Page 15 - MFMJan 2016
P. 15

Recognizing Gov. Sidney Edgerton

Sidney Edgerton (August 17, 1818 – July 19,              The fact that the Legislature overwhelmingly
1900) was a politician, lawyer, judge and teacher        supported the law and its placement inside the
from Ohio. Edgerton a Lawyer, was elected to the         Capitol is evidence that Montana will finally
United States House of Representatives in 1858.          recognize one of its most important founders.
During the Civil War, Edgerton served
in the Union Army as colonel. During                               It is a tremendous opportunity. There is a
this time, Edgerton also served as a U.S.                          lot of work to be done to achieve this goal.
Congressman. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln                              Estimates of costs range from $50,000-
appointed him the first Chief justice of                           $80,000.00.
the Idaho Territory. Edgerton lobbied for                          To get a better estimate, the Capital
the creation of separate territories. Out                          Complex Advisory Council will begin
of the Idaho Territory, in 1864, Abraham                           the process of obtaining a qualified artist
Lincoln appointed Edgerton as the                                  to create the museum-quality piece. This
first Territorial Governor of Montana,                             process is called an “artist call“. An artist
after his term ended in the Territory of                           call is similar to a bid. The artist call will be
Montana, Edgerton returned to Ohio. He                             posted on the internet on a special website
served as a lawyer in his home state until                         that advertises high-quality artwork
his death on July 19, 1900. He is buried                           projects. The artist needs to meet certain
in Tallmadge, Ohio.                                      requirements. A history of recent works of art must
Brother Edgerton was a member of Akron Lodge             be submitted to qualify the artist. This history will
No. 83. He received the EA degree on June 23, 1858,      allow the committee to ensure the work not only is
FC degree on July 20, 1858 and was raised to the         finished to museum-quality, but also compares to
degree of a Master Mason on August 24, 1858. For         previous works from the artist. The cost of setting
the past four years, a number of people in Montana       up the artist call on the website is $1,000.00. Other
have been on a quest to recognize Montana’s first        expenses such as IT support could cost $300.00.
territorial governor, Sidney Edgerton. Governor          There are a number of individuals who can answer
Edgerton’s contribution in creating Montana has          questions on this project including staff at the
gone largely unnoticed for the last 150 years. This      Montana Historical Society will also be available
quest began after the creation and airing of a local TV  to answer questions and your concerns. If there are
miniseries on the history of Montana Territory. This     Masons who would be willing to fund the artist call
series brought to light the tremendous contribution      and the cost for IT support for the Sidney Edgerton
Governor Edgerton made toward the creation of            Memorial.
Montana, yet his efforts have been largely ignored                Donations can be sent directly to:
in telling the story of Montana’s creation. In telling            Sidney Edgerton Memorial
Governor Edgerton’s story, one organization kept                  C/O Montana Historical Society
coming up: the rich history of the Masons in the                  P.O. Box 201201 Helena, MT. 59620.
early years of Montana’s development. Masons                      Or through the
were instrumental in establishing law and order in                Sidney Edgerton Memorial
Montana Territory, and Governor Edgerton was a                    C/O Montana Masonic Foundation
proud member of the Masonic Lodge. Recognizing                    PO Box 1158, Helena, MT 59624.
Governor Edgerton contributions is nothing new
to the Grand Lodge of Montana. However, many
Montanans know nothing of his efforts. That is
about to change.

The 2015 Montana Legislature, passed a law to            As a side note: the first memorial in the Montana
recognize Governor Edgerton’s contribution. This         State Capitol was of PGM Wilbur Fisk Sanders,
law authorizes a memorial on the capital complex.        the first US Senator from Montana and nephew of
The Montana Historical Society has recommended           Sidney Edgerton.
the memorial be a bronze bust to be placed inside the
Capitol Rotunda in one of the “niches”. Ironically,                                                                         Page 15
these niches have been empty since the Capitol was
   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20