This 740 acre ranch was once part of a spread of nearly 3,000 acres acquired by W.C. Child, an early Montana prospector. He invested his mining fortune here, building a huge stone and wood barn, an "L" shaped 230' x 70' stone shed, and an octagonal stone house which apparently was used chiefly for parties. He called the place "White Face Farm," and stocked it with Hereford cattle. The financial panic of 1893 caught Mr. Child, and he was forced to assign the farm to Wilbur F. Sanders. Within a month Child was dead, and the place was ordered sold to satisfy his creditors. The present owner, Paul Kleffner, acquired the place in 1943. He has restored the house and barn and outbuildings, and they are in excellent condition. They are of unique design and construction, and are a good example of an early-day stock farm that is still operative today.
Thomas C. Power was one of the most successful business men in Montana. He began shipping merchandise from Omaha to Fort Benton in 1866, and the following year moved to Fort Benton to open a mercantile store. The business prospered, and soon he was freighting goods all over Montana and up into Canada. Power moved to Helena in 1878, and within a few years had financial interests in banking, cattle and mining in addition to his mercantile business. He became president of the American National Bank in 1891. In 1878, Power was elected to the first Territorial constitutional convention, and in 1888 was an unsuccessful candidate for governor. After Montana became a state, Wilbur F. Sanders and Thomas C. Power became its first Senators, with Sanders drawing the short term and Power the long term. Senator and Mrs. Power moved into this mansion in August, 1891. It had been under construction for about two years, and was reputed to be one of the most elegant in Helena.
Albert Joseph Seligman came to Montana in 1881 from New York City. He was a member of one of the wealthiest families in the country, one which ranked financially with the Rothschilds and the Morgans. The J. & W. Seligman & Co. banking firm had invested heavily in mining enterprises in Helena, and was having difficulty in managing them from a distance. A. J. Seligman, then a young mining engineer presumably was sent to look after the Seligman interests. Seligman and the family financial backing he commanded became an important factor in the development of Helena and the Montana Territory. During and following the 1893 panic, Seligman and his money helped save a number of Montana businesses that might otherwise have been closed. In 1886, Seligman commissioned Cass Gilbert, then practicing architecture in St. Paul, Minn., to design a "bachelor's abode" for him, amid rumors that he would soon be married. The rumors were correct; he married Lillie Glazier in New York City on Dec. 22, 1886, and brought his bride to Montana to live in this mansion. The building is one of a number of structures, private, public and commercial, designed by eastern or midwestern architects for this prosperous center of activity in the Montana Territory in the 1880's.
Shirley C. Ashby was one of the leading financiers and citizens of early-day Helena. He came to Montana in 1867, and was employed by I.G. Baker & Bros. of Fort Benton to help in their Indian trade. In 1870, Ashby moved to Helena where he engaged in the real estate and insurance business until 1889, when he opened a store selling agricultural implements, wagons and carriages.
In 1892, Ashby became president of the Helena National Bank. This house was built by Ashby in 1886, for a reported price of $15,000. It remained the Ashby residence until 1903, when Senator Thomas H. Carter became the owner. Carter came to Montana in 1882 and began the practice of law. He was active in politics, and was the last Territorial delegate to Congress from Montana and the first elected representative to Congress after Montana attained statehood. Later Carter also served two terms as U.S. senator
This imposing home was presented to his daughter, Anne, as a wedding gift by former Governor S.T. Houser in 1888. It was purchased from Ann K. and Olis R. Allen by John S.M. Neill in 1903 for $10,000. John S.M. Neill was the owner and publisher of the Helena Independent, a civic leader in Helena and active in state politics as a Democrat. This house has remained in the Neill family, and is one of the best preserved of the fabulous nineteenth century mansions in Helena.
Samuel T. Hauser went up the Missouri River in 1862, to the head of navigation, Ft. Benton, Montana, intending to cross from there to the gold fields in Idaho. Strikes at Gold Creek and Bannack in Montana caused him to change his plans, and he remained in the Territory to become one of its most prominent citizens. Banking, mining, railroads, smelting and livestock raising were among his interests. President Cleveland appointed Samuel T. Hauser as Terrritorial Governor of Montana in July, 1885. He was the first Montana Territorial Governor to be a resident of the Territory; his predecessors had been men from the States sent out to govern new area. He served until February, 1887.
This residence of Samuel T. Hauser was completed about the time he took office, and was the scene of governmental social functions as well as private ones. Coincidentally, Mrs. S.T. Hauser, the wife of a man who was one of the developers of Montana, was the granddaughter of the sister of William Clark, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark expedition that first opened the territory by its exploration.