Mr. Moss became very prominent in banking,
organized the first dial telephone company in the area, founded a newspaper that was a
forerunner of the Billings Gazette, started a central heating plant and the Billings
Utility Company. In association with H.W. Rowley, Mr. Moss developed the Billings Light
and Water Power Company and the Northern Hotel. He assisted other prominent local
citizens, such as I.D. O'Donnell, in development of local irrigation, the sugar factory,
and the Billings Polytechnic Institute (now Rocky Mountain College). He
started a toothpaste factory using bentonite, and a meat packing plant. In the early 1900s,
Mr. Moss and T.A. Snidow ran 80,000 head of sheep bearing the Moss-Snidow brand and
several thousand head of cattle.
P.B. Moss unsuccessfully ran as the Democratic candidate for Congress in
1922. P.B. was also the promoter of a futuristic city called Mossmain, which was to be
built approximately 10 miles west of Billings. The plans for Mossmain were drawn by one of
the most brilliant architects and city planners in the world, Walter Burley Griffin. But,
when the war years reached here, P.B.'s beautiful plans for his city dwindled and died.
Mr. Moss was a prominent Mason of Montana, a grand commander of the
State Knights Templar, affiliated with the Billings Consistory and
Algeria Temple of the Majestic Shrine at Helena, and served as a trustee
of the school district.
Preston B. Moss died February 1, 1947, after suffering a heart
attack. He was 83 years old. He and his wife are interred in the family
plot in Mountview Cemetery.
Martha Ursula Woodson Moss
Mrs. Martha Ursula (Mattie) Moss was an artist, pianist, and mother of six children.
Born in 1863 in Missouri, she traveled along the Oregon Trail with her family when
just over a year old. At 16 she returned to Missouri to attend the Baptist College where
she graduated. She studied art at the St. Louis Conservatory. On June 5, 1889, Mattie
married Preston Boyd Moss, son of David Hickman Moss of Paris, Missouri. They came to
Billings, Montana, with their two children, Woodson and Kula, December 12, 1892. Two more
children, Melville and Preston B. Jr., were later born at their residence on South 27th
Street in Billings. The fifth child, David, was born in an apartment where the former Hart Albin Building is now located. The last of the six children, Virginia, was born in the
Mansion in 1903.
Mattie was a charter member of the Edna Hedges Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star,
chartered in 1898. She was a charter member of the First Church of Christ Scientist in
Billings and served the church as a reader and as a practitioner. She was the first woman
in Billings to drive a car, and "was deviled to death with everyone wanting a
ride," Melville commented.
The children thought P.B. was stern and Mattie was fun. Their children nicknamed her
"Fun." Mattie and P.B. Moss celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on June 5,
1939. Mattie died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage on November 6, 1951, at the Mansion.
She was 87 years old. Many of her oil paintings hang in the Mansion and examples of her
china painting are displayed as well.
Woodson Jackson Moss
The oldest son, Woodson Jackson Moss, born in Paris,
Missouri, on April 17, 1890, attended school in Billings, graduated from Phillips Exeter
Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, on June 23, 1909, and then attended Yale University. He
returned to Billings and began his career in ranching. He married Abbie Deckert Cunningham
of Forsyth, Montana, on December 17, 1929. Woodson operated his cattle ranches on Pass
Creek in Parkman, Wyoming, and in the Garvin Basin in Montana. He died at age 79 on
May 21, 1969.
The second child, Kula Moss Arnold, born December
29, 1891, in Paris, Missouri, came to Billings with her parents in 1892. Kula
(pronounced "Cullie") is an Indian
word meaning "pretty bird." She attended school in Billings before studying at
Roger's Hall in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Dwight School for Girls in Engelwood, New Jersey,
and attended the Semple Finishing School in New York City. One of her roommates in school
was Margaret Porter, the daughter of the author known as OHenry. Kula and Melville
homesteaded in the Garvin Basin in Southern Montana before Kula married John Bingle Arnold
on January 11, 1923. They made their home at 137 Clark Avenue. Their only child,
John Bingle Arnold, Jr., died at age seven. Kula died of a heart attack at her home on
May 30, 1958, at the age of 66. Many pieces of her furniture were brought to the Mansion to
replace pieces that had broken or were later removed. Several quilts and needlepoint items
which Kula worked on are also in the Mansion.
Kula Moss Arnold
Born on January 26, 1896, P.B.
and Mattie's third child, Melville Hollingsworth Moss, was a musician.
She was first introduced to the harp at 9 or 10 years of age and studied
under Martha Buchanan, one of the first music teachers in Billings. She
also played the bass and the piano. After graduating from Billings High
School in 1914, she spent four years in the New York area while studying
at the Dwight School for Girls in Englewood, NJ. Traveling abroad was
Melville's favorite pastime. She preferred traveling by ship and took
fourteen cruises which included destinations in Africa, the Far East,
South America, Europe with Kula, and two trips around the world.
Melville Hollingsworth Moss
It is due to Melville's protectiveness and care that
the house has been preserved so nearly intact. When the Moss family
moved into the Mansion, Melville was seven years old; she lived there
until her death on November 2, 1984, nearly 82 years later. She never
The fourth child and second son, Preston Boyd
Moss, Jr., was born in Billings on January 13, 1898. He graduated from Billings High School
and also attended business school in Billings. During World War I Preston Jr. served
in the Army Medical Corps but never saw action. His troop's ship was crossing the ocean when
the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, so the ship turned around and came home.
Preston worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad and Pullman Services from 1924-1965 when
he retired. He married Minnie Anderson of Murdock, Minnesota and built a home at 2511
Longfellow. They had no children. Preston Jr. died on August 21, 1971, at 73 years of age.
Minnie died in Billings on January 1, 1988.
Preston Boyd Moss, Jr.
David Hickman Moss III, Mattie and P.B.'s fifth
child, was born in Billings on February 8, 1900, and attended Billings Public Schools before
enrolling in Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 1918. In 1920 he entered Yale
University where he studied for two years before coming back to work on his brother,
Woodson's, cattle ranch in Parkman, Wyoming. David later operated the Moss Implement
Company in Billings, selling farm implements, until his retirement in 1956. He married
Marjorie Powers in Hardin, Montana, in January 1929. They had one daughter, Marilyn
Moss Castleman, who currently resides in Arizona. David died August 28, 1958, at 58 years of age. The Preservation
Society purchased the Moss Mansion from Marjorie Moss and her daughter, Marilyn, and Preston's widow, Minnie Moss.
David Hickman Moss III
The sixth child, Virginia Moss, was born in the
Mansion on February 14, 1903. At the age of five, Virginia died of diphtheria
on April 2, 1908.
Because of her sunny disposition, her brothers, sisters and playmates considered her their
favorite. She was beloved by all.
Please click here to view slides
of the Moss family