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Facts: Counties, Cities, and Towns (redirected from Facts and Information: Counties, Cities, and Towns)

Page history last edited by Jeff Malcomson 5 years, 10 months ago

View of the front exterior of the brick Custer County Courthouse in Miles City, Montana,, 1884; L. A. Huffman, photographer.

981-527

 


 

 

Counties

 

Montana has 56 counties, each rich in its own characters, places, and stories of local history.  The Montana Historical Society Research Center has placed many county history books online.  For geographical information and an interactive map of county boundary changes throughout Montana's history visit the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries' Montana page.

 

The History of County Creation

 

Montana is both a Latin and Spanish word for a mountainous region, a name first applied to the region in 1864. At this time, Sidney Edgerton, the chief justice of the Idaho territorial Supreme Court, persuaded congressman and chair of the House Committee on Territories James M. Ashley (Republican-Ohio) to carry forward a bill creating a new territory, which Ashley called "Montana." The bill was successful and President Abraham Lincoln signed it into law on May 26, 1864 (Malone, Roeder, and Lang, p. 95-96). Upon his appointment as territorial governor, Sidney Edgerton returned to Montana and designated Bannack as the temporary capital of the new territory.  Edgerton presided over the first legislature which on Feb. 2, 1865 created the territory’s nine original counties (Malone, Roeder, and Lang, p. 100).

 

Nine Original Counties (1865)

 

Creation Date

County

County Seat

Plate #

02 February 1865
Beaverhead
Dillon
18
02 February 1865
Big Horn (Custer)*
 
02 February 1865
Chouteau
Fort Benton
19
02 February 1865
Deer Lodge
Anaconda
30
02 February 1865
Gallatin
Bozeman
6
02 February 1865
Jefferson
Boulder
51
02 February 1865
Edgerton (Lewis and Clark)**
Helena
5
02 February 1865
Madison
Virginia City
25
02 February 1865
Missoula
Missoula
4

 

*Although created as one of Montana’s nine original counties, the first territorial legislature administratively attached Big Horn County to Gallatin County. The legislature changed the name of Big Horn County to Custer in Feb. 1877 following the June 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn. Big Horn County experienced a re-birth of sorts when in 1913 during Montana’s county splitting heyday the name was reused for a new county.

**The territorial legislature changed the name of Edgerton County to Lewis and Clarke County in 1867, fixing the spelling of "Clarke" at a later date.

 

Territorial Counties (1866-1888)

 

Creation Date

County

County Seat

Plate #

26 March 1866
Meagher
White Sulphur Springs
47
15 January 1869
Dawson
Glendive
16
16 February 1877
Custer (just a name change; see Big Horn above)
Miles City
14
16 February 1881
Silver Bow
Butte
1
16 February 1883
Yellowstone
Billings
3
12 March 1885
Fergus
Lewistown
8
23 February 1887
Park
Livingston
49
12 September 1887
Cascade
Great Falls
2

 

Early Statehood Counties (1889-1909)

 

Creation Date

County

County Seat

Plate #

06 February 1893
Flathead
Kalispell
7
06 February 1893
Valley
Glasgow
20
07 February 1893
Teton
Choteau
31
16 February 1893
Ravalli
Hamilton
13
02 March 1893
Granite
Philipsburg
46
04 March 1895
Carbon
Red Lodge
10
05 March 1895
Sweet Grass
Big Timber
40
01 March 1897
Broadwater
Townsend
43
31 January 1901
Powell
Deer Lodge
28
11 February 1901
Rosebud
Forsyth
29
07 February 1905
Sanders
Thompson Falls
35
09 March 1909
Lincoln
Libby
56

 

Homestead Boom Counties (1910-1925)

 

