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The Butte inter mountain. [volume] (Butte, Mont.) 1901-1912, March 15, 1902, Evening, Image 16

Image and text provided by Montana Historical Society; Helena, MT

Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025294/1902-03-15/ed-1/seq-16/

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B.y Col. W. F. Jandirdr..
E AlILY In Juni, 1487. 1 l ft my
h11n, at \'irginia ('lty fur Fort
i'lnton t(i 1 r mt miiy filoily (hen
E on their .,ay fromn tile, 1,is/t to
Montana i1:i the Mislorl River on the
st-eanle'r Abn ai. itemnfllining olre llen
day4s at Fort lienton in 'ailly expetctat
lion of their' arrival''; I n(cvepted the Iin
vitation of the I ';lptailn of a Plittsburg
Iowut, theI "Yorktown," to go ilowin the
river and meet tlhem. Monmentarily ex
p'ctirlLg to s(e tlhe boat I sat on the deck
for tw o, lays whenV.i at Spread Eagle astr,
nearll Fort I'lnlitn, I iwas. trlansferred to the
iiiturillog st .' nino'r whic'h was nearly
three weet'il. th'reafter reaching Fort
A little btolow the mouth of the M'tritsB
imlpatitt nt it the Slow progr.ss of 'o1t1"
it; elt .'er, ii the 'Icompanl; y of Walt.t. '
''rutilnbll I stepped tiashore and walking
ltout' ol lie tiles 'i'ioisl a biti d bolarded
lthe (]ullutin, Cap;tlthi 4 t1 n 1 How1 e, 11 boat
wh'Ih he had disi rlll l I' ll In the. disltti'e
lthe'i d.oing s'1ri,4 ' on the uipItp ' M. issoutl'i
and iwhihh itwas rteputed to be able to
n:ivig lt i t a light mI v.
Halting ihou'ttided the (allttin w'e pro
','e-dled to the mouth of the Mark'lts where
('alllitnll IIo've dia ,h ra'ged it e'Lrgo of
mIIules alIt t 11 t a\ '. lledl ourselves of his
offer . I d l l :1a t lthII)nl'lck ride to Fort
.Iitelol n. Aboul t 12 or I oi'loctk I dlWi
''rned upon the 1Ible land whence the
road 4 .'4,.wtutlled to thie t)tln a nlumber
Fl'hntl's Mit-agllt,' and his military statff.
1le adlvidied u hei \\wa;is on hsl way to
I'amp Cook( t after ;I h ndret'd ait thirty
rmuskets hlti'ih the genr't'al governmenti t
hadl proffered to the terriltorlal authori
tlb- ftlr use in iltl . Indilui Warl In \\hi'h
we were thln enllr;1g,'d. The daly vwas IIn
tensely hot lanld liIh gie'lt'll anld h1IH staff
bhad nmade i swift anlld dutly ride froilm
Sulln ri',r, hr1 Messrs. Ci(uroll and
LStull had i llllp, ul were fOlllllllunding
that flourisl'hing town. 1 1 lld 11ea' wh'lci
1l;ImJor c'llinton \\4 I nlltim'killg out the site
of Fort S"haw, so, In:stu 'l inU honor of Call.
jtolert Sha;.\\ of Il. I lfty-foui. th Ma.ss:a
(,huselta egl'(inwnrt, whoi at Forlt \VaglleI'
had been "buhidl \\with his niggers."
Visited About Town.
I do not reclall all the member's of the
gelelraals stiff nor their nlumber', but onei
of thelm was c(apinl;in William ltoy ce,
afterward a resldent of lHuttle. T'he tafter
n0oon w\\'a. delightfully sClellt In swoclal
yisits through the business lportions of
the town and 4(l'tenerl;l Meagher seemed
at his best In a co lliersatitlona.l way, but
the resolutely anld unde'ilatingly declined
that foirm of hospllt;lilty with which Fort
It IL1ton then aboul letd.
As he \was1 my near lneighbor at Vir
glnia cilty l1ad atl most genial and inter
esting compalnlon I spent most of the
aft:ernoon with him, introducing him to
Ho many of thll citizlen and sojourners in
th(lt unique and hrifty seapor4t as h"e
had not theretofore knllown.
The Fort In that early time was only
20 years old and although past its prlime
it w:as In very good form. Major T. t11.
