HISTORY PAGE


County Seat is White Sulphur Springs. (Pronounced "Mar")

Meagher County was created in 1867 from parts of Chouteau and Gallatin Counties.
Parts of Meagher County were later taken to form Fergus County, Broadwater County,
and parts of Meagher County were added to Cascade, Lewis and Clark and Sweet Grass Counties.

MEAGHER COUNTY is located a little southwest of the center of Montana. It was created in 1867 from parts of Chouteau and Gallatin counties; a part of Meagher County was taken to form Fergus County in 1885, and a part to form Broadwater in 1897; parts were annexed to Cascade and Lewis and Clark 1890-1900, a part of Fergus was annexed to Meagher in 1911, and parts of Meagher were taken to form parts of Sweet Grass in 1885. White Sulphur Springs is the county seat.

MEAGHER COUNTY was named for Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher, an Irish patriot and Civil War "hero" who was a federal official when he arrived in Montana. Kenneth Richard Meagher of Antelope High School, a descendant drawing on family records, says, "Before coming to the United States, Meagher joined a band of men in Ireland who were trying to separate Ireland from England by violent means. When put to trial he was sentenced to death for treason, but the sentence was changed to life imprisonment in Van Diemen's Land, now called Tasmania. On his way to Van Diemen's Land he managed to escape and come to the United States, where he became a general leading a Union band called the Irish Brigade. After the Civil War and his release from the Army, he became a writer and lecturer. Failing at this, he took his chances and came to Montana and was acting governor of the territory during the Blackfeet trouble. He became known as 'Meagher of the Sword' because he once stated in a speech that the only way to freedom was by bloodshed. Meagher disappeared from a riverboat on the Missouri at Fort Benton." What happened to Thomas Francis Meagher remains one of the mysteries of pioneer Montana. Some of his staunch supporters declared him a martyr to the Irish cause and erected a statue of him on the capitol grounds in Helena. Elizabeth Lake and Elizabeth Falls in old Missoula County were named for his wife.

source: "NAMES ON THE FACE OF MONTANA-- The Story of Montana's Place Names" by Roberta Carkeek Cheney. Published by Mountain Press Publishing Company
submitted by Megan Perales and Bonnie Palmer


HISTORY OF CASTLE

The area where the town of Castle grew up used to be an open range with only scattered sheep & cattle ranches & rolling hillsides. It wasn't until a large copper discovery in the area by Hanson H. Barnes in 1884 that real interest was shown in this area. This was either the Bluebell Mine or the Princess Mine. When F. Lafe Hensley also found lead in the mountain above the present town of Castle, he brought along his 3 brothers, Ike, Joe & John & they started several mines in the area.

Bill Gay & his brother-in-law, Gross came to Castle, along with Bill's quarter-breed daughter. (Bill & brother Al were in from the Black Hills gold rush & that's who Gayville was named for.) Bill had shot a gentleman in the Black Hills & spent his fortune defending himself in order to get his prison stay cut down. G.K.Robertson & family (a local blacksmith) took them in & gave Bill odd jobs until Bill discovered a coal lead at the edge of town. The newspaper editor, Mr. Benson jumped the claim & a sensational trial was held in Helena, with many citizens supporting Benson. Gay & Gross burned the printshop of Benson after the trial & set fire to other buildings in Castle. Right before they set fire to Mr. Fowlie's saloon, they were seen & escaped. William Rader, sherrif of White Sulphur Springs, along with a posse found Gross, but had to release him for lack of evidence. After stolen goods were found in Gross's cabin, the posse again searched him out & found he & Gay holed up in the nearby hills. Sheriff Rader was killed in the ensuing gunfight by Gross & later, after they chased them down again, Gross also killed Jim McKay & tried to kill Robertson, Gay's friend, but Gay stopped him. The 2 escaped.

Submitted by Bonnie Palmer and Megan Perales


IF NAMED FOR MEAGHER O'THE SWORD, HE WAS FASCINATING CHARACTER. BROUGHT CURRENT IRISH FLAG BACK FROM FRENCH REVOLT IN 1848; SENTENCED TO HANG BY BRITS IN WAKE OF TOTALLY FAILED "YOUNG IRELANDER" 1848 REBELLION; COMMUTED TO LIFE IN TASMANIA; PAROLED; VOLUNTARILY CANCELLED PAROLE AS OF A STATED TIME; WHEN CONSTABULARY DIDN'T APPEAR AT THE MOMENT, TOOK OFF; GOT TO N.Y VIA ARGENTINA; PRACTISED A LITTLE LAW; LECTURED AND WROTE QUITE A BIT; EXPLORED, IN COSTA RICA, POSSIBILITY OF CANAL CONNECTING OCEANS; HELPED RAISE IRISH REGIMENT THAT BECAME NUCLEUS OF IRISH BRIGADE WHICH HE LED AT ANTIETAM AMONG OTHER BATTLES; ULTIMATELY TEMPORARARY MAJOR GENERAL; ANGERED BY SOMETHING OR OTHER, RESIGNED COMMISSION WHICH WAS LATER RESTORED; WITH SHERMAN IN GEORGIA; ULTIMATELY, POST WAR, APPOINTED TERRITORIAL SECRETARY OF MONTANA BEFORE, I BELIEVE, TOP JOB RATED GOVERNOR'S TITLE; HAVE HEARD THERE'S A STATUE OF HIM NEAR MONTANA CAPITOL. ONCE UPON A TIME CIRCA 1951, UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME HAD HIS UNION ARMY SWORD (NOT THE ONE OF IRISH LYRICISM) ON DISPLAY IN ITS LIBRARY BUT I HEARD IN 1991 THEY COULDN'T FIND IT. OTHER ARTIFACTS IN WATERFORD, IRELAND.

Information submitted by John.

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please direct to the Meagher County Coordinator

Copyright 2014 Shirley Cullum for the MTGenWeb Project

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