Montana 1864: Indians, Emigrants, and Gold in the Territorial Year

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9781606390764: Montana 1864: Indians, Emigrants, and Gold in the Territorial Year
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In 1864, vast herds of buffalo roamed the northern short-grass prairie and numerous Native American nations lived on both sides of the adjacent Continental Divide. Lewis and Clark had come and gone, and so had most of the fur trappers and mountain men. The land that would become Montana was mostly still the wild and untrammeled landscape it had been for millennia.

That all changed in a single year—1864—because of gold, the Civil War, and the relentless push of white Americans into Indian lands. By the end of that pivotal year in the history of Montana—and in the history of the American West—Montana was the newest United States territory.
In Montana 1864, writer and scholar Ken Egan Jr. captures this momentous year with a tapestry of riveting stories about Indians, traders, gold miners, trail blazers, fortune-seekers, settlers, Vigilantes, and outlaws—the characters who changed Montana, and those who resisted the change with words and war.
Egan’s vivid narrative style immerses readers in the conflicting currents of western expansionism as it actually happened, providing a unique and thought-provoking examination of Montana’s beginnings.

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Review:

If ever there was a pivotal year for Montana, it was 1864, and the establishment of the Montana Territory was just the beginning.

In “Montana 1864: Indians, Emigrants and Gold in the Territorial Year,” Ken Egan takes a month-by-month look at young Montana with historical facts and fictional narrative.

Within three years, the white population surged from fewer than 1,000 to more than 20,000, with another 20,000 Native Americans.

“Montana in 1864 was more than the site of a contest of personal wills or even specific national goals it became a battleground over the sense of a nation, of an incorporated people, of the right to claim and inhabit the land as fully authentic human beings,” Egan wrote. “It became a struggle over the very meaning of what constitutes a people.”

In January, Hunkpapa Sioux pondered the defense of their homeland and “what agencies, what energies propel them to pack creaking wagons and follow lumbering oxen to seek some elusive, unlikely home beyond the great mountain ranges?”

And now gold, that slippery metal, calls many more to the headwaters of the Missouri, country long protected by remoteness and the determined resistance of the native people.

Meanwhile, Henry Plummer reclined on his bed in the bitter January cold in Bannack.

Dark-coated, bearded men, familiar to him from his time as sheriff of Bannack, surged into the cabin and promptly bound his hands. They seem remorseless, determined, imperturbable.

And Mollie Sheehan, 11, moved with childlike confidence through wild Virginia City after her Irish immigrant father failed to make a living in the Colorado gold fields.

As bright-eyed Mollie walks home from school, she is startled by the sight of five figures hanging from a roof beam, and two of those dead men are familiar to her: Clubfoot George, who had treated her kindly, and her own Jack Gallagher.

By July, Methodist minister Learner B. Stateler from Kentucky had crossed the Yellowstone River. He d preach in the cabins of Willow Creek and at the first Protestant church in Virginia City.

Rich in spirit but not material goods, Rev. Stateler reports an abundance of rattlesnakes, game and grass in his new home.

To the north 10 days later, the Four Georgians (only one actually a Georgian) find gold in Last Chance Gulch, beginning the stampede of a “veritable army that will descend on the obscure gulch, to tear it to bits and leave the mess and fight and die in hurdy-gurdy houses and back streets.”

In December, the first appointed chief justice to the new Montana Territory, Hezekiah Hosmer, calls for an end to mob rule in Virginia City, saying, “Let us then erect no more impromptu scaffolds. Let us inflict no more midnight executions.”

Egan is the director of Humanities Montana, and all author royalties go to support programs and grants.

--Great Falls Tribune

Egan‘s book artfully weaves together the tantalizing tales of Montana“s early history. This is a pleasure to read, perfect for anyone with an interest in Montana history. Richly developed characters, lively prose, and a richly nuanced sense of the moment. --Tim Lehman, Professor of History, Rocky Mountain College, Billings, MT

If ever there was a pivotal year for Montana, it was 1864, and the establishment of the Montana Territory was just the beginning.

In “Montana 1864: Indians, Emigrants and Gold in the Territorial Year,” Ken Egan takes a month-by-month look at young Montana with historical facts and fictional narrative.

Within three years, the white population surged from fewer than 1,000 to more than 20,000, with another 20,000 Native Americans.

“Montana in 1864 was more than the site of a contest of personal wills or even specific national goals it became a battleground over the sense of a nation, of an incorporated people, of the right to claim and inhabit the land as fully authentic human beings,” Egan wrote. “It became a struggle over the very meaning of what constitutes a people.”

In January, Hunkpapa Sioux pondered the defense of their homeland and “what agencies, what energies propel them to pack creaking wagons and follow lumbering oxen to seek some elusive, unlikely home beyond the great mountain ranges?”

And now gold, that slippery metal, calls many more to the headwaters of the Missouri, country long protected by remoteness and the determined resistance of the native people.

Meanwhile, Henry Plummer reclined on his bed in the bitter January cold in Bannack.

Dark-coated, bearded men, familiar to him from his time as sheriff of Bannack, surged into the cabin and promptly bound his hands. They seem remorseless, determined, imperturbable.

And Mollie Sheehan, 11, moved with childlike confidence through wild Virginia City after her Irish immigrant father failed to make a living in the Colorado gold fields.

As bright-eyed Mollie walks home from school, she is startled by the sight of five figures hanging from a roof beam, and two of those dead men are familiar to her: Clubfoot George, who had treated her kindly, and her own Jack Gallagher.

