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Sec A Page 6 Missoulian Centennial First Assessor Was Father of First White Child

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First Assessor Was Father of First White Child

Jefferson H. Pelkey, first white child of record born in Missoula County and also Montana Territory, was a son of this county’s first assessor, Robert Pelkey, who also served as sheriff.

He was elected assessor on Sept. 4, 1865, when this county covered seven present-day counties of western Montana. He received 104 votes to 53 for his opponent, H. Cohn. Pelkey served two years as assessor, then resigned.

Jefferson Pelkey was born Jan. 13, 1862 at Hell Gate. His father went in 1861 to St. Louis to be married, returning with his bride to his homestead. Most other pioneers of that day married native Indian women. Many children were born in what is now Montana, beginning as far back as the Lewis and Clark expedition, but they were of mixed parentage. He was almost two when the Vigilantes hanged five road agents Jan. 24, 1864, at Hell Gate not far from the Pelkey home.

His early life was spent on the Pelkey farm, and he attended Missoula’s first public school. He was married to Jennie Lish. For several years in the 1880’s he lived in Walla Walla, but otherwise spent his life in western Montana, much of the time in the hotel and restaurant business. He died in November of 1932 at his home in Arlee at the age of 73.

One of his brothers, Walter G. Pelkey, was believed the first male white child born in what is now Missoula on Oct. 2, 1866. Except for a time while working in the smelter at Anaconda during World War 1, he lived his entire life here.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 November 2016 21:17