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Velten, Henry J.,
Business Correspondence for the Great Northern Railway Company between Henry J. Velten, Agent at Olney, Montana and Mack Curtis LaBertew, Superintendent of the Kalispell Division, at Whitefish, Montana, plus others, 1921-1922

89 letters, 97 pp., 1 envelope, dated 23 Sept 1920 to 11 Dec 1922; a couple of the letters are written out telegrams. Correspondences includes 43 business letters written by Henry John Velten, agent for the Great Northern Railway Company at Olney, Montana (many are carbon copies). There are 31 incoming business letters written to Velten, mostly by the M.C. LaBertew, the superintendent of the Great Northern Railway Company’s Kalispell Division at Whitefish, MT. The majority of Velten’s letters were written to LaBertew; there are 15 miscellaneous business letters of the Great Northern Railway Company, some of which were written to LaBertew.

The correspondence concerns the business of the railway for the Kalispell Division, which appears to have been from about Browning to Troy in northwest Montana, from the Blackfeet Indian Reservation west through Glacier National Park to the Kootenai National Forest. The correspondence concern the day to day business of the railroad; the ordering of equipment, or materials needed for the agent’s office; information on companies using the railroad; the railway’s empty cars policy; a lumber company wanting to cross the tracks with their lumber wagons; people wanting to lease railroad grounds; loading & unloading of cars; notices for circulars issued on railway orders; penalties for lumber cars held for reconsignment; customer complaints; the protection of perishable freight; requests for passes on the train for the agent and his wife; requests for days off by the agent; temporary erection of structures on railroad grounds by private companies using the railway; etc. Overall, a good look at the business of the railway.


Henry John Velten (1897-1994)

Henry John Velten was born on 29 Dec 1897 at Rice Lake, Barron County, Wisconsin. He was the son of German immigrants John Velten (1860-1910) and his wife Flora Marie Ritter (1866-1924). Velten had at least one sister, Nona Marie Velten Hoylman (1921-2007). The Velten family is found living at Knife Falls, MN in the 1900 Census, where his father is found working as a laborer in a saw mill. By 1910 they had moved to Eureka, MT, where his father is found again working in a saw mill. Velten’s parents eventually moved to Seattle, WA where they are both found dying and being buried.

Henry is found living at Eureka, MT, when he registered for the WWI draft in September of 1918. He was working as a railroad operator. Henry married Mildred E. Williams (1901-1975). She was born January 9, 1901 in Libby, MT, the daughter of Woody and Lottie Williams. She attended schools in Libby, later marrying Velton there on 14 Oct 1920. They lived in Olney, MT a number of years before moving to Kalispell, MT in 1925.

Henry is found working as a ticket agent for the Great Northern Railway Company in the 1930 Census. Because of Velten’s employment with the railroad, they moved to Whitefish, MT in 1943. They returned to Kalispell in 1972.

Velten’s death certificate stated his usual occupation was a telegrapher – agent. One letter reveals that Velten started out with the railway as a warehouseman, telegraph operator, and cashier at Libby & Eureka, MT. Velten died on 30 Nov 1994 at Kalispell, Flathead Co., MT, at the age of 96 and was buried at Conrad Memorial Cemetery in that city.


Mack Curtis LaBertew (1881-1957)

Mack Curtis LaBertew was born on 19 June 1881 at Anchor, McLean County, Illinois, the son of school teacher Joseph LaBertew and his wife Viola. Like his father, Mack started working out as a teacher (1900). He then became involved working with the railroad in 1902 where he was chief clerk and cashier with the Great Northern Railway Company, he also worked as a brakeman, telegraph operator, switchman, and agent, then general manager of the SP & S Railway. He then worked for the Great Northern Railway Company again, where he was appointed superintendent of the Havre division at Havre, M in 1917. In 1919, he became the superintendent of the Kalispell division of the Great Northern Railway Company at Whitefish, MT and was there until 1935. After retiring, LaBertew made his home for a while at Whitefish, MT.  LaBertew died on 18 Feb 1957 and was buried at River View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon


Business Correspondence includes:

43 outgoing letters, 48 pp., mostly hand written, some typed, by Henry J. Velten to various correspondents, dated 9 Jan 1921 to 11 Dec 1922; Velten is the railway’s agent at Olney, MT; he writes to other employees of the railway, including: M.C. LaBertew, superintendent of the Great Northern Railway Company’s Kalispell division at Whitefish, MT, MT (34); J.H. Hicken, chief dispatcher, Whitefish, MT (2); W.J. Shanahan, Whitefish, MT (1); W.D. Loftus, agent, Great Falls, MT (1); William Bayer, Trego, MT (2); T.A. Hills, general baggage agent, St. Paul, MN (1); he also writes one letter to the Lumberman’s Credit Association, Chicago, IL, other.

31 incoming letters, mostly typed, some hand written to Henry J. Velten, agent for the railway at Olney, MT, dated 17 Jan 1921 to 6 Dec 1922; letters are written by Superintendent M.C. LaBertew at Whitefish, MT (26); Division Roadmaster at Whitefish, MT (1); T.A. Hills the general baggage agent at St. Paul, MN (1); and J. H. Hicken, chief dispatcher at Whitefish, MT (2), other. Some of the letters written to Velten are addressed to him only as “agent” or “agent, Olney” on a list of various agents with Olney checked off.

5 letters, 6 pp., handwritten by L.L. O’Connell, agent, Olney, MT to M.C. LaBertew, superintendent, Whitefish, MT, all dated 23 Sept 1923.

3 letters, 3 typed pp., by W.W. Trafton, Whitefish, MT, to M.C. LaBertew, two dated 6 Oct 1921, one dated 25 Oct 1921.

2 letters. 2 typed pp., by W.W. Trafton, Whitefish, MT to W. J. Shanahan, yard master, Whitefish, MT, both dated 5 Oct 1921; two copies of same letter.

2 letters, 2 typed pp., by W.W. Trafton, Whitefish, M, to H. G. Decker, both dated 7 Oct 1921; two copies of same letter, one of mss note in pencil.

2 letters, 2 typed pp., by W.W. Trafton, Whitefish, MT, to Agent, Belton, MT, both dated 11 Oct 1921; two copies of same letter, one has mss note in pencil.

1 letter, 1 mss pp., by W. J. Shanahan, yard master, Whitefish, MT, to W.W. Trafton, dated 5 Oct 1921.