Vincent Ranch, Hamilton, Montana, 1914
History of The Vincent Ranch
Prior to moving to Hamilton in 1902, Clinton and Jennie Vincent, along with their children Frank Seymour, and Geneva, and Jennie’s mother, Jane Stephens, made two exploratory trips. It was a long, tiring journey leaving Anaconda about 7 in the morning and arriving in Hamilton between 11 and 12 at night. Hours were spent in Drummond awaiting the westbound train. The family stayed at the Hamilton Hotel and sought a place to live.
Jennie’s father, Frank Stephens, died suddenly of a ruptured appendix in December 1898. After Frank Stephens death, Jennie’s mother, Jane, came to make her home until her death at the age of 78 in 1914, with Jennie and Clinton. Jane was involved in the move to Hamilton. Frank Stephens was a wealthy man, so probably money from his estate was used to purchase The Vincent Ranch.
Clinton, Jennie, and Jane Stephens sold everything they had in 1902; went to Staggs Department Store in Anaconda and bought all new furniture—practically a railroad boxcar full that was then shipped to Hamilton.
The family rented three successive homes, each one a little larger than the last. The purpose of these moves was more space so that Jennie could operate a boarding-rooming house as a means of making a living. Frank Stephens had built a three-story building—the Stephens Block—in Butte where he and Jane had rented out space as housekeeping rooms. Jennie was acquainted with some of the procedures in such a venture.
The largest of the three homes in Hamilton was later known as the Dowling Mortuary. This beautiful house with its adjoining outbuildings, sat squarely in the middle of an entire block and was—and is today—surrounded by lovely shade trees. Here four or five people came to room and board with the Vincents.
In 1910 the family purchased the 160-acre McHatten Ranch which was built in the late 1800’s. It would be their home for the next 32 years. It was three miles south of Hamilton near Grantsdale. It consisted of 160 acres of land purchased for $5,000 and had irrigation water rights. Later the 160-acre adjoining Brown Ranch to the east was added. Two large irrigation canals ran through the property, making it very desirable farmland.
The buildings included a large, two-story, four-bedroom house with bath; a smaller house; a stone milk house; two barns; a granary; a blacksmithing shop; a smoke house; an icehouse and miscellaneous other small buildings. Other buildings were added later. The original owners had the foresight to plant numerous poplar and cottonwood trees whose generous shade cooled the farm buildings they surrounded. They grew to enormous size.
The crops raised included alfalfa hay, potatoes, various grains, sugar beets, field peas—not all of these were raised in any one year—and garden crops. Blackberries, raspberries and strawberries were raised to sell. There were two orchards planted with apples, cherries and other soft fruits. Chickens were raised and eggs or fryers marketed. Dairy cows were kept—probably a maximum of 8 or 10 milking at one time—and whole or separated milk sold. Hogs were raised to be used by the family or marketed. A team of work horses and two or three saddle horses completed the livestock.
Aunt Geneva recalls, “My Grandmother (Jane Stephens) raised turkeys….that was her hobby. She would get out in the night and see that the coyotes didn’t get them. She would have two or three dozen turkeys, which she would sell in the fall. She had to watch out for the gobbler and carry a good-sized stick with her to knock him off when he would chase after and jump up on her. She would swing the big stick around to scare him off.”
The ranch was sold in 1942 after Clinton death. Jennie would live to the age of 94. She was loved by all and passed away on June 17, 1959.
Author: Marjorie Vincent Coombs (Jennie and Clinton's granddaughter)