Clifton B. Worthen-James Fergus Collection, 1884-1955  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Collector
Burlingame, Merrill G., 1901- 1994
Title
Clifton B. Worthen-James Fergus Collection
Dates
1884-1955
Quantity
.6 linear feet
Collection Number
Collection 913, MtBC, us (collection)
Summary
The Clifton B. Worthen-James Fergus Collection is a combination of original documents, photocopies, and typed transcripts. The materials document both the intellectual pursuits of Clifton B. Worthen as a historian and teacher, as well as the pioneer experiences of the James Fergus family. Subjects includes: history of central Montana, especially Fergus County and the Judith Basin, the vigilante activity of 1884, the DHS Ranch, the Lewis and Clark expedition, Montana politics and elections, ranching, gold rush towns of Bannack, Virginia City, and Helena, the Society of Montana Pioneers, the winter of 1887 and its effect on ranching, and territorial Montana's relations with Indian residents.
Repository
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
Bozeman, MT
59717-3320
Telephone: 406-994-4242
Fax: 406-994-2851
spcoll@www.lib.montana.edu
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

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


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Clifton Boyd Worthen was born in Lynden, Washington on January 30, 1899. He attended the University of Washington where he received a master's degree in 1928. Worthen moved to Montana where he taught history for 13 years at the Fergus County High School at Lewistown and for 26 years at Missoula County High School. While at Lewistown, Worthen came into possession of a number of original documents created or collected by James Fergus, a pioneer rancher and politician for whom the county was named. The documents had been deposited at the school after the Fergus ranch house had burned. Worthen used the documents in his own research and for teaching until he was contacted by Allis Stuart in the late 1930s who demanded the materials on behalf of Andrew Fergus's widow, Hazel. Even though Worthen gave Stuart most of the Fergus papers, he retained an undetermined amount himself until his death in 1963. In 1969, Worthen's widow, Gladys, turned over the balance to Merrill G. Burlingame for transfer to the Montana Historical Society.

James Fergus was born October 8, 1813 at Lanarkshire, Scotland. He immigrated to North America at the age of nineteen and lived for a time in Quebec, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota where he built and managed a number of mills and factories. In the 1860s, Fergus became interested in gold strikes occurring in the west and after a brief stay in Colorado, he joined the Fisk expedition to what would become Montana Territory in 1862. Fergus lived in Bannack, Virginia City and Helena where he prospected and held a number of minor governmental offices. With his son, Andrew, he ranched near Helena until 1880 when they bought land in the Judith Basin area and established one of the largest ranching operations in the territory. James Fergus was involved with the vigilante activity of 1884 in central Montana and served as a delegate to the constitutional convention of the same year. James Fergus died in 1902 and his son, Andrew, died in 1928. Shortly after a fire destroyed the family home Andrew's widow, Hazel, temporarily stored some of the salvaged family papers at the Fergus County High School where Clifton B. Worthen worked with them during the 1930s. Mrs. Granville Stuart, who had obtained work through the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration, contacted Hazel Fergus and arranged to sort and transcribe the family papers for the WPA. This work was carried out by both Mrs. Stuart and Mrs. Fergus primarily in 1942. The transcripts only included the papers in Mrs. Fergus's possession and the ones retained by Worthen were overlooked. Merrill G. Burlingame, in 1943, worked with the administration of the WPA to assume ownership of the transcripts. Hazel Fergus eventually donated her original papers to the University of Montana at Missoula.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Worthen-Fergus collection is a combination of original documents, photocopies, and typed transcripts selected from all of the sources described above. The materials document both the intellectual pursuits of Clifton B. Worthen as a historian and teacher, as well as the pioneer experiences of the James Fergus family. Subjects to which the collection pertain includes: history of central Montana, especially Fergus County and the Judith Basin, the vigilante activity of 1884, the DHS Ranch, the Lewis and Clark expedition, Montana politics and elections, ranching, gold rush towns of Bannack, Virginia City, and Helena, the Society of Montana Pioneers, the winter of 1887 and its effect on ranching, and territorial Montana's relations with Indian residents. Correspondents or authors of pieces in the collection include: Clifton B. Worthen, James Fergus, Andrew Fergus, Hazel A. Fergus, Oscar O. Mueller, Granville Stuart, Cornelius Hedges, Wilbur F. Sanders, Patrick Dunlany, Phillip Shoule, S.C. Gilpatrick, D.A. Meagher, A.L. Randall, Theodore Lindsay, J.L Perkins, William Cantrell, S.M. Emery, S. Spain, B.P. Carpenter, J.E. Richards, William Fly, and W.H. Watson.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  Clifton B. Worthen papers, 1927-1955Return to Top

