My curiosity about some of the family members on my husband, Bob’s side of our family, has led me to research the Forsyth, Montana area, because after all, that is where many of them lived for much of their lives. Some, including Julia (Doll) Schulenberg, and her husband, Max homesteaded here, until floods and droughts ruined their chances of making a living there. Then they moved into the little town of Forsyth, Montana, where they would live out their lives and raise their ten children, the oldest of whom was my husband, Bob’s grandfather, Andrew Schulenberg. Andy was the sheriff of Rosebud County from 1955 to 1972, in spite of the fact that he had lost his lower leg in a shooting accident when he was fifteen years old. To me that is rather an amazing feat for the times. Artificial legs of this day and age could probably facilitate an officer of the law’s need to run, but in those days, they did not have the technology to spring load the leg for running. During his term as sheriff, Andy became a much loved sheriff and citizen of the area, while also keeping the peace in the county.
Before the town of Forsyth, Montana existed, the river steamers used to stop in the area to refuel their engines. The area had an abundance of cottonwood trees and that made it a perfect fuel location. To this day, Forsyth is known as the city of trees. The town sits along the Yellowstone River, and it got its name from General James W Forsyth, who stopped there on one of those river steamers, before there was even a town. The town would be established in 1880, and the post office would be established in 1882 when the Northern Pacific Railroad extended into the Judith Basin, which opened up the territory for settlement. It is located along the Lewis and Clark Trail, which peaks my curiosity even more.
Max and Julia Schulenberg weren’t the only side of Bob’s family to settle in Forsyth. The Knox side of the family lived there too. Shortly after the death of their son, Joy Allen Knox, Bob’s maternal great grandparents, Edgar and Nellie (DeGood) Knox, moved from Prosser County, Washington to the Rosebud area to work on a ranch there. While Bob’s grandfather was not born in the area, he lived there until the early 1960s when they would move to Casper, Wyoming, which is where their daughter, Joann and her husband, Walter Schulenberg, who are Bob’s parents had moved. While Walt and Joann would never live in Montana again, Forsyth would remain an important part of their lives. Forsyth was, after all, an area where they had deep roots, connected to both sides of their family. With the move of the Knox family, the connection to Forsyth for that side of the family ended, however. Still the Schulenberg/Hein/Leary side of the family continues to have deep roots there to this day, and a number of the family members still live right there in Forsyth.
One of the things that I had always found very interesting about Forsyth is the cross on the hill. I always thought it was great that the town had decided to place the cross there, but now I find out that it was not the town at all. The cross, which has become a tourist attraction, as well as a source of inspiration and hope for the people of the area, was actually placed there early in the Fall of 1960 by the youth group of Concordia Lutheran Church. The idea was that of one of the youth group members, and was so well received by the entire youth group, that they all gave up their Saturdays to dig the hole for the pole and the anchor on the top of the hill to the south of Forsyth. The cross was first lit up on the second Monday evening in November of 1960. Over the next sixteen years, the cross remained lit and was kept up by contributions from individuals, businesses, tourists and organizations. I’m not sure if it is still lit these days, but it remains on the top of the hill. I’m sure there is much more history that I will discover as I continue to study the area where Bob’s family has such deep roots. I look forward to doing more research very soon.