Yellowstone Genealogy Forum

Billings & Laurel Original Founders

(Revised 20 January 2003) Added Surveys

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 shown below. Information is primarily extracted from old court titles and survey maps. Many of the land sale titles, incorporations, dissolutions, homesteads, affidavits, court summons, tax sales, land transfers, summons and the like, were created in Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, Washington, Washington DC, and Montana. Together these form a picture of how some of the city property, businesses, and irrigation ditches were established. The files show a virtually complete linkage from one owner to another, but only a small portion has been extracted. Many liens and sheriff sales existed during the troubled times following the great depression in 1929. Section 32 in Township 1North, Range 26E ownership (which eventually formed Foster's, North Park & Burnstead Subdivisions, and North Park) is very complex. The section contains 640 acres of Government land. Of this amount 320 acres were issued as Patents, 280 acres as Homesteads; 40 acres not located in the extracts.

Many various claims have been made as to why Billings was selected over Coulson and located where it now stands. While it is true that the Minneapolis & Montana Land and Improvement Co. had facing sections of land that they purchased from the railroad determined the exact for the plat, it is also true that the Coulson area lacked expansive growth area for a town. P. W. (Bud) McAdow, John Alderson and John Shock owned the majority of land around Coulson that could have been used for expansive growth, but they asked too much money for the property. This essentially sealed the fate of Coulson and usage of land to the south [of future Billings] as a consideration. (The McAdow land created the future site for the City Water Plant & Josephine Park). As an alternative, the Canyon Creek area or other portions of the vast Clark’s Fork Bottom (land from east Billings to beyond Park City) could have been used. The main reason for the selection of the site at Billings is attributed to the railroad’s determination to take advantage of existing freight and passenger stage routes along Alkali Creek to Fort Benton, Fort Maginnis, Maiden and other northern points. Initially the railroad considered building its main line to Fort Benton (located at the head of the Missouri River navigation area) with only a branch-line extending west. The entire line was surveyed before a change in direction was made. At this time the Lavina Stage traveled along Alkali Creek and served Painted Robe, Lavina, Judith Gap and other places north. These northern routes were very important to early businessmen. Thus the Billings location became established to take advantage of these trade routes. [ref: Billings Gazette, 20 Sep, 1960]

The Billings’ townsite was laid out in the fall of 1881 (November), and it was named “Billings” after Frederick Billings, member of the Land Company, at the suggestion of Herman Clark. Rationale for the location of the town has been an area of controversy for many years, and has been generally inferred that the details presented in The History of Yellowstone Valley book established that Alkali Creek, which runs into the Yellowstone River from the northwest played a significant role. It was erroneously claimed that this belief caused the land company to build at the lower end of the valley. Mayor Foster stated:

“The fact that Alkali Creek commands the only practicable northern outlet from the Yellowstone Valley caused Herman Clark and Frederick Billings to locate Billings on its present site rather than at Canyon Creek or Laurel. This insignificant rivulet, daily seen by our people, has built Billings.”

The accepted reason as to why Billings was located where it was is based upon statements made by Henry Ward Rowley, who was the NPR engineer placed in charge of the irrigation construction for the new townsite, which included most of the valley area, and the Heights; regardless of the Section numbers within.

“Rowley was employed with the engineering corps of NPR. He came to Montana in 1880, with the railroad crews and headquartered in Custer in 1881, then in Billings in 1882. He was selected by the Land Company to take charge of building an irrigation canal planned by the company during the 1881 time frame. John Issaei (an assistant NPR engineer) was sent to the Billings’ area to lay out the townsite. Rowley maintained that the selection was based entirely on the fact that the two NPR land sections adjacent to the prime meridian cut through the Yellowstone Valley near where NPR wanted to start a town. The alternating townships which had been deeded to the railroad lay side by side across the meridian, instead of cornering as they did elsewhere. It was further stated ‘We will put the town where this line crosses the railroad track, and get adjoining sections.’ ”

The Land Company contracted for all the alternate land sections (odd numbered) on each side of the right of way, plus the two used to form the town, and divided the site into streets, avenues and parks. They engraved a map of their planned community, and by April the “Billings Boom” was talked about as far away as St Paul.”

Originally, when the Billings’ townsite plat was created, it centered on large street numbers, “30th street, etc.” The east end of the town started with 10th Street North. This was no accident, and when the plat was created for publication, it was planned to incorporate the Coulson town’s city streets, which ended at 9th Street east, and had a Main street, which was considered to be 1st Street South. The alignment of the two towns was not quite exactly in the same plane[1]. To see the precise location of the two, refer to a 1909 City Map. S. P. Panton, was employed by the NPR in 1881, and worked for Col. Pike (Division Engineer). He was asked to make a stadia survey of the two land sections on which a new townsite was to be constructed. From his field notes, a detailed contour map was created in the St. Paul offices of NPR. Also created was subdivision map of the blocks and lots.[2] Col Pike later stated that Billings would be a “second Denver.” General Brisbin, in his book “The Beef Bonanza”, named Billings as “The Magic City of the Plains.”

Land locations noted below are stated as listed in the titles. Some of the identifying characteristics were missing in the original 'Certified' titles. Additional details about the exact locations are defined by rather extensive Metes & Bounds within the documents. Many Water Rights Titles exist, but their details have not been summarized in the table below. Most Water Rights are measured in Miner's Inches. For information on the Big Ditch and its Water Rights, refer to article on the ditch in the Yellowstone Genealogy History Site.

