Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

Pioneer Sketches

The Adventures of James P. Preston

Compiled by William L. (Bill) Smith


[7], p. 398
James P. Preston
One of the Pioneers of Deer Lodge, Mont.


This page includes sketches I have compiled from my family history research for my own use. I am posting them on the Internet in the interest of sharing this information with interested parties. If you appear to be directly related, based on the information in the the sketches, or have comments to share with me about these sketches, I would be happy to hear from you. I do not do research for others, nor am I particularly interested in speculative relationships or unrelated surname discussions. There are many other worthy sites for these activities. I hope you enjoy reading some of these interesting stories.
Go to Pedigree Page

Return to Preston Return to Pioneer Sketches

The following sketches are based on a variety of sources uncovered during the past twenty-six months. The key initial piece of information that made all the rest possible was receipt of "a small biography on him in History of Montana" that I recieved from Montana Historical Society Library during the first week of January, 1996 (this "small biography" is provided, word for word, in The Story, below). The rest of these sketches are arranged on a timeline. Each, where possible, begins with a short quote from the "small biography" followed by additional documented information from other sources and appropriate comments, up to date. Comments, updates and documented corrections welcomed.
Bill Smith, compiler, March 1998.

Index of Stories

Beginning

California Rockin'

Montana by way of Idaho

Ranch, Mine or Livery

The Family

The Fire

The Story

The Split

The Second Time Around

The End


Sources and [References]






Beginning

"JAMES P. PRESTON, Deer Lodge valley, is a native of Ohio, born February 22, 1835, at Fort Defiance and is a son of Captain William Preston, an officer of 1812, being the youngest of a family of ten children." From The Story.

His father was William Preston, known as "the first permanent white settler" of Defiance, OH, the town built near the site of old Fort Defiance, Defiance Co, OH. However, William Preston moved from Defiance, in 1828, about 25 miles northwest, to St. Joseph Township, Williams Co, where the family was living at his death in 1837, when James was little more than two years old.

It is believed that William Preston ran a trading post in Defiance from about 1816 until they moved away from Defiance in 1828. Recorded anecdotal history in Defiance County has "the William Preston family" (it is yet to be determined if this was a first or second "family") living in one of the remaining buildings of the old Fort Defiance in about 1818-1819. We have yet to confirm any military service for our William Preston from normal National Archive sources. William Preston married Asenath Butler (daughter of John Butler, Richland Township, Defiance Co) in 1820. From that time until James was born in 1835, we know of only four other children: Alice L., Charles William, Henry Clay, George Washington (the last two were twins). There is strong evidence that a William C. Preston, born 1798 in Vermont, who spent his later years in St. Joseph Township, was also a half-brother of James and his sister and brothers. The families and descendants of each of these siblings is well documented.

William Preston was elected (in 1824, re-elected 1826) the first Sheriff, in Defiance, of Williams Co (the Defiance County townships were a part of Williams County from 1824 until 1845). Several stories about "the Old Sheriff" (as he is referred to regularly by members of other branches of his family) are included in the histories written about both Defiance and Williams Counties.

To summarize, James would have lived his first two years with his natural parents, William and Asenath Preston, on the farm (which is now part of the town of Edgerton, OH) before his father, William Preston, died. At that time, in the home, besides his mother, Asenath, were: Charles William (he went by William most of his life, it appears), age 11; Alice, age 10; Henry and George (twins), age 5. In 1840, three years after the father died, the federal census lists Asenath Preston as head of household. In the household is an adult male who appears to be Asa R. Thomas, whom Asenath does marry and spends a long life. Also in the census is a baby boy, presumably Elihu, son of Asa and Asenath. In addition, there are James, 5, Henry and George, 8, Alice, 13, and (Charles) William, age 14.


Return to Top of Page

California Rockin'

"When he was seventeen years old he left his parents, went to California and immediately engaged in mining in Nevada county, and later in Yuba county. He owned an eighth interest in the Blue Gravel Mining Company and worked in this mine for five years. He sold his interests and in 1862 went to Florence, Idaho..." From The Story.

In 1852, when James was 17, he says "he left his parents" and went to California. The "parents" he left were his mother and step-father, Asa Thomas, of course, not his natural parents. James' brother, George, had left about four years earlier, in 1848, when he was about 16. Henry had been "farmed out" to neighboring farms from time to time, but, did stay close to his mother over the years. Alice married Lucius Van Wormer 28 FEb 1847, at age 20. William married Isabelle on 18 Feb 1853. Both raised large families. In 1855, Asa and Asenath moved to Jones Co, Iowa, and lived there into the 1880s. Both twins, George and Henry, also moved to Iowa in subsequent years and lived into the 1900s in Jones Co. Alice and her family lived in Michigan for a time, lived in Jones Co at the time of the 1870 census, but moved on, elsewhere in Iowa (she died in 1920). Descendants of these families in Jones Co, IA, were not aware of James P., nor were we (descentants of James) aware of them, until I contacted them during 1996-1997!

In the San Antonio, TX, public library (a wonderful new facility), in the Spring of 1996, I found a book of California Wagon Train Lists. There were only two listings for either J. or James Preston. On page 140, extracted from a local newpaper: Following California emigrants arrived in Kanesville, Iowa during the period of May 13-20, 1852 and were prepared to depart for the West: J. Preston, listed with about 60 other men. Later, from pages 162-164: Placerville, CA (Sept 1852). On September 14, 1852, the Sacramento Union published a list of overland emigrants who had arrived in Placerville during the first week of September, 1852. Among a few hundred names mentioned is J. Preston. [2]

Of course, I have no way of actually knowing if this is our James P. Preston, but, it does fit his story, the timing is right, and there are no other references to choose from, to this date.

Two references to the Blue Gravel Mining Company have been located, to date. In an 1879 History of Yuba County California, page 136: "The Blue Gravel mine near Smarsville is said to be the richest in the State. The yield from March, 1864, to August, 1866, was $599,948." Both references are for several years after James said he sold out and left (which seems to be a pattern of his life. The second reference is a Report of James O'Brien's Mining Property, dated 1868. It is essentially a sales prospectus listing details of several properties, including a major interest in the Blue Gravel Mining Company. From early in the report: "These works involve great expense and consume years of labor, but the brilliant success obtained by the Blue Gravel Company, now without doubt the most noted placer mining company in this State, has encouraged all the owners of large claims upon this channel, and several tunnels are being pushed forward with vigor, in the greatest confidence that the final result will abundantly repay the proprietors for their outlay of time and money.
"It was in March, 1864, that the Blue Gravel Mining Company completed a tunnel 1,400 feet in length, on which they had engaged nine years, and succeeded in reaching the upper portion of the lower stratum of this auriferous deposit. It is this stratum which is properly known as the "Blue Gravel," owing to its distinctive color, that was found so wonderfully productive at Timbuctoo and Sand Hill, as well as at the other localities above mentioned, and that has also principally furnished the enormous amount of gold produced by the Blue Gravel Company during and since 1864." Financial figures support the numbers mentioned above.

