Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Grant-Kohrs Ranch

Johnny Grant and his wife Quarra, a Bannock woman, brought 250 head of horses and 800 cattle to the Deer Lodge Valley where they settled in 1859. Indians, Mexicans, Canadian Metis like Johnny himself, and whites soon joined the Grants in the Deer Lodge Valley. It was a lively, ethnically diverse settlement called Grantsville.

Johnny Grant
Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, 942-460
Floods took the Grant’s cabin in 1861 and the family moved to the new settlement of Cottonwood. In the fall of 1862, Johnny Grant built one of the first clapboard homes in the territory for Quarra. Its twenty-eight glass windows, shipped at great expense by steamboat then freighted overland, were an expression of the Grants' wealth.

The house at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Park, built in 1862, is one of the oldest frame homes in Montana.
However, with white miners came racial tension, ending the days when neighbors were tolerant of other cultures, Grant’s numerous wives, and inter-racial marriages. Indians ran off most of his cattle and an arsonist destroyed his best barn. Grant told the Montana Post that he wanted to take his children away from such a rough country. The valley was not safe for his family. Conrad Kohrs, whom Grant had several times assisted financially, purchased the ranch in 1866. Grant sold the buildings and their contents, including the house and many of the furnishings he and Quarra had purchased from the east and shipped at great expense. Grant took his children away from Deer Lodge in 1867, but Quarra did not accompany them. She died of consumption, leaving six children.

Quarra Grant's pierced tin pie safe, dating to 1864, is one of the original pieces in the house.
Conrad Kohrs soon brought his nineteen-year-old bride, Augusta, to the ranch. The furnishings reflect her elegant taste although a few pieces—rosewood parlor chairs and a pie safe—date to the time when Quarra Grant was mistress there. Kohrs pioneered ranch management and cattle breeding and became of the most important cattlemn of the nineteenth  century.  Ownership of the working ranch remained in the Kohrs family until the 1970s. Today a National Historic Landmark and National Park, you can visit the ranch and tour its beautiful home.

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