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Historical Society Offers Monthly Programs

From cemeteries to holiday dining to the Treasure State’s first senator, the Montana Historical Society will present a wide range of free programs in November.

The presentations start off Nov. 2 with Cities of the Dead by Lauren Hunley, a community historian from the Western Heritage Center. She notes that cemeteries weren’t always associated with ghosts, ghouls and zombies. Instead, Hunley examines the history of American cemetery trends and includes pioneer cities, the rise of rural graveyards and Native American traditions.

Hunley’s talk is from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark Library, 120 So. Last Chance Gulch in Helena.

Next, Zoe Ann Stoltz, a retired MTHS reference historian, shares her love of food and its history during her presentation Montana’s Holiday Tables and Tales. Join her as she reminisces about holidays past. For example, how did 1863 miners make eggnog without chickens? How were oysters a staple? From the gold rush to drought and depression, all are studies in ingenuity and evolving customs and cultures.

Stoltz’s special presentation is from 1 to 2 p.m. Nov. 8 at Touchmark at 915 Saddle Dr. in Helena. The public is encouraged to attend.

On Nov. 16, the MTHS brings in a direct descendant of Wilbur Fisk Sanders, Montana’s first U.S. Senator, to ask the question: Was he a vigilante, hero, or villain?

Benjamin Sanders’ new book Order Without Law: The Wilbur Fisk Sanders Story tells the real history of this patriot, abolitionist, and champion of social justice. This talk will focus on those portions of the biography that are typically unfamiliar, debunking some common misconceptions regarding the controversial death of Thomas Francis Meagher and Sanders’ involvement with the Vigilantes.

Books will be available for purchase and signing after the talk and discussion, which will run from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark Library.

Finally, as Thanksgiving approaches, the historical society will offer A Taste of Indigenous Foods on Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. Many native North American foods, both cultivated and harvested, were removed from our diets through intentional colonial efforts. Mariah Gladstone is revitalizing and incorporating these important foods into the contemporary diet. During her virtual lecture and cooking class, you can cook along with her as she prepares one of her original recipes and discusses the history of Indigenous foodways and the First Thanksgiving. Prior registration at is required to receive the link to this online session.

Recordings of the presentations will be posted on the MTHS’s YouTube channel.

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