Dorothy Mercier and her Granddaughter, Virginia; circa 1925.
Nobody really recognizes the Mercier name any more, largely because this little ranch has been passed down from mother to daughter over several generations. In the late 1890's David Mercier was on his way to the Alaska gold fields to help work his brother's successful mining claim. He rode the train from his home in Michigan to the west coast, and passed through Livingston. He decided that it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen and he intended to eventually settle there. When he returned from his Alaska adventures he and his wife, Dorothy, and their five children moved to the Paradise Valley just south of Livingston, Montana.Of those five children, only two survived. Son Nelson Mercier went to medical school and became a pediatrician in Portland, Oregon. Their daughter, Dorothy married Charlie Stinnett. Dorothy and Charlie had a little girl, Virginia Stinnett (Cain). Dorothy died when Virginia was just a baby. Eventually Charlie married another Mercier girl, Dorothy's older sister Ruth Mercier. (Another Mercier girl, Elsie, was the Park County Superintendent of Schools from 1916 until her untimely death in 1934). Virginia Stinnett Cain passed away in August 2014.
It is Virginia Cain 's daughter and son-in-law, Candace and David Payne, who now own the Mercier Ranch. They are the hosts of the Fiddler's Picnic.
The original house that was built in 1904 for Dorothy and David Mercier is still considered the Mercier Ranch as no one has ever lived in this house but descendents of the Mercier family. Fiddles that were played by David Mercier and Charlie Stinnett now belong to and are played by Candace and David Payne, the newest generation of Mercier kin.
The piano that was bought for Virginia when she was a little girl still stands in the "front room" and she was able to play it up until about a week before her death in 2014 when she was just too frail to travel out to "Grandma's House".
Currently, two young women who are descendants of the Mercier family have ties to Park County. Heidi Torgerson lives in Bozeman and is a partner in the Livingston feed store, The Spur Line. Gwenny Simmons lives in Livingston with her son, Josh, daughter Maddie and husband, Mike.
David Mercier hunting badgers by the barn; circa 1925.