Written by Crystal B. Alegria, Director of The Extreme History Project and Montana Historian Magazine Guest Contributor
I first met Lizzie Williams when walking through the historic section of Sunset Hills Cemetery located in Bozeman, Montana. Lizzie’s decorative white marble headstone had caught my eye. The stone is weathered and sunken into the ground on one side. As I lingered on the beauty of the stone, I noticed the death date of 1875.
The Christmas season seems to bring out traditions in our families and in our culture that have been around for years. The following story, which was first printed in the Big Timber Pioneer more than twenty years ago, includes the experiences of several people during World War II. Each person has a connection to Montana and each person has a different perspective. Two of those interviewed have passed away since this article was first published, but their words help us remember what it was like all those years ago when we leaned on our traditions to help us through difficult times.
“Thank you for your service.” That is the phrase that comes to mind when you see someone in a military uniform. They are merely words that we are conditioned to say. Are words truly enough? How exactly do we respect our veterans, offer them an understanding of what they went through during their tenure in the military? Veterans Day originated 101 years ago to honor all the men and women who have served and some of us still struggle with a heartfelt way to show appreciation.
By John Rice, MTSSAR, Don Reed, MTSSAR, and Kerry O’Connell, MontanaHistorian.com
One of the joys for us at MontanaHistorian.com, is the connections that we make. Connections with those who know history, appreciate history, share history, and research history. We’ve written before about the threads of stories that are woven into Montana’s rich heritage. Many Civil War veterans have stamped their legacy in our stories of vigilantes that helped form the state that we call home.
We at Montana Historian recently returned from an overnight trip to Yellowstone Park and Island Park, Idaho. I had an idea about an article. Yellowstone tourists and railroads. We discovered it’s a large topic and we needed to break it down into smaller bites for our readers. To that end we focused on the Union Pacific Railroad line from Saint Anthony, Idaho to West Yellowstone, Montana and how their transportation of tourists helped change this part of Montana forever.
Book Review written by John O’Connell, MontanaHistorian.com
As a farrier I traveled all over south central Montana and beyond. From indoor arenas to dude ranches, 4-H projects to cattle ranches, I worked on a lot of different horses who belonged to all kinds of people. Good horsemen and horsewomen are rare, but I met a few. They understand how horses think. They can read body language and can train a horse to be polite, respectful and trustworthy. Those horses were a joy to work with and I have fond memories of them.
Some of the most fascinating examples of human gallantry and sacrifice are ones that we may never know about. In January of 2020, a friend of mine who happens to be an Asian American, invited me to Three Forks for a memorial dedication. My friend, David Chung, is a Vietnam Veteran and had been invited to speak at the dedication due to his involvement with the Department of Montana Military Order of the Purple Heart (find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/MontanaPurpleHeart/).
My wife Kerry and I took a day trip last week to Virginia City to do a little research and relax a bit. After lunch, we went in different directions and I wandered up Wallace Street where I found the Hangman’s Building. This is where the Virginia City Vigilance Committee hanged five men from a large beam in the then unfinished building on January 14, 1864.
“You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.” (Excerpt of a letter to the people of the United States by Congressman John Lewis. Published on the occasion of his death, July 30, 2020)
When most of us think of Montana connections with our nation’s Civil War I would bet that nothing much comes to mind. After all, we didn’t even become an organized territory until 1864. The Confederate Army didn’t come within a thousand miles of Montana and what Federal troops that were here were preoccupied with chasing the Lakota along the Yellowstone River and in the Powder River country. That’s not to say the Civil War didn’t touch Montana.