Monday, December 26, 2011


Exciting announcement: Montana Moments is now available as an e-book from most major retailers! (Kindle users can download it here. Nook users here.) Isn't is amazing how easy it is to get books? We've come a long way, as today's post goes to show.

Early Montana pioneer Granville Stuart tells a story that proves his insatiable love of reading. Granville and his brother James were among the first residents of the Deer Lodge Valley.

 James (l.) and Granville Stuart. Photos from A Tenderfoot in Montana.
The Montana Historical Society has the originals.

In late winter of 1861, word came to the Stuart brothers that a man by the name of Neil McArthur had left a trunk of books in the care of a Hudson’s Bay trader in the Bitterroot valley. The brothers were so starved for reading material they immediately packed dried meat and blankets, saddled their horses, and started the hazardous 150 mile trip to the Bitterroot valley. It was nearing spring, and the Big Blackfoot, Hellgate, and Bitterroot rivers were very dangerous and difficult to cross. Once at their destination, the brothers feasted their eyes on the books, but the trader insisted that he had no authority to sell them. The Stuarts pleaded until finally he agreed to sell them five books at five dollars each. They promised to pay McArthur when he returned to claim them. The Stuarts could hardly make up their minds which books to choose. They finally settled on illustrated editions of Shakespeare and Byron, a French Bible, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and Headley’s Napoleon and his Marshalls. McArthur never returned to the Bitterroot Valley, but the Stuart brothers wore the books to tatters and never regretted the dangerous trip to obtain them.

From Montana Moments: History on the Go

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