Tag: Holdrege

Census Sunday – 1900: Where Was I?

Carl Ozro with Siblings

Genealogy puts one in direct connection with times and places long gone. It can be interesting to look back and imagine oneself in a generation other than the current one.  Where would I have been in, say, 1900?

None of my grandparents were alive yet in 1900; Grandpa Montgomery would be born the following year. His parents, Charles William and Laura Maud (Walker) Montgomery, were living in Holdrege, Nebraska (Grandpa’s birthplace) that year, with their other six children: Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, Alta, Walter, and John (Ward). Charles was working as a butcher and was 39 years old; Laura, 37.  The children were 16, 13, 11, 10, 2, and 7 months old. Charles and Laura had been married for 17 years.

Carl Wilson, father of Grandma Montgomery, turned 15 in 1900. In that year’s census he appears in Lincoln, Nebraska, a boarder and farm laborer in the home of Jonas and Maggie Misler (maybe…the handwriting is difficult to decipher).

It would be seven years before Carl would marry Sophie Roberg. Three years his senior, Sophie was also “working out” in 1900. She can be found in Shell Creek, Nebraska, a housekeeper in the household of Mons Knudson, a 43-year-old widower with six children between the ages of fourteen and two. His mother, 76 years old, lived in the household as well.

Paul Hoffmann, Grandpa Hoffmann’s father, was 22 years old in 1900, the eldest child still living at home on the farm in Fountain Creek, Illinois; he would marry two years later. Paul and his parents, Jacob (age 63) and Christine (age 50), are listed as having emigrated to America in 1883. Christine had given birth to 7 children, of whom 6 were still living. In addition to Paul, those still at home were Andrew, 16; Maggie, 11; Sammie, 8; and Louisa, 6. Paul and Andrew have “farm laborer” listed as their occupation; the other children were attending school.

Paul’s future wife, Emma Slagel, was 20 years old and living at home with her parents in Indian Grove Township, Livingston County, Illinois. Samuel Slagel, then 50, and Mary, 45, had been married for 24 years. Mary had given birth to 4 children, three still living (and all at home): Emma, along with brothers Daniel (22) and Joseph (18). Also living with them was Mary’s niece, Lena Demler, twelve years old.

In 1900, Grandma Hoffmann’s father was still using the old German spelling of his name. He appears as “Albert C Schwing,” in Ash Grove, Iroquois County, Illinois. Another farming family, his parents were Albert, Sr., age 40, and “Kathrine,” age 38. They had been married for 16 years, and Catherine had given birth to 10 children, all still living, and all still at home: Martha, 15; Charles, 14; Lena, 12; Albert C., 11; Soloma, 9; Joseph, 7; Katey, 6; Anna, 3; Harry, 2; and Paul, 3 months. A further three children would eventually be born to the family.

The final and youngest of these ancestors, Lena Hunkler, was seven years old and living in Washington, Illinois. Her parents, George J. (age 37) and Mary (age 40), had been married for 13 years, and George is listed as a farmer. All five children are at home: Bertha is 13 and listed as Berty (?). Matilda is 11; John G. is 8; “Lenie,” 7; and Hulda, 4. All but Hulda had attended school in the previous year.

Amanuensis Monday – Letter from John Ward Montgomery

Grandpa Montgomery was the youngest of seven children.  Four daughters were born first (Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, and Elta), then three sons (Walter, Ward, and Lawrence). Grandpa’s closest sibling in age, John Ward Montgomery, was born October 9, 1899 in Holdrege, Nebraska.  By 1910 Ward (then age 10) was living in Rotate, Kansas, a “servant” in the household of Ernest Grigson. Ward enlisted in the Marine Corps at Mare Island in April 1917, and in the 1920 census he is found living in Los Angeles. Ward married Katherine Wagner in about 1928 and by 1930 he is living in Lincoln Park, Michigan with his wife (age 23) and daughter Eleanor (age 13 months). Ward is working as a machine operator in a luggage factory.  Ward’s wife died in 1939 age age 31. The 1940 census finds Ward still living in Lincoln Park and now working as a receiving clerk in the luggage factory.  Older daughter Eleanor Jean has been joined by Ruth Corinne.  Ward will eventually die in Allen Park, Michigan, on February 2, 1981 and be buried in Ferndale Cemetery.

