Creator: Swan, Elizabeth Berger, 1881-1971

Provenance Note: Original typescripts of essays written by Elizabeth B. Swan of Lewistown, Montana were loaned to Montana State University for photocopying by her in 1967 and subsequently donated to the Lewistown Public Library. A newspaper article written by Swan was added to her papers in 1968. This collection incorporates material formerly assigned collection number 542.

Historical Note: Elizabeth Berger Swan was born in Lewistown, Montana on February 9, 1881, the daughter of John B. and Betsy Berger. The Bergers were part of the Red River Metis people who migrated south from Canada and homesteaded in the Lewistown (Fergus County) area beginning in 1879. Devout Catholics, the Bergers sent Elizabeth to the St. Peter's Mission school near Great Falls for her education. Elizabeth married William Swanson in 1900 and the couple had at least three children. Before her death on November 27, 1971, Elizabeth Swan wrote a number of reminiscences and stories about her family life and the history of the Lewistown Metis Catholic community.

Content Description Note: The Elizabeth Berger Swan papers consist of two photocopies of original typescript stories created by her and subsequently donated to the Lewistown Public Library. The first, "A Brief History of the First Catholic Pioneers of Lewistown, Montana," is a narrative of her family and relations first settlement in Lewistown and the early development of the town and the activities of the Catholic Church. Many early settlers are named in the narrative. The second essay, "Sporty and the Bear Claw," is a Cree Indian story regarding a young man's conversion from native religion to Catholicism. The Swan papers also include a newspaper article by her, which was published in the Lewistown News-Argus on December 22, 1968, giving details on her childhood and school days at the St. Peter's Mission school.

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Updated: 3/30/12