1950's - Elizabeth on a painting expidition with her favorite Cadillac, "studio on wheels"
A HALF-CENTURY OF PAINTINGS BY ELIZABETH LOCHRIE
By Betty Lochrie Hoag McGlynn
I was first of three children born in Deer Lodge to Montana artist Elizabeth Lochrie and her banker husband, Arthur Lochrie. In preparing this mini-biography for the Butte Arts Chateau I have been fortunate in having available good research material. Mother never threw away anything, so I have been able to study a treasure-trove of her diaries, business day books, photographs, newspaper and magazine clippings, and letters---innumerable letters from family members, friends, clients. Correspondence with her Native American brethren is especially revealing, throwing light on Mother's life-long love affair with the Indians.
Elizabeth Lochrie's art career was successful, due in part to the influence of three people. First was her mother who had been reared in the home of a well-to-do family noted for having founded England's Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery. Recognizing that her baby had talent, Mary Rogers Davey determined to do everything possible to give the child a good education. After many years of self-sacrifice and valor, the Widow Davey was proud to have her daughter graduate from Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
A second person, Elizabeth's father, had powerfully influenced her development. Frank Stillson Davey was city engineer for Deer Lodge. He also was an inventor, historian, and noted outdoorsman, climber of mountain peaks, big-game hunter, trainer of horses. Frank was a friend and patron of Cree Indians who lived in the Deer Lodge Valley, near Gold Creek. (His large photographic plates recording their images can be found today at the Montana Historical Society in Helena.) For his home Frank commissioned the Crees to craft many furniture pieces, which he had designed. Elizabeth often pointed out that the wood used was native to Montana. She loved her father's Indian friends and several times "ran away from home" to be with them in their tepees. The first time, when she was a tot of four, she joined an itinerant band passing through town and was not missed for several hours. In Frank Davey's library there were not only James Fennimore Cooper books which indicate his interest in Native Americans, but also volumes by Mark Twain, certainly reflecting his appreciation of frontier wit. As a mature woman, Elizabeth became a popular lecturer about the Indians; everyone who attended her talks remembers in particular the humor and empathy delivered in a Twain manner. Frank Davey died when Elizabeth was thirteen years old, and she certainly carried-on his reverence for the Montana frontier.
Finally, Elizabeth shared a sixty-two-year marriage with a man who adored her and was inordinately proud of her accomplishments. It has never before been told outside our family: Arthur Lochrie, as a teen-ager, was seriously interested in art. For a year he studied with a respected teacher in the small Iowa town where he lived. (Only a few years ago I saw one of Dad's oil paintings hanging on a wall of his sister's living room. A study of hunting dogs, it was very large, framed elaborately in Victorian gold, and was really not a bad painting. The signature startled me: "A.J. Lochrie.") At any rate, Arthur kept his own creative efforts a dark secret and let all the glory go to Mother. From 1931-on, Elizabeth went alone all summer-long to paint on the Indian reservations. I never once heard Dad complain about her absences. He was always just so proud of the work she was doing and grateful that it made her happy. And he did glow when people admired her landscapes and portraits.
Yes, Elizabeth Lochrie was fortunate to have strong support from three loyal people. A devoutly spiritual person, she would have been the first to agree with the Psalmist (16:6): "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; Yea, I have a goodly heritage." That is not to say that she herself did not work very hard all her life, for she did. From childhood Elizabeth must be viewed as a "scrapper." She was completely dedicated to her art, and the quantity of her production is staggering. One also cannot say that she didn't experience tragedies, many sadnesses and disappointments. Perhaps that is inevitable to anyone who lives ninety-one years. But considered all in all, Elizabeth's half-century of painting was a rich experience for her. And, more important, during that time she enriched the lives of her family, her Indian family, her friends, and every community in which she happened to reside.
Elizabeth Tangye Davey was born July 1, 1890, in Deer Lodge, Montana. Her family roots were typical of what Alexis de Toqueville called "a double migration, moving Europeans to the seaboard cities of America and Americans into the west." Both her father's and her mother's families were originally jewelry designers in London. Both families migrated, if not to the seaboard, at least to the Midwest, settling as farmers near the banks of the Mississippi River.
