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Louis R. Maillet - Extraordinary Montana Pioneer - One of Hell Gate's Founders

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Louis R. Maillet – Extraordinary Montana Pioneer


The following article about Louis R. Maillet focuses on one of Montana’s fabulous pioneers. While many of the early pioneers in Montana Territory no doubt could have furnished us with equally fascinating accounts of their lives, few of them did. Maillet’s detailed narrative, found in the Contributions to the Montana Historical Society of 1903, furnishes us a surprisingly complete picture of his life as it moved from his youth in St. Louis to his later adventures in the far west. Whether his memory enabled him to recall vast amounts of explicit detail, or perhaps through the existence of diaries or copious notes, we are the beneficiaries of a wide array of his experiences, put down in vivid writing for posterity.

Although he allowed us to view him on his own terms through his historical recordings, he did not furnish us with one important element of his life in Montana, that of his relationship with his Indian partner, Mary Matt. Documentation of her life is sparse and comes by way of peripheral sources, including a mention of her death in the “Plainsman” (Plains, Mt. newspaper) – May 17, 1907 - quoted by historian Chalk Courchane, in an article he wrote about the Matt family. Courchane’s research frequently addresses the subject of Montana’s Indian heritage.

The newspaper article Courchane cited states Mary Matt was the daughter of Louis and Terese Matt, born in the Bitter Root (of Blackfoot heritage), was 62 years old, and had been married twice, the first time to G. M. Mailette (sic) whom she was “joined in wedlock 40 years ago.”  Upon her death at Hot Springs, Mt., she was the wife of Ed. Lamereaux, whom she married in 1886. A son, George, was born from her marriage to Maillet.

Chalk Courchane also states in his research that Mary Matt was actually married 3 times, first to Frank Morigeau in about 1863, then to Maillet, and finally to Edward Lammeroux who apparently owned the Hot Springs Hotel.

Further, in his book, ‘Men and Trade on the Northwest Frontier’, author George Weisel furnished 5 pages of information about Louis Maillet - much of it taken from Maillet’s article quoted below in the Montana Historical Society publication (cited above). Weisel does, however, address Maillet’s Indian spouse:

“It must have been sometime in this period (1855) of his life that Maillet took his first wife. She was the daughter of Loui Matt, an old time trader in the Rockies, and a woman who was a full-blood Blackfoot.[1] They had two children. One died in infancy and the other, a son, lived until 1903, leaving a number of descendants who are living in Montana today.”

Louis R. Mayette died at St. Hyacinth, Canada, in August, 1906. Several of his descendants, from both of his wives, became prominent in their fields, including medicine, law, and engineering.



Historical Sketch of Louis R. Maillet

Found in Volume IV of Contributions to the Montana Historical Society – 1903.[2]

Louis R. Maillet was born in the parish of Saint Denis, near Montreal, Canada, on the first day of February, 1834. His ancestry were natives of Lyons, France, from which place his grandparents emigrated to America.

John Baptist Maillet, father of Louis, was a merchant. He was implicated in the Canadian rebellion of 1837, and escaped to Burlington, Vermont. The government offered to pardon and reward him in return for information against his compatriots, but to his honor, he refused, and was able to hand down to his posterity a name unsullied by treachery – a name of which they are justly proud. He remained in Burlington until, under a general pardon proclaimed by the British government, he was able to return to Canada.

His property, though held liable to confiscation during his exile, was for the most part restored to him, and this, together with what he had acquired in the United States, enabled him to spend the remainder of his days in comfort and to extend liberal education advantages to his children.

In 1838 he visited St. Louis, Mo., and after a stay of six months, returned so deeply impressed with the possibilities of the Great West that he determined to make St. Louis his home. His wife, who was related to the Girouard family of Canada, prominent as patrons of education, and many of them noted as clergymen, clung with fondness to her home environments, and was averse to the change proposed. In deference to his wife’s preferences, John Baptist Maillet abandoned his new ambition, and died a British subject, in the old home in the parish of Saint Denis, where he had spent the greater part of his life.

The son, however, less tenaciously attached to the family roof-tree, caught his father’s inspiration and determined to seek the land of promise in the great West. In August, 1849, Louis R. Maillet, following the path marked out by his father ten years before, set out for St. Louis. Accompanying him were three young men, his friends, who wished to join him in his quest for fortune. In St. Louis, Maillet found employment as clerk in a store, and going farther up the river to St. Joseph, the following spring, he engaged in similar work.

In 1851 he joined a trading expedition with Henry Mulky and Richard Pearson. With three other men, who were employed to assist, the party crossed the plains in the month of July. About forty miles west of Fort Laramie, they found themselves surprised and surrounded by a small war party of Crow Indians.

Pearson was an old plainsman, brave and determined. He immediately corralled his wagons, placing the men and horses inside the enclosure, and declared that they must fight to the death, for, if taken, they would all be murdered. He added that he would himself shoot down the first man that flinched or showed cowardice. They were well fortified, he said, and if every man did his duty they could not be taken.

The Indians began riding around the corral of wagons in a circle, yelling hideously and discharging their guns at the party. After an hour or more of this performance, finding they could not frighten nor wound any of the white men, who fought unflinchingly, and as it was near sundown, the Indians withdrew and were not again seen. This was Maillet’s first experience in Indian warfare, and the whole party was so elated over their escape that they lost all fear of meeting the savages on anything approaching equal terms. Not even a horse had been wounded in the encounter. That night all stood guard, and in the morning the journey was resumed.

The next night it fell to the lot of young Maillet to stand guard alone. Not having slept for forty-eight hours, he was almost overcome with fatigue, and in the middle of the night found himself dozing while standing leaning on his gun. In this condition he was suddenly aroused by a voice calling out of the darkness. With a start he awoke fully and brought his gun to his shoulder. “Don’t shoot! I am a white man,” the voice cried out. This aroused the whole party. Pearson was the first to leap from his tent, rifle in hand. He at once recognized the voice as being that of a white man, and in the explanations that followed, the man proved to be Colonel Bernheisel, the first delegate to Congress from Utah.

From his account it appeared that the same party of Crows repulsed by Pearson’s men had attacked the stage going east from Salt Lake City with passengers and mail. Meeting with no resistance, the Indians robbed the coach and passengers, taking the good horses from the stage and putting poor ones in their places, and stripping the passengers of nearly all their clothes. Colonel Bernheisel was denuded of every article of clothing except his trousers and shoes. Hatless and shirtless, his bald head fringed by scant gray locks, and the white skin of his partially uncovered body showing, he made a more curious and undignified picture than ever yet had found its way to the halls of Congress.

