Memories of my mom came to me today. And memories of this pitcher – not my memories, but from those who are no longer with us. Memories that if not written down and handed on, will be forgotten forever.
This pitcher was on the table at my great-grandparents house at every meal. Mom loved spending time with her maternal grandparents – Robert E. Lee and Frances Barber Linton Montgomery. They lived on a dairy farm and owned a large home – with two staircases – one in the front of the house for the girls to use to go up to their bedrooms at night, and one in the kitchen for the boys. Evidently this was not unusual in those days.
Fresh milk was always found in this pitcher and Granddaddy Robert always poured milk in each glass for the young people in his home. My mother adored her grandad. She would sit out on the porch with him, for hours, watching the cars go by. And in the 1940’s on a rural road in Washington County, they were few and far between! She would follow him around the farm and pat him on the cheek. But she would not drink her milk!
Whenever possible she would pour the milk out of her glass, and if there was no way around it she left her glass full. I’m not sure how she managed this under such watchful eyes, but evidently she was well-known as anti-milk. Her dear Aunt Lilly even told mom she would buy her a beautiful doll if she would just drink her milk. I suppose, as any normal child, mom drank that milk until she got her doll. Then, it was back on strike.
This pitcher became one of mom’s favorite possessions many years before her death – its home on the top shelf in her china cabinet. She loved to show it off. But there are serious cracks in several places and it was never used for liquids. Now I am the keeper of the milk pitcher. I don’t like milk either. But I smile every time I see it. Those lovely memories of mom being a stinker about her milk, and great-grandparents who I never met, but know quite well. What memories do you need to write down today?
This is a great photo of my Aunt Lil and her nursing staff at the Goodrich Nursing Home in Lexington, Kentucky. Aunt Lil, actually my great-aunt, was born Lillian Catherine Montgomery, March 11, 1900 – always easy to remember old she was – in Washington County, the daughter of Robert E. Lee Montgomery and Frances Barber Linton. She married Guy Goodrich in 1933. They had no children, but Aunt Lil devoted her time as a registered nurse, a graduate of St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Lexington. She began Goodrich Nursing Home and ran it with an iron fist. Patients always came first. She was a stickler for cleanliness and demanded superior work from her staff. She was well known in this field, and well loved by those who worked for her.
I have very vague memories of visiting Aunt Lil and Uncle Guy’s home in Lexington – I always thought it very fancy! I particularly remember her plates with pink flowers and green leaves in her china hutch. In later years, after Uncle Guy passed on and she sold the nursing home, she returned to Springfield, in Washington County, and lived near her sister – my grandmother. It was at this point our relationship grew, since the genealogy bug had been handed down to her, from her mother – and also handed down to me from the same, my great-grandmother. As far as I know, we were the only two in the family so obsessed! I would visit her for lunch and we would pore over all the delicate pieces of paper of our ancestors, handed down through the years, and look at those faces in photographs of so long ago. Sometimes I miss her so!
Aunt Lil was rather a roving senior citizen. She would move to Springfield, be there several years; miss Lexington; move there for several years, miss Springfield, and move back. Torn between two worlds. In her last years she lived in a nursing home in Springfield, but acted like she was the one taking care of things. I suppose once a nurse, always a nurse!
My beautiful grandmother, Alice Montgomery Carrico, was a strong presence in my life. I’m sure most of you have felt this way about a grandparent, a special aunt, or another person involved in your life. She was raised with a silver spoon in her mouth, as they say, the oldest child of Robert E. Lee Montgomery and Frances Barber Linton. They lived on a dairy farm outside of Springfield, Kentucky. Her father, my great-grandfather, was the typical southern gentleman. In almost every photo he is wearing a thin bow tie and white, or light linen suit. Great-grandmother Frances was the gracious southern hostess, inviting even a passing salesman to lunch with the family.
Grandmother went to St. Catharine Academy, a school of the Dominican sisters, during her high school years. I believe she must have boarded there since I now have her silver napkin ring, with her initials – A. M. – in beautiful script. My aunt said she used the napkin ring while there, when giving it to me as a gift several years ago. While there, Alice took piano lessons, but the dear sister told my great-grandmother she was wasting her money, there was no musical ability in her daughter.
The next link I have with my grandmother is a photo taken about 1915 – at 22 she looks to be a suave and sophisticated woman, ready to take on the world. Isn’t she quite a dish?
