McGowan Commerical Company (Plains, Mont.) Records , 1903-1968  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Creator
McGowan Commerical Company (Plains, Mont.)
Title
McGowan Commerical Company (Plains, Mont.) Records
Dates
1903-1968 (inclusive)
Quantity
26.5 linear feet, (6 boxes, 93 oversize volumes, and 15 photographs)
Collection Number
Mss 047
Summary
This collection contains correspondence, financial, legal, promotional, personal, and photographic records relating to the McGowan Commercial Company of Plains, Montana, a general store that supplied many of the material goods in this small western Montana town and surrounding areas.
Repository
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
59812-9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 406-243-2053
Fax: 406-243-4067
library.archives@umontana.edu
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.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for creating this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historic Publications and Records Commission. Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Colonel James A. McGowan was born in Malone, New York,on March 5, 1852. He graduated from Wesleyan Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1868. He then worked for three years in a lumber office and then as a railroad contractor and mercantile manager for 11 years before settling in (Wild Horse) Plains, Montana, in May of 1882. He was one of the founders of the city and brought the first farming equipment into that valley where he was the first farmer. Plains was at the time a boom town as the outfitting center for the Coeur d'Alene mining district.

In 1884 he went into partnership with Neptune Lynch, on whose ranch the city was founded. McGowan quickly assumed control of the mercantile business partnership and expanded his influence to control the entire community. He had great ambitions for the town. By the time of his death in 1911, McGowan controlled the general mercantile (McGowan Commercial Company) a butcher shop, a blacksmith shop, a livery stable, a hotel, the Plains News Letter (now the Plainsman), the electric light and heating plant, the Plains water company and was founder and president of The First National Bank of Plains. He also owned the largest grain farm in the valley, upon which as many as 25 worker were employed. A staunch Republican and great supporter of the Progressive Movement, McGowan served as State Stock Commissioner and as United States Commissioner. He was also an active member of the Masons.

McGowan married Delia Farmer, the daughter of James and Sarah Farmer. He died in Los Angeles, where he had gone to improve his health, on April 1, 1911. His death was widely mourned across western Montana.

The McGowan Commercial Company sold a full variety of items for mining, agriculture, and living. From 1902 to 1932, Clifford H. Rittenour was employed at the store, first as manager, then as President of McGowan Commercial Company. He attended the University of Montana in Missoula.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains correspondence, financial, legal, promotional, personal, and photographic records relating to the McGowan Commercial Company of Plains, Montana. Financial records comprise the majority of collection items. These materials provide insights into the challenges and successes of operating a rural general merchandising business as well as the early economic history of Plains, Montana.

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], McGowan Commercial Company Records , Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in six series:

Series I: Correspondence, 2 folders, 1904-1926

Series II: Financial, 2.5 linear feet and 93 oversize volumes, 1903-1968

Series III: Legal, 1 folder, 1911

Series IV: Clippings, 1 folder, 1932

Series V: Personal, 2 folders, 1895-1901

Series VI: Photographs, 15 photographs, 1898- circa 1960

Series VII: Promotional Calendars, 4 items, 1920-1930

Acquisition Information

Gift of Francis Bates, 1972; gift of Tevis Hoblitt, 1974; calendars were a gift of Special Collections, Montana State University - Bozeman, 2009.

Processing Note

The collection was originally processed in two parts: LC 47 (which arrived in 1972) and SC 260 (which arrived in 1974), with photographs remaining unprocessed. In 2004, these three parts were brought together as one collection, arranged, and described. In 2009 four promotional calendars were received from MSU-Bozeman and an additional series, Series VII, was created.


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  Correspondence, 1904-1926Return to Top

2 folders

This series includes two folders of general correspondence regarding McGowan Commercial Company store operations. These materials provide some insights into rural business practices and the early twentieth-century economy of Plains, Montana.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
5/1
1904-1907
1/1
1924-1926

Series II:  Financial, 1903-1968Return to Top

2.5 linear feet and 93 oversize volumes

This series contains financial records from the McGowan Commercial Company including transaction invoices, account journals, expense records, daily transaction journals, check registers, and payroll records. The documents provide insights into the challenges and successes of operating a rural general merchandising business as well as the economic history of Plains, Montana.

