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A Memorial to Thomas Francis Meagher

Join us on the levee at Fort Benton, Montana
June 28, 2009
1:00 p.m.

Why a Memorial?

After a spectacular and colorful life, first as a patriotic leader in Ireland, then as a dauntless commanding general of the Irish Brigade in the American Civil War, finally as a progressive statesman on the early Montana Territorial political scene, this remarkable man met his fate in the late hours of July 1, 1867 while on a river boat tied up at Fort Benton, Montana. Since that time nothing has been put in place to mark the site of the untimely death of one of the most active Montana men in the 19th century. So the Helena Hibernians, the Thomas Francis Meagher Division, is now planning to establish an appropriate memorial to their namesake.

The monument will be of a slim, black granite base, around 6’ 7” tall, and comes from a local quarry with a heroic sculpted bronze upper torso and head of Meagher, about 2’ 9” tall, in civilian dress of the time. A bronze plate will front the stone with an appropriate proclamation. The sculptor is Ron Herron, a Montana artist, who has done a number of extraordinary bronze works.

The site for this testimonial is a lovely spot on the levee, nearly directly across Main Street in Fort Benton from the Baker House, where Meagher spent his last hours prior to boarding the riverboat steamer, G.A. Thompson. The Missouri River and distant bluffs provide a fine Montana backdrop. Eventually, several benches will be placed near the site to provide a pause for reflection on what the memorial represents.

Dedication of the testament to Meagher will take place on Sunday, June 28, 2009. Although the anniversary date of his death is July 1, the date chosen is part of an annual three day Fort Benton observance of their Summer Celebration. The undertaking has the enthusiastic support of the Montana Historical Society.

Fort Benton, Birthplace of Montana

The original fort was first established as a fur trading center in 1847, when Montana was an unexplored wilderness. The village really began to prosper with the growth of steamboat traffic, beginning in 1859. River traffic increased dramatically when Fort Benton became the unloading place for all kinds of commodities for the new territory. The fort was sold to the Military in 1865.

Today, Fort Benton is a thriving, small Montana community with a great historical past and a desire to preserve all that it represents. There is continued effort to reconstruct the old fort and to enlarge the town’s heritage complex and museum. Several fine monuments exist on the levee of the Missouri, including a marvelous heroic size statue of Lewis and Clark, as well as Shep, the famous sheep dog.

It was here in Fort Benton on July 1st, 1867 that Thomas Francis Meagher, on a journey to pick up military rifles for a militia being formed in Virginia City, Montana Territory, of which he was commanding officer, met a mysterious end that’s never been solved.

The Pitch for Funds

After getting better informed about Meagher and knowing the reasons for a memorial to his name and his status in Montana history, now’s the time for us to ask for contributions to this worthy cause. The Hibernians of Helena are seeking to raise $40,000 in order to appropriately honor the man with a monument at Fort Benton. We are asking for any donation you can and wish to make. For those who can afford it, and have Irish ancestry, for a $200 donation or more we’ll send you a beautiful, 8”x 10”, art-crafted family crest of your heritage, suitable for framing, created in Celtic lettering by Marty Lord of Helena.

Donations are tax-deductible. Please make checks payable to “Meagher Memorial” and send to the address below.

In addition to having a dolmen-like, black granite stone with a sculpted likeness of Meagher, the Hibernians will have cast up to 50 miniature size bronze replicas of the original. This will constitute a limited edition signed by the sculptor that will eventually be offered for sale or provided as gifts for sizeable donations to the project.


Meagher Memorial at Fort Benton

  • Chair, Hank Burgess
  • Mike O’Connor
  • Dan Sullivan
  • Dan Gruber, CPA
  • Joe Calnan
  • P.J. McHugh
  • Tom Pahut

Advisory Committee:

  • Bob Morgan
  • Gary Forney
  • Paul Wylie
  • Lenore Puhek

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Thomas Francis Meagher Division of AOH
P.O. Box 1916
Helena, Montana 59624

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Graphics © Marty Lord so if you steal them go to confession!