A Tenderfoot in Montana: Reminiscences of the Gold Rush, the Vigilantes, and the Birth of Montana Territory

Overview

Frank Thompson's lively memoir details his experiences in the upper Missouri country at the beginning of the Montana gold rush. A young man at the outset of the Civil War, Thompson supported the Union cause but realized that military life was not for him. Turning to the frontier, he headed west aboard a steamboat from St. Louis in 1862, arriving at Fort Benton, in what would later become Montana Territory.
Thompson's sojourn was relatively brief - he returned east after only two...

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A Tenderfoot in Montana: Reminiscences of the Gold Rush, the Vigilantes, and the Birth of Montana Territory

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Overview

Frank Thompson's lively memoir details his experiences in the upper Missouri country at the beginning of the Montana gold rush. A young man at the outset of the Civil War, Thompson supported the Union cause but realized that military life was not for him. Turning to the frontier, he headed west aboard a steamboat from St. Louis in 1862, arriving at Fort Benton, in what would later become Montana Territory.
Thompson's sojourn was relatively brief - he returned east after only two and a half years. But in that time he hunted for gold, ran a Bannack mercantile business, traveled to the Pacific Coast and back, served in Montana's first territorial legislature, and became a speculator in mining properties.
Thompson also formed a relationship with controversial sheriff Henry Plummer. Thompson knew the sheriff well, but he early stated his dark suspicions about the gold camp lawman. Drawing from his intimate knowledge of the circumstances and players involved, Thompson vividly describes one of the deadliest incident's of vigilante justice in U.S. history.
A self-styled tenderfoot, Frank Thompson recalls his days on the mining frontier with clarity and insight, making him an unmatched eyewitness for Montana's formative era.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780972152228
  • Publisher: Montana Historical Society Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2004
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,000,611
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

A specialist in western history, Ken Owens is also the editor of Perilous Passage: A Narrative of the Montana Gold Rush by Edwin Ruthven Purple (Montana Historical Society Press, 1995). Having retired from California State University, Sacramento, he now spends his time with his wife Sally in Washington state, northern California, and traveling throughout the West in search of historical documents and willing trout.

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Read an Excerpt

One day when on the street in Bannack, to my surprise I heard my name called three times by an officer, and answering the summons I entered a cabin in which I found Judge Burchett holding a session of the Miners' court. I was called to act as a juryman on a civil action. For some reason only known to the others on the panel I was chosen foreman. After hearing the evidence, the common sense rulings of the judge on law points, and the arguments of the learned counsel, the judge gave the jury a laconic charge and was about to submit the case, when one of the jury, more used to the local practice than the foreman, suggested to the court that the case had been a peculiarly dry one, and that to relieve the monotony each of the litigants be ordered to pay one-half the cost of liquid refreshments for the court, officers, lawyers and jury. The suggestion met the hearty approval of the court and in due time the jury retired, refreshed, and took up the consideration of the case. After a short conference it appeared that the jury were agreed in finding for the plaintiff, and I said "Then gentlemen, I understand that we find for the plaintiff, Richard Joy." "What's that?" cried one. "Is Joy the plaintiff? Hell, no! I don't find for Joy! I'm for Peters! He's my friend!" and for Peters he remained and after four hours without more refreshments that jury was discharged, not being able to agree with Peter's friend.

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Table of Contents

(1) On the Missouri River (2) On the Emilie (3) Fort Benton and the Headwaters of the Missouri (4) River, Ocean and Wilderness (5) The Vigilantes and the Road Agents (6) The Beginning of a New State

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