At the age of 27, in 1920, she married my grandfather, Joseph Reuben Carrico. It must have been a love match since it was rather like the princess marrying the church mouse. Alice and Rue lived on a small farm near St. Rose Church. Their family began with a baby boy, Joseph Robert (named for both grandfathers) born in 1921. Life was hard, especially, when the depression hit. They had five children by that time – Robert, Reuben, Beulah, Paul, Ann – with Catherine (my mother) and Mary Alice coming along in 1931 and 1933. Life was hard for everyone, but at least living on a farm gave garden vegetables and pork from their hogs, fruit trees gave an abundant bounty, and blackberries and raspberries were loaded on the vines. My mother pictured her life on the farm as wonderful, filled with adventure and always having plenty to eat. But is this the depression seen through the eyes of a child? Did Grandmother and Granddaddy have more worries than what she remembers? I have the leftover war ration book that was in my mother’s name – stamps for sugar, coffee, gas and other things that were rationed due to the war that followed the depression.
How did my grandmother react? Like any sensible woman! She rolled up her sleeves and got on with life. She sold eggs, butter and cream to the grocery in town for extra money. Her butter was special since she made little curves, flowers and designs on top. Grandmother herself drove the buggy into town, driving her horse, Nipsey. Evidently there was a very special bond between grandmother and her horse. When he fell ill, she held his head in her lap, gently rubbing him until the end – I’m not sure how many days he lasted. So strong, but yet so gentle.
The family didn’t have electricity for many years. Grandmother carefully cleaned the chimneys and filled the oil lamps for the family. She walked into the kitchen and slipped while holding one of these lamps, but had the foresight to hold the lamp high during the fall. Not a drop of oil was spilled, no lamp crashed and hit the floor, spreading oil and flame over the room. She kept her family safe.
In 1930 son Reuben became ill with appendicitis and died at a hospital in Louisville. This began a number of years of giving up some of those she loved. Robert entered the army during World War II and died a hero in 1943. Her mother, Frances, died in 1945, and her father, Robert, in 1954.
Through all these deaths I’m sure my grandmother shed many tears. But in 1961 my grandfather passed away. I helped cause some of her tears during this time. At only four years of age I didn’t understand the concept of death – I was positive granddaddy was coming back. When we visited and I heard a noise I would always ask if that was granddaddy. Which always produced a great deal of weeping from both my grandmother and my mother.
By this point in her life, at the age of 68, grandmother lived in town. There was no farm to run, no garden to hoe, no butter to churn. She turned to the enjoyment of friends and family. Grandmother and friends, one I remember as named Crokie, played canasta and ucker. They would visit at each others house and enjoy the afternoon. I can’t speak for the other ladies, but grandmother never left the house without her jewelry – brooch and earrings, sometimes necklace, – hat and matching gloves.
Grandmother was still the best cook – her baked chicken and dressing was always the best. I can still taste it – the most tender, succulent chicken with moist dressing that always included raisins! It makes my mouth water just thinking about it! Anything she fixed was good, I suppose this was just my favorite.
As my grandmother aged, and it became harder to visit her friends – and as they went to meet their Maker – she loved playing cards with her children and grandchildren. Her faith was very important to her, and she prayed while sitting on the porch every day – her favorite spot for time with the Lord.
Grandmother loved her family, and I suppose she was a genealogist, too, but she wasn’t that involved with finding names and dates and records. She was more interested in people. One of her last involvements in life was trying to ensure that the Linton Cemetery was not forgotten, or, worse still, erased from history. She called the local newspaper, The Springfield Sun, and brought this to their attention. A huge article was devoted to this, complete with a wonderful photo of my grandmother in her 89th year!
My grandmother was in the hospital only twice during her life – once in the 1960’s when she had pneumonia, and at the end. My mother visited her the night before she died. Grandmother was eating dinner, and had taken the oxygen from her nose. Mom scolded her when she went in. Feisty as always, Grandmother said she couldn’t enjoy her food with the oxygen. She was going to the nursing home the next day. She died later that night, at age 92, taking matters into her own hands, as she always had.
