THE PETERSBURG DEMOCRAT Petersburg, Menard County, Illinois, Friday, March 16, 1928. Volume LXIX, Number 3


Dean of City's Merchants;
Kept Store for Forty Years
In Same Location

Untarnished Reputation
for Honorable Dealing

Samuel Montgomery, son of B.F. and M.A. Montgomery, was born on the farm, near Petersbury, Illinois, August 22, 1855, and passed from this life at his home in Petersburg on March 9, 1928, aged 72 years, 6 months and 17 days. He is survived by his devoted wife, two sons, six grandchildren and one sister, Mrs. E. C. Fisher of Chicago, besides the unnamed and unnumbered friends of a lifetime spent, almost without interval, in this community.

Farewell services were held Sunday afternoon, March 11, at the Central Presbyterian Church, his close friend and pastor, Thomas G. Melton, officiating. The members of the session, C. C. Frackleton, J. C. Handford, G. M. Buckley, H. E. Wilkins, Roy Zeigler and Will Taylor were pallbearers; the Presbyterian quartet, Miss Jessie Johnston, Mrs. Ernest Nelson, Messr. W. S. Antle and Arthur Johnston, sang, with Mrs. Lucy L. Flickinger at the organ; the flowers were cared for by the Misses Flora Walker, Susie Pillsburg, Clara Frackleton and Nelle Carver. Mr. Ed Wilson, who was Mr. Montgomery's own assistant in former years, directed all arrangements and interment was made in Oakland Cemetery.

It seemed divinely fittings that the last "coming in and going out" of the church he loved so well should be on a Sunday afternoon of mildness and sunshine, unusual to our northern March, as though even Nature's farewell was a benediction to a "good and faithful;" while the interior of the church, in the building and progress of which he sustained so generous a part, was never lovelier, its soft dimness beautifully brightened by the assembled profusion of floral offerings of affection and esteem, and one wondered to how many of the homes of the silent throng that filled the auditorium he had come in like hours of bereavement with his kindly sympathy and service.

The quartet sang the songs of his unwavering faith: "Rock of Ages" and "To the Old Rugged Cross I Will Ever Be True," but the closing number, "remember Now Thy Creator in the Days of Thy Youth," most beautifully fitted the beginning of his long discipleship for, as a child of eleven, he identified himself with the Presbyterian church and gave to it more than sixty years of constant, loyal service, both of self and substance. At the time of decease he had been a member of the session for over a quarter of a century and its clerk for twenty-two years.

A part of his education was obtained at the Petersburg Academy, a private institution, of which his father was trustee. In 1876 he entered Illinois College at Jacksonville and, although on account of severe illness at the beginning of the second year he was obliged to forego his ardent ambition to graduate, his sojourn there led indirectly to his life romance. An interesting episode was a mathematical contest in which he was the winner over a fellow student registered as W. J. Byran, commonly called "Bill." This led to a meeting with Byran's chum and twin in age (they celebrated the same birthday) named Ben Mershon. A few years later, renewing college friendship over in Fulton County, he visited the Mershon homestead and met Ben's sister Frances. Their romance culminated in marriage on Feb. 16, 1887, and of this union two sons were born, Ben Mershon and Charles Albin, both of whom, with their families, are residents of Petersburg and members of the Central Presbyterian church.

Soon after his marriage, Mr. Montgomery became a partner in the furniture store of his brother-in-law, Ed C. Fisher, giving his special attention to the department of undertaking, which he studied and practiced with the conscientious zeal which was, aside from his Christian kindliness of spirit, his most outstanding trait. The profession of undertaking has been called "the service of sorrow" and its gruesome and sometimes tragic features were most distasteful to him at the beginning, but when, after three days and nights of indecision, he accepted the position, neither heat nor cold nor inclement weather nor impassable roads nor the sleepless night for the space of forty years deterred from his responding to a call from the bereaved.

When Mr. Fisher changed his vocation, Mr. Montgomery assumed the entire business and, until his retirement on account of illness, he rated a leader among the successful merchants of Menard County and an unfailing influence towards civic progress and betterment. Always a promoter of good fellowship as important to community welfare, he was affiliated with the Old Fellows, Knights Templar and the Modern Woodmen of America.

To a casual acquaintance, Mr. Montgomery appeared a practical, methodical, conservative business man, but, on more than one occasion, a deep, underlying vein of sentiment expressed itself wit ha generous ardor that had far-reaching results. It was in May, 1890, that, pursuing his vocation, he discovered, beneath high tangled weeds in a neglected corner of the old Rutledge burying ground, the sunken grave of Ann Rutledge. He took a picture of it but was much disturbed about so poor a resting place for a friend of Abraham Lincoln. The sentiment took much control of his thoughts that, securing the consent of her relatives, he chose, at his own expense, the lovely spot on Oakland's hill, and, in the presence of her cousins, disinterred the remains and removed them to the new-made grave. He desired that the marker should come, if possible, from the vicinity of New Salem, the scene of the romance, and after diligent search of the banks of Rock Creek, he found the small boulder which rests at the foot of the grave, and his friend, Charles Richter, engraved the name that marks it. Let it recall the generous spirit of Samuel Montgomery that drew repeatedly on time, strength and purse when there was wrong to right or a burden which he could help bear.

Three times he submitted to the surgeon's knife in hope of regaining his health, the last operation occurring in 1925, but with indifferent results, although he continued business activities, with occasional intervals of rest through November, 1927; then after an acute heart attack attended with much suffering, he resigned himself to the inevitable and remained at home until the end came at daylight on March 9th, quietly, peacefully, as though a door into God's Other, Brighter Room has softly opened for the passage of the kindly, generous, Christian spirit, whose memory is a golden tablet of uprightness to his church and community and a priceless legacy to the loved ones who bear his name.

"And ever near us, the' unseen,
The dear immortal spirits tread;
For all the universe is Life
There are no dead."

Submitted by John Montgomery


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Illinois Ancestors