Sedan, Montana

Sedan is a small agricultural community located in the northeast corner of Gallatin County, Montana. Sedan is at the north end of Bridger Canyon, northeast of Bozeman.

Approximately 70 year round residents currently live in the Sedan area.

This post would not be possible without Linda M. Zupan, who captured the history of the area for others to enjoy. This article borrows heavily from her efforts, with the goal of preserving this information in the event her website goes away.

Her original postings can be viewed at A History of Sedan, Montana.

Note: At the time of this post, the images at Linda’s article are unfortunately no longer working, and her website has not been updated since 2008.

In earlier times Sedan was predominately a dairy community with its own Cheese Factory, post office, and store.

As one former teacher and resident, Eva Lachenmaier noted, “Many large milking barns could be seen around the community.” Sedan was never really a town, but there were many farmers and ranchers who had 160 acres each.

Sedan Cheese Factory (1914-1936)

Sedan Cheese Factory

Sedan Cheese Factory photo provided by Jene Hendrickson

The Sedan Cheese Factory was also known as Shields Valley Cheese. The Cheese Factory was a two-story structure built by the community and the Yeoman Lodge in 1914. The upper floor, which was used for the Lodge and “community affairs” had a stairway on the east side with an entry for protection. An addition on the north side enclosed the boiler which heated the vats of milk. The whey vat on the west was sunken into the ground. A drive went clear around the building back to the main road and there were two vehicle bridges and one board walking bridge.

The Cheese Factory was said to have been running by 1918. Ranchers brought their milk here and Sedan’s residents say that this factory produced the best cheese they have ever eaten. There were said to have been about 200 milk cows in the area providing milk to the Cheese Factory at one time. According to the Sedan Community Country Cookbook, “the Cheese Factory did not run steady, sometimes being closed for years.”

People who brought milk to the Cheese Factory often had pigs at home and were said to have unloaded their milk at the platform. When the milk cans were empty, they would fill them with whey to take home to feed their pigs. This was noted to be a “Pretty nice arrangement.”

Hellesmark of Farmers Creamery in Livingston was the last owner of the Cheese Factory. He contracted with Yellowstone Park to provide milk in the summer and bought the Cheese Factory where there would be a place for the milk in the winter. Hellesmark used the building in the winters from 1935 – 1941 at which time it was known as Shields Valley Cheese.

In 1958 The Cheese Factory building was sold and torn down. Only the cement floor is visible to identify where it was once located.

Sedan Church

Sedan Church

Sedan Church photographed April 2000 by Linda M. Zupan

The Sedan Church still stands today and can be viewed from Montana Highway 86.The church cornerstone says it was laid May 9, 1898. According to “Tracks Volume I” Mark Cowan dug up a Bible in the 1960s which was buried in the foundation of the church. The Bible is on display in a tin box in a Livingston museum.

“A Mr. Clark donated the land and the community people built it for all, as there was no denomination,” as written in Sedan Community Country Cookbook (1989).

Looking at the building now you would not guess this was once a church as there is not a steeple or bell tower.

Sedan Post Office

The Sedan, MT Post Office was established in 1891. In 1915 the Sedan post office was abandoned, when a mail route was established from Wilsall, Montana.

Sedan Cemetery

The Sedan Cemetery is about an acre in size and was apparently started when Josie Woosley’s “Grandpa” Samuel Maddox died in 1915 as his was the first name noted in Josie’s Bible (noted below) listing those buried in the Sedan Cemetery. (Tracks Vol I).

In (Tracks Vol. I) C.J. Landis notes numerous gray headstones stand today, bleached by weather and time. Inscriptions are almost invisible; headstones are falling over or broken. The lot is surrounded by barbed wire held together by wooden poles and metal posts. Rings of rock are lying on the ground.