Elizabeth's paternal great-grandfather, Joseph John Davey, Sr., had property near Galesburg, Illinois, where he was friend and neighbor of the U.S. Grant family. Joe, Jr., worked for his father. Joe was the first of the clan to go west: the summer of 1866, at the age of twenty-five, he joined the Gold Rush to Montana Territory. His two companions were both named Tom Jenkins. The younger was Joe's best friend, his same age. Tom worked for his own father on land adjoining the Davey's. Big Tom Jenkins was his uncle, about ten years older, a banker and something of an adventurer. The three Argonauts probably went to the Bearmouth diggings. There is no record that they found any gold. It is interesting to learn that they visited Deer Lodge. (Many years later Tom's wife wrote Elizabeth that her husband remembered the settlement as "having practically no houses at all at that time." One of them would have been Johnny Grant's two-story house with its twenty-eight windows. Built in 1862, it sounds spectacular; it seems strange that Grandpa Jenkins didn't comment on it.) One of Joe's four children must have been impressed by his father's stories of the far west: two decades later, in 1887, Frank Stillson Davey (Elizabeth's father) moved permanently to Deer Lodge.
A poignant bit of frontier history should be added to the Davey story. Frank's father, Joe Davey, Jr., died of a heart attack at the age of thirty. A short time later young Tom Jenkins married the new widow. Then he and Eliza A. Martin Davey Jenkins became parents of several more children. The Davey/Jenkins brothers and sisters were reared together, and the families remain friends to this day.
Elizabeth's maternal grandparents, originally from Cornwall, England, moved from London to Wisconsin where they farmed near Plattville. The Rogers family consisted of seven children who ranged widely in ages. The eldest daughter and her husband accompanied her parents to America. Elizabeth (called "Lesa") Osborne Rogers had married Lord Joseph Tangye in London in 1840. Uncle Joe was brother of the Tangye brothers who established schools and art museums which furthered the Arts and Crafts Movement in England. The Tangye family were patrons of the Pre-Raphaelite painters. One brother had an estate near Newquay, Cornwall; his house was filled with historical treasures such as Roman armor which had been unearthed on the property. This Lord Tangye had a large amphitheater built nearby into the chalk rock cliffs facing the ocean. Here he brought, from London, performers (opera stars, orchestras, bands, etc.) who gave concerts free-to-the-public.
Uncle Joe and Aunt Lesa Tangye lived far less glamorously, settling in Scales Mound, Illinois, where they owned and operated a mercantile store. When Lesa's little sister May (Mary Jane Rogers) was twelve the couple took her into their home and raised her as a daughter. They also adopted an older, orphaned cousin named Will Rogers. Both children were gifted musically, and the Tangyes gave them fine schooling. Cousin Will eventually bought a factory, which made pianos. In 1889 he shipped one to Deer Lodge as a wedding present for May Rogers and Frank Davey. A year later when their baby girl was born she was christened Elizabeth Tangye Davey.
