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There are numerous fraternal organizations in the county. The oldest, so far as known, having continued existence, is Gallatin Lodge No. 6, A. F. and A. M., organized October 4, 1866, with J. L. Noble worshipful master.
Bozeman Lodge No. 18, A. F. and A. M., was organized March 5, 1872, with W. H. Bailey, worshipful master.
Western Star Lodge No. 4, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, was organized April 26, 1872. W. L. Blackwood was the first Noble Grand.
Pythagoras Lodge No. 2, Knights of Pythias was chartered November 29, 1879.
Lily of the Valley chapter of the Order of Eastern Star, No. 4, was started April 1, 1890, with Mrs. Mary Lancaster, worthy matron, and Dr. C. E. Lancaster, worthy patron.
Gallatin Masonic Lodge No. 6 and the Odd Fellows Lodge have erected their own lodge buildings.
Bozeman Lodge No. 463, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, among the later orders, also erected its own building.
Fraternal Order of Eagles, a later organization, has purchased a building. Many other fraternal orders exist in 1932.
Several fraternal orders have established chapters in other parts of Gallatin County.
A number of organizations were formed in early days, among these, the Young Men’s Association, for social intercourse and to plan for a city library. The association did not last long. A Gallatin County Teachers’ Association was formed in Bozeman, December 28, 1874, a record of the first few meetings and a copy of the constitution and by-laws being sent to Mrs. E. L. Houston from California by her former teacher, T. B. Gray, secretary of the association. The object as stated in the constitution, was: “First, the improvement of our public schools; second, the dissemination of useful information; and third, the cultivation of social intercourse.” Names of members signing the constitution and by-laws were N. M. Farnum, Samuel M. Reed, T. B. Gray, J. H. Aylesworth, E. D. Ferguson, J. V. Bogert, T. C. Iliff, W. W. Alderson. F. L. Stone, H. N. Maguire, H. H. Stone, J. W. Iliff, Stephen Allen and Matt W. Alderson. The officers elected were: N. M. Farnum of Cottonwood, president; Stephen Allen of Gallatin City, vice president; T. B. Gray of Bozeman, secretary; and J. H. Aylesworth of Bozeman, treasurer. The records do not show how long the association lasted.
The Pioneers’ Society of Gallatin County was organized in Bozeman, November 25, 1893, with the following officers: Walter Cooper, president; George D. Thomas, vice president; J. D. McCamman, secretary-treasurer, and W. W. Alderson, corresponding secretary. Membership was limited to those coming to Montana on or before December 31, 1864. The limit was changed at the business meeting in January 1932, to conform to the state organization, eligibility now including those who came to Montana on or before December 31, 1868. The first social gathering of members and their families was on February 22, 1894, in celebrating the golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. William Rea, and annual reunions are still enjoyed on that date. The Society of Sons and Daughters of Pioneers of Gallatin County was organized November 16, 1894, and the members join with the pioneers in the annual banquet and social gathering. George D. Pease was first president; O. P. Morgan, vice president; Walter Davis recording secretary; Miss Hattie Street, corresponding secretary and O. L. Reese, treasurer.
There were not many women among the earliest settlers in Gallatin County, Mrs. W. J. Beall, who crossed the plains with her first husband and two little daughters, arriving August 1, 1864, being the first white woman to locate near Bozeman, residing here until her death in April 1930, when she was nearly 92 years old. A few families settled in the county later in that year and in 1865, and many others during the next five years, several coming from the mining districts. Among those arriving in 1866 were Mrs. W. W. Alderson and four children who came up the Missouri River to Fort Benton. The pioneer women were devoted to their homes and their families and were ever ready to lend a helping hand to those in need and to extend comfort in time of sorrow and affliction. They helped materially also in the church, school and civic work in pioneer days.
In the early days there were no women’s clubs in Gallatin County, the aid societies and guilds of the churches assisting in civic and educational work, and cooperating with the schools in providing entertainments. Men and women of all denominations joined in fairs, concerts and various entertainments given for any particular church or community benefits, the Silver Cornet band assisting with the music for such entertainments. Dances provided the entertainment in many rural communities, the early day “fiddlers” furnishing most of the music for such affairs. The officers and wives at Fort Ellis in the early seventies provided some high-class entertainments to which Bozeman citizens were invited.
