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James Sanks Brisbin papers, 1850-1891

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Brisbin, James S. (James Sanks), 1837-1892
Title
James Sanks Brisbin papers
Dates
1850-1891 (inclusive)
Quantity
2 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 39 (collection)
Summary
James Brisbin, a Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, native, served as an Army officer in the Civil War and the Indian Wars, 1868-1891. He was stationed at Fort Ellis, Fort Assiniboine, Fort Custer, Montana Territory, and many other western forts. Brisbin was also a writer and publicist. The collection contains a small amount of correspondence (1860-1890), and writings (1850-1891) concerning the Army, the Indian Wars, the West, and Montana Territory.
Repository
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
59620-1201
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
mhslibrary@mt.gov
Access Restrictions

Collection open for research.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

James Sanks Brisbin was born at Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, May 23, 1837. He attended Boalsburg academy and received a college education. Upon completion of his schooling, he purchased and edited the Centre Democrat, at Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. During the same period, Brisbin studied law and was later admitted to the bar of Pennsylvania. He was known in Pennsylvania as an anti-slavery orator. He enlisted in the Union Army in 1861, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the First Dragoons. Brisbin subsequently served in both major theaters of the war, as a line officer, staff officer, and organizer of regiments of Negro cavalry. In this latter capacity he was promoted to Colonel of the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry. During his war service, Brisbin attained the commissioned rank of captain and the brevet rank of major general of volunteers. After the war he remained in the regular army, aiding in the establishment of the Freedman's Bureau and in organizing the colored regiments. In 1868 he was stationed in the West. From 1868 until the time of his death in 1892, Brisbin served in the northwestern United States as an officer in several cavalry regiments, including the Second, Ninth, First, and Eighth regiments. During his western career, he was a staff officer, battalion or squadron commander, post commander, and regimental commander; and served at Fort D. A. Russell, Fort Pease on the Yellowstone River, Boise Barracks, Omaha Barracks, Camp Stambaugh, Fort Ellis, Fort Assiniboine, Fort Keogh, Fort Custer, Fort Niobrara, Fort Robinson, Fort McKinney, and finally at Fort Meade in South Dakota. At the time of his death Brisbin was a colonel in command of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment and was in command at Fort Meade. In 1882 Brisbin purchased a ranch on the Yellowstone River and was very interested in agriculture, land, and cattle ranching, for which he acquired the nickname "Grasshopper Jim". He was also a prolific writer. His most widely known works are The Beef Bonanza and Beldon, the White Chief. Brisbin was a very active publicist and drew heavily upon his experiences and observations in the West to promote the area and its resources. Throughout his career he was a constant contributor of articles and letters to Eastern periodicals on a wide range of subjects. On June 15, 1861 James Brisbin married Mary Jane Wagner. The Brisbin's had four children, John, Marguerita, Alfred, and Catherine. Brisbin's wife died at Fort McKinney in 1887. He married his second wife, Amelia Wilson, in 1891 in Red Wing, Minnesota. In the 1880s due to failing health Brisbin was transferred to the east and resided in Red Wing. He died January 14, 1892 in Philadelphia and was buried in Red Wing, Minnesota.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Papers. 1853-1891. 2 linear feet. This collection consists almost exclusively of drafts and copies of James S. Brisbin's writings. These writings generally focus on his army career, the Plains Indian and the Indian Wars, and other facets of his experiences in the Northwest. Also included are articles and handwritten copies of letters to newspapers on a wide variety of topics. The collection also contains a small amount of correspondence, including Civil War era letters, family letters and correspondence on Brisbin's military career in the West. A portion of this collection has been microfilmed (Microfilm 328).

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection

Biographical Materials Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 1
Personal record; special statement
1861, undated

Incoming Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 2
B-H (correspondents include J.V. Bogert; D.W. Benham; O.B. Harlan [?])
1865-1877, undated
1 / 3
Edmund Shurley
undated
1 / 4
S-W (correspondents include A.G. Shaw; C.R. Wade; unidentified)
1868-1888

Outgoing Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 5
Ezra Brisbin (re political conditions)
November 1860
1 / 6
W.B. Kelley (re organization of the Army)
1877
1 / 7
Miscellaneous (correspondents include Statesman; wife Jane Brisbin; brother; U.S. Congress Committee on Public Lands; Col. George L. Andrews; Gen. E.S. Godfrey)
1867-1892

Miscellaneous Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 8
Letter from unidentified man to his brother
1868

