A Short Instruction in Historical Beginnings

The Society of Montana Pioneers was organized in Helena on September 10, 1884.  Just eight years later, on August 18, 1892, the junior Society "The Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers" was founded. The recount in the Helena Herald read as follows:

About 40 young people of both sexes met in the district courtroom, department two, in pursuance of a published call for the purpose of founding a society of the sons and daughters of Montana pioneers. These gentlemen and ladies represent, in measure, the flower of the state's youth, talent and beauty. Thirty-nine names were enrolled at this, their first meeting. It was decided that the society shall hereafter meet with the pioneers each year.  

The first meeting was called to order by General C. D. Curtis, the father of the movement. A quote taken from the minutes of the first meeting reads as follows: "That it is the object of this meeting that, to  perpetuate the sacrifices and heroic virtues of our parents who blazed the trail into this country, we do here and now organize a Society to be called the Society of the Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers."  

The date of December 31, 1868 was chosen by the Montana Pioneers to determine eligibility for people to become members of the Society of Montana Pioneers, thereby also determining the date for membership into the Society of the Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers. An interesting fact is that the Pioneers wrote into their by-laws that should anyone make a motion to change the date for eligibility into the Society, the presiding officer would declare them out of order.

“To suspend, amend or repeal this article shall forever be out of order and shall be so declared by the officer presiding for the time being, whether the point of order is made by a member or not”.  

At the eighth annual meeting on September 8, 1900 a motion was made to the effect and the design of the gold pan with the pick and shovel crossed upon it and appropriately lettered was adopted as the official emblem of the society.  

A log cabin was built on the State Fairgrounds (Lewis & Clark County) in 1917 as a meeting place for the Montana Pioneers to rest and visit with one another during the fair. This cabin burned and W.A. Clark donated $500 for its replacement. The cabin stood until the 1960s when it was dismantled.  

          After receiving approval from the Montana Pioneers, a motion was made at the 23rd Annual Meeting (September 5-8, 1917), to amend the Constitution and eliminate the age limit for Sons and Daughters and add all grandchildren and direct descendants be entitled to join the Society.  

The Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers purchased 63 lots adjacent to the Capitol building in 1941 and made a gift of that land in 1955 to the State of Montana with the assurance that we were insuring for future generations a place where historic documents and records, artifacts and relics and art of historic import could be preserved and maintained; and that we were also providing a permanent location to house our records and those of our parent organization, the Society of Montana Pioneers. The Veteran's and Pioneers Memorial Building and the Sam W. Mitchell Building were constructed on a portion of these lots. In accordance with Section 22-3-302, MCA, the Montana Pioneers utilize a vault and third floor office for the purposes of housing its books, records, documents and other property and as office quarters for its state headquarters.  

The Society of the Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers hold their annual convention in August at various locations throughout the state. The agenda for the meeting includes conducting the business of the Society, electing new members, honoring our deceased members, learning about our past history through guest speakers, and touring historical points. Being able to share our love of Montana with our fellow descendants of Montana Pioneers is truly the most enjoyable part of every convention.

 

This historical beginnings was written by Shirley Herrin, Helena, MT

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