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I would like to thank the Friends of Fort Owen for honoring me at their first official annual meeting. As a trustee, it was my privilege to nominate John Owen to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, to which he was inducted in February, 2019. It was very nice of the friends to publicly thank me.

Major John Owen was a crucial and important early pioneer, trader, grist mill owner, innovative farmer and precise journalist. He has not been given much recognition for his accomplishments in the past, but many of us are trying to remedy that situation. Because of John Owen, Stevensville is recognized as the first town in Montana. His purchase of St. Mary’s Mission constituted the first property exchange in the state, and he recorded the first water rights—on Burnt Fork Creek, which the Fort Owen Ranch now uses.

Fort Owen State Park, on the Fort Owen Ranch preserves where the old trading post used to operate. The Friends of Fort Owen are a fledgling volunteer group dedicated to working with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Myla Yahrous, current owner of Fort Owen Ranch, and community members, to preserve this precious piece of Montana history.

If you would like to help in this regard, please contact Friends of Fort Owen through Margaret Gorski, 406-552-2072 or Ruth Baker, 406- 777-3201.

Thank you “friends,” I appreciate your efforts!

— Jane Lambert, Stevensville

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