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Wibaux: Gateway to Eastern Montana

At the eastern edge of the state, Wibaux is known as the “Gateway to Montana.” The tiny farming and ranching community has a rich history dating back to the 1880s when a Frenchman named Pierre Wibaux moved to the area and began cattle ranching. Wibaux’s family was in the textile business, but the young Pierre didn’t want to join the family business, so at age 27 he moved to America and made his way to eastern Montana. Wibaux knew nothing about cattle ranching when he established the W-Bar Ranch along Beaver Creek 12 miles north of town. He eventually became one of the largest cattleman in the state, with a herd that reportedly numbered over 70,000 that grazed in both Montana and North Dakota. Just over the border, Wibaux’s friend Teddy Roosevelt was ranching in the badlands of North Dakota. During the hard winter of 1890, Wibaux bought up cattle at bargain prices when many of his fellow stockmen had to sell out. A shrewd businessman, Wibaux is still remembered for hishumor, good nature and fairness. The town was originally called Mingusville and was one of the largest cattle shipping points on the Northern Pacific Railroad. Both the town and the county were named after Wibaux and some reports say that Wibaux himself carried petitions to get the name changed. The post office was established there in 1895. A brochure outlining the walking tour through Wibaux is available at the museum. On the tour you’ll pass by the historic St. Peter’s Catholic Church, built in 1895 with funds donated by Wibaux. The original frame structure has been covered with beautiful, native lava rock. Wibaux also has a new state visitor’s center located along Interstate 94 at Exit 242. The information center and rest area was built in 1998 to greet travelers entering Montana from the east. Outside of town, the land is a mix of badlands and gentle rolling hills. The area is great for hunting, hiking and photography, and Beaver Creek is known to produce some lunker walleye, northern pike and catfish.

Reprinted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas & Travel Encyclopedia”

On This Date in Montana History: November 3, 1914
Montana Women Gain the Right to Vote

During Montana’s Territorial Days, women pioneers actually enjoyed limited voting rights. Women were allowed to vote in school elections for district trustees and superintendents, and property owners had the right to vote on tax levies. As early as 1889, Perry W. McAdow and other Montana government delegates petitioned for women’s suffrage to be included in the new state’s constitution. Their petition was denied. As Colorado, Utah, and Idaho granted women the right to vote, tensions grew in Montana, and the suffragette movement gained steam. In 1913, the National American Woman Suffrage Association hired suffragette, Jeannette Rankin, to campaign for women’s voting rights in Montana and fourteen other states. Over the course of a 9,000-mile tour, Rankin spoke to government officials and voters, putting pressure on political parties in Montana to place suffrage at the head of their agendas. On November 3, 1914, Montana men ratified the suffrage amendment 41,302 to 37,588. Through Rankin’s efforts, Montana became the 11th state to grant women voting rights and the right to hold public office. Two years later, Rankin became the first woman elected to the US House of Representatives and was instrumental in pushing the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote in national elections.

Lewis & Clark Encounter Columbia River Natives
Excerpt from Clark’s Journal Entry: November 1st Friday 1805

The nativs of the waters of the Columbia appear helthy, Some have tumers on different parts of their bodies, and Sore and weak Eyes are common,   maney have lost their Sight entirely, great numbers with one eye out and frequently the other verry weak,   This misfortune I must again asscribe to the water &c.   They have bad teeth, which is not common with indians, maney have worn their teeth down and Some quite into their gums, this I cannot satisfactorily account for it,   do ascribe it in some measure to their method of eateing, their food, roots pert[i]cularly, which they make use of as they are taken out of the earth frequently nearly covered with sand, I have not Seen any of their long roots offered for Sale clear of sand.   They are rether below the Common Size high cheeks womin Small and homely, and have Swelled legs and thighs, and their knees remarkably large which I ascribe to the method in which they sit on their hams...The noses are all pierced and when they are dressed they have a long tapered piece of white shell or wampum put through the nose, those Shells are about 2 inches in length.   I observed in maney of the villeages which I have passed, the heads of the female children in the press for the purpose of compressing their heads in their infancy into a certain form, between two boards

Reprinted from “The Journals of Lewis and Clark” edited by Bernard DeVoto

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