This would suggest that James had an early involvement in this successful mine but sold out at a good profit and moved on (not participating in later, greater success).



Return to Top of Page

Montana by way of Idaho

"He sold his interests and in 1862 went to Florence, Idaho, and mined until he lost over $20,000. He purchased a claim and opened it, but it failed to pay, as labor was worth $20 per day and board $15 per day, picks, $45 each, shovels, $45 each, and gum boots, $45 per pair. The claim required eight feet of stipping by hand and all supplies were brought in eighteen miles on snowshoes. The claim was rich, but would not pay such a tremendous outlay. After this loss he went to Boise basin $500 in debt, located a claim, and the ensuing year paid his debt of $500 and cleared $20,000. In 1863 he ran a bed-rock cut from Granite creek; flumed the lumber, costing $8,000 per thousand; used 100 inches of water at $100 per inch, and bought out his partner except a 1-6 interest. The mine did not yield as much as was expected.

"At this time the mining excitement in Montana was at its height, and in October, 1865, Mr. Preston went to that territory. After visiting various parts he was not pleased with the country, and made preparations to return to Idaho. In the meantime his partner had sold their claim in Idaho, having been given the power of attorney to sell the claim - by Mr. Preston - if he decided to remain in Montana. The claim was sold for $8,000 and partner and money both disappeared. Mr. Preston again suffering a loss of about $12,000. In 1866 he mined on Elk Creek, but was unsuccessful." From The Story.

Gold was discovered at Bannack in Beaverhead Valley (Montana) in 1862. In 1863, Gold was discovered at Virginia City in Ader Gulch {just east of what would be Deer Lodge, Montana}. Gold was discovered at Last Chance Gulch near Helena in 1864. May 26, 1864, the Territory of Montana was formed from the Territory of Idaho. 2 Feb 1865 the following counties were established: Beaverhead, Chouteau, Custer, Deer Lodge, Gallatin, Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, Madison, and Missoula. [5]

Deer Lodge, altitude 4,530 feet, population 3,510, is bisected by Clark Fork of the Columbia (written in 1939). On the east side of town, which has broad streets, are many sturdy square houses popular in the West during the 1870's and 1880's. Castles built with the wealth of mines and ranches and log cabin homes survive almost side by side. In 1862, when the first important gold strikes in this area attracted attention, a shack town sprang up here, called variously, Cottonwood, Spanish Forks, and La Barge. Deer Lodge was the name officially adopted in 1864. An important stop on the Mullan Wagon Road, it was listed by Captain Mullan in his Miner's and Traveler's Guide. It was one of the few places along the route where immigrants could obtain fresh beef and vegetables, and the services of a blacksmith. Prospectors coming up from the south called it the "good little town on the road to Bear" because it was a pleasant place to break the journey on the trail to Bearmouth, a mining camp 50 miles farther down the Clark Fork. [6]

From the collections in the Montana Historical Society Archives SC 675, I also received, in the first week of January, 1996, a photocopy of a handwritten letter, signed by Jas. P. Preston. Their description is as follows: James Preston (b. 1835) was a Deer Lodge, Montana Territory, livery stable operator. Collection consists of a letter (June 4, 1867) discussing his personal affairs.

"Deer Lodge City, June 4th , 1867
Mr. Stubbs Dear Sir
I sent that Power of Attorney that you asked me for, on the 16th of February, and have not, as yet, heard from it, and as you said that you intended to Start up the River on the first Boat, therefore if you did I think that you must be at Helena at the present time. Thinking so I take the liberty of writing to ask you did you Get that Power of Attorney before you Started & if so did you make Sale of the Land, and if you did how much did you receive for it. Also did you fetch me that Piece of Dry Goods, that I asked you for. I should be glad tohear from you soon. I am farming this summer that is I have a few acres of Vegitables I think the Grasshoppers will clean out about all that I have although it is hard to tell yet it is most too soon for them to do much damage. There is nothing of any importance doing on this side of the mountains. The mine at Bute City is turning out to be Very Good, also Gold Creek & Flint are boath very good camps. Flint Creek is thought to be the best camp in the Territory. The mine is principally Quartz there is now one mill being Built it is to be a 24 Stamp mill So I am told if you should happen over this way Please Give me a call. You can find out in town where I am Located. as I have no news I think the Best thing I can do is to dry up. So wishing you in Good Health ecc. I will bid you a very Good Night. Yours as Ever, Jas. P. Preston"





Return to Top of Page

Ranch, Mine or Livery


"He had located his present ranch near Deer Lodge in 1865, and thither he turned his footsteps, resolved to abandon the ups and downs of a miner's life. In the summer of 1867 he was employed as superintendent of constuction of the Rock creek ditch, thirteen miles long, capacity 1,500 inches of water. It was seven feet wide on top, five feet on the bottom and three feet deep. This ditch has proved a good paying investment.

"Mr. Preston, in company with John Coffey, had started a livery stable in Deer Lodge City, and during 1868 gave his personal attention to the business. In 1869 he left his partner to attend to affairs and went to Pioneer, purchased a mining claim, which he worked about one month; owning half of the claim. He left his partner in charge of the claim and again took the superintendency of the Rock creek ditch. He sold his Pioneer claim in the fall, clearing some money on it, and bought a claim and ditch in company with Colonel Thornton. In 1870 he lost all he had in mining interests and returned to his livery business in Deer Lodge City."

James was obviously struggling with decisions as to where his interests really were. This is the period of his life when he was 30 to 35 years of age. He had both earned and lost a good deal of money several times. He obviously had considerable technical skills, but lacked some people and some investment skills, it would appear.

