Introduction to the Morton Montgomery Project

Go to the indexes

In 1909, Morton Montgomery composed the Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania. It was one in a series of books prepared by the county for publication by the Beers Publishing Company out of Chicago.

It included a history of the county, histories of the townships, and biographies of anyone who wished to participate in the project. County citizens were encouraged to write histories of their families and submit them for publication. As you will see, the type of information that is included varied from entry to entry. In some cases, the entries include dates, places, and names of all the children since the first ancestor arrived in America. Other entries are shorter and simply depict a few paragraphs about a single citizen.

Interestingly you will find that most of the people included were "outstanding members" of their community. In reading through the biographies, you will find very few "black sheep," not a single horse thief, I don't believe, let alone stories of murders or robberies. Most of the people represented were law abiding, church going, philanthropic, and industrious. But then, who would want to preserve that part of a family's history with inclusion of "disgrace" brought against a family member in such an exclusive publication? Often the material was no more than memory of a family member. Before you accept the material in these volumes, you should use other sources to verify the family as you find it here.

One important note: Montgomery did not verify the information that is included in his work. So the volumes contain many errors. For example, dates may be incorrect, children may have been omitted, or incorrect names were included.

About Morton Montgomery

Morton Montgomery was a Reading attorney who lived in the 1000 block of Penn Street. During the last twenty years of the nineteenth century, Morton Montgomery undertook the colossal task of writing a comprehensive history of Berks County. His first edition was published in 1886. It included origins and growth of the townships, history of the political scene, stories about immigration and naturalization, war history, records of taxes paid, churches built and cemeteries established.

His obsession with knowing everything possible about the county eventually led him to work on an even more comprehensive history. Specifically, this led to the extensive colletion of biographies included in the second volume of the two volume book. Morton Montgomery published the Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania in 1909. It contains almost 2000 pages painstakingly prepared by Morton Montgomery and published by the Beers Publishing Company of Chicago.

In preparation, county citizens were contacted, interviewed, and encouraged to write their histories and submit them for publication. There was no attempt to establish the reliability of any of the information. Montgomery was interested in presenting "a true picture of a community as they saw themselves." However, he made every effort to include a broad spectrum of families living in the county at the time. Families participated by subscription and those who had long biographies and full page pictures paid a good sum of money for their inclusion. Therefore, more "established" families tended to create longer stories about their progenitors. All in all, though, the representation was fairly consistent with the composite of the people living in the county at the turn of the century.

Montgomery was a member of the Berks County Historical Society for many years. He spoke many times on subjects pertaining to the county. But, while pursuing these intellectual and historical hobbies of his, he neglected his wife, his children, and his law practice. Ultimately his family left him to his ventures and moved to Montgomery County. He stayed in Reading until his last years when he moved to Allentown where he died.

The Historical and Biographical Annals of Berks County Pennsylvania was compiled by Morton L. Montgomery in two volumes and published by J. H. Beers & Company of Chicago in 1909.

An Additional Piece of History: A Receipt for an Original Purchase

Samuel B. Harbold ordered his copy (both his history and his picture appear in the volumes) on May 31, 1907; his receipt was # 17. It reads: I HEREBY AGREE to take ON COPY of your forthcoming HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL ANNALS OF BERKS COUNTY, PA. (TO BE ISSUED IN TWO VOLUMES), FOR WHICH, WHEN DELIVERED TO ME OR AT MY RESIDENCE OR PLACE OF BUSINESS, I WILL PAY TO YOU OR YOUR ORDER THE SUM OF twenty dollars. I base the above on what is promised in your prospectus. I further agree to provide data for a BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH, and when typewritten copy is furnished, to correct or revise if necessary and promptly return same to you.

Name, Samuel B. Harbold
Business, (Harness Maker
Post Office, Birdsboro, Penna.
Submitted by Dick Hunsinger

Indexes to the Morton Montgomery Project Files

There are numerous indexes here to help you locate information in the Morton Montgomery Project files.

