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Welcome to Yellowstone County MTGenWeb Project

Pioneers Record Collection


Note: Most of these records inter-connect with the other record forms.


Montana Monograph

This is a superb manuscript about early life in Eastern Montana from the settlers’ own words; and those of their friends. Entitled “MONTANA MONOGRAPHS”, and published by Harley O’Donnell, grandson of I.D. O’Donnell, There are 260 pages of exciting frontier life, recorded just as it was stated in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. I.D. O’Donnell was one of the Yellowstone Valley founding fathers and was nationally renowned for his Hesper farming methods, and was active for several decades in various reclamation methods.  In addition to a contents page of the many people who related their experiences, there is a four-page index for ready reference to an event or person.


This manuscript can be obtained from Harley O’Donnell. Contact him at for delivery information.

City Directories

Most of the Polk Billings’ City Directories 1905 through 2001 belonging to the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum are being maintained by the web master.  Contact webmaster for information  - free lookups via email are provided.

Daughters of the American Revolution

Listings of Posts and related internet links for Montana

Early Residents-1

New - Early Residents of Yellowstone County - Indexed from “Yellowstone County and other articles from the Daily Herald 1883” Surnames A-L

Early Residents-2

New - Early Residents of Yellowstone County - Indexed from “Yellowstone County and other articles from the Daily Herald 1883” Surnames M-Z

Pioneer People

People, places and events that helped form Yellowstone County lists people that are important to the county formation. Links to numerous persons and events. Used in part to create Montana Monographs 2007. Includes link to the Josephine Riverboat under “Joseph MV Cochran.” These two events are closely related.

Pioneers of Eastern Montana

This is the unique home for pioneer biographies, local area history and events in Eastern Montana. It has a special tabulated vital record listing that spans two websites for area research.


The first settlers in the county and described, in sequence of their arrival.

Surname Registry

Biographies of persons retained in the YGF GenRoom [Parmly Billings Library] are listed. These are in book form.

Women Photos

Pioneer women and some events collected in a simple photo display. Additional details to be added as an on-going project.

Yellowstone Basin Preservation Society


Manuel Lisa (Fort Book)


The society determines and establishes needs for various historical preservation areas within Yellowstone County, and creates methods for their preservation through proper management resources. Projects are established and moved into the agency/personnel best qualified for the corresponding actions. Manuel Lisa’s first fort site on the Yellowstone; generally referred to as “Manuel’s Fort” by William Clark, George Drouillard and Stansbury is pictured and discussed in Preservation Activity #2. Here you will find the location, signatures (inscriptions) of Lisa and Colter, and details about how the site was over-looked by many researchers over the years. Documents are being prepared to establish the area as an Historical Site.

Early Pioneers and Local References

Much of the history of how some towns in Yellowstone were created, and the persons and corporations behind them, can be found in the ancient Title Abstract documents of Yellowstone County. Here are listed thousands of persons, major businesses & their owners, and how they got started. For those researchers who would like to know a little more about their ancestors who helped form these towns, delve into their wills and personal statements they made regarding their life during the early years in Montana, then this is the place to start. If you are an aspiring author, who would like to write a book about Billings, or other towns and the county, then this is the place to start! The abstract files, donated to the Yellowstone Genealogy Forum by the "Abstract Guarantee Company", summarize and identify land and court records that made up Yellowstone County; plus they include sworn statements about the conditions of the time from property owners and neighbors that cannot be located elsewhere.

Yellowstone River, which flows through the county, was originally called in the Minnetree language “Mi tsi a da Zi”, meaning Elk River, but it was translated as “yellow rock” river. French trappers referred to it as “Riveaux de Roches Juane” meaning “river of yellow rocks”.  In 1798, David Thompson of the Hudson Bay Company visited the area and translated the name as “Yellowstone”. In 1805 a map sent to President Jefferson by Lewis and Clark referred to the valley area as Yellowstone. Both the river and the valley were called Roche Juane until 1818.

Acquisition of Government Land records in Yellowstone Valley Area is included.


Host Site for Inter-Collection of Pioneers, towns and local history

The various types of Records are noted in the left column of the following table. Sub categories are listed in the second column, followed by short descriptions in the 3rd & 4th columns.

Examples are:

1.      Billings – Identification of the town, its beginning, and related information about the land. Not listed below is a graphic timeline (Excel Format) that identifies the major events described in these documents that NPR took to relocate its track from the planned Miles City crossing southward and pass through the Coulson area. See also the bios for Rowley, Foster & North. Compiled mainly from Court Records and personal notes from the settlers throughout the United States. The original NPR route was platted in 1853-1855 and ran from St. Paul northwest to Fort Union, and west to Fort Benton. The map created by the members of this team was accurate to today’s map within one mile in longitude. The Surveyor General of Montana for some unexplained reason didn’t use it.

2.      Pioneer Biographies – Listed by persons, or business, these bios collectively help to explain why there was such a strong bond between them. These are listed in different categories.



Pomp, son of Toussaint Charbonneau and Sacagawea is buried in Jordan Valley, Oregon, about 6 miles to the west of Highway 95, and 12 miles south of the Jordan Valley town (truck stop). There is a site marker on the highway. This links directly with the DAR activities associated with Pompeys Pillar.



Josephine Riverboat’s Travels 1875 & 1877

Description of the steamer’s trips; along with maps of the 1875 journey to Duck Creek and its 1877 journey to Coulson when it delivered supplies & docked at Joseph MV Cochran’s land. Combined with Joseph Cochran’s biography. Detailed maps and original records of docking notes recorded.