Collection 632 - Willson and Rich Records, 1866-1871
Creator: Willson and Rich
Provenance Note: Daybooks and ledger maintained by the business firm of Willson and Rich, Bozeman, Montana Territory, were donated to Special Collections by Mrs. Fred Willson, Bozeman, Montana on May 28, 1968.
Historical Note:The Willson and Rich firm of Bozeman, Montana Territory, was a merchandising operation founded in 1866 by Loren W. Tuller and Charles V. Rich, both of New York. Encouraged by their friend, Lester S. Willson, Tuller and Rich pooled their resources to organize an expedition to Montana and establish a store. In company with Lester's brother, Davis, the partners left Canton, New York in May of 1866. After a stop in Omaha, Nebraska to purchase stock, the party crossed the plains and reached the new town of Bozeman on September 2, 1866. At first they sold goods out of a tent but by November of that year they rented space in a two-story log cabin owned by the local Masonic order. They continued in business at that location until Lester Willson arrived in the spring of 1867. He became the senior partner in the firm and, on the departure of Loren Tuller in the fall of 1867, the senior partner, changing the name to "Willson and Rich." The firm built a new store in 1868 and Lester Willson eventually incorporated the business in 1893 and sold it in 1914.
Content Description Note: The Willson and Rich records consist of three day books and one ledger which document the firm's conception in Canton, New York through the relocation of the enterprise to Bozeman in 1866 and its operation up to 1871. Information in the records includes: sales transactions along the overland journey to Montana; expenses and sales during the first five years of the business once it was established in Bozeman; documentation of the purchases of many individuals prominent in the early history of Bozeman.
Related material held by Special Collections:
- Collection 1076 Davis Willson papers, 1861-1915
- Collection 1407 Lester S. Willson family papers, 1861-1915
- Collection 1018 Willson Company collection, 1912-1951
- Volume 1. Day book, 1866-1867
- Volume 2. Day book, 1867-1868
- Volume 3. Ledger, 1869-1871
- Volume 4. Day book, 1869-1871