Montana; September 13, 1894: Fort Belknap Agency. Quarto. Item #019414
Major Joseph M. Kelley (1844-1911) spent his military career first as Captain of the 10th Colored Cavalry known as the "Buffalo Soldiers" at various posts including Fort Grant, Arizona until he received the rank of Major in 1893 and served at the Fort Belknap Agency. The agency had moved from Chinook to Harlem on the Northwest corner of the reservation in the 1880’s but both the ranchers who wanted more territory for cattle ranching began to have conflicts with lands guaranteed by the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine tribes, gold was discovered in the Little Rocky Mountains bringing in more people and mining claims on reservation land. Major Kelley became the Indian Agent for Fort Belknap until 1898 when he became commandant over the Assiniboine and is largely credited with keeping peace while the area where gold was discovered was taken from the tribes and ceded to the United States opening up the territory for settlers and miners. Most of his archives is in the NWDA archive at the Eastern Washington Historical Society in Spokane. This letter requests more documentation a recent purchase from the A.H. Holter Hardware Company. Holter was the "father of the lumber business in Montana" and with his establishment in Helena, he served not only lumber items but also supplies for the gold miners and the military forts. The Holter Company was the longest operating commercial business in Montana and continued until 1958. A nice item signed by a key figure in Western military history and also the major business in early Montana.