West Valley Pioneers: Frank and Ida Stiles

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by Jeanine Buettner

My great grandparents Frank and Ida Stiles moved to Kalispell in 1901, from Corona, South Dakota where Frank was a farmer, school teacher and a member of the House of Representatives. They packed everything they owned including farm machinery into a boxcar and made their way to the Flathead Valley, bringing with them their four children, my grandfather T. Milton being the youngest.  

Frank and Ida Stiles

They purchased their farm on the corner of what is now Old West Reserve and West Valley Dr.  This place was originally purchased on a patent (purchased from the state of Montana) by Charles and Mary Palmer in 1891. Mr. Palmer owned a saw mill here on the place which consisted of 160 acres. Charles was the son of Capt. Robert Palmer who lived just across the road and to the east. On March 2, 1901 Steinar A. Haugen purchased this place from the Palmers which now consists of 320 acres for $4,300.00. He sold it to Frank and Ida on Nov. 4, 1901 for $6,400.00 (property flipping in the early days). Mr. Steinar got married in 1902 and purchased a shoe store on main street of Kalispell.

Frank and Ida built the house and the barn. I do not know when. I do know the original house sat west of the present house. My grandfather was only 5 years old when they moved here. His sister Rena was the teacher at the Meadow Hill School 5 miles up McMannamy Draw. (est. 1901)  So this is where he first started school. They walked to school every day. She was known to chase bears out of the school with a broom. Next school he attended was the Rugsagger school just across West Valley Dr. from the Spring Creek Cemetery.  

The original Stiles home.
The Stiles barn as it looks today.

Frank passed away at home in 1933 and Ida in 1940. My grandfather Milton then took over the farm and had a dairy and was the Flathead County milk inspector. In 1963 Henry and Margaret Braaten leased the place and had a large dairy. This is where Duane Braaten grew up and is well known in our area as the owner of Farm to Market Pork. My parents took it over in the 60s and Rob Giles purchased it from my mom in 1981.

I am very fortunate to have all the original deeds for this place starting with the original Patent certificate from the General Land Office of the United States,  granted by President Benjamin Harrison dated November 3, 1891.

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Craig Smith
Craig Smith
2 years ago

Thank you for the history of Stiles
farm on the corner. It is a beautiful place. I am very interested in the history of the West Valley farms. We have lost some barns in the last few years. Every barn has a story of a family and their hard work.

Skip Via
Skip Via
2 years ago
Reply to  Craig Smith

I hold the same fascination about barns, for exactly the same reasons. And a lot of admiration for the folks that built them. If you run across any stories, please let us know.