Archives West Finding Aid
Table of Contents
James S. Spray Collection, 1925-1956
- Spray, James S., 1875-1956
- James S. Spray Collection
- 1.2 linear feet
- Collection Number
- Collection 2098, MtBC, us (collection)
- The James S. Spray Collection consists of Spray's manuscript "Early Days in the Madison Valley," letters Spray wrote to Burlingame about the manuscript and plans for publication, a photograph of Spray taken in 1951. The manuscript details the topography, history, and biographical sketches of Madison County and its residents.
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research.
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
James S. Spray was born on January 22, 1875, the son of James and Anna Spray, who owned a small ranch near Jeffers in the Madison Valley of Montana Territory. He attended school irregularly and eventually inherited the family ranch, specializing in sheep during the early twentieth century. Spray had a keen interest in history and around 1924 began to write a narrative description of the Madison Valley's past. Although his manuscript, "Early Days in the Madison Valley," was largely finished by 1930 Spray apparently never found a publisher, and he continued to revise the work throughout the 1930s. In 1938, he began to collaborate with historian Merrill G. Burlingame to have the handwritten document transcribed into typewritten format, and in the process Burlingame heavily edited the more than 1,500 pages Spray had created. Burlingame's final typewritten version was produced in multiple carbon copies, approximately twenty in all, bound, and distributed to interested parties in Madison County. James S. Spray died in 1956 without ever seeing his history published.
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The James S. Spray collection consists of Spray's "Early Days in the Madison Valley," written in pencil on highly acidic ruled notepaper. The manuscript, which details the topography, history, and biographical sketches of Madison County and its residents, has various pagination markings, representing the various revisions Spray made over the years he worked on it. Its arrangement here is based on the final page numbers which were likely added when he turned the work over to Merrill G. Burlingame in 1938. Also included are letters Spray wrote to Burlingame about the manuscript and plans for publication, a photograph of Spray taken in 1951, and three edited typewritten versions of Spray's work in various stages of revision prepared by Burlingame from approximately 1940 to 1956. Spray's manuscript details the settlement of the Madison Valley, particularly in the Ennis and Jeffers area, including biographical sketches of many early settlers and their families. Some personalities associated with the history of Virginia City and Alder Gulch are also included in the biographical sketches.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
Series 1 Letters, 1938-1951
Series 2 Spray Manuscript, 1925-1938
Series 3 Burlingame Manuscripts, 1938-1956
Letters, handwritten literary manuscripts, and typed revisions created by James S. Spray of Madison County, Montana and edited by Merrill G. Burlingame of Bozeman, Montana were donated to Special Collections by Burlingame in several increments between 1967 and 1974 and previously assigned accession number 109. The bulk of Spray's original manuscript was donated by his heir, Richard Dunn of Los Angeles, California, in 1984.
This collection was processed 2009 April 1
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
Series 1: Letters, 1938-1951Return to Top
Letters written by James Spray to Merrill G. Burlingame during the course of the latter's efforts to edit the handwritten manuscript. Spray's comments include answers to questions posed by Burlingame and reaction to the edited version. A portrait of Spray, taken in 1951, has also been placed in this series.
Series 2: Spray Manuscript, 1925-1938Return to Top
Handwritten manuscript of "Early Days in the Madison Valley," composed by James S. Spray on ruled writing tablet paper. Pagination varies, with the final version being indicated by a more or less continuously numbered arrangement from page 1 to page 1,560. Although some numbers have been skipped and others duplicated, the manuscript appears complete and is roughly divided between the narrative history and the biographical sketches. Also included is an additional biographical sketch likely composed by Spray after he had turned over the main manuscript to Burlingame in 1938, and a brief story about a coyote. The paper, highly acidic to begin with, is extremely fragile.
Series 3: Burlingame Manuscripts, 1938-1956Return to Top
Typewritten transcriptions, with handwritten corrections and addendum, prepared by Merrill G. Burlingame from the original document "Early Days in the Madison Valley" by James S. Spray. Included is a file of the transcription prepared on early schools in the Madison Valley and sent to "Mrs. Bull" of the area for comment and correction; portions of the first typewritten draft prepared by Burlingame circa 1938-40; two subsequent versions of the manuscript; indices probably prepared by Burlingame from the typescripts he created. The last typed version of the manuscript, finished in 1956, is bound.
Second draft, pages 1-20
Second draft 21-53
Second draft 54-102
Second draft 103-135
Second draft 136-175
Second draft 176-220
Second draft 221-269
Second draft 270-294
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Alder Gulch (Madison County, Mont.)-Biography
- Ennis (Mont.)
- Jeffers (Mont.)
- Madison County (Mont.)-Biography
- Madison County (Mont.)-History
- Madison Valley (Mont. and Wyo.)-Biography
- Madison Valley (Mont. and Wyo.)-History
- Virginia City (Mont.)-Biography
- Burlingame, Merrill G. (Merrill Gildea), 1901-1994 (creator)
- Spray, James S., 1875-1956-Early days in the Madison Valley (creator)