MONTANA COWBOY HALL OF FAME & WESTERN HERITAGE

Charles Peter Henry & Nicholas John Bielenberg (1864-1924 & 1847-1927)

Charles Peter Henry Bielenberg was born May 1, 1846, in Wevelsfleth, a small fishing village in the province of Holstein, Germany. In July 1854, the Bielenberg family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Davenport, Iowa. Charles Bielenberg attended the public school of Davenport until 1864. On May 7, 1864, at eighteen, Charles enlisted in the 44th Regiment Infantry Iowa Volunteers. He was mustered into the U. S. Army on June 1, 1864, in Davenport Iowa. The 44th Regiment did garrison duty at Memphis and La Grange, Tennessee. At the end of his enlistment on September 15, 1864, Charles returned to Iowa. On January 21, 1865, he re-enlisted, this time in the 8th Regiment Infantry Iowa Volunteers. He was deafened and taken ill during the bombardment of Mobile, Alabama and the siege of Spanish Fort. In August 1865, he was hospitalized at Montgomery through October, when he was sent back to Davenport to recuperate. He was honorably discharged on December 18, 1865.

At the close of the war, Charles Bielenberg headed west to the Montana Territory where his half-brother, Con Kohrs, and his twin-brother, John N. Bielenberg and youngest brother, Nicholas J. Bielenberg, had established themselves. In the spring of 1866, at the age of twenty, he traveled to Montana by steamboat departing from St. Louis up the Missouri River and arriving at Fort Benton, of the Montana Territory. Having no money to pay expenses for travel, Charles walked to Helena, arriving on June 10, 1866. From Helena he went onto Virginia City to be employed in one of Con Kohrs’ butcher shops for three months. In the fall of 1866, Charles came to Deer Lodge and opened the “City Market” butcher shop, with “Nick” Bielenberg and Con Kohrs as partners in the business. Here he went into the butchering and meat cutting business, operating the City Market in Deer Lodge for 30 years. In 1873, Charles became associated with John Bielenberg, engaging in the stock business, raising horses and cattle. The firm of Bielenberg & Brothers was known throughout the Territory. Their stock was of the highest grade, and always brought the best prices in Chicago, to which they shipped each year, several herds.

Charles Bielenberg remained in the cattle business with his twin brother until John's death in 1922. It was shortly thereafter that Charles resigned from his position as foreman of the Kohrs & Bielenberg ranches. Mr. Bielenberg was a member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G. A. R.), the Society of Montana Pioneers, the Elks, No. 289 of Anaconda and the Kiwanis club of Deer Lodge. His position as a patriotic instructor of the Grand Army was a beloved duty to him. Having the financial means, he considered himself better able to bear the expenses of spreading patriotic doctrine around the state than the Grand Army with its dwindling membership. His patriotism also was evident when he enlisted in Captain Stewart's Company No.12, August 12-24, 1877, for the Nez Perce Indian uprising. In an application for a Civil War pension, he listed as distinguishing marks and scars: a scar on left forearm from a bite by a pet bear. Mr. Bielenberg was married in 1869 to Miss Mary Wilhelma, of Iowa, and has three children: Clara, Katie and Charles O. Bielenberg.

Charles Peter Henry Bielenberg died on October 31, 1924, in Deer Lodge, Montana.

Nicholas John Bielenberg was born in Wevelsfleth, on June 8, 1847, two years following the birth of his brothers John and Charles Bielenberg. In Davenport, Iowa Nick Bielenberg attended public school, choosing early in his youth to follow the vocational activities in which his father Claus Bielenberg, and half-brother, Henry Kohrs, were engaged, that of a butcher. In 1863, at sixteen, Nick traveled to Chicago, Illinois to serve an apprenticeship in the butchering business, remaining there through the winter of 1864. In the spring of 1865, at seventeen, he traveled by steamboat up the Missouri River, departing from St. Louis Missouri and arriving at Fort Benton on June 18, 1865.

Upon reaching the territory, Nick’s half-brother, Con Kohrs and brother John Bielenberg “staked” him in the purchase of a butcher shop in the mining town of Blackfoot City. Here, he settled until 1870, when Nick left this gold mining camp to pursue the butcher business at Helena, remaining there for two years until 1872. In March 1873, Nick sold his "Blackfoot City" butcher shop to Simpson and Company and purchased the Prowse Ranch on Dempsey Creek, becoming the “Figure Five" Ranch. In 1877, he pursued the meat packing business in Butte, handling beef in wholesale quantities with the construction of a cold-storage warehouse. This large butchering business, named the Butte Butchering Company, became one of the leading industries of its kind in the northwest. On February 19, 1879, Nick Bielenberg became one of the first members of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. In 1883 Nick Bielenberg, with his half-brother Con Kohrs and brothers, John N. W. and Charles P. H. Bielenberg, became involved in an extensive cattle operation, including the famous DHS Ranch. Also in 1883, Nick became associated with J. K. Mallory and D. D. Walker in a livestock and butchering operation, forming “Bielenberg and Company" in Anaconda. Nick Bielenberg is credited as the first stockman to feed or winter beef in the Big Hole Valley. In 1884 he went into the sheep business, at first alone, then in partnership with Joseph Toomey. This business grew to enormous proportions, handling in one year over 130,000 head of sheep. Their flocks were to be found grazing in all parts of the State. It can be safely said that Nick Bielenberg and associates were the fathers of the sheep industry in Northern Montana with the first of any importance within the State.

An active Republican, Nick Bielenberg was a delegate in 1892 to the national convention at Minneapolis. Nick, a friend and confidant of Theodore Roosevelt, was a delegate to the National Progressive Convention, held in Chicago in August of 1912 that nominated Roosevelt for president on the "Bull Moose Party". Nick was an active participant in the development of the City of Deer Lodge. He contributed funds for the completion of the Deer Lodge Chapter House of the Deer Lodge Women’s' Club as a memorial to his daughter, Augusta Kohrs Bielenberg, who passed away in 1901.

Nick Bielenberg was a member of the Masonic fraternity and the Elks. In the Masonic Order he was a member of Deer Lodge, lodge No. 14, Valley Chapter, No. 4, R. A. M., Ivanhoe Commandery, No. 16, Knights Templar and Algeria Temple of Mystic Shrine. He was the first treasurer of the Ivanhoe Commandery, when chartered in 1916. He was also a member of the Society of Montana Pioneers. Nicholas J. Bielenberg and Annie (Bogk) Bielenberg of Deer Lodge, Montana had five children Alma, Howard, Augusta, Anna and Claude.

Nicholas John Bielenberg died July 6, 1927, in Deer Lodge, Montana.

References

Dreams Across the Divide: Stories of the Montana Pioneers, Linda Wostrel Editor, Stoneydale Press Publishing Company

Scott County Men in the Civil War. Retrieved 12 April 2010 from

Col. Charles P. H. Bielenberg, Noted Character, Is Dead. Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, Montana. November 2, 1924.

Deer Lodge Notes; Anaconda Standard: 11-02-1922; Volume: XXXIV; Issue:60; Page: 4; Anaconda, Montana

An Illustrated History of the State of Montana. Miller, Joaquin. Publisher: Chicago, The Lewis pub. Co., 1894.

Dreams Across the Divide: Stories of the Montana Pioneers, Linda Wostrel Editor, Stoneydale Press Publishing Company

Silver State Post, Deer Lodge, MT. December 6th, 1979.

A History of Montana. Volume 2. Helen Fitzgerald Sanders, Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913.