Montgomery Hamilton (1843 - 1909)

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About Montgomery Hamilton

MONTGOMERY HAMILTON (6/7/1843 to 6/9/1909) (Called "Mont"). Sixth child and second surviving son of Emerine Jane Holman Hamilton and Allen Hamilton. He was named for Allen Hamilton's Aunt in Ireland. She had been very instrumental in Allen Hamilton's early education and in his emigration to North America.

On October 22, 1850 father Allen Hamilton writes to his eldest son Holman who is away at college in Crawfordsville about his seven year old son: "Montgomery is getting very wild -- so much liberty since I am continuously engaged and cannot see to him --." In June 1853 Emerine gave a birthday party for their 10-year-old son Montgomery and 70 invitations were sent out. This must have been quite a party in the new mansion that the Hamilton's had recently built in Ft. Wayne.

In 1857-58 Mont went to Europe with the family. They visited relatives in Ireland and went to the continent. Mont was 14. He attended classes at Jena, Germany with his older brother Andrew Holman Hamilton. Sometime later in an undated letter from Emerine to her son Holman, Mont's mother notes: " Mont is the torment of my life. I deeply regret not letting him go to Princeton. His father bought him a 30 dollar gun & he is constantly annoying me about hunting; his success in the gunning business is not yet very great: two squirrels and a bird. " Source: Indiana State Library, Holman Hamilton Collection

Montgomery returned to the United States from Europe and did attend Princeton. He graduated with his class in 1863 although he had left the University a year earlier in September 1862 (at age 19) to fight in the Civil War. His daughter Alice said she believed he went more for the adventure than from any commitment to "The Cause". (While both Mont's father and older brother Andrew Holman were pro-slavery men they were most particularly also pro Union during the war. This was not an unusual position in Indiana.)

Mont enlisted in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry. He enlisted as a private on 9/12/1862 at Philadelphia, Company L of the 15 Pennsylvania Calvary. Later, through the efforts of the family, (i.e. Uncle the Honorable William Steele Holman) he was made aide-de-camp on the staff of General Joseph J. Reynolds, commanding the fourth Division of the Fourteenth Corps (General Thomas's). This was a highly unusual transfer/promotion.

However Mont's service did not last long. In a letter from William Steele Holman dated August 14, 1863 there is the following entry: " It is fortunate that Captain Hamilton reached home. Sickness in the army is anything but pleasant. I hope he has recovered. You say nothing about his returning. Probably the captain has seen enough of war for the present." (NB In the Civil War many more men died as a result of illness than from wounds inflicted in battle. Diarrhea [acute or chronic, the flux, the quickstep] Acute and chronic diarrhea were the two leading causes of disease for Union soldiers - with chronic diarrhea causing some 27,558 deaths. It is estimated that almost everyone suffered from diarrhea at some point in his army career.)

Just a month later Mont's father writes to his friend Allen Montgomery of the Royal Navy "My son Montgomery returned from the army a few weeks ago, quite unwell. He was serving on the staff as volunteer aid to one of our Major Generals, who is a special friend of mine. He leaves for Europe in a few days -- expects to be remain in London only sufficient time to make arrangements to draw for funds. I have asked him to call on you and on Sir Henry. "

Mont returned from Europe when his father died the following August and in the last year of the Civil War (1864-65) Mont attended Harvard Law School but he did not graduate. He was admitted to the Bar of Indiana but never practiced law. In 1866 he went to Europe with the family for his third visit.

He was apparently extravagant while in Europe and alarmed his mother and brother with his spending. He bought 3 suits in Paris, expenditures his mother Emerine considered extravagant. In a letter to her older son, Holman, Emerine referred to Montgomery as "His Lordship". (Harvard Library).

Mont Hamilton married Gertrude Corinne Pond (1840-1917) whom he had met on his second trip to Europe. She and the women in the Pond family were "waiting out the Civil War" in Germany. They had met on an ocean liner. On this second family trip to Europe Mont reunited with Gertrude in Dresden and stunned his mother by becoming engaged to her (he had apparently been courting another woman, Lily Portalis). Mont and Gertrude were married in the Episcopal Church in Dresden August 25, 1866. She was not what Emerine "called handsome" but she felt they were "well suited". Their marriage certificate is at Schlesinger Library at Radcliff.

The couple returned to Ft. Wayne after the wedding and were invited by Emerine to live in the "Old House" for one year. This one-year stretched out to about 7 years until Montgomery built the frame White House on the family estate. In 1873 they built their house next to The Old House (Allen and Emerine's house) and the Red House (Andrew Holman and Phoebe's house) on the family estate.

The large library in this house was lined with not only books but also stuffed birds. Montgomery would go down to the railroad station at night and invite passengers to go home and have some sherry with him.

