Glacier Park Centennial: Josephine Doody

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Josephine Doody (1853-1936) was a moonshiner, mountain lion hunter, and a McCarthyville, Montana dance hall girl. Known as the “Bootleg Lady of Glacier National Park,” she married one of the park’s first rangers and fur trappers, Dan Doody. A mountain in the park is named for him, and Lake Josephine might be named for her or a mule.

McCarthyville was a railroad boom town on the Great Northern Railway line at Marias Pass. The town attracted the usual low lifes who follow railroad builders. Life centered around Slippery Bill’s Saloon. According to historian Jack Holterman, the hospital’s doctor was so bad “you never knew how many men had died until the spring thaw.”

Doody pulled her rifle on the railway man in charge of the town and persuaded him to get the town under control. He did. Reportedly, Josephine was wanted for shooting a man, possibly in self defense, down in Colorado where the law was looking for her. She hid out in Dan’s cabin until the whole mess blew over.

The Great Northern built a siding on Josephine and Dan’s ranch so Jim and Louis Hill’s private car could stop. The Hill family loved the little woman with her great cooking, rough language and big earrings. Meanwhile, Dan was one of those rangers who did a little trapping and poaching within the confines of the park he was being paid to police.

Josephine operated several stills on that ranch; railroaders knew to stop their trains there and blow the whistle once for each quart of refreshment they needed.

John Fraley writes about Josephine in his book Wild River Pioneers. “She was an incredible woman who lived across the Middle Fork, in a remote area, at one point she didn’t see another woman for seven years, she was a bootlegger, that’s why she’s called the Bootleg Lady of Glacier Park,” Fraley said.


Malcolm

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3 responses

  1. Hi Malcolm, I just found your blog while searching for info on McCarthyville. I’m a descendant of the McCarthy who established that town, and I’m seeking more information on it. Can you recommend sources?

    Thanks—Ellen McCarthy

    • Hi Ellen,

      Information on Doody who had a colorful past even before coming to McCarthyville can be found in John Fraley’s book “Wild River Pioneers available here: http://www.glacierassociation.org/store/product/2612/WILD-RIVER-PIONEERS/

      Jack Holterman privately printed a book in 2001 called “Who Was Who in Glacier Land.” He has since passed away and the book is probably out of print; it might be available in a public library in the Glacier area or even elsewhere via inter-library loan.

      The Montana Historical Society has an extensive archive and, for a small fee, will provide research information. You can find their service here:
      http://mhs.mt.gov/research/library/researchrequests.asp

      The National Park Service headquarters at Glacier National Park has a museum with a fairly extensive archive. Just send the park an e-mail asking about the town and it will be routed to the librarian who will contact you within a week probably if information exists. You can find them here: http://www.nps.gov/glac/contacts.htm

      There should be hundreds of sites referencing the Great Northern Railway and Glacier National Park. Searches might include Marias Pass, McCarthyville and Great Northern. If you come up empty, you might contact the Great Northern Historical Society and see if they have done any research on the town. They do print monographs on old station stops and other facilities along the line: http://www.gnrhs.org/

      I would also contact the public library, possibly in nearby Kalispell and ask about local histories. Many historical societies and cities print these, often as fund raisers, and somebody might have done one on some of the settlements between West Glacier and East Glacier along the rail line and highway 2.

      Best of luck on your search.

      Malcolm