On this date in 1834, Granville Stuart was born in Clarksburg, W.Va. (then part of Virginia). He settled in Montana in the 1850s, and soon became a Montana prospector, miner, banker and cattle rancher. He was manager of the Pioneer Cattle Company from 1879 to 1888, president of the Montana Stock Growers Association and Montana Board of Stock Commissioners, and president of the Montana Historical Society from 1890 to 1895. Stuart became an important Montana politician who represented Lewis and Clark County in the Territorial House of Representatives for four years, and was President of the Territorial Council in 1883. He was elected U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay and Paraguay from 1894 to 1898. After returning to Montana, Stuart became a Montana historian, and wrote books including Montana As It Is (1865) and Forty Years on the Frontier (1925). Stuart married Awbonnie Tookanka, who was Shoshone. They had five daughters: Katie, Elizabeth, Mary, Emma and Irene, and six sons: Tom, James, Granville, Samuel, Charles and Robert (who was adopted). Awbonnie died in 1888. Stuart married Allis Belle Brown in 1890.
Stuart became a strong freethinker as an adult, according to As Big as the West: The Pioneer Life of Granville Stuart by Clyde Milner II (2008). James Fergus, fellow freethinker and Montana pioneer, called Stuart “a fine writer and most radical outspoken infidel, and has pictures of Ingersoll, Bennett and Payne hanging in their Parlor” (in a Jan. 1, 1883 letter, quoted on the Fergus County, Mont. History and Genealogy website). In a July 21, 1879 letter to Fergus, Stuart requested that his funeral be completely secular. D. 1918
“For all the use [people] make of their brains in matters of religion they had as well have none.”
—Granville Stuart, quoted in As Big As the West: The Pioneer Life by Clyde Milner II, 2008.
Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor
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