Back to All Events

Gallatin History Museum Monthly Speaker Series-Wolfgram-Hale-East Gallatin/Hamilton Cemetary: Locating the Unmarked Component

Please join the Gallatin History Museum Monthly Speaker Series Wednesday May 7th at 6:00 in the Hager Auditorium at MOR.

East Gallatin/Hamilton Cemetery:  Locating the Unmarked Component

Presenters Terri Wolfgram and Eileen Skinner-Hale

The East Gallatin (also known as The Hamilton) Cemetery was one of the earliest formal burial grounds in the Gallatin Valley, established in 1865 by the pioneer families settling the rich farm lands. These people were the first ones that entered the valley in covered wagons in 1864 headed for the gold fields of Alder Gulch while the Civil War was still raging in and ravaging the lands to the east. Many left the deplorable lawless conditions of Nevada and Virginia City and returned to farm the Gallatin Valley.
The cemetery has 260 marked graves and many unmarked burials including a “Pauper Section”. Some family have four generations buried there starting in the 1860s until present. After the droughts hitting the farmers hard from 1919 on and then the desperation of the Great Depression of the 1930s, many of the families moved away and the cemetery was untended, becoming overgrown with sage, thistles and other weeds – the existing tombstones barely visible.
In 2016, a group of locals decided to clean up and revive the historic cemetery. The revived the Cemetery Board, solicited funds to record graves and identify un-marked burials, of which there are over 200. With help from the Montana Archaeological Society’s Conservation Fund, along with help from the Historic Preservation Board of Gallatin County, and other funding and labor sources, the work of research, magnetometry, Ground Penetrating Radar and individual documentation of each marked grave began with the final goal of providing an accurate map of the burial locations. This talk will take you through the process.

Terri Wolfgram, a resident of the Gallatin Valley for 46 years,  received her degree in Anthropology from MSU.  She retired from a pay check in 2013 after working with Dr. Les Davis and the Museum of the Rockies for 10 years and then the Bureau of Land Management for 16 years, where she developed an expertise in historic mining.  Forever an archaeologist, she spends her “retirement” time digging in the dirt of her garden or on archaeological/historical projects of personal interest.

Elaine Skinner Hale, born in the Gallatin Valley, graduated from MSU and received a MS in Anthropology from the Univ. of MT.  Retired after 25 years working in archaeology and historic preservation in Yellowstone National Park, she has returned to her Manhattan home where she enjoys working on various cultural projects.


This event is free of charge and open to the public. Thank you to Museum of the Rockies for co-hosting this evening.