Flathead County Heritage Families

Published: 1 years 138 days ago
" 2012 Centennial Project shares the history of three generations in Flathead County 4-H.

2012 Centennial Project

Three Generations in Flathead County 4-H

4-H is not a stranger to the Alzner and Tutvedt families as they have been in 4-H for three generations.

Don Alzner was in 4-H as a child in Boring, Oregon, and belong to the Boring 4-H Club. He was involved in woodworking projects where he made a shoeshine kit. His daughter, Suzanne (Alzner) Tutvedt, belonged to the Spring Creek Lads and Lassies in Kalispell from 5th-11th grades. Her projects included cooking, sewing, arts and crafts, market hog and market steer. Her best memories were cooking Rosette’s at Pat Freebury’s house, making crafts at Buettner’s, the Fashion Show (where everyone modeled that we made and had a tea party) and taking the market steers to Fair. Now she is the leader of the Rowdy Roper’s 4-H Club in West Valley.

Paul Tutvedt was involved in a Kalispell 4-H Club and his fondest memory was taking a milk cow named Bonnie to the Fair. Paul’s son, Brian Tutvedt was a member of B&F Livestock 4-H Club. His main project was market beef where he received Grand and Reserve Champion. Brian enjoyed the friendships he made and being part of a group.

All four of Brian and Suzanne Tutvedt’s children are in the Rowdy Roper’s 4-H Club. Megan is an 8th grader and in her 6th year of 4-H. She held the office of Historian twice and has also been club President. Her projects so far have been market hog, gardening, horse and air rifle in shooting sports. This is her first year to take a market steer and she is really enjoying it.

Garrett, a sixth grader, is in his 4th year of 4-H and he has taken a market hog each year, sport fishing, archery, and air rifle in shooting sports. Doing things for others and raising and showing his market animals are among his favorites.

Nate is a 4th grader and also in his 4th year of 4-H. His projects have included market hog, gardening, sport fishing, and air rifle in shooting sports. Air rifle, his market hog and making the blankets for the Veterans (a club project) were his favorites this year.

Boe is a 2nd year Cloverbud and in the 1st grade. He enjoys being part of the Club. Making cookies for the Foods Fair, doing his tractor demonstration and making his poster for Fair are his favorite parts of the past year.

An important part of 4-H is teaching responsibility and discipline through the projects and record bookkeeping. Community service, another aspect of 4-H, shows the importance of reaching out to others; starting at a young age instilling lifelong commitment and values. While some parts of 4-H may have changed, these traditions will continue with the upcoming generations

Three Generations in Flathead County 4-H
Left to Right Top Row: Don Alzner, Suzanne Tutvedt, Brian Tutvedt, and Paul TutvedtBottom Row: Nate Tutvedt, Boe
Tutvedt, Garrett Tutvedt, and Megan Tutvedt


Three Generations of Dutton 4-Her’s

Our family must really enjoy doing 4-H because we have been doing it for three generations and 56 years.

My father Dean Dutton was the first generation who started participating in 4-H in Powell County in 1955. During his 10 years as a member he was part of two 4-H clubs: the Golden Nugget, in which he did his sheep projects and the Powell Champs, in which he did his beef projects. His sister Shirley Thomas continued on with 4-H and became the leader of the Golden Nugget 4-H Club.

My brother, Cory Dutton and I couldn’t wait until we were old enough to do 4-H. We would look forward to getting to go to town for almost a week to participate in the Tri-County Fair in Deer Lodge. We were raised on a ranch in Gold Creek, so going to town was a treat. Cory and I started 4-H in 1978 and belonged to the Clark Fork 4-H Club for six years. When I quit doing 4-H he changed clubs and was a member for another four years with the Gold Nugget 4-H Club. I mainly showed sheep and horses, and did cooking and sewing projects. My brother really enjoyed showing sheep and beef.

Cory’s son David started doing 4-H in 2001 and was a member for a total of nine years. In those years he was a member of two clubs the Clark Fork and the Ridge Riders 4-H Clubs in Powell County. He showed sheep and beef just like his father and also did some leather projects. He was a very avid showman and spent much time helping other 4-H members with show preparation.

