Samuel T. Hauser was born in Falmouth, Kentucky on January 10, 1833. In 1854, at the age of 21 he moved to Missouri to work as a civil engineer for various railroad companies. He became the assistant engineer in the construction of the Missouri Pacific and Northern Pacific Railroads. By 1862, he was the chief engineer of the Lexington Branch. That same year he traveled west, arriving at Fort Benton in June, crossing the country to the headwaters of the Columbia River prospecting for gold. By the end of 1862, he had settled in Bannack. Along with M. P. Langford, he organized a bank, S. T. Hauser and Company, in Virginia City in 1865, a business endeavor that did not last long. He proved much more successful when he organized the First National Bank of Helena the following year. Banks opened in Butte, Fort Benton, and Missoula as well. In 1893, however, the silver panic and nation-wide depression caused the bank to fail, forcing Hauser to close the doors of the First National Bank for good in 1896. Hauser also became involved in various mining companies. He built the first furnace in the territory of Montana at Argenta as well as the first silver mill with the Hope Mining Company. One of his largest mining businesses was the Helena and Livingston Smelting and Reduction Company. He joined with A. J. Davis and Granville Stuart to form the gigantic DHS Cattle Company, which became the Pioneer Cattle Company in 1883. In 1907, the Hauser Dam was completed on the Missouri River. The steel-plated dam collapsed only a year later. Politically, Hauser was one of the most influential leaders of early Montana history. In 1884, he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. In July 1885, President Grover Cleveland appointed him as the governor of the Territory of Montana, but he resigned from the post after 18 months. Samuel T. Hauser died on November 10, 1914.
The Samuel T. Hauser papers consist mainly of business correspondence and papers concerning his various mining and power company interests. Also included is a letter he wrote to his sister in 1862 during a trip up the Missouri River to Fort Benton and through the Bitterroot Mountains. Photocopies of a letter from Fanny Clark Fitzhugh to her daughter and a deed for the loan of a slave to Fanny's husband are also included in the papers. Fitzhugh was the sister of Captain William Clark and the grandmother of Hauser's wife. Hauser's certificate as the appointed commissioner to represent the Territory of Montana at the centennial celebration of George Washington's inauguration is also in the papers. Pictures of the 1908 wreckage of Hauser Dam and a photograph of Hauser are included.