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Collection 913 - Clifton B. Worthen-James Fergus Collection, 1884-1955

Creator: Burlingame, Merrill G. (Merrill Gildea), 1901-, collector

Provenance Note: Original documents, typed transcriptions, and photocopies created or collected by, or pertaining to Clifton B. Worthen or James Fergus were donated by Merrill G. Burlingame of Bozeman, Montana to Special Collections in several different accessions in the summer in 1969, 1973, 1975, and 1978. One file of photocopied newspaper articles by Worthen and others, originally assigned accession number 758, was copied from the Lewistown Public Library in 1967. The various Burlingame donations were previously assigned accession numbers 672, 673, 674, 675, 676, 678, 696, 719, 760, 767, 838, 912, 1068, 1110, and 1221.

Historical Note: Clifton Boyd Worthen was born in Lynden, Washington on January 30, 1899. He attended the University of Washington where he received a master's degree in 1928. Worthen moved to Montana where he taught history for 13 years at the Fergus County High School at Lewistown and for 26 years at Missoula County High School. While at Lewistown, Worthen came into possession of a number of original documents created or collected by James Fergus, a pioneer rancher and politician for whom the county was named. The documents had been deposited at the school after the Fergus ranch house had burned. Worthen used the documents in his own research and for teaching until he was contacted by Allis Stuart in the late 1930s who demanded the materials on behalf of Andrew Fergus's widow, Hazel. Even though Worthen gave Stuart most of the Fergus papers, he retained an undetermined amount himself until his death in 1963. In 1969, Worthen's widow, Gladys, turned over the balance to Merrill G. Burlingame for transfer to the Montana Historical Society.

James Fergus was born October 8, 1813 at Lanarkshire, Scotland. He immigrated to North America at the age of nineteen and lived for a time in Quebec, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota where he built and managed a number of mills and factories. In the 1860s, Fergus became interested in gold strikes occurring in the west and after a brief stay in Colorado, he joined the Fisk expedition to what would become Montana Territory in 1862. Fergus lived in Bannack, Virginia City and Helena were he prospected and held a number of minor governmental offices. With his son, Andrew, he ranched near Helena until 1880 when they bought land in the Judith Basin area and established one of the largest ranching operations in the territory. James Fergus was involved with the vigilante activity of 1884 in central Montana and served as a delegate to the constitutional convention of the same year. James Fergus died in 1902 and his son, Andrew, died in 1928. Shortly after a fire destroyed the family home Andrew's widow, Hazel, temporarily stored some of the salvaged family papers at the Fergus County High School where Clifton B. Worthen worked with them during the 1930s. Mrs. Granville Stuart, who had obtained work through the Federal Writers Project of the Works Progress Administration, contacted Hazel Fergus and arranged to sort and transcribe the family papers for the WPA. This work was carried out by both Mrs. Stuart and Mrs. Fergus primarily in 1942. The transcripts only included the papers in Mrs. Fergus's possession and the ones retained by Worthen were overlooked. Merrill G. Burlingame, in 1943, worked with the administration of the WPA to assume ownership of the transcripts. Hazel Fergus eventually donated her original papers to the University of Montana at Missoula.

Content Description Note: The Worthen-Fergus collection is a combination of original documents, photocopies, and typed transcripts selected from all of the sources described above. The materials document both the intellectual pursuits of Clifton B. Worthen as a historian and teacher, as well as the pioneer experiences of the James Fergus family. Subjects to which the collection pertain includes: history of central Montana, especially Fergus County and the Judith Basin, the vigilante activity of 1884, the DHS Ranch, the Lewis and Clark expedition, Montana politics and elections, ranching, gold rush towns of Bannack, Virginia City, and Helena, the Society of Montana Pioneers, the winter of 1887 and its effect on ranching, and territorial Montana's relations with Indian residents. Correspondents or authors of pieces in the collection include: Clifton B. Worthen, James Fergus, Andrew Fergus, Hazel A. Fergus, Oscar O. Mueller, Granville Stuart, Cornelius Hedges, Wilbur F. Sanders, Patrick Dunlany, Phillip Shoule, S.C. Gilpatrick, D.A. Meagher, A.L. Randall, Theodore Lindsay, J.L Perkins, William Cantrell, S.M. Emery, S. Spain, B.P. Carpenter, J.E. Richards, William Fly, and W.H. Watson.