Pearson’s party furnished the unfortunate man with new clothing, and the stage driver and other passengers now having discovered the camp and approached, the whole party breakfasted together. The stage then resumed its journey eastward, and Pearson’s party went on towards Salt Lake, where they arrived without further adventure.

Louis Maillet remained in Salt Lake City for about two months, when Neil McArthur, a trader in charge of old Fort Hall, one of the trading posts of the Hudson Bay Company, arrived at Salt Lake, in company with Richard and John Grant, sons of old Captain Grant, formerly chief trader of the Hudson Bay Company at Fort Hall and several other posts. Becoming acquainted with young Maillet, he invited him to accompany his party back to Fort Hall. As Maillet had found very little work in Utah, he cheerfully accepted the invitation. His first employment was herding horses, but McArthur, who was an assiduous reader, soon discovered that the young man could speak and write the French language fluently. Wishing to acquire a knowledge of French, McArthur proffered Maillet a position in his office and his home, where part of his duties consisted in giving his employer lessons in that tongue.

As spring approached, McArthur was obliged to make a trip to Fort Vancouver with the winter’s collection of furs, and to bring back the new year’s supply of goods for the post. Louis Maillet accompanied him on this trip. Every man in the party rode a horse, the furs being carried on pack animals as far as the Dalles of the Columbia. From this point the party proceeded down the Columbia with their goods in canoes. Reaching the cascades, the canoes containing the bales of furs and skins were carried by the men over a portage to the foot of the falls, a distance of about a mile. Here they were put into boats and carried to Fort Vancouver.

After several months of travel in Oregon, in July, Maillet secured a position with Allan MacKinley & Co. as manager of their trading house at the Dalles. That season, the winter of 1852-53, is remembered as the severest ever known. The Columbia, which was said never to freeze over, presented a solid surface of ice for six weeks. More than three hundred head of cattle were counted crossing on the ice at one time, and Maillet saw seventy-five head frozen to death in a bunch. The snow was four feet deep on a level. Five thousand cattle, the property of emigrants, who had driven them across the plains from the States, perished in the cold of this severe winter in the Dalles, and many of the emigrants were ruined.

At this time the military post at the Dalles was called Fort Drum, and the military reserve was ten miles square. This was the head of navigation on the Columbia, and it was recognized by many that a city of importance must grow up at the Dalles. Accordingly, many petitions were sent to Congress to reduce the size of the military reserve, and this was done by a law passed by Congress. Maillet was the first to hear of the act, and under the advice of the officer in charge of Fort Drum, staked off a mile square of land, posted his notices of location, and took up his residence on it. This ground is now within the limits of the town of Dalles, and is very valuable.

In the spring of 1853 McArthur came on his semi-annual trip to Fort Vancouver, carrying furs from Fort Hall, and met Maillet at the Dalles. He made the young man a tempting offer to return with him, proposing to furnish the necessary capital to go into the business of buying up the broken down cattle and horses of the emigrants, driving them to winter quarters in the rich pastures of the Snake river and the Bitter Root valley, and taking them when in good condition to the settlements along the Columbia, where there was an excellent market. Maillet knew that a residence on his Dalles location for the time required to secure his title would make his fortune, but McArthur’s offer was too enticing, and he gave up his position and abandoned his claim.

At Portland, he and McArthur bought a supply of goods for the Indian trade from the Dalles back to Fort Hall. To carry the supply they bought wagons and horses, also two hundred horses in addition to trade with the Indians for furs, skins, etc. Leaving the Dalles in June, they reached what was called the Cayuse country, on the Umatilla river. Here the melting of the winter’s snows and the consequent high water in all the streams forced them to abandon their wagons. Cutting these up and making pack saddles for the transportation of their goods, they purchased more horses and proceeded on their journey, swimming the streams with the pack saddles on their backs in order to keep them dry. They lost part of their provisions and were forced to eat some of their horses.

Accompanying them on this trip were Captain Breut, Q. M., who had been ordered to proceed from Fort Vancouver to Fort Hall to sell government property there, as the fort had been abandoned, and Earl Fitzwilliams, an English nobleman traveling through the country for pleasure. These proved agreeable companions, enduring hardships and fatigue with the utmost cheerfulness. Captain Breut sold the government property at Fort Hall to the Mormons for an absurdly small figure, no other purchasers appearing.

On arriving at Fort Hall in July, McArthur and Maillet found the larger part of the overland emigration had passed on to California, and therefore they had but little chance to buy cattle or horses in the way they had purposed, and they bought instead from the traders they met along the road. Among these were Caleb Irvine, John Grant, Robert Dempsey and others. From these were purchased about two hundred head of fine American cattle and fifty or sixty head of excellent horses and mules, which soon grew fat on the rich grasses of the Fort Hall bottom lands.

On the 9th of January, 1854, Maillet made a trip to Oregon with about forty head of his best horses and mules, where there was a good market. At the same time McArthur went with his semi-annual supply of furs to Fort Vancouver, accompanied by seven men, and carrying about sixty horses. On the 11th of January, the weather suddenly became severely cold, with snow, continuing so until March. The party managed to push forward, however, until their horses gave out and died and their provisions failed. On Snake river they purchased a small supply of dried salmon from the Indians, and were reduced to but one fish a day for rations. Making snowshoes, they went ahead of the horses and broke the road. When they finally came within sight of the Grand Ronde valley, they had left but six horses, which were used as pack animals to carry their blankets, etc. Here there was no snow and flowers were in bloom. The change seemed like a glimpse of heaven. At one time during the trip they had passed five days in the mountains without food, suffering intensely from cold and hunger. Before reaching the valley that spread green and blooming before them, they were obliged to kill one of the six horses for food, which supplied them for two days.

After leaving the Grand Ronde, the party crossed the Blue Mountains and reached the Umatilla river, where they rested for two days. Here McArthur and Maillet borrowed each a good horse from an Indian chief. The chief sent an Indian boy after the horses, which had been tied to some bushes to keep them from eating grass during the night, thereby letting their bellies fall and insuring better wind. Early the next morning the two men breakfasted on dried meat and roots, saddled their horses, and set out for the Dalles, a distance of one hundred and twenty measured miles, reaching the end of the journey that evening at 10 p. m. Here they met Angus MacDonald of Fort Colville and many other friends. After a two days’ rest, they started for Fort Vancouver and Portland. Remaining in Portland three weeks, they learned with much disappointment that the Hudson Bay ship had foundered, and as there were no Indian goods in Portland, Maillet started back to the Dalles, McArthur remaining at Vancouver to settle his affairs with the company.

