Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mullan Road Conference comes to Missoula in May

The 2014 Mullan Road Conference will be held in Missoula May 2-4.

Here's what the organizers have to say about the conference:
The 2014 Mullan Road Conference is coming to Missoula May 2-4, just in time to help Montana celebrate its 150th year of territoryhood. 
Take a step back to the 1860s to hear stories from some of the nation's foremost experts about what happened and what's happening on the road that built Montana.
The conference evolved out of the annual Mullan Day celebration that was initiated 25 years ago by the Mineral County Historical Society in Superior, Montana. Since 2006 it has been held each spring along the 624-mile military wagon road that Lieutenant John Mullan and his crews engineered and built in 1859-62 through the Northern Rockies from Walla Walla to Fort Benton. 
A Friday night reception hosted by Fort Missoula museums will be followed on Saturday by a day of presentations and an evening banquet at Ruby’s Reserve Street Inn. On Sunday we'll take a tour of the road east of Missoula and, weather permitting, get a chance to walk in a rare existing footprint of the road.
Although I'm more interested in what happened along the Mullan Road in the Hellgate Valley from about 1880 on, I think this will be a great opportunity to connect with people who know a whole heck of a lot more than me about the history of the area. I hope I am able to attend.

If you're interested in learning more about the conference, go to the website at or the Facebook page at

A neighbor of the McQuarries recalls time spent with the family

I was in Missoula for the Montana Masters State Championship Swim Meet this weekend, and was able to snag 55 minutes at the Missoula Public Library before they closed. It was hard to know what to do with such little time. Thankfully, I had previously started a list of things I knew I wanted to search for the next time I was in Missoula, and I was able to access that list on my iPad.

I came up empty-handed on the few specific things I was looking for, but then I found one of the books Roberta Carkeek Cheney had listed in the bibliography of Names on the Face of Montana that I thought might possibly reference Betters' Station: Missoula Valley History by Jo Rainbolt and Dorothy Brumback. The book is 500+ pages, and the index and table of contents weren't much help, so I just started flipping and skimming from the beginning. I didn't make it all the way through the book, but I did find a reference to my ancestors' family members (see below).

The Mrs. Dan McQuarrie mentioned by Kate Rasmussen in the excerpt above was Grace (Betters) McQuarrie, my great grand aunt. Dan and Grace McQuarrie raised my great-grandfather, Phillip Betters, and two of his sisters for a few years after their mom, Jane (Stanley) Betters died in 1899 (More about that in future posts). The excerpt doesn't make it clear when Rasmussen's first automobile ride was, but it was likely after Phillip and his sisters had moved out. If it happened after 1914, the McQuarries would have had six children living at home, which is a pretty big family by today's standards, but doesn't seem that big for the time. Based on the approximate timing, I suspect that Fannie was the sister they visited in Clinton.

It appears that the McQuarries were pretty well off. They apparently owned one of the first automobiles in Missoula, they were able to hire out a housekeeper, and they enjoyed homemade ice cream and cake, which Rasmussen considered to be a luxury. Other than that, there's not a whole lot of new information here, but it was nice to come across a nugget of information by simply browsing. Now if only I could come across something about the name Betters' Station by accident...