In 1860, Mullan Road was built through the Missoula Valley

Missoula has a very rich history. From the name coming from a Salish word for ``place of freezing/cold liquid`` to the town itself lying at the bottom of what was once a 3,000-square-mile glacial lake, we have stored up all kinds of preserved history of this amazing town at Farmer John's. One of our favorite stories about this town runs right through our family, where our ancestor was one of the first female settlers in these western territories before Montana was even a state! Read on to discover how her journey laid the foundation of this amazing homestead that we now refer to as Farmer John's Sustainable Farming.

Original Pioneer Woman of Montana

While Mullan Trail was beginning construction, Josephine Pelkey married her husband and started the pioneer trek west, from Illinois. Spent the winter in Bannock… more info…

picture of plaque in the Missoula Airport 2018

Crossing the Snake River in Idaho…

The fording of rivers back then was notoriously dangerous… here is the story of what happened… ending with Peter Meininger drowning in 1861 in the Snake River near Fort Hall, ID (Pocatello, ID today).

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In the 1860s, Fort Hall was the key post for the overland stage, mail and freight lines to the towns and camps of the mining frontier in the Pacific Northwest. In 1870 a New Fort Hall was constructed to carry out that function; it was located about 25 miles to the northeast. It protected stagecoach, mail and travelers to the Northwest.

Josephine Arrives and Homesteads on Mullan Rd

She arrived in Missoula in October with her young son, Thomas, and her brother, Robert A. Pelkey and his wife Adaline, and their mother. Adaline gave birth (January 13, 1862) to the first white child born in what is /would become the state of Montana.

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It is believed that Josephine is the first white woman to reside continuously in what is now the state of Montana. It is said that she had the unique record of having lived in
four states without having moved out of her original house.

The First White Couple Married in Montana

George P. White was Josephine’s second husband. They were the first white couple married within the present boundaries of Montana. They had five children and Josephine and George had a butcher shop on East Front Street in Missoula until 1870. George died in 1871.

Josephine married her third husband, Edward D Dukes. Josephine and Edwin had three children, one died as an infant. Trading food, trinkets, pots and pans for furs with the Salish Kootinai Native Americans, they held down the Hellgate Trading post.

Edwin died in 1882.

History Witnessed by Josephine:

• The first church for whites, St Michaels, built by the Catholic priests.
• The migration of Indians as they camped below her home on their way from the Bitterroot Valley to the Mission Valley.
• The first saloon in Hellgate as it became a courtroom.
• The road agents from Henry Plummer’s gang hanging the morning after the Vigilantes did their work at the Higgins and Worden store.
• 1865 Higgins and Worden moved their business to Missoula Mills (about where the Holiday Inn is today)

Josephine died on April 7, 1903

gravestone in which cemetery?

Farmer John’s Sustainable Farming Today

We think that Josephine would be proud of where we have taken the land over the years. Now we support the community through many projects and acts of service. We are very proud of Missoula and our place that we play in keeping it a growing, welcoming, and sustainable place to live for years, decades, and on! 

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November 9th

 In 2009, the Missoula metropolitan statistical area (MSA) ranked as the fifth highest in the United States for percentage of commuters who biked to work (5 percent). As of 2010’s census, there were 66,788 people, 29,081 households, and 13,990 families residing in the city of Missoula. As we continue to grow as a city, we each hold a unique responsibility to our fellow man and to be good stewards of this land, of which we owe so much to.

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