Saturday, April 29, 2017

Where grandma was born ...

Grand Encampment, Wyoming, known now as just Encampment. Somewhere I had never heard of a few years ago. In fact, A few years ago I had no clue as to my father's natural family. As most of you readers know, I did find that information and found a whole bunch of great family. The piece that is pertinent to this journey though is that my father's natural mother, Willa Haggarty was born in 1902 in Grand Encampment, Wyoming and that's where we headed next.

From Interstate 80 across southern Wyoming one gets off at exit 235, near Walcott, and heads south on Wyoming 130 through Carbon County. A lot of maps won't show Encampment but you ought to be able to spot Saratoga and then further south Riverside where the route becomes 230, angling southeast towards the Colorado border.

A little ways outside of Riverside is the sign for the town of Encampment, population 450, elevation 7323. By the population you can tell it is a tiny little town but it does boast a museum, the Grand Encampment Museum, and is rightfully proud of it's early history in which Willa's father played a significant part.

There is not much to see in Encampment and we headed straight for the museum.I'd had some correspondence with the museum before we came and knew they had some material about my family.

One of the first things you see when you pull up to the museum is part of the original tramway, the longest in the world when it was built in 1902 and 1903. It was used to haul the ore from the Ferris Haggarty mine to the smelter, replacing the old freight wagon road over Battle Pass.

It operated until the smelter went out of business in 1908, bringing ore in the buckets suspended by cables from the mine, up over the Continental Divide to the smelter in Grand Encampment. They would be emptied into the little cars on the tracks to go into the smelter.

As Agnes Wright wrote in Rocky Mountain Life in May of 1947, "Up in the far reaches of the Sierra Mountains of Wyoming, near the foot of Bridger Peak, huddles the ghost of the once famous Ferris-Haggarty copper mine. Fragments of cable whine in the wind on rickety towers of the one-time longest aerial tramway in the world.There on a windswept mountainside, almost 10,000 feet above the sea, Ed Haggarty, a penniless young Englishman, found an outcropping of spongy 'gossan' that later sold for $1,000,000."

A bit of hyperbole perhaps but it is certain that in 1898, Ed Haggarty, then not yet 32 years old found the outcropping of copper that proved to become one of the richest and most valuable copper mines in the state. Ed had immigrated around 1885 or so, perhaps age twenty, and supported himself by herding sheep whilst looking for copper in the mountains.

If the identification is correct he is the man on foot at left on a pack trip to Battle, a nearby town. This is said to be in 1897, a year before he found the copper.

In January of 1901, he married Edith Crow who had been staying with her brother Arthur in nearby Battle Lake.

They promptly went on their honeymoon which included a visit to his parents at Bonny Farm in Moresby, Cumberland, England, where they are found staying with his parents in the 1901 English census:

In 1902, their daughter Willa is born and in 1903, they are divorced, Ed filing in August of 1903 that she had absented herself from his home without just cause and refuses to return. She appears to be living with her family in Nebraska. Edith remarried in 1913, Ed appears to have never remarried.

It was fascinating to see my father's natural roots, so different from my mother's in Buffalo, New York, or my father's adopted lines in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. Ed and Edith both died in 1944, the year I was born, Ed in January and Edith in October. I was born in December.

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