Silver City Cemetery

Traders, ranchers, farmers, miners, homesteaders, veterans, and children lay silently here in this small, still-active, community cemetery. Simple, mostly unadorned grave markers are all that remain of Silver City, a small transportation hub and mining community (and one-time county seat). Enterprising Fort Benton traders and their Indian wives took up claims here where the new Mullan Wagon Road crossed Silver Creek. These families—including Jacob and Margaret Schmidt, William and Mary Kaiser, Joseph and Mary Cobelle, and others—ranched along Silver Creek before gold miners flocked to the area. In 1864, Silver Creek attracted California miner William Brown who uncovered gold-rich gravel bars on the Cobelle’s land, sparking a minor gold rush. Traders like Cobelle took their profits and moved on. Active from 1864 into the 1890s, Silver City blossomed to include this cemetery, cabins, and a school, as well as the saloons, hotels, and stores that catered to miners, stage lines, and freighters on the nearby Benton Road. Gold deposits played out by the late-1870s, but the fertile land drew ranchers and farmers. William Brown and his grown children began ranching alongside seasoned ranch families like the Gehrings and Sanfords. During the 1880s, now-prominent area families like the McWetheys, Synnesses, and Wilborns claimed homestead lands and began supplying Helena and distant markets with fresh meat and produce. Their community spanned Silver Creek, Little Prickly Pear Creek, and the Hilger Valley. While Silver City itself faded away, this humble cemetery remains, reflecting the area’s history and the legacies of the families buried here.