My daughter Natashia started 4-H in 2005 in Lewis and Clark County and was a member with the Sweet Clovers 4-H Club for two years before we moved to Kalispell. She has now been part of the Country Cousins 4-H Club for the last four years. She has always enjoyed showing her dog Maggie Lou and the last four years started showing rabbits. It took her a year, but she finally convinced me to be a leader and this year will be my 4thyear and I love it.

After watching their step-sister do 4-H for a year, Emma and Kate Trunkle couldn’t wait to get started. For the last three years they also have shown dog and rabbit. Emma really likes competing at the Foods Fair and has done quite well the last couple of years. Probably Kate’s favorite thing would be showing her rabbit, ‘Lightning’, who is a whole different rabbit when he is at the Fair.

I hope for generations to come that 4-H is still part of my family and other families in Montana. So I encourage you to keep 4-H alive with generations to come.

Dutton Family at the NWMT Fair dog



The other day I ran into a family friend in the store who asked if I was still involved with 4-H. I replied of course! She wondered if our family bleeds green with as long as we’ve been involved in the program. This lead me to thinking that not only have I been involved with 4-H here in Flathead County, so were my parents, aunt, uncle, and grandparents on the Hanson side of the family. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t around something to do with 4-H, from a small child sitting through meetings, to a member doing the same, to being leader.

My grandpa, Jim Hanson, along with Forest Farris, were some of the leaders for the Stillwater Beavers 4-H club in the Stillwater Community N.W. of Kalispell. At that time there were separate clubs for boys and girls. My Aunt Shirlee told me that she and two other girls had joined so they could take livestock projects. Her first project was a dairy calf that was given to her by a neighbor, Jack Keller. She remembers going around to different farms in the Creston area where the members were told what they needed to look for as far as breeding traits in the animals and would then have a judging competition. They used the N.W. Community Center for several of their activities.

Sparks Sparklets Camp Fire Water Boiling Contest Winners

Shirlee was also a member of the Sparks Sparklets 4-H Club which was the girls club in that same community and my grandma, Frona Hanson, was a leader in that club. One of the skills Shirlee remembers learning that she still uses today is to get yourself organized before starting a recipe. She also learned to bake a Chocolate fudge upside down cake that she still makes and gets rave reviews about.

My dad, Art Hanson and my Uncle Jimmie were members of the Stillwater Beavers 4-H Club and took projects such as gardening and market hog. My dad was also a livestock leader for the Stillwater Beavers 4-H Club until it dissolved in the fall of 1971. He helped start B & F Livestock at that time, and continued as a leader for a couple more years. He remembers the Stillwater Beaver’s doing skits for the county achievement night program; one of his favorites was The Grand Ole 4-H modeled after the Grand Ole Opery.

Members of Stillwater Beavers, approximately 1950

My mom, Dorothy was also a leader for the Stillwater Beavers and B & F Livestock. She usually ended up being the cooking leader. Before I was old enough to be in 4-H I remember sitting in the kitchen of our tiny little house while she had cooking meetings for the girls in the club, going to 4-H dances at the N.W. Community Center, Trick-or-Treating for UNICEF, selling light bulbs for a fundraiser and watching skits that members performed. I couldn’t wait to join and get to do all those same things. I thought I was quite something when I got to ride around with the older members and participate in the fundraisers. During my 1st year of 4-H the Stillwater Beavers club was dissolved. Three new clubs formed, one of them was B & F Livestock, which I was a charter member of, and which is the only club, of the three, still in existence at this time. Eventually B & F had only a few member left, so it folded. My sisters and I then joined Pilot View Livestock in the Bissell Community. My senior year of high school the club became larger than the leaders wanted, so a line was drawn at Lore Lake and those of us that lived south of it restarted B & F and it has continued since. The father who took on the responsibility of being the organizational leader that 1st year back gave it up after a year. Since I was then attending classes at FVCC the members begged me to take over so they could keep the club going…the rest of that is history as I’ve now been a leader for 30+ years.

Aunt Shirlee, age 10. This was her first skirt, which was red with white polka dots.

