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John Owen

There’s enough drama, action and romance in the story of John and Nancy Owen at Fort Owen in the Bitterroot to make a good Hollywood movie. That hasn’t happened, yet, but Bill Turner has written a book.

Turner will be in Lolo on Thursday to speak about the Owens at the monthly program of the Travelers’ Rest Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Heritage Foundation. It starts at 7 p.m. at the Lolo Community Center.

Turner’s “Warm Side of Heaven: The Life and Times of John Owen” came out in August 2019 during Stevensville’s 107th Annual Creamery Picnic.

John Owen traveled by foot and pack train some 23,000 miles between 1850 and 1865 to get supplies for trade in the remote valley of what he helped become Montana Territory. Nancy, his Shoshone wife, was invaluable on the trail and at the trading post as an interpreter, cook, midwife and companion.

Turner was on a Forest Service trail crew out of Stevensville when he first heard about the Owens. After 11 years with the U.S. Forest Service, he worked for the University of Montana as a carpenter for 18 years until retiring in 2010 and devoting himself full time to researching and writing “Warm Side of Heaven.” He and his wife, Susan Malek, live in Missoula.

All Travelers' Rest Chapter meetings are free and open to the public. Donations are gladly accepted. 

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