About This Place
Stevensville is a town in Ravalli County, Montana, United States. The population was 1,553 at the 2000 census.
Stevensville is officially recognized as the first permanent settlement in the state of Montana. Forty-eight years before Montana became the nation’s 41st state, Stevensville was settled by Jesuit Missionaries at the request of the Bitter Root Salish Indians.
Through interactions with Iroquois Indians between 1812 and 1820, the Bitter Root Salish Indians leaned about Christianity and Jesuit Missionaries (blackrobes) that worked with Indian tribes teaching about agriculture, medicine, and religion. Interest in these “blackrobes” grew among the Salish and, in 1831, four young Salish men were dispatched to St. Louis, Missouri to request a “blackrobe” to return with them to their homeland of present day Stevensville. The four Salish men were directed to the home and office of William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) to make their request. At that time Clark was in charge of administering the territory they called home. Through the perils of their trip two of the Indians died at the home of General Clark. The remaining two Salish men secured a visit with St. Louis Bishop Joseph Rosati who assured them that missionaries would be sent to the Bitter Root Valley when funds and missionaries were available in the future.