Feb. 13, 1935
THE MONTGOMERY FAMILY
The passing of Mrs. H. K. Huls recalls the part played by her father, John Milton Montgomery, (1816-1891), in the shaping of Merced county. Montgomery, extensive cattleman, supervisor and state senator, came to California in 1847. He was in business in San Jose when gold was discovered. He rigged up his ox team with which he had crossed the plains and engaged in hauling freight to the mines.
In 1849, in the fall of the year Montgomery and Samuel Scott settled on the Merced river a short distance below what became later the site of Snelling. This in all probability was the first settlement ever made in what is now Merced county. In 1852 Montgomery went back to Mississippi and wedded Elizabeth Armstrong (1830-1883) and together they came back to the Merced river to their home which Montgomery prepared.
Montgomery was wealthy in land and cattle and exercised influential leadership. He took the leading part in effecting a truce between the farmers and the cattlemen in the controversy over the "no fence" law. In the late sixties Montgomery erected the home at the edge of Snelling which was long the finest residence in the county.
A tragedy occurred in the Montgomery family May 6, 1874, when the daughters, Katie, 18, and Lizzie, 9, were drowned in the Merced river. The father was driving a team and buggy from the Snelling side of the river across to the other side to visit one of his ranches. They were crossing what was known as the Montgomery ferry. The river was high. The team entered the river and in some way got off the beaten track. The buggy tipped over. throwing Montgomery and the girls into the swiftly moving stream. Katie said to her father, "Don't bother about us papa, I'll take care of Lizzie." Katie was a good swimmer but the raging river was too much for her, both girls being drowned. The father enmeshed in the lines, was dragged to the river bank by the horses and was unconscious when rescuers arrived.
Lizzie/s body was quickly recovered, but Katie had floated farther down stream and it was two or three days before her body was found. It was discovered by Cole Fitzhugh and Adolph Bertrandias. The funeral of Katie, delayed by inability to locate her body, was impressive. Quoting from the account of Mrs. Steele in the Argus.
"The six young men who bore the body to the house after the finding were pall-bearers - Cole Fitzhugh, Adolph Bertrandias, the young Anderson brothers, Ed Mugler, Ed Stockird. Six fair maidens stood at the piano, dressed in pure white, with shoulder garlands of white roses and evergreens and each with a wreath of syringa blossoms resting upon their brows. After singing appropriate airs the young girls joined the young men, who holding the handles of the coffin took each a partner, and thus they bore the lovely sister to the flower besprinkled grave. The Rev. Mr. Neal, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Edwards, officiated.
Mrs. Huls, who is being laid to rest this afternoon in K. of P. cemetery, is the last but one of the Montgomery children to cross the Divide. She was a remarkable woman in many ways - kindly, sympathetic, she spent a lifetime in useful service. One of her characteristics seemed to us to be quite remarkable. After the death of Mr. Huls she "carried on," visiting her elevator business frequently and taking an active interest in community affairs. And, despite her years, representing three-quarters of a century, she drove her own automobile right ip to the time she was stricken December 14.
In his funeral sermon over Mrs. Huls today the Rev. J. Douglas Ewan referred to Mrs. Huls sweetness of character and her modern outlook on life. Referring to Mrs. Huls, Ewan quoted this verse from Alice Carey:
Even for the dead I will not bind
My soul to grief - death cannot long divide.
For is it not as if the rose had climbed
My garden wall, and blossomed on the other side?
every member is supposed to live up to the."
I know some other things."
"That you're rich, I'm poor.
I'm an Irish chauffeur and you are."
"Just an American girl, Lawrence. Can't you forget all those other things and remember you are - just a man?"
(To be continued)
Transcribed by: Alma Stone