When I got married to Greg, he wasn’t so sure about all this 4-H “stuff” as he hadn’t been raised around it, but, I continued as a leader and as we had children I dragged them along to functions. From that point on Greg was hooked on the 4-H program and the values it teaches, and as soon as time allowed he took the shooting sports leader training and has been helping in that project ever since.

EvensonEvenson Family

Our four children, Chance, Josie, Jayme and Tia have all been members of B & F Livestock and Flathead 4-H Shooting Sports Clubs. All of them have raised market hogs and taken various different projects. They have all won numerous awards through the years.

So, yes, we probably do bleed green.

Kelch Family 4-H Legacy

The Kelch Family 4-H legacy in Flathead Valley-Montana started with Great-Great-Grandpa Everett Kelch in 1929 as a 4-H member with the Grandview Supreme 4-H club and then as a longtime 4-H leader with the Pilot View Livestock 4-H club, 20+ years of leadership. Five generations and 36 family members have benefited from the 4-H program in Flathead Valley through many projects both livestock and home economics.

Bill & Everett Kelch—Grandview Supreme

Everett’s daughter Sherry Madsen is currently the 4-H leader for the Dandy Dudes & Dolls 4-H club. She has been a leader for 24 years and was a 4-H member for 9 years. Sherry’s club continues the 4-H legacy of roadside clean-up, foods fair, 4-H camp, and public speaking and judging competitions along with participating at the N.W. Montana Fair. In her club she has a granddaughter Ra-chel Saenz and a great granddaughter Betsy Nelson as 4-H leaders, 6 great grandchildren (Ramon, Isaac, Francis and Marcos Saenz, Gracie Mordja and Rylin Madsen) and 1 great-great grandchild (Julia Nelson) of Everett’s as 4-H members.

Sherry Madsen—4-H Leader for Dandy Dudes & Dolls

Everett’s granddaughter Wendy Morris and great granddaughter Casey Morris are currently 4-H leaders for the TrailBlazers 4-H club. Wendy has been a 4-H leader for 20 years and was a 4-H member for 8 years. Casey was a 4-H member for 9 years and is continuing her 4-H experience as a leader. A great-great grandchild of Everett’s is also a 4-H member Isabell Johnson.

Wendy, Casey & Isabell—4-H Trailblazers


Marjorie Olsen

A Family that Bleeds 4-H Green

The Country Cousins Club receiving a check for electricity projects in 1967. In photo from left to right: Rand Norby, Duane Olsen, Garnet Minster and Kayleen Olsen Bristow.

Hi, I’m Marjorie Olsen and I’m a leader of the Country Cousin’s 4-H Club in Flathead County. I was a member of 4-H in the 1930’s and I still have the red ribbon potholder I made. 45 years ago, my husband Duane decided to start our own 4-H club. A fellow member, Denny Borgen, suggested we call the club the Country Cousins. You see, my first cousin, MaryAnn Jellison and several of the Graham family were all first cousins. The name stuck and the family tradition has grown by leaps and bounds. Duane and I had three daughters, Cheryl Timlick, Kayleen Bristow and Dana Higgins, all of whom were in 4-H as children. Dana is currently the leader of our club. Including my grand children (6) and great grandchildren (5) our club currently holds four generations of our family. I have a new great great granddaughter born last summer and her daddy will see that she is a 4-Her as well. We will have FIVE generations of 4-Her’s and we’re looking forward to the future!

Dana (far right) receiving a gold watch.

Dana was one of the first girls to win the state electrical award, a gold watch from Montana Power Co. Our family hosted many girls from Michigan and Vermont 4-H Exchange trips. I also chaperoned a 4-H group on the Citizenship Short Course to Washington D.C. in 1978. It was a long hard trip but the best tour I had in D.C. and Gettysburg. Duane and I attended numerous conferences through out the years including Alberta’s 4-H Leader’s Conference with Florence Borgen and Jeannie Warner. One year in February, my husband had open heart surgery, and in July, he and I chaperoned the 4-H Congress kids to Bozeman. His dorm had a fire drill and they were on the 7th floor, the drill just about got him! At Congress we also got to float the Missouri river and go on a hayride which was a lot of fun. The highlight of the trip was when the Country Cousins won a blue ribbon on their demonstration. We also took part in long hours working on and fundraising for the building of the Loon Lake 4-H Camp and seeing it become a reality.

