Eligibility for First Families & Early Settlers of Montana


The First Families and Early Settlers Program of the Montana State Genealogical Society is open to anyone who can prove descent (either direct or through a sister or brother of a direct ancestor) from a resident of what is now the State of Montana during a time period listed below:

  • First Families of Montana:  arrived before Statehood on 8 November 1889

  • Early Settlers of Montana: arrived between 9 November 1889 and 31 December 1929.

  • Evidence submitted as proof must be sufficient to prove the ancestor’s residence in Montana during the selected period and to establish either direct descent from the ancestor or descent from a sister or brother of a direct ancestor that meets the above date requirement. Ancestor need not have been born in Montana, may not have stayed here, but you must clearly prove that they were here once during one of the above times.  

    If approval is given, descendants will receive an appropriate certificate indicating they are either a direct descendant or a family descendant of the proven ancestor. At this time, it is uncertain if we will publish a Volume VI of our series "First Families and Early Settlers of Montana". However we do request that information needed to include your submission in a future volume is included in case a book is compiled in the future. In the volumes, photos are printed in a 3” x 3” space when provided.  Photos should not be a copy that was printed previously in a published book.  Make a copy of your original photo and send that copy.  We also welcome self-written stories about a half of a printed page (about 400 words) in length about the ancestors.  A sample of the printed information appears on our website at:

    Application Procedure

    First Families of Montana Applications
    PO Box 1012
    Condon MT  59826

    The submitted application and all supporting documents become the property of MSGS and are stored at our library in Helena, Montana. 

     As you are completing the necessary forms, it is best to work from your proof documents rather than going from family group sheets or ancestor charts.  This forces you to really examine your documentation and ascertain if you actually do have proof before writing it on the form.  If you can’t find the proof on a substantiating document, don’t put it on either form.  If your documentation only states the event occurred in Montana, you may not infer the town &/or county. 

    Application Form

    Pedigree Form

    The foundation of these projects is to prove descent from a qualifying ancestor.  This means that each step from one generation to another needs to be proven, including proving yourself to your parents. 

    Always use the maiden names of females.

    Sources of Documentation

    Since every instance is different, it is not possible to list everything that may or may not be used to prove events or relationships.  The rule is to keep in mind that the document must actually state what it is you are trying to prove.  This is where working from your documents to complete the forms really is beneficial.

    In general, original records created at or near the time of the event, such as civil or church birth records are best.

    An example of something that is NOT acceptable is an undocumented family history written long after anyone would have had firsthand knowledge of the people and events involved.  This includes pages printed from a genealogy web site and family group sheets.

    Supplemental applications, such as those for your children or for the parents of the generation you have proven first, do not require the re-submission of all proof documentation.  The Application Form, Pedigree Form and Sample Certificate do need to be completed for each supplemental application, but specify which original application you are working off of.  Any documentation for additional generations must be included.

    If you have any questions, contact Fern Kauffman at

    Thank you for participating in this project of the Montana State Genealogical Society.