Carl Detzer recalls that as a young boy at the turn of the century "My mother had friends in the homesteads. When I visited them with her, the candlelight impressed me, glowing on walnut and mahogany in the double parlors, where a square jawed ancestor glowered from a gold frame above one fireplace, and above another a gentle lady with lace on her hair looked out meekly from a less ornate border. Mother preferred the library to any parlor. It was a special delight when Mr. Montgomery Hamilton would push the tall, walnut ladder along its rail and climb rapidly to take a book from a top shelf, fourteen feet above the floor, then appreciating youthful interests, let me climb up to put it back. The libraries all had the same delicious scents; of fine, old leather bindings, a trace of smoke from the coal fire in the grate; kerosene from the student lamp with its high, brass reservoir; and rich tobacco tying all the other smells together. " (pg. 53) It appears as a young man Mont was somewhat less "remote" than his daughter Alice remembered him. However, as his older brother Holman had, Mont apparently retreated in later life.

Mont had a wholesale green grocery business for 20 years, named Huestis and Hamilton (1865-1885) which eventually failed. The Huestis family also had a circus and a candy shop in Fort Wayne. Oliver Huestis was a state representative. Heustis worked in the front of the store while Mont worked behind the scenes in the back of the store keeping the books. It was this store's failure that made his daughters' realize they would have to work for their livings.

After his father and older brother Holman's death, Montgomery worked as a director of the Hamilton National Bank. He had financial problems in the 1890's when the national economy experienced a depression and he had to sell family held real estate.

He had a serious problem with alcohol according to his daughter Edith's, biographer and companion, Doris Reid. Alice, his daughter, described him as "a somewhat remote individual more at home in the library than in life." However Montgomery was involved in local democratic politics in 1870's and 1880's. He served on the city council.

In 1903 Montgomery wrote a brief biography of himself for the Fortieth yearbook of the Members of the Princeton Class of 1863. He actually only spent two years at Princeton because after a placement test he entered as a sophomore and then he spent his senior year in the Union Army. His transcripts show he was an excellent student. His classes included Latin, Greek, Math, Rhetoric, Bible, Way of Life, Evidences of Christianity, Geology and Metaphysics.

He wrote: "I was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, about five hundred feet from where I now live, and my children were born in the same house. There is an old claim, still heard in Scotland and North Ireland, that we Hamiltons are descendants of Woden, or Odin, the Scandinavian War God. On my mother's side my great-grandfather and his three brothers served in the Revolutionary war. These facts and facts they must be, may account for my youthful military ardor. " (Montgomery's maternal great grandfather was Henry Holman who did indeed serve in the Revolutionary War as a member of George Rogers Clark raiders. However Henry only had two known brothers, Edward and George and only Edward is known to have joined Henry with Clark's raiders)

"I was not well prepared for College; Indiana's schools were not then what they have since become, --about the best in the country. I think I ought not to have been admitted to the Sophomore Class yet I was graded sixth at the first quarterly examination. In September 1862, I enlisted in the army, but was graduated with the Class, as were all of us who entered the army in our senior year. I could write plenty of reminiscences of College days, especially of the beginning of the Civil war; as was natural to a Westerner, I took more kindly at first to the Southerners than to the Easterners, and was rather of their set".

" With Rowland Cox and John M. Williams I enlisted in the Fifteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, often called "The Anderson Troop" and "Buell's Body Guard." I served for some months as a private soldier, and afterwards as Aide-de-Camp on the staff of General Joseph J. Reynolds, commanding the Fourth Division of the Fourteenth Corps, General Thomas's, --- the only corps in either army that never was whipped. I served about a year, was invalided, and went to Europe." Mont's official service record reads:

Name: Montgomery Hamilton , Enlistment Date: 03 October 1862 Distinguished Service: DISTINGUISHED SERVICE Side Served: Union State Served: Pennsylvania Unit Numbers: 2015 Service Record: Enlisted as a Private on 03 October 1862 Enlisted in Company L, 15th Cavalry Regiment Pennsylvania on 03 October 1862.

The record does not include his service as an Aide de Camp to General Reynolds.

(NB His daughter Alice notes "though my father ran away from Princeton to enlist at the age of nineteen and served till he was invalided home, he never idealized it -- in fact he hardly ever spoke of it except to excoriate the profiteers who had sold paper boots and rotten food to the Army. He believed that the South had a right to secede and he never claimed that anything but boyish love of adventure had carried him into the war.") Alice Hamilton, Exploring the Dangerous Trades, pg. 25

Montgomery continues, "There I matriculated at the University of Jena in Germany, but did not stay long enough to secure a degree. When I returned to America I entered the Harvard Law School and I was admitted to the Bar, but never practiced law. During several years I was in business, of more than one sort. I have done some work in politics, but, while succeeding where I worked for others, I never managed to "get there" myself."