In 1833 cholera ran rampant in most of Kentucky. Many, many people died, several in a family, sometimes the entire family. My gr-gr-gr-grandfather, William Peter Montgomery, was one of those who died of the dread disease in Washington County on June 19, 1833. Yesterday, while at the courthouse in Springfield, I checked the probate records and found his nuncupative will – meaning an oral will that is written down by others. Evidently he was too ill to even sign the document. William’s wife, Polly (Yates), was eight months pregnant with their sixth child, William Peter, my ancestor, was born about six weeks or so after the death of his father. The older children were Charles W. Montgomery, Martha E. Montgomery, Henry L. Montgomery, Mary Rebecca Montgomery and Frances Edwina Montgomery.
Son William Peter married Martha Ann Carrico December 30, 1862. The couple had ten children, including my great-grandfather, Robert E. Lee Montgomery.
The Montgomery’s from William Peter and Martha Ann on are buried at St. Dominic Cemetery in Springfield. That parish began in 1843, after the cholera epidemic. Springfield City Cemetery, also known as Cemetery Hill, has a monument dedicated to those who lost their lives during the cholera epidemics of 1833 and 1854. An unnamed black gentleman cared for and buried the victims. There are approximately 106 victims in unmarked graves. I assume William Montgomery is buried here, but cannot be sure.
William Montgomery’s Will or last request. 1st That all his property, real, personal or mixt, be left to his wife Polly during her single life, 2nd if she should marry again she is only to have what she brought with her or had at the time of their marriage, 3rd the Estate to be at her death equally divided between all his children, 4th he appoints William Yates jointly with his wife as executors to manage his affairs to take care of his children and pay his debts, etc.
Samuel Montgomery, William Yates
At a County Court began and held for Washington County at the Courthouse in Springfield on Monday the 22nd day of July, 1833. This nuncupative will of William Montgomery, deceased, was produced in court and proved by the oaths of Samuel Montgomery and William Yates, two of the subscribing witnesses thereto to be the nuncupative will of William Montgomery, deceased, and ordered to be recorded accordingly in will Book E page 147.
The above photo is of my great-grandfather, Robert E. Lee Montgomery, sitting in his favorite rocking chair at the age of 86. Beside him is Mary Alice Carrico, shown in her cap and gown, ready for graduation (or perhaps just afterwards!). Mary Alice is my mother’s youngest sister, my aunt. Robert’s oldest child, Mary Alice Montgomery, married Joseph Reuben Carrico. My mother and Mary Alice are the two youngest children of the family.
Robert was born just after the Civil War, September 15, 1865, to William Peter Montgomery and Martha Ann Carrico. He came from a long line of Peter Montgomery’s – from the first who traveled from France to Maryland about 1720 – to his father who was born a few months after his father died during the cholera outbreak of 1833. The first in the family to come to Washington County, Kentucky was Charles Montgomery – Robert’s great-grandfather, son of Peter Montgomery, who was naturalized a citizen in 1740 in Maryland.
Mom told stories of her grandfather, saying he was a rather stern man, and expected everyone to do as he said, but he also had a soft spot. He didn’t like to be kissed, but they would pat him on the cheek, and she said he always smiled at that. When they were visiting, after dinner, he would say, ‘Girls, let’s go out on the porch and watch the cars go by.’ Since they lived out in the county on a rural lane I’m not sure how many cars they would see in one sitting!
Robert ran a dairy farm and milked cows morning and evening. The home was a large farmhouse with large rooms and a wide staircase leading to upstairs – with a second, smaller staircase going upstairs from the kitchen. The boys slept in the back bedrooms and the girls in the front. Mom said the upstairs was usually divided like that during those days.
In the photo my great-grandfather is wearing a long-sleeved white shirt – with cufflinks – you can see them in the photo – a tie and a handkerchief in his pocket. There is not a picture in which he is not dressed in a suit and tie. In one he wears a white coat and pants – and always reminded me of Colonel Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame). In my mind he is the ultimate country gentleman! How I would love to have met him, but he died four years before I was born.
Robert E. Lee Montgomery married Frances Barber Linton February 7, 1893. They had seven children – Mary Alice Montgomery, my grandmother, born December 8, 1893, and with her husband Joseph Reuben Carrico had seven children; Anna Margaret Montgomery, born September 18, 1895, who never married; Laura Frances Montgomery, born December 4, 1897, and died at the age of 15 of tuberculosis; Lillian Catherine Montgomery, born March 11, 1900, who married Guy Goodrich, but had no children; Robert Lee Montgomery, born August 17, 1903, who remained a bachelor; Edward Linton Montgomery, born May 17, 1905, who married Louise Parrott and had two children; and Benjamin Montgomery, born October 21, 1908, and died November 7 of the same year.
