17th annual event highlights four unique presentations

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  • Singer/songwriter David Walburn opens the John White Speaker series Jan. 13.

  • 1

    Author Doug Ammons discusses the 1917 Butte mining disaster Jan. 27.

  • 2

    Author Miantae Metcalf McConnell tells the true story of former slave Mary Fields Feb. 10.

  • 3

    Living history performer Mary Jane Bradbury brings to life the legendary “Unsinkable Molly” Brown Feb. 24.

  • Singer/songwriter David Walburn opens the John White Speaker series Jan. 13.

  • 1

    Author Doug Ammons discusses the 1917 Butte mining disaster Jan. 27.

  • 2

    Author Miantae Metcalf McConnell tells the true story of former slave Mary Fields Feb. 10.

  • 3

    Living history performer Mary Jane Bradbury brings to life the legendary “Unsinkable Molly” Brown Feb. 24.

Beginning Sunday, Jan. 13, and continuing every other week through Feb. 24, the Museum at Central School in Kalispell presents four unique and engaging speakers.

The 17th annual series features programs on the Lewis and Clark Expedition; the 1917 Speculator-Granite Mountain mining disaster; Mary Fields, the first female African American Star Route mail carrier in the United States; and the truth behind the “Unsinkable” Molly Brown.

The John White Speaker Series honors beloved Central School bell ringer and custodian John White, the son of a Texas slave, who served at Central School for over 30 years. He knew all the students, and they knew and respected him, as did the citizens of Kalispell in the 1920s through the ’50s. John White graduated from Flathead County High School in 1922 and became perhaps the most remembered figure in the history of Central School.

• Jan. 13: The travels of Whitefish-based singer-songwriter David Walburn have taken him to Alaska and beyond, but always returning to his home in Big Sky Country. With his guitar and harmonica in tow, Walburn takes inspiration right from the history of Montana. He will be performing tracks off of his album “West for America” about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

• Jan. 27: The Speculator-Granite Mountain was the largest hard-rock mining disaster in American history, killing 168 men in Butte in June 1917. But when told by author and psychologist Doug Ammons, it is actually a story of the resilience of the human spirit when men are suddenly thrust into life-and-death situations far beyond their control.

• Feb. 10: A 2018 choice for the Oprah Book Club, “Deliverance” tells the true story of Mary Fields, a determined former slave who braved the harsh Montana Rockies on a journey to rescue a dying friend, helping all of those around her as she set up a new life for herself in the American West. For Black History Month, author Miantae Metcalf McConnell share her research methods and more stories about this remarkable woman.

• Feb. 24: Returning to the series for the fifth consecutive year, living history performer Mary Jane Bradbury will explore the legend of the “Unsinkable Molly” Brown, a social reformer in the early 20th century. But from her name on down, Brown’s life was largely written by the press, obscuring a remarkable woman who was quite different than the popular story.

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