The earliest land transaction documentation of interest in Montana Territory has so far been found to have begun in 1869. "In the United States of America, Territory of Montana, Second Judicial District: James P. Preston being duly sworn, upon oath states: that he is a resident of Deer Lodge County Montana Territory: that on the 18th day of March 1869 he filed with the Register of the U.S. Land Office at Helena M.T. his D.S. No. 454 claiming as a Pre-emption the E2 of NE4 of Section 8 and S2 of NW4 of Section 9 inT7N of R9W; that he desires to change his pre-emption filing to a Homestead entry and to substitute for the NE4 of NE4 of Sec 8, the SW4 of NE4 of said Section, to avoid conflict with Bryan Irvine who has included the NE4 of NE4 of Section 8 aforesaid in his pre-emption filing No. 535, and who he now verily believes has the best right to the same; that he has made bona fide improvements and settlement upon the tract now claimed as a Homestead, has made it his home for the last three years, and has not been absent from it more than two months at any one time; that he is prevented from personal attendance at the District Land Office to make entry by reason of distance - the same being at least 47 miles. James P. Preston"

This land consisted of four forty acres parcels aligned from east to west, about a mile and a half south of the town of Deer Lodge, with the Jack Fork River running through the center of the eastern most forty and on the west edge of Deer Lodge. Later, James bought another 40 directly to the west to have 200 acres streching over a mile and a quarter.

Homestead Application No. 222 (was filed at) Land Office at Helena Montana Ter. April 12, 1870: I, James P. Preston of Deer Lodge County Montana Ter. do hereby apply to enter, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved May 20, 1862, entitled "An act to secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain," the S2 of NE4 of Section Eight (8) and the S2 of NW4 of Section Nine (9) in Township Seven (7) North of Range Nine (9) West containing one hundred and sixty (160) Acres. (signed) James P. Preston
Land Office at Helena M.T. April 12th 1870. I, L. B. Lyman Register of the Land Office, do hereby certify that the above application is for Surveyed Lands of the class which the applicant is legally entitled to enter under the Homestead act of May 20, 1862, and that there is no prior, valid, adverse right to the same. (signed) L. B. Lyman, Register.

This is apparently the official document of Homestead eligiblity. The copy James held was apparently destroyed in the fire at the Livery, as there is a court record where James has to certify that he held application No. 222.

Application No. 129, Office of Probate Judge (page 203), Deer Lodge, M.T., Sept 25, 1869, shows: "We, John Coffy and Jas. P. Preston of Deer Lodge County Montana Territory do hereby apply to enter Lots No. twelve (12) and thirteen (13). Each lot being 190.5 (?) feet front in Block No. Eleven (11) in the Town of Deer Lodge. (signed) Coffey and Preston.
John Coffey being duly sworn says that he above described Lots were first claimed and possessed by the Deer Lodge Town Compnay (AD1864?) and that the said Lots are now occupied and possessed by them, the said applicants. The applicant further says that hehas now on the said premises improvements to the value of one thousand dollars consisting of one building used as a Livery stable."

On the 14th day of June, 1870, the federal census of Deer Lodge (town), shows four men living at Dwelling 37:
1. Preston, James P., age=35, Male, White, Occupation=Miner, Value of Real Estate=10,000.00, Value of Personal Estate=2,000.00, born Ohio.
2. Coffey, John, age=34, Male, White, Occupation=Stable keeper, Value of Real Estate=3,000.00, Value of Personal Estate=2,000.00, born Ohio.
3. Preston, Nathaniel, age=24, Male, White, Occupation=Miner, born England.
4. Beesley, William O., age=24, Male, White, Occupation=Freighter, Personal Estate=600.00, born Indiana.
(the diversity of occupation and birthplaces of the residents of Deer Lodge in this census is a story unto itself - to be told at a later date!)

I have found no indication of any family relationship between James P. and Nathaniel Preston, but, of course, that is not say there is not one. James' ancestory is still a matter of "much research yet to do."

Some Preston activities have been located in the local newspaper, the New Northwest, in Deer Lodge:

1. 25 Feb 1870: J. P. Preston of the Deer Lodge Valley visits in Deer Lodge.

2. 22 Jul 1870: Coffee & Preston's livery stable is finished, and is now one of the best appointed horse hotels on the West Side.


One thing James is missing, as 1870 goes by, is a family that will be needed to complete his claim on the Homestead.

Return to Top of Page

The Family

"In the fall of 1870 he returned to the states and on March 21, 1871, married Miss Ellen M., daughter of Jacob and Rebecca Miller, of Williams Co., Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Preston have four children: Ernest G., born February 20, 1872; Henry L., born July 14, 1873; Jake Miller, born October 15, 1874; Ellen Rebecca, born April 1, 1880.

Our subject returned to Montana and continued in the livery business during the summer, and in the fall of 1871 moved to his present ranch. His livery business burned in 1872 and he closed up the business and invested in cattle. He owns 200 acres of land, of which he cultivates about seventy acres, and mows nearly all of the balance, cutting almost eighty tons of hay per annum. He has about thirty head of horses, all well bred, mostly of Mambrino and Morgan stock, besides about fifty head of cattle. The record of this man's life has been one of toil and hard ship, whose conquests are not the result of favorable circumstances but of untiring energy and industry." From The Story.

James P. Preston was my great-grandfather, of course. I am certainly glad that he "returned to the states" and married Miss Ellen. Otherwise, I wouldn't exist. Miss Ellen was born 15 Sep 1850, the youngest of nine children of John and Rebecca Miller (notice James has the name of his father-in-law wrong, apparently). She would have been 20 years old when she married, James would have been 36. John Miller was a prosporus farmer.

This whole episode is missing many details, such as, why did he go back to Ohio, where did he stay, did he contact any of his family, how did he meet Ellen, etc. There is no family tradition information in our line, of course, because of events subsequent to the 1885 story. Ellen and her family lived their later lives as if James never existed, for the most part. That is the "impression" I grew up with: "He existed, but we don't care to know anything else about him." And they didn't.

One possible explanation for James returning to Ohio may relate to the final settlement of his natural father's estate about that time (research ongoing). The Probate record appears to be incomplete, but, the documents I have obtained provided the leads necessary to locate the sister and brothers. In particular, there are two documents, dated in May and in August 1868, nearly thirty years after the death of Willam Preston, where there is a dispute still going on over the final settlement of the estate, over the final sale of the farm land, it appears. Charles Kent is representing the heirs as attorney and heirs are listed as "...William Preston, Henry C. Preston, Geo. W. Preston, James P. Preston, William Preston & Alice Preston..." as to who should be appointed as Administrator at the time. This would indicate there was contact among the siblings in 1868. Brother (Charles) William was still living in Bridgewater Township, in the north tier of townships in Williams County. All other (known) family members were in Iowa by that time. A search of land records in Ohio may help. That is on the "to do" list!

Some Preston family activities have been located in the local newspaper, the New Northwest, in Deer Lodge:

1. 24 Feb 1872: Born, PRESTON - To the wife of James Preston, Deer Lodge, Feb. 20, a son.

