From 'Fanning the Embers', published 1971, Range Rider Reps, Miles City, Montana
My parents Albert and Mary Gilman were living on Dougen Creek near Ekalaka, Mont., where I was born Dec. 8, 1892. My brother, Tom, was born here also. I lived here until I was three years old, when my folks left by wagon train for western Montana, all except my brother, Lorin.
We settled in the Bitterroot Valley near Missoula. We moved from there to the Big Flats. My dad bought the holdings on Deep Creek and later homesteaded. He built the first ferry ever to be used across the Missoula River.
I attended school at Big Bend near Frenchtown. School was held in my sister Emma's homestead cabin. My dad hired the teacher.
When I was ten years old my mother took Tom and me back to Troy, Kans., so we two younger children could see our grandpa William (Billy) Chapple. My older brothers and sisters, Lorin, Emma, Elizabeth, Henry, Albert and William, were born there. We visited all of our relatives while there.
Here at Deep Creek my father started a sawmill and operated it only in the springtime when the river water was high.
From there my father moved to Tarkio, Mont. He bought the place in 1907, but didn't move his family there until in 1909. My younger brother, Tom, attended school near my father's ranch. His teacher was Edna Kay and she later became my brother Albert's wife. My folks sent me to a Catholic school in Missoula where I finished my eight grades. Then I took a course in Nurses Training. After finishing this course, I did nurses' work around my home at Tarkio.
When I was 21 years old, my first trip away from home was back to Ekalaka to see my brother Lorin, who I couldn't remember, as I hadn't seen him since I was three years old. I stayed there for three years and I felt at home with my brother's family. To me those three years were a wonderful experience. I made a world of friends. I loved the ranch life, especially the times I rode with my brother. He even took me with him on the roundups. The old time community dances that the people enjoyed so much were wonderful.
I was called home as my father was very ill with blood poisoning. He recovered and we were all blessed and happy to be all together again.
I did nursing and also clerked and helped my brother-in-law, George Thomas, to manage the store they had at Hall, Mont.
An article in a 1920's paper had this to say:
Queen of Montana" contest easily holds chief interest of the Fair at Helena, Mont., in 1923. Letters were sent to every county in the state by W. G. Ferguson, secretary of the Helena Commercial Club and manager of the contest, asking that a girl be elected by popular vote to represent her community at royal court, and as a result 34 beautiful and interesting girls are here as Helena's guests for the week. This afternoon, the girls will themselves choose the one whom they consider the best qualified for the honor of reigning as "Queen of the Treasure State" for the coming year.
From Mineral County: "A good kind to have around", came Rae Gilman of Superior, to become one of the royal court and she is one of the most popular members because of her jolly disposition. She is a trained nurse and is just the sort of a person who could make things run smoothly and happily no matter how trying the circumstances."
When it came to voting, they voted for Alice Smith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. F. Smith of Baker, Mont. Before the crowning took place, Gov. Joe Dixon had us all on the grandstand, greeted and introduced each one of us to the crowd. The crown was placed on Alice Smith by Governor Dixon at the coronation ceremony held in the Shrine Temple Thursday evening Sept. 27, 1923. "Miss Smith is not only a typical Montana girl but one of the accomplished daughters of the Treasure State."
We all stayed at the Senator Walsh home during the week that we were in Helena.
In later years I married Alec Berg. We made our home in Superior, Mont. My husband died in 1951. 1 then helped to care for my folks, who still lived on their ranch. In their last years they moved into Superior. They are buried here as are all of my brothers and sisters, except Elizabeth and Lorin.
I enjoy my home here. I raise a garden, but my special hobby is flowers. I have never been back to Ekalaka since I visited there. I still own the land that I bought when I visited my brother Lorin. I lease the land to Pat LaBree. Many of my friends in Ekalaka have visited me here in my home. I plan to go to see you all again.
I am happy to be a Range Riders Rep.