A Life in Census (Almost)

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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.

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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.”

1880 United States Federal Census for Charles W. Montgomery

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.

1920 United States Federal Census for C W Montgomery

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.

1930 United States Federal Census for Charles W MontgomeryGreat 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.

1940 United States Federal Census

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.

Charles Montgomery Death CertificateCharles Montgomery Headstone

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