Five generations pictured above.

The past 45 years as charter leader of the Country Cousins 4-H club has been fun, rewarding and definitely an educational experience but I’m stepping down this fall. I’m 87 and can’t hear the little ones, but I’ll still be making cupcakes and cookies for special meetings. I’m very proud of our Country Cousins 4-H Club, and (as you can see) proud to be a 4-H’er!

Marjorie Olsen, daughter Dana Higgins, and great great grand-niece DeAnn Dutton-Trunkle at 2011 4-H Leader’s Banquet


A Family Who’s Roots Trace Back to Flathead 4-H’s Birth

In 1917 Reu Carr started the first 4-H club in Flathead County. It was called The Creston Go Getters. According to a Daily Interlake article, he was considered the father of 4-H in the Flathead. Reu was my great grandfather and he had six daughters. The oldest, Maurine Carr (Johnson), was my grandmother. She was a 4-H leader in the Grandview Supreme 4-H Club for 35 years. My mom, Deanie Leighty (Witty), was her daughter. Mom was a 4-H leader for over 20 years, both in Flathead and Lincoln Counties. Now I, Susan Witty (Schmidt) have been a 4-H leader in Flathead County for 19 years. Both of my sons, John and Eric, were members of the Grandview Supreme club for 10 years.

Sue Witty Schmidt, shown with her Great Grandfather, Rue Car, Grandmother Maurine Carr Johnson, Mother, Deanie Leighty Witty and brother, Michael Witty

Grandpa Carr homesteaded in Creston in the Flathead Valley where he started a dairy. He thought that the kids of the day needed to get together and learn new skills as well as have fun. Of course, during that era that meant learning to cook, sew, and take care of animals. 4-H was the natural choice for an organization to teach young people these skills. I loved hearing stories from my grandma about driving the cows to the fair and showing off the clothes they had made. Grandma Johnson became a cook for the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls during the depression. I know it was because she learned to bake the best parker house rolls and pies in 4-H.

MaurineCarr Johnson’s sewing group in 1929

When my mom started 4-H, animals, cooking and sewing were still the major projects, but there was probably a little vegetable gardening thrown in there for good measure. My mom’s favorite project was her dairy cows. My par-ents met at a 4-H meeting when mom was 12. That meeting start-ed a great 4-H rivalry between Dale Witty and Deanie Leighty: who could raise the best dairy cows and were the best Jerseys or Guernseys? They both traveled with 4-H to Denver, Chicago and Washington DC because of their 4-H projects, something most kids of that day weren’t able to do. My parents were married for over 50 years. I like to think 4-H had something to do with that.

Sue Witty Schmidt and Mike Witty with their beef project in 1969.

Of course, when I turned eight, my mom thought I should be in 4-H; if for no other reason than to learn to cook. Sorry to say, it’s still a joke around my house about my cooking! My favorite project was sewing. It was so great to be able to make my own clothes or repair them. I’ll never forget Birdie Langton, my sewing leader. She was a great role model as well as a teacher. I also had many other projects through the years; beef, self-determined, welding, hogs, and gardening. Of course, the fair was always my favorite time of year. It was even more special for me because my grandfather, Ted Witty, was the dairy barn superintendent. A job he held for 20 years. I could always count on him for an extra dollar to spend on a corn dog!

Sue and her son Eric singing at Flathead 4-H Camp in 2010. Both she and Eric volunteered at Camp that year.

Even though I married a city boy, it was important to me that my boys belong to 4-H. In 1990 when John joined there were so many new projects. John and Eric both raised hogs on our little suburban ranch (4 acres). They also did photography, rocketry, sewing, cooking, junior leadership, and woodworking. 4-H wasn’t very popular in the school they went to, but I encouraged them to stay members through high school. I think that they would acknowledge now that being in 4-H made them more self-confident and gave them an alternative group of peers that always made them feel welcome.