"As to my writings, my first published work was an article in the "Nassau Lit." under the editorship of John DeWitt, of '61, --now eminent for learning and orthodoxy, --the article was entitled "Heroines." I have no copy. My other writings are not worth mentioning beside this."

(NB This article was actually published in March 1862 in the Nassau Literary Magazine under Joseph L. Mums as the Editor. It was under the byline of "An admirer of Sir Walter Scott". Given his Mother's great appreciation of Scott and the significant accomplishments of his daughters this seems a most interesting article.)

Further Mont notes, "The world has treated me kindly. I have children, -- my full share toward averting "race-suicide: but I have no grandchildren; and, perhaps fortunately, no sons-or daughter-in-law. About my travels, --I went to Europe with my father in 1857, --made the usual tour with some additions, and again, after my army life, as stated above, I spent a year abroad getting as far as Asia. I went over again in 1866 and this time I passed between the contending German armies in the Austro-Prussian war, --coming within a few miles of one of their battles, --in order to get to Dresden, where I was to be married. On my wedding trip I had to pass between these armies again; two days after my marriage the hotel in which I lodged was occupied, on the same night, by the commander of the "Bundes Truppen" and by the Prussian commander, not at the same time, however. Otherwise I have not wandered for any length of time from my birthplace."

   

After 1879 the family spent summers in Mackinaw Island, Michigan in a cabin they built there on Mission Hill. Pamela Dean Holman Harvey, a cousin, remembered it fondly in a letter written in 1946. "I remember over 60 or 65 years ago how life giving and stimulating the air was at Lake Mackinaw, Michigan when I was there visiting the Hamiltons who had a cottage there."

There was also a cabin for elder brother Holman Hamilton's family on Mackinaw so the Fort Wayne "other house" tradition could be continued during the summers. Holman Hamilton writes " The main social activity was the "tea party", attended by both adults and children -- the latter being my first cousins and myself. My aunts invariably referred to the other cottage and the people in it collectively, as "The Other House" --- just as they did in Fort Wayne. There was much visiting and running in and out and back and forth for all these people were extremely fond of each other and had much in common intellectually and artistically. "

    

The family also visited Veraestau, in Aurora, Indiana. However in 1902 Mont and Gertrude sold their interest in the home to other family members for $2,400. Some of this money must have been used for educating their daughters.

Montgomery and Gertrude had 5 children. Gertrude thought public school hours too long and Montgomery objected to the curriculum, which he thought concentrated excessively on American history and arithmetic. The four children learned Latin from their father, French from their mother, German from the servants and "a smattering of mathematics from a day governess. The other subjects "we had to learn ourselves by reading" daughter Alice says. Further she recalls that "of science we had not even a smattering." Yet indirectly the children were made aware of the scientific approach. "We were not allowed to make a statement which could be challenged unless we were prepared to defend it." When uncertain of any particular piece of information they were required to "look it up" and of course their library was extensive. Alice says their education was "incomplete and scrappy but it gave us too precious things: a love of the out of doors and a love of reading." (Alice Hamilton, Exploring the Dangerous Trades) All the girls then attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut for two years when they were about 17. This was a family tradition started by Grandmother Emerine who had sent her daughters there.

Nephew Holman Hamilton notes that "It may be that Montgomery was something of an introvert (on that I am not sure.) But in the family circle he must have been a first rate teacher. For it was he, probably by both encouragement and example who first taught Edith Greek and Latin -- with the results we know. He should have been a professor of the classics. Instead he went into the wholesale grocery business in Fort Wayne."

After daughter Alice's death the Washington Post (Oct. 2, 1970) published an editorial entitled "The Sisters Hamilton ". The editorial reads "It is most fortunate for American civilization that a century ago, one Montgomery Hamilton, a well-do-do citizen of Fort Wayne, Indiana, decided to counter the prevailing notion that learning is somehow unladylike. He saw to it that his three daughters -- Edith, Margaret and Alice -- received as broad and intensive an education as his son, Arthur [who became a scholar of romance languages]. As a result there is in this country, as John Mason Brown once observed, "a happily unorganized band of men and women whose eyes brighten at the mere mention of any one of the Hamilton sisters...

" We pass this information on merely by way of -- what? Well, just to say we are glad that one Montgomery Hamilton decided to educate his daughters. And to recall, now that the last of them is gone, what wonderfully civilized people these Hamilton sisters were. And to wonder in print whether it may not be a mistake to confuse progress with civilization."

One can only add that Gertrude Pond Hamilton probably had something to do with Mont's sending his girls to school. Gertrude opened the world to her daughters in a way that was unique even to the Ft. Wayne Hamiltons.