2. 19 Jul 1873: Born, PRESTON - To the wife of James Preston, Deer Lodge, July 14, 1873, a son.

June 22, 1876: General George A. Custer was sent up the Rosebud River. He passed over the divide of the Little Big Horn. He met between 8,000 and 10,000 Indians and all the men were killed. [5]

Several interesting papers are part of the Patent Land file for the Homestead for James P. Preston. One is the Affidavit Prequired of Homestead Claimants, Acts of May 20, 1862, and June 21, 1866. I, James P. Preston, having made a Homestead entry of the S2 of the NE4 of Sec no 8 and the S2 of the NW4 section No. 9 in township No. 7 North, of range No. 9 West, subject to entry at Helena Montana Territory, under the first section of the Homestead Act of 1862 & 1864, do now apply to perfect my claim thereto by virtue of the first proviso to the second section of said act; and for that purpose do solemnly swear that I am the head of a family and a native born citizen of the United State; that I have made actual settlement upon and have cultivated said land, having resided thereon since the 12th day of April, 1870, to the present time; that no part of said land has been alienated, but that I am the sole bona fide owner as an actual settler; and that I will bear true allegiance to the Government of the United States. (signed) James P. Preston. Certified 27 Mar 1877.

Another document is: Final Proof required under Homestead Act May 20, 1862. We, Granville Stuart, John C. Kirley do solemnly swear that we have known James P. Preston for 7 years last past; that he is the head of a family consisting of a wife and 3 children and is a citizen of the United States; that he is an inhabitnat of the S2 of NE4 of sec no 8 and the S2 of the NW4 of section No. 9 in Township No. 7 North of Range No. 9 West and that no other person resided upon the said land entitled to the right of Homestead or Pre-emption. That the said James P. Preston entered upon and made settlement on said land on the 12th day of April, 1870, and has built a house thereon and has lived in the said house and made it his exclusive home from the ( ) day of April, 1870, to the present time, and that he has, since said settlement, plowed, fenced, and cultivated about 30 acres of said land, and has made the following improvements thereon, to wit: has built a stable, corral, stock sheds, Root-House, Milk House, and most of the tract is under fence which form improvements have cost about $2,500.00 (signed) Granville Stuart, John C. Kerley. Certified 27 March 1877.

James P. Preston received his land patent as Homestead Certificate No. 194, based on Application No. 222, dated 20 Nov 1877, signed in the name of Rutherford B. Hayes, President of the United States.

The 160 acre Homestead is recorded in the Land Records, Deer Lodge County Courthouse, Bk5/p224, dated 16 Jan 1880: Grantor - U.S.; Grantee - Jas. Preston.

Fifth day of June, 1880, federal census, Deer Lodge Valley, County of Deer Lodge, State of Montana: 12, 8:
J. P. Preston, white, male, age 45, Farmer, Ohio, Ohio, VA(??)
Ellen Preston, white, female, white, female, 29, wife, housekeeper, OH, PA, OH
Earnest, white, male, 8, son, at school, MT, OH, PA?
Harry, white, male, 6, son, at school, MT, OH, PA?
John, white, male, 4, son, MT, OH, PA?
Rebecca, white, female, 2/12, Mar, daughter, MT, OH, PA?

In the Land Records, Deer Lodge County Courthouse, Bk4/p48, dated 18 Nov 1880: Grantor - Probate Judge; Grantee - Ella M. Preston; L15 & 16, Blk 55. (For $28, per court record.)


A newspaper account dated 9 Mar 1883 says: "Roller skating rinks enjoyed great popularity for several years. A small one built by Preston and Woodard was immediately and immensely popular. [7] I know not at this time is this was James P. Preston, but it seems likely that it was. Reference [7] also contained a picture of James P. Preston, p. 398, as one of the "Pioneers of Deer Lodge, Montana."


From School District # 1, City of Deer Lodge, records:

1. 1878: Name of Parent or Guardian - J. P. Preston: Preston, Ernest, age 7, male; Harry S., age 6, male; John W., age 4, male.

2. 1882: Name of Parents or Guardian - J. P. Preston: Preston, Ernest, age 11, male; Henry, age 9, male; John, age 7, male; Baby, inf. (listed under "male under 4" but that is an error, of course).

3. 1883: Names of Parents or Guardians - J. P. Preston: Preston, Ernest, age 12, male; Henry, age 10, male; John, age 9; Ella, age 4, female.

4. 1884: Name of Parent or Guardian - J. P. Preston: Preston, Ernest, age 12, male; Henry, age 11, male; John, age 10, male; Ella, age 5, female.

5. 1885: Names of Parent or Guardian - James Preston: Ernest, age 13, male; Henry, age 12, male; John, age 11, male; Ella, age 6, female.



Return to Top of Page

The Fire


From Saturday morning, Feb. 24, 1872, NewNorthWest, Deer Lodge, Montana Territory.

A Disastrous Conflagration.

An Entire Business Row of Deer Lodge in Ashes.

Sixteen Buildings Burned

LOSS, $68,325.
[From the New North-West Extra, Feb. 18.]


