Author: Gary A. Wilson
Saints and sinners made history on Montana’s Hi-Line
Montana’s legendary frontier lingered longest in the Milk River Country, the wind-swept “Hi-Line” along the Canadian border, according to historian and author Gary A. Wilson in his new book, “Adventure Tales of Montana’s Last Frontier.”
The Havre author vividly chronicles the area’s panoramic past that featured Native Americans, fur traders, soldiers, pioneering women, itinerant preachers, cattle barons, and outlaws. Chapters describe such notables as Gabriel Dumont, the Métis rebel who plotted rebellion; “Brother Van” Orsdel, the wide-ranging Methodist missionary; and Red Whip, a great Gros Ventre warrior.
But Wilson also presents lesser-known figures that made history in towns like Landusky, Havre, Glasgow, and Chinook, on ranches, at Fort Assiniboine, and along the outlaw trail. In particular, there are numerous iconic women in the book, including Mrs. Nate Collins and Anna Callahan, “cattle queens,” ran their own spreads because they had to; Thora Phalen, an early nursing-school graduate; rodeo competitors Doris Ranger and Edna Kronkright; and outlaw wives Elfie Logan and Julia Landusky.
Of course the Hi-Line had its share of gunfights and criminals, and readers will find exciting accounts of an 1894 Havre running gun battle, a 1904 Havre crime wave, simultaneous crimes in 1926 that kept the sheriff running between Chinook and Glasgow, and various shootouts, hold-ups, and ambushes.