I. D. O'Donnell Papers, 1884-1947  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
O'Donnell, I. D. (Ignatius Daniel), 1860-1948
Title
I. D. O'Donnell Papers
Dates
1884-1947
Quantity
3.6 linear feet
Collection Number
Collection 1057, MtBC, us (collection)
Summary
The I. D. O'Donnell Papers include diaries, correspondence, business records, literary manuscripts, postcard albums, subject files, and photographs. Correspondence includes letters from Montana State College, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, U. S. Reclamation Service, U. S. House and Senate Committees on Beet Sugar Industry, Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute, and the Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane. O'Donnell received letters from Montana political leaders such as Under Secretary of the Department of Agriculture M. L. Wilson, U. S. Senators Thomas J. Walsh and Henry L. Myers, U. S. Representative John M. Evans, and Governors J. E. Erickson and F. H. Cooney. Manuscripts include articles on agriculture, livestock, and farm management, and the column "Hints from the Practical Farmer" written for the Reclamation Record, as well as manuscripts O'Donnell collected for research on topics such as alfalfa, birds, irrigation, sugar beets, dairy cattle, soil, weeds, ranch management, and hogs. O'Donnell also collected material on topics such as Billings and Montana history, various irrigation projects in Montana, and agriculture. The collection also contains business records from the Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company, the Frederick Billings estate, and the Hesper Farm. The collection also contains postcards and travel brochures from O'Donnell's various travels.
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


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ignatius Daniel O'Donnell was born in 1860 in Norfolk, Ontario Canada to Scot-Irish parents, Daniel and Margaret (McIntosh) O'Donnell. He was the second oldest of ten children. When Ignatius was four, the family moved to Saginaw, Michigan. In 1882 I. D. moved to the Yellowstone Valley in Montana. Five years later he married Louise Roeser of Michigan and together they had six children, Helene, Louise, Carol, Ignatius, Gustave, and Kathleen. I. D. O'Donnell became one of Montana's most well-known farm leaders. He popularized the raising of such crops as alfalfa and sugar beets and helped establish modern methods of irrigation and reclamation on a national scale. He won national acclaim in 1919 when the Country Gentlemen named him "Best Farmer in Montana" and in 1925 when the Saturday Evening Post published a feature about him entitled "Montana's Foremost Farmer." His ranch near Billings, the Hesper Farm, was a model of efficiency. O'Donnell also worked for the U. S. Reclamation Service from 1913 to 1918 as their Supervisor of Irrigation. He persuaded the Secretary of the Interior to continue reclamation projects in Montana and then provided a workable plan for services to the nation's arid regions. His basic work lead to the creation of a Supervisor of Irrigation in the Reclamation Service. He was the only man to hold the office. During his five years as national farm advisor, he traveled extensively in the Western states and make frequent trips to Washington D. C. While in this office he published his column "Hints from a Practical Farmer." In 1920 he was hired as the Agricultural Development Agent by the Great Northern Railroad. He traveled around the world to study irrigation and farming techniques, becoming one of the nation's experts on irrigation. O'Donnell also worked closely with the Agricultural Extension Service based at Montana State College in Bozeman. This contact started when he took part in the Farm Institutes conducted there by the Cooperative Extension Office. O'Donnell was also a strong supporter of the Billings community. He was a member of the Yellowstone County fair board, the Billings Chamber of Commerce, the board of trustees of Billings Polytechnic Institute (Rocky Mountain College) and the library board of the Parmly Billings library. He founded the Billings Creamery and the Billings Foundry and Machine Company, and was a director of the old Merchant's National Bank. I. D. O'Donnell died in 1948 at the age of 87.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The I. D. O'Donnell papers include diaries, correspondence, business records, literary manuscripts, postcard albums, subject files, and photographs. The papers have been arranged by series according to document type. Correspondence includes letters from Montana State College, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, U. S. Reclamation Service, U. S. House and Senate Committees on Beet Sugar Industry, Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute, and the Secretary of the Interior, Franklin K. Lane. O'Donnell received letters from Montana political leaders such as Under Secretary of the Department of Agriculture M. L. Wilson, U. S. Senators Thomas J. Walsh and Henry L. Myers, U. S. Representative John M. Evans, and Governors J. E. Erickson and F. H. Cooney. Manuscripts include articles on agriculture, livestock, and farm management, and the column "Hints from the Practical Farmer" written for the Reclamation Record, as well as manuscripts O'Donnell collected for research on topics such as alfalfa, birds, irrigation, sugar beets, dairy cattle, soil, weeds, ranch management, and hogs. O'Donnell also collected material on topics such as Billings and Montana history, various irrigation projects in Montana, and agriculture. The collection also contains business records from the Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company, the Frederick Billings estate, and the Hesper Farm. The collection also contains postcards and travel brochures from O'Donnell's various travels.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series 1:  I. D. O'Donnell Diaries, 1887,, 1900,, 1947Return to Top