At the Dalles, Maillet met Colonel Lander, a civil engineer who had crossed the plains with Gov. I. I. Stevens (in 1853 first governor of Washington territory), the colonel being desirous of crossing the plains by way of the old emigrant road in order to make barometrical observations. (Colonel Lander is entitled to the credit of being the first petitioner for an overland railroad. In the Civil War he served as brigadier general and was killed.)

Maillet joined the colonel; horses, saddles and camp outfit being purchased during the week’s stay in the Dalles; and with two other men they started back to Fort Hall, arriving without misadventure. Two days later, McArthur reached home. Here Lander was taken sick, but after three weeks’ rest and nursing, was able to proceed on his way to Washington City.

On reaching Fort Hall, Maillet learned that his fortunes were even worse than he had supposed, for about forty cows and several American mares had died during his absence. Two weeks later he went to Salt Lake for flour, and gathering together the remainder of his horses and cattle, he moved to Soda Springs to spend the summer in order to escape the nuisance of mosquitoes and horse flies, which fill the rest of that country in summer. He spent the season here hunting and looking after his stock.

That fall he took his stock to Salmon river, a short distance above the spot where Lemhi was afterward built. During the winter a Snake Indian came in from the neighborhood of Boise, claiming that he had a hand in killing some emigrants, and exhibiting the blonde scalp of a woman. At this the blood of the white men rose, but as there were but six of them in the party and there were many Indians, they were afraid to kill the Indian boaster. They were determined, nevertheless, that he should not dance any more scalp dances with a white woman’s hair dangling from the end of a stick, and they persuaded a friendly Indian to commit the deed.

In February, (1855), Johnny Grant, Caleb E. Irvine, McArthur, Robert Dempsey and Maillet returned to Fort Hall. Spring had opened and the weather was fine. In April the stock was moved to Ross’s Fork, where they encountered a severe snow storm, which, however, lasted but one day. A portion of the following summer was spent on the Port Neuf. In July Maillet and Caleb Irvine visited Salt Lake to see Judge Schaeffer, but found that the judge had just died. Returning to Soda Springs, they went on to Fort Hall, where McArthur was encamped.

In the following spring a man named Henry Miller brought his wife, a young Mormon girl, to Fort Hall. He had married her two years before at Ogden, and in some way had incurred the enmity of her people, so that he was obliged to flee from the land of Saints. During his absence his wife’s relations had brought every influence to bear upon her to become the spiritual wife of an old Mormon who already had three wives. The young wife resisted, although she was told that she should never see her husband again and that he would be killed if he ever dared appear in Mormondom again. Through the assistance of friends, Miller managed to correspond with his wife, and in time she was enabled to effect her escape and join her husband. At this time Dr. Lansdale, Indian agent for the Flatheads and Pend d’Oreilles, was in Salt Lake on business, and returning to the Jocko by way of Fort Hall, was persuaded by Maillet to engage Miller and his wife to go to the Jocko and keep house for him. Mrs. Miller thus happened to become the first white woman resident of Montana. After living there a year, Miller and his wife went to Walla Walla. This event happened in 1855.

In the fall of 1855, McArthur, who had resigned his position with the Hudson’s Bay Company the previous spring, went to Salt Lake for supplies, Maillet remaining encamped with their stock in Fort Hall bottom land. They had at the time a large band of very fine blooded horses and one of fine cows. When McArthur returned from Salt Lake, they moved to the Bitter Root valley, and later wintered their stock on the Jocko. The winter of 1855-56 was a fine and beautiful one. Stock fattened and came out sleek in the spring. April, 1856 found McArthur and Maillet living at Willow Creek in the Bitter Root, near Corvallis.

Leaving the stock in charge of Brooks, afterwards first Justice of the Peace of Montana (then Washington territory), McArthur and Maillet started back to the emigrant road in May, 1856, and finding Snake river too high to ford, fashioned a boat of willow framework around which they lashed the skins of two elk, killed for that purpose. In this rude craft they crossed without accident. They traded all summer with the emigrants and Mormons, returning late in the fall to the Bitter Root, whence they concluded to move to Hell Gate.

Selecting a place in Grass valley, which was afterwards known as Colwell’s ranch,[3] they employed a number of men, who spent the winter chopping and hewing logs for the purpose of building houses and stockades in which to protect the horses during the summer months when the Blackfeet were in the habit of making raids into the valleys and driving off their horses. F. H. Woody, who was a new comer, spent that winter with them.

On New Year’s Day, 1857, Maillet left Grant creek with a party for Beaverhead, to trade with the Indians. During the night all their provisions, consisting of dried meat, were stole by Kootenai dogs. Trusting to luck for a new supply, Maillet went on and overtook Johnny Grant and C. E. Irvine on Flint Creek. He informed them of the plight of his party, consisting of a man named Jackson and two Indians besides himself, and learned that they were in the same fix. The two parties going on together, found a horse at the mouth of the Little Blackfoot, which they killed and ate. Two days later, camping on the bottom where Melrose is now situated, they killed two antelope and feasted. The next day they reached the confluence of the Beaverhead and Stinkingwater,* where they found old Captain Grant living in a log cabin. Here they enjoyed themselves, with plenty to eat and tobacco to smoke, and did a good trading business with the Bannacks and Snakes whom they found encamped there. Maillet found game more plentiful in this valley than he had ever seen before in all his travels.

*Now Ruby

The day before Maillet and Irvine left for the Bitter Root, Johnny Grant, whose camp was on Beaverhead creek, was in his lodge making pack saddles, when the brother of one of his Indian wives entered and struck him on the head with a club, saying that his sister had been treated badly, and that Grant loved his young Indian wife better than the old one. Grant threw the Indian down and held him, whereupon some squaws ran in, armed with knives, and would certainly have killed him, had not Maillet interfered, knocking down two of them and threatening the others with his pistol if they did not leave. The trouble ended there, and Grant escaped. That night, another brother-in-law, his young wife’s brother, arrived in camp. He was Tin-doy, who, Mr. Maillet says, was the bravest Indian he ever saw. Tin-doy rated the Indians roundly and told them that if they ever caused any more trouble he would take a club and knock their brains out. Leaving next morning for the Bitter Root, Maillet and Irvine reached Fort Owen after a trip of five days. At this fort, in April of the preceeding year, one of Maillet’s mares dropped a sorrel colt, which at one year old was sold to Robert Dempsey, and later to the Stuart brothers. It became the famous traveler Brooks, making in one day the distance between Virginia City and Deer Lodge without distress. This was the longest journey it ever carried its rider, and it was never known how far it was able to go.