Almost simultaneously, at a little before 3 o'clock this morning, Mr. Wm. Rowe, night watchman, and Mr. Robert Wiles discovered flames issuing from the rear portion of the roof of Coffee & Preston's large livery stable, standing at the corner of Main and Second streets, and at once gave the alarm, Mr. Rowe rousing Main Street in a few minutes. When discovered it had gained but little headway, but almost a gale prevailing from a point or two east of south it was fanned to fury in a few minutes, and the eager flames swept from the immense stable front and rear around the adjoining store of Parchen, Paynter & Co. gathering its rich store of combustibles to its assistance, and presaging almost inevitable destruction to the two principal business blocks of Deer Lodge. In a few minutes hundreds of men were at the scene, and to save the most valuable goods from the stores in the certainly doomed block, was accepted as a first duty, and, like Trojans, scores of willing men applied themselves to the task, in some instances standing by their dangerous task until the flames enveloped them, and skins were parched in the on sweeping furnace.
But on sped the fire, Mrs. Wright's, Sharp & Napton's, and D. B. Halderman's buildings ignited in quick succession, and the ferocious flames lashed by the quartering gale reaching eagerly on and across swept almost over the 100 feet wide Main Street, a spray of fire sweeping up against Valiton's, Thompson's, the Scott House, Emerson's and the Occidental, and fairly raining fire upon the scores of earnest workers who battled and beat it as manfully as ever men met and vanquished the fire fiend. So fierce was the heat that thoroughly saturated blankets on these buildings repeatedly ignited, and the face of them is browned - almost blackened - and the paint is crisped and peeled. In some places the pitch from the pine exuded under the heat and fried like a spider. Fortunately not a blaze started on that side, for the sheet of flame would have flashed along the entire block almost instantly and no man could have withstood it.
While this was going on, Bein's Brewery, Robinson & Thornton's, Grant's large City Hall and adjoining Restaurant, the Harris Building, Welch Building (Wolf's Barber Shop), and the Welch & Willey Building (Kleinshmidts), caught in quick succession, and at 4:30 o'clock the entire block was in blaze - a grand, glowing mass of flame and coal, an alter on which was sacrificed this Sabbath morning the hard earnings of many and the all of more than one good, honest, industrious man.
While the Grant Building was burning hottest there occurred one of the heroic incidents of the fire, seen by hundreds, and its success was rewarded with a round cheer of grateful appreciation. The roof of the "old Decker Building," an eye sore and standing iniquity of the town, was fired in three places by wafted brands. In anticipation of this, ropes had been put to it, the corner posts and tenons cut, and all in readiness to pull it down if need be, as it commanded, and its burning made inevitable, the destruction of Dance & Murphy's Planing Mill and the yard containing over a million feet of piled lumber. When it caught it was found impossible with the force of men available to pull it down. At this juncture, John Murphy, Chas. Murphy, and "Bob" Bouier, ascended inside, and Bouier mounting on the shoulders of the others jumped through a burning hole in the steep roof to the outside with a pail of water, sprang up it, ran along the high comb like a Blondin, and extinguished a burning spot inaccessible from the inside. The other places were easily reached, and no other places igniting, in that portion of the town, the valuable machinery and lumber requisite to rebuild the burnt district was saved. Bob Bouier is a hero.
Meantime the fire was slacking. It had burned the entire block; its expansion had been prevented, walls and chimneys were crumbled to their bases. The apprehension was over - the actual could be realized. So far as we are enabled to learn today, the following will approximate closely to the actual losses:
Buildings Burned.
Coffee & Preston - livery stable and adjoining store building, $ 6,000
Wm. Copinus - clothing [Coffey's building], 2,000
Parchen, Paynter & Co. - house and drug stock,
$5,000; burnt in cash $500, 5,500
[Fireproof with $10,000 stock saved, will open
tomorrow adjoining Gas & Klein]
Cohen - groceries, [Mrs. Wright's building] 3,000
Mrs. A. Wright [owned Cohen building] 1,500
Joseph Rosenthal - clothing and dry-goods,
house and merchandise 8,000
[The fire-proof burned; no goods of any consequence in it.]
Wm. Coleman - grocer - stock, from $500 to 600
Sharp & Napton - law office and Coleman building, 1,500
C. Elias - clothing - stock $2,500 to 3,000
[Largest part of stock in fire-proof]
D.B. Halderman [owned Elias building,] 3,000
M. Bien - brewery - building, saloon, and brewery, 6,000
[malt house save, value $1,000]
E.T. Heuson - tobacco and cigars, 800
[fire-proof safe, and nearly all stock saved.]
R. W. Donnell owned Heuson building, 2,500
Thornton & Robinson - law office and building, 800
H. Lansing - shoe shop, 100
Jon. Grant - City Hall and restaurant building, 8,000
Billiard table, etc., 1,000
Deer Lodge Club, 100
John Anderson, (col.) - restaurant, 250
Harris Bros. - shoemakers - building and stock, $1,500 to 2,000
[Saved nearly all the stock.]
Dr. O. B. Whitford - instruments and furniture, 1,000
D.J. Welch - [Wolff building,] 1,500
Estate of B. Wolff - barber shop, 800
R.C. Hancock - butcher fixtures, etc., 500
Kleinschmidt Bros. - grocers - m'd'se $1,500;
personal property $200, 1,700
Commission goods, 800
[saved fire-proof and $40,000 worth of goods.]
Welch & Willey - Klienschmidt building, 1,800 Total....................................................... $63,530

DAMAGES TO BUILDINGS, MOVING, ETC.
N. Thompson & Co........................................... $ 200
H.G. Valiton 500
R. Boisvert 75
Chas. Blum 500
Gilbert & Meyer 50
Aspling & Son 250
Dance & Stuart, on Buildings 500
Emerson & Co., 500
Richardson Bros 200
Scott House, 1,000
Total....................................................... $4,775
Grand Total............................................ $68,325
The following diagram will give a fair idea of the locality of the fire:

{Coffee & Preston Livery Stable listed as "Coffee & CO."}



And thus, at last has the valuation of fire fallen upon us. An entire block is in ashes. We do not believe that any time after fifty men reached the scene, a fire engine could have saved any building that was burned, but in a less vigorous breeze, with engine, hooks, and ladders, some might have been saved, but they could not have been with the appliances at hand this morning. The saving of the Scott House block was not miraculous, but it was an astounding result of energy, endurance and determination. Men never worked better, and although some were indifferent, some paralyzed, and some were poltroons who stood back with the Chinamen and absolutely refused to assist, nearly every one came forward nobly when shown where he could be of service. We join with the Independent in giving the colored men of Deer Lodge due mention. Every one of them worked manfully, and fought the fire like salamanders. The Chinese, with one exception, positively refused to render any assistance. We acknowledge gratitude to the employees of the New North-West, to others who assisted us, and to the many, including our Independent friends, who proffered service when the situation was perilous. However, the wind happened to hold firm in one direction, and that with the night thaw - the first of the year - which flooded the streets and made water plentiful, saved a large portion of the town. It is an unhappy fact that not one of the force pumps in the vicinity of the burning block was in working condition. The cool wind, too, favored the west side of Main street. Nearly all the glass on that side is broken, and also the large glass in Donnell, Clark & Larabie's Bank, the intense heat splitting the panes in innumerable fragments across 80 feet and 100 feet streets.

THE ORIGIN OF THE FIRE
is unknown; but the general belief is that the fire was started by an incendiary. There had been no fire in Coffey's stable, and no one, that Coffey knew of, occupying it since Feb 1st.
We think Deer Lodge would be a pretty warm ant-room to Hades for the wretch who fired it, if he were known.

