Montana is a state in the Western United States. The state's name is derived from the Spanish word (mountain). Montana has several nicknames, none official, including "Big Sky Country" and "The Treasure State", and slogans that include "Land of the Shining Mountains" and more recently "The Last Best Place". Montana is ranked 4th in size, but 44th in population and 48th in population density of the 50 United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller island ranges are found throughout the state, for a total of 77 named ranges that are part of the Rocky Mountains. The economy is primarily based on agriculture, including ranching and cereal grain farming. Other significant economic activities include oil, gas, coal and hard rock mining, lumber, and the fastest-growing sector, tourism. The health care, service, and government sectors also are significant to the state's economy. Millions of tourists annually visit Glacier National Park, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, and Yellowstone National Park.
The name Montana comes from the Spanish word Montaña, meaning "mountain", or more broadly, "mountainous country". Montaña del Norte was the name given by early Spanish explorers to the entire mountainous region of the west. The name Montana was added to a bill by the United States House Committee on Territories, which was chaired at the time by Rep. James Ashley of Ohio, for the territory that would become Idaho Territory. The name was successfully changed by Representatives Henry Wilson (Massachusetts) and Benjamin F. Harding (Oregon), who complained that Montana had "no meaning". When Ashley presented a bill to establish a temporary government in 1864 for a new territory to be carved out of Idaho, he again chose Montana Territory. This time Rep. Samuel Cox, also of Ohio, objected to the name. Cox complained that the name was a misnomer given that most of the territory was not mountainous and that a Native American name would be more appropriate than a Spanish one. Other names such as Shoshone were suggested, but it was eventually decided that the Committee on Territories could name it whatever they wanted, so the original name of Montana was adopted.
Note: The eastern and central parts of Montana were acquired as early as the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, but had no organized government until Nebraska Territory was established in 1854. The northwestern part of Montana was included in the newly established Oregon Territory in 1848. The whole of the present-day State was included in Idaho Territory in 1863, and was established as a separate territory in 1864 with essentially its present boundaries. Montana was admitted as a State on November 8, 1889. In 1860 census coverage of present-day Montana was limited to two forts enumerated in Nebraska Territory and some settlers in the Bitter Root Valley enumerated in Washington Territory. In 1870 census coverage included all of the present State.. Totals for 1890 and 1900 include population of certain Indian reservations not reported by county (1890: 10,765; 1900: 2,660).
Births, Marriages, and Deaths
FamilySearch.org has a variety of collections available for free online:
Outstanding guide to Montana family history and genealogy (FamilySearch Research Wiki). Birth, marriage, and death records, wills, deeds, county records, archives, Bible records, cemeteries, churches, censuses, directories, immigration lists, naturalizations, maps, history, newspapers, and societies.
The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries at the Newberry Library features an interactive map of the historical counties of Montana.