Deer Lodge is a beautiful small town nestled at the base of lordly Mount Powell which towers a mile above the valley floor. There are natural hot springs nearby in the valley, and the area is noted for its lush grasses. Wild animals have always wintered here. So have Indians. (As late as December, 1915, the local newspaper reported that Blackfeet and Piegans from the bleak buffalo ranges near the Canadian border had come to the Deer Lodge Valley where there was wild pasturage for their ponies, a stream with fish, and deer to hunt.) From the 1860s-on prospectors and travelers on the Mullan Wagon Road used Deer Lodge as a stopover for rest, reprovisioning, and for making blacksmith repairs. The town is bisected by the Clark Fort of the Columbia (locally called the Deer Lodge River). It rolls past somber walls of the State Penitentiary, on past the railroad yards and shops begun in 1877 by the Northern Pacific Railroad. Many churches are scattered about various streets, shaded under cottonwood trees. Houses look comfortable and well cared for. On a small hill there are buildings that were part of the first college in Montana Territory, opened in 1878. At the time May and Frank Davey came to Deer Lodge the institution had attracted a distinguished faculty. Deer Lodge was obviously a place of culture. The couple led an idyllic life. Frank enjoyed his work as engineer. Before the days of the Montana Power Company he installed a generation plant using water from the Deer Lodge River. The electrical wiring he put in is still in use today. He laid-out all the plumbing lines, which were wooden. His wife was active in the Women's Club; served as organist at the Episcopal church; and she was noted for her fine needlework: crocheting, laces, embroideries. Also May kept busy with a growing family. Elizabeth was soon joined by three brothers, each about a year apart. (Joseph John, III, was named for Frank's father. Thomas Conley was named both for Tom Jenkins and for Frank's close friend Frank Conley, who was warden of the penitentiary and Deer Lodge's mayor from 1895 to 1929. Clarence Osborne's name came from May's mother.) All of the boys called their sister "Sis." Elizabeth described them in a letter: "We were fox-terrier kind of children, all under-sized, very active. And we all had those big black Davey eyes'."
The Daveys owned a bungalow at the southeast corner of Milwaukee (then called Rainbow) Avenue and Clark Street. Frank built a large corral behind the house and adjoining the barn. In those days wild horses were often rounded-up for dray-use underground in Butte's mines. There the poor creatures soon went blind and had to be killed. Frank, who was said to "have a good eye for horse flesh," used to study the wild bands, pick out individual animals which looked promising to him, and buy them from the cowboys. After breaking-in the horses, Frank groomed and trained them to be race horses which he sold to men like Marcus Daly. Physically a small man, Frank also enjoyed jockeying in races. Elizabeth inherited her father's passion for horses. Her introduction to them was unusual: when she could barely walk her father strapped her securely onto the back of a reliable old nag and turned the pair loose in a field. Eventually the little girl "rode bareback" effortlessly. Later Elizabeth owned her own "Babe," a piebald Indian pony that she adored. May Davey shocked many of the townspeople by making her daughter a "divided skirt" for her riding. Earlier she had shocked them by making a baseball uniform with bloomers, when Elizabeth was the only girl on the town's baseball team! Elizabeth was, in fact, a tomboy. Her father taught her to be a good rifleman and she often went on hunting trips in the mountains. She was a great fly-fisherman throughout her life, and enjoyed nothing more than to wade deep into an icy stream and cast her line. Many an envious male has thought that she had some kind of "e.s.p." with the largest trout! Elizabeth was an expert at playing mumbley-peg and marbles. She also could whistle through her teeth like the boys. She whistled tunes to herself while she was sketching or painting. And Elizabeth did sketch or paint constantly from the time she was a baby.
Just after Elizabeth graduated from grade school and before her thirteenth birthday, the family suffered a cruel blow. On June 10, 1903, Frank stopped by the meat market on Main Street. Several women were at the counter near him. Suddenly a drunken teen-ager swaggered into the room. When the boy began swearing in front of the ladies, Frank ordered him to leave. The ruffian refused. Frank tried to shove him out the door. The young man grabbed a heavy oaken chair and crashed it over Frank's head. He died instantly. The newspaper reported the event as "an accident which occurred while Mr. Davey was teaching the youth some wrestling tactics." The fact is that the murderer was the only son of a respected pioneer family. Apparently May Davey never sought legal redress. However, everyone in town knew what had happened and she received love and help from all sides. It was needed.
Such prominent men as Senator William A. Clark, Mayor Frank Conley, Butte's mining engineer Sam Barker and businessman Dan Hennessey, came forward to assist. During the next decade May taught Home Economics in the schools of both Deer Lodge and Butte. Often the young widow saw her children only fleetingly on weekends. Usually they stayed at a Deer Lodge boarding house run by Mrs. Shobbat (Shaubut?), a "braid Indian" who was married to a white prospector. Elizabeth once described her as "a placid, calm, lovely person. She never called us in to bed at night."
