Please choose from articles below which were donated to our website from Legh's family. We are so grateful to them for sharing this wonderful part of our American history.

1981 - NPS Research Report, Chronicle of World On Wheels.pdf

Building the Pacific Railroad.pdf

Independence in All Things,
Neutrality in Nothing.pdf

The Memoirs of Miller Freeman.pdf

Vagabond Newspaper.pdf

The Atlantis Newspapers

MEMORY'S BEGINNING
(a story of his mother)

by
Legh Freeman, Jr.

My first actual recollection is a tragic one. In the summer of 1879, five years after he had settled in Ogden, Utah, my Father was attracted by the great mining development centering at Butte, Montana, and determined to move to that city, which he did.

A short time after he had become established in Butte, my Mother and her family of three children set out to follow. There were two covered wagons which contained the household effects, the Freeman printing equipment, the children, my Mother and a printer. My Mother drove one wagon and the printer the other. We moved North over the road which ran, and runs there still today, from Ogden north to Butte. It was called then the Corinne Road and indeed it is called that by some people to this day. After crossing the Monida Pass between Idaho and Montana the road winds down into the valley of Red Rock Creek. As we were traveling along somewhere in the upper Red Rock Creek Valley a shotgun which was carried hanging in the loops of some straps in the wagon became dislodged and fell into the spokes of the front wheel of the wagon in such a way that it was discharged, wounding my Mother in the hip.

The explosion of that gun and the confusion which followed are my earliest recollection.

What went before and what followed in the next few days are known to me only from others. I do remember the sound of the gun, the smoke, the outcry, the confusion. It was an event so tragic and dramatic that it was burned into my recollection and consciousness indelibly even though I was but four years old.

In my own memory the next few days are blank. My Mother was taken to Butte and placed in a hospital. Just how, I cannot say. My next memory is when they took me to the hospital that I might see my Mother before she died. This bitter visit I remember well. I was ushered in to see my mother, and I remember vividly that she said to me: "Legh, I know you will always be a good boy".

Those are the only words of my mother which I can recall, but from the uttering of them the years are plain in my recollection.
When he reached Butte in 1879 my father revived the "Frontier Index", the name of which he soon changed to "Butte Inter-Mountain".

 

 

 

 

 

Legh Richmond Freeman

Legh was born in 1842 in Culpeper, Virginia. True to his southern roots, he joined Morgan’s Raiders during the Civil War, and because of his telegraphy skills was sent behind enemy lines to tap into telegraph wires, sending false information to the North and bring true information to Morgan. He was captured in Kentucky in May, 1864 and sent to Rock Island prison. In February, 1865, he became a "Galvanized Yankee," put on a blue uniform and was sent west to Fort Kearney, Nebraska Territory, where he arrived almost the same day the war ended.

Legh first became the telegraph operator at Fort Kearney. Then by December 1865, he bought an old printing press and started the Kearney Herald where he would take news right off the Overland Telegraph wire and put it in the paper. But the troops were leaving the fort for action out west, and the Union Pacific Railroad construction was fast approaching. So Legh wrote for his brother Fred to join him, moved the press out of the Fort to the town of Kearny, NT, and began the newspaper in earnest. Legh became a travelling reporter throughout the west and Fred handled the day-to-day newspaper operations. As the railroad construction passed Kearny, Fred moved the press by wagon to North Platte, NT, then to Julesburg, CT, where the name was changed to The Frontier Index. This became known as the famous “Press on Wheels” which moved westward from town to town in a wagon along with the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.

In 1866, Legh attended Colonel Carrington’s peace conference at Fort Laramie with Red Cloud and Jim Bridger, drove wagons and horses into Montana towrite about the Yellowstone country which he had heard much about from Jim Bridger, even built a small fort on the Yellowstone River 20 miles below the present day Livingston where he spent the winter of 1866-1867. The Crow even had a nick name for him, “Big Jaw” because he talked so much. He was the first to ever write about the Yellowstone country, sending his writings by courier back to Fred to include in The Frontier Index, which was then sent by train to the east coast.

Legh also explored the west from the Colorado River in northern Arizona, rode up over Cahone Pass into the San Bernadino Valley, into the Los Angeles area, then boarded a ship to Monterey and San Francisco, writing all the time as he explored. He was really the first to write about the west and have those writings back to the east coast within a week. People in New York, Boston, Philadelphia were getting a first-hand account of what life was really like out west. These writings were absolutely classic, based mostly in fact, but often sprinkled with a little “campfire yarn” that Legh had obviously learned sitting around campfires with mountain men in Montana, including the best story teller ever, Jim Bridger.

In July, 1868, Legh rejoined his brother Fred at The Frontier Index in Laramie as the railroad construction neared that area. The paper was subsequently moved to Benton, DT, Green River, DT, Green River, WY and lastly to Bear River City, WY. Legh and Fred probably intended to remain in Utah, which was why they met with Brigham Young in 1868 seeking and obtaining his support for their gentile business. But with The Frontier Index’s violent rhetoric against lawlessness, or possibly their attempt to expose the Credit Mobiler fraud, a gang of railroad workers rode into Bear River City on Nov 20, 1868, broke their friends out of the jail, and burned much of the town, including the Frontier Index.

Legh went back to Virginia, gave lectures along the east coast as a publicity man for the railroad, and gave speeches of his own where he charged admission, would dress up in his buckskins and talk about life in the west. And he met and married Ada Miller in 1869, and together they came west, first to Rock Springs, Wyoming, where Legh hoped to benefit from the lucrative coal mines there. But that venture was not successful, so Legh, Ada and their two sons arrived in Ogden, Utah, 1874 believing they had the support of the Mormons after having met with Brigham Young himself 5 years earlier.

Legh and Ada began publishing The Ogden Freeman, a four page, semi-weekly paper, with the first issue on Sept 5, 1876. Ada handled most of the day-to-day operations of the paper while Legh travelled to outlying towns to gather news and sell advertising. They must have been optimistic about their business chances as they had plans to convert The Ogden Freeman to a daily paper in December, 1876.

It’s hard to know for sure what happened, whether it was Legh’s outspoken editorial nature, or because he and Ada were gentiles deep into Mormon country, or whether the local community simply chose to support another newspaper, but they did lose their support. And once the local community turned against Legh, it was only a matter of time before they could run him out of Ogden, which they did.

Legh and Ada had decided on Montana, and while Legh was already in Glendale and Butte getting his business set up, Ada loaded two wagons full of personal belongings and printing equipment, with her four sons, Randolph (9), Hoomes (6), Legh Miller (4) and Smohalla (1) and with Ada driving one of the wagons and a printer the other, headed north to Glendale and Butte, Montana.