Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Letter to the Editor

Plan on attending 'Stories and Stones'

Plan on attending 'Stories and Stones'

10 hours ago
My daughter, Brusan, and I enjoyed Stories and Stones, a presentation in the community cemetery Oct. 26.
The portrayal by your resident, Jennie Pak, of Sarah Elizabeth Woody, a distant cousin of mine during pioneering times in Montana, was delightful, and we learned more about she and her husband, Frank Woody and family in a delightful manner.
Thanks to all the folks who work so hard to do this; everyone in the area should try to attend when it is presented in the summertime.
Sincere thanks to all concerned. 
Betty N. Rhoda,
Spokane, Wash. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

History lessons come to life in Missoula | | Missoula, Montana

History lessons come to life in Missoula | | Missoula, Montana

History speaks: Re-enactors bring Missoula founders to life in Stories and Stones

History speaks: Re-enactors bring Missoula founders to life in Stories and Stones
photo courtesy of Kim Kaufman

When outlaw Cyrus Skinner moved to the village of Hellgate and began to terrorize the local residents, Christopher Higgins knew one way or another, someone had to put a stop to it. By 1864, the village had become know as one of the most violent places in the west.
“There was never more than 14 permanent inhabitants, but we had nine violent deaths,” Higgins told the audience. “I offered Skinner $50 in cold hard cash to get out of town. He should have taken the money.”
Cigar in one hand, cane in the other, the late Missoula founder walked and talked again as part of the annual Stories and Stones Historical Tour at the Missoula City Cemetery. He said when after Skinner refused the money, vigilantes found him and hung him at a gallows in Higgins’ corral.
“Justice was very quick in those days,” he said.
On Sunday, Higgins was portrayed by Bob Brown, former director of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula. The Missoula City Cemetery staff organizers the annual event. The vast majority of the 50 speakers on Sunday were playing the role of their characters, dressing up in period appropriate outfits and delivering first person reenactments of their tales.
“It’s just a wonderful venue, a wonderful opportunity to bring the history to life,” Brown said. “It’s about the stories, it’s not like sitting in class.”
Dennis Shanahan said he listened to a handful of the different presenters on Sunday, and said he really enjoyed Brown’s portrayal of Higgins. He said he learned that when Higgins first platted the roads in the University District, he named them after his nine kids, including Arthur, Gerald, Helen, Hilda, Ronald and Maurice. He also went to one of the talks on the history of the Wilma Theater.
“I didn’t know that there was a swimming pool there, in the bottom floor. Apparently there still is, it’s just covered up now,” he said.
The cemetery was established in 1884 and sold to the city in 1901, said sexton Mary Ellen Stubb, the historical record keeper.
Stubb said as many as 3,000 people show up at Stories and Stones every year.
“We started with just five storytellers, and a few dozen people watching. Now over 12 years later, we’ve grown to a peak of 50 different storytellers for the event,” she said.
Apart from sharing the history of the town, Stories and Stones is also about raising public awareness about the cemetery itself.
“That’s what all this is about, bringing awareness that we’re here.This is how Missoula was built, on the backs of the people here,” Stubb said.
Missoula’s cemetery still active today, with plot space left for more than a century worth of burials and history still to be written, Stubb said.
Stories and Stones ended Sunday with an uncertain future. Organizers said the event will not be held next year, as they take a year off to reexamine the work, time and cost that goes into putting it on.
“We just don’t know when or if it’s coming back. It just takes a tremendous amount of resources for our office,” Stubb said.
Just past the front gates of the cemetery Alessandra Alcala played the fife, a small wooden flute, and was dressed as a Civil War-era soldier.
She said she started playing in a fife and drum corp when she was 10 years old. Earlier in the year, Alcala, 17, sent in an audition video and was invited to travel to New York City to perform with the Macy’s Great American Marching Band, comprised of high-school aged students from all 50 states, in the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Alcala is homeschooled, but is also currently taking music classes at the University of Montana. She said a background in playing the fife and drum led her to learn more about the history of the instruments and the role they played in the Revolutionary War and Civil War.
“Commanders and generals used them to send messages. They would use different tunes to tell the soldiers to retreat or when it was time to fire,” Alcala said.
To help fund her trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Alcala wrote and is performing a radio show-style production about the history of American music at the Missoula Community Theater on Nov. 13. More information about her trip can be found online at
Next to his gravestone, Frank Woody gathered a crowd to tell their story, Woody, portrayed by Allan Mathews, was born in North Carolina in the 1880s, and after making his way west, found a man who was taking supplies by oxen to the Hellgate area and Fort Owen.
“I came to Missoula, and saw 300 Indian teepees laid out in the valley.” he said. “I kept it in the back of my mind that this could be a good place for business.”
Woody went on to become the clerk of Francis Worden in Washington, and went with him and Higgins when they came to the region to found their trading post.
Over the course of the rest of his life, Woody would be serve as the postmaster, be elected Missoula’s first mayor, wrote the first history of Missoula, and serve as a judge. When she was involved in a murder attempt, Woody sentenced the infamous Mary Gleim – the “Madame of Missoula” who ran the red light district – to 14 years of hard labor, a decision later overturned.
On his death in 1916, Woody was the longest living resident of Missoula at the time.
Mathews said he always admired the character of Woody, and the beloved role he played in Missoula.
“He was such an early player, so I just started studying his character and doing presentations as him,” he said.
Woody will also be a central character in a book Mathews is working on. Mathews currently teaches a course with the MOLLI lifelong learning program at UM that takes classes on walking tours of Missoula’s history, and has also written a book on the subject, “A Guide to Historic Missoula.”
The character and history of Woody is one that is occasionally overshadowed by the two bigger named founders of the town in Worden and Higgins.
“He made up for it by outliving them all,” Mathews said.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mrs. Woody at the Toole County Library

