Biography of Hon. John M. Montgomery

A man of upright character, a firm friend and a patriotic citizen, John M. Montgomery held a warm place in the hearts of all who knew him. He was born in Hardin County, Ky., September 18, 1816, and died in Merced County, May 4, 1891. Between these dates his life and work were an open book to the communities he so well served. He went to school in the locality where he was born, and upon reaching young manhood he went to Missouri, where he remained until the spring of 1847. He then followed the westward trend of civilization, crossing the plains to California behind the slow-moving ox teams, and upon arrival he entered into the business life of Monterey, remaining there until the discovery of gold. Instead of seeking the precious metal as a miner, he thought he could do better as a freighter and fitted out his team of oxen that had brought him across the plains and began hauling supplies to the new diggings and to the miners. In the fall of 1849, with Samuel Scott as a companion, he located in what was probably the first settlement in what is now Merced County, being but a little distance from what is now the town of Snelling. Here he engaged in farming and stock-raising, in which he met with good results and continued many years.

In 1852 Mr. Montgomery went back to his old home in Missouri and there was united in marriage with Elizabeth Armstrong. Together they made the return trip to California and settled in the home already established by Mr. Montgomery on Bear Creek, six miles east of Merced. The following children were born of this union: Mary, wife of I. Jay Buckley; Jennie, wife of H. K. Huls; Ella, who married E. L. Smith; John A.; Robert H. ; William S. ; Katie and Lizzie. In politics Mr. Montgomery was a Democrat and was often called upon to fill positions of trust and honor. In 1861 he was elected to the board of supervisors and in 1875 to the State Senate, and in the sessions that followed he gave valuable service. One of the broadest acts he ever did had to do with his election to the Senate: His seat was hotly contested, and rather than allow the State to meet the expense he paid it himself. He was loved by all who knew him and his death was a source of regret to a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.

Source: Outcalt, John. A history of Merced County, California : with a biographical review of the leading men and women of the county who have been identified with its growth and development from the early days to the present; Los Angeles, Calif. : Historic Record Company, 1925.

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