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Bozeman: Territorial Discovery of the Year

Peter Huntoon & Mark Drengson
The anticipation of seeing a previously unreported territorial note are available from the cold makes life worth living.

Heritage blew us away once they landed this Bozeman, Mont., territorial. The note is going to be offered within the 2021 FUN auction.

This wonderful discovery has it all: A previously unreported bank, a note from a little town, and it’s from the primary of 5 national banks that operated within the town. it’s from a bank that issued only territorial notes, was chartered early (only lasted 5-1/2 years), and left the scene way back in 1878. It’s a bank with a little overall issuance and modest circulation. And, of course, it’s a note with terrific eye appeal.
This note simply has everything a territorial aficionado could invite. We gasped as soon because the image loaded on our computer screens. Yes, the note has heavy quarter folds that show especially on the rear. Those folds are what saved it for posterity. If not for the someone—probably one among the bankers—who folded it, carried it around in his wallet, and ultimately saved it, the note would have continued to circulate to oblivion.

The face is completely beautiful with brilliant color and it’s one among the simplest layouts for the sort in Montana territory.

No idiot has doctored the note—yet.

It is newsworthy any time a replacement Montana territorial note is discovered. This Bozeman brings the reported total of them to 39.

The town of Bozeman is historically significant within the opening of Montana. The pioneer for whom the town was named is a crucial figure with a grim western ending. We’ll check out a number of these, but first, let’s check out the stats for the bank and therefore the notes it issued.

The bank was organized on July 12, 1872, chartered April 1, 1872, and failed 5-1/2 years afterward on Sept. 14, 1878. During its life, the subsequent were its primary officers, and that they maintained a circulation of a touch over $45,000 in $5 notes.3

The Bozeman bankers issued the subsequent over the lifetime of their bank.

The discovery note is $5 Original Series L705840-2030-B, printed in 1874. The president’s signature is faded but appears to be Christopher James Lyster, signing as vice-chairman. The cashier appears to be William H. Connell II.

Bozeman is found along the I90 corridor at the eastern fringe of the Rockies in western Montana. John Bozeman, alongside partner John Jacobs, opened the Bozeman Trail in 1863, a spur trail leading 550 miles northwest from the Oregon Trail to the mining town of Virginia City, Mont.10 It skilled the Gallatin Valley and therefore the future location of the town of Bozeman.

The Bozeman Trail branched from the Oregon Trail along the Platte in Wyoming near present-day Douglas, Wyo., and proceeded northward over the rolling open rangelands of the Powder basin past Sheridan, Wyo. From there, it turned westward across the open rolling country passing south of what’s now Billings, Mont. It merged with the Yellowstone west of Billings and afforded good access into the Gallatin Valley to the west. Thus, the trail provided the simplest access from the east to the silver and goldfields within the vicinity of Virginia City, Mont., which lies 66 miles southwest of Bozeman.

John Bozeman, an unsuccessful gold/ silver seeker, figured that mining the pockets of miners was an optimal means to realize wealth. Thus, with Daniel Rouse and William Beall, he platted the town of Bozeman in August 1864, stating the town was “standing right within the gate of the mountains able to immerse all tenderfeet that might reach the territory from the east, with their golden fleeces to be taken care of.”

Bozeman was murdered at age 30 while traveling along the Yellowstone in April 1867.9 Although a part of Montana was ceded to varied Indian tribes so trespass by Anglos was at issue, it appears more likely that Bozeman died at the hand of another frontiersman, possibly a partner at the time.

A Sept. 5, 1872 notice within the Helena Weekly Herald announced the opening of the bank.4

“The First commercial bank of Bozeman will commence operations on or about the 15th of next month. the subsequent are the officers: President, Col. Leander M. Black; vice-chairman, C. J. Lyster; Cashier, Geo. W. Fox; Assistant Cashier, Donald A. McPherson. Paid-up capital, $50,000; authorized capital, $100,000. The notes are now being printed at the Department of the Treasury, Washington, and can arrive within a fortnight .”

Bowen & Co.1 and Strahn8 are the sources for the subsequent information concerning Leander M. Black, the principal founding father of the primary commercial bank of Bozeman.