Container(s) Description Dates
Subseries 1: Invoices
2.0 linear feet
1936-1967
Box/Folder
1/2
A
1936-1937
1/3
B
1936-1937
1/4
C
1936-1937
1/5
D
1936-1937
1/6
E
1936-1937
1/7
F
1936-1937
1/8
G
1936-1937
1/9
H
1936-1937
1/10
I-J
1936-1937
1/11
K-L
1936-1937
1/12
M
1936-1937
1/13
N-O
1936-1937
1/14
P-Q
1936-1937
1/15
R
1936-1937
1/16
S
1936-1937
1/17
T-V
1936-1937
1/18
W-Z
1936-1937
1/19
A
1950
1/20
B
1950
1/21
C
1950
2/1
D
1950
2/2
E-F
1950
2/3
G
1950
2/4
H-J
1950
2/5
K-L
1950
2/6
M
1950
2/7
N-O
1950
2/8
P-Q
1950
2/9
R-S
1950
2/10
T-V
1950
2/11
W-Z
1950
2/12
A
1958
2/13
B
1958
2/14
C
1958
3/1
D
1958
3/2
E-F
1958
3/3
G
1958
3/4
H-J
1958
3/5
K-L
1958
3/6
M
1958
3/7
N-O
1958
3/8
P-Q
1958
3/9
R
1958
3/10
S
1958
3/11
T-V
1958
3/12
W-Z
1958
3/13
A
1966-1967
4/1
B
1966-1967
4/2
C-D
1966-1967
4/3
E-H
1966-1967
4/4
I
1966-1967
4/5
J-M
1966-1967
4/6
N-P
1966-1967
4/7
R-Z
1966-1967
Subseries 2: Journal
34 oversize volumes
1908-1966
Volume
1
October 1908 - September 1909
2
September 1909 - June 1910
3
July 1910 - March 1911
4
November 1911 - July 1912
5
July 1912 - March 1913
6
March - September 1913
7
September 1913 - April 1914
8
May - November 1914
9
November 1914 - July 1915
10
July 1915 - February 1916
11
February - September 1916
12
September 1916 - April 1917
13
April - October 1917
14
October 1917 - May 1918
15
May - November 1918
16
November 1918 - May 1919
17
May - October 1919
18
October 1919 - May 1920
19
May - October 1920
20
October 1920 - April 1921
21
April - October 1921
22
October 1921 - April 1922
23
May - October 1922
24
October 1922 - April 1923
25
April - September 1923
26
September 1923 - March 1924
27
March 1924 - August 1927
28
September 1927 - October 1932
29
January 1933 - June 1939
30
July 1939 - December 1947
31
January 1948 - November 1953
32
December 1953 - October 1960
33
November 1960 - August 1963
34
August 1963 - July 1966
Subseries 3: General
2 folders and 4 oversize volumes
1903-1967
Box/Folder
4/8
Profit and Loss Statement and Balance Sheet
1903-1911
4/9
Record of Sales
1906-1915
Volume
35
General Ledger
1929-1939
36
General Ledger
1940-1951
37
General Ledger
1952-1959
38
General Ledger
1960-1967
Subseries 4: Expense
3 oversize volumes
1940-1961
Volume
39
1940-1941
40
1950-1956
41
1957-1961
Subseries 5: Customer
10 oversize volumes
1910-1914, 1958-1960
Volume
42
1910-1914
43
January - April 1958
44
May - August 1958
45
September - December 1958
46
January - April 1959
47
May - August 1959
48
September - December 1959
49
January - April 1960
50
May - August 1960
51
September - November 1960
Subseries 6: Cash
20 oversize volumes
1919-1968
Volume
52
April 1919 - April 1922
53
April 1922 - January 1925
54
January 1932 - July 1934
55
November 1936 - January 1939
56
February 1939 - June 1941
57
July 1941 - October 1943
58
November 1943 - March 1946
59
March 1946 - April 1948
60
April 1948 - May 1950
61
May 1950 - April 1952
62
May 1952 - December 1954
63
December 1954 - April 1957
64
May 1957 - November 1959
65
November 1959 - December 1960
66
January 1961 - March 1962
67
March - May 1962
68
May 1963 - July 1964
69
July 1964 - September 1965
70
September 1965 - December 1966
71
December 1966 - February 1968
Subseries 7: Invoice Registers
14 oversize volumes
1903-1968
Volume
72
January 1903 - December 1908
73
December 1908 - March, 1913
74
November 1916 - May 1919
75
July 1919 - January 1922
76
January 1922 - January 1924
77
January 1924 - April 1926
78
April 1926 - January 1929
79
January 1929 - December 1931
80
November 1935 - May 1942
81
May 1942 - October 1950
82
October 1950 - May 1959
83
June 1959 - May 1962
84
May 1962 - February 1965
85
March 1965 - March 1968
Subseries 8: Check Registers
7 oversize volumes
1913-1962
Volume
86
October 1913 - July 1923
87
August 1923 - July 1929
88
July 1929 - February 1936
89
February 1936 - June 1943
90
June 1943 - April 1950
91
April 1950 - August 1956
92
August 1956 - December 1962
Subseries 9: Trial Balance
2 volumes (1 oversize)
1919-1953
box-volume
4/93
1919 - 1930
Volume
94
1942 - 1953
Subseries 10: Bills Receivable and Payable
2 volumes
1904-1941
box-volume
6/95
1904-1920
6/96
1933-1941
Subseries 11: Payroll Summary
1 volume
1960-1963
box-volume
5/97
1960-1963

