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Collection 2098 - James S. Spray Collection, 1925-1956

Creator: Spray, James S., 1875-1956

Provenance Note: Letters, handwritten literary manuscripts, and typed revisions created by James S. Spray of Madison County, Montana and edited by Merrill G. Burlingame of Bozeman, Montana were donated to Special Collections by Burlingame in several increments between 1967 and 1974 and previously assigned accession number 109. The bulk of Spray's original manuscript was donated by his heir, Richard Dunn of Los Angeles, California, in 1984.

Historical Note: James S. Spray was born on January 22, 1875, the son of James and Anna Spray, who owned a small ranch near Jeffers in the Madison Valley of Montana Territory. He attended school irregularly and eventually inherited the family ranch, specializing in sheep during the early twentieth century. Spray had a keen interest in history and around 1924 began to write a narrative description of the Madison Valley's past. Although his manuscript, "Early Days in the Madison Valley," was largely finished by 1930 Spray apparently never found a publisher, and he continued to revise the work throughout the 1930s. In 1938, he began to collaborate with historian Merrill G. Burlingame to have the handwritten document transcribed into typewritten format, and in the process Burlingame heavily edited the more than 1,500 pages Spray had created. Burlingame's final typewritten version was produced in multiple carbon copies, approximately twenty in all, bound, and distributed to interested parties in Madison County. James S. Spray died in 1956 without ever seeing his history published.

Content Description Note: The James S. Spray collection consists of Spray's "Early Days in the Madison Valley," written in pencil on highly acidic ruled notepaper. The manuscript, which details the topography, history, and biographical sketches of Madison County and its residents, has various pagination markings, representing the various revisions Spray made over the years he worked on it. Its arrangement here is based on the final page numbers which were likely added when he turned the work over to Merrill G. Burlingame in 1938. Also included are letters Spray wrote to Burlingame about the manuscript and plans for publication, a photograph of Spray taken in 1951, and three edited typewritten versions of Spray's work in various stages of revision prepared by Burlingame from approximately 1940 to 1956. Spray's manuscript details the settlement of the Madison Valley, particularly in the Ennis and Jeffers area, including biographical sketches of many early settlers and their families. Some personalities associated with the history of Virginia City and Alder Gulch are also included in the biographical sketches.


Series 1 Letters, 1938-1951
Series 2 Spray Manuscript, 1925-1938
Series 3 Burlingame Manuscripts, 1938-1956

Series 1: Letters, 1938-1951

Letters written by James Spray to Merrill G. Burlingame during the course of the latter's efforts to edit the handwritten manuscript. Spray's comments include answers to questions posed by Burlingame and reaction to the edited version. A portrait of Spray, taken in 1951, has also been placed in this series.

Box 1
1. Letters, 1938
2. Letters, 1939
3. Letters, 1940
4. Photograph, 1951

Contents | Special Collections

Series 2: Spray Manuscript, 1925-1938

Handwritten manuscript of "Early Days in the Madison Valley," composed by James S. Spray on ruled writing tablet paper. Pagination varies, with the final version being indicated by a more or less continuously numbered arrangement from page 1 to page 1,560. Although some numbers have been skipped and others duplicated, the manuscript appears complete and is roughly divided between the narrative history and the biographical sketches. Also included is an additional biographical sketch likely composed by Spray after he had turned over the main manuscript to Burlingame in 1938, and a brief story about a coyote. The paper, highly acidic to begin with, is extremely fragile.

Box 1 (cont.)
5. Coyote story
6. Narrative 1-34
7. Narrative 35-70
8. Narrative 71-105
9. Narrative 106-140
10. Narrative 141-175
11. Narrative 176-210
12. Narrative 211-245
13. Narrative 247-280
14. Narrative 281-315
15. Narrative 316-350
16. Narrative 351-385
17. Narrative 386-420
18. Narrative 421-455
19. Narrative 456-490
20. Narrative 491-525
21. Narrative 526-560
22. Narrative 561-595
Box 2
1. Narrative 596-630
2. Narrative 631-665
3. Narrative 666-700
4. Narrative 701-735
5. Narrative 736-770
6. Narrative 771-792
7. Biographic 770-805
8. Biographic 806-840
9. Biographic 841-876
10. Biographic 882-915
11. Biographic 916-950
12. Biographic 951-985
13. Biographic 986-1020
14. Biographic 1023-1070
15. Biographic 1071-1105
16. Biographic 1106-1140
17. Biographic 1141-1175
18. Biographic 1176-1200
19. Biographic 1201-1235
20. Biographic 1236-1270
Box 3
1. Biographic 1271-1305
2. Biographic 1306-1340
3. Biographic 1341-1375
4. Biographic 1376-1424
5. Biographic 1425-1501
6. Biographic 1502-1542
7. Biographic 1543-1560
8. "Appendix"

Contents | Special Collections

Series 3: Burlingame Manuscripts, 1938-1956

Typewritten transcriptions, with handwritten corrections and addendum, prepared by Merrill G. Burlingame from the original document "Early Days in the Madison Valley" by James S. Spray. Included is a file of the transcription prepared on early schools in the Madison Valley and sent to "Mrs. Bull" of the area for comment and correction; portions of the first typewritten draft prepared by Burlingame circa 1938-40; two subsequent versions of the manuscript; indices probably prepared by Burlingame from the typescripts he created. The last typed version of the manuscript, finished in 1956, is bound.

Box 3 (cont.)
9. First draft (partial)
10. Bull corrections
11. Second draft, pages 1-20
12. Second draft 21-53
13. Second draft 54-102
14. Second draft 103-135
15. Second draft 136-175
16. Second draft 176-220
17. Second draft 221-269
18. Second draft 270-294
19. Indices
20. Third draft (bound volume)

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 4/1/09