  The Billings Historical Society, in 1998 photographed 30 historical downtown buildings and summarized their lineages. See their site.


Great Britain

Conceded lands east of continental divide.


Great Britain

Conceded all lands owned by them.


Oregon Territory

Congress created the territory. Montana lands west of continental divide were included.

1851, Sept 17

Fort Laramie Treaty

The Crow reservation was established with these boundaries: “The territory of the Crow nation, commencing at the mouth of the Powder River on the Yellowstone; thence up Powder River to its source; thence along the main range of the Black Hills and Wind River mountain to the headwaters of the Yellowstone River; thence down the Yellowstone River to the mouth of Twenty-Five Yard Creek (Shields River); thence to the headwaters of the Musselshell River; thence down the Musselshell River to its mouth; thence to the headwaters of Dry Creek, and thence to its mouth.”

1853, May 24

Yellowstone Valley Survey

Col Isaac I Stevens (Future 1st Governor of Washington Territory) explored the west for a route suitable for a railroad line to the west coast. Arrived at Fort Union (mouth of the Yellowstone) on August 1. Survey was made south to Pryor Creek area, then west toward the Musselshell River. Lt Grover, a member of this group, hired Alexis LeBombard as guide. He was using the “Nicollet’s Map”, as his location source. Accurate measurements were taken.


Nebraska Territory

Congress created the territory. Montana lands east of continental divide were included.

1854, Jul 17

Congressional Land Act

Congress created an "Act" to authorize the President to survey land in the Minnesota Territory belonging to the Half Breed, Mixed Blood, Dacotah or Sioux Nations. Certificates of Script were to be given for property taken by the Government. President Cleveland issued script Certificate #83C for 80 acres of land at SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E in Montana subject to various previously vested mineral and water rights. Bozeman Land office held details.


Surveyed Black Hills

Lt Warren, Topo Engineer, started surveying route for railroad through Black Hills in 1855. In 1856 he reached Powder River, accurately reporting major item locations along the route.


Dakota Territory

Congress created the territory. Montana lands east of continental divide were relocated there.


Idaho Territory

Congress created the territory. Montana lands in total were included and relocated there.

1864, May 26

Montana Territory

Montana lands were relocated to its own territory. Spanish explorers originally gave the name “Montana del Norte” to the west’s mountain country. The name “Montana” was first given to the first townsite in Colorado and became known to Bannack residents from a little girl who came to live there in April 1883. She later lived in Deer Lodge (Mrs. Montana Kantner). Missouri Confederates opposed the choice of the Idaho Legislature, which suggested the name Jefferson. A Territory Committee, headed by James M. Ashley, later Governor of Montana, initially recommended on February 11, 1863 that the name choice be Montana, meaning mountainous country, for the newly created territory of Idaho. The U. S. Senate rejected the name. Ashley then got support from Stephen Douglas, Chairman of the House Territories Commission for the use of Montana as the name for this new territory. Chief Justice Sidney Edgerton of Idaho placed the name before Congress where it won out over other name suggestions of Abysnia, Shoshone, Jefferson, and Douglas. The bill was signed into law, creating Montana.

1864, Dec 12

Montana 1st Legislature

The first session of the Montana Legislature was convened. Governor White presiding. During the session, after January 1st, Walter deLacy (surveyor) submitted a Territorial Map that identified the gold fields, Bridger and Bozeman Trails.


Virginia City

Territory Capitol established.

1865, Sep 19

1st Sawyer Road Crew Reaches Yellowstone River

First Sawyer Expedition clears path for north passage of “Bozeman Trail” from Fort C.F. Smith. Continues towards Bozeman on south side of Yellowstone River after camping in Bitter Creek headwater area.


Plans for Statehood

Plans for statehood created. Meagher started process.

1866, Aug 4

2nd Sawyer Road Crew Reaches Yellowstone River

Second Sawyer Expedition creates new passage for “Bozeman Trail” across bottom area of now current Yellowstone County. Saves about 26 miles distance over north trail. Explicit road details available in 1878+ BLM Survey-Topographic Maps. Crosses Clarke’s Fork River then Rock Creek two miles south of Floyd Milton’s farm. Links up with old trail to Bozeman. (Note: This 2nd trail generally referred to as “Old Bozeman Trail”)

1866, August

Jim Bridger’s new wagon train Route created

Col Carrington ordered Jim Bridger to create a route for the Military Bozeman Trail across the area between the Big Horn River and on to the gold field areas in Montana.


Montana Sessions Annulled

Congress annulled 2nd and 3rd Sessions of the legislature. Meagher was disgraced.

1868, May 7

Crow Reservation Changed

Prior to signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty, the Crow Indians gave up their first territorial land loss, and agreed to:” that part of Montana south and east of the Yellowstone River and west of the 107th degree of longitude.” This act removed from the reservation created in 1851, all that part of the county, which lies north of the Yellowstone River.

1868, May 25

Fort Laramie 2nd Treaty Signed

Agreement by US Army to abandon the Bozeman Trail & forts in Indian Territory. Compensation and schooling to be provided. Whites forbidden to pass unless allowed doing so by Indian landowners.