Elizabeth received her first formal art training in 1903-05, from Vonna Owings, a highly qualified teacher. "Vonnie" had grown up in Deer Lodge, then studied in Chicago and in San Francisco before returning to her hometown. She married in 1905 and, as Mrs. Webb, is remembered in California for having been a co-founder of the famous annual Laguna Beach Art Festival.
Elizabeth was nineteen when she enrolled at Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. She completed the three—year Normal School curriculum in two years, graduating in June of 1911 with honors. The student was homesick for Montana the entire time, missing "the great purple mountains," especially missing rides on her horse. When the school gave a masquerade ball she appeared in an Indian dress she had made. It was greatly admired, and one of the teachers persuaded her to "pose in costume" for the Advanced Drawing class. After a friend took her to the Buffalo Bill Wild West show at Madison Square Garden, Elizabeth became so ill that she was in bed for a week.
One of Elizabeth's favorite teachers at Pratt was Arthur Wesley Dow. The spring of 1911 some of his work was shown in New York at the Montross Gallery; the landscapes were of Egypt. Presumably Elizabeth was influenced by Professor Dow for she signed a one-year contract with a Presbyterian Missionary School in Cairo. Graduation day finally arrived and she returned to Deer Lodge to prepare for the big adventure. On a postcard Elizabeth forgot to mail, one can read, "Isn't it great to be home? I'm busy packing for my sail next month. I get to ride my horse almost every afternoon!"
Arthur Lochrie, a handsome bachelor of twenty-eight, had recently moved to Deer Lodge as manager of the new United States National Bank. On one of those afternoons he first saw Elizabeth on Babe, galloping down Main Street. Arthur has often described her crimson cheeks and sparkling eyes, her black curls blowing in the wind. He turned to a nearby friend and asked in awe, "Who is that girl? She is the woman I am going to marry!" Somehow, within a few days the newcomer was invited to have dinner with the Davey family. The couple became engaged. A month later, a day before Elizabeth was to leave for Cairo, Arthur sent a wire to the Missionary Headquarters, canceling her contract. Fate was kind. Had the girl made the trip she might have been interned in Egypt throughout World War I.
The war made enough drastic changes in the Davey household. All three of the sons enlisted in the armed forces, and so did May Rogers Davey. Before the end of hostilities she became Head Dietitian at Camp Lewis in Tacoma, Washington, the largest Army training base in the country. In her absence Arthur and Elizabeth, who had married June 1, 1913, moved into the Davey house on Milwaukee Avenue. May Davey's career took her to Hawaii after the war. She returned to Montana only once, for a visit.
Arthur and Elizabeth proceeded to share a long marriage which included rearing three children (Betty Jane Lochrie, born in 1914; Helen Isetta Lochrie, born in 1917; and Arthur James Lochrie, Jr., born in 1923.) Elizabeth maintained a busy schedule. As a banker's wife her social demands were many, and she enjoyed all of them. It seems amazing that she found time for an active art career "on-the-side," but that is what happened. For the next twenty-five years she taught students in her home. The classes ranged from three to about twenty. (Once asked why she terminated them, she answered, "It was all those cookies. I didn't mind the teaching, but I hated to take time on Friday mornings to make cookies for them to eat when they came to the house.")
The year after her first baby was born, Elizabeth began a series of cartoons, which were published in the Deer Lodge Silver State newspaper, beginning in October of 1915. Signed SIS, the subject matter was local happenings, usually in humorous vein. Gradually the drawings became political in tone, reflecting the international storm, which was brewing. The newspaper attracted much attention; its editor, Joseph Smith, boasted that "the Silver State is the only Montana newspaper to have a local cartoonist." Not until Christmas did his readers learn who SIS was: he mailed very elaborate cards of "Old Father Time, 1915/Baby New Year, 1916." The signature was E. Lochrie. (It should be noted that the artist used that signature for the thousands of paintings she would eventually produce. It is an ironical fact that many women of Elizabeth's generation resorted to the same subterfuge. In a macho society higher prices were earned by the men artists than by the girls. If a lady prefaced her last name with an initial, the public would then think the painter was a man.)
