Archives Corner: John Lewis Montgomery II

John Lewis Montgomery II (1929-2020)

Over the past several years the Parish History and Archives Committee members have learned to appreciate the heroic effort John Montgomery voluntarily exerted to preserve the St. David’s Archival Collection enabling us to understand and share our story. We are grateful beyond measure.

In 2001, John assumed chairmanship of the St. David’s Archives Committee and issued a status report. It states that the decision was made to deed our materials to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Also, John explains that, “The function of organizing material to go to HSP has turned out to be a one man job.” He then set out and prepared “15.0 linear feet of materials, 30 boxes, 34 volumes and 15 flat files.” After which John scanned copies of interesting originals being sent to HSP and housed them in more than 80 Archives Albums which we have in our Archival Library. I remember so fondly laughing together with John at coffee hour one Sunday when he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “You know, there’s no index.”

Montgomery Files in the Archival Library.

“The job of Archivist has
been extremely challenging,
but very interesting and
personally rewarding.”

In a letter to The Reverend Win Welty, John stated that “The job of Archivist has been extremely challenging, but very interesting and personally rewarding.” He had the vision to make an invaluable contribution to St. David’s and the perseverance to make it happen. Two years ago I asked him if he would attend one of our summer talks so we could honor him. He thanked me and graciously said, “No.” I tried.

This past fall John and Natalie told Frank that they wanted to give their antique silver communion set to St. David’s. It is a beautiful five piece George IV service that the family had been using for Christmas greens. John explained, “It is highly likely that it belonged to The Reverend William Halsey, rector of St. David’s, (1866 to 1882) and father of my Uncle Ned (who met Longfellow when he visited St. David’s and who, himself, later became the organist.)” Frank, the clergy and the Altar Guild are thrilled with the gift and look forward to using it on special occasions.

In an email sent to me the winter of 2015 after a talk I had given on our church history, John explained his connection to Reverend Halsey whom he said is buried in the “lovely old section” of the Churchyard. The email went on to say, “I will be squeezed into that plot.” It makes me smile to think of him happy there.