1871, Fall

Survey of Railroad Route

Another attempt to finalize the railroad passage through Montana was started by Mr. Muhlenberg, NPR Engineer.


Survey Terminated

Valley area surveys were stopped due to trouble with the Sioux Indian Nation.



Moved territory capitol to Helena.

1875, Jun 7

Steamboat 'Josephine'

The Josephine, on an urgent military expedition, commanded by Col Forsythe without any civilian personnel except for the boat crew, first docked on June 6th in the Pryor Basin area just east of Coulson (north of where the I90 crosses the river) and Col Forsythe met with five Crow Tribal leaders (Metra – Fairground’s site.). After that docking the boat continued on and tied up a few miles further upstream for the night. From there on the next day, the boat continued on for another eight miles before turning around without docking. See Cochran Files. (Details about the Journey, its terminus at Duck Creek, and correction of myths about the famous “Josephine’s Tree” located in the Coulson area [Riverfront Park] as being the furthest point reached. Error was started by the ‘deLacy” survey comment made in 1878, and carried through by others that refer only to the boat’s trip into Coulson in 1877 carrying supplies and commanded by Captain Grant Marsh.)

May-July 1876

Clark’s Fork Valley Surveyed

Team of surveyors headed down-river from Bozeman to Pryor Creek, mapping the area for future settler homesteads. [Plat map reported to be submitted to the Bozeman Land Office in April 1877.] The land was not surveyed.

1877, May

Coulson River Town Formed

This town was formed in the local area near the site where Billings would be created, approximately mile from the river on Perry McAdow’s land, and starting at a point where Josephine Park currently exists. This was a stage stop and only a few tents existed. In early 1878, the businesses on McAdow’s land and his sawmill relocated to a permanent site on John Alderson’s land to the north of McAdow’s land, and ran in a direction paralleling the river. (Freeway currently goes through its center.) The residents established a cemetery that was eventually named Boothill Cemetery (formerly called “Boot” Graveyard) at the east base of the Rims (north of ‘Indian Rock’), which later would be annexed as railroad property. It is 170’ x 165’ in size. Notables buried there are Muggins Taylor, sheriff; killed in 1882 by Henry Lump, and 'Liver-Eatin' Johnston, an exceptionally strong man, deputy sheriff in 1881.

1877, June 7

Steamboat ‘Josephine’

Loaded with cargo, the Josephine commanded by Grant Marsh made its way to Coulson after stopping at Thomas McGirl’s place at Baker’s Ground in May, (2nd trip through Coulson area) and tied to a large Cottonwood tree, located on the southwest corner of Joseph Cochran’s land (Lot #2, Section16) at edge of lake (Lake Josephine in Riverfront Park). Photograph was taken. See Cochran Files for details. Map surveyor WW deLacy precisely located site on October 17, 1878, along with land boundary lines for settlers.

1877, Sep 13th

Canyon Creek Battle

Chief Joseph led non-treaty Nez Perce Indians fleeing from the US Army on a 1,300-mile trek to escape capture. They battled at a site north of Laurel where two men (Dills & Summers - trappers) living on Joseph Cochran’s land were killed, burned some hay at the Canyon Creek stage stop & destroyed the stage by dropping it off the rims, burned some tents in Coulson, then went to the Bears Paw Mountain Range near Havre where they surrendered.

1878, Spring

Orson Nixon Newman

Came to Coulson and farmed near the Bair ranch (2 miles from town) by ford in river near Canyon Creek frequented by Indians. Moved to Billings and lived at 1122 N 30th Street until death in 1921. Land was originally adjacent to Joseph MV Cochran’s in Section 16, Lot #1. Land was later confiscated by Congressional Act (Township didn’t pre-assign Section 16 as School Land).

1878, Oct 1

Walter W. de Lacy Survey

The Montana Survey Baseline passing through the valley north of the river was established. Subdivision of the land into sections followed through until October 19th. Township/Range corners marked with a buried rock and cairns of dirt or rocks about 2 feet high and a square post placed alongside.

1881, Nov 19

P Brady & FK Kennard

MC Vail owed title to 160 acres (T1S, SE, Rn26E) and quit claimed the property for $200. Included were several hundred poles and posts. (Ref #46268)

1881, Dec 6

Anton Manderfeld

Federal homestead of SESW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E; and Lot #1 Sec 4, 1S, 26E. Sold to George Hume, then to Frederick Billings Mar 2, 1882. Will of Frederick #9412. Samuel Kilner in NY was Trustee.


Boothill Cemetery

Formally created from Boot Graveyard for the Coulson river town's residents located near the start of Black Otter Trail. Many people are buried there, including: Sheriff HM 'Muggins' Taylor (Former Scout for General Gibbons) and many others. See Coulson.

1882, Mar 23

Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company

Incorporated to handle all real estate property transactions in Montana Territory. Capital $200,000. Herman Clark, John B Westbrook & Thomas C Kurtz founders. (Note: Used by NPRR as their mortgage holder, and established the use of “scrip” in place of money for sales. Acquired virtually all land in Billings’ area.)

1882, April


NPR constructs Engineers Building at future site of Billings where the Northern Hotel was eventually built. Track continues to be laid to the west.

1882, May

F. B. Kennard

Builds store and residence in Billings. This is second building in new town.

