Arthur W. Merrifield (ref: 943-856)                                                                 Merrifield personal items

Photograph courtesy of Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives                             Photograph courtesy of Gregory A. Lampe, Scottsdale, AZ.

 

 

Arthur William Merrifield, Twelfth U.S. Marshal, District of Montana



Arthur William Merrifield was born at Eardley, Quebec, Canada on July 21st, 1855 and grew up at Burritt’s (Burnt’s) Rapids, Ontario. At 18, Merrifield moved to Minnesota and then North Dakota, where he and two Canadians, the Ferris brothers, met and worked harvesting wheat in the Red River Valley. Later, the three moved to the Little Missouri River country of western North Dakota for the buffalo hunting and to start in the cattle business, near Medora.

In September 1883, future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to the Maltese Cross (Chimney Butte) Ranch, managed by Merrifield and the Ferris brothers, to hunt buffalo. At the Maltese Cross, a life long friendship began with these men. During an 1884 bear hunting expedition to the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming with Roosevelt, Merrifield is credited with tracking the first and largest grizzly Roosevelt bagged. In payment for his services Roosevelt offered $150 or a gold watch. Merrifield chose the watch and Roosevelt had a Tiffany pocket watch engraved with a Merrifield hunting quote: “If he is a black bear, I can tree him. If he is a grizzly, I can bay him.”

In 1891, Merrifield sold out his interest in the Medora ranch to Roosevelt and the Ferris brothers, moving to Pleasant Valley, Flathead County, Montana (60 miles northwest of Kalispell). Following the 1904 presidential election, Merrifield delivered Montana’s sole electoral vote for Roosevelt and in January 1907 was appointed U.S. Marshal for the District of Montana upon the expiration of the term of Col. C.F. Lloyd. Marshal Merrifield and his family moved to Helena, where he served in his official capacity until 1911. He then retired to his home on the of Flathead Lake shore at Lakeside (Mission Terrace).

One of the highlights of Marshal Merrifield’s service was escorting seven Chinese deportees to Hong Kong. Marshal and Mrs. Merrifield traveled with guards and the prisoners to Port Townsend, Washington where they boarded the vessel “North Dakota”. Upon delivering their prisoners, the Merrifields toured China and then Japan. At Yokohama Bay, the “North Dakota” grounded itself and they were stranded for several days before they returned to San Francisco via Honolulu.

Merrifield died at the age of 74 on October 3, 1920 at Kalispell and was buried in the Conrad Memorial Cemetery with an honorary Masonic ceremony by the Knights Templar.

Sources:
1) Gregory A. Lampe, “Collector of Fine Antique Arms”, Scottsdale, Arizona.
2) The Roosevelt-Merrifield Connection, Richard Rattenbury,
Man At Arms Magazine, Dec. 1982, pp. 26-35, Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
3) Recollections of his Father by B. Frank Merrifield, Blanche Merrifield McDaniel (granddaughter).
4) The Merrifields, Chapter 42, Stoner Creek and Beyond, Lakeside, Montana, Sylvia Murphy.
5) Theodore Roosevelt correspondences 1905-1911 concerning A.W. Merrifield.
6) The Montana Daily Record, Helena, MT, 12/05/1906.
7) ibid, 01/03/1907.
8) The Helena Daily Independent, Helena, MT, 02/11/1907.
9) Flathead Herald Journal, Kalispell, MT, 03/09/1929.
10) Flathead Monitor, Kalispell, MT, 10/03/1929.
11) Daily Interlake, Kalispell, MT, 10/07/1929.