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Kiskadden Barn and Blacksmith

Kiskadden Building

This was the first stone building constructed in Virginia City, in the summer of 1863. Its popular name "Vigilante Barn" reflects its most prominent role, historically, as the place where the Vigilantes signed their oath. The courageous men met on the night of December 23, 1863, immediately after the trial of George Ives in Nevada City. They formed the Vigilantes, the organization, which finally freed the area from the grip of the notorious Plummer gang.

William Kiskadden & Company occupied the store at this time. The sign has been retouched but is traced over the original, which was still visible. The building at first was divided into three stores, with French doors opening onto the street.

Kiskadden Barn and Blacksmith

Baum, Angevine and Merry occupied the eastern two-thirds of the building from September 5, 1864, to March 18, 1865, and Taylor, Thompson Company occupied the western third. Gorham & Patton, grocers, moved into the east section in March of 1865, when the west side of the building was still the "San Francisco Meat Market."

George Thexton a blacksmith, purchased the block in 1871. He remodeled the building, removing the floors and dividing walls and fitted it with the stalls remaining today. Thus revised, it was opened as the Star Stables in January, 1874.

Kiskadden Building

Thexton sold the building to Elling, Buford and Company in 1880. S. R. Buford, who operated the store where the Wells Fargo Coffee House is today, operated the barn for many years, into the 1920's, after which, it was allowed to deteriorate. The Vigilance Club of Virginia City bought the barn from the Elling Estate in 1944 to preserve it, and gave it to the Historic Landmark Society of Montana in 1947. With the help of donations from Charles Bovey, the Historic Landmark Society was able to add a new roof and repair the stone work.

There is some confusion as to whether or not the Vigilantes actually met here or elsewhere. Several locations would like to claim the honor. There were, no doubt, several meetings, and all were well-guarded secrets. They will, perhaps, always remain a mystery. Popular legend has long assigned the historic meeting to this building. When one stands and studies the old timbers which have withstood their 110 years of existence and realizes the vast changes in our society since those eventful days on the Western frontier, he is reminded of those crucial events which took place underneath this roof.

Special acknowledgements to: John D. Ellingsen, John N. DeHass, Tony Dalich, and Ken Sievert, Tom Cook and Ellen Baumler of the Montana Historical Society.

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