In 1936, Ward wrote the following letter to my grandfather Lawrence:

Postmarked October [20?] 1936, Detroit, Michigan; Addressed Mr. Lawrence T. Montgomery, Ardmore, South Dakota; Return address 1211 Park St., Lincoln Park, Mich.; Stamped in corner: Buy U.S. Savings Bonds Ask Your Postmaster

Lincoln Park Mich.
Oct. 19, 1936

Dear Brother Lawrence & Family:

I received your letter some time ago, and was sure glad to hear that you are getting along better. I hope it won’t be long until you are able to work again. I had a letter from Sister Mamie not long ago. Her address is 2827 “K” St. Bakersfield Calif. I also heard from Walter. His address is Lewisburg Penna. I am going to Drive over and see him the first time I can get a few days off from work. Lewisburg is a small town about 125 miles this side of Philadelphia or about 460 miles from here. – About a 10 hour drive. I haven’t seen Walter since we were both in the Marine Corps at Mare Island California in April 1917, that’s over 20 years ago—Ha—we must be getting old. I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to get away tho. as we are very busy at the Factory now. I hardly ever get thru work till 6:30 or 7 o’clock in the evening. I work by the month tho, so don’t get any extra pay for the long hours, but I won’t have any trouble getting a day off when we are not so busy. I wish I could get out to see you too. Perhaps I can when I take my vacation next year.

What are you doing for a living now, farming? Sometimes I wish I could get away from the City and on a farm. Of course I make more in town, but living is so high that it takes all I make to pay the bills.

Walter tells me that he has been married 12 years now, but has no children. He is running a Restaurant and BeerGarden in Lewisburg, but lives about 8 miles out in the country from there. He said he was coming over to see me sometime. We are 8 miles from Downtown Detroit, but it’s business district all the way. Town’s are so close to-gether here it’s hard to tell which one you are in.

Well I hope you are all fixed up and feeling fine by now. How are the wife and children—

Write to me again soon—
As ever,
Your brother

1211 Park St.
Lincoln Park, Mich.

A Life in Census (Almost)

Charles William Montgomery, my great-grandfather, was born January 17, 1861 in Lynchburg, Ohio, the son of John and Belinda (Simmons) Montgomery.  By 1870 his family had moved to Denver Township, Richland County, Illinois, where they were enumerated that year in June.  In the household that year are John, age 40; Belinda, age 31; Hattie, age 10; Charles, age 8; Franklin, age 7; Thomas, age 6; Harry, age 4; and Edward, age 2. John’s birthplace is listed as New Jersey, Belinda’s and the first three children’s as Ohio, and the youngest three children’s as Illinois.

In 1880, Charles, age 19, is still living at home with his parents in Richland County, but more children have been added to the family.  It now consists of John, age 50; Belinda, age 42; Hattie F., age 20; Chas W., age 19; Samuel F., age 18; Thos. M., age 16; Silas H., age 14; James E., age 12; Joseph T., age 8; John W., age 6; and Emma L., age 4.  The five oldest boys are all listed as “working on farm.”

Most of the 1890 census was destroyed by fire, so the next time we find Charles is in the 1900 census. By this time Charles has been married to Laura Maud Walker for 17 years and has moved to Holdrege, Nebraska.  Charles and Laura are the parents of six children; their youngest, my grandfather Lawrence, will be born the following year.  The household consists of Charles W., born January 1861; Laura, born July 1862; Myrtle P., born February 1884; Mamie E., born October 1886; Bessie B., born December 1888; Alta G., born August 1889; Walter D., born March 1898; and John W., born October 1899. Charles’s occupation is listed as butcher.

There is another 20-year gap in the census records before we find Charles again. Several of his children appear in various locations in the 1910 census, but to date I have yet to locate either Charles or Lawrence.  Between 1900 and 1920 the family underwent a number of changes. In December 1904 Charles’s wife, Laura, entered the Pueblo State Hospital in Colorado, where she remained for the rest of her life.  Myrtle, Mamie, Bessie, and Elta/Alta all married before 1910.  According to Grandpa (Lawrence), his father spent some of the intervening years “riding the range with Buffalo Bill.”  I have yet to determine what kernel of truth (if any) is to be found in that story!

In 1920 Charles finally reappears, now living in Fort Collins, Colorado.  He is one of many “roomers” living at 224 Linden Street, his family now dispersed.  He is listed as C. W. Montgomery, age 57, with “farm laborer” his occupation. It appears that this residence was known as Antler’s Hotel and still stands in Fort Collins.

By April 1930, Charles is still living in Fort Collins but has moved about two blocks away, to 326 Walnut Street.  He is now a lodger in the home of Charles and Minnie Reingold, Russian immigrants and proprietors of a junk store.  Charles is listed as age 69, paying $10 a month in rent.  He is employed as watchman at the G. W. (Great Western) Sugar Factory.

Charles’s wife Laura died in the Pueblo State Hospital in 1933.  Seven years later Charles has returned to Linden Street, though his street number is now 222. He is paying $10 rent again and is now listed as age 72 and unable to work.  Details provided by Charles indicate the highest educational level he completed was the eighth grade. The proprietors of Antler’s Hotel are Charles and Mary Bohnke.

About a year after this final census, Charles married a woman named Lyle who was born about 1884. In January 1942, Charles died at age 80 of a coronary occlusion.  He was buried on January 16 in Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins.