Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name


Department or School/College


Committee Chair

Kelly J. Dixon

Commitee Members

C. Riley Auge, Jeff Wiltse


Fraud, Tobacco Plains, Eureka, Kootenai, Kootenai National Forest, Homestead


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Archaeological Anthropology | Other History


During the 19th and early 20th century, Congress passed several laws intended to allow average Americans the chance to acquire portions of the public domain for their own benefit. However, contemporary observers and historians alike have noted that several of these laws—especially the Homestead Act and the Timber and Stone Act—were instead used by speculators and lumber companies to amass large landholdings by orchestrating and purchasing fraudulent entries. Local historical tradition suggests that Eureka Lumber Company, Bonners Ferry Lumber Company, and J. Neils Lumber Company employed this tactic within the Kootenai National Forest (KNF), though the veracity of such claims have never been tested. This study seeks to discover just how prevalent timber fraud may have been in the Tobacco Plains region of the KNF. Using historical resources such as patent records, county and General Land Office (GLO) tract books, and historic newspapers, the study develops a research strategy to identify such parcels and determine the scale to which such fraudulent activities occurred in the vicinity of Eureka, Montana. Then, using existing survey and site data from the KNF alongside new investigations from the 2020 field season, this project seeks to establish whether this pattern of behavior left any detectable signature in the archaeological record. Together, these analyses reveal an almost total lack of evidence supporting the hypothesis that local lumber companies engaged in deliberately fraudulent practices in the Tobacco Plains.



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