Montana History:  Selected Historical Quotes




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  Documents and Resources of Montana History

Women's Letters
At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture asked for rural women throughout America to suggest ways the Department of Agriculture could make their lives better.  Following are a few comments thus received:

"We have no social life whatever. We need church that we may have spiritual food, at least occasionally."

"Do please advocate more married hired help on the farm."

For more women's quotes, click here.

From the 1910 "Montana Good Roads Convention," held in Billings
"The attractive and social features of city life are causing thousands to put up with a scant living rather than be buried a part of each year upon a farm on which they cannot visit with comfort and convenience to the near-by town or city. The boys and girls that attain the highest degree of efficiency graduating from our schools and colleges, and capable of giving the best scientific knowledge to the development of the soil, are not attracted to our country life, and it is due from my observation to the lack of good roads."

For the entire speech, click here.

Pioneering in Montana, 1913
In the early 20th century, Norwegians, Danes, Swedes and others of national origins settled in Eastern Montana, in the vicinity of Malta.  Here is the story of one Norwegian, Endre Bergsagel, who migrated to Montana in 1913:

"I shall never really know what induced me to homestead on the grasslands of north central Montana, a semiarid region so different from anything I had known. I was born on the rain-soaked, fertile plain of Jæren, not far from the coastal town of Stavanger, Norway. After landing in St. John, New Brunswick, I went by train directly to San Francisco. From there I proceeded slowly up the coast to Portland, Oregon, and then went east and north to eastern Washington and Alberta, Canada, finally arriving in Montana. Most Norwegian settlers who have lived for a time in Montana have sort of stopped there on their way to the coast from one of the north central states. But I did it the other way around. And it took me twenty years, with a lot of drought and grasshoppers thrown in, to finally make up my mind to return to the coast.

After thirty years, I am more convinced than ever that the coast is where I should have settled in the first place. But I was young then, and jobs were scarce just before the First World War, so I moved east to the harvest fields. Although there were a lot of hardships connected with homesteading in Montana, I guess the open country got into my blood, in a way. And that is why I stayed. Of course, a man with a family can’t pick up and move just any time things don’t work out well — and then there’s always the hope that matters will improve."

For the rest of Bergsagel's story, click here.



Montana History Net is produced by Bruce Gourley.  Photographs, except Clark signature, copyright Bruce Gourley.