INCIDENTS, ETC.
Coffey had just removed his last buggy from the stable yesterday, and it only contained two tons of hay.
Hank Valiton cut his sixty horses loose, and got nearly all them out of the stable and across the river without trouble, where they and the other horses of the neighborhood behaved frantically till morning, but were prevented from recrossing the bridge.
We noticed Mr. Stevens, painter and glazier, at work at Chas. Blum's by noon today.
So rapid did the fire sweep over some buildings that not even the money was saved from the tills.
Thornton & Robinson will rebuild at once, and doubtless many others purpose (sic) doing the same.
We have noted but briefly and hastily, for the information of other localities, this disaster to our fair village. Before midsummer we believe the entire block will be rebuilt with better structures. But it is bad enough; Thank God it is no worse.
Deer Lodge, Sunday, Feb. 18, 6 p.m.

* * * * *
Monday, P. M.

Kleinschmidt Bros. opened today in Louis & Coleman's building, adjoining Gans & Klein's.
The losses to the Scott House and Emmerson & Gerber's, omitted in first account, are inserted today.
Mr. Henry M. Parchen informs us that $5,000 will cover their entire loss, inclusive of cash.
R.C. Hancock, butcher, opened yesterday adjoining the Metropolitan Billiard Hall.
Cohen, grocer, has re-opened adjoining Sweeney & Frazier's.
Higgens & Murphy and Dance, Stuart & Co., will erect two large fire-proof stores next to Osborn & Dennee's, as soon as material can be used.
Emmerson & Gerber are repairing their hall in first-class style before re-opening.
The Burnt District was thronged with workers today, clearing off rubbish, collecting "rich dirt," and removing goods from firs-proofs.
Phil. E. Evans authorizes us to say he will furnish all his customers who were burned out, with milk without cost for two months from date.
Parchen, Paynter & Co. reopened adjoining Gaus & Klein today.
Dr. O. B. Whitford announces his office at C. N. Bowie's drug store until further notice.
Thornton & Robinson contracted with John Murphy this afternoon to erect them a law office 13 x 30, on the site of the burned building. It will be commenced tomorrow morning.
Jos. Rosenthal has reopened Dry Goods Store adjoining Aspling & Son.

* * * * *

FIRE ENGINE

On Wednesday and Thursday Mr. Wm. H. Richardson and Dr. Mitchell interviewed Deer Lodgers on the Fire Engine question to the following effect:
We, the undersigned, agree to pay the amount set opposite our respective names, for the purpose of purchasing a Fire Engine, complete:
Strang & Richardson $100 C.N. Bowie $100
Chas. P.H. Bielenberg 100 H.G. Valiton 100
Sam. Scott 100 Murphy, Higgins & Co. 100
Murphy & Co. 100 Dance & Stuart 100
F.B.Miller 100 Donnell, Clark & Larabie 100
Emerson & Gerber 100 Con Kohrs & Bro 100
Jas. Talbot & Co 100 S.A. Willey & Co 100
Kerley, Smith & Co 50 Osborn & Dennee 50
J.V. Suprenant & Co 50 D.S. Kenyon 50
Mitchell & Holmes 50 Rev R. DeRyckere 50
Peter Valiton 50 Chas. Blum 50
Jas. H. Mills 50 R. Boisvert 50
Ah Kane Co 30 A. Heath 25
J. M. Steward 25 R.T. Kennon 25
R. Plummer 25 Wm. Wilson 25
Chas. Warren 10 Jas. E. Owings 10
O.B. O'Bannon 10 Wes. W. Jones 10
V.A. Smith 10 Henry DeWitt 20
D.Gamer 10 Wm. Hyde 10
Thos. F. Frasier 10 Cash 10
C.Elias 10 G. Bogk 10
Gem Kee 20 Jas. O. Grady 10
L. J. Sharp 10 R.C. Hancock 10
O.B. Whitford 10 B. Levy 15
J.C. Thornton 25 Louis McMurtry 10
Jno. Glass 5 A. Elliott 50
M. Goodman 5 Jno. Maxwell 5
Gans & Kllen 50

The total amount to date is $2410. It is designed to buy a Button & Blake Engine, 40-man power, throwing a 2-inch stream, with 600 feet of 4-inch hose, hose-carriage, etc., the net cost of which, at the manufactory, is $2,040. Arrangements are being made to have it brought through direct. It will cost, probably, as much more to supply the requisite cisterns, engine house, etc. That done, and an efficient company organized, the town will be comparatively safe. Deer Lodge has done tip-top in this matter, and there is plenty of property yet subject to danger, although "a horse was stolen" before "the door is locked."

* * * * * * * * * *

Megan Thompson, of Deer Lodge, in a letter of August 20, 1996 stated: Within two weeks after the fire, the town had raised the necessary funds for a new fire truck and established the first volunteer fire department here which continues today. Most of the buildings were immediately replaced by the owners with brick and granite "fireproof" buildings, many of which are still in use.



Return to Top of Page


The Story

(As documented in other sketches thoughout this web page, some of the following is true and some is not. I assume James provided all, or the bulk of, this information during an interview during 1884 or early in 1885. He probably believed it all to be true, at the time. The story is provided here, as written in the History of Montana.)

JAMES P. PRESTON, Deer Lodge valley, is a native of Ohio, born February 22, 1835, at Fort Defiance and is a son of Captain William Preston, an officer of 1812, being the youngest of a family of ten children.

When he was seventeen years old he left his parents, went to California and immediately engaged in mining in Nevada county, and later in Yuba county. He owned an eighth interest in the Blue Gravel Mining Company and worked in this mine for five years. He sold his interests and in 1862 went to Florence, Idaho, and mined until he lost over $20,000. He purchased a claim and opened it, but it failed to pay, as labor was worth $20 per day and board $15 per day, picks, $45 each, shovels, $45 each, and gum boots, $45 per pair. The claim required eight feet of stipping by hand and all supplies were brought in eighteen miles on snowshoes. The claim was rich, but would not pay such a tremendous outlay. After this loss he went to Boise basin $500 in debt, located a claim, and the ensuing year paid his debt of $500 and cleared $20,000. In 1863 he ran a bed-rock cut from Granite creek; flumed the lumber, costing $8,000 per thousand; used 100 inches of water at $100 per inch, and bought out his partner except a 1-6 interest. The mine did not yield as much as was expected.

At this time the mining excitement in Montana was at its height, and in October, 1865, Mr. Preston went to that territory. After visiting various parts he was not pleased with the country, and made preparations to return to Idaho. In the meantime his partner had sold their claim in Idaho, having been given the power of attorney to sell the claim - by Mr. Preston - if he decided to remain in Montana. The claim was sold for $8,000 and partner and money both disappeared. Mr. Preston again suffering a loss of about $12,000. In 1866 he mined on Elk Creek, but was unsuccessful.

