|Jeanette Gemmell |
(1852 - 1914)
Courtesy of Sandra Baril
Reverend Hugh Duncan was one of the first Methodist ministers in Montana and one of the founders of the Masonic order in the state. In 1883 he was grand master of the Masonic Lodges of Montana. His son James followed in his footsteps in many ways. James Duncan worked in mining for twenty years and then, like his father, he changed to farming. He was very successful, owning an excellent farm property. He was an honored member of the Masonic fraternity and a charter member of the Sheridan Lodge, serving four times as Master of the Lodge. He and Jeanette were both devout Christians and served faithfully in the Methodist Episcopal Church in Sheridan. Jeanette founded the Ladies Aid Society of Sheridan. Both she and James were “possessed of high ideals, and led [lives] of integrity and industry.”(2) The marriage of James and Jeanette produced a large family—ten grandchildren for both Hugh Duncan and James Gemmell.
|James and Jeanette Gemmell Duncan|
Courtesy of Reed Russell
These original Ruby Valley settlers had fascinating tales to tell about the early days of Montana. For example, children and adults alike had to create their own amusement, especially during the long winters. So they had dances, like the one held in James Gemmell’s big red barn, and they also put on plays. James Duncan recalled performing in a home-made rendition of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Since there were only boys in the cast, his brother Tom had to borrow his mother’s clothes to play Lady Macbeth.(3)
|Virginia Gemmell Garrity|
Courtsey of Cathy Hall
The family keepsakes were never unearthed. By the time the boys decided to open the underground vault, the landmarks had been changed, making it impossible to locate the correct spot.
|The Gemmell brothers in 1900|
Charlie, Andy, John, and George
Courtesy of Cathy Hall
- Placer mining, as opposed to tunnel mining, refers to mining for precious metals found in the sand or gravel of stream-beds.
- James Duncan obituary, The Butte Miner, October 17, 1926; The Madison County Forum, October 22, 1926. Montana Historical Society, “The Pioneers”, author unknown; Jeanette Gammell Duncan obituary, Sheridan Forum, August 14 1914.
- Montana Historical Society, “The Pioneers”, author unknown
- Obituary of Virginia Gemmell Garrity, Montana Standard, Butte, Montana, 8 January 1942.
- 1900 U.S. Census, Bearmouth, Granite, Montana.