Photocopied historical research papers and printed articles created or collected by Worthen, or in collaboration with Lewistown, Montana attorney Oscar O. Mueller, in Worthen's capacity as a historian and high school teacher. The papers deal with the history of central Montana, especially Fergus County and the Judith Basin, the vigilante activity of 1884, the DHS Ranch, and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Originals are at the Montana Historical Society at Helena.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Notes of historical interest covering the Judith Basin copied at the Fergus County High School under the direction of C.B. Worthen, instructor in history. Pages 1-67
1/2
Notes of historical interest covering the Judith Basin copied at the Fergus County High School under the direction of C.B. Worthen, instructor in history. Pages 68-162
1/3
The Judith Basin in Central Montana/by Clifton B. Worthen, Missoula County High School. Pages 1-50
1/4
The Judith Basin in Central Montana/by Clifton B. Worthen, Missoula County High School. Pages 51-102
1/5
Central Montana/by Clifton B. Worthen and Oscar O. Mueller
1/6
Camps of Lewis and Clark compiled by Clifton B. Worthen
1955
1/7
Fergus County, A Miniature of the West/By C. B. Worthen
1927

Series 2:  James Fergus family papers, 1884-1907Return to Top

Photocopied and original papers created or collected by James Fergus or his son, Andrew, which had been in the possession of Cilfton B. Worthen. In 1969, Worthen's widow, Gladys, turned these materials over to Merrill G. Burlingame for transfer to the Montana Historical Society. Burlingame photocopied the majority of these pieces prior to depositing them with the MHS in Helena. Correspondents include: Granville Stuart, Cornelius Hedges, Wilbur F. Sanders, Patrick Dunlany, Phillip Shoule, S.C. Gilpatrick, D.A. Meagher, A.L. Randall, Theodore Lindsay, J.L Perkins, William Cantrell, S.M. Emery, S. Spain, B.P. Carpenter, J.E. Richards, William Fly, and W.H. Watson. Topics include: Montana politics and elections, ranching, the vigilante movement of 1884, the Society of Montana Pioneers, the winter of 1887 and its effect on ranching, the DHS Ranch, the history of central Montana and the Judith Basin, and relations with Montana Indians. The papers were calendared in at least four different accessions, and those descriptions have been transferred to the inventory below. An asterisk indicates the letter or document described is an original, documents transcribed by Merrill Burlingame have been so identified, and all materials have been chronologically arranged. Unless otherwise indicated, the calendared item is a letter.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/8
1884
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
January 8, 1884
Article from Mineral Argus about a trip home from California.
March 1884
From Granville Stuart referring to progress of the action against horse thieves (typed transcript)
July 24, 1884
From W. H. Sutherlin re: result of the election.
November 8, 1884
Entries from account book of James Fergus (typed transcript)
December 24, 1884
1/9
1885
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
February 10, 1885
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
April 20, 1885
From Wilbur F. Sanders suggesting a bill to establish definite wages for officials to prevent undue pressure
May 9, 1885
From B.P Carpenter re: Indian depredations*
July 7, 1885
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
July 10, 1885
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
July 23, 1885
From Granville Stuart complaining about roving Indians
July 26, 1885
From William Fly about the release of a murderer.*
July 29, 1885
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
September 23, 1885
From Granville Stuart complaining about the unrealistic attitude of the military concerning Indians.
September 26, 1885
From Granville Stuart re: his personal finances
October 24, 1885
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
November 30, 1885
From W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
December 15, 1885
From Granville Stuart re: wolves on the range and actions against them
December 19, 1885
1/10
January-June, 1887
From Wm. Fergus re: family affairs.
January 1, 1887
From Judith Wool Growers Assoc.
January 1, 1887
From Granville Stuart re: harsh winter
January 4, 1887
From Patrick Nunlany re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
January 23, 1887
Ffrom H.P. Brooks re: harsh winter
January 30, 1887
From Phillip Shoules re: harsh winter
February 10, 1887
From S.C. Gilpatrick re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
February 11, 1887
From D. A Meagher re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
February 14, 1887
From A. L. Randall re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
February 20, 1887
From Theodore Lindsay re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
February 22, 1887
From J.L. Perkins re: harsh winter
February 24, 1887
From Wm. Cantrell re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
March 2, 1887