He had located his present ranch near Deer Lodge in 1865, and thither he turned his footsteps, resolved in abandon the ups and downs of a miner's life. In the summer of 1867 he was employed as superintendent of constuction of the Rock creek ditch, thirteen miles long, capacity 1,500 inches of water. It was seven feet wide on top, five feet on the bottom and three feet deep. This ditch has proved a good paying investment.

Mr. Preston, in company with John Coffey, had started a livery stable in Deer Lodge City, and during 1868 gave his personal attention to the business. In 1869 he left his partner to attend to affairs and went to Pioneer, purchased a mining claim, which he worked about one month; owning half of the claim. He left his partner in charge of the claim and again took the superintendency of the Rock creek ditch. He sold his Pioneer claim in the fall, clearing some money on it, and bought a claim and ditch in company with Colonel Thornton. In 1870 he lost all he had in mining interests and returned to his livery business in Deer Lodge City.

In the fall of 1870 he returned to the states and on March 21, 1871, married Miss Ellen M., daughter of Jacob and Rebecca Miller, of Williams Co., Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Preston have four children: Ernest G., born February 20, 1872; Henry L., born July 14, 1873; Jake Miller, born October 15, 1874; Ellen Rebecca, born April 1, 1880.

Our subject returned to Montana and continued in the livery business during the summer, and in the fall of 1871 moved to his present ranch. His livery business burned in 1872 and he closed up the business and invested in cattle. He owns 200 acres of land, of which he cultivates about seventy acres, and mows nearly all of the balance, cutting almost eighty tons of hay per annum. He has about thirty head of horses, all well bred, mostly of Mambrino and Morgan stock, besides about fifty head of cattle. The record of this man's life has been one of toil and hard ship, whose conquests are not the result of favorable circumstances but of untiring energy and industry.

[paragraph breaks added here] p. 10897, Deer Lodge County section [1]



Return to Top of Page

The Split


Comments by my aunt, Lvene Thomas, in a personal note dated 17 Sep 1995, in response to my request for more information on James P. Preston: "We don't have much material on James P. Preston. He was born Feb 22, 1835 married our Grandmother Ellen Rebecca Miller at Bryan, Ohio, Williams County on March 21, 1871. After they were married, they moved to Deer Lodge, Montana where the four children were born. Grandma Preston had to have an operation when our Mom what (was) just a baby. She left and went to Ohio. When she was well she did not go back to her husband. Her father bought her a house in Coon Rapids. Where she lived. She had her children brought to Coon Rapids where she raised them. We never have been able to find anything on James Preston." After some personal notes, she added: "Great Grandpa John Miller of Bryan, Ohio, bought her four grandchildren farms around Coon Rapids. They were to pay a little money to their mother each year." Later, in another letter, dated Nov 11, 1995, she added: "I don't know anything about Grandpa Preston. I had a friend of mine in Bryan, Ohio, look for information on him. She could find none."

From records of District Court, 2nd Judicial District: James P. Preston, Plaintiff, vs. Ellen M. Preston, Defendant. Complaint. Filed March 2nd, 1888.
The plaintiff complains of the defendant and says that he plaintiff has resided in the Territory of Montana for the period of twenty one years last past and now resides in said Territory and the County of Deer Lodge.
That said plaintiff and defendant were married on the 21st day of March 1871, at Bryan Williams County, State of Ohio.
That said defendant has willfully absented herself from the plaintiff without any reasonable cause for the space of one year last past.
That the issue of said marriage are the following named children towit: Ernest G., Harry L., John M. and Ellen R. the custody of which the plaintiff is willing that the defendant may have.
Wherefore the plaintiff asks judgement that the bonds of matrimony existing be forever dissolved and that he be divorced from said defendant. W.H. Trippet, Atty of Plaintiff.


In the Land Records, Deer Lodge County Courthouse, Bk9/p543, dated 5 Jun 1889: Grantor - Ella M. Preston; Grantee - Peter Lansing; L15 & 16 Blk 55.

[See John Miller Will in 1888 - has impact on Ellen (Miller) Preston and the four children of James and Ellen]

Return to Top of Page

The Second Time Around

Application for Marriage License. Territory of Montana, County of Deer Lodge.
James P. Preston being duly sworn, deposes and says: That, upon his best knowledge, information and belief, he is 52 years of age, having been born on the 22 day of February A. D. 1835 at Defiance Ohio that his father's full christian and surname is William Preston that his mother's full christian and maiden name was Asenath Butler that he now resides at Deer Lodge in the County of Deer Lodge and Territory of Montana; that he is white in color; that the full christian and maiden name of the lady he is about to marry is N.E. Gallager that the full christian and surname of her father is Willam Gallager that the full christian and maiden name of her mother was Margaret Gallaher that said N.E. Gallager is 29 years of age, having been born on the --- day of --- A.D. 1859, at St. Louis Missouri that she now resides at Deer Lodge that she is in color a white woman; that affiant is not of kin to the said N. E. Gallager nearer than second cousin; and that there is no legal impediment known to affiant to his marriage with the said N. E. Gallaher. That both of said parties have been previously married, but since said marriages they have since been divorced. (signed) Jas. P. Preston. Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 8th day of December A.D. 1888. Orrin Evenson, Probate Judge.

Marriage License. Territory of Montana, County of Deer Lodge.
These Presents Are to authorize any Judge of a Court of Record, any Justice of the Peace within the said County, elected or appointed by the Governor of Montana therefor; any regularly ordained Minister, who is in good standing in the religious denomination to which he belongs, or any Religious Society, according to the usages of said Society, to solemnize, within said County, the marriage of James P. Preston a white man, aged 52 years, born at Defiance in the State of Ohio and now residing at Deer Lodge in the County of Deer Lodge Territory of Montana and son of William Preston and Asenath Bulter with N.E. Gallager a white woman, aged 29 years, born at St. Louis in the State of Missouri and now a resident at Deer Lodge in the County of Deer Lodge and Territory of Montana, and daughter of William Gallager and Margaret Gallager. Said parties being of sufficient age to be capable of contracting marriage, and there being no legal imipediment thereto.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of the said Probate Court, this 8th day of December A.D. 1888. Orrin Emerson (sp??), Probate Judge.

I have been unable to find out anything else about Nora E., to date (8 Mar 1998).

