Early Day Montana Life: A Conversation with Don Ellis

The Yellowstone Gateway Museum is hosting a program entitled Early Day Montana Life: A Conversation with Don Ellis on Friday, November 15, 6:30 PM at the Livingston-Park County Library, 228 W. Callender in Livingston.

Don Ellis is a longtime resident of Livingston. A native Montanan, he was born in the Smith River country east of Great Falls, raised on family ranches and did a lot of cowboying in his early years. By the time he was twenty-six years old, Ellis had purchased a 5,000-acre cattle ranch near Cascade, Montana. He sold the ranch in 1964. Ellis’s history in Park County began when he went to Cooke City where he purchased the old Shaw & Powell Camps. He named his enterprise the Anvil Inn and continued with that business until 1973. Ellis and his family moved to Livingston in the mid-1960s so their children could have a good school. He and his wife raised five children in Livingston.

Ellis has always been an entrepreneur. By 1984 Ellis was operating White Buffalo Lodges—a successful tipi manufacturing business. He sold and pitched a lot of teepees in the Livingston area and beyond. Ellis also restored wagons, including sheep wagons, and sold wood stoves. Now retired from the tipi-making and wagon business, Ellis makes cowboy jewelry and other items from square nails.

Ellis shares colorful stories about his life in the Cooke City and Livingston areas but will also give a brief history of his grandfather who drove cattle from Texas to Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. Talking about his upcoming program, Ellis quipped, “The cowboy way is to make a joke out of disaster so there will be some of that.” His stories reveal a way of life that, for most people, is long gone, but they continue to entertain and inspire.

The program is free and refreshments are provided. Please call 406-222-4184 for more information about this and other programs that the museum offers.