Maillet spent the summer of 1857 in the Bitter Root, part of the time working on the new Fort Owen. In November, Hugh O’Neil and a man named Ramsey came from Walla Walla, on their way to Fort Bridger. They wished to reach Colonel Johnson’s command, but were ignorant of the way, and moreover, were afraid of the Mormons, who looked upon all Gentiles as their enemies and feared the mountain men would induce the Indians to kill them and burn their property. O’Neil and his party therefore engaged Maillet to guide them to Bridger. Traveling up the Bitter Root to Ross’s Hole, they crossed the main range and proceeded up the west side of Big Hole valley for twenty miles. Crossing once more the main range to Salmon river, they came out near where Salmon City now stands. A few miles farther up the river, O’Neil and Ramsey concluded to remain in camp among the willows and thick bushes, while Maillet went ahead to Lemhi to reconnoitre and find out if the Mormons were hostile. Maillet, astride a fine race horse, galloped to the fort and found the gates of the stockade just being opened by a Mormon. Maillet rode in and was heartily welcomed and entertained with the best meal the place afforded. Returning to camp, he brought the party in, remaining in Lemhi one day.

The Mormons tried to induce Maillet to remain with them, thinking he could quiet the Indians in case of an outbreak, as he could speak fluently with the Indians in their tongue. After leaving Lemhi the party traveled up the valley twenty miles, crossing what was afterwards known as Grasshopper creek (Bannack City). Proceeding to Little Beaverhead, at the mouth of Blacktail Deer creek, they met John Jacobs, an old mountaineer, who had a letter for Maillet which had been thirteen months on its way from his people in Canada. It had been sent to the care of Livingston and Kincaid, merchants of Salt Lake City, and from there carried by trappers until it found its owner. Jacobs gave such a terrible account of the Mormon scouting parties that O’Neil and his companions became discouraged and concluded not to go on. At this place they learned that Jake Meeks, an old mountaineer, had just come in from the emigrant road in company with James and Granville Stuart and Resin Anderson, three Californians. Maillet met the Stuart boys here for the first time, and declares that the friendship which then sprang up between them has lasted without a break, and that he hopes the great hereafter will see them re-united and eternally together.

O’Neil and Ramsey concluded to remain with Jacobs and hunt during the winter, since game was plentiful and Maillet went on down the Beaverhead to Captain Grant’s house, where he found he old man badly crippled with inflammatory rheumatism. The sick man grasped Maillet’s hand and said he would not let it go until he was promised that Maillet would take him and his family and stock down among the Flatheads. His family consisted of his wife, two sons and three daughters. He said that he was old and infirm, and unable to do anything, that the Mormons hated him and he had been warned that they intended to rob him. Maillet consented to move him to a place of safety, and although it was December, the goods, skins and furs were loaded on three large Murphy wagons, and the horses and cattle gathered. The only help they had were a Portuguese named Silver, Antoiene Poirier, who was a half breed, and Grant’s son James. The other son, John, had all he could attend to in his own large herds of horses and cattle, and could not go with the rest of the family at that time. These three men drove the wagons, which were pulled by oxen, and Mrs. Grant and her daughters drove the band of horses of about one hundred head, the band of cattle, numbering two hundred head, being driven by Indians.

The first day’s drive brought the party to McCarty mountain springs; the second, to Big Hole river where the town of Melrose now stands; the third day, to Divide creek; and from there they made about ten miles a day until Gold creek was reached. Captain Grant rode in a little spring wagon, where he had a bed of robes and blankets, Maillet driving and going ahead to look out the road. The spring wagon and the horses driven by Mrs. Grant and the girls could travel much faster than the ox teams. They therefore would go into camp, and Maillet would then mount a horse, meet the rest of the train and escort it to camp. These wagons are the first that ever crossed the Deer Lodge divide and passed down Hell Gate canyon. They had to cross Hell Gate river twenty-three times, and the crossings had to be chopped, as they were very slippery with melting snow. Many times the wagons were unloaded in the middle of the stream, and altogether it was the hardest trip Maillet ever made. The drivers were poor and unclad. Cold, wet, disheartened, the language sometimes used would have discouraged a salvation army.

On the day he reached the Big Blackfoot, Maillet met a Catholic priest and two Indians going to Fort Benton. Maillet asked the good father what year they were in, and was told it was the eighth day of January, 1858. That day they camped on Rattlesnake creek at the mouth of Hell Gate canyon, ten miles from Maillet’s home in Grass valley. In this place of safety, they rested for two weeks, and expressed themselves as not caring a d - - n for the Mormons. Once more camp was raised, and after one whole week of the hardest work they succeeded in crossing the mountains through the Koriaka defile and making camp on the charming Jocko. Koriaka defile was named after a Kannakee employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, who was killed there by Blackfeet Indians many years before. At the mouth of the defile, Baron O’Keife (sic) now has his castle and eminent domain. Maillet and party then proceeded down the Jocko and took possession of the abandoned old log houses built in 1855 by Doctor Lansdale for his agency. The weather all during this trip was mild and pleasant. Otherwise, with their small force and poor outfit, they never could have accomplished it.

Spring opened in February, and in March green grass was good. In that month, Maillet went to Fort Colville (Hudson’s Bay Company) on the Columbia. Michael Ogden’s Hudson’s Bay Company party were on their way to the same place and were joined by Maillet. They went down the Flathead river ten miles below the mouth of the Jocko, then crossed the hills to Horse Plains, and on to Thompson’s Falls, whence they found the country densely timbered and no more prairie land.

From here Maillet went on to Fort Colville to meet McArthur, his partner, who had established a trading post there. In the fall of 1857 McArthur had traded one hundred head of cows, which he drove from the range at Grass valley, ten miles below the mouth of the Hell Gate river, to the chief trader of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Colville, Mr. Blenkinsop. His contract was to receive payment in goods at Fort Vancouver, at cost, with freight from England added. The amount paid him was fifty dollars per head, or $5,000 in full. In this way his trading post was established at Fort Colville, and the deal was considered a very fortunate one.

Maillet returned to Hell Gate with a band of horses in the spring of 1858. McArthur had traded for these during the winter. That summer Captain Grant moved down to Ham’s Fork of Green river, as the Mormon troubles were over and he no longer feared them.

In July, 1858, Major John Owen, Dr. Perkins of New York, and Charles Frush* left the Dalles for Fort Owen in the Bitter Root valley. They were captured by the Nez Perces, but through the influence of Antoine Plante, a halfbreed who kept a station at Spokane prairie, they were released and arrived at Fort Owen without injury.

As McArthur had failed to come from Fort Colville to Grass valley, as had been agreed, Maillet concluded to go to the States and Canada to visit his family and relatives. On the 17th of August, in company with Major Owen and Dr. Perkins, with two Indians acting as guide and herder, he left Fort Owen and reached Fort Benton after four days of travel. On August 23d, the party was joined by Malcolm Clark, ** and left Fort Benton with Major Vaughn, whom they accompanied to the mouth of the Judith river, where he was going to distribute to the Blackfoot Indians the annuity goods which had arrived there. From the Judith, Maillet, Dr. Perkins, a pilot, and four men for rowers, started for St. Louis in the American Fur Company’s express boat.

