Monday, March 3, 2014

Photographing Montana - a Post Office At a Time

Terry, MT Post Office
Why should you put Terry on your bucket list of places to see? Here are the basic demographics about Terry -
  • Prairie county
  • population 605 (2010 Census) 
  • once called Joubert's Landing.  
  • had a post office since 1882
  • incorporated in 1910     
So why do I think this community is worthy of being a bucket-list item?  The answer for me is centered on a previous resident.  Her name was Lady Evelyn (Flower) Cameron.   She was an English aristocrat who came with her husband and Honeymooned in Montana in 1889.

They fell in love with the badlands and relocated to Montana.  She and her husband started raising Polo Ponies in the hardscrabble hills of Montana.  Yes Polo Ponies.  The first time I read that I was shocked and said to myself no wonder they went broke.  As I dug, it was actually a good idea at the time - the Miles City area and nearby Wyoming boasted 5 active Polo Teams.  One was at Fort Keogh.  Europe was clambering for Polo Ponies with endurance.

Ewen was ill most of their married life.  During the 1893 financial scare they lost most of the money they had.  Evelyn tried many ways to earn money to help them survive.  She kept a daily diary of  their life (1893-1928).  These diaries have recently been digitized and are part of the Montana Memory Project .  Evelyn's diaries were transcribed years ago by the Prairie Museum in Terry.  The transcriptions have not been digitized.

Evelyn's diaries give an amazing snapshot of life in the west.   She raised and sold vegetables to earn money and started taking in boarders.  One of her boarders introduced her to a new piece of technology - photography.  In 1894 she would create what would become a great legacy.  Evelyn's photographs would document the western frontier and its changes.

Donna Lucey in her book "Photographing Montana 1894-1928:  The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron" not only shares many of her photographs but shares the story of how this photographic collection was re-discovered.

I have been inspired by Evelyn's fearlessness, grit and her vision.

Evelyn Cameron self portrait.

Ewen and their wolves.