Born on December 5th 1841, in Derrylea, a townland just
outside the town of Ballyjamesduff, Marcus Daly was the
youngest of eleven children of a small farming family. It
was the pre-Famine era and things were close to desperate.
Starvation and disease were rampant. Derrylea is situated
on the Granard road out of Ballyjamesduff and this area
like vast parts of Cavan saw a mass exodus of its people
circa 1847-1855. Age mattered not , only survival and a
15 year old Marcus departed these shores in 1856. He arrived
in New York and like most immigrants of the time had few
belongings, very little money, education or skills. For
the first five years he did odd jobs such as a messenger
boy until he had saved up enough money to buy passage to
San Francisco via the Isthmus of Panama and then overland
by the coast of California where a sister lived.
After moving west Daly worked as a ranch hand, logger and
a railroad worker and it was in California where he had
his first experience of mining, where he teamed up with
another young Irishman named Thomas Murphy. A quick learner
Daly found employment in one of the silver mines of the
Camstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada. It was in Nevada
that Daly met George Hearst who would become one of his
financial backers in years to come.
By 1871, Daly was at Ophir, Utah and became a foreman for
the Walker Brothers, a banking and mining syndicate in Salt
Lake City. The following year he met his future wife Margaret
Evans while he was inspecting a mine at Ophir with Margaret
and her father. Margaret lost her balance on an incline
and tumbled into Dalys arms. They were married later
that year in one of the Walker Brothers homes in Salt Lake.
Margaret was 18 years old and Marcus was 30. The Dalys
first two children Margaret Augusta (Madge) and Mary (Molly)
were born in Ophir, Utah. Marcus Daly became a citizen of
the United States.
In 1876 Daly was sent by the Walker Brothers to Butte Mantana
to look at the prospects of the silver producing Alice Mine
which the Walkers intended buying. He bought the Alice Mine
for the company and retained a one fifth interest for himself.
Daly went to Butte to manage the Alice mine but he continued
to keep on the lookout for other money making ventures.
In 1881 he sold his share in the Alice mine and purchased
the Anacando mining claim. The Cavan native bought the Anacanda
from Irish born prospector and adventurer Michael Hickey.
An American civil war veteran, Hickey was one of the original
prospectors who panned rivers and dug up the surface in
search of gold and silver. Hickey was one of the first to
sink a shallow shaft on Butte Hill and stake a claim, naming
his mine The Anaconda, after the description of how General
Grants forces surrounded Lees troops like a
giant Anacanda during the American Civil War. But
unable to afford the machinery to get below 150ft Hickey
was forced to sell to Daly, who bought the mine with the
backing of George Hearst and his associates, James Ben Alli
Haggin and Lloyd Tevis.
Initially the Anacanda was a silver mine until a huge vein
of copper 300 feet deep and 100 feet wide was discovered.
Fortunately for Marcus and his friends copper was just coming
into use for telegraph wire and electricity. Thomas Edison
had just built the worlds first electric power plant
in New York city and the use of the telegraph was exploding.
Copper was selling for between eighteen and twenty three
cents a pound in the early 1880s but smelting costs
were high because the ore had to be shipped to smelters
in Swansea, Wales. Daly realised that he was sitting on
a high business opportunity if he could reduce the cost
of smelting. With the backing of Hearst, Haggin and Tevis,
he built a smelter on a site twenty eight miles west of
Butte. To accommodate the workers and support his smelter
Daly built the town of Anaconda. By 1890, the copper mines
were producing over seventeen million dollars worth of copper
a year and made Marcus Daly a very rich man.
He was so successful that Anaconda became almost a household
word in the United States. Daly purchased coal mines to
fuel his finances, bought forests to supply his timber and
built power plants to supply the mines. He also established
a number of banks, and a newspaper, the influential Anaconda
He bought land in Bitter Root Valley, Montana and built
a mansion in the heart of the valley just outside the town
of Hamilton, Montana. By 1889 he had a 22,000 acre ranch
on which he had developed a huge agricultural enterprise.
Daly in particular was very interested in horses and one
of his most prized racehorses was Tommany, one of the most
famous in Americas racing history. Daly treated his
men better than most other employers. He gave preferential
treatment to new arrivals looking for work, allowed the
rustling card (closed shop) to operate, urged new
employees to join the union and allowed union officers and
society members access to his mines. He made donations to
many causes, including Irish nationalism and also for the
building of the parish church in his native parish of Crosserlough.
Marcus Daly died in New York City aged 58 in 1900. When
he died he was one of the major figures in American industry
and was known as the copper king.
Thousands of people attended his memorial mass in Butte.
This obituary from the Buttle Miner read Marcus Daly
was a man to remember. He fought his way from dire poverty
to fabulous riches. A true empire builder, he was a man
of extreme. A friend to his friends, to his enemies remorseless
and unforgiving. Daly, a father figure watched over his
family, his friends and his employees with a heartfelt benevolence.
It must be noted that when he ran the Anacanda Mining Company,
he treated his employees better than most corporations of
the time. More than any other man he built the Montana mining
industry, he was a true son of Ireland, which he never forgot
from Breffni Blue