Thursday, November 14, 2019

Seeking My Last Best Place

My view of early Montana... a painting by Charles M Russell,
When White Men Turn Red

I’ve had a love affair with Montana for over 70 years.

My first visit to ‘Big Sky Country’ was in 1950 when my folks went to visit mom’s aunt and uncle near Kalispell.

I have deep roots in Montana…

My 2nd great-grandparents, John Galway Brown and Lucy (Pinsonneau) Brown, settled their about 1900.

My great-grandparents, Abraham Lincoln Brown and Neva (Plympton) Brown homesteaded in Creston about 1905.

My grandparents, Frank and Lydia, married and homesteaded in Kalispell in 1912.

Mom was born in Kalispell in 1914.

Leaving California

I am a native Californian, and until just recently I’ve always loved my home.

Sadly, during the past couple of decades, California has become a politically hostile environment for me.

I no longer feel safe living here.

The political LEFT has embraced illegal immigration, all-but destroyed the 2nd amendment, and has allowed homelessness and crime to run rampant in our cities.

Hit and run automobile deaths, gang shootings, and homeless caused disease is breaking news daily on local television.

Incidents of homeless people attacking citizens is out of control, and it is dangerous to go to any major public event.

My Montana Association

I’m a long time student of Montana history. For the past fifty years I’ve collected and read everything I could find by authors including: James Willard Schultz, Frank Bird Linderman, Charles Marion Russell, Will James, B.M. Bower, Con Price, Teddy Blue Abbott, Granville Stuart, Will James and Ivan Doig.

I’ve become a huge fan of Charles Marion Russell’s cowboy, Indian and mountain man art. It was his art that inspired me to spend more than a decade as a Western folk artist.

In addition, my study of family genealogy has led me to discover ancestors and relatives with a fur trade connection between Montana and French-Canada.

Finely, in 1995, I bought a Montana born and raised horse in Cody, Wyoming. I brought him to California in 1996, and ’Sunup’ lived with me until his death in 2013.

Montana Discoveries

For seven decades I’ve visited ‘Big Sky Country’ in an effort to learn more about its history. 

I’ve studied her cowboys, her Native Americans, her gold rush, and her fur trade.

I’ve visited her capitol, her museums, her monuments and Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks numerous times.

I even floated on a 150 mile solo canoe trip down the upper Missouri River.

Changes this year (2019)

We are now in our late 70s, and change seems to be happening at warp-speed.

We’ve been an equestrian family for the past 25 years, but sadly my wife’s horse died in June, so I sent my horse to live with a friend in Missoula in August. Horses should not live alone and we were too old to buy another horse for a companion.

What We’re Looking For

Being realistic, native Californians probably wouldn’t fare well in the cold winters of Montana, so we are looking for a summer home.

What would be ideal for us is a rustic feeling cabin, close to shopping and medical help, but in a forest setting with beautiful Montana scenery. 

Not too old because the last thing I need is a ‘home improvement job.’ 

One or Two bedrooms, probably less than 1000 square feet, and absolutely must be single story.

Being near water for trout fishing and canoeing would be a bonus.

Someplace near Lolo, Montana would be perfect.

Who knows, if I’m alive in another ten years, maybe what I end up with could be ‘My Last Best Place’ to live and die.

Let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions.

More Memories of Old Montana

Grandma at Cayuse Prairie school, 1907

Granddad's record elk, c. 1912

Aunt Stella and her class in a log cabin school, c. 1911

Granddad (left) and brother Len deer hunting, c. 1912

My grandparents Kalispell homestead #1, c. 1914

My grandparents Kalispell homestead #2, c. 1914

Granddad hauling firewood, c. 1915

Frank and Len in Montana Militia, c. 1916

Granddad (left) logging with a sled, c. 1916

Mom and sister Hazel in Creston, c. 1926

Yours truly with the biggest fish at Strawberry Lake, 1950

A stump ranch - the richest folks I ever knew

Hangin' out with Lon and Dale in Kalispell, 1950

Ridin' with mom and dad in Kalispell, 1950

Thanks for the memories


  1. Found your post very touching, and of interest since my paternal grandmother (b. 1920) was raised in Kalispell. Her father, Earl Hilton, moved the family there in the mid 1920s and ran the Glacier Dairy, but they too all wound up moving to California. Their Montana home is listed in the National Register. For interest sake, I've posted images of the house, and its plaque, on my Evernote account.

    Thank you for your blog posts. I pray you find a home both beautiful and safe.

  2. Thank you for your kind words.

    Happy Trails.

  3. I am a native (Southern) Californian as well. You are so right about this place. This state is unfortunately doomed. It is not really in the cards for me to leave at this point, but for the first time in my life, that is my desire.

    Never thought I would feel this way.

  4. America is in a mess. Even Montana has problems with property crime caused by drug abuse. It's hard to find a safe place to spend our last days.