Certificate. Territory of Montana, County of Deer Lodge.
I Hereby Certify, That I believe that the facts stated in the foregoing License are true, and that, upon due inquiry, there appears to be no legal impediment to the marriage of said Jas. P. Preston and N.E. Gallager; that said parties were joined in marriage by me on the 9th day of December A.D. 1988 at the house of J.P. Preston, Deer Lodge,in the said County and Territory; that John F. Vaughn a resident of Deer Lodge of the County of Deer Lodge and Mrs. J. F. Vaughn a resident of Deer Lodge of the County of Deer Lodge were present as witnesses of said marriage ceremony; that said James P. Preston and Nora E. Gallagher solemnly declared, in my presence, and the presence of said named witnesses, that they took each olter as husband and wife.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, this Ninth day of December A.D. 1888.
(signed) J. M. Haskett, Justice of the Peace; Jas. P. Preston; Mrs. Nora E. Gallagher; John F. Vaugh, Mrs. J. F. Vaughn, Witnesses. Filed with the court, 10 Dec 1888.

In the Land Records, Deer Lodge County Courthouse, Bk5/p224, dated 27 Feb 1889: Grantor - Jas. Preston; Grantee - Peter Valiton; S2NW Sec 9 & S2NE & SE NW SEc 8 T7 R9 (the 200 acre ranch!)
Bargain and Sale Deed, same date, has James P. Preston and Nora E. Preston, his wife, selling the described 200 acres to Peter Valiton.

The 1900 census of Cottonwood Township (a geographic name given to a location, for the census - used before Deer Lodge name was officially adopted) shows James as a widower with a daughter, Estella, born Dec 1889. {Have been unable to find anything further on her - 8 Mar 1998 - efforts continue....}

Silver State published Deer Lodge, MT, issue of 19 June 1895 [8]:

 

Megan Thompson <megant@imine.net>

To:

ESU.ESU.SMITHWIL

Subject:

Preston-new information

Attachments:

Message (Save As: Binary, Size=2231 bytes)

Mime.822 (Save As: Binary, Size=4806 bytes)

Message:

Dear Bill,

I was doing some unrelated research and happened to run across the

following article.....it may shed some light on James P. Preston and the

fact that you learned he was buried as a pauper...

 

Extracted from the Silver State published Deer Lodge, MT. issue of 19

June 1895, p 2, col 3 bottom.

 

Mrs Nora E. PRESTON on Friday in Butte commenced an action for divorce

against her husband, James P. PRESTON, to whom she was married at Deer

Lodge on December 9, 1889. She says she has been a resident of Montana

for 13 years. The charges made against the defendant are extreme

cruelty, habitual drunkenness and non-support. On February 10, 1891, he

came home drunk and kicked her and attempted to beat her. He also

called her indecent names. On November 8, 1891, he drew a gun on her

and her two children and threatened to kill them. For more than one

year prior to that time he came home drunk every day and by reason of

his continued cruelty and drunkenness she could no longer live with him

and left him.

 


From the 5 April 1899 issue of Silver State, published in Deer Lodge, Montana:

Brevities:
Mrs. Ernest Preston and little daughter are again residents of Deer Lodge, having moved down from Emery last week. Ernest is still employed in the Emery mine. {Note: Emery is about ten miles east south east of Deer Lodge.}

1900 Census-Index:
James P. Preston, vol 4, e.d. 19, sheet 8, line 44, Montana
W, Feb 1835, 65, Ohio
Deer Lodge, Cottonwood Twp.
Deer Lodge, D street, n.r. house #
Preston, Estella, D, Dec 1889, 10, Mont.



Return to Top of Page

The End

Aunt Lvene Thomas' Smith family history, paritally based on the Miller Ancestoral Chart information, says that James P. Preston died December 30, 1906, at age 71 yrs., 10 mo., 9 da., buried at Deer Lodge, Montana.

Mari Preston Berry, a cousin in Arizona, told me a member of her family attempted to locate the grave of James and were told it is unmarked, probably a pauper's grave.

I asked Megan Thompson, a researcher in Deer Lodge, to check this out for me. (I had already determined that Montana official death records only started on 1 Jan 1907 - 2 days after James' presumed death!) Her reply:

"I went to the mortuary and double-checked that 30 Dec 1906 death date and there is no Preston listed. There are no other records available. It seems the city cemetery was under the jurisdiction of an indiviual. He kept his own records which I understand were very complete. When the fellow left about 1935, he offered to sell his cemetery records to the city for $1500 and when they refused to buy them, he put them in a pile and burned them. A retired mortician friend who was young and just joined in the business with his father-in-law at that time, is the one who told me this. He actually saw the records being burned but arrived on the scene too late to save them. I can hardly bear to think of the loss!"


Return to Top of Page




Sources and References

[1] History of Montana 1739-1885, 1885, Chicago: Warner, Beers & Company

[2] California Wagon Train Lists by Louis J. Rasmussen, Volume 1, April 5, 1849 to October 20, 1852 (A volume of the Ship, Rail and Wagon Train Series). San Francisco Historic Records, 1204 Nimitz Drive, Colma, CA 9405-3621.

[3] History of Yuba County California, Thompson & West, Oakland, CA 1879.

[4] Report of James O'Brien's Mining Property situated in Smartsville, Yuba Co, CA, Report of William Ashburner, M.E. San Francisco: Edward Bosqui & Co., Printers, No. 517 Clay Street, 1868.

[5] Chronology and Documentary Handbook of the State of Montana, 1978, Oceana Publications, Inc.: Dobbs, Ferry, New York.

[6] Montana, A State Guide Book, The Viking Press: New York MCMXXXIX

[7] Powell County: Where it all began, Powell County Museum and Arts Foundation, Historic Action Committee, Dorene Courchene, Editor, Deer Lodge, MT, 1989. (I found this one in the library in the city of Orlando, Florida!)

[8] Silver State published Deer Lodge, MT, issue of 19 June 1895, p 2, col 3 bottom (provided by Megan Thompson via email)

Return to Top of Page

Return to Preston Return to Pioneer Sketches



This page created 4 Mar 1998. Last updated 26 Oct 2002, by William L. (Bill) Smith.

Megan Thompson summation:

Here is a timeline....

21 Mar 1871 - James P Preston & Ellen M. ? are married in Bryan,

Williams Co., Ohio.

Their children are Ernest G., Harry L., John M., and Ellen R.

02 Mar 1888 - James P Preston files for divorce from Ellen who has

been gone one year and resides in Iowa.

09 Dec 1888 - James P Preston & N. E. Gallager apply for marriage

license - license states that both parties have been married and

divorced.

09 Dec 1888 - James P Preston & N. E. Gallager are married.

19 Jun 1895 - Nora is divorcing James P Preston and article (see

above) indicates she left him as early as 1891.