The Marquis de Mores
North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame Inductee - 2013
The Marquis de Mores was born Antoine Amedee Marie Vincent Manca de Vallambrosa in Paris, France, in 1858, the son of a French duke. He was granted his title in 1881, and traveled to the United States shortly after marrying an American, Medora Von Hoffman, in Cannes, France. Upon his arrival in New York City, de Mores began working for his father-in-law, a successful investment banker.
Soon the lure of the untamed West drew de Mores. An innovator, he foresaw the benefit of shipping dressed beef to east coast markets, eliminating reduction in profits from weight loss and injuries during shipping. An unheard of venture at the time, de Mores traveled to the Badlands in April 1883 to explore the possibilities. Construction on facilities began that summer in preparation for shipments to begin in the fall. By spring 1884, de Mores had constructed cold storage facilities for meat sales in Helena and Miles City, MT, Bismarck and Fargo, ND, and Duluth, Brainerd and St. Paul, MN.
De Mores chose an imposing hilltop location on which to build his home, the Chateau de Mores, and named the quickly-growing town Medora in honor of his wife. At the height of its prosperity in 1885, the town of Medora had 251 permanent residents, five hotels, a doctor, drugstore, pool hall, skating rink, several saloons and a number of other businesses.
Unfortunately, de Mores’ idea was ahead of its time. Ranching practices depended on year-round grazing. After cold North Dakota winters, spring grass and summer grazing was needed to finish cattle for slaughter. With such a short packing season, de Mores’ operation could not compete with the large Chicago packing houses. By the winter of 1867-1868, Medora was reduced to a ghost town.
Medora and the Chateau de Mores have been revived as a tribute to North Dakota’s Old West and are now a popular tourist destination.