Excerpts taken from the
"School Bells" in the Miles City Star's
Centennial Roundup book published
by the Miles City Star in 1987
The first public school in Miles
City began in 1878. Catholic education began in Miles City in
Original article written by Jean Freese:
On January 16, 1884, a group of six
Ursuline nuns arrived by train from Ohio to be met by Montana's
first Catholic bishop, the Rev. John Brondel.
In a letter written to the organization's mother house in Toledo,
Sister Amadeus, who was in charge of the group, reported on the
something-less-than-wonderful beginning they had made. The first
moment was fine. She wrote, "The first one to greet us at
the depot was the gracious Bishop Brondel. There he stood at
the foot of the car steps with outstretched arms, his face beaming
with joy, his eyes brimful with tears. He had traveled 22 hours
over a distance of 400 miles to welcome us to diocese. His kindness
touched us deeply."
She was not as charmed with the bishop's arrangements for living
quarters for the nuns. "I have not the language to describe
the lodgings," she said and went on to do so. "We drove
up in our fine carriages to a white-washed log cabin with a Chinese
laundry attached to it, the two cabins forming one building.
Over the Chinese establishment were the words, 'Yelee Laundry.'
The outside turned out to be the best part of the building. There
was no fire in the room although snow had blown in the door,
which was ajar, and the window. Moonlight came through openings
in the walls and roof.
"The partitions between us and the other lodgers (bar-room
tenders, ditch-diggers, cowboys, ranchmen, etc.) consisted of
pink striped calico stretched across the studdings," Sister
The room was not very clean and the conditions of the beds
were worse. The Star article stated:
They (the nuns) gave up the bed and spread out a blanket
and "...wrapped up in shawls and blankets and Father Eyler's
overcoat," wrote Sister Amadeus.
They received permission from the bishop to find a place of their
own, located a city map and a real estate agent and rented a
small house for $25 a month. The nuns bought stoves right away
(sources state the temperature when the sisters arrived was over
30 degrees below zero).
"It is a miserable little town, but the people are fine
-- large, open, warm-hearted people. Everybody is glad to see
us, Protestants as well as Catholics, and if times were good
I think we would get along well," Sister Amadeus wrote.
Bishop Brondel had given them money to build schools both in
Miles City and on the Cheyenne reservation. Within a few weeks
the nuns had opened their school with 31 boarders, "most
of them daughters of men from the military outposts."
Sister Amadeus' first letter written on Jan. 18, 1884, is headed
simply "Miles City Montana Territory," but the second
letter, dated Jan. 29 is from "Ursuline Convent of the Sacred
Heart, Miles City, M.T."
Sister Amadeus, however, was more interested in working among
the Indians and by March 30 was off with the bishop and three
of the nuns to open their first mission on the Tongue River.
This is now the St.
Labre Catholic School.
The original school burned.
To induce the nuns to rebuild a site was purchased by the people
of Miles City and on October 5, 1902 the new brick convent opened.