Charlie and Nancy Russell Honeymoon Cottage

The son of a wealthy St. Louis family, Charles M. “Charlie” Russell longed for western adventure. In 1880, at fifteen, he convinced his parents to let him visit Montana. He never looked back. For over ten years, he worked as a night herder during the summer and rode the grub line in the winter, all the while painting and sculpting western scenes. Russell met Ben Roberts in 1882. The two became friends, and after Roberts married Lela Gorham and moved to Lela’s hometown of Cascade, the cowboy artist often visited him in the off season. Roberts supported Russell’s artistic ambitions, and in 1890 he published Russell’s first book of illustrations. While visiting Cascade in October 1895, Russell met sixteen-year-old Nancy Cooper, who lived with, and worked for, the Roberts. Nancy and Charlie married a year later in the Roberts’ parlor. After the ceremony they moved into the small bunkhouse and studio behind the Roberts’ house where Russell always stayed when he visited the family. Russell spent $75 adding a lean-to kitchen and otherwise fixing up the place. “Our wedding trip,” Charlie remembered, “was a hundred yards to that one-room shack—and we walked.” Charlie’s marriage to Nancy marked a turning point in his career, and Nancy’s business acumen is often credited for his professional success. Her management started early, and within a year of their marriage the Russells had moved to Great Falls, where Nancy correctly felt there would be a larger market for Charlie’s work.

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20 Russell Drive South, Cascade, Montana ~ Private