Solomon Meredith and the Initial Point of Montana (13 of 13)


Department of the Interior
General Land Office
November 22, 1867

S. Meredith
Surveyor General
Helena, Montana T
Explanation respecting initial point satisfactory. Contracts one and two approved.

Jos. S. Wilson

The latitude obtained for the initial point by Prof. Marsh using the Burt's Solar Compass is 45 degrees 46 minutes 01 second, while the latitude using the pocket sextant and artificial horizon is 45 degrees 46 minutes 27 seconds. The latitude as determined by a party consist- ing of Everett H. Kinmell, W. M. Scaife, and W. H. Overshiner under the auspices of the U.S.C. & G.S. in the summer of 1922 is 45 degrees 47 minutes 13. 08 seconds.

General Meredith resigned as Surveyor General by letter of 1 April, 1869, and returned to his farm at Cambridge City, where he raised fine stock and lived until his death on 20 October 1875. His son Henry C. Meredith notes in his diary on 24 October that his funeral was attended by thousands of people. Henry had accompanied his father to Montana and served as clerk in his office.

Benjamin Marsh, unlike General Meredith, adopted Montana as his home, and worked in the public land surveys for the next six years or so. He opened an office in Helena, and served as a deputy mineral surveyor and county surveyor for many years. He and Mrs. Marsh were the parents of two boys and two girls. Mrs. Marsh died in 1889. He retired from active work in 1889, and died in his rooms at the Warren Hotel on 2 April 1893 at the age of 88.

Col. W. W. de Lacy was engaged in the office of the Surveyor General until 1871. In 1871 he surveyed in Smith River valley, and in 1872 in the Salmon River valley for the Northern Pacific. He was then engaged as a professor of civil engineering. He served as city engineer in Helena in 1883 and 1884. Following this, he was appointed chief mineral clerk and later chief clerk to the Surveyor General at Helena, and held this until his death on 13 May 1892. He was an active charter member of the Montana Historical Society and of the Society of Montana Pioneers.

The three men whom we have briefly reviewed apparently worked closely together, but were from widely divergent backgrounds. Both Col. de Lacy and Professor Marsh were highly educated for that time, although General Meredith was not, and achieved his position by native intelligence and force of personality. Although a Quaker, Gen. Meredith adapted to war and battle extremely well, while Professor Marsh, although educated in a military academy, apparently never saw active wartime service of any kind. Col. de Lacy, while not engaged in the war between the states, was not averse to military action, and fought in Mexico as a volunteer as well as in the Indian wars in the northwest. General Meredith and Col. de Lacy were both Southerners by birth, while Prof. Marsh was born in the North. General Meredith sought his fortune in a northern state, while Prof. Marsh spent considerable time in the deep south, as well as in Texas. Col. de Lacy seems to have been impartial as to the part of the country in which he worked, although he choose to spend the last part of his life in Montana, as did Prof. Marsh. The diverse backgrounds and experience of these three talented and energetic men probably contributed to the mutual cooperation which they apparently enjoyed.

I would like to express my appreciation for the help given me by Al White for material from an unpublished manuscript, to Ardella McBride of the Bureau of Land Management, to Eric L. Mundell of the Indiana Historical Society, and to the Montana Historical Society.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13


©2004 Charles R. Swart

The Best Kept Secrets in Montana Surveying Law
Curtis M. Brown, Land Surveyor and Author
How to Live in the Woods
Land Boundary Monuments, Past and Present
Solomon Meredith and the Initial Point of Montana