Montana History Almanac: Yellowstone explorer lost for 37 days

2011-10-15T22:00:00Z Montana History Almanac: Yellowstone explorer lost for 37 daysBy KIM BRIGGEMAN of the Missoulian
October 15, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

Oct. 16, 1870

A long-lost Truman C. Everts was found after wandering through Yellowstone Park for 37 days.

Two searchers, George A. Pritchett and Jack Baronette, came upon Everts - half-frozen, starved and delirious - in the north part of the park. While Pritchett started for help, Baronette made camp and tried to administer to the emaciated Everts, who weighed barely 50 pounds.

He had accompanied the Washburn-Doane Expedition into the Yellowstone region, becoming separated from the group south of Yellowstone Lake in September. He then lost his horse, which carried all his weapons and supplies.

Everts was appointed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 as the first assessor for Montana Territory, and remained in the patronage position until February 1870. He recovered from his harrowing experience and became widely known when he wrote about it in Scribners' Monthly in 1871.

Oct. 17, 1891

Charlo and his band of Bitterroot Salish Indians arrived at their new home on the Jocko Reservation southeast of Arlee. Thus ended decades of government attempts to remove the tribe from the Bitterroot Valley.

"It was a unique and, to some minds, a pathetic spectacle," recalled Mary Ronan, wife of Flathead agent Peter Ronan.

Their destination was the agency church near the Ronan home. Known 120 years later as St. John Berchman Catholic Church, it still draws descendants of Charlo's band and those who welcomed them for Sunday evening Mass.

The advancing Indians spread out in a broad column in the last mile.

"The young men kept constantly discharging their firearms, while a few of the number, mounted on fleet ponies, arrayed in fantastic Indian paraphernalia ... rode back and forth in front of the advancing caravan, shouting and firing their guns until they neared the church ..." Mary Ronan wrote in her memoirs.

Charlo remained on foot, shaking hands with all he passed. His countenance "retained its habitual expression of stubborn pride and gloom," she said.

Inside, Father Philip Canestrelli led the Latin benediction and then addressed the newcomers in their own language. "The good words seemed to console and comfort them," Ronan noted.

Kim Briggeman can be reached at 523-5266 or at


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