In 1923 Elizabeth Lochrie was commissioned by the State of Montana to paint seventeen murals in a new Children's Wing of the State Tuberculosis Sanatorium located at Galen, about ten miles upstream from Deer Lodge. Eight of the scenes were painted directly on the bedroom walls. The other nine panels were done in oil on canvas which was then "glued" to the walls with cement. Elizabeth needed a large studio for this work and found it in one building of the old college which had closed its doors in 1914. The city let her stretch-out her bolts of cloth on the floor of Trask Hall's auditorium. The artist invited local children to compete for the honor of posing as Mother Goose characters. She started work the summer of 1923, when her son was three months old. Every morning Elizabeth put Laddie into a wicker laundry basket and lugged him and her paints and brushes up that hill. Helen and I tagged along carrying extra supplies. Soon a Pied Piper band began joining us because the artist paid them well. Many a Deer Lodge citizen is immortalized in those murals. I remember it well: I was Bo Peep. The project lasted five months and was dedicated by Montana Governor Joe Dixon early in 1924. It is the first-known mural project done for a Montana institution.
It should be noted that the Galen work predated by a decade the many regional murals done for public buildings during the Great Depression. In the 1930s Elizabeth Lochrie was invited by the Treasury Department to submit designs for United State Post Offices. Three of her winning designs are still in place today:
1. Burley, Idaho: "On the Oregon Trail" was painted in 1937. It shows a line of oxen-driven wagons with pioneers moving toward the viewer. Some of the townsmen wanted the artist to include a view of Mt. Harrison standing at one end of the valley. Other people insisted on seeing the Snake River at the other end of the valley. Elizabeth pleased everyone by juggling Nature a bit to include both landmarks. While preparing this mural Elizabeth had an unusual "learning experience." She drove her car out on the desert floor to study the terrain. Unloading her watercolor tubes, brushes and jars of water, the artist sat down on the sand to begin sketching. Seconds after she had removed a lid from the first water jar, the bugs began to swarm—all kinds of bugs, large and small, buzzing and stinging. When lizards and toads appeared Elizabeth began to visualize snakes too. She returned to town and her motel to get crayons and charcoal for her next desert research.
2. Dillon, Montana: "News From the States" was done in 1938. The Pony Express has just delivered a newspaper which is spread open on the ground. Around it are gathered cowboys and Indians. One of the latter is Chief Bird Rattler (also called Double Scalper) who died in 1937; including his portrait was Elizabeth's tribute to her friend. In the distance a sheepherder and his flock establish the date of the scene as shortly after 1878, when the first sheep were brought into Montana Territory.
3. St. Anthony, Idaho: "The Fur Traders," painted in 1939, can also be dated from an historical detail in the mural: tepees shown are made of skin. The scene must have been shortly before 1860 when the buffalo herds became practically non-existent. In 1988 the canvas was removed from the wall for needed cleaning. Then the mural received a great honor: the Smithsonian borrowed it for the summer, to be exhibited in a special showing of New Deal Art at the National Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C.
The Lochries did not remain in Deer Lodge; in 1928 Arthur was appointed Montana's State Superintendent of Banks. The family spent two years at Helena, the State Capitol, glamorous years in a kind of F. Scott Fitzgerald world. Elizabeth's artwork was limited to posters made for charitable fund-raisers – balls, concerts, and plays. The following year the Lochries were in Spokane, Washington, where Arthur was head of the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank. In 1931 he moved to Butte, Montana, as president of the Miners Savings Bank and Trust Company. The couple established a home at 1102 West Granite Street. For forty years it served not only as a lively household for the family, but also provided Elizabeth with an exhibition gallery (the living room) and a sunny studio which looked out at the East Ridge and the Highlands of the Rocky Mountains. Her work became so well known that the postman delivered letters addressed only "E. Lochrie, Montana." People from all over the world came to the house to see E. Lochrie paintings. After the children had grown and moved away, they often returned home. Kith and kin, (Davey, Jenkins, and Lochrie), enjoyed stopping at the house on Granite Street. One time a Blackfeet family pitched its tepee in the back yard, knowing they would be welcome to stay a few days.
