Glenn and LuThe Bonner Milltown History Center and Museum has conducted many oral history interviews. They will be available here in the future.

Other collections contain interviews by local residents. They are listed below.

Montanans at Work Oral History Project was conducted by the Montana Historical Society between 1981 and 1986. It focuses on Montanans who lived and worked in the state from 1910 to 1945. 400 interviews were conducted. The number of individual interview transcripts or summaries are provided in the inventory of interviews.

The main repository for the collection is
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts PO Box 201201
Helena MT 59620-1201
Telephone: 406-444-2681
Fax: 406-444-5297
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Montana Oral History Project

Several Bonner Milltown residents were recorded as part of the Montanans at Work Oral History Project at the University of Montana, in 1982. Interviewer was Matthew Hansen unless otherwise noted. Check for availability at the Mureen and Mike Mansfield Library Archives & Special Collections Level 4.

 

Mildred Dufresne
Dufresne describes work as a teacher in Missoula County and Milltown, Montana, during the 1930s and the 1940s. She also describes the communities of Milltown and Bonner, Mont., and how they changed since the 1970s.

 

Charles E. Gendrow
Gendrow describes working for the Western Lumber Company sawmill at Milltown and for the Anaconda Company sawmill at Bonner. He also discusses his firefighting experiences with the U.S. Forest Service and community life in Milltown.

 

Hazel Karkanan
Mrs. Karkanen discusses community life in Milltown, Montana, 1910-1950. She describes her father's butcher business, and her work as a teacher and librarian in Milltown, including the history of the Milltown Library.

 

Charles Kennedy
(interviewed by Laurie Mercier)
Interviewed by Laurie Mercier on 23 Apr. 1982 in Dixon, Mont., as part of the repository's Montanans at Work Oral History Project.; Topics include his work as a logger and teamster in Bonner and Milltown from 1908 into the 1930s; his work sheepherding, shearing, and lambing from the 1930s until World War II; his postwar return to logging; his involvement in the IWW; and his work for the Anaconda Copper Mining Company.

 

Earl Kolppa
Kolppa discusses work at the Anaconda Company sawmill in Bonner (1926-1970s), the organization of the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union in the 1940s and the Finnish community of Milltown. Other topics include the depression and Missoula, Montana.

 

Rita Lavoie
(interviewed by Mary Melcher)
LaVoie discusses the role of the housewife from the 1920s to the 1950s and the social life in Milltown, Montana, from 1905.

 

Arthur Lehti
Lehti discusses working for W.A. Clark, Jr. at the Western Lumber Company sawmill and as caretaker of Clark's Salmon Lake cabins; as well as the social life and some historical events of Milltown.

 

John and Genevieve LaForge McClellan
The McClellans discuss the community of Bonner, the growth of the Anaconda Company mill, and its effects on the community. John McClellan talks about his job as an accountant at the mill. Includes material relating to the LaForge family.

 

Donald Grant MacKenzie
(interviewed by Laurie Mercier)
MacKenzie discusses work as supervisor of logging operations for the Anaconda Company near the Blackfoot River. He tells of the development of this industry and the changes that occurred in the logging camps. Also includes information concerning the Industrial Workers of the World.

 

Burton C Nimochs
Nimochs describes work at the Anaconda Company sawmill in Bonner, Montana, and discusses the changes that unionization brought about. He also describes growing up in Bonner and life during the depression.

 

Donald L. Skillikorn
Skillicorn discusses work as a flunky, cook, swamper, and scaler for Anaconda Company in the Blackfoot River area from 1935 to 1959. He also describes the struggles of the Skillicorn family to survive on a small Blackfoot ranch during the depression. Also includes information concerning Don Mackenzie, supervisor of logging operations for the Anaconda Company in the Blackfoot River area.

 

Patrick Thibodeau
Thibodeau discusses working for the Anaconda Company sawmill in Bonner, Montana, which later became part of Champion International, and his involvement with the Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union. He also describes the communities of Bonner and Milltown. Depression Era in Missoula Oral History Collection (Mansfield Library)

 

1984 Mildred Dufresne
(interviewed by Gladys M. Peterson)
Dufresne tells the effects of the depression on people in the Bonner, Montana, area and relates her own experiences teaching and homemaking during that time.

 

Hazel Karkanen
(interviewed by Gladys M. Peterson)
Karkanen describes her life in the West Riverside, Milltown, Bonner area of Montana and the effects of the Depression on her way of life.

 

The Milltown Oral History Project
This collection of eight oral history interviews about the Milltown, Montana area were conducted by Caitlin DeSilvey and Minie Smith in fall 2007. The interviewees discuss topics such as: Northwestern Energy and the company acquisition of Milltown Dam, life in Milltown-Bonner, working for the Anaconda Mill, moving to West Riverside, growing up in the area and the changes that have occurred in the community, memories of Clark Mill, and the relationship between Milltown and Interstate 90. The original interviews are held as Oral History collection OH-419 at Archives & Special Collections, Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana. This collection includes 8 interviews.