The biographies are organized alphabetically on this site. Each biography contains the page number on which you can find the biography in the book. Only complete biographies are included on this site.

The Biography Indexes

These indexes will take you to the complete biographies. In these indexes, each table cell corresponds to a Web page. The index is arranged so that the first biographical entry and the last biographical entry for a page are listed in each table cell.

The Name Indexes

Because of the many names that are in these biographies, the indexes are broken down into two types. The Pre-Name indexes will give you a range of names. From there you'll go to the name indexes. The Name indexes list every name found in the Montgomery Project on this site. There are 86,000 individuals listed in these indexes.

The Pre-Index

To make it easier to locate an individual name, the Pre-index is organized in such a way that it lists a range of names. Each link that shows a range of names will take you to the name index that lists each individual separately. From that page, select the link that will take you to a biography that mentions that particular individual. The Pre-Index is organized like this:

The Name Index Pages

To access the Name Index pages, first go to the Pre-Index pages.

The links on the Name Index pages will take you directly to the biography in which the name appears.

Any name that appears in bold is the primary subject of the biographical entry.

If a name appears multiple times in the index, that individual is named in many different biographies. Each choice will take you to a different biography.

The number that appears in the index refers to the page on which the biography is found in Morton Montgomery's book.

If you identify any errors, please let me know so I can correct it.

The Marriage Indexes

While preparing the files for the Montgomery Project, many marriages were found and they are listed separately in the Marriage Indexes. Males and females are listed in separate indexes. Note that in many cases, there are no dates, or the dates are incomplete. If you would like to update the index with a date, please send the information to Nancy.

Index to Church Histories

Montgomery included short histories of some of the local churches. To access these historis, click the link to the church you want to see.

Index to Reunions

Montgomery included information about family reunions in his book, and they are included here. These reunions were held about 1905 to 1909.

Acknowledgements

A million thanks to the following volunteers who gave of their time and talents to help transcribe family names for the Montgomery Online Project for Berks County, PA. Their commitment to this project and their willingness to donate countless hours so that Berks County researchers around the country can access this work without cost is noteworthy.

Thank you Judy Parsons for the countless hours you put in collecting this information, indexing it, and getting it posted on the site. It couldn't have happened without your dedication and willingness to undertake such a huge project and your encouragment and support of the many volunteers who helped you. Kudos, Judy!

Bonnie Blau, (Project Coordinator and super blessing), Yvonne Bentz, Wendell Beshore, Guy Bierman, (photo scanner and transcriber), Melinda Brassill, Shirley Brown, Betty Burdan, Claudia Claar, Brenda Creasy, Barbara Dahl, Joyce Diehl, ,Gwen Drivon, James Freeman, Kathy Gambrill, Hallie Garner, Rosetta, Kathleen Hash, Rosetta Heydt, June Herb, Elise Hopkins, Arlene Houghton, Roxie Kline, Linda Lang, Marlene Weaber Leber, Marilyn Lowder, Nancy McDonnell (photo scanner and transcriber), Barbara Mihalcik, Orleata Moore, Judy Morgan, Diana Quinones (Xerox coordinator), Pat Roberts (Index coordinator), Georgia Roessler, Christine Schultz, John Shaneman, Donna Shearer, Bobbie Smith, Kevin Sterner, Carole Vercellino, Rebecca Weigold, William Wells, Taj Wolff, Nancy Young, Joaquina Zacharias and Lynn Zimmerman.

Many thanks to the people involved in developing the indexes, especially Bonnie Blau, Pat Roberts, Ann Enck, Elise Hopkins, Georgia Hill, Gert Mysliwski, Gwen Drivon, Janice Smith, Jim Freeman, Judy Morgan, Karen Haas, Kathy Gambrill, Kevin Sterner, Kirby Heard, Lee Sulzberger, Margaret Myers, Melinda Brassill, Nancy McDonnell, Nancy Young, and Robin Busby.

Last Modified Sunday, 11-Jan-2009 12:08:48 EST

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