934 exist. These relate to the Grand Avenue and Poly Drive areas and the incorporation of Billings State Bank. The Montana Water Company actions are located in Case # 2374. Plaintiff actions by Preston Moss are in Case # 18634.


Section 36, (Kober Sundivision & McKay Acres)

Abstract 44290, 58485

The land was originally part of a NW1/4 parcel (160 Acres) sold to Edgar Cronk. He in turn sold off portions. Formation of the Big Ditch Company can be found in this file. It was platted and the land is located near Pryor Lane & Orchard Drive. Records through 1951 exist.


Section 26, W1/2W1/2SE1/4SE1/4, Tp 1N, Range 26 (10 Acres)

Abstract 5186

Allek Nelson originally homesteaded the land. Transfers, labor liens against the Lockwood Irrigation District, and mortgages through 1912 exist. (Case 5186)


Highland Addition to City

Abstract 22974

The land was originally owned by the railroad. Titles transfers through 1951 exist. Incorporation papers for the Great Western Sugar Factory are available, along with some mechanic liens. The area encompasses approximately one-half of the Billings South Side located in Section 4 of Range 26E. Note: In 1909 The “Billings Land Company” chartered in Madison, Wisconsin, created the “Billings Highlands Subdivision, not to be confused with the Highland Addition. Property was sold through the North Real Estate Investment Company. A simple plat map is available. Contact Webmaster.]


Sugar Subdivision (Platted 1909)

Abstract 2432, 7393, 44188

The land was originally owned by the railroad. Frederick Billings acquired a vast majority of land in and around this tract. His Last Will & Testament is located here (Abstract # 7393). Warranty Deeds for the various lots are evident.

Clanton Heights Subdivision (Platted 1934)

Abstract 23012

The land was originally owned by the railroad. It is part of Section 31, 1N, 26E. Numerous affidavits and testimonies were needed to permit platting of the land. It included loss to the county for non-payment of taxes and the redemption of it. Considerable numbers of decrees were made before the land could be platted. The land borders are on 6th Street West and between Avenues E and H.

Section 34, W1/2,T1N, R23E (Filed 10 August, 1916)

Abstract 6583

Marion Nelson of Hesper originally owned the land consisting 320 acres. When the Lake Basin Branch of the Northern Pacific Railroad was created he deeded certain rights to the railroad in 1913.


College Subdivision (Platted Unknown)

Abstract 56350, 56768, 57859, 56870, 60037

Describes 1942 and 1950 land transfers of lots 8, 9 &10, and Block 11. The Widows and Orphans Friendly Society initially transferred Land to the PUBLIC for use. This society changed their name to Prudential Friendly Society earlier in February 18, 1875.


Cellen Subdivision (Platted Unknown)

Abstract 57188

Describes some minor actions in the tract.


Suburban Homes Addition, 160 Acres (Filed 15 December, 1904)

Abstract 29963, 30360

Jules Breuchaud originally purchased the land. It runs between Grand & Broadwater; and 4th Street West & Billings Blvd. Blocks 29 - 50 are added to the previous tract. Summons and other actions are in the file. Records of the McAdows Addition are noted, along with the founding of Suburban Homes Company.


Amvet Park Subdivision, 160 Acres (Filed 17 December, 1906)

Abstract 4021

Joseph Zimmerman originally purchased the land. The will of T. Moore, who later owned the property, is attached. The land is located north of Poly Drive, and includes the lots adjacent to Copper, Golden and Silver Blvds.


Nutting Bro's & Nutting Subdivision, 160 Acres (Filed 3 January, 1888)

Abstract 45938

Lucius Nutting originally purchased the land. Transfers of titles and court actions are noted. The land runs adjacent to the north side of the railroad, and from Mulberry Avenue to Alder Avenue. The northern boundary is 8th Street.


Sanderson Subdivision

Abstract 46268

The land was originally owned by the Railroad. A complex series of transfers and court attachments exist for this property before being platted for the subdivision. The land consists of 56 city blocks, located between 11th Street West & Plainview Street; and Central Avenue.


Roth Subdivision

Abstract 56108, 56283

The land was originally part of Section 34. The deed of property restrictions for the owners is defined.



Yellowstone Addition

Abstract 61315

A minor action for some of land is noted.

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