Friday, April 19, 2013

Lucy Davis Maggard Coberly

Pioneers who traveled the wagon trails to the West braved many dangers and to survive the trip one had to be fearless. Their adventures inevitably became mixed with fiction in “tall tales” of the wagon trains. Consider this tale of screaming, disembodied teeth in "Bravos of the West" by John M. Meyers.
The Arapaho Indians had attacked many wagon trains trying to scare away the surge of some whites and frightening others into turning back.  One attack "had neither effect upon a hearty old harridan named Mother Maggard. When her caravan was pursued by a war party, she cautioned it's male members to hold their fire". Mother Maggard stood up in full view and "then she called attention to herself by shrieking and waving a frying pan. Not used to such conduct, the Indians did watch her. But when they were near enough to shoot, they were also near enough to observe that the teeth (of the screaming woman) were snarling at them from a position outside of her mouth. When she sucked them back in and snapped them forth again, the horrified warriors wheeled about and fled. With her store bought teeth firmly in place again Mother Maggard then continued in triumph to Cherry Creek."

The “Mother Maggard” of this story is  none other than the Flint Creek pioneer known in Deer Lodge/Granite county as Lucy Coberly. As you learn her life story, Meyers’ tale seems more and more plausible. She is the very model of the resourceful pioneer.
Born Lucy Davis in New York State on December 5, 1814 to Sophia and Mr. Davis (whose first name is unknown) Lucy married John (Jack) David Maggard, who was about 12 years her senior, when she was 21 years old.  He died in 1848, leaving her with 4 young children to care for. The 1850 US Census of Washington Township, Buchanan County, Missouri lists Ann Maggard age 33 born in New York living at a boarding house with a 13 year old Sophia (Possibly Catherine's middle name) born in New York, Amanda age 11 (4-25-1838 to 2-28-1919) born in Iowa, John age 9 born in 1840 in Iowa, and Fidea age 7 born 4-9-1843 in Iowa.
A few years after being widowed, a second hammer blow fell. Lucy and her family were immersed in the turmoil known as "Bleeding Kansas." We know this because Lucy later made a claim for damages arising from "difficulties in the Territory of Kansas...that on the 14th and 15th days of September 1856, a company of men calling themselves territorial militia, under the command of General Reid forced the inhabitants of Franklin to leave. She (Lucy) was absent from the said town and her premises for the space of three days, and when she returned to the house aforesaid, which she had occupied, with all the contents thereof, had been destroyed by fire; the goods aforesaid were and became to her a total loss. She verily believes that the said house was burned with the household goods therein, by some person or person's connected with the territorial militia. She asked the commissioner that he allow the damages herein set forth, and assess the amount at two hundred and sixty five dollars."

Losses apparently included all her household property such as feather beds valued at $30.00, mattress (2) and pillows (6) $15.50, eight day clock $10.00, two cows and their calves $65.00 etc. The list itemized quilts, bolts of cloth, all furniture and household wares. The report by the Commissioner stated Lucy had lived in Franklin, Kansas since 1856, though the family history states her residence as Lawrence, where her daughter Amanda and other family lived.   Her son-in-law William G. Price also filed a claim (#109) for his grocery store and the plundering of all the goods inside. Family history states that Lucy was involved in the store with William. William received $442.30 for his claim. The area cited is now in present day Crawford County in S.E. Kansas. The above claims are referenced under "Claims of the Citizens of the Territory of Kansas Report of H.J. Strickler Commissioner to audit under the laws....1859-02-02 U.S. Congress, House serial set. Vol.#1017, session vol.#2, 35th Congress, 2nd session. The plunder claim was signed by an X on the line requiring the claimants signature.

According to family history cited by Beretha (Bertha) Mae Price Sawrey Lamb Slage and transcribed by Patricia Smith on January 2002, emigrants flocked to Kansas Territory to build the town of Lawrence on the Kansas River. Among those emigrants in 1855 were W.G. Price, spouse Amanda Maggard, and Lucy Maggard with son John.  Lucy and William set up a store in Lawrence and daughter Catherine Maggard married to Will James settled near Lawrence. The new settlers were part of the Free Soil movement (also called “free state” and “free slavery" in the family history) and the burning of the William Green Price business and the Maggard household was carried out by “Border Ruffians”  with pro-slavery views. Lucy had a partly written letter in her dresser expressing anti-slavery views and told her descendants that was the reason why she became involved in this "bleeding Kansas" episode.

