Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Returning History

One never knows where the road ahead will lead.

In 1805 and 1806, Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery passed through what would eventually become Fort Benton, Montana Territory, on the Missouri River. My husband’s Great, Great, Great Grandfather, Sergeant Patrick Gass, was a member of the expedition, published the first journal, and was the last member to die in 1870.

In 1868 my Great, Great, Great Grandfather, John Peter Carolus, traveled the Missouri river by steamboat from St. Joe, Missouri, to Fort Benton, Montana Territory. In 1870 his son Jacque (Jacob) made the same trip with his brother George.

On March 13, 1993 my husband purchased an antique book binding press with the markings: Wells Fargo, Fort Benton, Montana Territory. We have since found that Wells Fargo was in the community of Fort Benton from about 1866 to 1870.

In the fall of 2013 my husband and I took on the mindset - we are moving! Those three words became great motivation to purge and clear a path forward as noted in my post Puzzling Moves. Since then, we have made major headway by donating, selling, giving, recycling, and tossing. What we have enjoyed the most on this part of our journey is the donating and giving. Thus, what to do with the book press?

“For it is in giving that we receive.”
St. Francis of Assisi

On July 16, 2015 we arrived in the community of Fort Benton, Montana, to return the book press. We met with historians from the Fort Benton/Great Falls area who were thrilled to receive the press, and to meet with a descendant from the Corps of Discovery. With the guidance of the Executive Director of the River and Plains Society, Randy Morger, we toured the heritage complexold Fort Benton and the Starr Gallery of Western Art, Missouri River Breaks Interpretive Center, Hornaday Smithsonian Buffalo, Museum of the Northern Great Plains, Museum of Agriculture, Homestead Village, and the Museum of the Upper Missouri. While in Great Falls, we toured the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center and were guided to various landmarks from the expedition by Don Peterson, a Lewis & Clark Foundation member, author, and historian. For anyone familiar with the expedition, we saw Decision Point, Great Falls, Great Springs and several of the Lewis & Clark portage sites.

Our recent experience in Montana was a trip of a lifetime for us both. Although we were returning history, our family history was brought home to us. While we continue in the process of downsizing our past to create a better future for ourselves, it has been remarkable what we have experienced, and look forward to wherever the road may lead.

I would like to personally thank Ken Robison, author and historian at the Overholser Historical Research Center in Fort Benton for introducing us to Randy Morger and Don Peterson. With all the history and new friendships, we hope to return soon.

Photo courtesy of Ken Robison