Ferris / Hermsmeyer / Fenton Ranch

Widowed in 1864 after her husband died in a mining accident, Jane Ferris found work as a housekeeper for Sheridan Valley rancher John Barber. Barber likely built the log cabin core of the main residence for Jane and her two children. Barber died circa 1872, but Jane stayed on, filing a preemption claim on 160 acres. She died within a year of receiving title to the property, leaving two children ages thirteen and fifteen. Her daughter Millicent married neighbor Herbert Noble when she came of age, and the couple lived on the ranch between 1877 and 1882. They sold the land to German immigrant Frederick Hermsmeyer in 1883. A placer miner who came to Montana in the 1860s, Hermsmeyer made his fortune by carefully investing his earnings; this ranch was among his many business ventures. He lived here only briefly before moving to Sheridan, leaving relative George Hermsmeyer and family to manage the property until George's death in 1917. The Hermsmeyers’ tenure saw construction of the two-story frame addition to the log cabin, a log bunkhouse, and likely a number of other utilitarian outbuildings. After 1917, the property changed hands several times before Stanley and Helen Fenton purchased it from the bank in 1937. Active members of the Sheridan community, the Fentons became known for the birthday parties they hosted here for children living in the Twin Bridges' orphanage. Stanley died unexpectedly in 1959, after which Helen returned to school, ultimately becoming an award-winning journalist. She resided here until her death in 2000.



144 Duncan District Road, Sheridan, Montana ~ private