The Montgomery County Historical Society (MCHS) is a 501(c)(3) corporation. The Society owns two buildings in Montgomery City that house an extensive genealogical library and a museum of artifacts and antiques. All research requests replies, building staffing/maintenance and website management are donated by volunteers.
If you like what you find here, please become a member and/or make a donation to help us continue our mission. We also welcome contributions of your own research, be it family history or documented historical articles that would interest other visitors.
Pioneer Days, a 96-page illustrated history of the County, has been well-received by both those new to our history as well as long-time residents.
Post Offices & Postmasters
MCHS has a list of the County’s Post Offices and Postmasters,complied in 1990 by the amazing volunteer and museum curator Marj Miller (1923-2017). The source is “Record Group Description 028 Postal Service Record of Appointment of Postmasters for Montgomery County, Missouri page 658 and Site location file R25/2716 Box 376.” Information after 1960 may have come from other sources. An unsubstantiated and undated newspaper article claims that “In 1894 Montgomery County became the first county in the US where the PO tired out its newfangled Rural Free Delivery [RFD] services.”
Thanks to volunteers for compiling extensive lists of Montgomery County Officials. Most lists are scanned and found under Museum & Library > Research Documents > County Officials. Some include short bios.
JOP Baker & Americus Court Records
A volunteer discovered an old municipal court docket book (1894-1909) in the MCHS files. The book is handwritten and includes civil and criminal court records of Justice of the Peace Benjamin Sharp “B.S.” Baker. He also ran a general store in Americus.
B. S. Baker descended from one of the original settlers in Montgomery County, who was also a JOP. The JOP concept originated in England and filled a need in the United States in areas where there were few lawyers. It allowed minor cases to be addressed quickly. The Americus cases are mostly about debts owed, but disturbing the peace and assault cases are also documented. There was a severe intolerance for gambling - the fine for such was up to $25, where as assault was penalized with a $1-5 fine. The index is found here. Photos of some pages are found here.
County Naturalization Records
Montgomery County Courthouse Naturalization records from approximately 1904 -1936 were indexed by an MCHS volunteer. The list is divided into Declarations of Intention, Petitions and Oaths, and Petitions for Naturalization. Also included are some Department of Commerce and Labor Certificates. Most researchers are familiar with the courthouse fires in 1864 and 1901. It is suspected that earlier naturalization records burned, but the exact inventory of lost court records is not clear. Researchers of families in Lower Loutre should also check naturalization / court records in Hermann, Gasconade County.
In general, naturalization was a two-step process* that took a minimum of five years. After residing in the United States for two years, an alien could file a "declaration of intention" ("first papers") to become a citizen. After three additional years, the alien could "petition for naturalization" (”second papers”). Here is an explanation of Naturalization Records and a history of the Declaration of Intent.
Prussian Immigrants & Letters Home
Much has been written to answer “Why emigrate from Germany?” The common reply is “avoidance of military conscription,” but that is far too simplistic. Recall that the first arrival of Nordrhein-Westfalen immigrants into Loutre was in 1845. More appropriate responses to “Why?” include these historical facts, further explained in Modern Prussian History:
- Population growth in Prussia (58% between 1816 and 1849); recall there was no “Germany” until 1871 (1850 map)
- Bad weather and crop failures; 1845-47 are called “the hunger years”
- Industrialization and cheap British imports replaced the handicraft home-based production; impoverishing the weavers in Nordrhein-Westfalen
- Conflicts regarding land use; aristocratic and bourgeoisie ownership
- Mass poverty and “pauperism” due to all of the above
- Disenchantment with the promised reforms of Frederick Wilhelm IV, King of Prussia, whose reign began in 1840
If such "personalized history" appeals to you, also consider Our Daily Bread, German Village LIfe by Teva Scheer, to better understand the challenges our ancestors faced and feel what it was like to live (and starve to death) in the German states prior to 1850.
Thanks to a member for sharing this article. If a reader has additional information regarding source or references, please share with the webmaster. If your personal files include such letters home (or similar treasures) please share a copy with MCHS.
Museum & Library Open
Ellis Island in New York closes
From 1892-1954, millions of immigrants pass thru.
Bldg Open for Visitors
Christmas became a public holiday in Missouri in 1856, but it was not until 1870 that President Grant declared December 25 a national holiday.