Series 1 contains three diaries of I. D. O'Donnell. The earliest from 1887 is a photocopy of the original. The last two are originals from 1900 and 1947. I. D. O'Donnell mainly recorded the weather and farming conditions. The 1900 diary was written on a desk calendar.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
I. D. O'Donnell Diary
1887
1/2
I. D. O'Donnell Diary
1900
1/3
I. D. O'Donnell Diary
1947

Series 2:  I. D. O'Donnell Correspondence, 1884-1947Return to Top

Through his work with agriculture and business, O'Donnell corresponded with many people across the state and nation. This series contains correspondence with agriculture and business leaders. O'Donnell corresponded with a few federal agencies, especially the U. S. Department of Agriculture. He also kept in contact with several state officials like U. S. Representative John M. Evans, U. S. Senators Henry L. Myers and Thomas J. Walsh, Governors F. H. Cooney and J. E. Erickson, and the Under Secretary for the U. S. Department of Agriculture M. L. Wilson. Main topics discussed include irrigation, sugar beets, and farming business. Series 2 also includes correspondence with specific agencies such as Montana State College in Bozeman and the Reclamation Record. Correspondence relating to specific topics such as the Big Ditch Company, Big Horn Dam, Billings, Blue Mountain Coal Lands, Custer Battlefield National Cemetery, Hesper Farm, Blackfeet Winter Fair, specific irrigation projects, and the Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute are found in Series 5.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/4
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1884-1899
1/5
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1900
1/6
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1901-1904
1/7
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1905-1907
1/8
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1908-1910
1/9
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1911-1913
1/10
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1914-1916
1/11
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1920-1923
1/12
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1930-1939
1/13
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1940-1942
1/14
I. D. O'Donnell, General Correspondence
1943-1947
1/15
I. D. O'Donnell, Correspondence with Montana State College
1898-1907
1/16
I. D. O'Donnell, Correspondence with Montana State College
1932-1942
1/17
I. D. O'Donnell, Correspondence about Conventions
1900-1914
1/18
I. D. O'Donnell, Correspondence with Reclamation Record
1913-1914
1/19
I. D. O'Donnell, Correspondence with Reclamation Record
1915-1917
1/20
I. D. O'Donnell, Correspondence Federal Appointment
1925; 1935

Series 3:  Printed Materials, 1907-1930Return to Top

Given I. D. O'Donnell's wide interest in agriculture he collected many printed materials on the subject. He attended several agriculture conferences such as the Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute and the Dry Farming Congress. Programs from these various conferences are included in this series. Series 3 also contains a report from the Montana Farmers' Institute, a 1926 copy of the Irrigation Review and a 1913 copy of the tariff schedules from the Committee of Ways and Means.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2/1
Dry Farming Congress and International Dry Farming Exposition Program
1909
2/2
Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute Program
1920
2/3
Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute Program
1928-1929
2/4
Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute Program
1930
2/5
Montana Farmers' Institute Annual Report
1907
2/6
Committee on Ways and Means, Tariff Schedules
1913
2/7
The Irrigation Review
1926

