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Ellen Trent Story…By Megan

Photo of Ellen Trent Story from The Museum of the Rockies

Photo of Ellen Trent Story from The Museum of the Rockies

Ellen Trent was born July 22, 1844 in Missouri.  Ellen grew up in Platte County.  Her family was really poor.  She had a sister, Jeanette.  She and her family moved to Kansas when she was ten.  That is when she met Nelson when they were still children.  Nelson Story was a farm boy.  Later, when Nelson Story would travel back through the area, he ran back into Ellen when they were older and ended up getting married.

They were married September 1862.  She was described as the perfect woman.  Miners would write in their diaries, “Ellen is a lovely vision.”  Her appearance was described to have clear cut features with black hair.  Some compared it to the color of a raven’s wing.  Ellen was a woman of energy and character, and people observed her as a devoted wife and mother.  They had 7 children, of which 4 survived to adulthood.  Her boys received a thorough education.  They settled in Bozeman in 1863 because of the gold rush.  Ellen Story was the first woman in Alder Gulch gold mining camp.  Ellen and Nelson Story opened a store together to serve the miners.  At 19, Ellen would bake pies and bread to sell.  Nelson mined a claim.  They became wealthy because they earned money from gold.  They sold the gold to buy cattle.  Nelson Story brought 3000 cattle back from Texas, while Ellen stayed behind.  Trading cattle brought in more money to invest in more businesses and real estate.  Even though Ellen became rich, she still liked to do house chores.  They would stay in Los Angeles during winter.  They built a big mansion in Bozeman across from the courthouse.  It was so formal looking that people would mistake it for the courthouse.  The mansion was donated to the city by the Story family and eventually torn down to make way for a school.

Ellen lived a long and productive life and helped the family in building the Bozeman community.  The Ellen Theatre on Main Street was named for Mrs. Story.  The theater is located on Main Street in downtown Bozeman.  Her sons paid for the theater construction to benefit the local community.  It was designed by the architect Fred Willson.  The theater opened on December 1, 1919.  In January 1925 it received a Wurlitzer organ.  Ellen Story died Feb. 9, 1924 at the age of 79.  Ellen is buried in the Story plot of Sunset Cemetery.  Marble columns from their mansion decorate their graves.

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