Charles E. Conrad
Charles E. Conrad played an impressive role in the settlement of the Northwest during the latter part of the 19th century. He and older brother William established a shipping and freighting empire in Fort Benton, Montana Territory that eventually became the most important transportation center in Montana. Routes extended north into Canada and as far west as Walla Walla, Washington Territory. For 23 years, the brothers prospered until the railroad arrived. They left Fort Benton and diversified into real estate, banking, cattle ranching and mining throughout Montana. The brothers continued to be prominent figures in the state's history for the remainder of their lives.
To read about Lettie's fairy steps leading from the river up to the promontory where the
Conrad died in 1902 at age 52 from complications of diabetes. Shortly before his death, he and Mrs. Conrad rode on horseback to a promontory east of the Mansion where Charles remarked, "I can think of no more peaceful and lovely spot for a final rest." Resolute in her desire to carry out her husband's request, she purchased the land and was instrumental in the formation of the C.E. Conrad Memorial Cemetery. A mausoleum was completed in 1908. The cemetery serves as the final resting place for the immediate Conrad family members.
Conrad Family Mausoleum
C.E. Conrad Memorial Cemetery
Charles E. Conrad was born in 1850 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, near the town of Front Royal. He was one of thirteen children, the second oldest son, raised on the family's Wapping Plantation. The Civil War changed the family's way of life and Charles and William headed west to seek their fortune. The young Civil War veterans, who served in the guerilla cavalry of Mosby's Rangers, arrived in Fort Benton, Montana territory in 1868. The brothers found work with I.G. Baker, the owner of the largest mercantile establishment at Fort Benton and eventually bought the business. In 1879, Charles met and married Alicia (Lettie) Davenport Stanford, who had moved from Halifax, Nova Scotia with her widowed mother and younger brother. Charles and Alicia had two children while in Fort Benton; son Charles Davenport Conrad, born in 1882, and Catherine Conrad, born 1885.
With the advent of the railroad, the Conrad brothers sold the I.G. Baker and Company business to their Hudson Bay Company competitors and left Fort Benton. In 1891, Charles E. Conrad and his family moved to the Flathead Valley where he helped found the city of Kalispell. Daughter Alicia Ann Conrad was born in 1892 and completed the family. Conrad continued to be successful, pursuing other business interests in partnership with his brother. Charles E. Conrad helped preserve the buffalo by starting his own herd that eventually provided the nucleus of the National Bison Range herd.
For additional information about the Cemetery, including a brief history and map to the