|This is an excerpt from Pioneer
Trails and Trials in attempt to pass along
a bit of our Montana history. This book is out of print but is
available at the Sheridan Public Library.
Joseph and Margaret Beaufie
written by Marjorie Dauterman Dolan
I remember Laurin as a thriving and beautiful metropolis.
There were two large mercantile stores, a busy and prosperous hotel,
a bustling stable filled with traveler's horses, a confectionery
shop operated by a sweet lady who catered to children, a beautiful
church built of native stone and said to be the most beautiful
church for a town of this size in America. In the center of a rather
circular street was a round of hitching posts for both carriages and
My grandparents, Joseph and Margaret Beaufie, owned and
operated the hotel and livery stable. Across the street was the J.B.
Laurin home, two stored and beautifully kept. Further on was the
Johnson home, also lovely, and still further on was the Wilcomb
home, tree shaded and inviting. The tall cottonwood trees along the
river bank added to the serenity and the entire setting was
surrounded by the mountains. My grandparents always gave me pennies,
which I hurriedly spent at the sweet shop for all those good
old-fashioned candies. Then I'd site near my grandparents and listen
to the tales they told of their arrival in Montana.
Grandpa Beaufie told me he was born near St. Louis, Missouri,
March 23, 1847. His father was born at Bear River, Province of
Quebec, Canada. His mother was Eugenia Granmore, born in St. Louis.
In 1834, his father was given a contract by the American Fur Company
to make explorations and obtain furs in the Dakotas and in Montana.
near where the Yellowstone River enters the Missouri, the thirty men
became ill of small-pox and all died but Joe. He returned to St.
Louis. His stories of adventure inspired Joe Jr. and when tales of
the discovery of gold in Bannock and Virginia City reached St.
Louis, he set out seeking ways to reach the Eldorado.
Gold seekers wanted to reach the gold fields in the shortest
time. The Bozeman road was short of grass and beset with Indian
troubles. When Jim Bridger assembled wagons and proclaimed a better
way to reach Virginia City, Grandpa Beaufie signed up. Thus he
claimed to be among the first heroic adventurers through the Bridger
Arriving in Virginia City in 1864, he entered into
partnership with Joe Fennel, whose sister he later married. That
first winter of 1864-1865, flour and potatoes became very scarce and
panic resulted. The two men decided that the thing to do was to go
farming and so in the spring, they went to Laurin where other new
emigrants had conceived the idea of supplying the miners with food
and to furnish hay and oats for the many horse and mule teams which
were arriving and departing daily.
The Ruby (Stinking Water - Passam-a-ri) Valley was ideally
suited for these farming operations.
When Joe Beaufie, my grandfather, left Virginia City, he went
to work for Mr. Laurin and eventually bought the hotel and livery
J.B. Laurin married Mrs. Adeline Boothe in 1855. She had lost
her husband and baby in Indian raids while crossing the plains to
Denver. In Denver, she met and became the benevolent benefactress of
my grandmother, Margaret Hiney, nee Fennell, who was also a widow,
with one child. The two women came to Laurin together. Thus it was
that my grandfather, Joe Beaufie, met and married my grandmother,
They eventually bought the hotel and stables from Mr. Laurin
and operated them until after the death of grandmother in 1915. Many
Madison County pioneers were entertained here and visitors, both
famous and infamous, were overnight guests. The Beaufies were known
for their hospitality, gentility and joviality. With their two
daughters, Margaret Hiney and Jennie Beaufie, they lived long lives
in Madison County. Grandfather died in 1932.