Mrs. Woody travels to Shelby MT

Shelby Elementary School
I started my day the the Shelby Elementary School speaking to the 5th and 6th graders. They were very engaging and had lots of questions for me.

Shelby Heritage Center
At 1pm I was at the Shelby Heritage Center to speak to the senior residents and hear some of their stories too.

Shelby Heritage Center
This lucky fellow got to join me at the courting table because, truthfully, no one else wanted to get up.

Shelby Heritage Center
This fellow, Tom, is a WWII vet and regaled me with machinegunner stories for quite some time. I could have stayed all day, chatting with him.

Toole County Library
Lastly, I spoke at the Toole County Library at 7pm. A smaller crowd but no less enthusiastic and I was pleased to see a few familiar faces from the elementary school. A fun, long and very enjoyable day in Shelby for me.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Humanities in Shelby MT

Shelby Elementary School

Coyote News!

Elementary Spends The Morning With Mrs. Woody

The Toole County Friends of the Library hosted the Humanities Montana program “Mrs. Woody’s Trunk Full of Memories” with Jennie Pak.
Mrs. Pak portrayed Sara Woody and told of her life, beginning in the 1860s and ending with her death in 1919, as she sifted through her trunk. Each item sparked a memory she shared. She remembered the wagon trail journey from Iowa to California, her time as a frontier school teacher and her marriage to Frank H. Woody, the first mayor of Missoula.
The 5th/6th grade students enjoyed the presentation and would like to to thank the Friends of the Library for including them in this experience.
 Mrs. Woody
 Mrs. Woody 2

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Friends of the Library host ‘Mrs. Woody’s Trunk Full of Memories’ on September 23 - Golden Triangle News: News

Friends of the Library host ‘Mrs. Woody’s Trunk Full of Memories’ on September 23 - Golden Triangle News: News

Friends of the Library host ‘Mrs. Woody’s Trunk Full of Memories’ on September 23

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size
Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 9:00 am

Montana history buffs, history students and anyone who is interested at all in what pioneer life was like for Montana women are in for a treat, thanks to the Friends of the Library. On Tuesday, Sept. 23, Jennie Pak of the Humanities Montana Speakers Bureau, will be presenting “Mrs. Woody’s Trunk Full of Memories” at Shelby Elementary School at 10 a.m., the Heritage Center at 1 p.m., and a final time, free to the public, at 7 p.m. at the Toole County Library.
Pak’s program gives a detailed insight into what the life of Montana pioneer, Sarah Elizabeth Woody, was like after moving west and finding her self at the forefront of the start of a community in the state of Montana.