Elasttnan had it in c(harge for the fur
company then cutrlying on the trade,
then about equally divided between the
Indians and whites on this frontier.
Major Eastman was ia most intelligent
gentleman and his abounding hospital
Ity well maintained the repute of the
remote trad'lng posts of the West. His
dinners were veritable feasts of Lucalllls
and scarce a day passed that a choice
lot of merry guests did not surround his
hospitable board. During the afternoon
he Invited General Meagher to dine with
him ut 6 o'clock, which invitation the
general accepted.
Six Qr<vvD stlnamboata £roln St. Louis
or beyond were tied to the river banks
and among them was a somewhat cheap
a4d rude old craft named the G. A.
t papont It w.a a freight boat but
b$ cabins for perhacps a dozen persons.
2b) pilot or mate of the boat was an
*f lit
NJyililkM·l,12
/ . r!!,
ff.,6rm-r
*dot
OMAS I~~
AF4CI5
.b, . ..? ? . r
pB
llhsh-Armrlan 'by the name of Dolan, I DN. H oWIr.
think, and when during the afternoon I . e
rish-Amerlean by the name of Dolan, I
hink, and when during the afternoon I
tad introduced him to the general he
loubtingly interrogated me as to whether
thii was the famous Thomas Francls
Meagher, renowned in the Irish rebellion
if 1848,, and upon my assurance that it
was, he could not conceal his delight at
meeting so distinguished a person who
'vidently wos his idol, and he showed
he general much deference and attention
lind wasted on him no inco,msiddrauble
blarney. Ascertainhlg the general's
errand he invited him to bPecLlne his
guest on his voyage the next morning
down the river as far as Camp Cooke.
A Sudden Mental Disturbance.
Sleneral Meagher rtur'ned from the
fort about dusk, In company with some
other gentlemen whose na tmes I do not
now recall. I was seated In f'ont of the
store of I. C. Baker & Co. when my
attlention was arre'sted by abnornmally
loud conversation, and as the paIrtly came
nearer I saw that It came from (leneral
Meagher.
As the party came to the pMace where
I was, and I had listened a moment, it
was apparent that he was deranged.
He was loudly demanding a revolver to
defend himself egainet the citizens of
Fort Benton, who, in his disturbed
mental condition, he declared were ,hos
tile to him, and several who then joined
us sought to allay his fears and by all
the means In our power to restore to
sanity his disturbed mental condition,
His nautical friend, whose host he was
to be the ensuing morning, suggested
that he go to his stateroom on the boat,
and thither 'three or four of us accom
paniJe 'him. HIe 'was still insistent that
the people of Fort Benton were hostile.
" ,% n*C V4.Aunfl WAD DIOWNED.' ' Gr
S hd no more loyal rends thanh ti
he
wN 1- `ýý had no mor~e loyal friends than those in 0ss
FIRST
-- Ill
·i-·lr"55~r ~ L·OISLATSITIE
ý'"ý"",..ýe""ý ALL INJ MONTANJA.
to him and was Impoitunate for a re
volver. He was induced to retire to his
berth, shlch was on the starboard side
of the boat next the bank, and in the
hope that he would sleep we all went:onr
shore, seeking to allay hs anxiety by
the promise of getting him a revolver. .
As he had removed his outer garments
and lain down In his berth, we did not
apprehend there would be further trou
ble, thinking the temporary aberration
the result of the hot and exihausting
ride of the morning, which sleep would
speedily correct. It was a great shock
to his friends, but we were confident of
his immediate recovery.
I do not stop here to speculate on the
c'RaI`,e of his halluclnation that the peo
ple of Fort Benton were hostile to him,
but I have always thought that a con..
tentlon between the Blackfoot Ildian
agunt, George Wright, and the general
as Mul,el intendenit of Indian affairs,
wilcrebm the general directed the release
of all the intoxicating liquors in the
cotuntry which the agent had assumed
to selze, w'as in his mind. This contro
v\'rsy had assumed an epistolary form
in the newspapers, as General Meagher's
controversies were exceedingly wont to
do. I only attribute it to this for lack
of other causes, but General Meagher
had no more loyal friends than those in
Fort Benton wlho rollcitously surrounded
him there in his last hours.
Dropped Into the River.