1882, June 22

NPR issues land decree

NPR president issues ruling that no more than 160 acres of railroad land can be sold to any one person. (Land sales controlled by Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company)

1882, July 13

Railroad Nears Yellowstone River

On this date the NPR track was within 25 miles of Coulson (Billings). It would soon reach the Lockwood Station where preparations for constructing a bridge would occur.

1882, Aug 22

NPR Crosses River

Railroad completes construction of bridge across Yellowstone and first train crosses over. Train continues to end of track, not stopping at Billings.

1882, Sep 27

William Blair

Paper homestead for 80 acres Sec 32 (E of SE), Tp 1, Rn 26E. Bozeman Land District, Custer Co. Later sold the land. Abstract #3795 discusses out-of-state sale and exchanges of titles that created Foster's Subdivision.

1882, Sep 27

Hezekiah James

Received paper homestead Patent of 80 acres (Sec 32, WSE of Tp 1N, Rn 26E). Lived in Arkansas. Sold later to Robert Foster.

1882, Oct 23

Robert Foster

Purchased from James Hezekiah 80 acres (Sec 32, WSE of Tp 1N, Rn 26E) for $680.

1883, Apr 19

John J Blake – Surveyor

Initiated start of surveys and topography of land south of Yellowstone River in Bitter Creek & Blue Creek areas. Trails are defined along with residences. Original Bozeman north trail on south bank of Yellowstone River is still evident.

1883, Apr 23

Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company

Northern Pacific Railroad Company had acquired 640 acres (T1S, Sec 5, Rn26E) on Jan 1, 1881. Filed in Washington, DC. They transferred title, except for rights of ways, to MMLIP for $73,558.86. (#46268)

1883, Jun 15

Frederick Billings

Purchased from Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company all of Sec 5, Tp 1S, Rn26E; excepting for Railroad rights of ways for $25,600.

1883, Dec 3

Thomas C Kurtz

Had Sec 32(SE), Tp 1, Rn 26E surveyed by Abbott & Isaaci for creation of Foster's Subdivision Lots # 1-24.

1883, Dec 10

Perry W McAdow

Desert Land Patent granted for 457 acres Fractional Sec 2, Tp 1S, Rn 26E (cash sale). Granted right of way to Billings Water Power Company Jun22, 1885 to lay in pipes and ditches.

1884, Jan 2

Jules Breuchaud

Purchased from Receiver's Office in Bozeman 160 acres (T1S, NW, Rn26E) for $400. Land Patent issued 28 July 1905. Jules resided in New York.

1884, Jun 30

Wilder Nutting

Received homestead Patent of 160 acres (Sec 10, SE of Tp 2S, Rn 24E. Lived in Bozeman.

1884, Jun 30

Hezekiah James

Paper homestead Patent for 80 acres WSE Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E.

1884, Dec 12

Frederick Billings

Purchased from Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company all of Secs 3 & 19, Tp 1S, Rn 25E (1280 acres) for $1600. Reconveyed his interest in Sec 5, Tp 1S, Rn 26E (640 acres) back to MMLIP. Note: His widow, Julia Billings later had to quit claim her interest of same property on May 22, 1912 to clear title.


Coulson Ceased to Exist

River town established on site late 1877, five years before Billings existed. Ceased to exist when rail track reached the area, and Billings was established. Last evidence of buildings vanished in 1931.

1885, Apr 10

City Council Meeting

Billings' first City Council meeting. Established the member list. Afterward met to discuss actions (garbage, revenues, nuisances, etc.).

1885, Jun 2

Billings Water Power Company

Incorporated to operate a city water district in Billings. Capital $100,000. Founders: Henry Belknap, Perry W McAdow, & Herman H Mund. Funds obtained from Boston Safe Deposit & Trust Company.

1885, May 8

Business Licenses

City Council established that business licenses were required. Fees created for various items and professions.

1885, Nov 4


Approved new sidewalks on Minnesota Ave. Store owners on the avenue to pay for cost.

1885, Nov 17

Alfred & Benjamin Myers

Purchased from Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company Sec 5, Tp 1S, Rn 26E (632.07 actual acres) for $3500. Later quit claimed to First National Bank of Billings in 1908.

1885, Sep 24

Yellowstone Building & Loan Society

Incorporated for accumulating funds for investment. Initial capital $500,000. Jesse R sharp, Walter Matheson & Joseph H Rinehart founders.

1887, Sep 4

William H Clanton

Acquired land from railroad, ENW and lots 1 & 2 (all of NW) Sec 31, Tp 1N, Rn 26E. Approx 160.28 acres for $1282.24. (Note: William's will available #536-15)

1887, Sep 7

Louis Carron

Napoleon Carron's 80 acres in Montana (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) were transferred by court decree to his father Louis and mother Lucy.

1887, Sep 16

Lucius A Nutting

Received homestead Patent on 160 acres (Sec 10, SW Tp 2S, Rn 24E).

1887, Nov 15

Nathaniel B Givens

Purchased 160 acres of land from government NE Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E. Patent granted Oct 1, 1889. (Sold later to Fred H Foster)

1888, Nov 1

Oliver PC Billings (Trustee of MMLIP)

Acquired from Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company (MMLIP) all residual property owned by them in Yellowstone County for $40,000.

1889, Oct 1

Henry C McKinsey

Patent land title issued by President Harrison on SW sec 32, Tp 1N, 26 E for 160 acres.