Pak portrays Mrs. Woody in later years, as she digs through her old travel trunk, each item sparking a memory of a life well lived. A wagon train journey from Iowa to California, her time as a frontier schoolteacher, her marriage to Frank H. Woody, Missoula’s first mayor, and home life in a cabin in the village of Missoula are just a few stories Mrs. Woody shares.
Pak, who has been portraying Mrs. Woody for audiences around Montana for the past three years as part of the Humanities Montana Speakers Bureau program, has been researching Sarah Elizabeth Woody for the past eight years. She was first introduced to Mrs. Woody by the sexton at the Missoula Cemetery.
“They have a program called ‘Stories and Stones’ every year at the Missoula cemetery,” said Pak. “I went and spoke with the sexton about who might be available for me as she is fantastic about gathering information and stories on people she wants more deeply investigated. She told me that I had two options, Sarah Woody or the jail matron. She didn’t have much on the jail matron, and most of the information and stories would be about the sheriffs. It seems the pioneer stories are always about the men, so Ichose Sarah, although over the may have chose me.”
Pak does have a day job, providing care to seniors in their homes, allowing her a flexible schedule to work with. She has spent countless hours looking into all aspects of what Mrs. Woody’s life was like, piece by piece.
Over the years she has also accumulated pieces that work to accommodate the time period and that fit the story. While none of the “artifacts” are from that time period, they serve their purpose, visually illustrating the story for the audience. Studying the history, gathering different pieces to help illustrate and performing for an audience are all things Pak greatly enjoys. No two performances are the same and the reason for that, according to Pak, is because no two audiences are the same.
“I temper the program to the audience,” she explained. “Different aspects of Mrs. Woody’s life pertain more to different ages. There was a period of time where she lost six kids in a very short period, when I talk to kids I don’t go into detail on this part of her life, but the older people I do, as some of them have lost children and can relate. The interactions with the crowd are priceless, each program unique, sometimes it’s more of a conversation with the audience and others it’s a presentation.”
Having a “day job,” and all the time spent on researching and rehearsing, as well as traveling to perform, come with challenges, but the main challenge any given time is the weather. Most of the presentations are scheduled around the state during the fall, winter and spring months, making traveling an adventure or something that is just not happening. The weather for Tuesday, Sept. 23, isn’t looking too treacherous for travel (yet), and Pak is looking forward to performing in Shelby.
 “It seems most of the time these programs are taking place during the worst of weather,” Pak chuckled. “But the weather isn’t looking like it should be too bad come next week and I’m looking forward to coming and performing in Shelby.”
For more information on the upcoming event, contact Eve Jacobson at 434-2873.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ol' Wild West Fest

We had a great day at Fort Missoula for the second annual Ol' Wild West Fest. The weather was great and the crowd was a bit bigger than last year. Hopefully this event catches on and grows over the years. 

The Victorian Ladies Tea Guild
The Victorian Ladies participated in a fashion show. They added a touch of elegance to an otherwise rustic event.

Victorian card making in the kids' corner

Victorian card making with the kids

The Horse is called Murphy, the gentleman's name escapes me

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Daly Days 2014

Marcus Daly III and Mrs Sharkey
The year is 1927 at Riverside.
Extensive research was conducted into the family and household guest of 1927. A trivia game and "scavenger" hunt were provided to the visitors as an ice breaker and most everyone enjoyed playing along.

A unique view of the cast, though a bit blown out by the bright sunshine.

Cutler the Butler
Mr. Cutler greeted the visitors in the Butler's pantry and was all business throughout the day.

Stena and Cutler
Stena the pastry chef had a full day of baking and tour guide duties to keep her busy.
1800s encampment

Mrs. Margaret Daly
Mrs. Daly is always the hostess with the mostess. She is a gracious and generous employer and hostess.

The Murray Girls

The Dr. Murray Family

Mrs. Sharkey and Marcus III
Master Marcus and his governess, Mrs. Sharkey kept busy all day with various crafting activities and a pony cart ride. Master Marcus enjoyed answering the visitors' questions buy by 2pm he was ready for a rest and retired for the afternoon.

Mrs. Sharkey and Marcus III

Marcus III and Mrs. Sharkey

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mrs. Woody with the Victorian Ladies' Tea Guild in Corvallis

This lovely little tea room was the surprise creation of Mr. Steve Bochae of Corvallis. A surprise for his wife. This building had been a milking parlor for many years and had gone unused for some time before Steve got the inspiration to turn it into a tea room. He spent over a year amassing furniture and decorations and hiding them from his wife. On the big day, he invited her to join him in the milking parlor for tea and all his efforts took her breath away. Steve's decided to offer this venue to friends free of charge and asks only, that the act of kindness be paid forward at some time.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fort Missoula Stories in Stones

