Sunday, January 31, 2010

Forsyth in '83 ...

Since I recently posted a description here of a fictional frontier town on the Yellowstone, I thought today I'd give you a non-fictional one as a counterpoint. This is another excerpt from E.C. Abbott's engaging reminiscence, We Pointed Them North ... here, he recalls a trip to the new town of Forsyth back in 1883:
I paid a visit to Forsyth about a year ago, and the people there were talking to me about "old-timers" who came into the country in the late nineties, or even as late as 1910. When our outfit got up there in the fall of '83, Forsyth had a store, two saloons, a barber shop, a livery stable, and a hotel that was closed up -- the buffalo hunters having quit. The only women in the town were the storekeeper's wife, and a fat old haybag who had been scalped by the Indians at the mouth of the Musselshell a few years before, and was laying up with the barber. She had another one of those nicknames you can't repeat, much less print it. What there was of the town was strung out along one side of the railroad track the way it is today, only they have a nice park there now. The Northern Pacific was completed through Montana that year, and President Arthur took a trip over the line to celebrate it. I remember when I went to Forsyth to shoe a horse that fall, somebody said, "The President's coming through here on the train." So I waited to see it, and it came through all decorated with flags.


  1. Wild west, indeed! You know what's really interesting to me? (I'm sure you're waiting with baited breath...) MOST little towns in Montana had residents like that.....some still do.

    Teddy Blue was a great narrator, wasn't he?

  2. Heh ... I was a little worried about posting this one because it's definitely politically incorrect, but its how people talk and how the world is. And ultimately I wouldn't have it any other way ... life would be too boring otherwise!

    And except for the "scalped" thing, there are still people like that all over -- little towns and big cities both. It's just that the folks in the small towns are more likely to know all the details. :)