Dudley White: Rancher and Montana History Collector


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The D. White Collection

  Dudley White described himself as, "Exquisitely susceptible to flattery and a misanthrope who should have been named Shakespeare."  His legacy of priceless first edition Montana history books, western history books, and personal photographs were left to Eastern Montana College, now known as Montana State University-Billings, in honor of his revered mother, Dora White.  Thus, the D. White Collection was created at the MSU-Billings Library.  For more information about the D. White Collection at the MSU-Billings Library go to http://www.msubillings.edu/library/Speccoll.htm.

Biographical Information

  Dudley White was born March 12,1875 in Chicago, Illinois. At ten years of age Dudley contracted scarlet fever and was unable to go to school.  At sixteen, he worked at a drug store in Rock Island, Illinois for almost two years.  He then accompanied his Uncle Lewis Lange to Sutton, Nebraska for a short visit.  He landed in Billings, Montana, in 1897 where he worked for several months and then went again.  Dudley worked on various ranches for about four years looking for a place of his own.
  Now just 22 years old, Dudley found a piece of land in the Lodge Pole Basin, also known as Limestone Montana.  He took up squatter's rights and in 1906 filed a claim for 160 acres which would later be turned into 2,500 acres (known as the T4 Ranch).  Dudley ran about 500 head of cattle and three tons of hay.  
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This is Dudley's first home built in 1902, at Limestone, Montana.  He built a cabin like this one just for his mother and father a few yards away. 
  Dudley never married and worked on one of the areas biggest ranches until the age of 70 years old, when he sold the ranch and moved to Columbus, Montana.  He retired to his winter hobbies of reading, learning western history, and collecting art and the first edition books of his time.  His favorite subjects were General George Armstrong Custer, Will James, the Lewis & Clark expeditions, Charles Russell, and Leonard H. Reedy.  
   On February 15th, 1957 Dudley White died.  He was 82 years of age. Today he rests in Mountain View Cemetery in Columbus, Montana.  At the time, his personal library ranked with the best in the state--it consisted of 1500 volumes valued at $14,000.