*Page 337, Volume 2, “Contributions to Historical Society.”

** See page 80, Volume 1, and page 255 Volume II. “Contributions.”

Game of all kinds – deer, elk, antelope, bear and buffalo – were abundant, and they fared well in the matter of fresh meat, arriving at Fort Union without accident. On that day a Mexican named Peter Martin killed a white buffalo, which were as rare as white blackbirds. Maillet offered $40 for the skin, but the owner refused to sell it.

The party was well entertained here at the Company’s post, and warned to beware of Sioux, who were in the habit of firing into the boats of white men.

They met but one party of these, with whom Maillet and the pilot, Paul Polloche, were able to communicate in the sign language common to all Indians. The Sioux wanted to know where the Blackfeet were, and were informed. They were a war party on a horse-stealing expedition. Asking for tobacco, they were given a long plug, and as the boat held no goods, the party were permitted to pass on unmolested. This occurred about half way between Forts Kodgkiss and Berthold. ** Game was still abundant, and in due time they reached Fort Randall, where Maillet, for the first time met Matthew Carroll, who was then clerking for the sutler, Captain Todd. Below here, game was more scarce, and they killed a deer only occasionally. But they soon reached the wild turkey country and had an abundance of their flesh.

** Situated in what is now North Dakota

They met with no particularly interesting adventures until after passing Council Bluffs, when, in the night, they saw a steamboat tied up to the shore. They boarded her, and were informed by the watchman that the boat was bound for St. Louis and would leave at daylight, as they could not run down stream in the night time. Maillet’s party placed all their trappings on board the steamer and had their names recorded by the clerk. When the men went up into the cabin, the sight of the elegant furniture, bright lights, and the smell of good cigars and fine liquors struck Maillet, who had been roughing it in the wilderness for nine years, as highly pleasant novelties. But next morning, seeing white women handsomely clothed in the latest style of hoopskirt dresses, and adorned with gay ribbons, the party was fairly bewildered. On October 3rd, after a forty-five days’ trip on the river from Fort Benton, they reached St. Louis.

Maillet passed the winter with his father, mother and other relatives in Canada in a very enjoyable way. In the spring of 1859, he reached Atchison, Mo., where he was to meet Colonel Lander, but found that he had gone on with his party of two hundred men and goods for the Green River Snake Indians. Buying a mule, Maillet overtook Lander at the crossing of the South Platte, and traveled with him to Fort Laramie. Lander engaged Maillet to act as interpreter with the Snake Indians. Col. Lander mounted him and a man named William Reed on good horses, giving each a pack animal, and sent them to bring the Indians over to his road so that he could distribute to them the $5,000 worth of goods granted them by Congress for their good behavior and good will during the time the Landers road was being built through their country. These were the first goods they had ever had from the government.

At the last crossing of the Sweetwater, Maillet left Reed and the horses with the station keeper, Henry Gilbert, (now treasurer of Madison Co., Mont.), and got on the stage with Slade, Division Agent, who was afterwards hanged by the vigilantes of Montana for his exploits as a road agent. On reaching Ham’s Fork of Green river, he found Washakee and his band of Snakes and delivered Colonel Lander’s message, whereupon the Indians moved up to the head of Green river where Lander’s road crossed it, and received the goods granted them by Congress. This was on the 2nd day of July, 1859.

At this place Maillet left Lander, as he had performed the service for which he was engaged. Returning to Ham’s Fork he took charge of 400 head of beef cattle for John Grant, and carrying them to California, readily sold them there.*  Maillet then went by the steamer Oregon from San Francisco to Portland, thence by steamer to the Dalles, where he found a flourishing little city of from two to three thousand people. He realized vividly that it was once all his own and that he had acted unwisely in abandoning it for the venture of his friend McArthur. At Walla Walla he bought a horse, and accompanied by Ned Williamson, came on to Hell Gate in Montana, where he found Captain Grant.

[The following separate narrative appears as a footnote/addendum to the Maillet article – it concludes with his name as a postscript.]

*After leaving Colonel Lander’s camp we headed back for Sweet Water to Henry Gilbert’s station. My companion, Thomas Pambrum, was taken quite sick. Fortunately, as we thought, we came to a band of emigrants who were encamped for the day to celebrate the Fourth of July. We noticed as we rode into their camp that they had quite a lot of pies and other good things cooked and cooking. The looks and savory odors of so many good things had quite a beneficial effect on my sick companion, for he remarked, “I feel much better and as hungry as a wolf.” I had the same ravenous appetite, for we had ridden forty miles that forenoon, besides having had no breakfast. The day before, as it was to be the last day we were to be together, the commissary opened up his chest and brought forth several black bottles, whose contents had the effect of rendering every body very happy, and as this happiness lasted all night, we did not care for breakfast on the morning of the Fourth.

I asked the emigrants if they would sell us something to eat. They flatly refused and ordered us out of the camp. So we had to go, but we gave a longing look and sniffed at the good things we were leaving behind. As we rode past the camp I noticed an old fashioned yellow coach. I afterwards knew the party by this same yellow coach. These people took us for horse thieves at our first meeting.

That evening they overtook us between Raft river and Goose creek and wanted to camp with us, as they were afraid of the Indians. We let them. In the morning they wanted to stay, but we told them they could not, and reminded them of the way they had treated us.

At Soda Springs I came up with the Sheppard party. They had thirteen wagons and the finest lot of horses and mules I had ever met during my travels. In fact, their outfit was perfect. My mule had lost a shoe that day and I wanted to buy one from this party. They refused. They also refused to let me have any supper. As I was taking four hundred head of cattle to California, they of course out-traveled me.

Afterwards we came on the same party between Rock creek and Raft river. Seven of them were massacred, two wounded and the wagons burned. The survivors and others who had joined them compelled me to go with them three or four days, when I made my escape. We buried the seven corpses in one grave, and took the wounded on in an ambulance.

I afterwards learned positively that there were but sixteen Indians in that massacre. There were thirteen white men, and each and every one had a fine rifle and revolver.

As I found bad signs of Indians at Rock creek, I had the wagons corralled when the rest of my party came up, for I had gone on ahead when I overtook the party. In the morning we were attacked. Fortunately the ground was open. The Indians were upon higher ground, but we had the advantage of our wagons from which to shoot between the spokes of the wheels and at either end. Fearing the Indians would run off our cattle, I told my men we would have to dislodge the Indians. I ordered them to load their guns and that as soon as the Indians fired, before they could reload, we would run out of the corral as fast as we could and fire just before they had a chance to reload. We did this, and it succeeded admirably. They took to their heels and escaped to the rocks.

