Three Forks Area Historical Society - Madison Valley History

Excerpts from Headwaters Heritage History, 1983, Three Forks Area Historical Society

Perhaps it is somewhat incorrect to say that this pioneer ball was in Gallatin Valley, for it was on the Madison, just above the old town of Three Forks; but as most of those concerned live or have lived in the Gallatin, and as the country around there is pretty much common property for the three valleys, when it comes to reminiscences the Gallatin may as well put forth its claim as a part of its own legitimate history.
Mr. John Ingram, secretary of the Pioneers' Society, gives the Courier an account of this homespun society event, the first of its kind, so far as he can recall. It was in the fall of 1865, at the home of Squire Grattan's, that the affair was held. It may seem remarkable that this, the first, should be nearly two years after the first settlement of the country, but 1864 was too hard and dispiriting a year for there to be much cause for enjoyment, and then there were very few ladies here until the summer and fall of 1865. There were only 6 women present that evening, out of the 20 guests: Mrs. Grattan and daughter Viola, Mrs. Allen, Miss Mary Allen, Mrs. John McDonnell, and Mrs. Harris. Miss Viola Grattan died the next year; Miss Allen is now Mrs. Hopping, and lives over on the Madison. The music was furnished by a violinist named Foote, from Kansas, who was later in great demand for social gatherings. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call him a "fiddler", for that was about all he did with his hands and time until he drifted back to Kansas and was lost sight of. Mr. Ingram was caller for the evening, and gave them mostly waltzes, quadrilles and schottisches. The floor was of puncheon slabs. There were no patent leather shoes for men or satin slippers for the ladies as times were too hard, and the articles couldn't be had here, even if one did have the money. Mr. Ingram did not recall the names of many of the men present, though John McDonnell and James White were of the number.

We have the Madison Valley Buffalo Jump, two nice fishing access to the Madison River and fine farm land. We have ample water for our irrigation systems, both sprinkler and flood, to raise cattle, hay and grain to be sold or used in the area. Much petrified rock can be found in this area.
Several ditches were constructed in the late 1880's. They are Crowley, Sloan, and Hutchinson. There are natural streams: Hot Springs Creek, Bonnie Brook, and Rea Creek. After the ditches were constructed, water seepage made the bottom land wet and alkaline. However, in later years drain ditches have been dug in an attempt to reclaim that portion of the land which is alkaline.
An oil drilling company attempted to find oil to no avail. The roads have been improved, but could stand a lot more work. There have been many improvements to the land over the years. The valley even had its own Post Office, at Hyde, at one time; the date of its demise is not known but a clipping from an old newspaper dated 1921 tells an interesting story:

Mr. Emmett Lee Ray Bacus and Mrs. Mary J. Starr, both of Hyde were married in this city (Three Forks) last Thursday afternoon by the Rev. J. C. Patterson. The wedding occurred with the couple sitting in the buggy in front of the parsonage as the groom was so crippled with rheumatism that it was inconvenient to leave the vehicle. The groom is postmaster at Hyde and also conducts a general store. The bride is an estimable lady of that community where their many friends wish them all anticipated pleasures. The wedding was the first one performed by the Rev. Patterson in this state.

Many stories about the Madison Valley are related to the social events and the sense of community. Because the ranches in the area are strung along the river valley, get togethers were greatly anticipated and attended. Two such events were the 1908 Independence Day celebration and the 1923 Labor Day picnic held at the Tice Ranch (and hot springs). Other, smaller gatherings, were more social than celebratory, including the Madison Women's Club and the Madison Lyceum Society.
The Lower Madison Women's Club was started in 1939 or 1940 and "was mainly a club designed to let the ladies of the valley get together twice a month, to relax, visit, and have a small snack before going back to household chores."
In the Headwaters Heritage History, D.O. Merriman writes of his experience in the Madison Lyceum Society and Frieda Hoellein Walbert writes about the Upper Madison School District No. 29. Other articles touch on Tice Oil Well No. 1, the Madison Buffalo Jump, the Climbing Arrow (CA) Ranch, the arrangement of rocks that many believe represents the Blackfeet spirit/god Napi, and the Madison Valley Indian village site as well as the family histories of many Madison Valley residents.

On the National Registry of Historic Places
The Upper Madison School

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