History

hilineIn July 1806 Meriwether Lewis and his party were the first recorded white men in the area,  Captain Lewis writes of his scrimmage with a tribe of Indians (probably Piegans or Blackfeet) along the Marias river.

Following the Lewis and Clark Expedition, fur trappers, hardy adventurers, and a few prospectors came, and in the late 1880s large cattle and sheep ranches were established.

Between 1910 an 1918 two homestead acts brought many settlers’ shacks to the area. On virtually every quarter or half-section people swarmed into the newly opened territory to prove-up on their acres. Many who came went broke, perished in drought or froze in long, cold winters.  Others stuck out the hardships and formed the basis for the modern farming economy prevalent in this area.

Liberty County was created from sections of Chouteau and Hill counties in 1919 when 72% of the voters in the area voted for the proposition. At this same election Chester was chosen as the county seat.  Liberty County became the first county formed after World War 1.

Liberty County, in north-central Montana, covers 1458 square miles. Chester the county seat is 90 miles north of Great Falls, 114 miles east of East Glacier, 60 miles west of Havre, and 34 miles from the Canadian border.

Most of the county is characterized by rolling prairies, gullies and coulees of the three major streams, Cottonwood Creek, Eagle Creek and Sage Creek, and the Marias River break up the terrain.  In the north-western part of the county, the Sweetgrass Hills rise to nearly 7,000 feet.

The population of approximately 2,100 gives an average density of 1.4 persons per square mile.

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