In Elizabeth Lochrie's seventieth year she received recognition which must have pleased her more than any other. The Montana Women's Press club selected her for the honor of being the "1960 Montana Mother of the year." Someone once asked her, "How did you ever manage to rear a family and find time to paint also?" Her answer, "I never stopped painting for a minute. Even when my hands were busy and I couldn't sketch, I was seeing compositions in my mind, studying colors. It's all part of the painting process."
On January 3, 1975, after fifty-two years of banking in Montana, Arthur James Lochrie, Sr., passed away in Butte. Daughter Betty (now Mrs. Thomas A. McGlynn) brought Elizabeth to live with her and Tom in San Mateo, on the peninsula south of San Francisco. Later the artist moved into a Ventura retirement community in Southern California. It was there, in 1976, that she gave a final lecture about her Indians. It was a radiant presentation. Elizabeth wore her beautiful old Blackfeet elk skin dress, which is weighted by over seven pounds of ornamental beads. Her moccasins, par fleche, face paint, all were authentic. She carried a medicine pipe, and over her shoulder was thrown a Montana rattlesnake skin, which she had shot and tanned herself. Displayed on the wall nearby was Chief George Bull Child's war bonnet. The following year Elizabeth attended an exhibit of her paintings held at the Butte Arts Chateau. A short time later she moved to Ojai, California, to be near her other daughter, Helen Lochrie. There she died on May 17, 1981.
It is not possible in this essay to detail the career of this many-faceted artist. The name of Elizabeth Lochrie is mentioned in almost every book about western art; the various Who's Who in Art contain information about her professional life as a landscape and portrait painter, etcher, muralist, wood-carver, teacher, commercial artist, scientific illustrator, lecturer. Transcending those facts is the following resume of Elizabeth's long and devoted relationship to her Native American brothers.
Elizabeth Lochrie was one of Montana's most respected native-born women. Probably she was professionally active in the state longer than any other woman artist, from the time one of her pastels won a prize at Powell County Fair until she moved to California (1910-1975). Her work illuminates Northwest history. She realistically and accurately depicted a countryside which today is seeing physical changes. Her landscapes are of the magnificent Rocky Mountains from the Tetons in Wyoming, through Glacier Park and on into British Columbia in Canada. Her portraits of the area's natives constitute some of the last authentic records of a people who were vanishing almost before her eyes, assimilated into the white culture.
Elizabeth was born in the twilight of the American frontier. Her birthday (July 1, 1890) occurred only a few months before the last major Indian War, the December 29th tragedy on the Pine Ridge Reservation when Army troops massacred over 300 Miniconjou Sioux. On the final day of December 1890, the Federal Government officially announced that "the United States Frontier no longer exists." When Elizabeth was two years old the welfare of the Native Americans was transferred from the War Department to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. During the next half-century the artist witnessed at close hand the continual unrest and misunderstanding between Anglos and Indians.
In June of 1931 the Lochries attended a bankers' convention held in beautiful Many Glaciers Hotel. At that time the Great Northern Railroad paid members of the Blackfeet tribe to pitch their tepees in a cottonwood grove near the big lodge, in exchange for staging a "war dance" to entertain guests in the evenings. The Great Depression was on the land, and the Indians were terribly poor. They soon found other ways to earn money. The white people would pay them for the privilege of taking a camera shot. They would pay even more for an ersatz adoption. (The "ceremony" consisted of having the tourist shuffle around the parade circle with the Blackfeet whose words he could not understand but could enthusiastically join in the final "Ky-ai-ai! Ky-ai-ai!" Then he received a piece of paper with his new "Indian name" written on it.) One afternoon Elizabeth left the convention to sketch near the tepees. A Madonna-like Blackfeet woman happened by and the two greeted each other in sign language. For both there was an instant rapport, the beginning of an enduring friendship. Gypsy, about Elizabeth's age (forty-one), was wife of George Bull Child, a highly respected chief of the Piegan tribe of Blackfeet. The Bull Childs introduced her to many of their friends who became models for the artist, members of families with such fascinating surnames as Wolf Robe, Crow Feathers, Wades in the Water, White Dog, Hairy Coat, Gray Horse Rider, Eagle Head, Home Gun, Yellow Kidney.