From S.C. Gilpatrick re: politics in Helena
March 8, 1887
From A. L. Randall re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
April 15, 1887
From T.C. Power Co. re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
April 29, 1887
To Conrad Kohr re: Granville Stuart's efficiency with the DS Ranch and with the Vigilante Committee of 1884 (copy and typed transcript)
May 5, 1887
From Granville Stuart re: a roundup
May 8, 1887
From Granville Stuart re: stock thieves
June 11, 1887
From Granville Stuart re: stock thieves
June 21, 1887
From H.M. Martin re: wool prices.
June 28, 1887
1/11
July-December 1887
From James Dempsey request a loan.
July 22, 1887
From James Dempsey giving thanks for the loan.
August 7, 1887
from Cornelius Hedges
August 30, 1887
Contract to sell sheep to James D. Grant and W. S. Cowan.
September 2, 1887
From Andrew Fergus telling about delay getting home and about cattle sale.
November 26, 1887
1/12
1888
Fragment of a letter to Miss Simpson (cousin in Scotland)
February 14, 1888
Fragment of a letter to Granville Stuart explaining why he didn't vote for him.
November 2, 1888
From J.H. Carter giving thanks for support during election.
November 19, 1888
Note about his reaction to the disrespect of the young
November 26, 1888
1/13
January-June 1889
Settlement with Andrew.
January 1889
To J.S. Stuart re: roundup expenses.
February 3, 1889
To Andrew Fergus re: financial arrangements in case of his death.
February 5, 1889
Private memorandums for Andrew Fergus to be used "when I am gone"
February 5, 1889
From Richard Hodgson, George Stephens poisoning dogs that killed chickens.
February 23, 1889
To James E. Hughes re: a $5.00 donation.
February 23, 1889
To cousin Mrs. Janet Simpson in Scotland re: family matters
February 25, 1889
From J. H. Moe re: nominations to the constitutional convention.
April 8, 1889
From the president of the Montana Central Railway (signature not clear).
May 3, 1889
From Samuel P. Putnum re: skipping a trip to Montana in 1889
May 10, 1889
From Granville Stuart thanking James Fergus for his remarks at Katie's funeral
June 8, 1889
From Wilbur F. Sanders condolences on James Fergus's defeat in an election for the state legislature. (Incomplete)
June 28, 1889
1/14
July-December 1889
From daughter Luella re: social life with reference to Granville Stuart.
August 2, 1889
To son Andrew from Butte after the Republican Convention (typed transcript)
August 24, 1889
To Andrew Fergus re: the Republican convention in Anaconda which he was attending
August 25, 1889
From Andrew Fergus re: cattle prices very low in Chicago where he sold their cattle
October 4, 1889
From Granville Stuart re: his health and return from South America
October 6, 1889
From Granville Stuart re: the election
October 11, 1889
To T.C. Power re: regret on his defeat in gubernatorial election and promise to settle the Brooks matter
October 11, 1889
To Erickson re: statement that he was a Republican but free to vote for any good candidate
October 13, 1889
To daughter Luella re: a statement about his character
October 17, 1889
To the 1889 roundup asking for a settlement of hide money from Henry Brooks and offering his ranch as the next headquarters
November 30, 1889
To J.C. McNamara re: disputed Silver Bow election, on verso a petition to eradicate beaver during irrigation season
December 7, 1889
Fragment of second letter to Mrs. Simpson
December 15, 1889
To McLaughlin re: a backhanded apology stating his feelings about wrongs to Indians
December 28, 1889
1/15
1891-1892
Tax receipts for James and Andrew Fergus and Thomas Shea
November 28, 1891
To Miss Lillie Berntheiod from Andrew Fergus
February 14, 1892
To editor of the Arena re: hypocrisy of Christian morals
June 9, 1892
From B.O. Flowers
June 20-July 6, 1892
From Gov. J.K. Toole re: control of the Cree Indians
September 2, 1892
From Albert Ronne of Woody Island telling about his homestead
November 1, 1892
Purchase of a brand from G. (Slier)
November 21, 1892
List of grievances against his brother Andrew in Scotland
1892
1/16
1893-1905
From S. M. Emery requesting information for a composite Montana history to be published by the Montana State House Keepers Society*
January 23, 1893
From Jerry Collins, National State Historical Publishing Company, re: portrait of James Fergus to be printed in an upcoming history of Montana.*
April 23, 1894
From J. E. Richards re: bounties to protect stockmen.*
July 18, 1894
From S. Spain of Benson Mines, N.Y. requesting a book which Fergus had told him he was writing.*
March 11, 1905
1/17
no date
Note on Day House stationary about the setting up of an unnamed county organization
undated
Manuscript account in handwriting of the first Fisk expedition, life in Bannack in 1862, the starting of the vigilantes, etc.
undated
Letter to his family in Scotland full of trouble and family history
undated
A second letter to Scotland with reflections on his view of religion, science, etc.
undated
Memo about cattle
undated
Letter to Robert Fergus in Scotland re: family business
undated
Notes about science and religion, and the history of the Moline plow.
undated