Series 4:  Literary Manuscripts, 1914-1918Return to Top

O'Donnell was also a writer and collector of articles on agriculture. Series 4 contains manuscripts of articles he wrote for various journals. It also contains subject files on agricultural topics of manuscript materials he collected for information for his articles and as reference on topics such as alfalfa, birds, dairy cattle, pests, practical ideas for farming, ranch management, sugar beets, and weeds.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2/8
I. D. O'Donnell, Dates for column for Reclamation Record
1915-1916
2/9
I. D. O'Donnell, Articles for Reclamation Record
1914-1919
2/10
I. D. O'Donnell, Clippings from Reclamation Record
1918
2/11
I. D. O'Donnell, Background Information for columns
2/12
I. D. O'Donnell Articles, Crops
2/13
I. D. O'Donnell Articles, Farm Management 1
2/14
I. D. O'Donnell Articles, Farm Management 2
2/15
I. D. O'Donnell Articles, Farm Management 3
2/16
I. D. O'Donnell Articles, Farm Management 4
2/17
I. D. O'Donnell Articles, Irrigation
2/18
I. D. O'Donnell Articles, Livestock
2/19
I. D. O'Donnell Manuscript for Agriculture in Montana
2/20
Agricultural Ideals and Truisms 1
2/21
Agricultural Ideals and Truisms 2
2/22
Agricultural Ideals and Truisms 3
2/23
Agricultural Ideals and Truisms 4
2/24
Agricultural Ideals and Truisms 5
2/25
Agricultural Ideals and Truisms 6
2/26
Alfalfa 1
2/27
Alfalfa 2
2/28
Ancient Agriculture
2/29
Beans
2/30
Birds 1
2/31
Birds 2
2/32
Birds 3
3/1
Bloating
3/2
Boys on the Farm
3/3
Corn
3/4
Dairy Cattle 1
3/5
Dairy Cattle 2
3/6
Dairy Cattle 3
3/7
Dairy Cattle 4
3/8
Diversified Farming
3/9
Fences
3/10
Fertilizers
3/11
Gardens
3/12
Hay; Winter Feed
3/13
Hints from a Practical Farmer
3/14
Hogs 1
3/15
Hogs 2
3/16
Hogs 3
3/17
Horses 1
3/18
Horses 2
3/19
How to Make a Farm Pay
3/20
Irrigation; Rain; Water
3/21
Livestock 1
3/22
Livestock 2
3/23
Livestock 3
3/24
Pasture 1
3/25
Pasture 2
3/26
Pests
3/27
Plowing
3/28
Potatoes
3/29
Poultry
3/30
Practical Ideas 1
3/31
Practical Ideas 2
3/32
Practical Ideas 3
3/33
Ranch Management
3/34
Rotation
3/35
Seed
3/36
Sheep 1
3/37
Sheep 2
3/38
Sheep 3
3/39
Silos
3/40
Soil
3/41
Straw
3/42
Sugar Beets 1
3/43
Sugar Beets 2
3/44
Toads
3/45
Trees
3/46
Verse 1
3/47
Verse 2
3/48
Weeds
3/49
Whitewash