The following year Elizabeth returned to Glacier Park Station, bringing her young son with her. They rented a log cabin and remained all summer. On July 30, 1932, she wrote her husband in Butte:
The Bull Childs want to take us into the tribe, give us Indian names and a certificate on buckskin telling the history of the name. They are choosing former tribe members' names – "Oh, we don't mean pay-name; not up at the hotel at all; at our camp; and several of the old men of the tribe are going to come from Browning and all around. If you want to give us a present of cigarettes or beads, it would be nice. If not, we still want to give you this honor. Oke! Oke! You will have to learn to talk comaki."
The adoption ceremony did proceed, with many prayers offered the night before and during the services. Elizabeth was given the name of a woman no longer living, Mollie Arrow Top, or Netchitaki, meaning "Lone Woman." (It should be noted that the Smithsonian records spell the name Netsetaki. There has been much confusion about English translation of Native American surnames. Elizabeth chose to retain the spelling given by her Blackfeet parents.) Her mother was Stocktokami (Under Howling Woman), a Blood Indian from Alberta. Her first father was the Piegan Chief medicine Boss Ribs (Stuckin-nutz). After his death Chief Olin Heavy Breast became her second father. A third and final father was Chief (Yellow Top) Theodore Last Star (Weasel Feather). Young Art Lochrie, taken into the tribe with his mother, became Chief Under Bear. Nine-years-old, he felt embarrassed about his new name and never talked about it.
It was almost twenty years before Chief Bull Child sent the testimonies to Netchitaki. The two soft skins are irregularly oblong shaped, about 18" x 13". Around the edges there is a lace-like fringe of tiny carmine and green beads, probably sewn in place by Gypsy Bull Child. Pictograph figures in carmine and black ink tell the adoption story. The documents are signed by chiefs' hieroglyphical names. A fifth name appears on the skins, that of the noted Piegan artist who made the drawings on the documents, Chief Bull (Richard Sanderville), who died in 1951. The skins have been matted, glassed and framed for proper preservation. The message from the Blackfeet tribe to Netchitaki has been translated:
This certificate is proof that many moons ago there came to us a white woman from far over the western mountains. She was friendly and understanding and we brought her into our Medicine Tepee and smoked a peace pipe with her and made her our sister, calling her name Net-chi-taki (Woman Who Came Alone). She has ever been true and helped with good deeds and paints our pictures to show the whole world. Signed by Chiefs George Bull Child, Fish Wolf Robe, Weasel Feather, and Heavy Breast.
Following her adoption, Netchitaki was welcomed into all Blackfeet councils, attended all-important events. For instance, she was the first white woman ever to witness the Owl Ceremony of the Bloods in Alberta, Canada. Elizabeth not only felt spiritually akin to these people, she also looked much like them. An energetic, small woman, she had expressive dark brown eyes. Her curtly black hair was cropped short. Since she never wore a hat and spent all her summers outdoors, her brunet complexion permanently stained to a rich leather color. She habitually wore a jacket fringed in the Buffalo Bill style, and always wore around her throat one of the beautiful necklaces, which her Native American friends had given her. Anglo tourists visiting the reservation to "see the red men" often assumed the artist was one. Thinking that she would not understand their English conversation, sometimes they made rude or ignorant remarks about the Indians. This led to some hilarious comments in the natives' tongue between Netchitaki and nearby tribal members.
Elizabeth's skill in learning to talk comaki improved rapidly. Soon she was able, with the help of a little sign language, to converse in five or six other dialects. She visited every tribe in Montana and knew thousands of Indians on a name-to-name basis. Many of them remembered what it had been like in the days of the Indian wars. However, the summer of 1948 she wrote in her diary that she had "gone to Flathead in August and found not a single old-type Indian to model. There are few of the old boys left." Netchitaki witnessed all of the Sun Dances and visited sacred tepees throughout the Northwest, the Southwest, and even Mexico. Everywhere the people shared with her legends of their past, poems of their sacred chants, and explanations about their life-styles, their religion. Sometimes they also shared sorrows over the Federal Government's broken promises, frustrations about conditions on the reservations, worries and sadness over the younger generation's problems with liquor, with poverty. For her part, Elizabeth Lochrie dedicated herself to helping them the rest of her life. She fulfilled this resolution in many ways.