1889, Nov 11

Montana Statehood

Montana became the 41st State in the Union.


1891, Nov 2

Billings Realty Company

Incorporated to conduct real estate transactions. Capital $50,000. Founders: Henry W Rowley, AL Babcock, & Fred H Foster. Company dissolved Dec 12, 1913; business venture terminated Nov 2, 1911.

1892, Jan 20

Fred H Foster

Acquired land NE Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E from Givens under quit claim for $3994.84.

1892, May 9

William H Starbuck

Louis Carron quit claimed his 80 acres in Montana (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) for special and future considerations.

1892, Sep 1

Austin North

William Starback quit claimed his 80 acres (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) to Austin North for $800.

1893, Apr 3

CA Wustum

Austin North quit claimed his 80 acres (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) to Charles A Wustum & Jennie E Wustum, wife; for $3000.

1894, Apr 17

Austin North

Charles & Jennie Wustum quit claimed the 80 acres (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) back to Austin for $3500.

1894, May 4

Myron Jeffers

Austin North quit claimed the 80 acres (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) to Myron for $2500.

1894, Aug 1

Austin North

Myron Jeffers quit claimed the 80 acres (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) back to Austin for $2500.

1894, Dec 31

USA-President Grover Cleveland

Granted S Sec 3, Tp 1S Rn 26E to Northern Pacific Railroad Company with coal & iron rights.

1894, Dec 31

USA-President Grover Cleveland

Granted S, SNE, SNW, and lots 1-4 of Sec 5, Tp 1S Rn 26E to Northern Pacific Railroad Company with coal & iron rights.

1895, May 11

The High Line Ditch Company

Incorporated to construct a ditch to supply 2000 inches of water to Billings area users. Capital $10,000. Founders: DF Sullivan, Joe Zimmerman, Fred H Hathorn, James Steele, ID O'Donnell, Stephen Haid, & Frank O'Donnell.

1895, Oct 26

William H Clanton

Homestead 40 acres, part of 160 acres total. NESE Sec 31, Tp 1N, Rn 26E.

1896, May 2

Northern Pacific Railway

Received Patent on Sec 9, Tp 1S, Rn 26E from President Cleveland.

1896, Jul 8

Northern Pacific Railway Company

Superior and St Croix Railroad Company (Madison, WI) voted to change their name to Northern Pacific Railway Company (headquartered in New York city). Corporate name to be the same.

1896, Aug 18

Alfred L Cary (Special Master)

Designated to sell all lands owned by the NPRC in Montana under the patent laws granted to the railroad according to the Commissioner of Deeds in New York state.

1897, Jan 8

HV Bailey

Austin North assigned his 80 acres (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) to settle a debt.

1897, Jan 14

Tavner B Switzer

Myron Jeffers quit claimed the 80 acres (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E) to Tavner for $1600.

1897, Jun 30

Water Rights for Sec 5, Tp 1S Rn 26E

Austin North captured the water rights of 300 inches for irrigating. Water comes from springs located in Secs 4 & 5, Tp 1S, Rn 26E, all waste water form Sec 5, Tp 1S Rn 26E, and the Suburban Ditch Company.

1899, Jul 25

Christian Yegen

Northern Pacific Railway Company provided a warranty deed for some land in Sec 3, Tp 1S, Rn 26E in the south side of town of Billings.

1900, Mar 5 & 7

North Town Land Company

Incorporated for conducting real estate transactions. Austin North, H North & RK Babcock founders.


Lockwood Irrigation District

Incorporated to transport irrigation water to farms. Water extracted from Yellowstone River at: point in the ENE Sect 34, Tp 1N, Rn 26E. Runs easterly for six miles through SN Sec 35 in Tp 1N, Rn 26E.

1900, Jun 16

The Big Ditch Company

Incorporated to supply water from the Yellowstone River via canal. Pickup point is in Lot #3, Sec 12, Tp 3S, Rn 21E near the Rimrock bluffs. Ditch is 39 miles long. Terminus is in NW corner of Sec 33, Tp 1N, Rn 26E. Capital $64,000. Founders: Preston B Moss, LA Nutting, LD O'Donnell, FW Schauer, WD Story, James Steele, & Henry Struck.

1903, Aug 17

Lucius A Nutting

Purchased under quit claim from Wilder Nutting 160 acres (less railroad rights of ways) SE of Sec 10, Tp 2S, Rn 24E.

1903, Oct 12

Billings Land and Irrigation Company

Incorporated under the State of Washington's laws. Purpose to acquire and operate irrigation water systems, buy & sell property et al throughout America. Capital $300,000. Founders: John Schram, WT Clark, HW Rowley, Preston B Moss, LD O'Donnell. (They constructed the water tunnel passing through the rims.) See 1904, Jan 8 entry.

1903, Dec 15

Billings Land and Irrigation Company

Right of way (100 ft wide) for ditch (canal) granted by The Billings Realty Company. Starts at SW corner of NNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E. Runs easterly to point 660 ft south of NE corner in Sec 32. Acres is 12.14.

1904, Jan 6

Billings Building and Loan Association

Incorporated to accumulate money for loans ONLY to association members. Capital $250,000. Founders: AP Hart, Charles Spear, HM Allen, Jas R Goss, SW Soule, JW Fish, Fred J Mashaw, FB Connelly, & James Chapple.

