WESTERN MILITARY – POST TRADER RECEIPT – FORT SHAWMONTANA TERRITORY – 1881
J.H. McKnight receipt , 4 ½ x 7 ¾, Fort Shaw, .T. Dec 1881. Original horizontal fold line, overall Fine condition.
J.H. McKnight and Company was founded by Joseph Hempstead McKnight during the years following 1870. McKnight, originally from Dubuque, Iowa, came west in the 1860s in the company of Thomas C. Power, a business associate. Before forming his own company, McKnight worked as clerk at sutler stores at Fort Buford, at Camp Cook on the Judith River, and at Fort Benton, where he arrived in August 1866. In 1871, McKnight, assisted by the financial backing of T.C. Power, took charge of the trading post at Fort Shaw, Montana.
Fort Shaw, located at Sun River Crossing twenty miles above the mouth of the Sun River, was established in 1867. An infantry post, it served as the regimental headquarters in the military department of the Territory of Montana. It was designed to protect settlers and prospectors, to prevent the invasion of Blackfeet treaty land, and to keep the route between Fort Benton and the Helena gold fields open. As the licensed post trader, J.H. McKnight and Company served the military, plus trappers, area settlers, Indian agents from the Blackfeet Agency, and the Northwest Mounted Police of Canada. In its operation, J.H. McKnight and Company was very closely connected with T.C. Power and Brother at Fort Benton, the two owners being personal friends and business allies throughout McKnight's life. The firms supplied each other, shared orders, provided transportation for commodities, and conferred on the prices and availability of goods. In 1887, McKnight sold the Fort Shaw traders' post and moved his operation to Great Falls. There, J.H. McKnight and Company served as "wholesale and retail grocers and dealers in agricultural implements, wagons, harness, and building materials," at the corner of Central Avenue and Third Street in the McKnight Block. The organization of the firm was formalized in 1894 when bylaws were adopted, stock was issued, and the name was altered to J.H. McKnight Company. Originally there were only four stockholders: T.C. Power and J.H. McKnight (499 shares each) and F. George Heldt and C.B. Power (one share each). These men also served as the Company's Board of Trustees, alternating the offices of the Board among themselves. When McKnight died on January 20, 1903, the other three trustees continued the business until the expiration of the J.H. McKnight Company charter on June 4, 1914. At that time the corporation was dissolved and all company property was sold, with the assets of the firm totaling more than $108,000. This money was dispersed to the corporation's stockholders. WM001