William E.


Edd Nentwig



Download Audio Interview (109.0 MB)

Download Transcript of Bill and Emma Mae Cottrill Interview (347 KB)


Bill and Emma Mae Cottrill reminisce about the Leo M. Goldberg Fur and Wool House, Inc. of Helena, Montana, and the fur trade in Montana from 1914 to 1968. Bill recalls beginning work for Goldberg’s on October 17, 1928, as a messenger boy, and soon after acquiring greater responsibility as a cow hide buyer. He notes that he excelled as a buyer and began splitting this responsibility with Leo’s brother, Ervin. Bill talks about the fall of fur prices in the late 1930s, and how that affected the industry. Emma Mae discusses keeping the company’s accounts, working in the shop, and buying furs on her husband’s behalf when he was away on business. Bill mentions that he specialized in buying beaver skins and how he learned to assess the quality of individual pelts. He tells how the fur business was an attractive career option when he started. Bill recalls an incident with a federal agent and Montana fur buyers, but asserts that he always had a positive relationship with Fish and Game. He describes Goldberg’s marketing strategies, which included a 250,000-person mailing list, and the dissolution of the Goldberg Corporation.


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Document Type

Oral History


Fur trade; Trapping; Helena, Montana; Leo M. Goldberg Fur and Wool House, Inc., Helena, Montana; Goldberg Fur and Wool House; Fox and Mink Farms; Castor Oil; Ronald Reagan; Mail Marketing; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Montana Fish and Game; Furriers, Montana; Cottrill family

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Fur Trappers Oral History Project, OH 099, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula

Digital Publisher

University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections: (406) 243-2053 / library.archives@umontana.edu

Oral History Number

OH 099-011, 012

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

1 sound cassette (01:00:00 min.) analog + 1 transcript (42 p.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

01:28:17 minutes

Local Filename

OH_099_011_012.mp3; OH_099_011_012.pdf

William E.