Guy Ressler Homestead House

While prairie homesteads dominate the popular imagination, agricultural land in Montana’s western forests also attracted settlers. The Forest Homestead Act, passed in June 1906, opened land within the national forests. Three months later, a presidential proclamation established the Lolo Forest Reserve (now Lolo National Forest). Not long after, Elmer Breen of Missoula became the fourth applicant to file for 160 acres within the reserve boundary. By 1909, Breen had built a cabin and plowed ground, but he never proved up. In 1913, Great Northern Railway car repairman Guy Ressler filed his own homestead entry for land included in Breen’s original application. Ressler’s mother Elizabeth, who ran a boardinghouse in Missoula, filed on the adjacent 160 acres. Guy (and possibly his wife, Mary) moved into Breen’s cabin in 1913. Over the next ten years, he cultivated rye, timothy, and hay and built many improvements, including an irrigation ditch, root cellar, hen house, two barns, a wagonshed, and log cabins for both his mother and himself. Guy’s 18-by-24-foot, one-story, saw-cut, peeled-log cabin is the only structure that remains on the property. Although Elizabeth never lived steadily on her land, both she and Guy were issued homestead patents in 1923. Within a year, they sold out to Seattle merchant Sanford Manheimer. Guy, who suffered from diabetes, died soon after. Norwegian immigrant Fred Thisted bought the land from Manheimer’s estate in 1938. Thisted first homesteaded in Cascade County, but he sold that land to move west of the divide where there was water. The Thisted family raised cattle here into the 1980s.

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Near Burnt Fork Creek, Huson, Montana ~ Private