Collection 708 - William W. Alderson Diary, 1864-1879
Creator: Alderson, William W. (William White), 1831-1906
Provenance Note: Typed transcripts of the William W. Alderson diaries were donated to Special Collections by the Museum of the Rockies in the summer of 1969. The original diaries of William W. Alderson were eventually passed down to his great-grandson, Ted Alderson, who lived in Oregon during the Depression. He was contacted by Merrill G. Burlingame in the summer of 1934 for the purpose of transcribing the diary. Burlingame eventually typed nearly 180 pages from the little volumes, making pencil notations for their eventual publication. Sometime after the transcription, the original diaries were destroyed in a house fire. Burlingame began the preparation of the original transcription for publication and had the manuscript retyped incorporating his pencil notations. The final version of the diary was published in a mimeograph format and the original draft given to the Museum of the Rockies by Dr. Burlingame.
Historical Note: William W. Alderson (1831-1906) was a Bozeman, Montana pioneer newspaperman and Indian agent. Born in England, Alderson came to the United States with his parents and eventually settled in western Illinois near Galena. He married Francis W. Weatherly in 1854 and the couple moved to Montana in 1864 along with Alderson's brother, John. The Aldersons decided to settle in the Gallatin valley and became one of the founding families of the new town of Bozeman. In 1873, Alderson accepted a post as Indian agent at the Milk River agency for the Assiniboine Indians, a position he held until 1876. In 1877, he became the editor of the Bozeman Avant Courier, and in 1886 served a term in the Montana legislature. The Aldersons had nine children, Edward, Matthew, Elizabeth, May, Anna, Margaret, Charles, William, and George. Edward C. Alderson also kept a diary from 1875 through 1879, during which time he assisted his father at the Milk River agency.
Content Description Note: The transcripts are of diary notations from Alderson, 1864-1877, and additional entries by his son, Edward, from 1875 to 1879. Entries include information on the family's trip across the plains to Montana from Jo Daviess County, Illinois. The route followed what was then known as "Jacob's Cut-off" via Wind River, Gray Bull, Clark's Fork, and the Yellowstone Valley. Further entries describe the early settlement of Bozeman, Alderson's experiences as an Indian agent, and the purchase of the Avant Courier. The transcripts have been arranged in thirteen folders. Folder one contains a carbon of a second draft Burlingame was preparing from his original transcript and covers the years from 1864 through 1866. Folders two through seven contain the original transcript prepared in 1934 which is missing pages 11-21. These missing pages were among the ones retyped in the carbon copy in folder one. Folders eight through thirteen contain the mimeograph published version of the diary, probably prepared in the early 1970s.
- Box 1
- 1. Carbon copy, 1864-1866
- 2. Original copy, 1864-1866
- 3. Original copy, 1867-1868
- 4. Original copy, 1871-1872
- 5. Original copy, 1873-1874
- 6. Original copy, 1875-1877
- 7. Original copy, Edward C. Alderson, 1875-1879
- 8. Mimeograph, 1864-1866
- 9. Mimeograph, 1867-1868
- 10. Mimeograph, 1871-1872
- 11. Mimeograph, 1873-1874
- 12. Mimeograph, 1875-1877
- 13. Mimeograph, Edward C. Alderson, 1875-1879