Among our party was a young man who had lived in California and who had come east to get himself a wife. He had married a young lady in Philadelphia, a very pretty girl, who did not seem to be more than sixteen years old. When the attack began, the husband had made a place in his wagon between sacks of flour, wherein he placed his wife. The same young man was one of the first to run after the Indians. After they were dislodged, we turned towards the wagons and there we met this dear little woman who had followed us. Her husband chided her for leaving her place of security. Her tearful reply was that she thought he would surely be killed, and if he was, she wanted to die too. Every man in the outfit instantly fell in love with her and would have died for her. As for myself, I am sure that I felt as the others did, for I love her still.

We had one man killed, a Mr. Hall. One Indian was seen to fall, rise and fall again. I do not know if he has risen since or not.

L. R. Maillet. [End of Footnote]

Since leaving Hell Gate in 1858 for St. Louis, Maillet had received no mail, for none was carried in Montana. On his return to Hell Gate he found that the Fraser river excitement had drawn away his partner McArthur and that their herd of stock, under charge of Brooks, had been driven away from Grass valley. McArthur had taken all the goods and stock from Colville to Fraser river. The property when last valued by the two partners had amounted to $150,000, but Maillet now learned that his partner’s bad management, debts, and numerous undertakings had lost everything. The last he ever heard of McArthur was a letter from him, in which he said that he was broke, had a bad horse, and was prospecting, “so farewell.”

Maillet remained for several days at Captain Grant’s house. Johnny Grant had moved his stock from Ham’s Fork in the fall of 1859 to the Little Blackfoot in Deer Lodge valley. Here he had built two log houses and corrals. In the spring of 1860 Grant returned to the emigrant road. In October, Maillet left Captain Grant’s and went to Little Blackfoot, where he found Johnny had not yet got in from the road. Johnny had left his large band of cattle and his houses in charge of Joe Prudhomme, who was putting up another hewn log house for Grant. Maillet went to work and helped with the building of the house until Grant’s arrival. After ten days, Grant and families came in. He had bought a small stock of goods on Green river, and a little store was opened and Maillet placed in charge that same fall.

Legris, a Canadian, Tom Campbell, Bostwick, and Pete Martin, a greaser, all married to Indian and halfbreed women, came from Fort Union and built houses on the Little Blackfoot, across from Grant’s houses, so that quite a settlement was started. The Stuart boys, Resin Anderson, Tom Adams, John Powell, James Meininger and Frank Goodwin all settled at American Fork, now known as Gold creek. Thomas Lavatta, a Mexican, built himself a house on Cottonwood creek, about one mile above the present city of Deer Lodge. Louis Demers, Dave Contois, Leon Quesnelle, and Deschenau came the following year and built the first houses where the town of Deer Lodge now stands. As there were so many people in the vicinity, dancing was proposed as a winter amusement. The women from Fort Union could dance, and soon there were dancers enough among them to form two cotillion sets. Maillet says he enjoyed this winter of 1860-61 better than any other winter he ever spent in the mountains, and everyone else seemed to find it equally pleasant.

In March, 1861, Maillet, Resin Anderson and Frank L. Worden,* of the firm Worden and Higgins, who had come from Walla Walla during the summer of 1860 and established a trading house at old Hell Gate, left Grant’s house for Fort Benton on their way to the States. After reaching Benton, the party became the guests of Andrew Dawson, who was in charge of Fort Benton, and were entertained for several days, or until March 25, when the river was considered free enough of ice for the passage of a boat. They made arrangements to go to St. Louis on board Mr. Dawson’s boat, the whole party consisting of Mr. Dawson, eight rowers, two steersmen, one cook, Maillet, Worden and Anderson. Before reaching Milk river the boat was laid up several times owing to the ice in the river, but after passing Milk river the channel became clear and the boat was run night and day. There was a sheet iron stove aboard for cooking purposes.

*See Biography, page 362, Volume II, “Contributions.”

At Fort Union, Malcolm Clark and Mr. Riter were added to the party. The boat was canopied with lodge skins stretched on willow boughs, somewhat in the style of an emigrant wagon. The party was rather crowded, but the stove kept them warm and comfortable, although snow squalls and rain were frequent. After twenty-two days they reached Council Bluffs in safety, and without any encounter with Indians. Here they heard that trouble in the South was brewing, and rumors of war were afloat. As buffalo and other game were plentiful they fared well.

At Council Bluffs, they left the boat and traveled by stagecoach to St. Joe, Mo., whence they proceeded by rail to St. Louis. Worden and Maillet remained in St. Louis several days buying goods. Worden shipped his goods on the steamer Chippewa, and Maillet shipped a portion of his, sending the rest to St. Joe, where after buying cattle and wagons, the goods were loaded and taken by Maillet across the Missouri. Making camp five miles back of the little town of Ellsworth, yokes, an extra wagon, tongues and coupling poles were prepared in case of need.

At St. Joe things began to assume a threatening aspect. Sumpter had been fired upon and Captain Lyons had engaged in a scrimmage in the streets of St. Louis. Maillet felt anxious to get beyond danger, and everything was hurried for a speedy departure. Near his camp was another occupied by Robert Peltier and wife, Gus Peltier and wife, and a man named Meininger, brother-in-law of the Peltiers, and their old mother. This party, also, was bound for Hell Gate, and after comparing notes, they all agreed to travel together, and were joined by a trader of Green river named Mose Perry. The train consisted of eight wagons and one two-horse carriage. Among Maillet’s men was H. A. Milot, now living at Dearborn Crossing on the old stage road to Benton. The trip was made to Ham’s Fork without any remarkable adventures. Here Mose Perry remained, the rest proceeding comfortably to Snake river, where they found the waters too high for fording. It was August, and the river was falling fast. The party waited, hunting a ford every day. After a week’s delay a place was found which they could cross by blocking up the wagon beds.

