Frank Stephens

Born in Ireland on March 17, 1836

Passed on December 7, 1898 in Butte, Montana

Frank Stephens was orphaned at age eleven. His parents, Timothy Stephens and Mary Dunn died in 1847 during The Irish Potato Famine. Frank Stephens was Hannah Jane (Jennie) Stephens - Vincent’s father. He was born in Ireland on March 17, 1836. The Irish Potato Famine occurred from 1845-1849. After his parent’s deaths, Frank sailed to the United States and made his way west to the Utah Territory

To earn a living, Frank bought a wagon and a team of horses. He filled the wagon with supplies to sell to the miners in Alder Gulch and Virginia City in the Montana Territory. The supplies were sold for gold and then he would return to Salt Lake City for more supplies.

On one of his trips to Salt Lake City, Frank met Providence Jane Parker. Providence Jane Parker was born on March 24, 1844 in Ekfrid, Middisex, Ontario, Canada. Frank asked her if she would wait for his return in two years when they could marry, or if she would go with him and have the first preacher they met along the way marry them. She hopped on the wagon and headed for Montana. Their first child was Hannah Jane (Jennie) Stephens (1865-1959). Jennie is reported to have been the first white child born in the Montana Territory.

Frank and Providence Jane later had three boys; Thomas, Will, and Hal. The three brothers married three sisters: Thomas Stephens married Emma Cousins, Will Stephens married Ione Lucy Cousins, and Hal Stephens married Ruth Cousins.

In addition to being a prominent developer and business man in Butte, Montana,  Frank Stephens was also the president of the Lost Creek School District #5

Frank and Providence Jane Stephens' Ranch was in the Lost Creek area. It was located two miles east of Anaconda, Montana. From the main highway turn left and go an additional 3 miles Frank Stephens' ranch was on the slopes of the foothills to the west not far from the County Poor Farm.

Frank Stephens died on December 7, 1898 at the age of 62 from a ruptured appendicitis.

Providence Jane Parker – Stephens died on January 4, 1913 at the age of 69 on the Vincent Ranch in Grantsdale, Montana.

"For every mountain I have climbed
Every raging river crossed
You were the treasure I longed to find
Without your love I would be lost"

In this life I was loved by you​

Performed by Collyn Raye

Written by Allen Shamblin and Mike Reid

Stephens Block in 2020

Montana and West Park

Butte, Montana

Elevation: 5717’

Editor's note:

Frank Stephens was a wealthy man who owned real estate in Butte, Montana. Upstairs in the, "Stephen's Block" were rooms for rent for men who had moved to the west seeking their fortunes. Marge Vincent - Coombs wrote , "the rooms were small with a bathroom down the hall." Also upstairs was a brothel. It is believed that Frank Stephens did not run the brothel, he just owned the building and the property. At street level in the Stephens Block was either a grocery store or meat market.

Stephens Block in 1979

Geneva Vincent - Lindgren

Daughter of Clinton Joy and Jennie Vincent

Stephens Block

1979

Geneva Vincent - Lindgren

Daughter of Clinton Joy and Jennie Vincent

Upstair at the Stephens Block

Notice the original woodwork from the 1890's

Photo taken 1979 by Marge Vincent-Coombs

From Marge Vincent-Coombs, 1979

When Frank Stephens died on December 7, 1898 he was laid for viewing in the corridor

(at Geneva Vincent-Lindgren’s back). Geneva recalled it as a large place but was surprised to find it quite small now that she is no longer 5-years old!

The family lived in the rooms to her left.

Montana State Boiler Inspector’s Certificate from the "Stephens Hotel" dated September 21, 1955. My dad, Charles Herbert Vincent, discovered this certificate in the basement of the Stephens Block on his last visit to Butte in the 1980's.

Frank Stephens

1836 - 1898

 

Frank Stephens migrated from Utah to Montana in 1864. He worked as a teamster for the government and later was one of the farmers who supplied the food needs of the early day miners in the Virginia City (Montana) area; then in the Deer Lodge Valley to the miners of the French and German Gulches. His was an Horatio Alger story of a poor Irish immigrant lad finding fame and fortune in a new land. In 1890 he moved to Butte where industry and wise investments brought him both prominence and wealth.