Legal Documents Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 9
Power of attorney
1876
Container(s) Description Dates
Oversize Folder
1
Map of Kittson County, Minnesota [Map Case]
undated
Box/Folder
1 / 10
List of maps transferred to Library Map Collection

Reports Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 11
James S. Brisbin's report to General Sheridan on Indian agency fraud [draft]
1878
1 / 12
Appendix A [to Brisbin report]: Charles W. Hoffman statement
1878
1 / 13
Appendix B and E: Horace Countryman affidavit
1876
1 / 14
Appendix C: William Carr affidavit
1874
1 / 15
Appendix D: George Town affidavit
1876
1 / 16
Appendix F and L: H.A. Searls affidavit
1876
1 / 17
Appendix H: Charles W. Hoffman affidavit
undated
1 / 18
Appendix I: Ed Ball statement
1878
1 / 19
Appendix J: William B. McAdow affidavit
undated
1 / 20
Appendix K: Ed Ball, A.J. Hunter, and James Wilson affidavits
undated
1 / 21
Appendix M: George Town affidavit
1876
1 / 22
Appendix N: Ed Ball affidavit
undated
1 / 23
Appendix O, P, and Q: J.R. Wilson and C.L. Clark affidavits; Rev. T.C. Iliff statement
undated
1 / 24
Appendix S: Ed Ball report
1878
1 / 25
Appendix T: George S. Browning report
1878
1 / 26
Appendix V: George W. Frost indictment
1878
1 / 27
Appendix W: Henry C. Countryman, James Walters, Milligan, L. Bravo, J. Siverin, and C. Winckel affidavits
1878
1 / 28
Appendix X: H.C. Bulis orders
1878

Speeches Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 29
Death of Senator John Logan
1886
1 / 30
Fourth of July speech
1858
1 / 31
Fourth of July speech, Crawford, Nebraska
1889
1 / 32
"George Washington"
1881
1 / 33
Miscellaneous
1850s-1880s