All the wagons crossed in safety except that of Pete Meininger. He was riding an American mare and driving his wagon, which was hauled by four yoke of oxen and carried his wife and little two-year-old son, also Robert Peltier’s wife. Meininger got too far away from his oxen and allowed his mare to get into deep water. Not knowing how to handle a swimming horse, he pulled the bridle, which caused the mare to rear. He lost his seat and was struck by the mare in her struggles, drowning before help could reach him. The oxen, instead of following the bar, having now no driver, took a straight shoot across and got into deep water. The bed of the wagon was washed from the running gears and floated down until it was grounded on a bar in the middle of the river. The water was so deep here that the women in the wagon were immersed up to their necks. The wagon was laden with carpenter tools and crockery of three families, which caused it to sink and ground on the bar. Maillet, in endeavoring to ride to poor Pete’s assistance, struck the spirited animal he was riding, causing it to jump into a hole of deep water. The animal had its ears filled with water and became crazed. Maillet was washed in front of the struggling creature and was struck on the shoulder. Diving in order to get away from the plunging hoofs, Maillet swam with the current and gained the shore, but was so exhausted that he could not speak. Looking back, he saw the blanched faces of the women in the wagon bed. Motioning them to remain where they were, he pulled off his shirt and trousers and swam out to them, rescuing first one and then the other. An Indian came to his aid and brought the child ashore. All this time three good swimmers stood on the bank, seemingly paralyzed with fear.

After spending two days looking for Meininger’s body, without success, they raised camp and traveled at good speed, everything going smoothly until the third day of September, 1861. The party had camped along the Big Hole river about three miles north of the present site of Melrose. The day was fine and bright and the party was moving comfortably along, when after crossing Moose creek, they encountered the advance riders of seventy lodges of Nez Perces. By the time the train had reached the bottom near Wunderlich’s presents ranch, the main body of Indians had been met. Maillet gave orders to his drivers to push their cattle and make good time. When the train had gone on about a mile, or somewhere in the vicinity of the present Forest ranch, cries and yells were heard. Looking back, some ten Indians were seen running their horses at full speed. From their manner of riding, Maillet thought they must be drunk or that they were trying to frighten the white people. His first suspicion proved correct. They had obtained liquor from someone in Big Hole valley.

Surrounding and stopping the train, two young bucks got off their horses and jumped into the last wagon, where, at sight of a ten-gallon keg, they yelled and called their companions. This movement allowed all the wagons to proceed with the exception of the one containing the keg. The Indians undertook to turn the cattle and tip over the wagon, but the driver, a young Canadian named Napoleon Bonenfant, displayed such coolness and presence of mind, and managed his oxen so well and quickly that the wagon was not overturned. Riding up to the oxen, the Indians stabbed them with their knives, and one of them stuck his knife into the shoulder of Napoleon, making, fortunately, but a slight flesh wound.

Maillet had remained with the wagon, and he told Napoleon not to attempt to drive on, but to watch his team and prevent their breaking the wagon. In this way the party ahead could gain time, for Maillet feared the red devils might take it into their heads to outrage the women. As Maillet could talk a little Nez Perce, he thought he could pacify them. Moreover he knew many of these Indians. Finally, having thrown everything out of the wagon, including the ten-gallon keg, they all gathered around the keg, one of them straddling it, patting it, and singing joyfully over the lucky find.

At last they began to fight over it, and during the brawl Napoleon drove off. They got tin cups, and pulling a plug out of the keg, tipped it up, when, lo and behold! a cucumber came tumbling out. It proved to be a keg of pickles. The look of disgust and the exclamations, “Ugh!” of sad disappointment as they saw the pickles, caused Maillet to laugh heartily. At this, Little Wolf, who was the leader, a very mean Indian, whom Maillet knew well, came up to him and asked him why he went to the white people’s country and brought back white women. If this went on, he said, the country would soon be peopled with whites, the same as the Walla Walla country. “You are no good,” he told Maillet. “You live in Indian country but you love white people best. I am going to kill you.”

At this Maillet told him that he was a coward to talk of killing a man who was alone, when their party numbered some five hundred. He told the Indian that in 1856 he had persuaded the Bannacks not to kill an old Nez Perce whom they had found looking for lost horses, telling them that there was little glory for a lot of men in killing one poor old man, and the Nez Perce was spared. “If you have now the heart to shoot me,” said Maillet to Little Wolf, “do so.” And he bared his breast. The Indian raised his gun and fired, but fortunately an Indian standing near struck up the gun, thereby saving Maillet’s life.

After this the Indians left, with the exception of four, who took Maillet prisoner, made him mount his mare and started with him to their camp to try him for bringing white women into the country. The mare was a race animal which Maillet had taken charge of at Ham’s Fork to deliver to someone at Deer Lodge. She had been tied behind one of the wagons, and this happened to be the first day Maillet had ridden her. Little Wolf had passed the bridle reins over her head and was leading her, and an Indian walked on either side of Maillet, holding his arms. The only weapon he had was a long butcher knife in a sheath fastened to his belt, and he was watching his chance. After traveling quite a distance in this fashion, the Indian on his right released his arm and rode off. Quick as thought he pulled out his knife, thrust the Indian on his left in the shoulder, and striking over the mare’s head, cut the bridle reins held by Little Wolf. Then slapping the mare on the side of the head, which caused the noble animal to wheel suddenly around, he stuck his spurs into her sides, and she fairly sped over the ground in the direction of the train. In a few minutes he had distanced his pursuers.

Overtaking the train between Divide Neck and Little Deer Lodge, he found old Mrs. Peltier saying her beads and praying for the welfare of his soul, which they thought had departed. Napoleon had made good time and was with the others. They made about thirty miles that day.

On September 4th the weather was fine, and after going about twenty-four miles they camped on Race Track. From Johnny Grant and John Powell, who had joined them that day, Maillet learned that the steamer Chippewa, on which he and Worden had shipped their goods, had been burned with her entire cargo.* He learned, also, that Worden had reached home and gone to Walla Walla for goods. They remained all the next day at this camp, enjoying the society of friends. The following day it rained a little in the forenoon and they made twenty miles, reaching the Little Blackfoot, which was to be Maillet’s home. The Peltier family went on to Hell Gate.

*Page 280, Volume I. Contributions to Historical Society.”

Maillet immediately set to work to build houses and opened a store. In February, 1862, he went to Fort Owen with a pack train. Although there was but little snow in Deer Lodge valley, from Gold creek on down the canyon the snow became deeper. After three day’s travel, with little or nothing for the animals to eat, they reached Hell Gate, where they found the snow very deep. During this winter most of the stock in Hell Gate, Bitter Root valley, and about French Town died from starvation.

Shortly after Maillet’s arrival at Hell Gate the first wedding between white people took place, the couple being George White and the widow Meininger,* whose husband’s death, as related, had occurred the preceding August. Everyone was interested in the event, but they had very little with which to prepare a wedding supper. The year before, old Captain Grant had moved back from Ham’s Fork and built a house on Grant creek. He had brought a few chickens from Salt Lake and had raised a number of young ones. During the winter the Grant family had gone to Walla Walla, leaving a man in charge of their premises, with particular instructions to look well after the poultry and not to kill, sell or give any away for any consideration whatsoever. A council was held and plots made to get some of these chickens for the wedding feast. The result was that Frank H. Woody and A. S. Blake (now of Curlew mine fame) volunteered to go three miles through deep snow and forage the ranch. They came back the next day with a bag full of chickens. How they got them was never fully known, but it leaked out that Woody had talked the man so nearly to death that the matter became easy.

