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Namesake of C.M. Russell reflects on his family's history with f - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Namesake of C.M. Russell reflects on his family's history with famous artist

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BOZEMAN - This week, PBS airs a 3-part special about the life of artist C.M. Russell.

Charlie Russell Soha is a Bozeman man with close relations to Russell and owns between 50-60 duplicates of Russell's paintings. He was named after the artist.

Soha’s mother, Martha Gabrielson Soha (b. 1904), was Nancy and C.M. Russell’s household helper from 1917-1923.

“As a teenager, my mother and her sister and her mother were neighbors of the Russells. They lived about in the same location as the museum is now located and as a teenager she became their house girl,” Soha said.

Martha also spent some summers with the Russells at Lake MacDonald, which Soha has documented in a photograph.

“I have a picture of her standing next to Charlie when they were swimming in that cold, cold water of Lake MacDonald,” he said.

After C.M. Russell passed away in 1926, Nancy Russell lived in California. Martha Soha would visit occasionally with her daughter, prior to Nancy’s death in 1940.

Soha was too young to appreciate what his mother did and told him, which he says he regrets to this day.

“I was interested but at the same time, I was too young to appreciate the fact that she had this experience,” Soha said. “Otherwise I would’ve made more of an effort to hear more of those stories or to even write them down and I regret that I didn’t do that.”

Even though Charlie Russell Soha was too young to appreciate his mom’s stories, he was aware that he was “named for a very famous individual.”

To learn more about the life of C.M. Russell and his paintings, the 3-part Montana PBS special airs Monday through Wednesday, starting at 8 p.m.

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