Provenance Note: Positive photocopies and original writings pertaining to John M. Bozeman were created or collected by Merrill G. Burlingame, Lesley M. Heathcote, and others and deposited with Special Collections beginning in 1969. This collection incorporates material formerly assigned accession numbers 694, 794, and 976. Most of this material was reported to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and assigned control number 79-631.


Historical Note: John M. Bozeman was born in Pickens County, Georgia in 1835. He left his wife and children to join the gold rush to Colorado in 1860, and later drifted into what would become Montana Territory. Never successful at mining, Bozeman instead turned to promoting a faster route to the Alder Gulch gold country for immigrants in 1863. Bozeman's route followed the eastern front of the Rockies north to the Yellowstone River, then west across the pass which bears his name to this day. The town of Bozeman was established in the Gallatin Valley just west of the pass, and John Bozeman took an active role in promoting it to potential settlers. In April 1867, while traveling to Fort C. F. Smith to secure a flour contract, Bozeman was allegedly killed by Indians. Rumors that maintain he had actually been murdered by his traveling companion, Thomas Cover, have persisted and continue to be debated by historians.

Bozeman's role in promoting his route and adopted community were the focus of research for Montana State University historian Merrill G. Burlingame as early as the 1930s. In 1941, Burlingame published a biographical sketch in the Mississippi Valley Historical Review titled "John M. Bozeman: Montana Trailmaker." The article was revised by Burlingame in 1971 and again in 1983 based on material the historian continued to collect. In his research activities, Burlingame was assisted by former MSU president James M. Hamilton and MSU library director Lesley M Heathcote, who corresponded with members of the Bozeman family.


Content Description Note: The John M. Bozeman collection is a compilation of materials created or collected by Merrill G. Burlingame, Lesley M. Heathcote, and others pertaining to Bozeman and the extended Bozeman family. Included with the materials are: photocopies of legal documents taken from the records of Gallatin County, Montana, and other public records offices; letters exchanged between Lesley M. Heathcote and Harley B. and Eck H. Bozeman; an original draft of Merrill G. Burlingame's biographical article on Bozeman submitted to James M. Hamilton for comment; an original essay by Marshall Bennett, possibly a student of Burlingame, concerning the circumstances of Bozeman's death.


Box 1
1. Photocopies of Bozeman estate papers, Gallatin County, MT, 1866-1869
2. Photocopies of Bozeman estate papers, Gallatin County, MT, 1866-1869
3. Correspondence, Lesley M. Heathcote, Harley B. Bozeman, Eck H. Bozeman, 1959-1965
4. Photocopies and newspaper clippings pertaining to Bozeman family, ca. 1930-1964
5. "John M. Bozeman," draft manuscript by M. G. Burlingame, 1941
6. "Benjamin F. Bembrick's Knowledge of the Death of John Bozeman," by Marshall Bennett, n.d.

Updated: 10/6/09