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The West Observed

This recently unearthed memoir describes my great-great-grandfather’s travels out West after the Civil War. James Howard Lowell ranged from Kansas to Denver, from Salt Lake City to Montana, in a six-year odyssey recounted by hand in a journal he commenced writing in 1872. When Lowell mustered out of the Massachusetts Thirteenth Regiment in 1865, the Boston native succumbed to the lure of the West, but his romantic vision would not survive the journey. He suffered a wagonload of calamities including Indian attack. Snow blind and nearly frozen to death in Dakota Territory, Lowell pushed on from Denver to Salt Lake City, where he met the prophet, Brigham Young. He tried his hand at placer mining in Montana, traded with the Crow and Gros Ventre Indian tribes, and made many harrowing, near-death escapes. As Benton, Montana's first attorney, he witnessed vigilante justice, and the memoir offers his perspective on the Marias Massacre of 1870. Montana Journey also features Civil War correspondence and letters to his future wife, Kate Mary Roberts.  — KS

Montana beauty shots by Harold Ross

The old-fashioned Pioneer is about extinct in this generation. You might find a specimen or relic bearing the trademark in fugitive retirement in the Rockies or the Sierras. Time and the railroads have done what wild beasts, Indians, and the privations of an inhospitable wilderness could not do—retire the Pioneer….The old pioneer was a tremendous force, and we live today largely on those sterling qualities that gave a fiber to his manhood…”
— James Howard Lowell

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James Howard Lowell
Editor, Katharine Seaton Squires

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Lowell's contributions to the Massachusetts Thirteenth circulars and letters to Katherine Mary Roberts

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