One important contribution she was able to make was to intercede with the government when she learned of injustices taking place. Once during the 1930s, for example, she found that a boxcar loaded with calico had been sent to the Blackfeet tribe at Browning, Montana. The material was intended for all the women to make themselves dresses. Since every bolt was printed with the same patter of little pink and green rose springs, the gift was not received with enthusiasm. (It did cause a lot of mirth. The Indians have a keen sense of humor.) Elizabeth had "friends in high places" who were happy to help untangle such political snafu.
From 1930-on Netchitaki maintained a rigid life style: sketch in the summer; paint in the winter. Usually it was "up to the Blackfeet when the first Chinook breathed-in, in June; down to the Crows in July and August; up to the Blackfeet again to glory in the golden aspen valleys until the first heavy snows." Winter-long, in the daytime Elizabeth painted in her studio, working from earlier drawings made afield. At night, while her husband read aloud from the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth worked on quilts, averaging about six a year. These were for the Indians. Many of the warm blankets were works-of-art themselves and were appreciated by Indian craftswomen who are equally talented.
Beginning about 1940 Elizabeth became much in demand as a lecturer on the Indians. (In 1953 she averaged at least six talks a month.) She spoke at schools and churches, men's and women's clubs, at sororities and at civic banquiets honoring visiting V.I.P.s. She drove her car to towns throughout her state and as far west as Tacoma, Washington; as far east as Minneapolis, Minnesota; as well as south into Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. She figured her annual driving to the lecturing and reservations was about 15,000 miles. Instead of asking an honorarium, Elizabeth invited her audiences to contribute food or clothing for the Indians. This stipend was brought to the house on Granite Street and stored in the basement, awaiting her next drive to a reservation. The basement was a kind of "gathering-in" place. Her friends knew of this one-woman charity, and they brought their discarded clothing to her; it went down to the basement. Men in the Forest Service and the Fish and Game Departments throughout the state salvaged large animal skins that had been slaughtered and abandoned by trigger-happy hunters; these were mailed to Butte. Elizabeth paid a local taxidermist to have them tanned before they, too, went to the basement to await distribution to the Indians.
For many years Elizabeth Lochrie served as one of the beauty contestant judges at the All American Indian Days Fair. In August, every year from 1953 through 1964 she drove to Sheridan, Wyoming. Miss (Indian) America was chosen for more than her beauty: she also must have talent, high morals, and ability to enhance the reputation of Native Americans in a yearlong public relations job. Judging was exciting and oftentimes-grueling work, but Netchitaki always felt honored that she could help.
Each of the three years 1963-1965, Elizabeth Lochrie was invited to enter a painting in the annual Madonna Festival which is held in Los Angeles by the Methodist Church. The final year her oil painting, "Grandma's Boy", won "Most popular work in the show" (of some two-hundred works exhibited). Depicted is a wrinkled old Bannock medicine woman with a young grandson peering over her shoulder.
Elizabeth's greatest contribution to helping the Native Americans was, of course, her paintings themselves. Today they are historically priceless, partly because of the notes she carefully wrote on the backs of them. She made every effort to record the subject's name (in both English and comaki); information about the clothing or accouterments worn; interesting facts about his life; guesses at his approximate age. Similarly, she also documented the E. Lochrie landscapes. On the reverse of canvas or composition board can almost always be found some written observation which throws a bit more light on the fading frontier of her lifetime.
© 1992 Betty Lochrie Hoag McGlynn
Except for personal use, No portion of this biography may be
Please contact Donald Baughman for information on paintings currantly available:
If you click on the animation to start it, below, then click on it again
Unless otherwise noted, all images, buttons, and other web elements are copyright protected ©2008 Doane Hoag doanehoag.com