Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Our GGG Uncle Edward Dennis. A Montana Pioneer

The Vistas from Choteau, Montana.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello Family,
Today we learn about the life of a Great Great Great Uncle and Montana pioneer, Edward Dennis. He was the brother of our Great Great Grandfather John Dennis.
The Relationship Chart is below:

Relationship Chart

The following information about our great uncle was taken from the book, The Progressive Men of the State of Montana, located at the University of Montana Library, Missoula.
Edward Dennis, who has thoroughly demonstrated the possibilities of successful stock growing in Montana, is a well known and highly respected resident of Teton County, residing near Choteau. He is a Southerner by birth, the place of his nativity being Knoxville, Tenn, where he was born on August 1, 1845. His father, Levi Dennis, also a native of Tennessee, removed to Sullivan county, Mo, in 1844, where he died two years later having been a lifelong farmer. His wife, Sarah (Crippin) Dennis, was born in Tennessee and passed from Earth at Fall River, S.D. in 1883. In the public schools of Sullivan county, MO., Edward Dennis obtained his rather limited education. With him it was a work-a-day world at the time, and in 1863 at the age of eighteen he came to Montana, located first at Alder Gulch, then at Helena, where he secured employment as a freighter with Capt. Parkinson, making trips to Fort Benton and Milk River.

The winter of 1865 he passed in Squaw Gulch, and in the following Spring assisted in the building of the old toll road of Messars, King and Gillett, inPrickly Pear Canyon. During the month of October, 18667, he worked in a sawmill in Strawberry Gulch, and in March, 1869, he removed to Confederate Gulch, where he engaged in the construction of a mining ditch on Hunter’s Bar, while during the Fall of that year he assisted in hauling grain and stores to the Judith Basin for the Diamond R. Company.

Returning to Sun River in the Spring of 1870, Mr. Dennis was employed on the farm of James Strong until Fall, the in company with O.S. M. Main he then purchased a ranch on Sun River, which they sold in 1875. They then bought a herd of cattle and drove them to the Teton Valley, locating on the Emerson place, seven miles from Choteau, where they remained until 1878.

Mr. Dennis was the second white man to locate in this vicinity, Mr. James Givson having been the first and Samuel Burd the third. From 1878 until 1884, Messard, Dennis and Main were engaged in filling contracts to furnish the Canadian Government with beef, Mr. Dennis purchasing the cattle in Montana and Mr. Main attending to their disposal in Canada. Mr. Main is now engaged in mining on the Blackfoot ceded strip.

Dring the fall of 1878, Mr. Dennis secured a homestead claim on 160 acres on Spring Creek, two and one half miles from Choteau, and his wife purchased an adjoining property of 160 acres in the Spring of 1900. These two claims comprise the ranch upon which the family of Mr. Dennis now resides and are profitable engaged in stock raising at the time of this writing.

On December 12, 1899 Mr. Dennis was married to Miss Lucy Callahan at Choteau. She was born at New Market, Canada on August 19, 1867. They have one child, Chester Callahan Dennis, born on March 22, 1895. Mr. Dennis quite an active worker in the circles of the Democrat Party.
Obituary of Ed Dennis May 2, 1918.
Ed Dennis, aged 83, one of the real old timers of Teton County, died at his home north of Choteau on Wednesday evening.

Deceased was born at Knoxville, Tenn., August 1, 1845, and while a young man the family moved to Missouri. In 1863 Mr. Dennis came to Montana, locating for a while at Alder Gulch, now called Virginia City, and for several years he lived at Helena. in 1875 he came to this country and located on the Teton, being the second white man to locate in this part of the country. Of late years Mr. Dennis had lived on his ranch north of Choteau. he is survived by his wife and daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Percy of Browning. Funeral services will occur tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 P.M. from the home. Interment will be made in Choteau Cemetery.
Our Great Uncle Edward was also mention in the following article concerning the construction of the Teton County, Courthouse in Choteau, Montana.

The impressive three-story Teton County Courthouse, standing in the middle of Main Avenue, is the historic center of Choteau and the hub of many governmental activities. Surrounded by nearly 100 year-old trees, this majestic stone edifice highlighted by its bell tower and grand staircases, was built in 1906 from locally-quarried sandstone taken from Rattlesnake Butte. It has been the backdrop for several movies, and embodies the timeless, inviting feeling one gets when in Choteau.

Full Description of the Historical Site or Museum
Teton County electors narrowly approved a $40,000 bond election in May 1905 to build and furnish a courthouse in the county seat of Choteau. Kalispell architects Joseph Gibson and George Shanley submitted the only plan. County Commissioners Ed Dennis of Choteau, William Cowgill of Dupuyer and Ed Bollerud of Farmington awarded the contract to Great Falls contractors, Lease and Richards, who built the courthouse on donated land between August 1905 and November 1906 at a cost of $27,795.

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