Simeon R. Buford
Virginia City, Montana
 

Madisonian, Virginia City, Montana
Thursday, January 19, 1905

 Sunday morning, January 15, at exactly six o’clock Simeon R. Buford, after a lingering illness of nearly six months quietly breathed his last at his home in this city.  At his bedside were all the members of his family and two brothers, Charles H. and Luther V. Buford, besides Mrs. Mary B. Elling and Miss Bessie Cooley and Mrs. C. H. Buford, the attending physician, Dr. Kennett, and one of the nurses when the end came.  Mr. Buford suffered severely from rheumatism for many years, but the immediate cause of his death was a complication of stomach and bowel troubles, from which he could obtain no relief although he had been attended by the best physicians of the state and received the care of trained nurses.  In November he went down to Hunter’s Hot Springs to get relief from rheumatism and stayed there until two days before Christmas, to which he looked forward to spending with his family, as he had recovered in a measure from this disease.  It was on his way home, December 23 on the train, that the fatal malady attacked him.  When he reached Whitehall, a physician was called and rendered him temporary relief from his suffering.  Upon his arrival home he soon grew worse and from that time to the time of his death he suffered from great pain.

Mr. Buford was a pioneer and one of the leading citizens of Southern Montana, and one of it’s prominent business men.  He was born in Lewis County, Missouri, March 2, 1846.  He was the third in a family of ten sons and five girls, thirteen of who survive him.  He parents, Wellington and Amanda (Staples) Buford both of whom descended from prominent Virginia families, removed from that state in 1840 to Missouri where they resided the rest of their days.  Simeon R. Buford was reared on the parental farmstead in Missouri, where he attended the public schools and gave his attention to farm work until the year 1865 when he drove an ox team across the plains from Canton, Missouri to Virginia City, Montana, arriving here on the 5th of  September.  Here he became one of the leading business men and here he made his home ever since.  In the party in which he came across the plains were Miss Sarah Raymond now Mrs. Herndon, Winthrop and Hillhouse Raymond who are all prominent in the affairs of Madison County.  On this trip Mr. Buford stood guard at night.

Mr. Buford did not follow the usual plan of the majority of the new comers by becoming a gold seeker in the placer mines and his case was exceptional for he never conducted mining.  He engaged in freighting between this city and Fort Benton with an outfit of ox teams and after the Union Pacific was completed to Corinne, Utah, he made that his base of supplies for his successful freighting enterprise.  In 1872 he quit the road and accepted a position in the grocery store of Raymond Brothers in this city and it was while employed in that establishment that he learned merchandising.  In 1878 he organized the grocery firm of S. R. Buford & Co. of which the late Henry Elling was the company.  It was from that time on that he and Mr. Elling became associated in many enterprises.  He was the head of the S. R. Buford & Co. establishment from the day of its organization until his death.  During the Nez Perces war Mr. Buford was a member of a company organized in Virginia City and was with General Howard at the memorable battle of Camas Creek of which he was a witness and one of the four who brought the wounded to this city.

Mr. Buford possesses remarkable executive ability and a capacity for affairs of a broad scope and importance, having been prominently connected with a number of large business enterprises.  He was one of the organizers of the Elling State bank and was it’s president for the past few years.  It is one of the strongest financial institutions of the state.  He also had extensive ranching and stock interests owning several thousand acres of land in the Madison valley.  With the late Mr. Elling he owned large bands of sheep in the Madison Valley and was president of the Buford & Elling Cattle company which owned large herds of thoroughbred cattle and horses in Custer county.  He always had the entire management of the ranch and cattle interests of his firm and he conducted them with consummate ability

In politics he was a tried and true democrat and he has long been one of the wheel horses of the Democratic Party in Madison county.  For 14 years he was chairman of the democratic county central committee.  Taking an active part in all the councils of the organization.   He was honored by being made a member of the constitutional convention of 1889 and helped to frame the splendid constitution of this state.  He was chosen to represent this county in the senate during the first, second and third sessions of the legislature.  To his untiring efforts and influence the state orphans’ home was located at Twin Bridges.  He always took a great interest in the material advancement and prosperity of the county.  He was an honored member of Virginia Lodge No. 1, I.O.O.F., of Alder Lodge No. 30 A.O.U.W. and Oro y Plata Lodge No. 390, B.P.O. Elks, having “passed the chairs” in each of these orders.

On January 4, 1877, he was married to Miss Kate Cooley, an honored pioneer of the state.  Of this union eight children were born.  Four of whom with their mother survive him to mourn his loss..  They are Henry W. Buford foreman of all the sheep interests.  Effie, Simeon R. Jr. and Ruth Buford

Mr. Buford was honest and upright in all his dealings and with his attention fixed on the public good, he was the confidential adviser of a great many men.  He has gone through life revered by the masses and making friends everywhere by the score by his unselfish devotion to the weal of mankind.  Untiring in his energy, ceaseless in his labors and generous to a fault, he has come down through life enjoying the highest esteem of his fellow men, and passes to whatever reward awaits a conscious duty well performed.  In his death the Madisonian loses a trusted friend.

