By Muncie Morger
Last week it was a community bus trip to visit the places to stay the night in Fort Benton and this past Wednesday it was a trip up the Missouri River. Jim Cummings who runs Lewis and Clark Canoe Expeditions (a member of the Chamber of Commerce) was the host for two one-hour rides for volunteers. The first was 9:00 a.m. and the second at 10:00 a.m. There were 18 people who not only enjoyed the ride on the pontoon boat (newly renovated) but some history about Roosevelt Island that they had never seen before. When the railroad came to Fort Benton in the 1880’s, so did smallpox. What people called a hospital/house was built from the original Fort Benton bricks. The local shoemaker, Peter Burnett an African American, had the job of taking these dying patients to the island. He had smallpox at one time and was immune to it. There was a bridge across to the island and one of the piers is still visible. The hospital/house was called “death house.” Ruth Carlstrom and I, when discussing the trip, compared it to the Benton Belle. It takes about 45 minutes to get up river and 10 to 15 minutes to get back. This boat ride could be a plus to Fort Benton as the Benton Belle was. Now most of the volunteers at the Visitors Center can give a first hand description of Jim’s boat ride. (I wonder if the boat has a name.) Give Jim a call if you want to book a trip up the river at 622-3698. It is a great family, friend, and visitor experience.
Went into Riverview Greenhouse for some late planting of flowers for my newly redesigned waterfall that was completed this past week. Judy Hazen had a picture on the counter of Brandon and Shandi’s daughter, Addison Faith, born on July 8. The amazing story about this granddaughter is that she is the first girl born in the Hazen family in 50 years. This family has no problem having their name carried on so the baby girl is so welcomed.
On that subject, if I had my way I would require all women to use their maiden name as their middle name. I have discussed this with others and my reasoning is that if you wanted to find someone, if you did not know their married name, you might never find them. Someone said to me, “Well, perhaps they don’t want to be found.” Touché!
SONS & DAUGHTERS OF MONTANA PIONEERS
The yearly convention of the Sons & Daughters will be held at the Ag Convention Center on August 7th, 8th and 9th. Their membership consists of pioneer descendents from all over the United States. They would welcome anyone in the area whose ancestors were pioneers before the cut off date of December 3lst, 1868 to join their organization. If you are in the position to meet any of them, please give them a huge Fort Benton welcome. Remember they are coming to our small town from all over the country. When checking this convention, I was given the name and phone number of the president, Shirley Herrin, who lives in Helena. In our discussion, I found that she is going to be at the Grand Union on Thursday evening presenting “Relive International.” If you want more information about the Sons & Daughters of Pioneers or Relive International, please contact Shirley at 406-442-8858.
What an outstanding event it was on July 3rd at the Ag Convention Center for the Armstrong celebration of 100 years on the farm. Wouldn’t you like to be able to go back in time to the year 1909? They must have been the bravest people to leave everything in their lives and travel hundreds of miles to a place completely unknown. It was especially difficult for the women and you know the reasons why. Imagine those that were expecting a child. There were no doctors to check you once a month and toward the end, once a week. Of course, there were midwives and in the long run, perhaps they were better as they may have birthed children (I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ babies.) What does a doctor really know about it anyway since they have never given birth to a baby? Back to the original subject and I was privileged to attend this very special party. The pictures that were on display were outstanding. I am not sure how many of the Armstrong family were there but the picture in the River Press last week had a good count. I met my fan-letter writer, Gertrude Weinharr, and we visited a long while. She had many stories about Fort Benton in the old days and I told her that I hoped she was writing all of them on paper. I urge all of you “old timers” to either write your stories or have some one else close to you to write them. Bring those stories (along with pictures) to the Joel Overholser Research Center to be added to the Fort Benton history library. We will not keep your pictures…we just want to scan them. It may not be important now but in 100 years, it will be. I promise this will be the last time I will write about this subject. I am not positive but I believe there has been only one person who has turned up with material to be scanned. If only you could realize how important this request is.
MEMORIAL BENCH FROM 1940
I am guessing that the bench that Gust Johnson donated to the Woman’s Club of Geraldine is lost forever. Hank Armstrong was not able to come up with an answer, as the park is gone as well as the bench. I have not heard from any Johnson families that may have been related. You never know what may show up down the line.
On Friday evening the 24th of July at 6:00 p.m., the Chouteau County Performing Arts and the Chamber of Commerce are offering a free concert in the Old Fort Park. The Old West Trio who performed on the Grand Union patio last summer (they were great) will provide the music. Bring your whole family, lawn chairs, and a bag lunch. If it is your husband’s night to cook, you may purchase B.B.Q. from the American Legion Post #26. Sounds like a grand time with your friends and neighbors. Mark it on your calendar now. Donations will gladly be accepted.
SO LONG FOR NOW
The second line of Mother Theresa’s “The Final Analysis” reads…If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. God bless America, Montana, and Fort Benton.