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September 17, 2020

Sanders County Historical Society Photo

THE OLD AND THE NEW – The old wood courthouse that was constructed for the newly formed Sanders County in 1906 is shown to the left of the new courthouse that was built in 1950.



Thompson Falls, the county seat, was crowded as visitors from every point in the county and outside guests came for Saturday's daylong celebration. The old-timers, the pioneers, were honored at a ceremony which dedicated the new $107,000 Sanders County courthouse.

County Commissioner M.C. Sutherland opened the dedication program.

Appearing on the speakers platform during the dedication were the following old-timers of the county:

Jack Cunningham of Whitepine who came to the county in 1898, Bill Whitley, Thompson Falls, 1894, Chris Herman, 1884; Mrs. Mary Lux, 1890; Mr. Perry Heater, Sr., one-time sheriff and county commissioner, 1904; Mrs. Joe Weber, 1884; Mrs. A. Munson, Eddy, 1899; C.M. Barrett, 1891; Andy Helman, 1900; J.H. Brauer, present county surveyor, 1900; Mrs. Fred L. Thayer, 1899; W. Casper Berray, Noxon, 1887; Mrs. Pearl Cox, oldest homesteader in Trout Creek, 1904; Mrs. Anna Whalen Perry, 1884; Mrs. Mattie Peek, 1887; Mrs. Elda Hougland, 1886; J.J. Meany, 1884, Plains; Charles Pyatt, 1898; James L. Adams, 1891, and Charles Frint who this week will be celebrating his 90th birthday, came to Montana in 1883 and to Thompson Falls in 1920.

Other pioneers who registered at the courthouse but did not appear to be introduced, all who had been in Sanders County before the year 1900, were: Mrs. M.H. Larson of Heron, mother of Senator Glenn H. Larson, 1887; Frank C. Berray, 1889; Wava Hermann, 1895; Marineus Larson, 1895; W.S. McCurdy, 1890; Floy Johnston, 1896; Willard P. Willis, Plains, 1893 and Mrs. Gertrude Preston, 1898.

The first prize for the oldest Sanders County resident being present at the ceremonies went to Mrs. Joe Weber who came here in March 1884, Chris Herman and his sister, Mrs. Anna Whalen Perry tied for second place. They came to this county in May 1884.

Mr. Larson introduced the pioneers who appeared on the platform and county commissioner H. Smith who came to the county in 1911, who gave a short talk; Mrs. Edna B. Gannaway, publisher of the Camas Hot Springs Exchange, a resident of Hot Springs since 1910; E.L. Johnson, 1906, president of the First National Bank of Plains. Also a talk was given by James L. Adams, a resident of Thompson Falls since 1891.



Johann Heinrich 'John' Brauer was born February 5, 1870, in Hanover, Prussia, Germany. He came with his parents to the United States in 1879. He came to Missoula in September 1899 and moved to Thompson Falls in 1905. J.H. Brauer and his wife Mary had 13 children. Their home, which is still standing, now houses the Sunflower Gallery. Mr. Brauer, with the exception of two terms, served as the county surveyor from 1909 to 1954, when he retired.

In order to qualify for this narrative I must show that it is based on personal knowledge and recorded facts.

I came to Montana in October 1900 to work on the Marcus Daly, Northern Pacific Railway Company's Timberland Sale. We were instructed to interview all settlers and note their location. We covered the territory from St. Regis along the Clark's Fork River west between January and April in 1901 and concluded the work in March 1903.

I continued to work for Marcus Daly or the Blackfoot Milling Co. of Bonner until October 1904 when Edward Donlan asked me to work for him at Thompson Falls where he had acquired large interests and was then planning the construction of the present Power Plant. This was at that time part of Missoula County. The people of western Missoula County felt neglected and forgotten. The officers were elected in Missoula, and about the only officers appearing here were the Assessor and the Sheriff on occasion when someone foolishly transgressed against the written law. We had practically no roads or bridges. J.A. McGowan, Edward Donlan, and many progressive pioneers of this territory petitioned the ninth legislative Assembly convened in Helena in 1905 to establish a new political subdivision in the State of Montana. Mr. Donlan, who was then Senator for Missoula County and J.A. McGowan of Plains convinced the Assembly that the petition was reasonable and for the best interests of both Missoula County and the proposed new subdivision.

Thus, Sanders County was created and was named after that sterling pioneer, who as leader of the vigilantes brought sorely needed law and order to the State of Montana.

To be continued next week


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