The funeral was held this afternoon from St. Paul’s Elling Memorial church, of which he was a trustee, and was one of the building committee.  He laid the corner stone and was much interested in its welfare, being a liberal supporter.  It was under the direction of the Elks and the church combined.  The regular service was held at the church, the Elks giving their service at the grave.  Past Exalted Ruler W. A. Clark delivered a short eulogy at the grave.  The pall-bearers were:  W. J. Ennis, Joseph Smith II., Patrick Carney, John Reid, Charles Kammerer and John Lavelle.  The Honorary pall bearers were:  A. W.Switzer, Thomas Duncan, Winthrop Raymond, William Finney, Richard Cook and Charles Metzel.

 Eulogy at the Grave

Brothers, Neighbors and Friends:

To me has fallen the sad, though distinguished privilege of paying in a small measure, a last tribute to the dead.

Beneath this wintry sky, with heads bared and bowed, we stand about the last resting place of our departed brother, neighbor and friend.

To this sacred plot, which holds in it’s cold embrace loved ones of many who are present, here we bring another tenant for his home of clay  He shall not go to his rest alone.  Around and about him,

“Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap.” Sleep his children, neighbors, brothers, and friends.  We look  about from grave to grave, with polished marble, towering granite shaft, or the simple head-board, beaten and worn by the relentless elements, each of which marks the last resting place of some one known to him in life.

 

“The mossy marbles rest,

On the lips that he has pressed

In their bloom;

And the names he loved to hear,

Have been carved for many a year

On the tomb.”

The scene about us is not inviting, yet it is emblematical of the simple, useful, dignified, and patient life of the hundreds who lie here awaiting the resurrection morn.

When I come to speak of the man who lies here, words are weak, language is barren, nor tongue nor pen can pay a fitting tribute to this noble life.

Sim Buford was one of the most amiable men that I ever knew.  His kind disposition, his unobtrusive manners drew men  towards him and made them his friends.  He was readily approached, and the very soul of gentleness in his personal relations with all who knew him and the better he was known, the more highly he was esteemed.  There was a quiet, sturdy dignity about him in his daily life which gave a charm to his personality, hard to describe.  He had a kind word for everyone.  No blot or blur stained his manhood.  Purity of life, rectitude of conduct, rigid honesty and integrity adorn his laborious career.

Sim Buford was all that the most exacting can find expressed in these words of deep and noble meaning; Husband, father, neighbor, friend.

He loved home and family and all that makes both dear to every true man.  He cherished his family circle to a marked degree.  A more loving faithful husband, a kindlier, better father, a truer man, a more exemplary, faithful and patriotic citizen never lived nor died.  I knew much of his inner life.  In his death I have lost one of the dearest and most valued of my friends and advisers;  a man with whom I have been most intimately associated.  Personal, politically and financially, for a decade or more; a man whose advice and judgment were always reliable and useful to me, and with whom I could always confer with absolute freedom and confidence; a man of whom we all can say that whatever duty he was called upon to perform, be it personal, private or public, he entered into it with his whole soul and discharged it with the most minute faithfulness and the most scrupulous honesty.  He never betrayed a trust, never deserted a friend, and never took a mean advantage of an antagonist.   Be the contest public or private, Sim Buford was always an advocate of fair play.

Slowly, faithfully, laboriously he had toiled up life’s rugged slope, and then, just as the sun of success had thrown its brilliant rays across its crest and he had gathered his family about him to enjoy the well-earned repose, the dark shadow fell across the light.  He died when the shadows from the West though lengthened, showed the sun still above the horizon and the night of years not yet fallen upon him.  He fell before the weight of years had borne him down; yet, perhaps after a __?__ may be best.   Just in the happiest, sunniest hour of all the voyage, while eager winds are kissing every sail, to dash against the unseen rock and hear the billows roar above the sunken ship

It should at least be a consolation to remember our friend as he was not bowed down with age or borne from the field of life’s battle wounded and in pain, but, keen sighted, calm and blood, the chieftain whose voice was clear, whose lance was well sharpened and well poised, suddenly called to higher sphere of usefulness.

It is not given to us to lift the veil which overhangs the portals of the unseen world; what happens after death and whither the spirit wings its unseen flight, are beyond human discovery.  The past we know, the present we feel, the future we cannot discern.  Human eye hath not seen the land to which he has gone; but, for the eternal abiding place of one so pure, so good and so great as our departed friend, we cannot doubt that it is all that has been told us through sacred song and story and that he even now enjoys.  “The peace that passeth all understanding.”

Let us lay him away to rest until the resurrection, with every benediction on his memory, and feel that a great and good man has passed away.  May the Almighty comfort and protect his widow, and may his children “Be beloved of the father for the father’s sake.”

“And now to you who have been chosen from among the many men he loved, to do the last sad offices for the dead, we give his sacred dust.  Speech cannot contain our love – there was, there is no greater, stronger, manlier man.”

The casket was of beautiful mahogany and metallic lined.  It was as handsome a casket as has been seen in this city.

The floral tributes were numerous, expensive and beautiful, one piece being particularly noticeable and attractive, that given by Hillhouse and Winthrop Raymond.  It was a broken wheel, the felly and one spoke missing.  These two brothers and Mr. Buford were intimate friends, having crossed the plains and freighted together.  There were a number of very large floral pieces of the choicest cut flowers.

The funeral was the largest seen in our city for a great many years, being attended by citizens from all parts of the county.  All of the business houses were closed at noon.  The American flag hung at half mast on all of the public buildings since Monday in honor of Mr. Buford.

 

 

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