Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I is for Ingomar & Ismay

Ingomar, MT once claimed the title of "Sheep Shearing Capital of North America".  Between 1911 and 1917 Ingomar averaged 2500 homestead filings a year.  Today it is basically a living ghost town.  It sits alongside US 12 - (a two lane paved road), about 40 miles from Forsyth and 60 miles from Roundup. There are about 4-5 people living there.  "You've gotta be going to Ingomar to go to Ingomar" - author unknown.

My first trip to the Jersey Lilly in Ingomar was with a friend, Deborah Hanson.  We were on our way to the Montana Democratic Party Platform Convention being held in Great Falls, MT.  Deborah and her husband Terry had been long time friends with Bill Seward.  We stopped for lunch and ate the Jersey Lilly's famous bean soup.  While we ate Bill regaled us with wonderful stories.  Many of them were the back stories to some of the photos and clippings hanging on the walls.  Bill was a wonderful storyteller and a "true western character".

The Jersey Lilly started out as a bank. In 1948 Bill's dad bought it and named the place after Judge Roy Bean's bar in Texas.  Bill bought the place from his dad in 1958.  Bill sold it in the 1990's to Jerry J. Brown.

My other favorite little town is Ismay, MT it is also in eastern Montana not far from Baker, MT.   It boasts a population of about 20-30 residents.  Its most recent claim to fame was in 1993 when it temporarily changed the town name to "Joe" Montana.  Through some great publicity and some major events they raised around $70,000.  Enough money to build a volunteer fire station, fire truck and to restore the original jail.

I'm partial to the town because I know members of the Nemitz family.  I worked as a bartender with one of the brothers.  At one time several of the boys were council men and one was mayor during the same year, perhaps still.   In 1993 the mayor's salary was four dollars a month.

My sister joked it was probably one of the few communities were a city council meeting could be held over a family dinner and have a voting quorum.


  1. Great story, & again, your connections made it special. They are examples of the special communities where families just won't abandon them.

  2. The land makes such a connection. It somehow shapes us as much as we shape it.


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