Series 5:  General Subject Files, 1898-1947Return to Top

O'Donnell was interested in a wide range of topics and issues concerning agriculture. During his life he collected materials on the various groups and agencies with which he was involved. This series contains subject headings arranged in alphabetical order of the various clippings and research O'Donnell collected on topics such as the Big Ditch Company, Billings and Montana history, John Burkman (a survivor of the Battle of the Little Big Horn), irrigation projects, song lyrics, sugar beets, WPA Federal Writers Project (he helped write stories about ghost towns in Montana), and the Yellowstone Basin.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
4/1
Anecdotes
4/2
Big Ditch Company, Secretary-Treasurer Reports
1940-1941; 1945
4/3
Big Ditch Company, By-Laws
4/4
Big Ditch Company, Lawsuit
1918
4/5
Big Ditch Company, Correspondence, Clippings
1900; 1919; 1944-1945
4/6
Big Horn Dam, Correspondence
1939-1940
4/7
Big Horn Dam, Publications and Resolutions
4/8
Billings, Montana, Correspondence
1936-1945
4/9
Billings, Montana, Poems, Clippings
"Trading Post," 1936
1939; 1947
4/10
Billings Area Biographies, Names of Settlers
1877-1882
4/11
Billings Area Biographies, A-D
4/12
Billings Area Biographies, F-S
4/13
Billings Area Biographies, T-Z
4/14
Billings Area Clippings
1947
4/15
Billings, Black Otter Trail, Clippings
1944-1945
4/16
Billings Foundry and Manufacturing Company
4/17
Billings Rimrocks
4/18
Brook Nook Stock Farm
(I. D. O'Donnell and Son)
1920
4/19
Blue Mountain Coal Lands, Correspondence
1936-1945
4/20
John Burkman (Little Big Horn Survivor), Correspondence about; Draft of Story
4/21
John Burkman (Little Big Horn Survivor), I. D. O'Donnell notebook
1903
4/22
John Burkman (Little Big Horn Survivor), I. D. O'Donnell notes
4/23
John Burkman (Little Big Horn Survivor), Clippings
1925; 1931; 1946
4/24
Ben Cardwell notes
4/25
R. W. "Dick" Clark, Bozeman Trail
1886
4/26
Cove Irrigation District
1928-1930
4/27
Custer Battlefield National Cemetery, Correspondence
1939-1946
4/28
Custer Battlefield National Cemetery, Clippings
1926; 1939; 1943
4/29
Dogs
4/30
Drought Relief
August 1930
4/31
Hesper Farm: Bank Book, Correspondence
1908-1910; 1944-1945
4/32
Hesper Farm: Reports, Clippings
1933
4/33
Indian Tribes - Blackfeet: Winter Fair, Correspondence and Programs
1923-1931
4/34
Indian Tribes - Blackfeet: Winter Fair, Publications and Articles
4/35
Indian Tribes - Blackfeet, Clippings
1923-1936
4/36
Indian Tribes - Crow
4/37
Interview - Ruth Quigley
5/1
Irrigation: Articles
5/2
Irrigation: Bureau of Reclamation
5/3
Irrigation: Correspondence and Publications
5/4
Irrigation: Huntley
5/5
Irrigation: Milk River, Correspondence
1922-1923
5/6
Irrigation: Milk River, Department of the Interior Agreements
1922-1923
5/7
Irrigation: Milk River, Reports and Clippings
1911-1925
5/8
Irrigation: Missouri River
5/9
Irrigation: Sun River, Reports
1911-1925
5/10
Irrigation: Sun River, Project Information
5/11
Irrigation: Yellowstone River (Lower), Agreement and Report
1920; 1925
5/12
Irrigation: Yellowstone River (Lower), Project Information
5/13
Kelly Mountain and the Black Otter Trail
5/14
Livestock
5/15
Midland Empire Fair
5/16
Minnesota and Montana Land Improvement Company
5/17
Montana and Billings History, rough speaking notes
5/18
Montana Cowboy Association
5/19
Montana History
5/20
Montana Horticultural Society
5/21
Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute, Correspondence
1921-1931
5/22
Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute, Constitution, Projects, and Reports
5/23
Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute, Program Schedules, Members, Clippings
5/24
L. A. Nutting, County Council
1918
5/25
Place Names
5/26
I. D. O'Donnell, Biographical Information
5/27
I. D. O'Donnell, Biographies
5/28
I. D. O'Donnell, Clippings
5/29
I. D. O'Donnell, Headgate Patent
1898
5/30
Billie Randall
5/31
Rosebud Lake Association Lease
1915
5/32
Joseph L. Sherbourne, Correspondence
1928; 1947
5/33
William E. Smyth Articles
5/34
Song Lyrics, Booklets
5/35
Song Lyrics, Clippings
6/1
Sugar Beets, Correspondence
1913; 1825; 1938
6/2
Sugar Beets, Contracts
6/3
Sugar Beets, Statements and Reports
1915-1943
6/4
Sugar Beets, Articles
6/5
Sugar Beets, Pamphlets and Clippings
1907-1941
6/6
Paul Van Cleve, I. D. O'Donnell's evaluation of him
1908
6/7
WPA Federal Writers Project, Correspondence and Research about Montana Ghost Towns
6/8
Yellowstone Basin: The History of Livestock in the Crow Country, Manuscript Draft
6/9
Yellowstone Basin: The History of Livestock in the Crow Country, Manuscript Notes
6/10
Yellowstone Basin Animals, Cattle
6/11
Yellowstone Basin Animals, Horses, Sheep
6/12
Yellowstone Basin Reminiscences: Sarah E. MacKay, Ann McLean, Grace Brewster Arnold
6/13
Yellowstone Investment Company
1904
6/14
Yellowstone National Park

Series 6:  Business Records Books, 1892-1944Return to Top

I. D. O'Donnell was also a businessman. Series 6 contains his various business records books from the Hesper Farm, Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company, and the Frederick Billings estate. The books include account books, cash books, and a book of contracts.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
7/1
Ledger
1894
7/2
Account Book
1908-1909
7/3
Account Book
1910-1915
7/4
Account Book
1931-1939
7/5
Account Book
1941-1944
8/1
Contract
1908-1909
8/2
Ropp's Business Calculator, Hesper Farm Notebook
8/3
Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company
1892-1902
8/4
Frederick Billings Estate
1895-1908
8/5
Letterbook
1898-1901

Series 7:  Scrapbook and Scrapbook Material, circa 1930sReturn to Top

Through his travels, I. D. O'Donnell collected postcards and other scrapbook material. Series 7 contains three books of postcards and one file of postcards from his U. S. and foreign travel. O'Donnell also collected travel brochures from places he visited around the world such as Singapore, Victoria, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Seville, and Hawaii.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
9/1
Postcard Book, Foreign Travel
9/2
Postcard Book, U. S. Travel
9/3
Postcard Book, U. S. Travel
9/4
Postcards, U. S. Travel
9/5
U. S. Travel Poster cards
10/1
Travel Brochure, The Shakespeare Hotel
10/2
Travel Brochure, "Hilly Hong Kong"
10/3
Travel Brochure, "Sunny Singapore"
10/4
Travel Brochure, "Scenic Shanghai"
10/5
Travel Brochure, "Picturesque Victoria"
10/6
Travel Brochure, "Marvels of Seville"
10/7
Travel Brochure, "Hawaiian Islands"

