MARSH, DANIEL WEBSTER, businessman; b. 15 Aug. 1838 in Hudson Township, N.H., son of Enoch Sawyer Marsh and Margaret Whittier, farmers; m. 1887 Julia Shurtliff, a widow, and they had one daughter; d. 27 June 1916 in Calgary.
After graduating from the high school in Nashua, N.H., Daniel Marsh became a clerk in a Nashua hotel. Sometime later he journeyed to Madison, Wis., to take a similar position. During the American Civil War he served as a sutler in the 30th Wisconsin Regiment, and he subsequently entered the fur trade in the Dakota Territory. Bright and enterprising, by 1876 he was operating a small general store in Fort Benton, Mont., at the head of navigation on the upper Missouri River. He was mainly involved in the import and sale of manufactured goods and the trade in buffalo robes and furs.
Basic business activities did not change for Marsh in 1876 when he gave up his store to become a branch manager for T. C. Power and Brother, one of the principal mercantile firms in Fort Benton. Besides groceries, it imported dry goods, hardware, and agricultural implements to be sold to Indians, farmers, and ranchers throughout north-central Montana and across the Canadian prairies. It shipped furs and robes from Fort Benton down the Missouri for sale in the east. As manager of the company’s store at Fort Walsh (Sask.) between 1876 and 1883, Marsh was able to expand operations in the Canadian prairies. He gave his attention especially to the profitable robe and fur interests in the Cypress Hills, as well as to the trade in beef with the Canadian Department of Indian Affairs and the North-West Mounted Police. When the buffalo disappeared and the Canadian Pacific Railway came in the early 1880s, Marsh quickly realized that the construction crews could be major customers for Power and Brother. He became involved with the opening of stores in Maple Creek in 1883 and Calgary in 1884. Both of these new towns were on the main line of the CPR. The high point of the Canadian business during Marsh’s 17 years as manager occurred in 1884–85, when he supplied the railway’s construction crews with beef as they were pushing through the Rocky Mountains.
From 1884 to 1893 Marsh handled affairs for Power and Brother in Calgary while his nephew, Horace A. Greeley, was in charge of Maple Creek. The two men also launched their own cattle-ranching business in the Cypress Hills near Maple Creek. It proved profitable, even though the severe winter of 1886–87 killed a substantial part of their herd. Marsh developed further ties with the community when in 1887 he married Julia Shurtliff, widow of former NWMP superintendent Albert Shurtliff. So prominent did he become in Canadian ranching that he would be elected the first president of the Western Stock Growers’ Association in 1896. This organization, representing cattlemen from the Cypress Hills to the foothills of the Rockies, was formed to manage activities such as round-ups and to lobby government on behalf of the industry.
Marsh was, however, an urban rancher. An Anglican, he was a member of the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer in Calgary and he served as mayor in 1889. By 1893, the year when Power and Brother sold him its Calgary store, the town was his true home. Until around 1901 he operated the store, carrying a broad assortment of goods. It was a relatively small affair, but as the sole agent for the Winnipeg wholesale grocers G. F. and J. Galt it prospered, selling at both wholesale and retail. As early as 1885 Marsh had become an important moneylender in Calgary. For many years the funds he advanced carried an annual interest rate of up to 15 per cent, a charge that was fairly common in the private lending of the day. By 1905, with the increasing availability of bank credit at 8 per cent, Marsh’s rate had dropped to the same figure. He invested much of his wealth in real estate. “A lot of money has been made in and about Calgary [(]have made considerable myself) and no doubt a lot more is to be made,” he wrote to Thomas Charles Power in 1911, referring to a subdivision he had just sold, and he continued to make money in the remaining five years of his life. He died after a lengthy illness at age 77. Most of his estate, appraised at $351,000, was left to his widow.
Calgary Land Titles Office, Land mortgage files, 1885–1916. Calgary Surrogate Court, Estate files, 10 July 1916. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Geneal. Soc. (Salt Lake City, Utah), International geneal. index. Mont. Hist. Soc. (Helena), MC 55 (T. C. Power papers), box 18, folder 18; box 32, folder 21. Calgary Herald, 14 July 1897, 16 Sept. 1899, 30 Aug. 1901, 28 June 1916. H. C. Klassen, “International enterprise: the house of T. C. Power & Bro. in the Cypress Hills trade, 1875–1893,” Sask. Hist., 43 (1991): 57–71.