Contents

Series 1 Clifton B. Worthen papers, 1927-1955, Box 1, folders 1-7
Photocopied historical research papers and printed articles created or collected by Worthen, or in collaboration with Lewistown, Montana attorney Oscar O. Mueller, in Worthen's capacity as a historian and high school teacher
Series 2 James Fergus family papers, 1884-1907, Box 1, folders 8-18
Photocopied and original papers created or collected by James Fergus or his son, Andrew, which had been in the possession of Cilfton B. Worthen
Series 3 WPA transcripts of Fergus family papers, 1942-1943, Box 1, folders 18-30; Box 2
Typed and handwritten transcriptions of original Fergus family papers in the possession of Hazel Fergus and prepared by her and Mrs. Allis Stuart for the Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration.

Series 1: Clifton B. Worthen papers, 1927-1955

Photocopied historical research papers and printed articles created or collected by Worthen, or in collaboration with Lewistown, Montana attorney Oscar O. Mueller, in Worthen's capacity as a historian and high school teacher. The papers deal with the history of central Montana, especially Fergus County and the Judith Basin, the vigilante activity of 1884, the DHS Ranch, and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Originals are at the Montana Historical Society at Helena.

Box 1
1. Notes of historical interest covering the Judith Basin copied at the Fergus County High School under the direction of C.B. Worthen, instructor in history. Pages 1-67
2. Notes of historical interest covering the Judith Basin copied at the Fergus County High School under the direction of C.B. Worthen, instructor in history. Pages 68-162
3. The Judith Basin in Central Montana/by Clifton B. Worthen, Missoula County High School. Pages 1-50
4. The Judith Basin in Central Montana/by Clifton B. Worthen, Missoula County High School. Pages 51-102
5. Central Montana/by Clifton B. Worthen and Oscar O. Mueller
6. Camps of Lewis and Clark compiled by Clifton B. Worthen, 1955
7. Fergus County, A Miniature of the West/By C. B. Worthen, 1927

Contents | Special Collections

Series 2: James Fergus family papers, 1884-1907

Photocopied and original papers created or collected by James Fergus or his son, Andrew, which had been in the possession of Cilfton B. Worthen. In 1969, Worthen's widow, Gladys, turned these materials over to Merrill G. Burlingame for transfer to the Montana Historical Society. Burlingame photocopied the majority of these pieces prior to depositing them with the MHS in Helena. Correspondents include: Granville Stuart, Cornelius Hedges, Wilbur F. Sanders, Patrick Dunlany, Phillip Shoule, S.C. Gilpatrick, D.A. Meagher, A.L. Randall, Theodore Lindsay, J.L Perkins, William Cantrell, S.M. Emery, S. Spain, B.P. Carpenter, J.E. Richards, William Fly, and W.H. Watson. Topics include: Montana politics and elections, ranching, the vigilante movement of 1884, the Society of Montana Pioneers, the winter of 1887 and its effect on ranching, the DHS Ranch, the history of central Montana and the Judith Basin, and relations with Montana Indians. The papers were calendared in at least four different accessions, and those descriptions have been transferred to the inventory below. An asterisk indicates the letter or document described is an original, documents transcribed by Merrill Burlingame have been so identified, and all materials have been chronologically arranged. Unless otherwise indicated, the calendared item is a letter.

Box 1 (cont.)
8. Papers, 1884
    Jan. 8, 1884 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    March 1884 - article from Mineral Argus about a trip home from California.
    July 24, 1884 - from Granville Stuart referring to progress of the action against horse thieves (typed transcript)
    Nov. 8, 1884 - from W. H. Sutherlin re: result of the election.
    Dec. 24, 1884 - entries from account book of James Fergus (typed transcript)

9. Papers, 1885
    Feb. 10, 1885 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    April 20, 1885 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    May 9, 1885 - from Wilbur F. Sanders suggesting a bill to establish definite wages for officials to prevent undue pressure
    July 7, 1885 - from B.P Carpenter re: Indian depredations*
    July 10, 1885 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    July 23, 1885 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    July 26, 1885 - from Granville Stuart complaining about roving Indians
    July 29, 1885 - from William Fly about the release of a murderer.*
    Sept. 23, 1885 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    Sept. 26, 1885 - from Granville Stuart complaining about the unrealistic attitude of the military concerning Indians.
    Oct. 24, 1885 - from Granville Stuart re: his personal finances
    Nov. 30, 1885 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    Dec. 15, 1885 - from W. H. Watson re: lumber orders.*
    Dec. 19, 1885 - from Granville Stuart re: wolves on the range and actions against them