Bertha Price documented Amanda Maggard Price's history and Lucy's Great-great-great grand daughter Sharon Knapp has researched and posted all of the family tree and photos on According to the document provided by Bertha, her father William Green Price was injured in a wagon accident on the Merridezene River and after being bedfast during the winter of 1858 he believed a change in climate would benefit his health. So the Price family (who now had 3 young children), Lucy, John and Fidelia plus Lucy's brother George Davis sold out in Kansas and joined a wagon train guarded by soldiers and headed west across the plains via the old Santa Fe Trail. This was fortuitous – their old home in Kansas was the site of an infamous massacre by Quantrill’s irregulars during 1863.
During this trip west is when the Indian incident related in “Bravos of the West” happened.  The group’s first stop was Aurora, Colorado (now part of the greater Denver area),  where in 1860 Lucy built a log house and ran a hotel. The next year they moved to Colorado City.  The first Legislature met in her kitchen "...Lucy cleared them all out of her kitchen to prepare meals. The lawmakers were so discouraged with the accommodations they adjourned their meeting after four days and highlighted it back to Denver where they remain to this day."  The  Colorado History web site has a copy of the first volume of the Colorado City Journal dated August 1, 1861 and another dated November 28, 1861 with an ad for the Central Hotel on West Central Street near Fifth with Lucy Maggard as proprietor. The ad states that "Denver coaches start from this house and the table always well furnished and prices moderate."   Shortly after the legislature adjourned Lucy moved to the El Paso House and operated a successful business there.

During this time Lucy's daughter Catherine and husband William James followed the gold rush to Gregory Gulch and Central City, Colorado. Daughter Fidelia had the first recorded marriage on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1861 when she wed widower William Garvin in Colorado City.  Daughter Amanda Price had given birth to her fourth child Charles on December 5, 1860 with family records stating he was the first white boy born in Colorado City. These two accounts are cited on the Colorado history websites as the reason Colorado City gave Lucy the name "Mother Maggard."

In 1864 Lucy had another attack of "wanderlust" and sold out. She crossed the plains from Colorado City via Fort Bridger and ended up in Virginia City, Montana. In this move John and probably the recently divorced Fidelia accompanied her. Daughter Amanda (who had married at the age of 13) now with her 6th child stayed with husband William Green Price in Colorado.  It is unknown how long they stayed in Virginia City. The family assumes it was there that Lucy married a man named Coberly. His first name may have been James. He died at an unknown place and time and Lucy moved with John and Fidelia to the Flint Creek Valley. Family history is uncertain when Fidelia divorced Garvin but the 1870 US Census shows Lucy as tavern keeper and Miles Bullard with wife Fidelia, Curtley Owen and Daniel Smith living with her. The Post office cited on the Census was Gold Creek, M.T.

Fidelia and Miles had a daughter named Fairie Lucy before they divorced and Fidelia married Charles T. Stark from Yam Hill (near Pioneer) in 1874. Miles lived in Philipsburg and Alberton, Montana and when he died in Missoula in 1929 he left a widow Emeline Miner.  Fairie born April 23, 1871 used the name of Stark after her step-father. She lived most of her life in Deer Lodge and married Henry W. Evans who died in 1927. Fairie died on September 7, 1945 and is buried in Deer Lodge.

Lucy and John first settled in the Flint Creek Valley near the Henderson's, close to what now is Highway One. Coberly Ditch is named after her at that location. Probably the next year (1866) Lucy sold out to Joe Henderson and moved close to the Mullan Road where she set up a Traveler's Stop. The 1976 Centennial Publication on July 4th cites Lucy's grand-daughter Kate Price Dingwall as stating "When Lucy had to leave the rest stop to deliver supplies she left the gold scales out and travelers weighed out their gold dust to pay for the supplies they needed." 

