Once again, the Emery County Historical Society hosted its annual cowboy poetry and dutch oven dessert night at Castle Valley Outdoors. As usual, the evening was filled with talented poets and gifted singers. Country Rose, Barbara Moore, Doris Walker and Candy Price, filled the air with songs as the members of the historical society gathered in the outdoor setting.
Kent Petersen served as emcee for the evening and began with several requested poems. Shirley Hill followed Petersen with a couple more. Evelyn Huntsman read a story about Butch Cassidy and his pal Elza Lay riding and working in the San Rafael area.
Sylvia Nelson addressed the crowd to give a tribute to long time historical society founding member Montell Seely. She told of her memories of Montell. "He was instrumental in keeping the Emery County Historical Society going. He worked diligently to record Emery County's history and gave a lot of input into the Emery County History book. He also spent a lot of time on his family history and wrote two books about the Seely family, and was working on a third. He kept a journal everyday for many years and if anyone had a question about the history, Montell could look in his journals and get the answer," said Nelson. She then introduced Mark Justice who also told a few of his memories of Montell.
Justice began by telling of a poem his wife Kathy had written in honor of Montell. Laurie Pitchforth read the poem Kathy wrote which told of Montell and his life, his connection with the Castle Valley Pageant and his respect for the people of the past.
Justice said the first time he heard Montell's name was in the 1970s. There was an exchange of Letters to the Editor in the Emery County Progress in which Montell and another county resident swapped viewpoints. "It was a wonderful exchange of ideas and both men were very eloquent," said Justice.
He went on to tell of his own seven years involved with the presidency of the Castle Valley Pageant. When he began in that position, he became well acquainted with Montell. He learned Montell had been a basketball player in high school and could tell of all his teammates, their height and skills. "One thing I noticed was Montell always praised his teammates and never said anything about himself. Montell said he wasn't in school for the learning, just whatever sport was currently being played," Justice said.
"Montell went on to get a masters degree from Brigham Young University. He was an immensely charming and personable man. I respected him as a person of tremendous accomplishment. He was a very effective member of the community and always worked for the community. His dream was the Castle Valley Pageant and several years after it began, some of the spirit wore off. But, Montell worked hard to keep it going once it was started. It was his vision.
"Montell was a man who had great influence on people. He worked to find a common ground with everyone he met. He was a man of absolute caring, not only for his own family, but for the entire community," stated Justice. Justice also mentioned the Castle Valley Pageant, in its many years of success, has put Emery County on the map. This season, the pageant hosted more than 12,000 visitors, most of those from the Wasatch Front.
Following the tribute to Montell, Petersen introduced more cowboy poets. Russell Swasey and Ron Wright recited several poems and Country Rose entertained with more songs. As always, the Dutch oven cobbler and ice cream topped off the evening.