Series 3:  WPA transcripts of Fergus family papers, 1942-1943Return to Top

Typed and handwritten transcriptions of original Fergus family papers in the possession of Hazel Fergus and prepared by her and Mrs. Allis Stuart for the Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration. Most of the original papers from which these transcriptions were taken were subsequently donated to the University of Montana at Missoula. The letters transcribed here were done in rough chronological order, although occasionally documents of widely different dates were included in one transcription. Most include annotations from Hazel Fergus or Allis Stuart placing the letter in historical context. The letters mostly pertain to James Fergus and his early life in Minnesota, his trip to the gold fields of Montana Territory, his family's subsequent move to join him, and the establishment of their ranch in what would become Fergus County, Montana. Included with the transcriptions are several biographical sketches prepared by Hazel Fergus or Allis Stuart, and a file of letters collected by M. G. Burlingame which document the transcription activity and provenance of the original documents.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/18
1835-1840
1/19
1841-1847
1/20
1851-1853
1/21
1854-1857
1/22
1858-1860
1/23
1861
1/24
1862
1/25
1863
1/26
1864-1865
1/27
1866
1/28
1867
1/29
1868-1869
1/30
1872
2/1
1873
2/2
1874
2/3
1875
2/4
1876-1877
2/5
1878
2/6
1879
2/7
1880
2/8
1881
2/9
1881
2/10
1882-1884
2/11
1186-1893
2/12
1894-1896
2/13
1897-1908
2/14
undated
2/15
Biographical
2/16
Provenance correspondence

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Frontier and pioneer life-Montana
  • Gold mines and mining-Montana
  • Indians of North America-Montana
  • Ranchers-Montana-Fergus County
  • Ranches-Montana-Fergus County
  • Vigilantes-Montana
  • Winter-Montana
  • Corporate Names :
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition-(1804-1806)
  • Society of Montana Pioneers
  • Geographical Names :
  • Bannack (Mont.)-History
  • Fergus County (Mont.)-History
  • Helena (Mont.)-History
  • Judith River Watershed (Mont.)-History
  • Montana-History
  • Montana-Politics and government
  • Virginia City (Mont.)-History
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • Cantrell, William (creator)
    • Carpenter, B. P. (Benjamin Platt), b. 1837 (creator)
    • Emery, S. M (creator)
    • Fergus, Andrew, 1850-1928 (creator)
    • Fergus, Hazel A (creator)
    • Fergus, James, 1813-1902 (creator)
    • Fly, William, d. 1887 (creator)
    • Hedges, Cornelius, 1831-1907 (creator)
    • Mueller, Oscar O., 1877-1964 (creator)
    • Sanders, Wilbur Fisk, 1834-1905 (creator)
    • Shoule, Phillip (creator)
    • Stuart, Granville, 1834-1918 (creator)
    • Watson, William H., 1822-1894 (creator)
    • Worthen, Clifton Boyd, 1899-1963 (creator)