|Montana’s first written conveyance of property is this bill of sale.|
Joseph Joset, S. J., to John Owen, recorded in Missoula County. MHS Archives.
Owen’s hospitality at Fort Owen became widely renowned. Travelers and guests enjoyed excellent hospitality and fine wines, delectable meals, even iced lemonade. Owen’s library was, according to Lt. John Mullan, the finest in the Northwest. However, Owen’s status in the territory was tenuous. The government viewed his position as Indian agent and trading post proprietor as a conflict. Legality of the title to his land was in question even in the 1850s, and the boundaries were disputed. By the late 1860s, financial troubles forced Owen to mortgage his property. Worse, he began to suffer deteriorating mental capabilities and lapses of memory. Then in 1868, Nancy, Owen’s beloved Shoshone wife, died. This event escalated his diminishing mental health.
|Fort Owen was an oasis in the wilderness from the 1850s through the 1860s. |
Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, The University of Montana-Missoula