My great grand aunt, Jane (Muir) Beck, was the youngest child of James and Margaret (Semple) Muir. My grandmother always called her Aunt Janie. Janie's grandfather, father, and most of her brothers were coal miners but Janie married a farmer, Herbert Bartist Beck on 20 June 1912 at Lebanon, Illinois. Herbert had been living and working on his brother, John's, farm. They had two children in Illinois, Thelma Christena and John Wesley Beck.
Herbert's brother had been out west with his uncle. He and his wife decided to move to Montana and homestead land in 1918. Herbert and Janie followed them a few years later. They took a train from Illinois and arrived in Roy, Montana, on 7 April 1923.
|Roy, Montana, circa 1916; photograph courtesy of the Bureau of Land|
In two separate transactions with the General Land Office, Herbert Beck acquired nearly 425 acres of land in two counties.
- 17 October 1928:
- Southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 27 in Township 20 north, Range 24 east
- 26 September 1928:
- South half of the northeast quarter of section 34 in Township 20 north, Range 24 east
- Southeast quarter of the southeast quarter of section 31 in Township 20 north, Range 25 east
- West half of the southeast quarter of section 32 in Township 20 north, Range 25 east
- East half of the southwest quarter of section 32 in Township 20 north, Range 25 east
- Southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section 32 in Township 20 north, Range 25 east
- Lot 4 of section 5 in Township 19 north, Range 25 east
- Lot 1 of section 6 in Township 19 north, Range 25 east
|Map of lands surveyed by the government using the cadastral system;|
courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management
Townships were arranged north and south along the principal meridian and ranges, east and west along the baseline. Once you know the section, township, and range numbers, there are several apps that enable you to view the land as it is today to gain a better understanding of where your ancestors lived. Plat maps have become favorites of mine and I collect them for the places my ancestors lived.
Township/Range maps can be found on the Bureau of Land Management's General Land Records website. Click the Survey Plats and Field Notes link and enter the legal description of the land. From the search results page, I click the Plat image icon and scroll down to the bottom of the page and generate a PDF document.
|Original survey of Township 20N/Range 24E, dated 1914. Herbert Beck|
owned the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 34. Image courtesy
of the Bureau of Land Management
I've drawn the south half of Section 34 on the image so you can better understand how the subdividing of sections work.
|The northeast quarter of Section 34 divided into quarters and a south half|
Here is what the south half of the northeast quarter of Section 34 in Township 20N/Range 24E looks like today from a satellite:
|Satellite view from Google Earth|
A first-hand account of what life was like on a homestead in Montana may be found here. It was written my Herbert and Jane (Muir) Beck's daughter.