Sharon Knapp picture
The original post office at this location was named Coberly in 1872 with Green Kirtley as postmaster. In November 1872 the post office was moved to the other side of the creek and named New Chicago with John A. Featherman appointed postmaster. Lucy then sold out to Charley Erick who had just left his Beartown Hotel that he had operated for 3 years.

While operating the Traveler and stage stop, Lucy probably collected tolls for the Hell Gate and Deer Lodge Wagon Road Company, as her place was a junction where the Philipsburg Stages connected with the Deer Lodge-Missoula trunk route.

During the time Lucy owned the Mullan Stage stop, her son John had an incident with a drunken Indian while a band was camped near their home. Family history states he killed one of the Indians and then hid in the willows. Contrary to local stories he then traveled away from the home and met with freighters who assisted him in his wet clothes to reach Salt Lake City. John died of pneumonia on December 6. 1868 at the age of 28. Family documents have the letter received by Lucy from R.P. Lamb at Camp Douglas, Utah Territory dated December 7, 1868 notifying her of his death.

 The March 21, 1868 Montana Post carried the following article: "A young man named Maggard shot and killed an Indian near the mouth of Flint Creek recently. The Indians were drunk and camped near Mrs. Coberly's." The next news article found was the Weekly Independent  dated March 27, 1868 from a letter by F.C. from Philipsburg written March 20th. Titled "Indian Trouble" the article states that Jack Maggard, son of Mrs. Coberly returned to his home in the early part of the week and gives additional particulars respecting his difficulty with the Indians and his escape. Apparently the Indians negotiated a mule for a five-gallon keg of whiskey on Little Blackfoot and were very drunk by the time they arrived at the mouth of Flint Creek. After a lot of fighting within the group they proceeded to the Coberly home and began to ransack the house.  Maggard attempted to run them out of the house and in the melee he fired a shot that killed one of the Indians and according to this account wounded a second.  Jack then ran out of the house and hid in the bushes along Flint Creek.  When the Indians tired of looking for him Jack borrowed a horse from Mr. Martin and went to Lincoln Gulch where he has been ever since.  The Chief said the Indians would have never given up pursuit if the dead Indian had been a Flathead. But since he was from the Pen d' Orreilles "They did not care so much about it." The person who bartered the whiskey for the mule was known and the newspaper advised him to "git-up and git out of this country. He is of no use in this country; in other lands he may atone for the great wrong he has done."  On April 2, 1868 The Weekly Independent  stated they had received a lengthy account of the shooting and the only variance to previous articles was that only one shot was fired from a shotgun and killed one Indian and wounded another. These articles amswer many questions but still do not detail when Jack left the area.

Family history gives the date of the incident as late in the fall and that due to his wet clothes from hiding in the willows he contracted pneumonia, but the newspaper dates  dispute that he died shortly after the incident.

In the March 2, 1868 Weekly Independent there is an article detailing Lucy Coberly building a two story hotel three miles  east of Flint Creek on the road between Bear and Deer Lodge.

The Mullan Road stage stop area is now owned by the Richard Lacey family and the log building though in disrepair is still standing. The community is attempting to preserve the structure.

By 1874 the New Northwest Saturday March 7th stated Mrs. L.A. Coberly will give "House warming at her new station, two miles west of Pioneer on March 17th."   Her daughter Fidelia's wedding to Charles T. Stark was also announced in the same newspaper. The June 17, 1874 Daily Independent of Helena announced that Pioneer had 4 hotels and a new two story was erected and operated by Mrs. Coberly. "Regular price Board $6 per week and 50 cents per meal." 

In the 1880 US Census Lucy is in Butte with a miner Archie McBride age 39 in her household. By 1885 Lucy is in Nebraska with the William Price family. Amanda and her family had moved from Colorado to Nebraska in 1866. Bertha Price documents her grandmother living with them, but did not remember when or for how long.

