Garnet Preservation Association oral history project, 1999-2002  PDF  XML

Overview of the Collection

Garnet Preservation Association oral history project
1999-2002 (inclusive)
10 interviews
Collection Number
OH 379
The ten interviewees, recorded for the Garnet Preservation Association Oral History Project in 1999-2003 by interviewers Darla Bruner, Dick Fichtler, and Valerie Schafer, describe growing up in Garnet, Montana, and mines in the area.
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.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

In the 1800s miners migrated north from played-out placer mines in California and Colorado. The Garnet Mountains on Montana attracted miners who collected the gold first by panning, then by using rockers and sluice boxes as the free-floating gold diminished. By the 1870s, old style gold mining was not as profitable and silver mining drew miners out of Garnet and other gold-mining towns.

The 1893 repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act set off a panic throughout the region closing silver mines. Within weeks thousands of unemployed miners were on the move. This event, combined with improved technology, led to a renewed interest in gold mining in the Garnet Mountains. Miners began to trickle back. At the head of First Chance Gulch in 1895, Dr. Armistead Mitchell erected a stamp mill to crush local ore. Around it grew the town of Garnet. The town was originally named Mitchell, but in 1897 became known as Garnet.

Soon after Mitchell erected his mill, Sam Ritchey hit a rich vein of ore in his Nancy Hanks mine just west of the town. The "boom" began. By January 1898, nearly 1,000 people resided in Garnet. The school had 41 students. Four stores, four hotels, three livery stables, two barber shops, a union hall, a school , a butcher shop, a candy shop, a doctor’s office, an assay office, and thirteen saloons comprised the town. About twenty mines operated.

By 1905, many of the mines were abandoned and the town’s population had shrunk to about 150. A fire in the town’s business district in 1912 destroyed many commercial buildings and dealt a death blow to the remnants of Garnet. The coming of World War I drew most remaining residents away to defense-related jobs. By the 1940s Garnet was a ghost town. Cabins were abandoned, furnishings included, as though residents were merely vacationing. F.A. Davey still ran the store however, and the hotel stood intact.

In 1934, when President Roosevelt raised gold prices from $16 to $32 an ounce, Garnet revived briefly. A new wave of miners moved into abandoned cabins and began re-working the mines and dumps. World War II drew the population away again. The use of dynamite for domestic purposes was curtailed, making mining difficult. Garnet again became a ghost town. Once again F. A. Davey and a few others remained.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The ten interviewees, recorded for the Garnet Preservation Association Oral History Project in 1999-2003 by interviewers Darla Bruner, Dick Fichtler, and Valerie Schafer, describe growing up in Garnet, Montana, and mines in the area. The interviewees recall friends and neighbors, attending school, their father's work in the mines, memorable people such as Billy Liberty and F.A. Davey, and community activities

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-Missoula

Preferred Citation

[Name of document or photograph number], Garnet Preservation Association Oral History Project, Archives and Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Custodial History

The interviews were held by Valerie Schafer and the Garnet Preservation Association prior to donation.

Acquisition Information

The collection was donated by Valerie Schafer on behalf of the Garnet Preservation Association, 2002-2003

Processing Note

Darla Bruner, Dick Fichtler and Valerie Schafer recorded the interviews using an analog audio cassette recorder. Valerie Schafer transcribed the interviews.

