After the Civil War many women were widowed with large families. Because of the law of the land, other than finding another man to marry, very few options were open to support their families. Men on the east coast were few due to the casualties of war and westward immigration. Mary, the widowed mother of Nannie, Julia and Rozenia Gasper was left to support seven children on $7.00 a month government pension.
Mary’s mother, Nancy Flood shown in the 1850 census to be 40 years old with husband Dominicus 15 years her senior, had 17 year old Sarah and 10 year old Emery living in the household. Her daughter Mary Elizabeth was already married to James Gasper. By 1860 Nancy had a second son William (8) with Sarah out of the household. By 1870, Nancy (60) was widowed with 30 year old Emery and 18 year old William living with her. Being a woman of grit, Nancy Flood decided the best place to be was in the west. Bringing grand daughter Rozenia with her, they traveled from Surrey, Maine to Beartown, Montana, sometime after the 1870 census. Daughters Mary and Sarah with husband E.J. Milliken also followed but the date is uncertain.
The actual camp called Bear was platted in a quarter section near the juncture of First Chance Gulch with Deep Creek. A short distance up Deep Creek was a quarter mile crescent of flat ground, one normal city block in width. This is where the town was platted but before any tiny mining-camp lots could be sold all were preempted by stores, blacksmith and sawyer shops, log hotels, feed corrals, Chinese wash and opium houses, barber shops, bath houses, a brewery (Krogers) and 17 saloons.
When they arrived in Beartown, jobs for women would have been plentiful with miners requiring meals, laundry and entertainment. It is not known exactly where they worked. It is known that Julie Gasper age 16, first went to a sister’s home in California then to New Chicago, Montana and apparently Nannie traveled directly from Surrey, Maine, possibly to Drummond where she arrived in 1880. All three of the sisters found single well established men and were married within a few years.
Rozenia married Allen McPhail in 1879 and settled down on his ranch in the Flint Creek Valley with Grandma Flood living with them in the 1880 Census. Allen arrived in Montana in 1865 and engaged in mining at Henderson Gulch. In 1871 he homesteaded and began ranching near New Chicago. His brother Angus and Young Henderson, who arrived before Allen, sold him their property early on. His brother Archie arrived at Bannock in 1862, then lived on a ranch near New Chicago that he had settled in the early 1860’s and operated The McPhail Hotel at New Chicago.
Rozenia and Allen had four children: Emery, Nettie, Annie (Enman) and Christine (Nakken). They lived out their life on the New Chicago ranch with Allen dying on January 23, 1930 at the age of 94 and Rozenia following him on October 2, 1932 at the age of 84.
Nannie (Nancy) Gasper married James B. Featherman in 1882. James arrived in Montana in 1878 and became a clerk at his Uncle’s store in New Chicago. By 1882, the Featherman’s had a second store in Drummond. In 1888 James was appointed Postmaster of Drummond and served that position for 38 years. He was appointed, then elected County Commissioner in 1896. James age 62, died June 14, 1918. They had one daughter Linda (Meyers). Nannie lived in the Drummond home until her death November 16, 1944 just shy of her 86th birthday.
Julia Gasper married Frank D. Morse, May 5,1883. Frank arrived in Montana at the age of 22; engaged in the lumber business in Philipsburg; a store at Elk City; mined at Bear; then homestead 160 acres near Drummond. This ranch grew to 1,600 acres. Frank was Constable of Drummond in 1900; Granite County Deputy Sheriff 1898-1902; 1906-1910 and Sheriff 1910-1912. He was also president of the Drummond State Bank. They had two sons: Frank M. and Verdine B. Frank died at home on November 1, 1922. Julie lived on the ranch for 40 years, then moved into a home in Drummond where she died on the 18th of December 1949.
Grandma Nancy Jane Wormwood Flood died June 2, 1896. Sarah and E.J. Milliken both died January 15, 1890. Research has failed to disclose the cause of their death. Mary Gasper died after a hard life, at the age of 48, August 2, 1881.
Grandma Flood, two daughters, three granddaughters, their husbands and many descendants rest (some on original McPhail land) on the hillside at the Valley Cemetery, looking at the valley where their hard work contributed to this bucolic land.