The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union was organized in Bozeman, May 24, 1884. Mrs. George Byron Morse, wife of the first Baptist minister of the city, was the first president, and served one year. Mrs. M. M. Rich, widow of Charles Rich, an early day merchant, served as president of the union for 17 years. The organization has had continuous existence.
The first club of women organized in Gallatin County was the Housekeepers’ Club, first called the Housekeepers’ Society, organized in April 1894, and having continuous existence, helping to organize the state federation in 1904, affiliating also with the General Federation of Women’s clubs. The Woman’s Club was organized in 1911, and is the largest club in the county. The Gallatin County federation of women’s clubs includes these two clubs, also the Belgrade Woman’s Club, Manhattan Woman’s Club, Three Forks Woman’s Club; Willow Creek Study Club, Leverich Woman’s Club, O. D. O. Club, Helpful Hour Club and Bozeman Business and Professional Woman’s Club. They aid in much civic work, the Tuberculosis Seal Sale and in the Sunshine Health Camp.
The first fire company in Bozeman was organized in 1880, with A. P. Clark as chief. The only facilities for fighting fires at that time were wooden buckets and homemade hooks and ladders. The only water supply was from private wells and from the streams running through the city. In 1884, the Bozeman Volunteer Fire Department was organized with 50 members, William G. Alexander being chosen chief; James F. Keown, assistant chief; Horace Cleveland, foreman hose company; Lon Clark, foreman engine company; William Boyle, foreman hook and ladder company. Large wells were dug on Main Street, a steam engine was purchased and with hose carts and hook and ladder truck, improvements were made and a hose tower was erected. Other improvements were made when the city water system was installed, and later with the installation of electricity, alarm boxes were installed and with the installation of automobile trucks and up-to-date equipment, Bozeman has a most satisfactory system in 1932, with some paid officers and a large list of volunteer firemen.
The Bozeman Board of Trade was organized in March 1883, with Walter Cooper, president; J. V. Bogert, secretary; J. S. Mendenhall, first vice president; General L. S. Willson, second vice president, and Peter Koch, treasurer. This organization was succeeded later by the Gallatin Valley Club that was largely a social organization. The Gallatin Valley Commercial Club was incorporated in 1914, for the purpose of promoting the business, commercial, financial and social welfare of Bozeman and Gallatin County, the Gallatin Valley Club having assumed some of these functions for a few years, but not making the official record as a Commercial club. The social rooms in the Story Block included an elaborate grain and grass display on the walls in 1908. A fire destroyed much of this a few years later. The club was succeeded by the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce in 1916, still functioning with an executive board and a paid secretary in 1932.
Other cities in Gallatin County now have their commercial clubs, carrying on work for their communities and the part of the valley in which they are located.
Pioneer Building and Loan Association of Bozeman, organized in September 1888, with a continued existence has enabled many persons in Bozeman and vicinity to become owners of homes. It was started largely for the purpose of helping people with small means to build or buy, and the association has proved a good place for small investments.
The first annual fair of the Eastern Montana Agricultural, Mineral and Mechanical Association was held at Gallatin City, October 7, 1872, according to announcement made by W. S. McKenzie, president and R. B. Wells, secretary. An extensive race program was the most important feature of this fair and others following arranged by the same organization.
The Interstate Fair association was formed by a group of Bozeman businessmen in 1903 with Frank L. Benepe, president and R. D. Steele, secretary. Previous to that time, races had been conducted every fall on a track a mile south of Bozeman, under an association with J. V. Bogert secretary-treasurer, and a group of local directors. The association formed in 1903, leased a tract of 90 acres north of the city, that was later purchased, and while fairs were conducted by the association, for a few years, the management was later put into the hands of a County Fair board appointed by the county commissioners, with a paid secretary, and with a number of fine buildings for exhibits and one of the best race tracks in Montana, the Inter-Mountain fair is carried on every fall, H. P. Griffin being the present secretary.