Charles M. Bair

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Charles M. Bair (1857–1943) was an early railroading businessman who also became one of the largest sheep ranchers in the United States. He had two daughters, Alberta (1895-1993) and Marguerite (1889-1976).[1][2][3][4]

Charles M. Bair was born in Stark County, Ohio. He moved to Montana in 1883 to become a conductor for the Northern Pacific Railway.[citation needed] By 1886, Bair was working out of Helena, Montana. On Christmas Eve of that year, he married Mary Jacobs in Chicago, Illinois and brought her back to Helena, where they lived until 1891. Their first daughter, Marguerite, was born on July 1, 1889 during their stay in Helena.[4] In 1891, he left the railroad and Helena to become a sheep rancher near Lavina, Montana.[5]

Bair relocated to what is now downtown Billings, Montana in 1893. Mary Bair, Charles' wife, gave birth to their youngest daughter, Alberta, at that homestead on July 15, 1895.[4] A theater, originally named the Fox Theater, was renamed the Alberta Bair Theater in honor of Alberta in 1987.[6]

In 1898, he sold his flock and went to Alaska, where he became a millionaire selling machinery to miners participating in the Klondike Gold Rush.[5] Later, he returned to Montana and sheep ranching in Martinsdale. In 1910, he owned about 300,000 head of sheep and was reputed to have the largest sheep operation in North America.[5]

Bair died in 1943.[7] His family home in Martinsdale is now a museum.[5] A trust fund was set up in his name by daughters, Marguerite and Alberta. Part of the trust is used to fund scholarships for high school graduates of Meagher and Wheatland Counties.[8] Bair was inducted into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2008.[5]


  1. ^ Rostad, Lee (1996). Fourteen Cents & Seven Green Apples. Lee Rostad. ISBN 978-0-9633909-1-2. 
  2. ^ Person, Daniel (April 25, 2011). "More Sheep Dogs Than Most Men Had Sheep". Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: Charles and Alberta Bair". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Rostad, Lee (2010). The House of Bair : sheep, Cadillacs, and Chippendale. Helena, Mont.: Sweetgrass Books. ISBN 1591520681. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Gadbow, Daryl. "Charles M. Bair". Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame web site. 
  6. ^ "The History Behind the Theater". Alberta Bair Theater. Retrieved February 1, 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Charles M. Bair Family Legacy". Bair Family Museum web site. 
  8. ^ "Charles M. Bair Trusts". Family Trust Website.