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Nelson Story…by Lizzie

Nelson Story

Photo of Nelson Story from the billings gazette

Nelson Story was born April 4th, 1838 I Meigs County, Ohio.  He was the youngest son of Ira and Hannah Story.  He is known today as a cattleman, rancher, businessman, banker, real estate developer and pioneer.

Story was enrolled at Ohio University for two years and traveled west to Montana during the gold rush of the early 1860s.  He made his way west to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Territory where was hired as a bull whacker.  He spent time hauling timber in Missouri where he met Ellen Trent and married her in Kansas in 1862.  Nelson and Ellen had seven children.  The children who survived to adulthood were Nelson Story, Jr., T. Byron Story and Walter P. Story.

In 1863 Story left Colorado with a pack of mules and ox team and headed for Montana Territory.  He arrived in Bannock, Montana I June 1863 after a major gold strike at Alder Gulch, Montana.  Shortly afterwards Story worked on a gold mine near Alder Gulch.  After a few weeks he earned $30,000 in gold and later exchanged it for $20,000 in cash and traveled to Texas where he invested the money to pay for cattle to drive up to Montana.   Story was a part of one of the best known cattle drives which went from Texas to Montana with 1,000 head of longhorns along the Bozeman Trail in 1866.

Story’s success with his cattle made business and other business activities made him one of Bozeman’s first millionaires.  He is considered to be responsible for the early growth of Bozeman.  Story built the first Story Mansion on Main Street in the 1880s.  In 1910 he built another Story Mansion at the corner of College and Willson for his son T. Byron Story, which is still standing today.  Story helped finance the first bank in the county.  However, the bank failed during the Panic of 1863 and never reopened.  In 1882 he opened the Story Flour Mill, which was a major source of flour for the US Army as well as the Crow Indian reservation.  In 1893 Story donated land and facilities to the Agricultural College of the State of Montana, which would later become Montana State University.  In his later years he became a prominent real estate developer in Los Angeles, California.

Nelson Story died in 1926 in Bozeman.  Nelson and Ellen Story are buried in Sunset Hills Cemetery in Bozeman along with several of their children.  Nelson Story, Jr. and T. Byron Story founded the Ellen Theatre in 1919 for their mother.  In 1959 Story was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City as a Great Westerner.  In 2008 Story was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame as a founding Legacy member.



1. Schontzler, Gail.  Bozeman Daily Chronicle.  January 2011.

2. Nelson Story. Wikipedia.

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