The Milltown Oral History Project has interviews with Bill Scarborough and Mike Haenke, Dennis (Lefty) Pleasant, Emmett Smith, Ilona Hangas, John Price, Leo Dufresne and Theola Dufresne, Mike Nelson and Linda Schultz Nelson, and Wilfred V. Thibodeau. Available through the Univ. of Montana Archives.

 

Leo and Theola Dufresne
Leo Dufresne was born in Milltown, two doors down from the house where he currently resides, along the Blackfoot River. He and his wife met in high school in Missoula and were married in 1945 after he came back from the service. Leo worked at the Anaconda Mill in various positions, then for Champion and the Bonner School. His father worked for the Western Mill and then moved over to the Anaconda mill in the 1920s. The interview discusses not only his life growing up but that of their children in Milltown. They also express opinions on the changes that have occurred in Milltown.

Ilona Hangas
Ilona Hangas, the daughter of Rudy Ruana, founder of the Ruana Knifeworks, moved with her family to the West Riverside area from North Dakota when she was two months old. The interview discusses the development of her father's business as well as her experiences growing up in the area, including school and recreational activities. She continues to live in West Riverside today. She also discusses the changes that have occurred in the communities. Most striking is that she feels she is the only fully Finnish person living there today when once there were so many that Milltown was called Finntown.

Mike and Linda Nelson
Mike Nelson was born in Milltown, as were his parents. His grandfather and father worked at the Anaconda mill. Mike worked only one year at the mill; most of his life he worked for the Montana Highway Department. Except for a few months in Alaska, he lived all his life in Milltown until he and his wife moved to East Missoula in 1972. He still owns the house in Milltown he grew up in. Most of the interview concerns his early life in Milltown and his extensive knowledge of the people and businesses in Milltown. For Milltown the biggest change was the coming of the Interstate, and the interview discusses the effects that had.

Dennis E. Pleasant
Dennis Pleasant, known as "Lefty" lived most of his life in Bonner (house #36) until he and his wife built a house near Turah in 1961. Much of the interview discusses his childhood in Bonner and the types of activities he participated in. He has memories of the Clark Mill before it was demolished as well as the Anaconda Mill where both his father and he worked. He describes his various jobs at the mill, ending as a supervisor. He gives his opinions on the changes in Bonner and Milltown over the last 50 years.

John Price
John Price worked for Anaconda Operations in Butte before moving to Bonner with his family in 1962 as a draftsman for the Anaconda Products Plant. They lived in the Bonner housing. He also managed the Bonner and Milltown properties for Anaconda and later Champion. He worked for Champion in the engineering department until he retired in 1993. He discusses the houses and how they were maintained. His relates his experiences bringing up a family in Bonner and later West Riverside where they moved in 1993. The interview touches on a number of subjects including the Milltown Dam, the coming of the Interstate, and the lack of change in the Bonner community. He also discusses the current wood supply situation of the Stimpson Mill.

Bill Scarborough and Mike Haenke
Bill Scarborough was hired as foreman by Northwestern Energy in 2002 to handle the hydro operations and maintenance of the Milltown Dam. When Northwestern took over the Montana Power Company's operations, they had no hydro staff. They sold all of MPC dams to PPL (Pennsylvania Power and Light) with the exception of Milltown Dam. Mike Haenke had worked with Bill previously and was hired in 2004 by Northwestern to assist Bill in carrying out the dam operations. The interview covers the recent history of Milltown Dam after the takeover by Northwestern. They provide descriptions of the day-to-day operation of the turbines and generators. In addition, they discuss the preparation for and the activities beginning the decommissioning of the dam.

Emmett Smith
Emmett Smith was the manager of the Milltown Dam (Milltown MT) for Montana Power Company from 1971-1984. He and his family lived at the dam in one of the four company houses there. The interview describes not only his life at the dam, but also the early history of the dam after it was built by William Clark in 1908. He also discusses the relation of the dam to the Anaconda Mill, which after 1972 was owned by Champion International. He also discusses what use the public made of the dam property for fishing and boating and how the winter ice jams affected the dam and its operation.

Wilfred V. Thibodeau
Wilfred Thibodeau, Known as "Fritz", moved to the Milltown area in 1928 after his father had died, to be near his mother's family who had settled near Frenchtown. His brothers worked at the Anaconda Mill, but initially Fritz went to work for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the quartermaster's office. He was then hired as a civilian employee of the Army in purchasing for 10 years (at Fort Missoula and San Francisco). He returned to the area and worked in the Purchasing Dept. of the mill for 6 years, but left when they put him in the lumber yard. He would return to the mill in the purchasing department, eventually becoming the purchasing agent until he retired. Shortly after he was elected a Missoula County Commissioner in 1974 and served one 6 year term. The interview discusses his life in Milltown-Bonner and the changes he has observed, as well as his experiences raising a family in Pine Grove.

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