 

His daughter Hannah Jane (Jennie) Stephens was truly a pioneer child, one of the first white children born in Montana Territory, and as such she experienced many hardships, which developed in her sterling qualities of industry, thrift, cheerfulness, charity, perseverance, courage and fortitude. Her abiding faith in God and her optimism were a remarkable example to all those who knew and loved her.

 

Every effort was made to insure her education. Her father, self-educated, made arrangements to house a summer school for her and her brothers and the few children of the area, in his granary. Later the teacher was boarded in the Stephens’ home for five additional months each year in order that the children might be tutored.

 

Frank Stephens was instrumental in securing the first log school building in the Deer Lodge Valley, known as the Willow Glenn School. It was six miles from the Stephens’ home and Jennie and her oldest brother attended it during the summer months of operation, traveling to and from the school once a week, taking clothing and provisions to last them while they lodged with the teacher.

 

It was during this time that Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce Indians, driven from their tribal lands in Idaho and harassed by the U. S. Army, came into Montana seeking peace and an escape to Canada. The settlers, suspicious of their intent and aroused to a panic by the propaganda of the time, sprung into action to defend their families and their land.

 

The Stephens’ home was in the Deer Lodge Valley. Her father and his team of strong horses were drafted into service to protect the settlers. During the day, Jennie, then age 12, and her mother and younger brothers hid in the grain field fearful of attack at any time. At night Mrs. Stephens would creep cautiously back to the house to cook and prepare food for them for the next day.

 

Wild rumors spread throughout the Valley that the Indians were coming destroying everything before them. It was a fearful task for a young girl to undertake; to comfort her small brothers left in her care during those dark nights. It made a lasting impression on her.

 

The Indians never came but instead passed through the Bitter Root Valley concentrating on the Big Hole where an encampment of Nez Perce was ambushed by the Army and the last major engagement of the Indian Wars in the Northwest was fought.

 

After attending the elementary school at Deer Lodge she entered the College of Montana, which was located there. Family records show that she completed three years and one of her report cards, dated March 1888, shows the following grades:  Elocution, 90; Latin, 92; Music, 91; Geometry, 94; and Painting, 93.

 

Other mementoes are piano and elocution recital programs dated June 15, 1887 and June 12, 1888 and her treasured Autograph Book which contains penmanship the quality of which is no longer seen, and the names of classmates from Michigan, Utah, Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio as well as Montana Territory. From that book:

 

“Nothing is lost that adds to the elevation of our thoughts since thoughts become the fibers of the will and will is the iron muscle by which mankind ascends the scale of human possibilities.”

 

 

Written by Marge Coombs-Vincent, Frank Stephens great-granddaughter

Excerpt from her 1977 book, Remembering Jenny and Clinton Vincent

Providence Jane Parker - Stephens

Born March 24, 1844, Ekfrid, Middisex, Ontario, Canada

Passed on January 9, 1914 in Hamilton, Montana

History of Alder Gulch and Virginia City, Montana

In 1863 Bill Fairweather and his party discovered gold in southwestern Montana. They were on their way to Yellowstone Country from Bannack, Montana, but were waylaid by a band of Crow Indians. While hiding from the Indians in a gulch they found gold. They named the gulch after the alder trees lining the gulch. Alder was one of the great gold producers of all time. Alder Gulch was the site of the largest placer gold strike in world history. It produced $10,000,000.00 during the first year.

A year later the boomtown of Virginia City had a population of 10,000. People lived in makeshift tents and shacks and every third construction was a saloon. The site gave birth to two of Montana's most famous towns: Virginia City and Nevada City.

The discoveries at Alder Gulch drew people away from Bannack, reducing the population and making Virginia City the territorial capital from 1865 to 1875.

Internet Source for History of Alder Gulch:

http://goldwest.visitmt.com/listings/10343.htm

June 27, 2008

Originally submitted June 27, 2008

Updated: July 20, 2020

By, Robert Vincent