By July, Methodist minister Learner B. Stateler from Kentucky had crossed the Yellowstone River. He d preach in the cabins of Willow Creek and at the first Protestant church in Virginia City.

Rich in spirit but not material goods, Rev. Stateler reports an abundance of rattlesnakes, game and grass in his new home.

To the north 10 days later, the Four Georgians (only one actually a Georgian) find gold in Last Chance Gulch, beginning the stampede of a “veritable army that will descend on the obscure gulch, to tear it to bits and leave the mess and fight and die in hurdy-gurdy houses and back streets.”

In December, the first appointed chief justice to the new Montana Territory, Hezekiah Hosmer, calls for an end to mob rule in Virginia City, saying, “Let us then erect no more impromptu scaffolds. Let us inflict no more midnight executions.”

Egan is the director of Humanities Montana, and all author royalties go to support programs and grants.

--Great Falls Tribune

Nobody really knows how and when Missoula was “born.”

The best histories we have tell us C.P. Higgins, Frank Worden and David Pattee probably formed the Missoula Mills Co. in November 1864. Pattee, an experienced carpenter, probably headed a crew that began construction of a sawmill somewhere below the mouth of Rattlesnake Creek, probably that same month 150 years ago. Worden and Higgins probably moved their store and homes into town from Hell Gate, four miles to the west, the following year.

That --Missoulian

Montana 1864 by Ken Eagan, Jr., (Riverbend $19.95) is as important as it is entertaining, revealing the stories and connections that made up the fabric of Montana s Territorial Year of 1864. Though readers will be familiar with many of the characters and episodes revealed in the book, the format, the author s voice and his uncanny knack for making connections between them and the world at large offer a change in pitch that just may do a great service to the historiography of the state for years to come.

Eagan has an instinct for the difference between history and historiography and has a subtle hand to play in the choices he makes in sharing Montana s story. He uses the Montana Memorial Train of 1964 that traveled from the Treasure State to the Chicago World s Fair as a sort of touchstone and metaphor for the episodic choices he makes in the recounting of events both grand and ignominious. Even more than that, though, he has a striking appreciation for the packaging and marketing that has been part and parcel of Montana s story from the beginning, but he doesn t allow himself to be suckered in by the package.

Perhaps the most striking thing about this book is the fact that as an “anniversary” volume it offers much more than a paean to a glorious and wished-for past, placing Montana s territorial history in a context that it often lacks. By 1864, the country has been at war for years; the political, philosophical and physical rifts at work in the East have not been unfelt in the West. Eagan deftly reveals the relationships between the epic struggle of the Civil War without adopting a “meanwhile back at the ranch” tone to describe them. He is similarly gifted in his ability to draw connections between Montana s Native peoples and their voices and their struggles with the invading whites, be they miners or merchants.

The structure of the book is very appealing. For every month of the territorial year he relates what happened for several key characters, adopting a variety of points of view, and in so doing, capturing more truth (as opposed to “fact”) than is typical in a round-up of historical events timed for an anniversary. A book that should be read and discussed, Montana 1864 doesn t presume to reveal a series of facts and dates or an “official version” of what happened in that fateful year. Instead it paints a picture of what might have happened because of its close connection to the human story and humans hands in creating that story, and is all the more valuable for it.

--Big Sky Journal

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Book Description Riverbend Publishing, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. In 1864, vast herds of buffalo roamed the northern short-grass prairie and numerous Native American nations lived on both sides of the adjacent Continental Divide. Lewis and Clark had come and gone, and so had most of the fur trappers and mountain men. The land that would become Montana was mostly still the wild and untrammeled landscape it had been for millennia. That all changed in a single year--1864--because of gold, the Civil War, and the relentless push of white Americans into Indian lands. By the end of that pivotal year in the history of Montana--and in the history of the American West--Montana was the newest United States territory. In Montana 1864, writer and scholar Ken Egan Jr. captures this momentous year with a tapestry of riveting stories about Indians, traders, gold miners, trail blazers, fortune-seekers, settlers, Vigilantes, and outlaws--the characters who changed Montana, and those who resisted the change with words and war. Egan's vivid narrative style immerses readers in the conflicting currents of western expansionism as it actually happened, providing a unique and thought-provoking examination of Montana's beginnings. Seller Inventory # ANB9781606390764

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Book Description Riverbend Publishing, United States, 2014. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. In 1864, vast herds of buffalo roamed the northern short-grass prairie and numerous Native American nations lived on both sides of the adjacent Continental Divide. Lewis and Clark had come and gone, and so had most of the fur trappers and mountain men. The land that would become Montana was mostly still the wild and untrammeled landscape it had been for millennia. That all changed in a single year--1864--because of gold, the Civil War, and the relentless push of white Americans into Indian lands. By the end of that pivotal year in the history of Montana--and in the history of the American West--Montana was the newest United States territory. In Montana 1864, writer and scholar Ken Egan Jr. captures this momentous year with a tapestry of riveting stories about Indians, traders, gold miners, trail blazers, fortune-seekers, settlers, Vigilantes, and outlaws--the characters who changed Montana, and those who resisted the change with words and war. Egan's vivid narrative style immerses readers in the conflicting currents of western expansionism as it actually happened, providing a unique and thought-provoking examination of Montana's beginnings. Seller Inventory # ANB9781606390764

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