Series 8:  Photographs, 1882-1945Return to Top

This series contains photographs collected by O'Donnell. They have been arranged in topics including pictures of O'Donnell, pictures of other people, pictures of places and pictures of things. The series contains pictures of Montana reclamation men, President Chester A. Arthur's 1884 visit to Yellowstone National Park, the first horse buggy in Montana, the towns of Browning, Junction City and Coulson, Blackfeet Indian crafts, Billie Randall, Joe Doze, Big Ditch Dam, and corn from I. D. O'Donnell's farm.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
10/8
#1-5
#1. I. D. O'Donnell
1932
#2. I. D. O'Donnell, placing wreath on Luther Kelly's grave
#3-4. I. D. O'Donnell
three weeks after operation
July 21, 1932
#5. I. D. O'Donnell
age 85
1945
10/9
#6-12
#6. Chester A. Arthur visit to Yellowstone National Park
1884
#7-8. Roach Chapmin
1882
#9-10. Joe Doze and Ben Farr
1883
#11. Joe Doze and Mandell
#12. Two unidentified men
tin type
10/10
#13-21
#13-15. Reclamation Men
#16. Billie Randall and dog
#17. Billie Randall with grass display
#18. Billie Randall 85th Birthday party
#19. Two unidentified people in field
(Billie Randall?)
#20. Unidentified man on tractor
(Billie Randall?)
#21. Oliver Sanderville Ranch, Browning
1925
10/11
#22-29
#22. Bluff Opposite Josephene
#23. Browning
street scene
January 11, 1925
#24. Browning
aerial view
January 11, 1925
#25. Browning
January 11, 1925
#26. Browning
street scene
January 11, 1925
#27. Browning
J. G. Pierce and Co. Cash Store
January 11, 1925
#28. Browning
street scene
January 11, 1925
#29. Browning
New England Hotel
January 11, 1925
10/12
#30-33
#30. Coulson, Killen, and Company Saloon
#31-32. Junction City street scene
#33. Junction City, monument to stage driver
10/13
#34-42
#34-39. Unidentified pasture
#40-41. Ice jam
#42. Summer creek jam
10/14
#43-50
#43. Unidentified
#44. Randall's Island
#45-47 unidentified pasture
#48. unidentified pasture, haystack and tractor
#49. unidentified pasture, haystack
#50. unidentified pasture
10/15
#51-55
#51. Ox Team at Coulson
#52. First Horse Buggy in Montana
#53. Yellowstone Park Stage
#54-55. Yellowstone River Sheep
10/16
#56-65
#56. Sitting room
(Billie Randall's home?)
#57. Blackfeet Indian Crafts
1925
#58. Corn from I. D. O'Donnell's Farm
1906
#59-60. Big Ditch Dam
#61. Beaver Dam
#62-63. Boot Hill Cemetery, Black Otter Trail historical marker
#64-65. Boot Hill Monument, Billings
postcards
Folder
Oversized
This folder contains information from series 6, records of the Caplice Commercial Company. It also contains a map out of series 5 of irrigation projects in Montana.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Agriculture -- Experimentation
  • Agriculture and state -- Montana
  • Agriculture and state -- United States
  • Alfalfa
  • Beet sugar industry -- Government policy -- United States
  • Birds
  • Dairy cattle
  • Farm management
  • Farms -- Montana -- Billings
  • Irrigation farming -- Montana
  • Irrigation farming -- United States
  • Livestock
  • Ranching
  • Reclamation of land -- Government policy -- United States
  • Reclamation of land -- Montana
  • Scots-Irish -- Montana -- Billings
  • Soils
  • Sugar beet
  • Swine
  • Weeds
  • Personal Names :
  • Billings, Frederick, 1823-1890 -- Estate
  • Cooney, Frank H. (Frank Henry), 1872-1935 -- Correspondence
  • Erickson, John Edward, 1863-1946 -- Correspondence
  • Evans, John M. (John Morgan), 1863-1946 -- Correspondence
  • Lane, Franklin K. -- Correspondence
  • Myers, Henry L. (Henry Lee), 1862-1943 -- Correspondence
  • Walsh, Thomas Jones, 1859-1933 -- Correspondence
  • Wilson, M. L. (Milburn Lincoln), 1885-1969 -- Correspondence
  • Corporate Names :
  • Montana Irrigation and Drainage Institute
  • Montana State College
  • United States Reclamation Service
  • United States. Department of Agriculture
  • Geographical Names :
  • Billings (Mont.) -- History
  • Montana -- History
  • Other Creators :
    • Corporate Names :
    • Minnesota and Montana Land and Improvement Company