Two Dot Montana

Two Dot

Taken from "Yesteryears and Pioneers"

During the construction of the "Jawbone" railroad towns were established along its route. George Wilson provided part of the town site of Two Dot, which received its name from Wilson's : brand, now recorded to Emma Freeser of Harlowton. Perhaps Gib McFarland was the first man to build a structure n town. Our informant told us he showed him the first nail he had hammered into a log building that stood back of his saloon.

Businesses sprang up rapidly. People from both Castle and Big Elk were anxious to get a foothold in the new town. Some buildings were moved in, and others constructed. Noble, who had a general store in Big Elk, and Ned Orr opened a store on the east side of Main Street. Edward (Ned) Orr was appointed first postmaster in 1900. Gib McFarland and Knute Hanson, both of Big Elk, opened Saloons. Frank Robertson had a meat market. Woods had a jewelry store, and later Austin Pierce opened a saddle and harness shop in the place vacated by Woods. Bill Doores, a carpenter, built a restaurant on the east side of Main Street, and he and his wife operated it for several years. (Today it is the home of William Olson.) Jim Holland had a grocery store north of the meat market. Pat Rice came later and opened a barbershop. Mike Deven moved into town, opening a dry goods store on the east side. Later he constructed a concrete block building north of McFarland's saloon, where he also operated the post office. A bank owned by Tooley, Baxter, and Tice, was opened.

A general store, owned by Babcock and Miles in Castle, was moved to Two Dot, and operated by P.H. Tooley, father of C.P. Tooley. Babcock and Miles sold the store to G.R. (Two Dot) Wilson. During Wilson's ownership E.C. Baxter and G.K. Robertson operated the business. Wilson at this time, built the Two Dot Hotel. It was operated by his nephew Bill Wilson, and family, who had recently moved from Elmira, New York.

Later Val Herman bought the store, rooming house, blacksmith shop, and hotel from Wilson. In 1909 he sold the store, rooming house and hotel to J.J. Hopkins. Cy Clinger bought the blacksmith shop from Val Herman in 1910. About 1914 or 1915 Cy sold to Newt Hutton. When Newt rented the garage in Two Dot he moved his shop to that location.

In the summer of 1913, the store again changed hands. This time the buyer was C.J. Vallance whose home had been in British Columbia. Hopkins retained the rooming house and hotel. Vallance operated the store until sometime during World War I, when he sold to George Cartier, a native Canadian. After serving in the army in Siberia, Vallance returned to Two Dot, and purchased the store from Cartier, who left for the St. Lawrence country of Canada. Shorty continued operating the store until about 1945, when he sold to Perry Funk. The last owner of that store was Archie Bryan.

Up the street from the Wilson Store was Long's Livery. It was sold to Joe Thebeau along with the town's water service. Joe sold within a short time to Frank Wright and Len Harris, who continued supplying the town with water until John Dierk's water project was completed.

Two brothers, Carl and Ed Hanson, from the Findon country, were the nest owners, and later, Ernest Hopkins operated the livery and dray service until the stable was torn down and the lumber moved to the Freeser Ranch after 1930. Ernest bought the home south of there and continued the dray business from that location.

Across the street from the livery stable was the Tice residence. Dr. Tice was Two Dot's first and last doctor.

The first school in Two Dot was built, perhaps, in 1899 by William Doores. It was a small one-room building situated next to the church in the southwest part of town. Mrs. Bert Vestal and Frances Higgins were two early day teachers after 1908. School was conducted in that building until 1915 or 1916, when a new two room modern school was erected in the Dierk's addition on the east side of town. In the summer of 1944, it burned to the ground and was replaced by the present structure that fall. School for one semester was held in the bank building and hardware store. By January, 1945, the new building was ready for occupancy.

The first school was moved to the McFarland Ranch, where it has served as a bunkhouse for many years.

Sometime prior to 1907, a real estate man from Kansas came to Two Dot. He was John Dierks. He purchased land from Bob Montgomery; had it surveyed by Spock and Weitzel; and sub-divided into lots which sold readily. During the short period he spent in Two Dot, he constructed a lumber yard on the east side; built himself the first modern home in Two Dot; and had a town well dug, which was not very deep, and piped the water to a storage tank on his property. He an Pat Rice, for a short time had a herd of Jersey cattle that they grazed on the town's free pasture land, and were housed in a barn on the Dierks' property.

After constructing the lumberyard, Dierks hired Charley Walton to operate it. Charley worked for $75 a month which, at that time (1908), was considered good wages.

Later, when Dierks left Two Dot, the lumber business was sold to Midland Lumber Co. Charley and P.J. Moore, Jr. bought the hardware part of the business. It was moved to a location on Main Street. Austin Pierce had moved his building that stood east of the lumber yard to Main Street and it now housed both the hardware and harness and saddle business. On the second floor of the building was constructed a large dance hall, which was also the meeting place of the Knights of Pythias.

