[This article was excerpted from "Progressive Men of the State of Montana"]
Distinctively one of the pioneers of the west and an active participant in many of the exciting movements which marked the early historical epoch of the western frontier was Edward Cardwell. Among those whose earlier reminiscences have a savor of these periods probably few who participated in them lived up to the full tension of the movements, while few survived to look back and realize the dangers they had passed nor to witness the march of development. One of those whose memory links the stirring events of the early pioneer epoch and the magnificent advancement and material prosperity of the west in the dawn of the twentieth century is Edward Cardwell. He was born in the village of Glenavey, County Antrim, Ireland, on July 10, 1831, the eighth of the ten children of Edward and Nancy (Ouigley) Cardwell, representatives of sturdy old Irish stock. Edward Cardwell, Sr., was a farmer, a man of sterling character, but not wealthy. The latter's father was a non-commissioned officer in the British army, as were also five of his brothers.
Edward Cardwell, Jr., had limited privileges of education in his native isle, since both of his parents died before he was sixteen years old. He then emigrated to America, where in the first years of his residence he passed through those vicissitudes usually met by the young emigrant without capital or influential friends. He was industrious, ambitious and self-reliant, however, and his courage did not flinch. His first permanent location was in Rochester, N. Y., where he learned carriage painting, at which he worked for several years in Canada and New York. In the meanwhile he attended the Rochester high school, earning the necessary funds by working at his trade. Finally he accumulated $1,000, representing constant and assiduous labor and much self-denial, and in the spring of 1857 he traveled to Leavenworth, Kan. This was when the socialistic turbulence resulting from the ill feeling between the Free Soil party and the more lawless border ruffians had begun to make the expression "bleeding Kansas" so appropriate, Leavenworth being one of the outposts of civilization. Mr. Cardwell found work at his trade in the quartermaster's department at the fort for three years, after which he was induced to go to Pike's Peak, Colo., in the spring of i860, by the alluring reports of its rich gold deposits. After prospecting for a time in the Pike's Peak district he became superintendent for P. D. Casey, a prosperous miner and one of the notable pioneers.
The rumors of new diggings and rich prospects traveled with remarkable rapidity in the old days, so it came about that when the gold discoveries at Alder gulch became known Mr. Cardwell was among those who went thither. He arrived in the new camp on November 7, 1863, here meeting many his associates in Colorado. His early experiences were often interesting and thrilling. Mr. Cardwell entered into partnership with John Caplice and Peter Ronan in mining at Central City, Virginia City and at Bummer Dan's bar. Within this time the road agents were menacing the life and property of all who came across their path, and Mr. Cardwell witnessed the hanging of Ives, Boonhelm, Gallagher and other desperadoes, executed by the vigilantes. After the execution of the highwaymen Mr. Cardwell felt that he might safely venture on a visit to "the states," and with others he made the tedious trip of six weeks' duration to Salt Lake, and they left their wagons in Port Neuf canyon, never trying to recover them. From the east Mr. Cardwell returned to Montana, and located in Jefferson county, which is still his home. He resumed mining and engaged in farming and stock raising, conducting one of the finest ranch properties in this section of the state, it comprising 2,800 acres, while he raises cattle upon an extensive scale, being one of the leaders in this industry. His postoffice address is Jefferson Island.
Mr. Cardwell's name is familiar throughout the state, and we may truthfully say that no man inMontana can show a more unshadowed life in either public or private phases. Public spirited in his attitude and having a deep interest in the development and progress of the commonwealth, it was a foregone conclusion that his friends, recognizing his vigorous intellectual powers and his inflexible integrity, should demand of him service in important positions of public trust. He was a representative in the territorial council in the Ninth assembly and member of the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth territorial assemblies, ever exerting a strong influence for good in the formative period of Montana's existence, bringing to bear that sturdy common sense and intuitive wisdom which are dominating elements in his character, while such was the appreciation of his services that he was chosen a delegate to the constitutional convention which framed the present state constitution. At the first state election he was a Democratic candidate for the senate, but the peculiar exigencies of the contest compassed his defeat. At the election of 1890 his name was again placed in nomination for the same office, and he was elected, taking his seat in the judicial body of the legislature and proving himself an able member, conferring dignity and honor by his presence and services. At the close of the assembly Senator Cardwell returned to his home in Jefferson county, where he ever extends a deep and genial hospitality, for his "latchstring" is ever outside and one is sure of hearty welcome from this pioneer, whose home is that of a typical bachelor.