Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Few Quick Thoughts on the Holidays in 18th Century Mill Creek Hundred

As the title suggests, this is more of a collection of thoughts that just occurred to me than a well thought out post. Why it just occurred to me today, you'll see towards the end of the post. Perhaps some future research could more fully flesh out these ideas, but for now here's some things to think about as we move through what for us today is the back end of the Holiday Season.

I don't believe that I've ever come across any firsthand accounts of holiday celebrations in MCH in the 1700's, but I think we can make some fair assumptions. As we've seen, there were three major cultural/religious groups in MCH in the 18th Century. Yes, there were still some Swedes, Danes, and their descendants, but primarily the area was populated by English Episcopalians, English Quakers, and Scots-Irish Presbyterians. In thinking about this, I realized that these three groups celebrated the holidays in very different fashions from each other.

Of the three groups, the "proper" English settlers who still held to the Church of England (the Episcopal Church, in America) celebrated the season in the way that would look the most familiar to us today. The Christmas Season was a religious holiday first, but was also a time of family, decorations, and celebration. A good account of an 18th Century English Christmas can be found here. One interesting note is that for them, Christmas was the beginning of the holiday season, not the end. MCH Episcopalians would have gathered at St. James Church near Stanton to celebrate all of the holy days falling in the 40 day season of Christmas.

Monday, December 14, 2015

John "The Boyne Water Major" Montgomery and Family

The property of John Montgomery
It's a frustrating truth that as much as I'd like to be able to tell the complete stories of the places and people of Mill Creek Hundred, there are some subjects that just refuse to be totally revealed. With a lot of families, for instance, I can trace them back just so far, then they become a confusing jumble. Of all the clans who have frustrated me in this way, few have done so as much as the Montgomerys. There were unquestionably Montgomery families who were prominent in MCH society in the 18th and 19th Centuries, but there is precious little information about many of them, especially as you get deeper into history.

There was, for instance, an Alexander Montgomery who ran the Rising Son tavern in Stanton in the early days. There was also an Alexander who co-founded the first mill in Milltown in 1747. They may or may not have been the same person. A Samuel Montgomery purchased land from the Robinsons near Milltown in 1766, and William Montgomery built the house that still stands along Old Limestone Road, over 200 years ago. Again, these men may or may not (I think they probably were) have been related -- there's just no good data I've come across yet to make a firm connection.

Although all of these Montgomerys deserve to have their tales told (and hopefully I'll be able to do that someday), right now I'd like to focus on a different (and apparently unrelated) branch of the clan. This line of the family has its own rich heritage, and thanks to some typically fabulous work by old deed-miner extraordinaire Walt Chiquoine, we have a pretty decent grasp on who they were and where they lived. And as a bonus, I hope to have an interesting follow-up to this story sometime in the near future.