Born in Laurel County, Ky., in 1830, Black joined the stampede to Pike’s Peak, Colo., at age 32. Unsuccessful at prospecting, he established himself in Denver, earning lucrative contracts to provide the govt with wood, hay, and grain. Black was the principal contractor for the military of the Platte during the war years, freighting supplies across the good Plains between Missouri and therefore the Rockies, amassing 1 / 4 of 1,000,000 dollars and a seat within the Colorado Senate in 1867.

He was appointed agent to the Crow Indians in 1869 and relocated to Bozeman together with his family. His freighting and warehouse business flourished between 1869 and 1872, making him one of the wealthiest men in Montana Territory.

During his nine-year stay in Bozeman, Black accumulated extensive landholdings within the Yellowstone, Madison, and Gallatin Valleys, where he raised wheat and grazed his oxen and mule teams.

He platted Black’s Addition in 1871 as a southern extension of Bozeman, creating its premier neighborhood. He also erected the primary brick commercial building in Bozeman at 118-122 East Main St. He then acquired a stable and therefore the Guy House—the leading inn in Bozeman—which he renamed the Northern Pacific Hotel after the transcontinental railroad that was slowly progressing toward Bozeman.

in 1873, when the promise of the approaching railroad foretold prosperity for the Gallatin Valley, Black became one among the primary to take a position heavily within the coalfields of the Bozeman Pass.

He established the short-lived Bozeman Times newspaper, which was the primary within the country to report on Custer’s massacre at the hands of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians.

Not all of Black’s business ventures succeeded. Hoping to maximize the establishment of Yellowstone park in 1872, Black and partner Bart Henderson constructed a wagon road through the yank Jim Canyon, just north of present-day Gardiner. Black lobbied Congress for an exclusive, 30-year, $1 million contract to create toll roads, station houses, and hotels within the vicinity of the park. However, his bill lacked the support of Montana’s territorial representative, Martin Maginnis, so it had been defeated because it might create a monopoly.

Equally disappointing was Black’s venture with the primary commercial bank of Bozeman. Opening in 1872 with Black as president and half owner, the primary bank in town struggled during the Panic of 1873. By 1878, it foundered. Subsequently, most of Black’s local property was auctioned off.

Black relocated to Butte, where his investments in mining properties were coming to fruition. There, he constructed a replacement road between Helena and Butte that’s now U.S. Highway 91, shortening the previous route by 50 miles. Black died suddenly on July 18, 1881.11

Black’s Bozeman bank was the primary during a chain of two Montana territorial national banks that he had a hand in organizing. Their second was The Peoples commercial bank of Helena, which succeeded the prevailing firm of Fox, Lyster & Roe.5

Helena, founded at the location of a placer gold rush that began in 1864, is found 100 miles northwest of Bozeman. the town became the capital of Montana in 1875.

The Peoples National was organized on April 15, 1873, nine months after the Bozeman bank, chartered May 13, 1873, and placed in receivership on Sept. 13, 1878.

The first domino within the chain to fail was the Helena bank, with the Bozeman bank foundering subsequent day.

A comparison of the officers within the two banks reveals that Black was the dominant figure in Bozeman, whereas Lyster maintained his roots in Helena until his death at age 35 in 1875.7

Fox simultaneously served as president of the Helena bank and cashier of the Bozeman bank from 1872 to 1875. Upon Lyster’s death, Fox stepped down from president to cashier in Helena and stepped up to the president to succeed Black in Bozeman. Charles L. Dahler, a banker from Virginia City, was brought in as president in Helena, but also continued to run his bank in Virginia City.2

The Helena bank was about an equivalent size because of the Bozeman enterprise and also was a territorial-only issuer. Not surprisingly, no commercial banknotes are reported from the Helena bank; however, spectacular printer specimens and unissued remainders of certificates of deposit employed by the bank occasionally are offered in $5, $10, $20, and $50 denominations.

The Helena bank issued $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 Original/1875 series notes, beat small quantities. It holds the excellence of being the sole bank in Montana Territory to issue $50s and $100s; respectively from 390 and 67 $50-$100 sheets of every.

The First National of Bozeman and Peoples National of Helena were the fourth and fifth national banks organized in Montana territory.

Incidentally, Donald A. McPherson, the assistant cashier of the Bozeman bank, had an extended career in national banking. He left for the Black Hills of South Dakota where he became cashier (1882-1916) then president (1917-1920) of the primary commercial bank of Deadwood, also as president (1887-1888) of the primary commercial bank of Sturgis, S.D. He died in 1920.

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