Bill Flockhart

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William Flockart 1883-1971

Bill at the Caledonian Picnic, Pioneer Park, Billings 1966
Carbon County News, September 1971
Bill Flockhart in the 1920 Billings Band

At Oscar Thompson's wedding, September 1971

(Click on any of these photos to enlarge)

William "Bill" Flockhart was born in Scotland May 26, 1883. After serving as a piper in the Seaforth Highlanders in the Boer War, he emigrated and arrived in Montana in 1904. In Red Lodge he found work in the coal mines and later in the mid 1930's as a foreman on the construction of the Cooke City Highway. He married Mary Morrison, but she died young and he never remarried. The Boer War, unlike WWI, did not put its pipers off of piping so thoroughly and Bill never put down the pipes. He maintained friendships with the community of Scots pipers in Montana including D. C. Mather in Butte and the pipers at the Tom McRae ranch near Miles City. In 1951 he was instrumental in starting the Festival of Nations in Red Lodge and piped there every year until the late 60's. For many years he shared a house in Red Lodge with Frank Lumley, a musician who also performed at the Festival and composed the "Festival of Nations Song". Frank was a few years older than Bill and Bill thought of himself as Frank's caretaker even though he himself was in his 80's at the time, had 2 hearing aids and could barely walk. In 1963 he helped Bill Rose and others start the Caledonian Band and for a number of years rode the train each week from Red Lodge to Billings and then on the Miles City to teach piping, always staying over at the Thompson Ranch between the legs of the trip. It was Oscar's job to drive him to the train station and make sure he got to Miles City and then home to Red Lodge. Bill had mostly retired from mining by the 50's but still owned three small almost defunct mines in Scotch Coulee near Bearcreek when he died. Although infirm and almost blind he still enjoyed teaching piping to many young people in his later years. Many of his pupils remember his strict teaching methods combined with his sweet disposition. He was hit by an automobile while crossing the main street in Red Lodge in September 1971 and died soon after. There would not be a Billings Caledonian Pipe Band without him.