"Pinky" Jenkins was a manager for Midland Lumber Co. until the business was sold to August Ebenreiter. He operated it a few years and sold it to Helleckson Lumber Co. Charley Walton, who with Perry Moore, had sold the Two Dot Hardware Store to O.B. Anderson in May 1918, went into the service, and was in Europe when the Armistice was signed. He came back to Two Dot in 1920, and managed the lumber yard for the new owners.

When the Milwaukee Railroad bought the "Jawbone" and began building west, John H. Freeser offered them a town site north of the river if they would change the route of the railroad that ran through the ranch. Two Dot should have been the division point, but the company was asked such an exorbitant figure for land on which to build their buildings that they chose Harlowton. They refused the Freeser offer, mainly because the roadbed had already been laid by the "Jawbone."

R.D. Crowder was the first agent in Two Dot. Two telegraphers aided him, each having an eight hour shift. The depot was a small frame building. Later the present depot was constructed.

By 1915, the substation was built, and electric power replaced steam as far west as Avery, Idaho. Walt Lindsay, Frank Leighton and Bill Adelman were the substation employees. Bill Adelman was also the local photographer. Many pictures of the town and its people were taken by him.

Few people know or remember that Two Dot had its own newspaper. The printing office was located in the Dierks' addition opposite the lumber yard. The editor was Adolph Eiselein, a native of Buffalo Lake, Minnesota, and younger brother of the late Al Eiselein, who for more than fifty years published the Roundup Record. Adolph left Two Dot in 1910 or 1911, going to Roundup. Later in December, 1912, he bought the Boulder paper which he continued publishing. After Eiselein left Two Dot, Paul King and Sam Tyndall had a printing shop on Main Street for a short period of time.

Many homes were built in Two Dot, but a very few remain. Some were destroyed by fire and some were moved away. Within the last ten years the old Baxter home, a landmark so many years, was torn down.

Three large fires destroyed practically all of the business part of Two Dot. In the winter of 1913-14 the east side of Main Street to the Doore's restaurant was completely destroyed. June 15, 1918 the west side of Main Street, with the exception of the hotel, was destroyed during the night.

That day was scheduled as the day of the Red Cross Sale to be held in town. Homesteaders, ranchers and neighboring townsfolk came to the sale in spite of the smoldering ruins of the town. People brought livestock, poultry, and anything else they thought would bring in money for the Red Cross. It was a very successful sale. During the sale a troop train stopped in Two Dot, and soldiers marched up and down Main Street.

The winter of 1920-21 another fire burned the building that formally housed the Noble Orr general store. That blaze burned every building north of the old restaurant to the railroad bungalows. Then, about 1925 or 1926 some young cowpokes, seeking practice in branding, branded gophers in the vicinity of the parsonage. They were careless in extinguishing the fire which was fanned during the night by a typical Musselshell breeze. Both parsonage and church were lost that time.

After the big 1918 fire Main Street was partially rebuilt. O.B. Anderson, a retired rancher, who had owned the hardware store a few weeks before the fire, financed the building of the brick building that still stands on the corner. Spaced was provided for a bank, general store, and hardware store. Walt Lindsay built the garage after the fire. After he left Two Dot, Don Martin owned the garage and rented it to several different tenants. Today it is used as headquarters for the honey industry operated by Mr. Budge.

Josh Hill, who had bought the McFarland saloon, built a temporary bar across the street. The Prohibition Amendment passed in 1918, and Hill had to close the bar. That building still stands, having been used as a Red Cross headquarters, Sunday School rooms, card party center, and residence.

>During the homestead era two elevators were built in Two Dot. One was the property of the Montana Elevator Co., operated several years by Charley Walton and the other was a cooperative elevator operated by John Matson, Henry Combs and a man named Day. During good years much wheat was hauled by wagons to the elevators. After the homesteaders left the elevators were dismantled and moved away.

The story of Two Dot would not be complete without some mention of its baseball and basketball teams. Members of the baseball team included Pat Rice, Ed Rousseau, Newt Hutton, Perry Moore, Doc Tice, Bill Adelman, "Kentuck" Arnold (the pitcher) Charley Walton, Frank Leighton, and Dom Grivetti. They played at Harlowton, Judith Gap, Hedgesville, Melville, and White Sulpher Springs and were very successful.

A typical Sunday afternoon in 1913 would find many of the younger people in Two Dot, dressed in their Sunday best. Some came in surreys with the fringe on top or commoner buggies, a few came in cars which were not plentiful at that time; and others rode horseback. The culmination of that afternoon's entertainment would be supper at Mrs. Bennett's restaurant.

Two Dot was known as a cow town from the beginning. Early day cowmen settled the valley in 1872. Their sons continued in the cow business, and now, some of the grandsons are still engaged in the cattle business. Throughout the history of the town of Two Dot was known for its cattle shipments. Those days large herds were trailed to the stock yards from all directions, destined to stock yards in Chicago and St. Paul. Today huge stock trucks have replaced much of the business done in the stock yards and depot of the little town. Two Dot was a good town in its day, but, like so many small towns, it has practically disappeared in this era of rapid transportation.