Donlan Family Papers, circa 1850-1970  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Donlan Family
Donlan Family Papers
circa 1850-1970 (inclusive)
1.0 linear foot
Collection Number
Mss 427 (collection)
The Donlan Family were early Missoula, Montana, settlers. The bulk of the collection contains materials Arthur Donlan collected about Missoula, Hellgate, and particularly Frenchtown, Montana,history from the 1850s to the 1970s.
University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 406-243-2053
Fax: 406-243-4067
Access Restrictions

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and The University of Montana--Missoula.

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

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Edward Donlan was born on July 28, 1867, in Chapeau, Quebec. As a youth, he worked in the woods of Quebec. At age 18, he came to the United States and spent five years in various parts of the country before coming to Montana. He received his first job as a Great Northern Railway section hand at Neihart in the spring of 1890. Later that same year, he came to Missoula, Montana, and worked in the Hanratty and Tillman sawmill near Frenchtown, Montana. This property later became part of the Donlan family ranch. Donlan opened a sawmill in 1905 and for the next 25 years, was engaged in western Montana logging operations. He formed a partnership with Joe Moderie and the two contracted for William A. Clark's Milltown, Montana, sawmill beginning in 1917. Around 1930, Donlan retired from the logging business. He expanded the ranching operations he undertook around 1910 near Frenchtown. In 1946, he relinquished part of this property to his son, Arthur, and sold the rest. Donlan established the Frenchtown Irrigation District in 1936, through which 5000 acres were brought under cultivation. In 1940, Edward Donlan passed his position to Arthur.

Edward Donlan represented Missoula County in both houses of the Montana Legislature. He was first elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican in 1900. Between 1902 and 1912, he was elected to the Senate. He was reelected in 1918 and 1920. He also ran in the 1908 gubernatorial race. Materials related to Donlan's political career appear in the Mansfield Library's edition of Cartoons and Caricatures of Prominent Men of Montana by artist J.C. Terry. This copy was owned by Donlan and has been personalized with letters and newspaper clippings.

Donlan married Josephine Tickler in Butte, Montana, on October 8, 1895. They resided in Missoula until Josephine's death in 1950, after which Edward Donlan lived with Arthur on the family's Frenchtown ranch. Edward Donlan died on May 1, 1952.

Arthur T. Donlan was a farmer in the Frenchtown Valley for fifty years. He was born on November 20, 1902 in Missoula, Montana, to Edward and Josephine Donlan. He attended grade school in Missoula and Gonzaga Prep School in Spokane, Washington. He later attended the University of Montana. He worked with his father in the lumber business before he began his fifty year career as a farmer.

Donlan was active in the Missoula and Frenchtown communities. He worked to bring electricity, irrigation, and telephone services to the Frenchtown Valley. He was a board member of the Frenchtown Irrigation District and the first president of the Frenchtown Fire District. He was co-editor of the book Frenchtown Valley Footsteps. He was also a trustee of the Frenchtown School Board and served on the Korean War draft board. He served as the director of the Ft. Missoula Ghost Town Historical Museum and was a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Knights of Columbus, and the Senior Citizens Center. Donlan married Majorie Dauterman in Butte, Montana, on October 24, 1932. They had two sons, Michael and Patrick. Donlan died on September 30, 1982, in Missoula.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The bulk of the collection is materials Arthur Donlan collected about Missoula, Hellgate, and particularly Frenchtown, Montana, history from the 1850s to the 1970s. These historical materials include clippings from newspapers and other publications, pamphlets, published and unpublished manuscripts, an oral history transcript, and notes and chronologies compiled by Arthur Donlan. The collection also contains a one volume scrapbook of Ed Donlan's political career from about 1912 - 1920. A smaller portion of the collection contains official documents, correspondence, and photographs. The collection contains photographs of the Montana Senate and the Thirty-Third degree members of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, 1909 to 1926.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes. Copyright not transferred to The University of Montana.

Preferred Citation

[Name of document or photograph number], Donlan Family Papers, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana--Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Official Documents , 1860-1937Return to Top

2 folders

The series contains the abstract for the Donlan family's Frenchtown, Montana farm. The abstract traces the history of the property's holders from 1883 until 1937. The series also contains a copy of poll lists for the Willow Creek District, 1864, and data for the Bitterroot Valley extracted from the 1860 federal census.

