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Collection 884 - Mrs. Lester S. Willson Papers, 1864-1920

Creator: Willson, Lester S., Mrs., 1841-1923

Provenance Note: Scrapbook and memoranda books created by Mrs. Lester S. Willson were donated to Special Collections by Merrill G. Burlingame in 1970 and 1973.

Historical Note: Emma D. Weeks Willson was born on March 13, 1841 in New York. She met General Lester S. Willson while serving as a volunteer at the Veterans Home in Albany, New York where he acted as an administrator after the Civil War. Willson, who later founded a successful mercantile operation in Bozeman, Montana Territory, married Emma on March 2, 1869 and brought her back to Bozeman where they lived the rest of their lives. Reported to have brought the first piano to Bozeman, Emma was an accomplished musician and singer. She performed many recitals for the community, both as an accompanist and a performer, and was active in the Presbyterian church. The Willsons had four children, only one of whom survived to adulthood; Fred F. Willson, a prominent local architect. Mrs. Willson died on April 11, 1923.

Content Description Note: The collections consists of a large scrapbook of mounted newspaper clippings, photographs, recital programs, and memorabilia pertaining to: Mrs. Willson's musical activities in Bozeman; obituaries of members of the Willson family; Lester Willson's Civil War military career and early political career in Montana; the Willson's silver wedding anniversary. Two memoranda books with poetry and lyrics composed or copied by Mrs. Willson are also included, along with an address book and a folder of laid-in material.

Contents

Box 1
1. Memoranda book with poetry and lyrics; address book listing friends and relatives of the Willson family.

2. Memoranda book with poetry and lyrics (disbound)

3. Laid-in material removed from scrapbook and memoranda books including a ballot from Bozeman's 1867 election for the territorial legislature with a brief letter from Lester Willson on verso; photograph of Lester Willson ca. 1866; letter from "Martha" to the Willsons dated Christmas, 1900; miscellaneous calling cards and address slips.

4. Scrapbook

Updated: 2/23/09