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Teachers Also Lament Apathy to History – [Quotes from teacher Winona Williams]

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Teachers Also Lament Apathy to History – [Quotes from teacher Winona Williams]

Members of Eta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, a teacher’s honorary fraternity, are forced to agree with Brig. Gen. William M. Johnson that Missoulians, at least, do not show enough interest in their past, declared Winona Williams[1], chairman of the chapter’s committee for the restoration of old Hell Gate.

Miss Williams said “The chapter regrets that although the 100th anniversary of the founding of the town was celebrated with a glittering pageant, no attention was paid to preserving the crumbling buildings a few miles west of town which once were the social and commercial center of western Montana, and the state’s first county seat.

“The Hell Gate Restoration Society was incorporated in 1949, with Maj. Evan W. Kelley, retired forester, as president. Many Montanans expressed great interest and promised help. Then, like so many worthwhile organizations, this one faded away. Maj. Kelley moved to California, and the death of Dr. Paul C. Phillips, an interested and informed adviser, was a great blow.

“A painting of old Hell Gate was done in oil by Joe Sol after two years of painstaking research to insure its historical accuracy. This painting was purchased for the people of Missoula by S. F. Howard, of the Florence Laundry, and now hangs in the lobby of the Hotel Florence.

“Eta Chapter, under the leadership of Mrs. Berenice Andrew, raised $1,250 toward the purchase of the site. This money is deposited in a local building and loan company, and members of Eta Chapter have pledged themselves to give $1,000 more. The State Highway Commission has promised to accept old Hell Gate as a state park if the people of Missoula will purchase the site and give it to the state.

“Old Hell Gate was the scene of the first jury trial ever held in Montana, the colorful contest between Tin Cup Joe and Baron O’Keefe. It was the first U.S. Post Office in Montana, with Frank L. Worden as the postmaster. The first marriage of whites was celebrated there March 5, 1862, that of Mrs. Josephine Meininger and George P. White, with Henry Brooks, justice of the peace officiating. The first white child born in Montana was Jefferson Henry Pelletier, or “Pelky,” born to Robert and Adeline Pelletier Feb. 13, 1862 in the Hell Gate proximity.

“Hell Gate was the most important station on the Mullan Trail between Fort Benton and Walla Walla, Wash. Mullan in his book, ‘Advice to Trappers and Miners,’ names it as the only place where blacksmith service was available. Nearby are Council Grove, where Isaac Stevens held his historic council with the Indians, and the Lewis and Clark crossing.

“Eta Chapter congratulates the people of the Bitter Root Valley for the patriotic service they are doing in reconstruction of Ft. Owen. Western Montana has need of both historic sites, so different in type and purpose, and believes they will add immensely to the progress and interest of this region.”

The above article appeared in The Missoulian on November 5, 1961.



[1] Miss Williams was my 5th grade teacher @Willard School in Missoula and had quite an impact on me when she read aloud from Uncle Tom’s Cabin – in dialect. I’ll never forget it, or her.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 18:01