Robert E. Lee Montgomery, with his daughter, my grandmother, at his right, Mary Alice Montgomery Carrico. I believe two sisters are on his left, and am not sure about the younger women, but sure they must be relatives!
Frances died August 2, 1945. Robert carried on until July 14, 1953. There was a huge birthday celebration the year before – for his 87th birthday! Mom made the cake – two layers with lots of candles and yellow roses with little ribbons!
Today I have one of my personal photos to share with you – Grandmother and Granddaddy holding their first two children! These are my maternal grandparents.
Mary Alice Montgomery married Joseph Reuben Carrico, November 24, 1920, in Washington County, Kentucky. Alice was the daughter of Robert E. Lee Montgomery and Frances Barber Linton. Rue was the son of Joseph Benedict Napoleon Carrico and Melvina Ann Smith.
Son Joseph Robert Carrico, held by granddaddy, was born September 18, 1921, and Francis Reuben Carrico, held by grandmother, was born November 5, 1922. Unfortunately both these lives would be cut short. Reuben died just before his tenth birthday of appendicitis. Robert fought in World War II and was killed while manning the guns in Sicily, Italy, September 14, 1943, just four days before his 22nd birthday.
The two young women standing on the sides are my great-aunts – Lillian Catherine Montgomery, on the left, and Anna Margaret Montgomery, on the right, grandmother’s sisters. Aunt Lil married Guy Goodrich, but they had no children. Aunt Maggie, who supposedly fell in love with a man who her daddy thought was not worthy, remained unmarried.
What puzzles me are the boy and girl in the seat of the old car! Grandmother had two brothers at that time – Robert and Edward Montgomery (Benjamin, the youngest, died as an infant). At this time Robert would have been 20 and Edward 18. Since my grandmother is 30 – and looks much younger in this photo – this may be one of her brothers. The young lady in the front seat is a mystery. It could be a young cousin of granddaddy’s – since he was a younger child in his family. Or it could be a Montgomery relative. Unfortunately this is a copy of the original photo – with no names written on back! And why I didn’t ask my mom about this before she died – how many times I’ve thought that in the last two years!
Granddaddy died at the age of 76, when I was four years old. I honestly have no memory of him. But I must have loved him dearly. Mom said that when we visited grandmother and I heard a noise in the house, I would ask if that was granddaddy coming home – which, of course, brought about much weeping.
Grandmother lived another 25 years. I have many happy memories of visiting, climbing the trees in her yard – especially the cherry tree when the fruit hung thick on the branches! Grandmother loved to play cards, and when I was old enough I joined in the fun. We would sit on the front porch and watch the cars go by! And on the Fourth of July we sat on her front porch and watched the huge fire works sent up to the sky from across the street at the drive-in theater! And we would eat! I remember her as a wonderful cook – she made the best baked chicken and dressing (in a cast iron skillet)! I’m sure I got my love for cooking and baking from her! Grandmother died in February, 1986, at the lovely age of 92. All her children were born at home. She had one brief stint in the hospital around age 80 due to a slight case of pneumonia. In 1986, in the hospital, she still had her sharp mind and wits around her. My mother saw her the day before she died and complained that grandmother had taken the oxygen from her nose. True to form my grandmother said, “Now, Catherine, I can’t enjoy my breakfast with it!” I hope to have her spunk and determination and longevity!
In any event this is a wonderful moment frozen in time – a young couple with two little babes, surrounded by happy, loving family members!
On this Memorial Day we celebrate those who have given their lives in protection of our country. Pictured above is my uncle, Joseph Robert Carrico, my mother’s oldest sibling. He was named for both his grandfathers, Joseph Benedict Napoleon Carrico and Robert E. Lee Montgomery, but was called Robert. He was ten years older than mom. He was killed during World War II – September 14, 1943, four days shy of his 22nd birthday. Robert was manning the guns that day and continued to fight until the last breath left his body. He is buried in Sicily, Italy.
Everyone has someone in their family that was a hero – giving everything, the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them gently today, and honor them in our hearts. They will live on forever in our memories.