About Granite County

The county of Granite in the State of Montana was created on April 1, 1893 after House Bill No. 110 was passed by the Montana Legislature in March. The area was carved out of Deer Lodge County and a small sliver of eastern Missoula County. It was named for it's largest town, Granite, located 4 miles by road southeast of Philipsburg next to the famed Granite Mountain mine. This was the largest silver producer in the U.S and perhaps in the world in its heyday (and not to be confused with a well known copper mine in Butte of the same name).

The officers appointed to conduct the county business were:

John H. Cole as Sheriff
Arthur A Fairbairn as Treasurer
George A. Reck as Clerk and Recorder
William Albright as Assessor
Wingfield Brown as County Attorney
Josiah Shull as Clerk of District Court
Mrs Abbie W. Wilkinson as Superintendent of Schools
Dr. William Ray as Coroner
R.M. Ferguson as Public Administrator
George Wilson as County Surveyor
George B. Cain, E.C. Freyschlag and George W. Morse as County Commissioners.

The imposing courthouse,  built in 1912, bespeaks a long era of prosperity built on mining, punctuated by periodic downturns. 

Only months after Granite County's formation, a dozen years of  prosperity built on silver mining came to an end when the price of silver plummeted in the panic of 1893. All but one of the major silver mines closed, banks failed, homes and businesses were abandoned in a major depression that hit the whole country but hit Granite County particularly hard. But, as one can see from the 1903 photo of Granite (below), within a decade, mining and Granite County would make a comeback.

By 1913, the county was dotted with dozens of mines and prospects, as shown on the topographic map published with USGS Professional Paper 78, the Geology and Ore Deposits of the Philipsburg Quadrangle, by W.H. Emmons and F. C. Calkins.

The records of Granite County from the period of time before it was an independent legal entity were copied from the records of Missoula and Deer Lodge County in 1893. The earliest records from Deer Lodge County were filed at Silver Bow, the county seat from 1865 to 1867. At that time the seat was moved to Deer Lodge. Shortly after Granite County was created, Anaconda won an election contest with Deer Lodge and moved the Deer Lodge County seat there in 1897. Some records pertaining to Granite County are still in either Anaconda and Deer Lodge. Some, unfortunately, are reported by the clerks to have been lost to fires or floods at those courthouses.

1 comment:

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