Related Materials

The Mansfield Library Archives and Special collections also holds Mss 320, the F.A. Davey store ledgers from 1889-1909 on microfilm. The Montana State Historical Society holds the original ledgers.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Description Dates
OH 379-01: Interview with Frank Fitzgerald
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Frank Fitzgerald was born in Garnet, Montana, in 1912 when the mines were becoming less productive. His father, a miner, took many jobs and the family moved to Hamilton, Montana in 1918. Frank describes growing up in Garnet, his home, the games children played, and visiting nearby towns. He moved back after World War II and rebuilt his parent’s house. He discusses people, in particular Billy Liberty and Frank Davey, who were still living there, activities, such as dances, and the beginning of tourism.
1999 October 4
OH 379-02: Interview with Mary Jane Adams Morin
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Mary Jane Adams Morin was born in 1917. Her father had a mercantile in Garnet, Montana, and also mined and cut timber. She describes growing up in Garnet, the children's activities and celebrations, traveling to Missoula, Montana, by stage, the houses and furnishings and household chores, foods and medicines, and noted locals such as Frank Davey and Billy Liberty. Her family moved to Missoula when she was ten. She returned to Garnet in the 1940s and describes what it looked like then and who lived there.
1999 October 4
OH 379-03: Interview with Lauris Robinson
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Lauris Robinson came to Garnet, Montana, with his family in 1937. His father worked in the mines, and Lauris also worked part-time to help his family out. He went to school there for grades five through eight. He describes the school, the games they played, the school plays, school band and his chores. He talks about Frank Davey and his store, the Boy’s Club, the people who lived there, and the towns surrounding the area.
2001 November 14
OH 379-04: Interview with LeRoy Robinson
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
LeRoy Robinson moved to Garnet, Montana, with his family in 1937. His father and Lauris Robinson’s father were brothers. His father staked out a claim and he screened the mine dumps. They moved to Drummond, Montana, at the end of the Depression. LeRoy talks about the people he knew, such as Pete Shipler, Frank Davey, Billy Liberty and the Dahl family. He describes hunting, doing chores, traveling to Drummond and Missoula, Montana and the automobiles they drove. He left in 1941 and returned for six months after he got married to work the Nancy Hanks mine.
2001 November 14
OH 379-05: Interview with Lester Robinson
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Lester Robinson is the younger brother of LeRoy in a family of three boys and four girls. They came to Garnet, Montana, in 1937. Lester describes the construction of the mine tunnels and what it was like to be helping his father in a mine tunnel. He compares gold mining with phosphate mining. He talks about skiing in the winter, summer games and going to school in the old school house, the food they ate and getting supplies from Missoula, Montana. He briefly mentions some of the people he knew in Garnet. They left in 1941 and moved to Drummond, Montana.
2001 November 14
OH 379-06: Interview with Sharon Briggs
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Sharon Briggs' father was a miner in Garnet, Montana, and her mother was the schoolteacher. She went to Garnet around 1942-1943. They lived there for about a year and returned in the early 1950s. She describes her mother’s work in caring for the family. She recalls playing in Davey’s store after he died. After her family moved away, they returned for the summer months since most people living there were part of her extended family. When she was in high school, she visited Garnet to renovate her parents’ old cabin and to visit with Mrs. Dahl.
2001 November 16
OH 379-07: Interview with Pat McDonald
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Pat McDonald's family moved to Garnet, Montana, shortly after he was born in 1939. They left when he was young and Pat returned around the summer of 1949 or 1950. He describes the old buildings, especially Davey’s hotel, the children’s activities, picking huckleberries, hunting and fishing and about his relatives who lived there.
2001 November 16
OH 379-08: Interview with Daniel Kohr
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Daniel Kohr's parents moved to Garnet, Montana, in 1945-1946. By 1951, his parents had moved out and only went back in the summers. He talked about his relatives who lived there. His father was a partner in the Mountain View mine and two other mines and Daniel helped his father in the mines. During the summer many relatives came to Garnet to work the mines and to visit; Daniel describes their cabins and individual relatives. They hunted and fished, had gardens and were self-sufficient. He tells stories about the Dahls and merchandise in Davey’s store after Davey died and the furnishings of the hotel and the blacksmith’s shop.
2001 January 18
OH 379-09: Interview with Sharon Seadin Baldwin
Sound Recording, audio cassette, analog
Transcript, 30 leaves
Sharon Seadin Baldwin recounts the history of her Swedish grandparents who moved to Garnet, Montana, in 1902. Four of their five children were born there. Her grandfather, Nels Seadin, was a miner and became the postmaster after he got too old to work in the mines. He died in 1939 and the family moved to Mullan, Idaho. Sharon’s parents married in Garnet then left in 1939 when the mines shut down. They visited in the summer.
2003 August 1
OH 379-10: Interview with Lois (Scalf) Gates
no audio available
Transcript, 30 leaves
Lois Gates' family moved to Garnet, Montana, in 1935 and lived there until 1939. She went to school there for grades three through six. Her father worked in the Nancy Hanks mine and others. Lois describes going to school and putting on school plays, getting household supplies, adults’ and childrens’ recreational activities, Davey’s store and childhood
2002 March 2

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Blacksmiths--Montana-- Garnet
  • Boys--Montana--Garnet--Societies and clubs
  • Clubs--Montana--Garnet
  • Depressions--1929--Montana--Garnet
  • Automobiles--Montana--Garnet
  • Children--Montana-- Garnet
  • Community life--Montana--Garnet
  • Dwellings--Montana--Garnet
  • Ethnic groups--Montana--Garnet
  • Families--Montana--Garnet
  • Fishing--Montana--Garnet
  • General stores--Montana--Garnet
  • Ghost towns--Montana--Granite County
  • Gold mines and mining--Montana--Garnet
  • Hotels--Montana--Garnet
  • Huckleberries--Montana--Garnet
  • Hunting--Montana--Garnet
  • Merchants--Montana--Garnet
  • Phosphate mines and mining
  • Phosphate mines and mining
  • Postmasters--Montana--Garnet
  • Recreation--Montana--Garnet
  • Swedish Americans--Montana--Garnet
  • Teachers--Montana--Garnet
  • Tourism--Montana--Garnet
  • Women--Montana--Missoula--Interviews

Personal Names

  • Morin, Mary Jane Adams, 1917-2011, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Baldwin, Sharon Seadin, 1941-, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Briggs, Sharon M. (Sharon McDonald), 1942-2007, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Davey, F.A.
  • Fitzgerald, Frank Joseph, 1912-2003, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Gates, Lois M.,1928-, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Kohr, Daniel P., 1951-, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Liberty, Billy
  • McDonald, Pat, 1939-, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Robinson, Lauris Heron, 1925-2004, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Robinson, LeRoy,1922-2009, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Robinson, Lester, 1927-, interviewee (interviewee)
  • Seadin, Nels
  • Shipler, Peter

Corporate Names

  • Boy's Club (Garnet, Mont.)

Family Names

  • Adams Family
  • Dahl Family
  • McDonald Family
  • Robinson Family
  • Scalf Family
  • Seidin Family

Geographical Names

  • Garnet (Mont.)--Buildings, structures, etc.
  • Drummond (Mont.)
  • Garnet (Mont.)--History
  • Garnet (Mont.)--Social life and customs
  • Mullan (Idaho)
  • Nancy Hanks Mine (Mont.)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Interviews--Montana
  • Oral histories--Montana

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Bruner, Darla, interviewer (interviewer)
    • Fichtler, Dick, interviewer (interviewer)
    • Schafer, Valerie K., interviewer (interviewer)