Writings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1 / 34
"Adventures in the Far West, or Life in the Regular Army"
undated
1 / 35
"Adventures in the Far West Recalled from an Indian Campaign"
circa 1887
1 / 36
"Alfalfa: California Notes"
1875
1 / 37
"The Alfalfa Question"
1887
1 / 38
"An Appeal for the Army" (re the Springer Bill)
1888
1 / 39
Army
1888, undated
2 / 1
"Army Sports Out West"
circa 1882
2 / 2
"Bear Story"
undated
2 / 3
"Beef, Beef, Beef"
1884
2 / 4
"The Beef Kingdom"
1884
2 / 5
"The Beef Supply"
1882
2 / 6
"A Big Horn Hunt" (Belden: the White Chief, chapter 24)
circa 1871
2 / 7
"A Bit of History: Xerxes"
undated
2 / 8
"Black Canon of the Big Horn, Goblin Land"
circa 1890
2 / 9
Black Hills of South Dakota
1875
2 / 10
Brisbin's life in the Army
undated
2 / 11
"The British Disserters"
undated
2 / 12
"A Buffalo Hunt" (Belden: the White Chief, chapter 25)
circa 1871
2 / 13
California
1876, 1878
2 / 14
"Cattle Growing Out West"
undated
2 / 15
"Cheyenne Indians" [outline for Captain Ewers)
undated
2 / 16
"Chicago's Indian Fighter" (re Edmund Shurley)
1889
2 / 17
"Close of a Great Political Campaign"
1886
2 / 18
Crow Indian lands
circa 1881
2 / 19
"Evidence that Diseased Pleuro-Pneumonial Cattle Are Sold for Human Food"
1884
2 / 20
"Farewell" [poem]
undated
2 / 21
"The Farmer's Daughter" [poem]
1856
2 / 22
"Field Notes: Glimpses of Army Life for Harper"
circa 1876
2 / 23
"Glimpses of Poe's Life"
1879
2 / 24
"The Grand National Concert"
circa 1877
2 / 25
"A Great Indian Battle" (re Wagon Box fight)
circa 1888
2 / 26
"The Great Kentucky Crow Roost"
undated
2 / 27
"The Great Republic Lode"
undated
2 / 28
"Horse Growing Out West" (Beef Bonanza chapter 11)
circa 1881
2 / 29
"Hymen and Cupid" (re marriage and romantic love)
1850s
2 / 30
Indian Legends #1-19 [missing #4, #5, and #8]
undated
2 / 31
"Information for the People" (includes "A Curious Cat Fight" and "Public Land Becoming Scarce")
1891
3 / 1
Jefferson Davis
undated
3 / 2
"Justice to the Indian"
1886
3 / 3
"The King Maker" (re the Earl of Warwick)
circa 1886
3 / 4
"The Language of Signs" (includes glossary)
undated
3 / 5
"Life, Travel in the West, including the Custer Massacre"
circa 1883
3 / 6
"Maginnis Gold Mines"
1882
3 / 7
"Maxims of War" (re military science)
undated
3 / 8
"Montana" (re agricultural and mineral potential)
1878
3 / 9
National Indian policy
1878-1881
3 / 10
Nebraska
1875-1886, undated
3 / 11
Negroes
undated
3 / 12
"The New American Gold Fields" (re northern Idaho)
1884
3 / 13
"New Facts about Lincoln's Assassination"
1890
3 / 14
"The New West"
1890
3 / 15
"A Night in the Rebel Army"
1887
3 / 16
"Not Only Across but Up and Down the Continent" [outline of proposed book]
undated
3 / 17
"Origins of the War" (re Sioux Indian War of 1866-1868; two versions)
1877, 1889
3 / 18
"Our Indian Problem"
1889
3 / 19
"Our Public Domain"
undated
3 / 20
"The Poe Controversy"
1879
3 / 21
Politics
undated
3 / 22
"The Powder River Country"
circa 1874
3 / 23
Precious metals production (re mining)
circa 1885
3 / 24
Reconstruction in Kentucky (two incomplete versions)
circa 1867
4 / 1-4
"Red Men of America" (book on Indians)
1881
4 / 5
"The Regular Army"
circa 1874
4 / 6
"Remarkable Indians" #1-8 (re Attakullakulla; Totapia; Woman Thief; Catherine Wabose; Black Beaver; John Bushman; Jim Ned; and Mahtotohpa)
undated
4 / 7
"Report of a Talk with Crow Chiefs at Ft. Custer, Mont."
1891
4 / 8
"Resources and Interests of Nebraska" #1, #3, #6, #8 (re tree growing, forest culture, etc.)
1873
4 / 9
Retirement of General John P. Hatch
1886
4 / 10
"A Ringing Army Letter" (re the Springer Bill)
1888
4 / 11
Santees (portion of Belden, the White Chief in different form)
circa 1871
4 / 12
"Scalps, etc." (Belden, the White Chief, chapter 16)
circa 1871
4 / 13
"Sheep Growing Out West (Beef Bonanza, chapters 8-9)
circa 1881
4 / 14
"Sioux Language, a Complete Dictionary of the Sioux Language As Spoken by that Great and Warlike Tribe of the Plains"
undated
4 / 15
"Sketches of Noted Frontiersmen" (includes Jim Bridger, Sir George Gore, Mariano, Clyburn, Juan Galvan, and Captain Martin Scott)
1872
4 / 16
"The Snake Lands"
1878
4 / 17
"Steamboating on the Missouri" or "Sitting Bull's Country" (two versions of article)
1884
4 / 18
"Tracing the Red Men" (re origins of different Indian tribes?????)
undated
4 / 19
"The True Story of Poe's Life"
1879
5 / 1
"Under What King This Year?" (re American trotting horses)
1884
5 / 2
"Wants the Army Washed"
circa 1886
5 / 3
"The West"
1882
5 / 4
"What the Census Tells Us" (includes "Our Country," "The Roll of the States," "Our Agricultural Wealth," and "The Christian Religions in the United States")
circa 1881, 1888
5 / 5
"Where Gold Is"
1885
5 / 6
"William the Conquerer"
circa 1873
5 / 7
"Woman"
1853
5 / 8
Women
undated
5 / 9
Miscellaneous fragments
undated

Miscellany Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
5 / 10
The Brady Guards of Boalsburg, Pennsylvania
1859
5 / 11
Constitution of the International Cattle and Horse Growers Congress
undated
5 / 12
"Flatboating down the Yellowstone" (written by unidentified woman)
undated
5 / 13
Folk songs
undated
5 / 14
Indian speeches (copied by Brisbin from various sources)
undated
5 / 15
List of artifacts transferred to Museum
5 / 16
Messages from post commanders, etc. [copies]
1875-1876
5 / 17
Proposed bill allowing Brisbin's retirement as a brigadier general
circa 1887
5 / 18
"St. Xavier's Mission", written by P. Prando, S.J.
1890
5 / 19
Songs of Horace Greeley's presidential campaign
1872
5 / 20
Testimony of Two Belly Woman
1877