LUTHER, Montana — Dan Scilley's grandmother, Buelah Scilley, was once postmaster of unincorporated Luther, a place about 15 miles from Red Lodge. His grandfather, Bill, worked for Carbon County for many years.
So Dan Scilley's decision to sell a good chunk of the townsite where they and he once lived is not one he made lightly.
Scilley, 67, a 1964 graduate of Billings West High School who lives in Bearcreek and pronounces his name "Skilly," is selling what remains of the century-old townsite, a log home with a history and a house now up on blocks.
On Wednesday, Scilley's real estate agent received an offer for what is surely the prized property in the whole townsite — Scilley's home, a home he had built in 2007 but never lived in. He said Wednesday he expects to make a decision on that offer in the coming days.
If it's accepted, what was going to be a 16-acre townsite for sale will be trimmed to about nine acres.
"The view right here is unbelievable," he said, standing outside his front door and speaking via telephone. "I can see Granite Peak from my gate, and over to the left is the ski run. The mountains are right here. At the gate you have the county road, which is dusty this time of year. But where I built the house, it's different — it's kind of isolated."
Scilley said he received one earlier offer to purchase the entire townsite, but believes it was not a legitimate offer.
"I think he was a scammer," Scilley said. "He sent me his offer by email, and when I checked into it, no one had ever heard of him."
Scilley said he has some fond memories of the Luther home he never lived in.
"The kids used to come, and I'd have friends over for hunting season," Scilley said.
Not for sale are four residences on properties along the county road that were sold long ago by Buelah and Bill Scilley. "Some people think they live in Luther, but they don't," he said. "If they say they're in Luther, they are really outside Luther. I'm selling the Luther townsite" — or what's left of it.
When he lived in Luther — from 1986 until 2000 — Scilley lived with his then-wife and three daughters in another home that's included in the sale, a place he calls the log house. That residence once served as home and office space for a Luther dentist and doctor, he said, but about half the building now suffers from the effects of a leaky roof.
"There is some sadness" associated with the sale of what remains of the Luther townsite, he said. "I have a brother in Seattle and my three girls, and none of them are interested."
There's a creek that runs the length of the townsite, he said, and it serves to water livestock in ranches outside Luther. The creek comes out of Red Lodge Creek and flows from the southwest corner to the northeast corner of the Luther townsite.
"I think most of the people who came here years ago were miners," he said. "A lot of people homesteaded, and then ranchers and farmers came in on three sides of (my property)."
While he said he doesn't know very much about Luther history, he did hear stories as a child — especially about one Luther building in particular, a building that's now gone.
"When I was a kid, there was a bar there," he said, "and people said there was a brothel on top of the bar."
About the pronunciation of his name: It was originally pronounced "Silly," but Scilley's grandfather gave it a "k'' sound during the 1940s. Some folks around Luther still pronounce it "Silly," he said, as do his forebears in Belfast, Northern Ireland, whom he visited while playing in the World Men's Handball Championship in 2003.
"To the old-timers, it's still 'Silly,'" he said with a laugh.
Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com