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Eloi Cyr Family

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Death of Eloi Cyr Removes Veteran Settler

Eloi Cyr was one of many French-Canadians who settled in the Missoula area. While he eventually lived near Frenchtown in an area that already harbored many French-Canadians, he was originally a product of the west’s gold stampedes. Some of Frenchtown’s first settlers were not primarily gold prospectors, but were attracted by the fertile bottomlands that bordered the Hellgate River. The small sheltered valley began attracting year-round settlers by the late 1850’s and, along with small farms in the Bitterroot, was producing a crop of staples which allowed a trading economy to begin.   A later reason for the many New Brunswick Canadians migrating to the Missoula area can literally be traced to the influence of the Missoula Mercantile Company magnate, A. B. Hammond, who also hailed from there, but Cyr first came to the area at nearly the same time that Hammond did. Both came by way of the Missouri River at Fort Benton and were lured by the prospects of Montana’s gold.

Differing obituaries below state that Cyr came to Montana either in 1869 or 1870, which coincided with the mining boom at Cedar Creek near Superior Montana that was a magnet for thousands of miners in Montana. Discovery of gold at Cedar is credited to French-Canadian, Louis Barrette and his partner, Basil Lanthier. Cyr mined there for nearly 3 years and then returned to Canada to retrieve his family. On the way back to Montana he spent some time in South Dakota near Deadwood, where his son John E. stayed and became involved in mining in the Black Hills area. By 1876 Eloi was again in the Missoula area, this time farming in Grass Valley where he made his home ranching near many other French-Canadian people.  He was the father of 2 daughters and a son. He married Christine Theriault in 1854 in Canada. She died in 1901 and is buried in Missoula.

His son, John Eloi, married Emily Chaussee and was the father of 3 children. His daughter, Denise, married Gaspard Deschamps and was the mother of 11 children. Daughter Celina ‘Lena’, married W. C. Murphy and was the mother of 3 children.

Another branch of Frenchtown Cyrs are descendants of a cousin, Eloi ‘Petite’ Cyr, who came to Montana not long after the elder Eloi Cyr arrived. Born in Maine in 1848, Eloi ‘Petite’ Cyr also married a Theriault girl, Elodie, and was the father of 11 children. These Cyrs also settled near Frenchtown. He died in 1927 and is buried in Frenchtown.

Below are obituaries from the Missoulian newspaper for the pioneer Eloi and for his 3 children:

Old-Timer in Western Montana Sinks Into Last Sleep – His Career

Eloi Cyr, one of the veterans of the early days in western Montana, died peacefully yesterday at St. Patrick’s hospital, just at noon. The end came quietly; his long life came to its close and the long sleep without the usual agony of death. Eloi Cyr, miner and rancher, spent the best years of his life in western Montana. His simple, straightforward manner, and his honest life made him hundreds of friends. There is not one of the older people who does not grieve. He had, really no last illness; the call of age came quietly today.

Eloi Cyr was born at St. Bastile, New Brunswick, in 1833. In 1870 he made the long and dangerous trip to Montana to engage in mining on Cedar creek. There he worked for three years; then he made the weary journey back to New Brunswick for his family, returning in a year. Then he settled on a ranch in Grass Valley, adjoining the Deschamps acres. This was his home until he retired from active life and turned the ranch over to his son, John Cyr, in whose hands it now is. For the last 14 years he has made his home at St. Patrick’s hospital. He was a devout member of St. Francis Xavier church.

His wife died nine years ago. Mr. Cyr is survived by three children, all of whom are prominent residents; Mrs. William C. Murphy, Mrs. Gaspard Deschamps and John Cyr, whose Missoula residence is at 502 West Spruce street. There the body was taken yesterday afternoon. No definite funeral arrangements have been made, but the services will probably be held next Monday. It is the request of the children that no flowers be sent.



Pioneer Resident of West Montana Passes in South

Mrs. Gaspard Deschamps Dies at Home of Daughter in Los Angeles

Word has been received here of the death of Mrs. Gaspard Deschamps at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. J. Tobinski, at Los Angeles Wednesday evening.

Mrs. Deschamps, one of Western Montana’s pioneer residents, came to Missoula by covered wagon in 1876 and until the time of her death was the sole survivor of three pioneer settlers who came to Missoula at that time. The families who traveled to Missoula by covered wagon from Fort Benton, disregarding the extreme danger brought about [by] the warring Chief Joseph and his Indians, were the two families of Cyr and the Violettes.