Montgomery and Gertrude are buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, Ft. Wayne. They had 5 children.

Obituary in Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Thursday June 10, 1909 page 2, Col. 2:

"The Call Was Sudden Hon. Montgomery Hamilton Dies of Heart Failure Had Been Ill, but thought he was Recovering -- Was long a Prominent Figure in Public Life -- Son of a Distinguished Pioneer

"The Hon Montgomery Hamilton son of one of the founders of Fort Wayne, and for many years one of the leading men in the commercial and political life of the city, died suddenly of an attack of heart failure shortly after noon Wednesday, at his home on Clinton and Montgomery streets. He had been ill for several days, threatened with pneumonia, but his physician who visited him about 10 o'clock found him greatly improved. About the noon hour, however, he had a relapse and died in a few minutes. The news of his death caused a shock to his friends and acquaintances, very few of whom knew that he was ill. Mrs. Hamilton was not with him at the time of his death, as his illness had been regarded so lightly that she had gone to Mackinac to prepare the family summer home for occupancy.

"Mr. Hamilton had lived in practical retirement for about twenty years, but prior to that time he was one of the most active men in business and political circles. His health had not been good for a number of years, but he was at no time confined to his bed, and spent his days among his books, or caring for his beautiful home, and now and then visiting with old friends about town.

"He was born in this city June 4, 1843, and was therefore just two days past his sixty-sixth birthday. He was the son of Allen Hamilton, who came to Fort Wayne in 1935, and played a prominent role in the building of the city, and who was one of the circle of able men who left their impress on the early history of the place.

"Montgomery received his early education from the public schools and through private tutors, and afterwards attended Princeton university where he pursued a classical course and was graduated. Afterwards he went to Germany and took a post graduate course at Heidelberg, remaining at that famous university for a year. He traveled extensively over Europe, and upon his return was led by his inclination into commercial business. He was for many years a member of the firm of Huestis & Hamilton, which conducted the largest wholesale grocery in the city and he was also largely interested in real estate and banks.

"Active in Politics

"For nearly forty years Mr. Hamilton was a prominent figure in local and state politics, and he had much to do with shaping the public policies of this community. He was an ardent democrat, and gave freely of his time and means to the furtherance of the principles of Jackson and Jefferson. He served several terms as chairman of the county and city central committees, and was an astute, clear-seeing politician, and always an advocate of clean methods of politics. He was associated with William Fleming and other noted democratic leaders who made Allen county one of the strongholds of the party in this state. He knew men and was a close student of conditions, and as long as he remained in the arena he was looked upon as a leader. The only public office he ever sought was that of councilman, and he served several terms as representative of the Second ward in the municipal assembly. He believed that the citizen's duty to his fellows began at home, and although his mental attainments fitted him for a larger sphere of action he was content to serve the city of his nativity in a humble capacity. That he did well, and many of his ordinances, which have marked the city's progress. were due to him. In 1888 and again in 1892 he was importuned to make the race for congress but refused. Several times he was asked, also to be a candidate for mayor, but he never permitted his name to be used. His brother, A. H. Hamilton, who died fourteen years ago, once represented this district in congress.

"Friend of Hendricks

"Mr. Hamilton was intimate with many of the great statesmen of Indiana. .. and Daniel Vorhees, David Turple, Thomas A. Hendricks and others were his personal friends. One of the most notable politic-social events in the history of Fort Wayne was the reception given by Mr. Hamilton to Mr. Hendricks in 1884. Mr. Hendricks had made a speech and afterwards he was Mr. Hamilton's guest, and the palatial home on Clinton street was thrown open to all and thousands of people were permitted to meet the famous orator and statesman.

"Studious and Scholarly

"Mr. Hamilton was one of the most learned men Fort Wayne has known. He was far more of a scholar than a politician, and the last twenty years of his life were passed with his books as his companions. Few men were more intimate with the classical authors of all ages, and he owned a magnificent library of books by both ancient and modern writers. He was a proficient linguist and a deep student.

"Surviving Mr. Hamilton are his wife and five children. The latter are the Misses Edith and Margaret Hamilton who conduct a college preparatory school for young women in Baltimore; Dr. Alice Hamilton, who is connected with the management of Hull house, Chicago; Miss Norah Hamilton, who is well known as an artist, and Arthur Hamilton, who is at present taking a post graduate course in Michigan university at Ann Arbor.

"There are three sisters -- Miss Mary Hamilton Williams, Mrs. Samuel Wagenhals and Miss Margaret Hamilton all of this city. "

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Montgomery Hamilton's Timeline

1843
1843
1867
1867
Age 24
1869
February 27, 1869
Age 26
New York, New York, New York, United States
1871
1871
Age 28
1873
1873
Age 30
1909
1909
Age 66
????