1904, Jan 8

Billings Land and Irrigation Company (Branch Office)

Headquartered in Washington State, they acquired water rights of 600 cubic feet per second from the Yellowstone River for domestic, farm and stock use, and generation of electric power. Diverted from river at: point on left bank 1285 feet southwest of the one quarter corner of Sec 14, Tp 2S, Rn 24E. Size of canal is 21 ft wide at bottom, 39 ft wide at top, and 7 ft deep. Location is just south of Laurel.

1904, Dec 15

Suburban Homes Company

Incorporated for the purpose of conducting real estate transactions and subdividing farm land into housing tracts. Capital $15,000. Founders were: LD O'Donnell, HW Rowley and Preston B Moss.

1905, Jan 9

The Great Western Sugar Company

Incorporated in New Jersey to conduct real estate transactions. Capital $2,000,000. Founders: Henry B Closson, Albert S Wright, & Joseph Potts. (Will later acquire property in Montana)

1905, Jan 14

The Cove Ditch Company

Incorporated to extend the holdings of the Yellowstone Ditch Company in Laurel. Capital $110,000. Founders: WR Westbrook, FW Schauer, William L Allard, & DA Benedict. Watyer extracted from north bank of Yellowstone River in Stillwater County, seven miles north of Columbus (Sec 5, Tp 3S, Rn 21E). Runs northeasterly about 50 miles in length to a point two miles east of Rimrock Station in Yellowstone County. Transferred water rights to Cove Irrigation District in 1922.

1905, Mar 14

Billings Sugar Factory

Incorporated to use lands for and purpose. Capital $750,000. Founders: ID O'Donnell, FM Shaw, HW Rowley, Preston B Moss, MA Arnold. (See 1916 Deed Transfer)

1905, Aug 21

Joseph Zimmerman

Received certificate of sale from US Land Office for 160 acres in Sec 34, NNE & NNW, Tp 1N of Rn 25E. Patent provided Oct 31, 1906. Joseph lived in Gallatin Co.

1906, Mar 5

First Trust and Savings Bank of Billings

Incorporated to conduct banking business and hold real estate. Capital $100,000. Founders: Preston B Moss, MA Arnold, JB Arnold.

1906, Jun 19

Highland Addition

Addition to city of Billings platted and surveyed.

1906, Jun 27

Allek Nelson

Homestead of 160 acres in SWSW Sec 25, SSE Sec 26, and NENE Sec 35, Tp 1N, Rn 26E.

1906, Nov 10

Billings Sugar Factory

Block 13 of Highland Addition, owned by Christian Yegen, was sold to the factory. Housing was prohibited from being constructed closer than 30 feet from the front line of the block.

1907, Jun 5

North Elevation Subdivision (2nd Filing)

Austin North platted land held in Sec 32, 1N, 26E. Lillis performed survey. Suburban Homes Company with Preston Moss-President, ordered the filing. In 1907 the plat was amended.

1907, Nov 14

North Elevation Subdivision (3rd Filing)

Austin North platted additional land held in Sec 32, 1N, 26E and parts of ESW. Lillis performed survey.

1908, Jun 27

Nutting Subdivision

Lucius Nutting platted Sec 10, Tp 2S, Rn 24 E property of approximately 320 acres owned by him. BC Lillis performed the survey. Property is in Laurel.

1909, Mar 10

Sugar Division

Land platted for subdivision within Sec 8 & 9, Tp 1S, Rn 26E owned by George Hays.

1910, Jun 10

Billings Traction Company

The firm was founded earlier by millionaire David Gunsburg (NY); Rowley, Arnold, Zimmerman, Johnson, Mains and Snidow (Billings) who invested $5,000 each; and a few others from NY and OK, but on this date voters approved construction of the rail transit streetcar system that promised 30-minute scheduled pickups throughout the city. Construction started March 1, 1912, and was completed January 6, 1913. The cars were battery powered. Cost to ride was a nickel, and they operated at eight miles per hour in city, 12 miles per hour in the out districts. Five cars were in operation at all times. The company was a victim of “payroll padding”, and offenders were jailed up to one year for the offense. After WW I most of the tracks were removed. WPA teams in 1936 removed the ones remaining in the downtown area at that time.

1910, Jun 24

Broadwater School

Jules Breuchaud transferred 160 acres (T1S, NW, Rn26E) to LD O'Donnell, excepting for the property deeded for the Broadwater School site

1910, Jun 24

Suburban Homes Company

LD O'Donnell transferred 160 acres (T1S, NW, Rn26E) to the Suburban Homes, excepting for the property deeded for the Broadwater School site. LD O'Donnell is President of the company.

1910, Jul 14

First Trust and Savings Bank of Billings

Receiver requested to be appointed to handle all assets.

1912, Mar 27

The Elevation Company

Incorporated for real estate transactions. Capital $100,000. Founders: Austin North, Hattie North, & Oto North.

1912, Dec 10

Bankers Loan and Mortgage Company

Incorporated to conduct real estate transactions. Capital $500,000. PD Askew, John D Atkinson & RL Smith founders.

1913, Apr 9

Highland Homes Company

Incorporated for profit in real estate matters. Capital $75,000. Founders: W Lee Mains, WA Brockway, & BG Brockway.