Mrs. Deschamps was 78 years of age and had been ill for about a year. She was born in St. Bazil, New Brunswick. With her parents, she moved to Jefferson, S. D., in the early days and in 1876 accompanied the families up the Missouri river by boat to Fort Benton, where the covered wagon caravan to travel to Missoula was organized.

On June 29, 1877, she was married to Gaspard Deschamps in Missoula, and spent virtually all of her life here and in Grass Valley where the family operated extensive ranch holdings. She became a widow in 1920 when Mr. Deschamps was killed in a railroad wreck.

During the past dozen years, Mrs. Deschamps has spent part of the time in California and left Missoula for the last time last fall to go to California.

She is survived by a brother, John E. Cyr of Missoula and by 11 children, five sons and six daughters. The sons are Gaspard J., U. W., Arthur and Armand, all of the Missoula district, and Elzare of Hall. The daughters are Mrs. Thomas Murphy of Los Angeles, Mrs. John Tolan of Oakland, Mrs. J. J. Tobinski of Los Angeles, Mrs. K. K. Jones of Fort Lewis, Wash., Mrs. T. A. Susan of Williamette, Ill., Mrs. Paul Shephard of Rutherford, N. J. Also surviving are 29 grandchildren.

The body will be sent to Missoula for funeral services and burial and will arrive here probably Sunday.

The above obituary appeared in The Daily Missoulian on May 18, 1934.


Murphy Funeral To Be Wednesday

Services for Old Resident To Be Held in St. Francis Xavier Church

Funeral services for Mrs. Lena Murphy will be held at St. Francis Xavier church at 9 o’clock Wednesday morning. Rev. Father Edward A. McNamara will conduct the services and burial will be in Missoula cemetery.

Mrs. Murphy, who was 70 years of age and a native of St. Basil, New Brunswick, came to Montana from Canada in 1876, and Western Montana was her home for 55 years. She was the widow of W. C. Murphy, early-day merchant, who was a member of the firm of Murphy & Worden. Mr. Murphy died at Seattle 10 years ago. After the death of her husband, Mrs. Murphy and a sister, Mrs. Gaspard Deschamps, resided together.

A brother, John Cyr, resides here; a son, Fred Murphy, resides in California and there are several nieces and nephews.

The body is at the Lucy undertaking place.

The above obituary appeared in The Daily Missoulian on August 11, 1931.


John E. Cyr is Taken by Death in Coast City

Pioneer of Black Hills and Western Montana Dies in San Diego.

John Eloi Cyr, a pioneer of the Black Hills of South Dakota and of Western Montana, is dead in San Diego, Cal., after a brief illness. Mr. Cyr, who was almost 85 years of age, had been spending winters in the South for many years and had been in good health until two weeks ago. Then he was stricken and his daughter, Mrs. George Flaherty, made a trip to his bedside by airplane. She will return to Missoula with the body of Mr. Cyr for funeral services here.

Mr. Cyr was a communicant of the St. Francis Xavier church of Missoula, a member of the Knights of Columbus and a charter member of the Society of St. John. This he joined in 1884 and his record for continuous attendance at the annual celebrations of St. John’s day at Frenchtown on June 24 was not excelled by anyone.

Mr. Cyr had been a resident of Missoula since 1905, when he built the home at 502 West Spruce street and brought his family here from Grass Valley. There Mr. Cyr was a rancher and the owner of the “Half-Way House,” a rural hotel in Grass Valley, just nine miles from both Missoula and Frenchtown.

It was here that his wife died in 1928. He is survived by two daughters, Mrs. George Flaherty and Mrs. Thomas Sheridan of Missoula, and by two sons, Henry of Fresno, Cal., and Edwin, of Los Angeles.

He was born at St. Basile, Madawaska, New Brunswick, on June 7, 1855. In 1874 he migrated to Jefferson, S. D., and from there went to the Black Hills, where he had a youthful adventure as a gold miner. From this he went to the keeping of a toll bridge on the first toll road built into Deadwood. He followed this occupation from 1876 to 1881 and during this period was married.

In South Dakota Mr. Cyr was acquainted with many of the picturesque characters of that place and time. “Wild Bill” Hickok, Jack McCall, the man who assassinated “Wild Bill,” “Calamity Jane” and others, and he knew many stories of their activities and peculiarities.

He came to Montana in 1884 and took a ranch in Grass Valley, where he lived until 1905. His father, Eloi Cyr, was in the valley before him, coming to Western Montana in 1869.

[Find A Grave lists John Cyr’s spouse as Emily Chaussee Cyr who died in 1928.]



Last Updated on Friday, 02 February 2018 13:26