Page 12 - Cornelius Hedges Story
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viii The Cornelius Hedges Story


    I am not what Helenans call a “local,” for I didn’t grow up
and go to high school in Helena--and I’ve only been here since
1977. By osmosis, however, for over three decades I’ve learned
a lot about Montana history: Copper Kings, Charlie Russell, The
Great Blizzard, and The Montana Power Company, and such. Yet,
I knew little of the ins-and-outs of local Helena history. That’s all
changed now, for I have been lucky enough to have read For This
and Succeeding Generations: The Cornelius Hedges Story, ed. Reid
L. Gardiner.

    I am not a Mason myself, but I am from Missouri, I know that
Harry Truman and earlier presidents were Masons, and in the “Show
Me!” tradition, I did get a personal tour of the Masonic Museum at
425 N. Park, Helena, Montana and had my interest tweaked about
local Masonic activities. So, when given the opportunity to read
the biographical work on Judge Hedges, edited by my friend Reid
Gardiner, I jumped at the chance.

    Having long ago written several works on European frontier
institution builders (my dissertation was on Boniface and my long-
out-of-print book was called Pioneers of Catholic Europe), I was
very interested in how, in the American West, one man could,
through hard work and unyielding dedication, help establish both a
town and a state. The answer is “in the book,” as they say.

    Well illustrated, the book is full of incredible vignettes about
Hedges being the driving force behind such diverse activities as:
building a competent education system in Montana; developing a
great local public library; organizing a non-commercialized national
park to protect Yellowstone; and even working hard to build the
personal and work skills of a transient who ended out in his basement.

    I recommend this book to anyone interested in Helena, Montana,
and Masonic history. And just remember, when Hedges was doing
his most important work, there were no telephones and travel was
measured in miles per day, not hour.
Frederick J. Cowie, Ph.D.
Helena, MT
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