Sharon Knapp picture

Late in life Lucy got involved in a “David vs. Goliath” legal case when the Northern Pacific Railroad tried to stop her from acquiring title to land near New Chicago that she had homesteaded. The family records show Northern Pacific vs Coberly documents where the railroad challenged Lucy's right to patent to land on which she had filed a homestead on July 3, 1872. Her application for a homestead lapsed on September 11, 1879, but she was able to renew the application under an act passed the next year. On July 24, 1883 Lucy was permitted to make purchase of the 80 acres on SE1/4, SW1/4 &SW 1/4, SE 1/4, Sec. 12, (?13) T10N, R13W.  (The Railroad document states Section 13 but the land patent states Section 12).  The Northern Pacific Railroad challenged Lucy's patent, losing the case on both judgment and appeal.  This land currently is bisected north to south by Highway One and NW to SE by the Old Mullan Road. 

Patents are also listed in Lucy's name for: E 1/2 SW, Sec. 7, T10N, R12W for 40 acres located just NW of The Old Mullan Road and New Chicago and 38.74 acres for Lot 3 or NWSW, Sec. 7, T10N, R12W. These claims were all filed on June 10, 1873 in what is now Granite county and totaled 158.74 acres. 

Lucy also patented a mineral lode of 14.72 acres in Silver Bow County named Tiger Lily Lode with her grandson William G. Price Jr. and David Burt on November 3, 1886. So she must have returned to Butte from Nebraska by that date. There are at least 23 notices posted in the Daily Miner of Butte during the months of February through May of 1893 by David Burt stating he had performed the 1892 claim representation work. The claim is located just north of the famed Alice Mine in Walkerville. On the map above it is outlined in blue. At this time there was no reference to the other co-owner W.G. Price, Lucy's grandson.

Lucy died at her daughter Fidelia Stark's home in Deer Lodge on October 4, 1892 at the age of 77 years and 9 months. She is buried in the Hillcrest cemetery in Deer Lodge with her name listed under "Grandma" beneath the carvings of Fidelia and Charles Stark when they died on October 5, 1914 and 1911.

Sharon Knapp Photo

John and Kate Price
The Amanda Maggard Price family had a total of 13 children. Family documents and historical data show that on June 6, 1876 son John and daughter Catherine (Kate) went west to find aunt Fidelia. Bertha Price documents the arduous task first by train to Ogden, Utah; then the narrow gauge railroad to Franklin, Idaho; next a six horse stage with 11 passengers to Perkins, Montana. There they hired a man with a wagon to take them to the Stark ranch. They arrived at Fidelia's on June 17th with the trip taking them 11 days and nights. That fall of 1876, John born December 20, 1856 in Lawrence, Kansas, went to Philipsburg to work the hoist at the Hope Mine. John spent the rest of his life in the Philipsburg area. He married Eliza McCormack on March 10, 1891 and they had four children. John's obituary names only Edna, Amanda, and Irene, not his son Earl. Sister Bertha visited the family at Philipsburg in 1906 and at that time John was working as superintendent of the Gold Reef Mining Company. He worked a total of 10 years for L.U. Loomis who owned the Gold Reef. Just prior to John's death, Loomis bought the Shakespeare group of claims in Antelope, but John was too ill from miner's consumption to follow him there.

According to Patten family oral history, in his last years John worked at the Patten mill just north of Philipsburg, and died in a cabin next to their mill (at left).  The obituary stated John  had a disease that caused his skin to peel every year. This was probably due to 

mercury exposure from many years working in amalgamation mills. Johnny's funeral took place at the family home in Philipsburg and burial was in the Valley cemetery at New Chicago.

Catherine born October 15, 1858 in Lawrence, Kansas accompanied John to Montana in 1876. Known as Kate, she lived with grandma Lucy while attending school in New Chicago, prior to marrying William Dingwall on December 10, 1877. To Kate and William was born four children: John, Leona, William and James. None of the children married but Leona informally adopted Jack Nelson. Jack took over the Dingwall ranch when the Dingwall's died and his family continues to operate it. Kate died at the Palace Hotel in Missoula at the age of 86 on April 15, 1945. Kate and Leona had moved from the ranch to the Hotel on December 20, 1944. She had spent 67 years of her life on the Dingwall ranch. Her obituary stated the funeral was held in Missoula and family history states Kate is buried in the Valley cemetery at New Chicago.

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