• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Facts: Montana Firsts: People (redirected from Montana Facts: Montana Firsts: People)

Page history last edited by Maggie 1 year, 10 months ago

Homestead Shacks






First White Children Born in Montana

Gold Creek

  • According to the autobiographical sketch written by Alvina T. Pelkey in 1923 and published in The Report of the Historian of the Society of Montana Pioneers for 1924 "I was born at St. Louis Missouri, on the 22nd day of May, 1845. When but fourteen years of age, I was married to Augustus G. Pelkey in St. Louis and it was there that our first child was born. In April, 1861, when this child was six months old, with others we decided to go to Montana..... Six months of travel and we reached the Missoula valley in the fall, wintering through a hard winter. The men found no work that winter. In the spring of 1862 we went to Gold Creek where our second child (Mary Louise) was born, the first white girl in that part of Montana, her cousin, Jeff Pelkey, being the first white child of Montana."(Alvina and Augustus Pelkey; Vertical Files)


Alder Gulch

  • H. I. Wilson of Sheridan, Madison County, claims that he was first boy born in Alder Gulch on April 26, 1864. However, pioneers claim that the first white child born in Alder Gulch was Jefferson Doggett on October 29, 1863. (Alder Gulch; Vertical Files)


Who was the first white woman in Montana?

There are many contenders for this distinction. Several possibilities include:

  • The Missoulian newspaper reported that "in the spring or summer of 1855 Henry G. Miller and his wife Minnie accompanied Dr. Lansdale, who was an agent for the Flathead, from Fort Hall to this country." The article explains that "Mrs. Miller was born in Vermont and brought up Mormon, and resided with her parents at North Ogden, Utah, at the time of her marriage, contrary to their wishes, and which resulted in the departure of the newly-wedded couple for Fort Hall, in order to escape the Mormon wrath. Mrs. Miller was not more than sixteen years of age when she came to this county, and remained here for more than one year without seeing a women, other than Indian squaws and half-breeds of the country." (Missoulian, January 20, 1875)


  • According to the Silver State newspaper, Mrs. Alva Mason was the first white woman to set foot on Montana soil. Mrs. Mason was married to Hugh O'Neil in Utah and the young couple came to Montana on horseback, arriving at Fort Missoula on August 20, 1858. The news article continues, "Being the first white women in Montana and the first one the Indians had ever seen, she was held by them in great wonder and accorded all respect of a princess of their own people." (Silver State, Deer Lodge, January 28, 1915)


  • The February 24, 1941 Montana News Association News Inserts, reported that Mrs. Tom Brown was the first woman in Montana. The article explained that when Mrs. Brown was a young girl in Scotland a Lord was taking his lady out to the Selkirk (Red river) settlements, wished to engage a maid to go with them. She was the only one in her village bold enough to go. Mrs. Brown explains "we went to the Red river; it was very lonesome there, and most of the time I had to stay inside the stockade, and it was there I met my man and fell in love with him. The lady who had brought me from Scotland objected to our marriage. After her death I was offered my passage home but declined it to marry my man" The family left the Red river settlement in 1857 to go to Colville, and their road took them through the northwestern part of what is now Montana. They spent one winter at the Hudson’s Bay post on the Pruin River on the Jocko reservation. (Montana News Association News Inserts, February 24, 1941 (1))



Run a State Agency

  • Mrs. M. L. Cunningham was appointed Matron-in-charge of the Montana Deaf and Dumb Asylum in 1893. (First Annual Report of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum to the State Board of Education, year ending December 1, 1895, Helena, MT, State Publishing Company, 1896, p. 7-9)


Elected to Public Office

  • Helen Piotopowaka Clarke, 1848-1923, the first woman elected to public office in Montana. Miss Clarke was elected Lewis and Clark County Superintendent of schools in 1882, again in 1884. She was the daughter of an employee of the American Fur Company and a Blackfeet woman. She was educated in the East where she had a brief career as an actress before returning to Montana to become a teacher. (Helena Independent Record, June 15, 1995)


  • Jeannette Rankin, 1880-1973, was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Rankin was a pacifist, suffragist, prohibitionist, and social activist. As congresswoman she voted against declaration of war in 1917 and again in 1941. (Jeannette Rankin; Vertical Files)



  • Margaret Macumber, first women to file for a homestead after the passage of the homestead law on September 8, 1870. The homestead file was for half of the southeast quarter and the east half of the Northeast quarter of section 24, two south, range 5 east, in Gallatin County. (Kalispell Times, September 19, 1918)



  • Barbara Meyer, a Valley county native and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roman Stein of Glasgow, was Montana's first certified lady jockey. (Glasgow Courier, August 6, 1970)



  • Felicite Sanchez, first women ever incarcerated in the Montana Penitentiary, 1878. She was sentenced to three years by the District of Missoula county for the crime of manslaughter. According to the newspaper account "she arrived about noon on Tuesday in charge of Thomas K. Andrews, Deputy Sheriff. Being taken by the officer, she put her feet on the stove and proceeded to roll a cigarette, which she fabricated with great skill and smoked with manifest enjoyment." (New North-West, Deer Lodge, December 6, 1878)



  • Florence Fogler, of Billings, was the first woman elected to the American Insitute of Electrical Engineers ("Roundup Tribune", January 10, 1916)


Perform a marriage

  • Mrs. John Duff was the first woman Justice of the Peace to perform a marriage in Montana. She presided over the marriage of John Hahn of Missoula and Ethel Tritt of Chinook. ("Harlem News", May 14, 1915)



  • Judge W. I. Lippincott of Butte was the first stenographer in Montana. He transcribed the stenographic notes of the 1884 Constitutional Convention and created a complete record of the convention. (W. I. Lippincott; Vertical Files)


 Return to Montana Firsts


Return to Top of Page


 Montana Historical Society Research Center

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



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.