Creation Date

County

County Seat

Plate #

11 February 1911
Musselshell
Roundup
23
28 February 1912
Hill
Havre
12
02 March 1912
Blaine
Chinook
24
13 January 1913
Big Horn
Hardin
22
24 March 1913
Stillwater
Columbus
32
27 March 1913
Sheridan
Plentywood
34
09 December 1913
Fallon
Baker
39
07 May 1914
Toole
Shelby
21
03 June 1914
Richland
Sidney
27
07 August 1914
Mineral
Superior
54
17 August 1914
Wibaux
Wibaux
52
05 February 1915
Phillips
Malta
11
05 February 1915
Prairie
Terry
45
22 February 1917
Carter
Ekalaka
42
01 April 1917
Wheatland
Harlowton
44
07 February 1919
Garfield
Jordan
50
07 February 1919
Treasure
Hysham
33
12 February 1919
McCone
Circle
41
17 February 1919
Glacier
Cut Bank
38
17 February 1919
Pondera
Conrad
26
18 February 1919
Roosevelt
Wolf Point
17
07 March1919
Powder River
Broadus
9
11 February 1920
Liberty
Chester
48
08 March 1920
Golden Valley
Ryegate
53
01 June 1920
Daniels
Scobey
37
10 December 1920
Judith Basin
Stanford
36
10 August 1923
Lake
Polson
15
22 February 1925
Petroleum
Winnett
55

 

Cities and Towns

 

City and Town Incorporation in Montana

 

Initially, only the territorial legislature could create an incorporated municipality (a city or town).  Each of the following ten municipalities were created from 1864-1885 via a special act passed by the territorial legislature.

 

Year of Incorporation City or Town
1864 Virginia City
1864 Bannack City
1864 Nevada City
1867 Helena
1874 Bozeman
1874 Butte
1883 Fort Benton
1883 Missoula
1885 Dillon
1885 Billings

 

The 15th Territorial Legislative Assembly convened in Helena in 1887 and passed "An act relating to the formation of municipal corporations" establishing, among other things, a legal process allowing a majority of voters to incorporate a city or town.  This legal provision was incorporated into state law in 1895 as well and continues through to the present Montana Code.

 

Year of Incorporation City or Town
1887 Miles City
1888 Great Falls
1888 Anaconda
1888 White Sulphur Springs
1889 Red Lodge
1889 Livingston
1889 Deer Lodge
1890 Philipsburg
1890 Walkerville
  Townsend
1891 Havre
1891 Neihart
1892 Kalispell
1893 Sheridan
1894 Hamilton
1899 Stevensville
  Victor
1901 Lewistown
1901 Chinook
1901 Pony
1902 Big Timber
1902 Glasgow
1902 Glendive
1902 Twin Bridges
1904 Whitehall
1905 Bearcreek
1905 Whitefish
1906 Belgrade
1906 Joliet
1907 Belt
1907 Bridger
1907 Columbus
1907 Eureka
1907 Plains
1908 Forsyth
1908 Harlowton
1908 Laurel
1909 Columbia Falls
1909 Conrad
1909 Culbertson
1909 Libby
1909 Malta
1909 Roundup
1909 Poplar
1910 Harlem
1910 Moore
1910 Thompson Falls
1910 Three Forks
1910 Polson
1910 Shelby
1910 Terry
1910 Chester
1911 Cascade
1911 Wibaux
1911 Hardin
1911 Sidney
1911 Manhattan
1911 Stanford
1911 Baker
1911 Boulder
1911 Cut Bank
1912 Fromberg
1912 Plentywood
1913 Clyde Park
1913 Choteau
1913 Melstone
1914 Ekalaka
1914 Fairview
1915 Froid
1915 Geraldine
1915 Grass Range
1915 Medicine Lake
1915 Denton
1915 Big Sandy
1916 Hysham
1916 Westby
1916 Ismay
1916 Outlook
1916 Plevna
1916 Winnett
1916 Darby
1917 Lima
1917 Scobey
1917 Ryegate
1917 Troy
1918 Hingham
1918 Nashua
1918 Saco
1918 Winifred
1918 Wolf Point
1920 Alberton
1920 Hobson
1920 Lavina
1920 Dodson
  Antelope
  Geyser
  Judith Gap
  Lambert
  Ronan
  Valier
1923 Sweet Grass
1923 Sunburst
1926 Kevin
1927 East Helena
1927 Lodge Grass
1928 Opheim
1929 Hot Springs
1929 Circle
  Bainville
  Broadview
  Browning
1935 Dutton
1938 St. Ignatius
1940 Fairfield
1945 Drummond
1946 Broadus
1948 Superior
1949 Richey
1951 Jordan
1953 Brockton
1955 Flaxville
1956 Ennis
1966 Rexford
1966 West Yellowstone

 

 Montana Historical Society Research Center

 225 North Roberts, P.O. Box 201201, Helena, MT 59620-1201, 406-444-2681, 406-444-2696 (fax).

 mhslibrary@mt.gov

 

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