Ken Robison History
Historic Tales of Whoop-Up Country:
On the Trail from Montana's Fort Benton to Canada's Fort Macleod
2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Whoop-up Country, set in the broad prairie lands between Fort Benton, northward across the Medicine Line into the yet to be formed Canadian prairie provinces. The stage was set by withdrawal of the Hudson Bay Company, and from 1870 to 1883 supplies, trade goods, immigrants, adventurers--and whiskey--traveled along the legendary Whoop-Up Trail to Fort Whoop-Up and dozens of other posts
The absence of law and order forced the Canadian government to create the North West Mounted Police, send them West to establish law and order, close down the whiskey trade, and drive free traders back across the border into Montana.
During these “Whoop-Up Days,” Fort Benton was emerging from the rough frontier town, featuring “the Bloodiest Block in the West,” into a major trade center with merchant princes like I.G. Baker and T.C. Power competing with Free Traders for dominance in the Whoop-up Country.
World War I Montana: Open Warfare Over There
The Great War, World War I, continued with fury in the Spring of 1918. In a dramatic race against time, could American Yanks play the key role in stemming the German tide? Join Montanans as they engaged in their first major battle at Cantigny, a day to remember in history. Join Montana Marines in the bloodiest day in their history, as they became “Devil Dogs,” charging through hell on earth at Belleau Wood. Blunt the vital German surge toward Paris with Montana Yanks of the 3rd “Rock of the Marne” Division. Find yourself behind German lines with Montanans in the Lost Battalion facing death at every moment. Follow Montanans of the Wild West Division as they storm “over the top” into the Argonne Forest shouting “Powder River Let ‘Er Buck.” Serve with young Seaman Mike Mansfield, future legendary senator, on convoy duty against lurking German U-boats. Join adventurous Montana nurses, “hello girls,” Navy Yeomanettes, YMCA workers as they blazed new gender roles.
Open Warfare Over There is the story of young and vibrant Montanans of all ethnicities as they fought for elusive democracy at home in this world war to end all wars. Award-winning historian Ken Robison brings Montana’s men and women to life, at home and abroad, as they relate their stories of the Great War.
World War I Montana: The Treasure State Prepares
One hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, the United States went into a war, a conflict that would have a profound effect at home and abroad. For Montana, this was a war of opportunity for many, trouble for some, and change for all. On that fateful day, the United States at last entered a European war, a war that had been raging since 1914. The oceans around us were shrinking, and the world, the U.S., and Montana would never be the same.
It is hard today to comprehend how vitally important, Montana, The Treasure State’s forestry, mining, smelting, and, refining were to the national war effort. It has been said, with a lot of truth to it, that every bullet fired in World War I was encased in Butte copper, and the world was "wired" by copper from Great Falls refineries. In addition, Montana’s amber waves of grain helped feed a starving world. And, Montana’s cowboys, miners, foresters, farmers, nurses and other women, went to war to win, under the battle cry, “Powder River, Let ‘Er Buck” that would resonate on the battlefields in France. Montana men served in the Great War in a greater percentage than any other state.
This book covers the dramatic first year of the war, as the U.S. and Montana mobilized and prepared for a decisive role in the Great War.
Yankees and Rebels on the Upper Missouri
(Military) Paperback – September 5, 2016.
During the 1860s, the Missouri River served as a natural highway, through snags and rapids, from St. Louis to Fort Benton for steamboats bringing Yankees and Rebels and their families to the remote Montana territory. The migration transformed the Upper Missouri region from the isolation of the fur trade era to the raucous gold rush days that would keep the region in turmoil for decades. The influx of newcomers involved its share of dramatic episodes, including the explosion of the Chippewa triggered by a drunken crew member, the mystery of the fugitive James-Younger gang and Colonel Everton Conger’s journey from capturing John Wilkes Booth to the Montana Supreme Court.
Acclaimed historian Ken Robison reveals the thrilling history behind this war-weary wave of migration seeking opportunity on Montana’s wild and scenic frontier.
Confederates in Montana Territory: In the Shadow of Price's Army
(Civil War Series)
Confederate veterans flocked to the Montana Territory at the end of the Civil War. Seeking new opportunities after enduring the hardships of war, these men and their families made a lasting impact on the region. Their presence was marked across the territory in places like Confederate Gulch and Virginia City. Now meet the fascinating characters who came to Big Sky country after the war, including guerrillas who fought with William Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson, as well as cavalrymen who rode with Confederate legends General Nathan Bedford Forrest and Colonel John S. Mosby.
Author and historian Ken Robison recounts where these soldiers came from, why they fought for the South, what drew them to the Montana Territory and how they helped shape the region.
Montana Territory and the Civil War: A Frontier Forged on the Battlefield
(Civil War Series)
In 1862, gold discoveries brought thousands of miners to camps along Grasshopper Creek. By 1864, the Federal government had carved the Montana Territory out of the existing Idaho and Dakota Territories. Gold from Montana Territory fueled the Union war effort, yet loyalties were mixed among the miners. In this compelling collection of stories, historian Ken Robison illustrates how Southern sympathizers and Union loyalists, deserters and veterans, freed slaves and former slaveholders living side by side made a volatile and vibrant mix that molded Montana. Discover how fiery personalities like Union Colonel Sidney Edgerton and General Thomas Francis Meagher fought to keep order in the newly formed frontier, while brave Confederate and Union veterans and their hardy families created an enduring legacy that helped shape modern Montana.