I cannot say that any one remained
in the stateroom with him, for nothing
was farther from our thoughts than the
denouement then impending. After a
brief consultation on the lower deck, I
went to the office of the Indian agent,
opposite the t-. A. T, hompson and per
haps fifty yards distant, where I wrote
a letter for the outgoing mail to Helena,
which left at 11 o'clock, Perhaps I had
been in hthe ofilce 30 mInautes when 1
heard Capt. James Gorman, the stage
agent of C'. C.. Huntley, excitedly ex
claim: "General Meagher is drowned!"
I dlloppled my pen and hastened out the
door and rushed across the gang plank
and across the lower deck of thd steam
boat. There was a colored man, one of
the men connected with the boat-the
barcbr.r, .1 believe-rwho, replying to my
interrogation, said a man had let
himself down from the upper to
the lower deck 'and jumped into
the river and gone down stream. 1 im
mediately returned to land and ran down
the river bank, repeating the alarm until
I reached one of the lower s~eamers,.the
(Guidon, I believe, where I'went across
the boat to the river side to witt4ch for
the general.
Boats were instantly lowered and
manned, and many anxious eyes were
peering in the datrkneR at the 'swift
rolling waters of the great river, that
never seemed so wicked as then. It gave
back no wished-for sight nor sound. The
search was kept up all night, and for two
or three days thereafter. Loaves of
bread were cast on the turbid waters in
obedience to a belief that they would
cause a drowned body to rise to the
surface of the stream. A cartmon was
brought into requisitiop for the dime
purpose, but the mighty river defied all
our solicitudes and kept its tieasure well.
I turned from the steamer as I saw the
boats go down the river in the darkness
to fulfill the sad duty, of advi.ing Mrs.
Meagher of the overwhelming calamity
which hall befallen her and us all. She
lived on the same street near me in Vir
ginia City, and it seemed to me to be
my duty to tell her the sad story. I in
closed my letter to Dr. James Gibson, the
postmaster at Virginia City, an accomz
plished gentleman and a fast friend of
Mrs. Meagher, confiding to his discre
tion the manner in which he should
break to her the melancholy news.
Mrs. Meagher Told the News.
As there was no telegraph, the news of
the event went by mail that night. No
person, so far as I know, save the colored
man, saw General Meagher go into the
river, and he related to me the circum
stances as I have told. The next day
some members of the general's staff said
to me that we must report that he fell
from the boat accidentally and must not
mention the mental aberration nor at
tribute it to that. I said to them I had
written to Mrs. Meagher the exact facts
as they had been related to me, and could
see no imputation upon the general nor
cause of humiliation to his friends if his
eager devotion to his duties'in hand had
brought upon him so great an affliction.
Some of them seemed to think other
wise, and in the proclamation by Gove
ernor Green Clay Smith announcing his
death it was, I believe, alleged to have
been caused "by accident."
I can well appreciate the affection
which General Meagher inspired among
his race and his countrymen. His form
was manly, his manners cordial, his de
meanor gracious, his conversation in
structive, his wit kindly, his impulses
generous, and I agree with Horace
Greely, who once said to me that General
Meagher was one of the finest conversa.
tionalists and extemporaneous speakers
he had ever known.
It is to be regretted that. so much IS
said and written of General -Meagher and
the manner of his death that is not so.
Those who were with him on that last
day of his life will join me I know in de
nying that his death could be attributed
to any convivial habit. I was with him
most of the afternoon, and he was as
resolutely abstemious as the most de
vout anchorite, and it Is cruelly unjust
to repe'at such an accusation.
The river was searched for his re
mains down to the mouth of the Marlas,
but the search was in vain. Somewhere
In the stream his manly form sleeps in
as serene repose as it would in clasrit
Arlington, but the jealous watersbguard
their secret well, and the rushing waves
from unfound springs seem destinedl
forever to be his 'monument and his
grave.
His Hair.
(Boston Transcript.)
Teacher--Who was the "Sweet Sintger
in Israel?"
Pupil--Samson.
Teacher-Samson! I'm surprised!
Pupil--Well, it he wasn't what 'did he
have such a head of hair for?
Chavoroal' ; ph's Daily Thotight'
(Baltimore News.)
"Dey's a lot bbh feahs Iri de worl',"
said Charcoal E'lh, "dat got a notion
kase Rome i:arn't built in er dna' dey,
gotter take or webk t' sweep do snow
off'n'do sidewalk."

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