10. Papers, January-June, 1887
    Jan. 1, 1887 - from Wm. Fergus re: family affairs.
    Jan. 1, 1887 - from Judith Wool Growers Assoc.
    Jan. 4, 1887 - from Granville Stuart re: harsh winter
    Jan. 23, 1887 - from Patrick Nunlany re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    Jan. 30, 1887 - from H.P. Brooks re: harsh winter
    Feb. 10, 1887 - from Phillip Shoules re: harsh winter
    Feb. 11, 1887 - from S.C. Gilpatrick re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    Feb. 14, 1887 - from D. A Meagher re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    Feb. 20, 1887 - from A. L. Randall re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    Feb. 22, 1887 - from Theodore Lindsay re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    Feb. 24, 1887 - from J.L. Perkins re: harsh winter
    Mar. 2, 1887 - from Wm. Cantrell re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    Mar. 8, 1887 - from S.C. Gilpatrick re: politics in Helena
    April 15, 1887 - from A. L. Randall re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    April 29, 1887 - from T.C. Power Co. re: harsh winter (typed transcript)
    May 5, 1887 - to Conrad Kohr re: Granville Stuart's efficiency with the DS Ranch and with the Vigilante Committee of 1884 (copy and typed transcript)
    May 8, 1887 - from Granville Stuart re: a roundup
    June 11, 1887 - from Granville Stuart re: stock thieves
    June 21, 1887 - from Granville Stuart re: stock thieves
    June 28, 1887 - from H.M. Martin re: wool prices.

11. Papers, July-December, 1887
    July 22, 1887 - from James Dempsey request a loan.
    Aug. 7, 1887 - from James Dempsey giving thanks for the loan.
    Aug. 30, 1887 - from Cornelius Hedges
    Sept. 2, 1887 - contract to sell sheep to James D. Grant and W. S. Cowan.
    Nov. 26, 1887 - from Andrew Fergus telling about delay getting home and about cattle sale.

12. Papers, 1888
    Feb. 14, 1888 - fragment of a letter to Miss Simpson (cousin in Scotland)
    Nov. 2, 1888 - fragment of a letter to Granville Stuart explaining why he didn't vote for him.
    Nov. 19, 1888 - from J.H. Carter giving thanks for support during election.
    Nov. 26, 1888 - note about his reaction to the disrespect of the young

13. Papers, January-June, 1889
    Jan. 1889 - settlement with Andrew.
    Feb. 3, 1889 - to J.S. Stuart re: roundup expenses.
    Feb 5, 1889 - to Andrew Fergus re: financial arrangements in case of his death.
    Feb. 5, 1889 - private memorandums for Andrew Fergus to be used "when I am gone"
    Feb 23, 1889 - from Richard Hodgson, George Stephens poisoning dogs that killed chickens.
    Feb. 23, 1889 - to James E. Hughes re: a $5.00 donation.
    Feb. 25, 1889 - to cousin Mrs. Janet Simpson in Scotland re: family matters
    Apr. 8, 1889 - from J. H. Moe re: nominations to the constitutional convention.
    May 3, 1889 - from the president of the Montana Central Railway (signature not clear).
    May 10, 1889 - from Samuel P. Putnum re: skipping a trip to Montana in 1889
    June 8, 1889 - from Granville Stuart thanking James Fergus for his remarks at Katie's funeral
    June 28, 1889 - from Wilbur F. Sanders condolences on James Fergus's defeat in an election for the state legislature. (Incomplete)