(Postcard History Series)
Fort Benton, the head of navigation on the Missouri River, is known as the “Birthplace of Montana.” Its history spans every era in Montana’s development. Founded in 1846 as a fur-trading post, it is Montana’s oldest continuous settlement. Arrival of the first steamboats and completion of the Mullan Road in 1860 heralded the steamboat era, bringing gold seekers, merchant princes, scoundrels, soldiers, North West Mounted Police, and eventually women and children to the wild frontier. Then came the railroads, open-range ranching, and homesteaders by the thousands. Today Fort Benton serves the agricultural Golden Triangle and presents its colorful history through cultural tourism.
Cascade County and Great Falls
(Postcard History Series)
Cascade County and Great Falls:
Great Falls, on the Missouri River, began as a city of sun, water, and future. Long a crossroads for Native Americans, in 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition portaged the great falls of the Missouri. Early development combined electrical power from dams with mineral resources from nearby mountains to power smelters and refineries. The railroad stimulated growth as Great Falls became a dynamic "Electric City" at the heart of the mountains and valleys of Cascade County. Today the river, ranching and farming, regional retail, and medical facilities combine with cultural and recreational tourism and Montana's largest military presence. Great Falls boasts Montana's greatest ethnic diversity, with the state's largest Native American and African American populations. A world-class symphony and the renowned Charles M. Russell Museum help round out Great Falls as Montana's "All-American City."
Life and Death on the Upper Missouri: The Frontier Sketches of Johnny Healy
Johnny Healy's sparkling commentary about life on the Upper Missouri in the 1860s and 70s appeared as a series of Frontier Sketches in his newspaper, the Benton Record, northern Montana's first newspaper. Healy's Sketches are presented here for the first time in book form. John J. Healy, an Irish immigrant lived life on the edge. He blazed a wide swath across the Upper Missouri frontier as a miner, Indian trader and fighter, politician, merchant, and sheriff. He sought adventure first, fortune second, all the while recording his escapades with a unique blend of color and historical accuracy. Here is Johnny Healy, a master story-teller at his best! Born in Cork, Ireland in 1837, John Jerome Healy immigrated to the U.S. and joined the Army's Second Dragoons during the Mormon Campaign in 1858. Discharged from the Army in 1860 just before the Civil War, Healy joined an emigrant train en route Oregon. Fighting off native Indian raids, Healy gained "gold fever" and stampeded to the new Idaho gold fields. His party struck gold at Florence, yet Healy continued to seek adventure more than riches. For the next quarter century Johnny Healy centered his adventures on the Upper Missouri River. There he established a robe trading post at Sun River Crossing and began to acquire the money he needed to move across the Canadian border to challenge the mighty Hudson Bay Company. It was at Healy's Trading Post in 1867 that Acting Governor Thomas Francis Meagher spent his last days before riding on to his death at Fort Benton, falling, jumping or being pushed off a steamboat never to be seen again. By 1869, Healy had the money he needed to built a major trading post, Fort Whoop-Up, near today's Lethbridge, and with other Free Traders from Fort Benton began to dominate the robe trade, often using whisky to "sweeten the pot" for the native bison robe trade just as the Hudson Bay Company had used rum for the same purpose. In reaction, the Canadians formed the North West Mounted Police and move this new force into western Canada to shut down the American traders with Johnny Healy their premier target. By 1874 Healy withdrew from Canadian territory to relocate to Fort Benton where he operated as a government scout in the Nez Perce War and led General Alfred Terry across the Canadian border for a fateful meeting with the Sioux and Sitting Bull at Fort Walsh. Healy was named Sheriff of massive historic Choteau County which extended from the Rocky Mountain Front eastward to the Little Rockies and from the Judith Basin northward to the Canadian border. He served with distinction as Sheriff for most of the eight years. Throughout the Fort Benton years Healy joined a large contingent of Irish Fenians who kept life at the head of navigation lively at all times. Healy's Frontier Sketches record many of his lively adventures and those of his friends. He presents the most compete record of the violent years between Blackfoot and white settlers from 1865-70, culminating in the murder of legendary fur trader Malcolm Clarke and the retaliatory Marias Massacre. Healy records many of the conflicts initiated by the Sioux as they were forced westward into Montana Territory along the Missouri River. This book presents for the first time all fifty Frontier Sketches by Johnny Healy together with a series of important stories written by him about the Nez Perce War and other adventures. Throughout these stories Johnny Healy proves to be a master story-teller. His historically accurate tales are illustrated with many photographs and images together with introductory text and endnote documentation by the editor. History is best told through story telling, and few told the history of the early Northwest better than Johnny Healy. He walked, rode, scrapped, and fought, and wrote boldly as he blazed a trail across the region.