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Granville Stuart

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Granville Stuart, 1834-1918.  Montana pioneer legend.   Superb Autograph Letter Signed, Granville Stuart, two pages, 8" x 10", on stationery of the Legation of the United States, Montevideo, [Uruguay], February 10, 1896.

Stuart—gold miner, merchant, horse trader, cattle baron, rancher, banker, real estate investor, foreign ambassador, historian, and writer—is a legend in Montana history.   

This letter is a superb one in which Stuart recounts the scare of being attacked by a band of Native American Indians in the pre-railroad days of stage coaches in the Old West.  Responding to a request from a student at the State Normal School at Emporia, Kansas, now Emporia State University, for a handwritten letter containing "a reminiscence, a favorite sentiment, or a word of advice" for one of several autograph albums to be devoted to the country's prominent men and women, Stuart writes:  “As I am nothing if not generous, I will send you all three, the reminiscence being intimately connected with the plains of Kansas.  /  In 1866, long before the days of Pacific Railroads, one winter morning at Denver in company with several others I mounted the Overland Stage, eastward bound.  /  There was no snow on the ground, and we bowled merrily along until the second day[.]  Just as the Rocky Mountains that I loved so well sank below the horizon, a war party of Indians that I didn't love at all rose above it.  My hair also rose.  /  The driver let out a yell and his whip began to descend upon the horses in a way that astonished them, and we were soon flying across the prairie at a gait that made that old coach rock like a ship in a storm.  /  Fortunately for us just as our pursuers bullets began to whistle about us we came to a stage station where there was a small guard of soldiers, who hearing the din rushed out and opened fire on the Indians, wounding two, and causing them [to] draw off, while we escaped unhurt.  /  Ever since this little western episode my favorite sentiment has been, ‘It is better to be born lucky than rich,' in which I feel sure you will join me."  He finishes by taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to women's suffrage—a swipe at menerroneously believing that the State Normal School was an all-women's school:  “In view of the long desired, and now near approaching, change in the political status of the new—I mean of the fair sex, my advice is to ‘vote early and often,' thus casting confusion upon man, the tobacco chewing, whiskey drinking, animal, and founding a new and better civilization with him left entirely out.  /  Wishing grand success to the ‘State Normal,' and unbounded happiness to each and every one of the 1600 lovely young ladies that sent me such kindly greeting, I remain,  /  Your Obedient Servant . . . ."

This letter is an outstanding relic from the Old West.  Stuart has boldly penned and signed it in black.  The letter has two normal mailing folds, and there are mounting traces on the backs, a bit of soiling at the top of the first page, and slight wrinkling at the top and left margins of both pages from previous mounting in the album mentioned above.  Overall the letter is in fine to very fine condition.




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