When Sheila S. Monaghan received her Graduate Degree of Geology in 1882 she never dreamed that scarcely one year later she would receive such a plum assignment. The Territorial Governor of Montana had specifically asked for her by name to oversee a water dispute in the Tenderroot Valley and further to formulate a water distributing plan. The goal being the instituting of federal regulations on commercial water use. Sheila a young woman of twenty-nine and a graduate from Overlin College, a unique institute established by Christian Missionaries and Evangelists who thought it their Christian duty to also accept females and blacks becoming the only institute in the United States to do so at the time. Sheila was the only child of Hayden R. Monaghan a geologist an Overlin alumni himself and one of the founding members of the United States Geological Survey in 1879.
Being aware of the political landscape in Montana Hayden warned his daughter about the male-dominated political quack mire she was walking into. Sheila nonetheless had accepted the appointment after some prayer time. Being the only female geologist in the nation she harbored the idea that the Territorial Governor may have asked for her because he believed the situation needed a woman’s touch and not necessarily brute authoritative force. However, in reality, the appointment was a desperate but calculating bid by a governor angered by local women pressing for the vote and a water distribution situation growing worse by the day and at times threating violence. The governor’s hopes were two, placating the women of the territory by putting a woman into a high profile position and then embarrass them into political silence when the female appointee failed in her mission. The latter being something he was sure would happen.