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Collection 216 - Frank T. Kelsey Papers, 1906-1934

Creator: Kelsey, Frank T. (Frank Theodore), 1874-1937

Provenance Note: Correspondence, legal documents, and photographs collected by Frank T. Kelsey were loaned to Montana State University for copying by Inez N. Smith of Olive, Montana on November 18, 1964. These copied materials were subsequently reported to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections in 1979 and assigned control number 79-670. The present location of the original documents is unknown.

Historical Note: Frank T. Kelsey was born in Kansas in 1874 and moved to Montana when he was thirteen years old. He initially worked as a school teacher in Rosebud County, but he eventually filed a desert claim for land along the Powder River is what is today Powder River County. Part of his claim encompassed the battle site of a March 17, 1876 military engagement against the Cheyenne Indians led by Col. Joseph J. Reynolds. Kelsey eventually became a Montana state senator and held a number of other public offices before his death in 1937.

Content Description Note: In December 1933, retired general William Carey Brown, who had served on the plains with the frontier military himself, wrote to Kelsey regarding the placement of headstones to commemorate four soldiers killed during the Battle of Powder River. Since none of the soldiers were actually buried and the location of their remains unknown, the markers were cenotaphs created on the request of historian Walter Camp and had never been placed on the battlefield. Brown was also interested in having Kelsey deed a small tract of his land to the government to assure the location of the markers would remain in the future. In the course of his three month's correspondence with Kelsey, Brown mentioned maps and resources used to research the battle. Copies of these documents, along with some land ownership papers and photographs of the Kelsey family, complete this collection. Most of the photocopies have faded to near illegibility since 1964, but Brown's letters have been digitally scanned and manipulated to produce legible surrogates.

Updated: 4/2/10