Madison County, rendered forever famous as the district of country containing the Alder gulch of worldwide renown, 4,900 square miles in extent, had also a population of not more than 4,000 at the last census. It is a county rich in resources, chiefly mineral, although agricultural to a considerable degree. Its chief export was gold, while silver, copper, lead, iron, marble, coal, and other valuable minerals abound.
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The county owned in 1884 cattle, horses, and sheep valued at $1,800,000, and had 10 sawmills cutting 1,000,000 feet of lumber yearly, 2 grist-mills making 6,000 sacks of flour annually, besides raising 100,000 bushels of grain, 50,000 bushels of root crops and pease, and selling 5,000 beef cattle.
Virginia City, once the capital of Montana, and the county seat of Madison County, had in 1880 a population of about 1,000, and more business than that would seem to indicate. Virginia had telegraphic communication with Salt Lake and the east in 1866. John Creighton was superintendent of the line. It was extended to Helena in 1867. In 1878 the leading bank bought $400,000 worth of gold bars and dust, received deposits which averaged $100,000 in bank constantly, and sold $1,400,000 in exchange.
The public buildings at Virginia are handsome and costly. The public school building cost $12,000, the Masonic Temple $30,000, the courthouse $35,000, and others in proportion. There were three churches, Catholic, Methodist, and Episcopal, a weekly newspaper, the Madisonian, and a daily line of coaches connecting it with other business centers. The first Masonic organization was at Virginia City in 1863; corner stone of the temple laid June 24, 1867. Nevada, Montana, and Helena lodges followed, and a grand lodge in January 1800; John J. Hill first grand master, and W. F. Sanders grand secretary. Virginia Montana Post, Aug. 11, 1800.
The early towns and settlements of Madison County were Adobetown, Bagdad, Cicero, Crawford, Daly, Darmitzies, Fish Creek, Gaffney, Home Park, Hot Spring Creek, Iron Rod, Jefferson Bridge, Jefferson Island, Junction, Laurin, Lewis, Lower Silver Star, McCarthy Springs, Meadow Creek, Monida, Monmouth. Muriers, Nevada, Norwegian gulch, Parson’s Bridge, Pollinger, Red Bluff, Rising Sun, Rochester, Salisbury, Sheridan, Silver Springs, Sterling, Stone’s Precinct, Summit, Twin Bridges, Upper Silver Star, Warm Spring Creek, Washington Bar, and Wisconsin Creek.