Monday, September 8, 2014

Jersey Lilly

Completion of the “Milwaukee Road” brought hundreds of homesteaders to Ingomar in Rosebud County during the 1910s. During its heyday, Ingomar was the sheep-shearing and wool-shipping center. It saw two million tons of wool annually.  On July 2, 1914, the Ingomar Index announced that a bank would soon open, marking an important milestone in the community’s development. Investors H. B. Wiley, C. W. Greening, and E. B. Clark hired bookkeeper W. T. Craig. All, declared the Index, were businessmen of sterling reputations. When the new building was completed that October, the newspaper declared it a “pippin,” noting that “cashier Craig feels like a kid with a new toy.” It was Ingomar’s first brick building. The bank indeed prospered, reorganizing and expanding in 1917 as a state bank, and reorganizing again in 1921 under federal charter. Economic reversal led to the bank’s sudden closure later that year. Craig was convicted of misuse of bank funds, a ruling that was later overturned on appeal. The bank stood empty, a painful reminder of delinquent loans and failed homesteads. In 1933, the Oasis Bar opened in the building and the Jersey Lilly Bar and CafĂ© moved into the former bank in 1948.

The Jersey Lilly is a Montana must!
Named for the beautiful nineteenth-century actress Lilly Langtry, the Jersey Lilly has since served as a community gathering place with a devoted clientele. Original pressed tin ceilings, bank vaults, and the outline of teller cages on unfinished hardwood flooring suggest the building’s previous function. Recalling the sheepmen who once drove their flocks through the area, the Sheep Herder Hors d’Oeuvre — orange slices, onions, and cheddar on saltine crackers—is a favorite. And as in days of old, there is always a pot of beans on the stove. Fare is simple and facilities are out back, but today’s Jersey Lilly Saloon and Eatery is an unforgettable Montana experience.

The interior of the Jersey Lilly preserves some of the original features of the former bank.

1 comment:

  1. I just have to convince Jim that we need to take some time and explore Montana.