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 Granville Stuart  (1834 - 1918)

About: Granville Stuart
 

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Lived/Active: Montana      Known for: amateur sketches

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Ad Code: 3
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Deer Lodge, Montana Territory, 1867
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from The Russell: Sale to Benefit the CM Russell Museum:
One of the first writers to document the frontier history of what became Montana Territory in 1864, Granville Stuart was a keen observer and capable artist.  His sketch of the Dance, Stuart, & Co. store in Deer Lodge City stands out among the handful of illustrations Stuart created to authenticate the early gold strikes and boom-towns that grew to become Montana’s first cities.

Granville Stuart’s writings and sketches are of real historical importance.  He wrote the most detailed descriptions of life in Montana before and during the gold rush of the 1860s.  Stuart’s history of the Montana cattle business in the 1880s is his most important contribution; however, his sketch of Deer Lodge in 1867 captures a moment of great prosperity, when placer mines in the surrounding gulches were producing more than $20,000,000 in gold dust.

Granville and his brother, James Stuart, settled permanently in Deer Lodge Valley in 1861. They partnered with Frank L. Worden and Captain C. P. Higgins to open their first store in American Fork, later known as Gold Creek, along the Clark Fork River and the Mullan Road, east of Fort Missoula.  The Mullan Road provided the Stuarts with a supply route from Fort Benton to the east and Fort Walla Walla to the west.  They opened the Gold Creek store in July 1862, followed by a butcher shop in November, to serve the placers at the Bannack mines.  With the discovery of gold in Alder Gulch in the summer of 1863, most of the miners in Deer Lodge Valley moved south to Virginia City.  The Stuarts partnered with W. B. Dance to open a new store, Dance, Stuart, & Co. to serve the new diggings.  Desiring to sustain their presence in Deer Lodge Valley, James Stuart organized a town site company in 1864 and employed Colonel Walter W. deLacy to survey a new town plat on Cottonwood Creek.

When Granville painted his watercolor of the store in 1867, Deer Lodge City had grown large enough to become the seat of government for Powell County.  The city was sufficient in size to sustain a daily newspaper.  Granville Stuart continued working at the Deer Lodge store in the 1870s, while also managing various mining enterprises, running a horse and cattle ranch, and operating a lumber yard.  Partnering with Davis, Hauser, and Company, Granville left the mercantile trade in 1879 to locate a home ranch for his new outfit on Ford’s Creek in the Judith Mountains.  As superintendent and manager of the DHS Ranch, Stuart inspired the young Kid Russell to become a cowboy-artist, documenting scenes in the Judith Basin during the 1880s.  Russell’s 1895 watercolor titled Offering a Truce (Bested) depicts one of Granville Stuart’s most notorious historical moments, when he headed up a vigilante group called Stuart’s Stranglers to rid the territory of cattle rustlers and horse thieves during the summer of 1884.

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