1913, Aug 1

Highland Homes Subdivision

Platted NW, Sec 31, Tp 1N, Rn 26E. Strip of land 100 ft wide right of way deeded for canal belonging to Billings Land and Irrigation Company.

1914, Apr 11

Suburban Homes Addition

The subdivision was surveyed, platted and dedicated. This included the Broadwater School site location. BC Lillis performed the survey.

1914, Jun 1

The Merchants Loan Company

Incorporated to handle real estate and loan transactions and property. Capital $25,000. Founders: RE Shepherd, HW Crowly and Roy J Covert.

1914, Jun 20

American Bank and Trust Company

Incorporated to establish loans and investments, and conduct real estate transactions. Capital $150,000. W Lee Mains, HJ Ries & Charles Spear founders.

1914, Aug 27

Brockway Real-Estate Company

Incorporated for real estate transactions. Capital $40,000. Founders: BG Brockway, Viaretta Brockway, WA Brockway, & CJ Brockway.

1914, Oct 18

Suburban Homes Company

Extension of company existence was granted.

1914, Oct 26

The Hall Lumber Company

Incorporated to conduct wholesale and retail lumber sales, as well as real estate transactions. Capital $25,000. Founders: Jennie L Hall, Walter S Hall & Zephin Job.

1915, Mar 30

Thompson Yards, Inc

Incorporated to conduct lumber transactions in Minneapolis, MN, and handle real estate transactions. Capital $1,000,000. Founders: GC McCartney, LA Peil, CS Peacock, JW Mahan, & NH Clapp.

1915, Apr 5

Clanton Heights Subdivision

Platted subdivision owned by Elizabeth Clanton. NESE Sec 31, Tp 1N, Rn 26E.

1915, Sep 24

Billings Bench Water Association

Incorporated to provide water to users for irrigation and other needs from those who hold water rights in Yellowstone County. Capital $600,000. Founders: Roy J Covert, John J Larimer, WW Clarke, & John H Wilcox plus 34 others. (#46268). Canal begins at NE corner of W of E of SE of NW, then to north line to NW corner. Additional routing available in #157355 of Case # 18634. Contained in files is will of James D Baughman died 10 Nov 1921 in Davis Co, IA. (Sec 5, Tp 1S, Rn 26E-parcel of 25 acres)

1916, Feb 29

The Great Western Sugar Company (NJ)

Warranty Deed transfer for $11, 443.30 for all of block 13 in Highland Addition.

1916, May 31

Billings Bench Water Association

The Billings Land and Irrigation Company quit claimed most of their holdings in Yellowstone County to the Billings Bench Water Association. Included are reservoir rights in Sec 19 & 20, Tp 2N, Rn 27E; and Sec 24, Tp 2N, Rn 26E. Known as "Rattlesnake Butte Lake". Excluded are irrigation systems from the Cary Act Lands that were unsold, and water for 27,000 acres. The Alkali Creek siphon (wooden pipe) was constructed for $25,000.

1916, Jul 27

Marion Nelson

Patent on land 320 acres purchased earlier was completed. SW & NW Sec 34, Tp 1N Rn 23E. (Resided in Hesper).

1916, Sep 28

Security Trust and Savings Bank

Incorporated to conduct banking business and real estate transactions. Capital $ 100,000. Founders: WE Waldron, Harry F Scott, Frank O'Donnell, & Ed Cardwell.

1916, Nov 8

The Big Ditch Company

Billings Bench Water Association granted The Big Ditch Company rights to build a new waste way crossing their canal in N & S sec 31, Tp 1N, Rn 26E.

1917, Nov 21


Railroad quit claimed all mineral rights to current owners of property in Sec 15, 17, 19, 21, & 29 in Tp 1N, Rn 26E.

1919, Jan 23

Security Building & Loan Association

Incorporated to encourage savings and make loans to members. Initial capital $1,000,000. HB Smith, FB Reynolds, CH Guthard, BS Langworthy, GH Murray & Dean J Cole founders.

1921, Dec 30

Polytechnic Drive

Created as 100 ft wide Public Roadway by vacation of title grants from Highland Homes subdivision. Was farm road only.


Charles A Lindbergh

During his 'barnstorming' days with H J Lynch, Banty Rogers (owner of a 'Standard' plane) and other performers, Lindbergh stopped at Billings. He and his companions were broke. For about three months he lived at the Broadway Hotel at 217 North 27th Street, and worked at a local garage as a mechanic, parachutist & stuntman. He flew from the homemade landing strip in what is now Homestead Business Park. [Source: "WE", by Charles A Lindbergh, 1927 pgs 24-40.]

1922, Sep 23

The American National Bank collapse

George W Swords appointed receiver of the bank by Comptroller of US Currency.

1923, May 31

CF Watkins Company

Incorporated to handle real estate transactions. Capital $50,000. Founders: CF Watkins, SB Watkins, & GC Myers. CF Watkin's will in #4021.

1923, Jul 17

Federal Building & Loan Association

Relocated business from Bear Creek to Billings.

1924, Jan 17

Liquidation of Yellowstone-Merchants National Bank of Billings

Dean Wright, Secretary of the association placed bank in liquidation.

1925, May 20

Receivership of American National Bank Debt

George W Swords declared he is owner of promissory notes previously held by American National Bank.


William "Bill" Hart

Silent movie star, Bill Hart, posed for and donated the Range Rider statue. It was placed about a mile east of the airport. Later it was moved to Yegen's Museum.


