Lake County History

Polson and Flathead Lake 1963 (14KB)

View of Polson and
Flathead Lake, 1963.

Formed from Missoula and Flathead Counties, Lake County dates from 1923. Polson is its county seat.




Description of Event


The United States acquired vast lands, including present-day Montana, through the Louisiana Purchase.


The Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed through Montana, but bypassed Lake County


The fur traders arrived.


The Northwest Fur Company sent David Thompson to explore in Montana and to set up trade with the Indians. Where the town of Libby stands (Lincoln Co.), the first trading post was built.

1 Mar 1812

David Thompson of the Northwest Fur Company and his companions were the first white men to see Flathead Lake.


North of St. Ignatius, Frank McArthur of the Hudson Bay Company established the trading post, Fort Connah.


Angus McDonald was put in charge of Fort Connah.

24 Sep 1854

The Jesuit Father Hoecken and his party, guided by Chief Alexander of the Kalispels, arrived at "The Rendezvous." They founded the mission at St. Ignatius.

16 Jul 1855

At Council Grove, near Missoula, Governor Isaac I. Stevens, acting for the U. S. Government, signed an agreement with Chiefs Victor of the Salish, Alexander of the Kalispel, and Michelle of the Kootenai to create the Flathead Indian Reservation.


The first Indian agent, Dr. R. H. Landsdale, established the Jocko Indian Agency. Assistant Henry G. Miller and his wife joined Dr. Landsdale.


Major John Owen became Indian agent at the Jocko Agency.


The Jocko Agency closed down.


The Jocko Agency reopened with H. M. Chase as Indian agent.

29 Mar 1860

The U. S. Congress ratified the treaty signed in 1856 by Gov. Stevens and the three Indian chiefs.


Major John Owen returned to the Jocko Agency to begin fulfilling the treaty provisions and to set up the Flathead Indian Reservation.


Duncan McDonald, Angus' son, took over Fort Connah.


Fort Connah was closed, thus ending the era of the fur trade.


The U. S. Government sent General James A. Garfield to draw up a treaty with Salish Chief Charlo, Chief Victor's son, to remove his tribe from the Bitterroot Valley to the Flathead Indian Reservation.


Major Peter Ronan was appointed Superintendent of the Indian agency at the Jocko Agency.


Walking Coyote brought the first buffalo into the Mission Valley. Charles Allard and Michel Pablo later bought them and began their famous herd.

15 May 1876

William "Billy" Irvine, accompanied by eleven cowboys, began the first cattle drive of twelve hundred cattle to Cheyenne, Wyoming.


Father Taelmann first arrived at the St. Ignatius Mission.


Father Jerome D'Aste began his work at the St. Ignatius Mission.


The new church was built at St. Ignatius as a result of Father Rebmann's appeal. Chief Arlee, chief of the Reservation Indians, died.

17 Oct 1891

Chief Charlo and his tribe left the Bitterroot Valley and settled at the Jocko Agency on the Flathead Indian Reservation.


Charles Allard died. His half of the Allard-Pablo buffalo herd was sold by his heirs.


The Canadian Government purchased Michel Pablo's entire buffalo herd, beginning the famed buffalo round-up that took six years to complete.


The National Bison Reserve was set aside by Congress as a result of President Theodore Roosevelt's efforts.


Father Jerome D'Aste died.


The Jocko Agency, under Agent Major Fred C. Morgan, was moved to Dixon and renamed the Flathead Indian Agency. Tribal membership was over 2,000.

10 Jan 1910

Chief Charlo died.

5 Oct 1910

Through Father Taelmann's efforts, the first church was built in Polson. Father Griva was its first priest.

1 Jun 1912

The last of Pablo's 700 buffalo were shipped to Canada.


Big Medicine, the white (albino) male buffalo, was born on the National Bison Range.

30 Jun 1959

Flathead tribal membership stood at over 5,000.

Aug 1959

Big Medicine, the white buffalo, died.

For a more detailed timeline of the Confederated Salish and

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Sources: The Fabulous Flathead and In the Shadows of the Missions

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