* Page 308, Volume I. “Contributions.” See footnote.

The supper was cooked. Captain Higgins had Justice Brooks out in the corral for a whole afternoon rehearsing the marriage ceremony, and in short the wedding took place. Everybody got drunk and just before supper Blake stole the wedding cake. After a short dance the happy couple retired, the men all wishing there were brides enough to go round.

Winter still hung on and as there was no sign of a breaking up, F. C. Worden, Young Cassette and Maillet made snowshoes, and with blankets strapped on their backs, started on the 13th day of March for the Little Blackfoot. Captain Mullan at that time had his outfit up the canyon building his road. After four days’ travel the party reached Robert Dempsey’s house, the place now occupied by William Wallace. Here the party secured horses from Dempsey, who took them to Gold creek. From here the Stuart boys accompanied them to Little Blackfoot, and shortly afterward Fred Burr took Worden to Benton. In Deer Lodge valley no stock died, as there was but little snow in the valley. Grant and Maillet concluded to move their houses up to Cottonwood, and they built where Con Kohrs now lives. In May the Blackfeet came down and stole sixty head of horses from Grant’s band. They were followed and overtaken near Bird Tail rock, where they abandoned all but seven head, the best runners in the country, which they succeeded in getting away with.

In June Maillet went with his cattle to Elk City to market them. Spending the summer there, he returned in company with Mr. Mellen to Deer Lodge. During his absence quite an immigration had come to the country. The Stuart boys were mining on Gold creek, and mines had been found on Grasshopper gulch, Bannack. One day Maillet and Thibault in coming from Hell Gate to Deer Lodge were accosted by two men who suddenly rode out of a ravine, between the mouth of Bear and the foot of Flint creek hills, and covered them with two double barreled shotguns. The men proved to be Henry Plummer and Charles Reeves. As soon as they recognized Maillet they lowered their guns and laughed, saying it was a good joke. These men, on a former occasion, after having killed a man in Orofino gulch during the summer, escaped and overtook Maillet and Mellen coming from Elk City. As they were strangers, Maillet had given them instructions about the country around Deer Lodge. This was probably the reason for passing the hold-up off as a joke. Plummer was afterward hung by the vigilantes in Bannack. This experience of Maillet’s was the first attempt at highway robbery in this country.

Maillet traded all winter between Deer Lodge and Bannack. In 1863 he ran a freight train between Milk river and Deer Lodge. In the fall he went to Salt Lake and bought a cargo of flour which he disposed of in Virginia City. In February, 1864, he went to the States by overland stage to St. Joe, thence to Canada, where he spent the winter with his people. In May, he came back to St. Louis and St. Joe, where he outfitted an ox train of merchandise, bound for Virginia City. While in St. Joe he met Major Forbis, who was anxious to leave the States on account of the war. The Major thought of going to Oregon, but was given such glowing accounts of this country by Maillet that he changed his mind and came to Virginia City.

In the winter of ’64 Maillet had a station at the hump between Silver Bow and German Gulch. In 1865 he mined and sold goods in French Gulch. In ’66 he kept the Deer Lodge hotel. In ’67 and ’68 he clerked for Dance and Stuart. In ’69 he spent the winter in Cable City. In ’70 and ’71 he engaged in business with Lee W. Foster in German Gulch. In ’72, ’73, and ’74 he sold goods in Stevensville, Bitter Root valley. In ’73 he was elected joint councilman for Missoula and Deer Lodge counties, the Republicans in Missoula making no nomination against him. In fact he was also on the Republican ticket.* (In 1865 Governor Edgeton had appointed him as Commissioner for Deer Lodge County, but he declined the appointment with thanks.) The fall of 1874 closed his business in Stevensville and he went home, called by the sickness of his mother, who died January 7th, 1875. His father had died in February, 1866.

*Mr. Maillet proved a useful member of the Council. Among the measures he advocated were a Joint Memorial to Congress asking extension of time for payment for public lands in the Bitter Root valley; an act to change boundaries of Missoula County; asking protection for citizens of Deer Lodge and Missoula Counties (Indian affairs); an application for building a road in Missoula County; and a bill authorizing the Territorial Auditor and Treasurer to publish yearly reports. – (Ed.)

On the 15th day of April, 1875, Maillet was married to Henriette, daughter of John Levitre, the marriage ceremony taking place in the chapel of the convent of the Congregation of Notre Dame in St. Denis, Canada. Permission had been granted as a very special favor by his Lordship Bishop La Rocque, for weddings were not permitted in convents. The couple spent the years 1875 and 1876 in traveling in Canada, the maritime provinces and eastern States. Their first child, Louis Henry, was born March 22, 1876, in Shediac N. B.

In the fall of 1876 Maillet, wife and boy returned to Montana, where he bought a grist mill at Burnt Fork. April 8th, 1877, Herbert Albinus was born on Burnt Fork in the Bitter Root valley. During the passage of the Nez Perces under Chief Joseph they were frightened away from their home on Burnt Fork. On March 9th, 1878, the third son, Claudie, was born in their home on Burnt Fork, where they had returned. Maillet was running the mill, farming, and raising hogs. In 1879 he sold his mill and took his family East. Returning in the fall, they spent the winter in Deer Lodge. In the spring of 1880 he worked for Davis, Hauser and Stuart, buying and driving cattle to their range on Musselshell.

In the fall of 1880 Maillet moved to Butte, where he accepted a situation with Lee W. Foster & Co. In 1883 he was elected assessor of Silver Bow county. The same fall he bought out the grocery firm of Marchesseau and Valiton, continuing the business for six years, and selling out at the end of that time to L. W. Foster.

In 1885, on December 10, May Eugenia Stella, a daughter, was born. Mrs. Maillet died in Butte, November 24, 1889. Taking his children East in February, 1890, he placed them in houses of education and returned to Butte in May, 1890.





[1] “There are descendants of Loui Matt with the same surname who are living on the Flathead Reservation. . . Few of the frontiersmen who left an account of their lives mentioned their Indian wives. Also, the Register of Montana Pioneers generally does not list such connections, even for the offspring.”


[2] (Strangely, this article is not listed in the contents index for this volume.)


[3] The reference here is likely to John Caldwell, a member of the Stevens expedition, and very early Hell Gate resident and rancher.

Last Updated on Saturday, 16 September 2017 01:00