Walter Washington De Lacy papers, 1855-1896

Overview of the Collection

De Lacy, W.W. (Walter Washington), 1819-1892
Walter Washington De Lacy papers
1855-1896 (inclusive)
.4 linear feet of shelf space
Collection Number
MC 52 (collection)
Walter De Lacy was a Helena, Montana, surveyor and cartographer, who worked on several government road surveys, and served as an official of the U.S. Surveyor's Office. This collection consists of general correspondence (1855-1896) discussing family matters, professional activities, and conditions in Helena, Montana.
Montana Historical Society, Library & Archives
Montana Historical Society Research Center Archives
225 North Roberts
PO Box 201201
Helena MT
Telephone: 4064442681
Fax: 4064445297
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Walter Washington De Lacy was born in Petersburg, Virginia, on February 22, 1819, the son of William and Eliza De Lacy. At the age of fifteen he entered Mount St. Mary's Catholic College in Emmetsburg, Maryland, and graduated in 1838. The following year De Lacy sought and received an appointment to West Point, but his appointment was revoked due to a clerical error. However, De Lacy enrolled at West Point for private instructions in mathematics, surveying, civil engineering and topography. Following the completion of this tutoring he started his career as a civil engineer at the age of twenty. For several months in 1839, De Lacy was employed as an engineer for the Illinois Central and the Iron Mountain Railroad. De Lacy was then commissioned as a captain in the U.S. Army, but resigned before joining his regiment. He devoted the next five years to teaching modern languages to midshipmen onboard the vessels, Pennsylvania, Marion, and Ohio. After various engineering enterprises throughout the Southwest, De Lacy joined Colonel John Mullan in 1859, to survey and build a military road from Fort Benton, in what is now Montana, to Walla Walla, Washington Territory. De Lacy was discharged in 1860, and for the next four years he prospected in the Pacific Northwest. In 1864 he laid out the townsite of Fort Benton. He attended the First Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly in Bannack that same year. The Assembly directed De Lacy to draw the first map of Montana Territory for the purpose of laying out counties. In 1865 De Lacy platted the townsites of Deer Lodge and Argenta. By 1867, during the Sioux War, he had been appointed Colonel of Engineers by Acting Governor Thomas F. Meagher. From 1867 to 1871 he was engaged in the office of the Surveyor-General making maps for the Northern Pacific Railroad. He was elected City Engineer of Helena in 1883, and later served as Chief Clerk to the U.S. Surveyor General until his death on May 13, 1892. De Lacy was a charter member of the Montana Society of Civil Engineers, a member of the Montana Society of Pioneers, and a corporate member of the Historical Society of Montana.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains two subgroups: Walter Washington De Lacy and the De Lacy Family. The Walter Washington De Lacy subgroup consists of outgoing correspondence to family in New Orleans. The majority of the letters are typed copies to his cousin, Fannie S. De Lacy, and his uncle, Walter De Lacy. The letters discuss family matters, professional activities, and Helena and Montana conditions. Outgoing correspondence of Fannie, William, and Zelene de Lacy, Walter W. De Lacy's cousins.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of the Montana Historical Society. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all materials in the collection. In some cases permission for use may require additional authorization from the copyright owners. For more information contact an archivist.

Preferred Citation

Item description and date. Collection Title. Collection Number. Box and Folder numbers. Montana Historical Society, Archives, Helena, Montana.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged by subgroup and series.

Location of Collection


Acquisition Information

Acquisition information available upon request

Related Materials

Same as MF 158.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Walter Washington De LacyReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Biographical Materials
1 / 1
Obituary; record of service in U.S. Surveyor General's Office in Helena
1892, undated
Outgoing Correspondence
1 / 2
To A. and M.E. De Lacy from Walter De Lacy, uncle [typescript copy]
1 / 3
To Catherine De Lacy from Walter De Lacy, uncle [typescript copies]
1 / 4-6
To Fannie S. De Lacy [typescript copies]
1 / 7
To Walter De Lacy [uncle: a few originals, mostly typed transcripts]
1 / 8
Miscellaneous (correspondents include his aunts; Martin Maginnis; incomplete unidentified letter)
Legal Documents
1 / 9
H.B. 113. First Territorial Legislature, for the compensation of Walter W. De Lacy for the making of a map of Montana Territory for the Governor and the Legislative Assembly of Montana Territory. Passed February 2, 1865
1 / 10
Recipes; a Confederate pass; membership certificate in Arch-Confraternity of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, Joseph
1853, 1861

De Lacy Family Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Outgoing Correspondence
1 / 11
Fannie S. De Lacy to Mrs. E.Q. Malter [typed transcript]
1 / 12
William De Lacy to Walter De Lacy, Catherine De Lacy, Fannie S. De Lacy [typed transcripts]
1 / 13
Zelene De Lacy to Walter De Lacy, William De Lacy [typed transcripts]
1860, undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Cartography
  • Frontier and pioneer life--Montana
  • Surveyors

Personal Names

  • De Lacy, W.W. (Walter Washington), 1819-1892 (creator)

Geographical Names

  • Argenta (Mont.)
  • Deer Lodge (Mont.)
  • Fort Benton (Mont.)
  • Helena (Mont.)--Description and travel
  • Helena (Mont.)--Economic conditions