Civil War Medals, Odd Fellows Uniform Found in Abandoned Montana Storage Unit

Posted on Oct 22 2010 - 2:54pm by John Stevens

An entrepreneur who decided to invest in self storage found more than he bargained for when he inspected his new property. One of the storage units in his new business had been abandoned 15 years earlier. Inside was a treasure trove of Civil War medals, old uniforms and other historic artifacts.

Concerned, the new business owner tried to contact relatives of the last known tenant for the unit, but they told him that they were not interested. 

The owner of the self storage property, who lives in Roundup, wanted to remain anonymous, according to Dan Tryan, owner of Tryans Auction Center, who handled the auction.

The artifacts in the unit included a full-dress uniform of a grand past master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. According to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows’ website, the group was founded in 1819 and is comprised of people who believe in a supreme being and who agree to base their lives on three basic values: friendship, love, and truth.

Was the storage unit once rented by an Odd Fellow, or an Odd Fellow’s descendants? We’ll never know, but if it was, that Odd Fellow may also have been a veteran of the Civil War (fighting on the Union side). The unit included medals and ribbons from the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Union veterans of the Civil War.

In addition to the relics from fraternal organizations, the collection of artifacts included decorative pins, buttons, jewelry, purses, hand mirrors, brushes, carving knives, silverware, china, antique toys, men’s and women’s pocket watches, handmade quilts, and a 7UP bottle from the Glasgow Beverage Co. The bottle’s contents are identified as “lithiated lemon soda,” “for hospital or home use” because the beverage was once used for medicinal purposes.

The unit even included an antique Boy Scouts shirt.

Book connoisseurs would have been interested in the unit’s extensive book collection, which included a three volume History of Montana, a 10-volume Photographic History of the Civil War published in 1911, and an eight-volume Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, published in 1887. 

Sources used:

Kemmick, Ed. “Auction features Montana History.” Billings Gazette. Oct. 18, 2010.

Herbst, Blaine. “Discover Profits That Lie Hidden in Your Own Backyard.” Entrepreneur Magazine. Oct. 20, 2010.

The Sovereign Grand Lodge Independent Order of Odd Fellows. “What’s an Odd Fellow?”