North 27th Street Renamed to Lindberg Street

After Charles Lindberg's successful solo flight across the Atlantic, the Street was briefly changed. It didn't last however.

1928, Mar 24

The High Ditch Company

Incorporated to expand the Big Ditch Company's holdings and improve irrigation. The High Ditch taps the Big Ditch at its point in the Yellowstone River (on North Bank at NWSW in Sec 12, Tp 2, Rn 23E) and will follow Big Ditch's route on northeasterly course along base of the rimrock bluffs. Capital $22,500. Founders: Tom Ronan, Joe McConnell, & AJ Rehberg.

1928, Dec 17

Luther 'Yellowstone' Kelly

Yellowstone Kelly, Chief Scout for General Miles in the Wolf Mountain Range died in California. He is buried in Kelly's Grave on "Kelly Mountain" east of the airport, in Billings. Luther Sage Kelly at age 14 studied for the Methodist ministry in New York, his native state. He joined the Civil War in 1863, before reaching 18 years of age, and was given the nickname “Yellowstone” by a man named Ball when he was 19. He died December 17, 1928 in Paradise, California. His wife brought his body to Billings and placed into the concrete tomb on the cliffs on June 26, 1929.

1929, Jun 6

The McConnen Hardware Company

Incorporated in Richey, Montana to conduct hardware transactions and selling of farm supplies. Capital $30,000. Founders: RW McConnen, Elizabeth McConnen, & AJ Tritschler.

1929, Oct 14

Superior and St Croix Railroad Company

Incorporated & chartered to take and hold land granted to it by the government for purpose of the railroad's use. (Ref #1897)

1930, Jun 17

First National Bank Failure

Bank went into receivership (George W Swords) and assets were auctioned. Fred Lund bid $82,000 for Group I property (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E), Moss Corporation bid $1000 for Group II, and $2000 for Group III.

1933, May 31

John D North

Had Sec 32(NWSE), Tp 1, Rn 26E surveyed by BC Lillis for creation of the North Side 1st Addition subdivision.

1933, Jun 5


Quit claimed all of their mineral rights to all property owners in Sec 5, Tp 1S Rn 26E.

1934, Mar 19

John D North

Had Sec 32(N of SE), Tp 1, Rn 26E surveyed by BC Lillis for creation of the North Side 2nd Addition subdivision.

1934, Jun 16

Conrad Walter

Appropriated 150 miner inches of waste water from Homestead Lateral Ditch Company's flume in Sec 5, Tp 1S, Rn 26E and into the County Drain Ditch.


WPA Created

Works Progress Administration was created to assist persons and families in need of financial support. One-fourth of people in Montana were on relief (137,000) during this time.

1935, May 11

Sunnyside Subdivision 1st Filing

Land owned by Billings Realty was platted for housing. (NE Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E). 2nd filing was also May 11, 1935.

1937, June 10 -11th

Billings Flood

Billings Bench Water Association's main canal located above the Hilands Golf Club broke open on the 11th after heavy rains deluged the area on the 10th. Water reached about five feet deep on 19th Street & Montana Avenue. Other areas were not as deep. Simultaneously the Alkali Creek overflowed and flooded the fairground area. The City's 'High Water Mark" is located on a building at 13 N 23rd. The Alkali Creek wooden siphon had a 200-foot section ripped out.

1937, Dec 22

First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Billings

Issued charter to sue, conduct real estate transactions and financial affairs.

1940, Nov 1

Normal Subdivision

Frank Jacoby, current owner of portions of (SNW Sec 32, Tp 1N, Rn 26E), platted the Normal Subdivision land, and had CE Durland survey the property.

1946, Jan 17

Western Realty & Loan Company

Incorporated to handle real estate transactions, farm and plat land. Capital $150,000. Lewis A Williams, Fred Bernet, George B Israel, Bernice Zeiler & NH Williams founders. On 26 June 1950 named changed to Western Insurance and Mortgage Company.

1946, May 22

Amvet Park Subdivision

Platted by Ira Beeler to create the 14.75 subdivision in Sec 34 land, Tp 1N Rn 25E. Surveyed by Robert F Cooke.

1946, Oct 7

Sanderson Subdivision

Platted portion less than 20 acres of Sec 5, Tp 1S, Rn 26E into blocks and lots for one or two story family homes. No provisions for parks were required. Dog kennels, horses, mules, cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens or outside toilets were permitted. The Homestead Irrigation Ditch may not supply water to the tract.

1947, Dec 19

Saunder's Cash-Way Lumber & Hardware Company

Incorporated to sell general hardware and lumber; and conduct real estate transactions. Capital $100,000. WR Saunders, RA Saunders & KD Saunders Founders.

1948, Mar 16

Bonded Builders, Inc

Incorporated to perform engineering and contracting in Laurel. Capital $50,000. Founders: Herman Schessler, HD High, AA Moser, Theodore W Schessler, & BL Price.


Pictograph Caves Dedication

Formerly known as 'the Indian Caves" this ancient site dedicated as Historical Site.


[1] Gazette Article, Friday, November 27 1936. “Travel Connecting It With Fort Benton”

[2] Panton later became editor of the Gazette. He wrote about the Billings creation in an 1880’s article after he worked for the Gazette. Date unknown; from scrapbook files at Parmly Library.