Series III:  Legal, 1911Return to Top

1 folder

This series contains a contract from 1911.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/3
Contract
1911

Series IV:  Clippings, 1932Return to Top

1 folder

This series contains an article presenting a brief history of McGowan Commercial Company. The article was published in the November 1932 edition of The Plainsman, a local newspaper.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/4
Brief history of McGowan Commercial Company
1932

Series V:  Personal, 1895-1901Return to Top

2 folders

This series contains some records and memorabilia from James A. McGowan and Clifford H. Rittenour. Materials include an unsigned, undated draft copy of James A. McGowan's will. Clifford H. Rittenour was a manager of McGowan Commercial Company and became President after James McGowan's death. These items include records and memorabilia from Rittenour's student days at the University of Montana, Missoula.

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
6/5
Records and memorabilia
1895-1901 and undated

Series VI:  Photographs, 1898 - circa 1960Return to Top

15 photographs

This series includes fifteen photographs. Most of the photographs depict Plains, Montana, particularly the McGowan Mercantile Company store and hotel. Also included are five photographs documenting the procession to James A. McGowan's funeral, two photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Clifford H. Rittenour's 60th anniversary, an circa 1950s store anniversary, and images of the 1898 and 1901 football teams at the University of Montana.

Container(s) Description Dates
74-47: Main Street, Plains, Montana
Tevis Hoblitt
circa 1900
74-48: McGowan Hotel, Plains, Montana
Tevis Hoblitt
circa 1900
74-49: Main Street, Plains, Montana
Tevis Hoblitt
circa 1900
74-50: McGowan Commercial Company and Hotel, Plains, Montana
Tevis Hoblitt
circa 1900
74-51: Main Street, Plains, Montana
Tevis Hoblitt
circa 1900
Box/Folder
6/6
47(VI):1: Funeral of James A. McGowan
1911
6/6
47(VI):2: Funeral of James A. McGowan
1911
6/6
47(VI):3: Funeral of James A. McGowan
1911
6/6
47(VI):4: Funeral of James A. McGowan
1911
6/6
47(VI):5: Funeral of James A. McGowan
1911
6/6
47(VI):6: Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Rittenour 60th Anniversary Celebration
circa 1960
6/6
47(VI):7: Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Rittenour 60th Anniversary Celebration
circa 1960
6/6
47(VI):8: Anniversary Sale, McGowan Commercial Company, cake
circa 1950
6/6
47(VI):9: University of Montana football team, champions
1898
6/6
47(VI):10: University of Montana football team
1901

Series VII:  Promotional calendars, 1920-1930Return to Top

4 items

This series includes four promotional calendars distributed by McGowan Commercial Company between 1920 and 1930. Each calendar has a large photograph including one of the Clark Fork River near Plains, Montana, a Herman Schnitzmeyer photo of buffalo, hunters with their deer, and Nick Lascu's sheep ranch near Plains.The calendars were transferred from Special Collections at Montana State University-Bozeman in September, 2009.

Description Dates
OS 7: Calendar
1920
OS 7: Calendar
1928
OS 7: Calendar
1930
OS 7: Calendar
undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • General stores--Montana--Plains
  • Geographical Names :
  • Plains (Mont.)
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Business records--Montana--Plains
  • Photographs--Montana--Plains
  • Other Creators :
    • Personal Names :
    • McGowan, James A., 1852-1911
    • Rittenour, Clifford H.