Saturday, June 19, 2010


We visited Big Hole National Battlefield in MT and arrived in Dillon this past Monday afternoon under beautiful, clear skies. It turns out it was the only nice weather we had the entire time we were there.

We scooted to Judy and John's that evening for supper. They truly "killed the fatted calf" for us. They have milk/meat cattle - the ones that look like Oreo cookies!

We had planned to go to Bannock St. Pk. the next day but it rained that day and the next. Bannock is a ghost town but Bannock Days are held there every July and the Vaccaros are quite involved in that event. It would have been a lot of fun to see.

We had the Vaccaros over for a spaghetti dinner the evening before we left. It's a good thing all six children aren't home any longer or we never would have fit! It was great seeing their beautiful log home and visiting with them. It's only the second time since they left CA over 15 years ago that we've seen them.

Arrived in Bozeman Thursday, set up camp and headed to town to begin my genealogy research. My great grandfather, Zachary Taylor Widener, moved his family there in 1903. The Historical Society is right next door to the County Recorder's office so I was able to find out where my ancestors lived and worked and went to school. We then ate at a terrific BBQ restaurant, Famous Dave's, that evening.

Yesterday we moved south of town and camped alongside beautiful Hyalite Creek in Hyalite Canyon. We went back into town where I found more information at the library, Historical Society and Co. Recorder. We took pictures of the three homes the Wideners lived in as well as two commercial buildings my great grandfather had his insurance, real estate and loan company in.

At one of the homes a young man was out front so I asked him if he owned it. He said he was just a boarder but invited us in to see his fourth floor loft. It was so amazing to be in the home my great grandparents and grandparents lived in!!

We also found my dad's birth announcement in the newspaper and my grandfather's picture in the college yearbook. All in all it was a wonderful adventure and I'm so glad I convinced Richard to go the southern route instead of the northern one here in MT.

Today we moved to south of Red Lodge and are camped beside another gorgeous creek, Rock Creek. We will be here a few days as I want to do some research on my grandma Widener. She went to college and taught here. I can't figure out how my grandparents met as they lived 150 miles from each other! It's another of those questions I really wish I had thought to ask when family was still alive.

Next we will travel to Billings, where my grandparents got married, on to Little Big Horn National Battlefield and eventually to Miles City where my grandmother's family lived for awhile before moving to Red Lodge. It's been so meaningful to me to see the places my ancestors lived and worked I can't wait to continue the search.


  1. I loved Montana when I went with Gma and Gpa. It is amazing how late it stays light! Have fun and travel safely.

  2. How fun it is to enter houses from your past.

  3. You've had some marvelous success finding traces of your ancestors. Some things just can't be done on the internet (though Google is trying to change that), like seeing the inside of a house where your great-grandparents lived, or reading an old small-town newspaper.

    How large is Judy and John's ranch? What's it like there -- some forest, or all grassland?

    Are pictures coming soon to your gallery?

  4. There was a big tornado in--was it Bozeman or Billings? I get all those "B" cities in Montana mixed up? Maybe that big rain that you had was the precursor of it. I thought of you when it was on the news.

    I'm so glad that you are where it all happened--not the tornado, the history; your dad's family has been a blank for you for so long. Find out a lot, and then I'll know that you have had a great and worthwhile time.

  5. Richard says he'll post some pix tomorrow after our scooter ride.

    The tornado was in Billings, our next stop. Just a big thunderstorm here, thank heaven.