Frank Bird Linderman

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The family of Frank Bird Linderman, a well-known early pioneer, and Robert and Sarah Hatfield have loaned the collection of Indian artifacts, sculptures, original paintings, and photography for exhibit in the Central School Museum. Linderman’s heirs are James B. Waller, Richard L. Waller, John E. Waller and Sarah Waller Hatfield. Included are Indian artifacts and photographs on loan from the Frank Bird Linderman Memorial Collection in the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana.





The bald eagle taxidermy displays in the Linderman Room are some of the oldest preserved in the United States, dating to 1892.
  • 1869: Born in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 25, the son of James Bird Linderman and Mary Ann Brannan Linderman. He attended schools in Ohio and Chicago, including Oberlin College.
  • 1885: Moved to Montana Territory at the age of 16.
  • 1885-1891: Worked as a trapper. First contacts with Montana’s Native Americans when he became acquainted with members of the Flathead and Kootenai tribes.
  • 1891: Met his wife, Minnie Jane Johns, in Demersville, MT, in 1891.
  • 1893: They were married in Missoula, MT. They had three daughters: Wilda, Verne, and Norma. Until 1897, worked in Butte, MT, as an assayer and then moved to Brandon, MT.
  • 1894: Daughter Wilda Jane was born in Butte, MT.
  • 1897: Daughter Verne was born.
  • 1898: Daughter Norma was born at Brandon, MT.
  • 1900: Moved to Sheridan, MT, where he was an assayer, furniture salesman, and newspaperman.
  • 1903 & 1905: Served in the Montana state legislature.
  • 1905-1907: Served as Montana’s Assistant Secretary of State. After that, he became a successful insurance agent with the Guardian Insurance Company of America.
  • 1911: Early interest in becoming a writer under the encouragement of Opie Read
  • 1915: Indian Why Stories: Sparks from War Eagle’s Lodge-Fire, his first collection of tales, was published.
  • 1916 Ran for the U.S. Congress.
  • 1917: Bought property at Goose Bay on Flathead Lake, moved his family from Helena, and pursued writing full-time. He also took up sculpting in bronze.
  • 1918: Ran for the U.S. Congress; Indian Lodge-Fire Stories was published.
  • 1919: Tried to save his Goose Bay home from a fire; health became fragile after the fire.
  • 1920: On a Passing Frontier: Sketches from the Northwest and Indian Old-Man Stories: More Sparks from War Eagle’s Lodge-Fire were published.
  • 1921: How It Came About Stories and Bunch-Grass and Blue Joint were published.
  • 1922: Lige Mounts, Free Trapper was published.
  • 1924: Ran for the U.S. Senate against Thomas J. Walsh. With his writing income still small, he bought the Hotel Kalispell and ran it for two years and then sold it at a profit.
  • 1926: Kootenai Why Stories was published.
  • 1929: Changed publishers and worked with Hermann Hagedorn of the John Day Company. Charlie Russell, a lifelong and close friend, illustrated many of his books.
  • 1930: Health began to fail. The Life Story of a Great Indian, Plenty-Coups, Chief of the Crows was published.
  • 1931: Old-Man Coyote was published.
  • 1932: Red Mother was published.
  • 1933: Beyond Law and Stumpy were published.
  • 1935: Out of the North in Blackfeet Indians by Winold Reiss was published.
  • 1938: He died in Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 1941: Minnie Linderman died.

The Frank Bird Linderman Collection is housed in the K. Ross Toole Archives in the University of Montana Library, Missoula. This collection represents the productive and collective efforts of Frank Linderman and his many careers as writer, politician, assayer, and Native American ally and ethnographer. The correspondence and photographs are especially extensive and represent his many important and significant friends and acquaintances.