Creator: Hedges, Wyllys A. (Wyllis Anderson), 1857-1929


Provenance Note: Original typewritten essays, newspaper clippings, photographs and miscellaneous materials created or collected by Wyllys Hedges were donated to Special Collections by Helen Brazier of Helena, Montana. Brazier, who was the niece of Wyllys Hedges, donated the materials in several installments from 1965 to 1967. This collection incorporates materials formerly designated as collections number 420, 554, and 775.


Historical Note: Wyllys Anderson Hedges was born in Independence, Iowa on July 3, 1857, the first of eight children born to Conrnelius and Edna Smith Hedges. Cornelius was a Yale educated attorney and prominent early Montana pioneer. Wyllys moved with his family to Montana Territory in 1867, arriving in Fort Benton via steamboat and then overland to Helena where Cornelius established a law practice and took an active role in local politics. Wyllys grew up in Helena and became the city's second librarian in 1869. He returned to New England as a young man to attend high school and Yale University, but he returned to Montana before completing his college studies. Wyllys first filed on a claim in Cascade County where the future city of Great Falls would be located and began raising sheep. In 1881 he moved to Wheatland County where he again operated a sheep ranch and, in 1884, married Ida S. Beach of Southington, Connecticut. They had four daughters, none of whom survived childhood. The couple moved once more in 1906 to Lewistown, Fergus County, where Wyllys served as receiver of the U. S. Land Office. Like his father, Wyllys was an enthusiastic member of the Masonic fraternity and took an active interest in the history of Montana. He served as a state representative for three terms, and during the session of 1904-1905 was elected speaker of the house. He was also on the board of trustees for the Montana Historical Society, president of the Society of Montana Pioneers, and president of the Montana chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Wyllys Hedges died in Lewistown on November 24, 1929.


Content Description Note: The Wyllys Hedges papers consist of essays he wrote on a variety of historical topics which were intended for eventual publication, miscellaneous documents including copied letters from Cornelius Hedges and his son, Cornelius "Toby" Hedges, newspaper clippings of obituaries and other events pertaining to the Hedges family, and photographs. Topics include: sheep herding; pioneer encounters with bears, rattlesnakes, and coyotes; Montana Native Americans; extreme weather conditions; religion; Montana politics.

Series 1: Historical essays, ca. 1928

Essays typewritten and autographed by Wyllys Hedges pertaining to a wide variety of historical topics. Most of these essays appear to have been prepared for publication, although it is unclear how many actually appeared in Montana newspapers. Topics include: sheep herding; pioneer encounters with bears, rattlesnakes, and coyotes; Montana Native Americans; extreme weather conditions; religion; Montana politics. After their donation, many of these essays were retyped by MSU library personnel, and these secondary copies have been placed in folder 12.

Box 1
1. Bears; Friendly Bears
2. A Ghost Village; The Ghost Village
3. A Hard Winter in the Sheep Business
4. Historical Sketch Pertaining to [the] Early Settlement of Great Falls
5. Historical Sketch of [an] Incident Occurring at Great Falls, 1880 (2 versions)
6. An Indian Battle near Yale, Montana, 1882
7. Lost in [a] Snow Storm; Mail Carrier Lost in Blizzard
8. A Montana Cloudburst; Reminiscences; Sketch of Montana Life: The Coyote
9. Speaker Hedges Tribute to Sanders; A Speedy Descent; The Story of Montana
10. Trailing Sheep from California to Montana, 1881 (2 versions)
11. Why I Go to Church
12. Secondary copies

Series 2: Letters and other documents, 1896-1958

Typewritten letters from Wyllys Hedges' brother, Cornelius "Toby" Hedges, to Wyllys and the Grand Master of the Montana Masonic fraternity regarding Montana history and the establishment of a charitable home for elderly Masons; typewritten copy of a letter composed by Conrnelius Hedges to his wife, Emma, on the occasion of their fiftieth wedding anniversary; a letter from Montana Senator Mike Mansfield to Ida Hedges on her 100th birthday; miscellaneous documents pertaining to the Hedges family. Also included is a biographical essay of Conrnelius Hedges, "He Went to Yale," prepared by University of Minnesota history professor Ernest S. Osgood and presented to Helen Brazier, the donor of this collection.

Box 1 (cont.)
13. Letters and other documents, 1896-1958

Series 3: Newspaper clippings, 1894-1967

Newspaper clippings pertaining to the Hedges family which appear to have been published in Montana newspapers. Included are obituaries for Wyllys Hedges and his brother, Cornelius "Toby" Hedges, social notices for Ida Hedges, and a series of essays written by Cornelius Hedges on his early experiences in Montana Territory.

Box 1 (cont.)
14. Newspaper clippings

Series 4: Photographs, 1885-ca. 1920s

Photographs and postcards of Wyllys Hedges, Emily Hedges Woodbridge, cornerstone ceremony at the Montana State Capitol building in Helena, and artwork which was probably intended for use as illustrations for Wyllys' manuscript articles. Captions were provided by Wyllys Hedges, Helen Brazier, or library personnel.

Box 1 (cont.)
15. Photographs #1-8
    #1. Wyllys Hedges modeling a woman's sport costume
    #2. Modern camp wagon for trail [3 men posing by a sheep herder's wagon]
    #3. Band of Montana sheep
    #4. Helena High School Graduating Class [ca. 1885; includes Emma Hedges Woodbridge]
    #5. Laying the cornerstone of the Montana capitol building [July 4, 1899]
    #6. Photograph of a Charles Russell painting [cowboys roping a steer]
    #7. Lone Wolf-Piegan [by Charles Russell; printed postcard]
    #8. Giant Springs, Great Falls, Mont. [printed postcard]


Updated: 9/2/09