Creator: Buzzell, Mary J. (Mary Johnson), 1866-1954

Provenance Note: Original letters and photographs collected or created by Mary Johnson Buzzell were donated to Montana State University by her daughter, Esther Buzzell Turner, of Ontario, California on August 24, 1964.

Historical Note: Frank L. Buzzell was born in 1865 in New Hampshire, but he went to the Pacific Northwest later in the nineteenth century where he pursued a career as a clergyman. In 1892 he was listed in the Columbia River Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church as having been elected and ordained as an elder at The Dalles, Oregon. Buzell married Mary Johnson (1866-1954) and the couple had four daughters; Mary, Esther, Ruth, and Katherine. Sometime prior to 1907, Frank Buzzell retired from preaching and moved his family to the Kalispell, Montana area. In that year he purchased from William S. Conrad some farmland about a mile south of the town of Conrad, Montana and began building a home for his family. They took up residence in the spring of 1908. The farm entered a difficult financial period by 1913 but the family remained on the land, practicing a combination of irrigation and dryland farming techniques to raise both fruit and cereal crops. Frank Buzzell died on January 9, 1939.

Content Description Note: In the winter of 1913, Mary J. Buzzell wrote to the Cowan & Son mercantile operation of Box Elder, Montana to ask for a renewal on a $300 debt. In her letter, she described the difficulties the Buzzell family had recently faced and detailed some of the operations on their farm. William Cowan was so taken with the letter that he had it copied and sent to some of his creditors to illustrate the economic conditions in Montana that had stymied his own efforts in balancing the firm's books. Janney, Semple, Hill & Company, wholesale hardware dealers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, were impressed with the letter and sent Mary Buzzell some magazine subscriptions. These letters, along with two photographs showing the Buzell farm and one of the first apple trees planted in Pondera County, complete this collection.


Folder 1.
1. Mary J. Buzzell, letter to Cowan & Son, December 2, 1913
2. Janney, Semple, Hill & Co. letter to Cowan & Son, December 6, 1913
3. Janney, Semple, Hill & Co. letter to Cowan & Son, December 16, 1913
4. William T. Cowan, letter to Mary J. Buzzell, December 20, 1913
5. Photograph, The Buzzell Home, South Conrad, Montana, June 1910
6. Photograph, First Apple Tree in the vicinity of Conrad, Montana

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Updated: 3/24/10