Sue working in the Hog Barn at the 2010 NWMT Fair.

4-H has given me so much. I want to give back, so I am still a leader even though my boys are grown. I am camp co-director for Flathead County 4-H Camp, a Loon Lake 4-H Camp Board Member, a former Foundation Officer, and former assistant hog barn superintendent at the fair, and a person my Extension Agent can always depend on to help out if she needs me. I just recently signed up for Facebook and became a friend of 4-H. I wonder what Grandpa Carr would think about the internet! I don’t have any grandchildren yet, but my hope is that they will carry on the Carr legacy of 4-H in the Flathead.

Sue, pictured front right, with the other chaperones form the Kansas Montana Interstate Exchange Program.


A Heifer Named Madeline Begins a Family Legacy

It all started with a heifer named Madeline. After Jeanne Warner and her daughter Judy entered the Grandview Supreme 4-H Club in 1955, Judy was given Madeline. She had to prove she could take care of an animal so her first calf was this scrawny heifer, not the fat beef steer she had dreamed of. Madeline got every attention including being fed daily, washed and curled, and her horns and hooves painted with clear nail polish. Over the years she grew to be less than a beautiful animal, but every year at fair time she would leave the herd and stand at the gate mooing to be taken to the Fair so of course she went. Jeanne had quickly become a leader in the club and Judy eventually entered fat beef and breeding stock from the Two Creek Shorthorn Ranch in Whitefish, where they lived. Soon Jeanne's younger kids, Joe, K.C. and Dawn were all in 4-H. In those days, Fair time was in September and 4-H kids with animals were excused from school. They would get up at 4 am and soon the animals and the kids would be getting soaked with icy cold water on the wash racks. The animals’ sides were combed in opposite lines to make beautiful curls and the tails were braided and tied up to make big fluffy bushes after they were dried and brushed. The steers had to be fat as possible and were fed great quantities of grain and molasses morning and night. If feeding time was missed by even 15 minutes, the steers would refuse to eat so they required a great deal of attention. Judy was small and remembers being dragged around the barnyard a lot trying to gentle these large strong steers and teach them to work quietly in the show ring. Judy went on win Reserve Champion Beef Showman in 1959 with Benny, a shorthorn.

Benny and Judy at the 1959 Northwest Montana Fair.

A great 4-H memory was the year Grandview Supreme won the best float award for the Fair Parade. The kids represented all of their projects with baby calves, piglets, lambs, rabbits and chickens all displayed on a low-boy truck. The piglet was "borrowed" from a pen and ended up getting into the wheel well of a car which required a great rescue effort.

Grandview Supreme’s Winning Float Entry in 1958.

Jeanne devoted over 50 years of her life to the Grandview Supreme 4-H Club and went on to become a Grand Dame of 4-H and received national awards for her outstanding leadership. Among the many awards she received were the Montana State Silver Clover Award in 1960 and the Outstanding Service Award in 1995. Her kids received many awards and scholarships including the Chatcolab Leadership Camp and National trips to Washington D.C. Not only were her children in 4-H, but now her grandchildren and great grandchildren are participating as well. Jeanne said she couldn't estimate how many children, including her own four, she had watched progress through 4-H. She said it had to reach into the hundreds and they grew up to be good citizens with careers such as teachers, attorneys and farmers, all because of 4-H.

When the family gets together, they all talk about how 4-H taught them how to be hard workers, gave them confidence in speaking, organization, and social skills. Tara Norick, her granddaughter has been a 4-H leader for over 12 years continuing the practice of believing in kids’ ability to achieve any goal and setting high expectations, thus continuing the legacy of hard work and receiving recognition. Tara’s son Brandon completed 13 years in 4-H, travelling to the National Congress and across the US with the National Youth Technology Leadership Team. 4-H provided many of the experiences that shaped his future. There are currently 7 of Jeanne’s great grandchildren active in 4-H with more to come. This family has four generations and over 57 years in 4-H and is still reaping the great benefits of 4H in their lives.

Jeanne Warner and great grandson Colin Norick at the fair in 2008