Fort Missoula Stories in Stones 2014

Stories of the dead come alive at Fort Missoula

June 08, 2014 6:45 pm  •  

Kim  Kaufman used a sunny day at Fort Missoula Post Cemetery to tell a very grave story.
The headstones in front of Kaufman bore the names Helen Morgan and Infant Morgan. Helen Morgan was married to Private Joseph Morgan. She lived on a ranch with her parents in the Cold Springs area.
“In the fall of 1918, Joseph came home on leave for the birth of their first child,” Kaufman told the audience standing among the graves.
Sadly, the day after Joseph returned home, the baby died. Five days later, Helen died as well. Both of them were likely killed by the Spanish Flu pandemic of the period. As family of a military member, they were buried in the fort’s cemetery.
Kaufman was just one of the volunteers spread out in the cemetery on Sunday to tell the stories of some of the people buried there as part of the annual Stories in Stones.
The event is put on by the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History.
Kaufman said when it was made, the Morgan child’s name was not known, so the headstone only says infant. However, when the museum was researching the Morgans in 2007 for a project it was able to track down the child’s birth and death certificates.
“We now know that his name was George and he was named after his grandfather,” Kaufman told the crowd.
She also pointed out several graves for the children of Augustus Snoten, buried during a time when the infant and child mortality rate was high.
“I think we have way too many children here, but that’s the way it was in those days,” Kaufman.
Snoten was an African American and member of the Buffalo Soldiers who died in 1924. His gravestone gives his rank as color sergeant. It’s not a reference to his race, Kaufman said, but rather that he was one of the men who carried the flag.
Tate Jones, executive director of the military history museum, said most of the volunteers like Kaufman who take part in Stories in Stones choose a specific person or subject in the cemetery to research in depth.
“They use the Mansfield archives, the city library, contemporary news of the time and Missoulian archives to learn more about these people,” he said.
Gary Lancaster, another volunteer, told the audience stories about two of the military members buried at Fort Missoula. During the American Indian Wars, Private Michael Himmelsbach was tasked with trying to recover stray horses. His group, a sergeant and three other privates, came upon two women and a child before being attacked by a group of 50 Native Americans. The soldiers managed to hold off the attack, and after a failed attempt to escape on foot, Himmelsbach’s group was rescued when a survey crew came into the area. The Native Americans, believing it to be more soldiers, left. Upon returning to camp and giving their report, the five soldiers were all awarded the Medal of Honor in 1870.
Lancaster also spoke about Harry Garland of the 2nd U.S. Calvary. Garland was part of a group of cavalry and infantry sent to stop a Native American retreat and escape attempt during the Nez Perce War. The corporal climbed up a tree to attempt to spot the Native American group and direct fire for the soldiers on the ground.
“Up in the tree, he was shot by I guess what you could call one of the first Native American snipers,” Lancaster told the audience.
The shot hit two rounds of ammo on Garland’s belt, pushing them into his stomach cavity and fracturing his hip. Although he could no longer walk, Garland continued to direct fire from his treetop vantage point until he was relieved by another officer. He was taken to Fort Ellis near Bozeman to recover, although his lasting injuries meant he was never able to return to field duty. Instead, Garland was made the hospital steward, the title that is written on his gravestone.
Both men received new gravestones in 2006 when the military updated its records and discovered both men had been awarded the Medal of Honor.
“Until 2006, we didn’t know we had two Medal of Honor recipients buried right here in Missoula,” he said.
The soldiers were two of the 37 bodies exhumed when Fort Ellis was disbanded in 1886 and re-interred at Fort Missoula.
While 37 bodies were moved and reburied, there were actually supposed to be 39.
Dressed all in black, Jennie Pak recounted the story of the deactivation of Fort Ellis and the moving of the bodies to Missoula. When the time came, the Army asked for bids on transporting the 39 bodies and gravestones. The high bid came in at $2,730; the lowest bid was $360.
“Let’s all take a guess at which bid got accepted,” Pak said.
Lower costs meant cutting corners and when the job was “finished” two bodies, an “Infant Child Bean” and a “Citizen Adams” never made it to their new resting place.
Marcia Porter, the organizer of the event, was also a participant, dressed as an Army laundress to give the history of Matilda Clinchey Tatje, who in 1879 was the first woman to die and be buried at Fort Missoula.
Tatje’s headstone contains none of her history, and is simply marked by her name. Porter said it had been a challenge tracking down more information about her.
“Like Tatje, a majority of Army laundresses were illiterate immigrants,” she said.
Porter said when she first began researching and talking to people in 2007 to organize Stories in Stones at Fort Missoula, “About 95 percent of the people didn’t even know the cemetery was out here.”
Fort Missoula Post Cemetery is the oldest one in Missoula that is still interring bodies, going all the way back to the first burial at the location, Private William Gerick in 1878.
To her, that’s what makes sharing the history so important, and what gives her satisfaction at seeing more people come out to attend the event every year.
“People really want to hear these stories,” she said.