On February 9, in Great Falls, Major John Owen was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. On hand to receive the award on his behalf were Jay and Colleen Meyer, Myla Yahraus, owner of Fort Owen Ranch, and her ranch manager Kent Smartt.
Major Owen played a huge role in Montana’s history, and gave our state many firsts. First established water rights, first recorded land purchase, established Stevensville as the state’s first town, and he was one of the first white men to legally marry a native woman. He kept some of the best, and first journals describing the life, times, and very important—the weather conditions of the 1850’s and 60’s. He and his wife, Nancy, traveled 23,000 miles during their stay at Fort Owen, fostering trade both in and out of the Bitterroot Valley. He was accorded recognition that was very well earned.
The Fort Owen Ranch, and Fort Owen State Park, just outside the Stevensville town limits, both give lasting recognition to Major John Owen’s accomplishments, and his importance, still, to the town of Stevensville—Montana’s oldest community.