If you follow the library’s Facebook page, you may have noticed an old man in a top hat making a frequent appearance throughout the library.
The original Granville Stuart (1834-1918), nicknamed “Mr. Montana,” was well-known in early Butte. Throughout his life, he was a prospector, miner, merchant, writer, gunsmith, blacksmith, butcher, horse-trader, real estate speculator, banker, rancher, diplomat, and librarian who played a significant role in the early history of Montana.
Stuart crossed the continental divide October 10, 1857, seven years before Montana officially became a territory. Before settling in Butte, Stuart led a colorful life, which included marrying a twelve-year-old Shoshoni girl Awbonnie Tookanka in 1862 at the age of 24, expanding his family by eleven children, leading a vigilante band–“Stuart’s Stranglers”–that executed alleged rustlers, remarrying a year after Awbonnie’s death in 1888 to a 26 year old Allis Belle Brown Fairfield, working as ambassador of Paraguay and Uraguay for President Cleveland beginning in 1894, and continually trying to overcome precarious financial circumstances as he moved from one venture to the next.
In 1898, the Stuarts returned to Montana and settled in Butte where they managed a boarding house called The Dorothy. In 1905 he became the head librarian at Butte Public Library. He retired in 1914 and devoted himself to writing, a life-long pursuit that left behind various diaries and books.
To learn more about the real Granville Stuart, Montana: the Magazine of Western History has a fascinating article about him in the Autumn, 1986 issue.