Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Annie Morgan

Legend has it that African American Annie Morgan was a cook for General George Armstrong Custer. After the Battle of the Little Bighorn, she was out of a job and eventually made her way to Philipsburg in Granite County. This part of the story has been disputed, and Annie’s past is uncertain. However, it is a fact that Granite County attorney David Durfee hired her to take his uncle—who had a severe drinking problem—to an abandoned fox farm on Upper Rock Creek to dry out. Annie cared for the uncle, accomplished a cure, and when he eventually went his own way, she stayed on, filing a homestead claim.

Annie's cabin. Photo courtesy State Historic Preservation Office
One day in 1894, Annie happened upon a local character named Joseph Case, lying on the banks of Rock Creek gravely ill with typhoid. Case was a Civil War veteran from New Jersey who made a living catching fish to sell in Philipsburg where he was known as “Fisher Jack.” Annie nursed Jack through the illness, and to repay her, Jack fenced Annie’s homestead. The pair developed a mutual affection, and when the fence was done, Jack stayed on. Annie died in 1914, and both she and Jack are buried in the Philipsburg cemetery. The Forest Service has beautifully restored Annie’s cabin. In the process, workers discovered a curious object hidden in the upper door frame. Bits of red string, a soap wrapper, and other items consistent with the bundles carried by African root doctors suggest that perhaps Annie carried these traditions, handed down to her from family members, to the Montana frontier. She certainly proved her skills at doctoring. The Morgan-Case Homestead, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is available for short-term rental by lottery through the Missoula Ranger District.

P.S. If you're interested in staying at the cabin, watch this video.


  1. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate knowing that readers are enjoying this blog!

  2. I looked up Annie Case and found your blog! So glad I heard this story.