November 16, 2016 Voices Of Montana, _Default

Montana Author Ken Robison–A True Montana Jewel

For some reason whenever I interview Montana author Ken Robison, I end up calling him a “True Montana Jewel.” I never go into the interview intentionally meaning to say it, but listening to his stories and all it just comes out.

Ken Robson book

Mr. Robison has a new book called “Yankees & Rebels on the Upper Missouri” published this month by History Press. This book, just like his previous books, has great, lost stories of Montana history.

His tireless research continues and how he unearths gems of the past is truly remarkable. As he told us on Voices of Montana, it comes down to a lot of research. “There is no substitute for long hours of study and travel looking for the best stories possible.”

Robison is a Montana native who now lives in Great Falls. He served 30 years in the US Navy as an intelligence officer. And, has now authored 6 books with forgotten Montana history concerning people traditionally ignored by historians.

Just as in his earlier books, Robison is again great at finding and telling the stories of African-Americas. Including Mary and Maria Adams, sisters who served the family of George A. and Elizabeth Custer as, respectively, cook and housemaid.

ken robison

There is also the fascinating story of another ex-slave, Mattie Bell Bost. She ended up marrying a white man, John K. Castner. Castner was a freighter and coal mine operator in Helena who built and ran the well-known Travelers Inn in Belt.

Better known people also come to life including Grant Marsh, whose exploits as a steamboat captain on the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, which were almost un-navigable at times, were unrivaled.

John C. Lilly, an ex-Confederate, whose post-war adventures on the upper Missouri were detailed in his own words, describes how he and other men riding with the Rebel Calvary officer Nathan Bedford Forrest, attempted to capture a Union gunboat during the war.

During Voices of Montana, Robison goes into detail about the persistent rumors that outlaws Jesse & Frank James spent time in Montana, possibly the entire winter, in Deer Lodge Valley. It is a rumor that after hours of study he seems to truly believe.

ken robison 2

His love of history and of Montana is evident in everything he does, and in 2010 he was honored with the “Heritage Keeper Award” by the Montana Historical Society. An award he truly deserved.

In addition to his books on Montana history, he wrote a series of columns for the Great Falls Tribune and the Fort Benton’s River Press about Montanans involved in the Civil War.

His latest book is available across Montana and would make a great Christmas gift. Now maybe you understand and might even agree with me that Author Ken Robison truly is a one of a kind, a True Montana Jewel.

Jon Arneson