The series is arranged chronologically.
Container(s) Description Dates
Farm Abstract
Bitterroot Valley census, Willow Creek poll list

Series II:  Correspondence , 1971-1975Return to Top

1 folder

The series contains letters to Arthur and Marjorie Donlan. One letter is from the National Archives to Marjorie Donlan with a complete list of Frenchtown, Huson, and Stark, Montana, postmasters appointed until 1971. Other letters have to do with Frenchtown history inquiries. There is also a letter concerning the Missoula City Electric Company

The series is arranged chronologically.
Container(s) Description Dates
Letters, Marjorie and Arthur Donlan

Series III:  Histories , circa 1850-1970Return to Top

4 folders

The series contains historical information on Montana and in particular, Frenchtown history, collected by Arthur Donlan. There are unpublished manuscripts concerning history and biographies pertaining to individuals and families in the Frenchtown area. There are also clippings from books, newspapers, and magazines concerning Montana history and Frenchtown history, in addition to pamphlets on subjects such as missionaries, mining and fur trapping. There is a manuscript of data collected by Arthur Donlan for a talk he delivered in 1976. There is also a history of the Frenchtown School District. One notable item is a St. John's Day scrapbook from St. John's Catholic Church in Frenchtown, containing budget information, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from annual celebrations, 1952-1961. Another notable item is an oral history transcript entitled The Reminiscences of Arthur R. Deschamps, Sr. There are also items related to bicentennial celebrations in Montana, 1976.

The series also contains a scrapbook of Edward Donlan's political career, circa 1912-1920. The scrapbook contains newspaper clippings of campaign advertisements, columns, and editorial cartoons. Other notable items include the resolution passed by the Montana Senate in 1952 in memory of Ed Donlan, a mounted newspaper article entitled The Strong Men of the Tenth, about Donlan's leadership in the Senate, and a book of Legislative Lyrics by "Si" Perkins about the 1917 legislature.

The series is arranged by subject and chronologically, wherever possible.
Container(s) Description Dates
Church clippings and St. John's Day scrapbook
Montana and Frenchtown unpublished histories and biographies
circa 1850-1970
Montana and Frenchtown histories and biographies from publications
circa 1850-1970
Bicentennial materials
Edward Donlan political scrapbook
circa 1912-1920

Series IV:  Photographs , 1909-1926Return to Top

8 photographs, 6 oversize

The series includes photographs of Montana legislative and Thirty-Third Degree members of the A & A.S.R. Edward Donlan appears in some of these photographs. There is also a photograph of the Sherburne Mercantile in Browning, Montana, undated.

Container(s) Description Dates
427(IV)1: Sherburne Mercantile, Browning, Montana
427(IV)2: Montana Legislature members
January 27, 1909
427(IV)3: Montana Legislature members on Capital steps
427(IV)4: Thirteenth Legislative Assembly of the Montana Senate
427(IV)5: Senate on Capital steps, Sixteenth Legislative Assembly, Ed Donlan pictured
Jan. 7, 1919
427(IV)6: Senate on Capital steps, 17th Legislative Assembly of Montana
427(IV)7: Portrait of the Thirty-Third Degree members
Dec. 28, 1923
427(IV)8: Members of the Thirty-Third Degree Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite
January 8, 1926

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Canadian Americans--Montana--Missoula County
  • Freemasons--Montana--Photographs
  • General stores--Montana--Browning--Photographs
  • Legislators--Montana
  • Corporate Names :
  • Montana. Legislative Assembly. Senate
  • Montana. Legislative Assembly. Senate--Photographs
  • Scottish Rite (Masonic order)
  • Sherburne Mercantile Company (Browning, Mont.)--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Frenchtown (Mont.)--History
  • Hell Gate (Missoula County, Mont.)--History
  • Missoula (Mont.)--History
  • Montana--Politics and government--20th century
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Photographs--Montana
  • Scrapbooks--Montana
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Donlan, Arthur T., 1902-1982
    • Donlan, Edward, 1867-1952