14. Papers, July-December, 1889
    Aug. 2, 1889 - from daughter Luella re: social life with reference to Granville Stuart.
    Aug. 24, 1889 - to son Andrew from Butte after the Republican Convention (typed transcript)
    Aug. 25, 1889 - to Andrew Fergus re: the Republican convention in Anaconda which he was attending
    Oct. 4, 1889 - from Andrew Fergus re: cattle prices very low in Chicago where he sold their cattle
    Oct. 6, 1889 - from Granville Stuart re: his health and return from South America
    Oct. 11, 1889 - from Granville Stuart re: the election
    Oct. 11, 1889 - to T.C. Power re: regret on his defeat in gubernatorial election and promise to settle the Brooks matter
    Oct 13, 1889 - to Erickson re: statement that he was a Republican but free to vote for any good candidate
    Oct. 17, 1889 - to daughter Luella re: a statement about his character
    Nov. 30, 1889 - to the 1889 roundup asking for a settlement of hide money from Henry Brooks and offering his ranch as the next headquarters
    Dec. 7 1889 - to J.C. McNamara re: disputed Silver Bow election, on verso a petition to eradicate beaver during irrigation season
    Dec. 15, 1889 - fragment of second letter to Mrs. Simpson
    Dec. 28 1889 - to McLaughlin re: a backhanded apology stating his feelings about wrongs to Indians

15. Papers, 1891-1892
    Nov. 28, 1891 - tax receipts for James and Andrew Fergus and Thomas Shea
    Feb. 14, 1892 - to Miss Lillie Berntheiod from Andrew Fergus
    June 9, 1892 - to editor of the Arena re: hypocrisy of Christian morals
    June 20, 1892-July 6, 1892 - from B.O. Flowers
    Sept. 2, 1892 - from Gov. J.K. Toole re: control of the Cree Indians
    Nov. 1, 1892 - from Albert Ronne of Woody Island telling about his homestead
    Nov. 21, 1892 - purchase of a brand from G. (Slier)
    1892 list of grievances against his brother Andrew in Scotland

16. Papers, 1893-1905
    Jan. 23, 1893 - from S. M. Emery requesting information for a composite Montana history to be published by the Montana State House Keepers Society*
    April 23, 1894 - from Jerry Collins, National State Historical Publishing Company, re: portrait of James Fergus to be printed in an upcoming history of Montana.*
    July 18, 1894 - from J. E. Richards re: bounties to protect stockmen.*
    March 11, 1905 - from S. Spain of Benson Mines, N.Y. requesting a book which Fergus had told him he was writing.*

17. Papers, no date
    No date - note on Day House stationary about the setting up of an unnamed county organization
    No date - Manuscript account in handwriting of the first Fisk expedition, life in Bannack in 1862, the starting of the vigilantes, etc.
    No date - letter to his family in Scotland full of trouble and family history
    No date - a second letter to Scotland with reflections on his view of religion, science, etc.
    No date - memo about cattle
    No date - letter to Robert Fergus in Scotland re: family business
    No date - notes about science and religion, and the history of the Moline plow.

Contents | Special Collections

Series 3: WPA transcripts of Fergus family papers, 1942-1943

Typed and handwritten transcriptions of original Fergus family papers in the possession of Hazel Fergus and prepared by her and Mrs. Allis Stuart for the Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration. Most of the original papers from which these transcriptions were taken were subsequently donated to the University of Montana at Missoula. The letters transcribed here were done in rough chronlogical order, although occasionally documents of widely different dates were included in one transcription. Most include annotations from Hazel Fergus or Allis Stuart placing the letter in historical context. The letters mostly pertain to James Fergus and his early life in Minnesota, his trip to the gold fields of Montana Territory, his family's subsequent move to join him, and the establishment of their ranch in what would become Fergus County, Montana. Included with the transcriptions are several biographical sketches prepared by Hazel Fergus or Allis Stuart, and a file of letters collected by M. G. Burlingame which document the transcription activity and provenance of the original documents.

Box 1 (cont.)
18. 1835-1840
19. 1841-1847
20. 1851-1853
21. 1854-1857
22. 1858-1860
23. 1861
24. 1862
25. 1863
26. 1864-1865
27. 1866
28. 1867
29. 1868-1869
30. 1872

Box 2
1. 1873
2. 1874
3. 1875
4. 1876-1877
5. 1878
6. 1879
7. 1880
8. 1881
9. 1881
10. 1882-1884
11. 1186-1893
12. 1894-1896
13. 1897-1908
14. no date
15. Biographical
16. Provenance correspondence

Contents | Special Collections

Updated: 2/25/09