This was a token that was saved by my great grandfather who first arrived in Montana in 1881. It would seem to have been saved by him and kept with him for some reason (he did almost once drown in the Missouri River) as a memento. It would be quite likely that he did go through the place.
Junction City was a rather wild Western town on the Yellowstone River which was first set up when a trading store was built in 1877. This store did well with miners and soldiers in the area and another store was thus established. In 1880 the place had a population of 41 people. The main street of Junction faced the river.
Brown and Davis built the first ferry across the river in 1878. “It was at first a swing ferry with an anchor up the river on the south side where there was a bend., the boat being let down from one bank to another.”
“Junction City long had a reputation as a “wide open” town. In 1883 there was 14 saloons and three dance halls in the village. During the building of the Northern Pacific railway, however, it escaped some of the flood of undesirable citizens that made construction towns along the lines places of bloodshed. About 10 miles east, Kurtzville, had the reputation of during its brief existence of being the worst town in the territory. When the railway built beyond the Big Horn river, Kuntzville was, however, soon abandoned.”
Justice could be sort of rudimentary;
“Billy McCormick, according to one of these stories, was arrested for striking Frank Campbell with an axe. Billy, who was not a relative of Paul McCormack, was the mail carrier, and on his arrest claimed immunity, but Burr, the justice, held him for trial. He placed bonds of $50 and when Judge J. R. Goss, who was county attorney, protested the smallness of the bail, Burr replied that an axe was not a deadly weapon but an instrument to cut wood with. The bond was raised to $250, however, but McCormack left the county after placing the bond.”
“During the time when horse stealing was rampant in central Montana, Junction City was on the trail of a large band of thieves operating between Wyoming and the Canadian line and Junction City merchants got a good share of business from the passing bandits, particularly the saloons and dance halls. There was an unwritten agreement by which the property of the townsmen was unmolested while the Junction City folks did not interfere with the rustler’s movements. But Granville Stuart and his “regulators” shortly afterward cut off this source of revenue.”
“On April 8, 1883, Junction was visited by a destructive fire that started at the Brown & Davis saloon and lodging house (?), destroying several adjoining buildings at a loss of $10,000.”
As the saloons were being threatened the contents of which were being passed down the line of citizenry who were in the bucket brigade and….”by the time the fire was out there were only five sober men left in the town.”
Gustave Benjamin Matthew was one of three card players at a place he later recognized as Three Forks in Montana. The other two people were a French Canadian and an Indian. He last visited Montana in 1945 at the age of 80 or 81. His father, Robert Adolf Julius Matthew, was German from Silesia, may have got caught up in the revolutionary fervor of 1848, did not like the nature of the German rule in the area, emigrated, had strong abolitionist sentiments (possibly in part because of that experience) enlisted in the Union army at about 39, discharged because of age after Antietam, and my great grandfather had to elope with his wife because her father was a southerner. We feel that she saw the error of her ways.
~ Duff Malkin