Montana History:  Bozeman




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  Located on I-90 north of Yellowstone National Park surrounded by mountains, Bozeman is home to Montana State University and is a technology hotspot in the state.

John Bozeman

Born in Pickens County, Georgia, in 1835, John Bozeman left his wife and three children in 1858 to seek gold in the West.  Unable to make a go of it in Colorado, Bozeman left Colorado in 1862 and came to Montana.  Realizing that he could do better by mining the miners, Bozeman and John Jacobs in 1863 blazed the Bozeman Trail, a cutoff route from the popular Oregon Trail, and went into business guiding miners to Virginia City through the Gallatin Valley.

Bozeman decided to settle in the fertile Gallatin Valley, and in 1864, Bozeman, along with partners Daniel Rouse and William Beall, platted the town which would bear his name. Passing directly through the Gallatin Valley, the Bozeman Trail was used by travelers until 1868, at which point it was closed because of the Indian Wars. But the Trail had served its purpose as it attracted emigrants to the Gallatin Valley.
John Bozeman's story did not end well, however.  In April 1867, he was murdered under mysterious circumstances east of present-day Livingston, along the Yellowstone River. His partner at the time, Tom Cover, reported they had been attacked by a band of Blackfeet Indians. However, discrepancies in Cover's story led later historians to suspect Bozeman was murdered, either by Cover, or possibly by a jealous husband.
The report of Bozeman's death at the hands of Blackfeet, so close to town, led to hysteria among area residents, and in response to the perceived Indian threat Fort Ellis was established three miles east of Bozeman.

John Bozeman is buried in Sunset Hills Cemetery.

To learn more about Bozeman and Gallatin Valley history, visit the Gallatin Historical Society and Pioneer Museum in downtown Bozeman.


Montana History Net is produced by Bruce Gourley.  Photographs, except Clark signature, copyright Bruce Gourley.