Jack L. Demmons Collection.
Jack Lawrence Demmons was born June 15, 1930, in West Riverside. His family lived on 4th Street, two doors down from Finn Hall. His father came to Bonner in the 1880s to work for the mill. The family moved to Piltzville in 1937. He attended Bonner School, Missoula County High School, and the University of Montana (then Montana State University), enrolling in the latter in 1948. He left Piltzville for the military in 1952. Jack's mother, Aafje deWit Demmons, was head cook at Bonner and served as school clerk from 1956-1976.
While Jack was superintendent of Bonner School (1974-1985) he started the Bonner School historic photo collection out of a love for and interest in the area's history. Many of the photos helped illustrated "A Grass Roots Tribute: The Story of Bonner, Montana," which was published by the Bicentennial Committee of Bonner School in 1976.
Jack continued adding to the photo collection until 1985, collecting more than 1,600 from 50-60 current and past residents of the area. Copies of the photos, most of them 10 inches by 7 1/2 inches, were professionally mounted on 200 heavy poster boards and displayed for a number of years in the school gym during annual Old Timers' Days celebrations.
The photographs were used extensively in historic research required by the Superfund law when the Milltown Reservoir was designated a Superfund site in 1983. In fact, the photos were recognized as being such a valuable resource that preservation of the collection was mandated in the Consent Decree, the formal agreement between the parties involved in the cleanup of the Milltown Reservoir, signed in 2005.
The Milltown Superfund Site Redevelopment Working Group was tasked with carrying out the scanning project. Completed in 2007 at the University of Montana, the digital photo collection is online at the Montana Memory Project for the use of not only the Bonner community and students but also for the general public and researchers. Bonner School Trustees have enthusiastically endorsed this opportunity.
Demmons’ contribution to preserving Bonner area history didn’t stop with the photo project. On July 16, 2014 he presented six boxes of articles gleaned from Missoulian archives to the Bonner Milltown History Center and Museum, representing six years of research into Bonner and neighboring communities ranging in date from the 1800s to the 21st century. Read Missoulian article.