William C. Orr Family Papers, 1902-1971  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Orr, William C. (William Crosby), 1829-1901
William C. Orr Family Papers
1902-1971 (inclusive)
1.5 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 217
William Orr was a partner in the Poindexter and Orr Livestock Company in Dillon, Montana. Collection (1902-1971) includes ranch records; business and fraternal papers of Orr's son John T. Orr, including the Orr photographic studio; correspondence of Orr's grandsons John Orr, Jr. and Matt Orr during World War II; and records of family activities in DeMolay, PEO, Delphians, etc. [Photographs, artifacts, and printed materials transferred to the Photograph Archives, Museum, and Library respectively.]
Montana Historical Society, Research Center Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

William Crosby Orr was born in Ireland on April 11, 1829, the son of Nathan and Hannah Turney Orr. The family immigrated to America in 1833, locating in Ohio. William Orr attended school in Ohio and then worked as a carriagemaker in Mississippi. He later moved west, starting a ranch in northern California. In 1856 Orr formed a partnership with Philip H. Poindexter that purchased and drove cattle, and operated butcher shops in mining districts in Idaho and Montana territories. In 1866 Orr moved to Beaverhead County, Montana Territory, and the partnership relocated there breeding horses, cattle, and sheep, on a 30,000-acre ranch. Poindexter and Orr Cattle Live Stock Company had the Masonic square and compass emblem for its brand. Both Orr and Poindexter were Masons and Knights Templars. Orr was also the proprietor of The Percheron Ranch located at Red Rock, and The Central Stables at Dillon. Orr married Rachel Cunnard in 1869. The couple had six sons: Matthew, Ernest, William II, Charles, Bert, and John. William C. Orr died on May 11, 1901. Matthew Orr owned the electric light and power plant in Dillon. Bert Orr managed the cattle business for Poindexter and Orr. William C. Orr, Jr., was a veterinarian in Butte. Ernest Orr moved to Alaska; his son, William C. Orr, III, received the Legion of Honor from the Order of DeMolay in 1930, and was killed in a car accident in 1934. John Turney Orr was born on September 21, 1881, in Dillon, Montana Territory. He attended schools in Dillon and Butte. He was a photographer in Dillon operating the Orr Studio in the 1930s and 1940s. He also operated the John T. Orr Auto Company and developed the "Orr carburetor". He was president of Poindexter and Orr Livestock Company until 1943 when the company was sold. Orr was an active Mason, receiving his master Masons degree from Dillon Lodge in 1906. He served as treasurer of the Red Cross of Constantine, Grand Commander of Knights of Templar (1944), and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Montana (1940). He was also active in the Order of DeMolay, the Order of Rainbow for Girls, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Orr, a Democrat, was an alderman for the city of Dillon for fifteen years. John T. Orr married Iva Lea Benedick of Hill, Montana, in 1918. Iva Orr attended the Montana State Normal College and was licensed to teach in the state. She was active in the Delphian Society of Dillon and the Montana State P.E.O. Sisterhood. The couple had two sons, John T. (Jack), Jr., and Matthew. Both sons were active in DeMolay and the Masons, and both served in the armed forces during World War II; Jack in the U.S. Naval Reserves and Matt in the Marines. Jack married Ruth (Susie) Fahey in 1944 and Matt married Evelyn Larson in 1952. John T. Orr, Sr., died in Dillon in May 24, 1956.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Papers. 1902 -1971. 1.5 linear feet. The William C. Orr Family Papers include biographical material; general correspondence (1906-1959), including letters written by John T. (Jack), Jr., and Matthew Orr to their parents during service in the armed forces during World War II; financial records (1907-1958), including account books from Poindexter and Orr Livestock Company and the Northern Cattle Company; subject files (1911-1963), including materials for the DeMolay, Rainbow Girls, Elks, Masonic, P.E.O., and Delphian organizations, and family businesses such as Orr Studio, John T. Orr Auto Company, Poindexter and Orr Livestock Company, and Poindexter and Orr Townsite Company; miscellany; and clippings. [Artifacts, photographs, and printed materials have been separated to the Museum, Photo Archives, and Library respectively.]

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
1 / 1
John T. Orr; John T. (Jack) Orr, Jr.; Matthew J. Orr
1936-1940, n.d.

General Correspondence Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 2
John T. (Jack) Orr, Jr. to parents (re U.S. Naval Reserve, Whitman College, Midshipmen's School at Cornell University, and The Palm in San Francisco
1 / 3-4
Matthew J. Orr to parents (re stationed in San Diego, Guadalcanal, Guam, and other aspects of World War II)
1 / 5
Ruth "Susie" Fahey Orr (Mrs. John T. Orr, Jr.)
1 / 6
1906-1959, n.d.

Financial Records Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 7
"Account P. and O. Co." (daybook, ledger including Sweet Grass roundup statistics for 1908)
1 / 8
Daybook for "N. Cat. Co." (Poindexter and Orr Livestock Company accounts kept by Bert Orr)
2 / 1
"Day book account P. & O N. C. Co."
2 / 2
Ranch account book (includes Sweet Grass roundup, cattle gathered from Canada and Galata)
2 / 3
Ranch ledger
1909-1910, 1920-1921
2 / 4
Ranch Ledger/Journal (includes cavalry horse account for 1910)
2 / 5
Ranch ledger
3 / 1
Miscellaneous (includes daybook, account work sheets, taxes, invoices, receipts)
1912-1958, n.d.

Subject Files Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
3 / 2
Beaverhead Chapter of the Order of DeMolay
3 / 3
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Dillon
1931-1945, n.d.
3 / 4
Dillon Delphian Society
3 / 5
John T. Orr Auto Company / The Orr Carburetor
1911-1913, n.d.
3 / 6-7
Masonic Lodge of Montana / Dillon Masonic Lodge (includes interpretations of Masonic procedures by Lew L. Callaway of Helena)
3 / 8
Montana State P.E.O Sisterhood
3 / 9
Order of Rainbow for Girls
3 / 10-11
Orr Studio
4 / 1
Poindexter and Orr Livestock Company
1934-1941, n.d.
4 / 2
Poindexter and Orr Townsite Company
1937, n.d.

Writings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
4 / 3
"The Dingy Courtroom"; "In the Case of Caroline McCall"; "Life in These United States"; "Early Bvhd. [Beaverhead] Co. Schools"; "The Old Orr Home"; "E.B. (Bud) Sprinkle"
1902-1971, n.d.

Miscellany Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
4 / 4
Letterhead; certificates and membership cards
4 / OVFD
Iva lea Benedick's normal school certificate
4 / 5
John T. Orr geology notebook

Clippings Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
4 / 6
1930-1951, n.d.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Freemasons. Grand Lodge of Montana
  • Horse Industry
  • Photographers
  • Ranching
  • World War, 1939-1945--Protest Movements
  • Geographical Names :
  • Beaverhead County (Mont.)
  • Cattle Ranch
  • Dillon (Mont.)
  • Poindexter and Orr Ranch (Dillon, Mont.)