Sedan, Montana – History

1862: Original Homestead Act passed by Congress in 1862, See Sedan Miscellaneous
1863: Big gold strike begins the habitation of Montana
1870: Battle Ridge named. See Sedan Miscellaneous for more information
1878/1879: Samuel Maddox family arrives in Flathead Valley to check out area
1881: Maddox family of 12 travels across plains from Kansas to Montana Territory in prairie schooner
1884: Sedan’s original settlers, James Woosley & Samuel Maddox families arrive in East Flathead Valley by covered wagon via famous Bozeman Trail
1885: Medicine Lodge, Kansas flood claims lives of members of Samuel Maddox family
1891: Sedan Post Office established at the home of Joshua Woosley
1895: First Sedan School built near Josh Woosley home
1895 – 1896: First term of Sedan School District #38 runs September 1 – May 8
1897: James Woosley relinquishes position as Postmaster on July 19, 1897
Josh Woosley appointed Postmaster July 20, 1897 and serves until July 15, 1915
1898: Cornerstone laid for Sedan Methodist Church (March 9)
1899 – 1900: No dates listed for school term, Work started on new schoolhouse (1900)
1900 – 1901: Last term in first Sedan School building October 1 – March 7
1901 – 1902: First term second Sedan schoolhouse (Seat. 25 – March 10)
1902: Books acquired for Sedan School library
1905: East Flathead Telephone Co. established in Sedan area serving about 25
1910: Sedan Hall built around this time, Gold Mine in operation in Sedan area
1911: Residents of West Flathead Valley petition for, granted new school district (#66)
1914: The Cheese Factory built by the community.
1915: Sedan post office abandoned since a mail route was established from Wilsall
1918: Drought of 1918, Sedan Hall remodeled to house Cheese Factory
1919: Hard winter of 1919 in Shields River Valley, Many homesteaders go bankrupt
Late teens/early 20’s: : Sunnyside School District #63 designated on Muddy Creek
1920: Wheat sold for$1.82 per bushel, Homestead claims stopped in this area
1920’s: Sedan rodeos held – Ray Kannegard – rodeo announcer
1921: Sedan School acquires a school wagon, driven by Hurley Godwin
Residents vote in favor of East Flathead School consolidating with Sedan April 16
Land purchased for 3rd Sedan Schoolhouse
1922: “Starve-Out Exodus” well under way
Third and final Sedan School house in operation
1929: Mountain States Telephone Company purchases East Flathead Telephone Co.
1930: Post office abandoned this year and Wilsall became the official mailing address.
1932-1933: Sunnyside School closes (1932), Wendall Francis buys building and moves it to his ranch
Extreme Depression – February 1, 1932 – March 1, 1933
1933-1935: Wesley & Myda Inabnit build a new store with living quarters in back
1936: The Cheese Factory closes due to lack of business
1939: Dial phones installed in Sedan area
1940’s: Sedan roads graveled
The CCC Boys built a reservoir in lower Frazier Lake
1946 -1948: Flathead Pass Rd. graveled thanks to E. Chriske, A Fastje, and A Wilson
Sedan School Bus route established (1948)
Sacajawea 4-H Club organized (1948)
Adrian Inabnit hauls mail on pack horse to/from Sedan due to bad weather (1948)
1950 -1952: The Cheese Factory dances begin to dwindle as better (1950s)
Battle Ridge graveled (1952)
1954: Sedan School bus route now includes Chriske, Waddell, and Robinson kids.
1958: The Cheese Factory building is torn down
1959: Quake Lake Earthquake “rolled west to east” and is felt in Sedan
1960’s: Successful ranchers expand and buy land from smaller operators
School enrollment drops
1961: Sacajawea 4-H Club disbanded due to lack of members
1968: Sedan district votes to consolidate with Wilsall, Sedan bus circuit created
Sedan School closes after 73 years, bldg purchased by Sedan Community Club
1975: Woosley Cemetery established Nina (Hunter) Woosley, dies in January of 1975
1988: Second Sedan School building sold and moved
1989: Sedan Woman’s Club publishes cookbook, dedicated to Grace Blattie

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