Seymour T. Montgomery
Alias: Wright E. Clark
The articles presented below were contributed and transcribed by Larry Peterson.
Source: Indiana State Journal, June 6, 1896
THE MONTGOMERY MYSTERY. Kokomo Man Who Led A Double Life Dies In Michigan.
Kokomo, Ind., May 29.—The death of S. T. Montgomery, at Manistique, Mich., last Friday, marked the close of a strange life. He was a pioneer resident of Kokomo, a veteran of the Mexican and civil wars, enlisting in Company I, Twentieth Indiana Volunteer Infantry. At the close of the war Montgomery began the publication of the Kokomo Daily Herald, and for years was associated with the late T. C. Phillips on the Kokomo Tribune. In 1870 he published the Mishawaka Enterprise. At the destruction of the Studebaker wagon works by fire Montgomery was at the scene of the conflagration and it was thought perished in the flames. The family, thinking him dead, returned to Kokomo. Six years later, Will Montgomery, the oldest child, a printer by trade, found his father at Lagrange, O. where he had married an estimable woman and was serving as Mayor of the town under the name of "Maj. Wright S. Clarke," by
which name he was known the remainder of his life. Locking the secret in his heart, young Montgomery, who did not make himself known to his father, returned to Kokomo. About that time Mrs. Montgomery died. For years she had kept a light in her window, looking for the return of the wandering husband, should he be alive. At last her lingering hope was lost, and she died in the firm belief that he had preceded her to the life beyond the grave. The son knew better, but he refused to divulge the secret. "Major Clarke" was not molested.
Ten years later Will Montgomery saw his father, "Major Clarke" again. With a theatrical troupe the young man stopped at Manistique, Mich., a lumbering town in the northern peninsula. Here,"Clarke" was the editor of the Manistique Pioneer. This time Montgomery made himself known, going into the Pioneer office and introducting himself to "Major Clarke" as his son. The elder Montgomery acknowledged his identity, but the secret went no further. Young Montgomery remained at Manistique and obtained control of the Manistique Sun, which he conducted for several years in opposition to his father. The papers were opposed politically and in every other way. A more fierce newspaper war was never conducted than that of the Pioneer and Sun, the fact that they were owned by father and son being known only to themselves.
Five years later the son went to Republic, a copper mining town, where he published a paper. Four years ago young Montgomery was burned to death at Republic. His office took fire, and, in endeavoring to save his family, living upstairs in the same building, he perished in the flames. His father, "Maj. Clarke" continued the publication of the Manistique Pioneer until his death last week. He was a prominent and highly respected citizen, having occupied all the public offices of honor in that county, including the probate judgeship.
Source: Aberdeen Daily News, March 31, 1887
A man named Jim Sommers kept a vile place at Manistique, Mich., the county seat of Schoolcraft County. Major Clarke, editor of the Schoolcraft County Pioneer, finally reached a determination to use the columns of his paper to obliterate this evil, but the determination proved of a disastrous nature to him. After several publications the Sommers element grew desperate, and one night while the Major was pursuing his editorial duties in his office his pen suddenly dropped from his hand, and he held before him a bleeding finger. An attempt had been made to assassinate him by shooting through the window. The next issue of the Pioneer contained a still more severe tirade against the brothels. An answer to this was the awakening of Mr. Clarke to find his printing office laid low by the torch of an incendiary. He got anew outfit and started in afresh, but his past experience had proved too dear for him, and the tone of his journal was consequently moderated to a considerable degree.
Source: United States Congressional Serial Set. 58th Congress. 2nd Session; pages 816-818
ALICE W. CLARKE. February 9, 1904.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered to be printed. Mr. Deemer, from the Committee on Invalid Pensions, submitted the following REPORT. [To accompany H. R. 9037.]
The Committee on Invalid Pensions, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 9037) granting a pension to Alice W. Clarke, submit the following report: This bill proposes to pension the benificiary named therein at $12 per month.
Wright E. Clarke, the soldier named in this bill, served under his correct name of Seymour T. Montgomery (having subsequently been known as Wright E. Clarke) as private and sergeant of Company I, and as hospital steward of the Twentieth Indiana Infantry, from July 1. 1861, to October 19, 1864, when honorably discharged. He never applied for pension, and died May 22, 1896. Alice W. Clarke, the beneficiary named in this bill, and now 53 years of age, applied for pension under the act of June 27, 1890. Her claim, however, was rejected in March, 1903, upon the ground that a legal marriage between herself and the soldier could not be accepted as having been established prior to the passage of the act of June 27, 1890, hence title to pension under said act could not obtain.
The case was specially examined, and evidence obtained upon such special examination shows that the beneficiary was married to the soldier on August 13,1873, in conformity with the laws of the State of Ohio, and that they thereafter lived together continuously as husband and wife until the death of the soldier, which occurred in Michigan on May 22, 1896; that there was no bar to a legal union on the part of the beneficiary; that the soldier, however, had been previously married in Indiana, on July 20, 1856, as shown by record evidence, to one Elizabeth Sipe, with whom he lived until 1872, when he deserted her, and that his first wife did not die until January 28, 1876, subsequent to the date when the soldier intermarried with the beneficiary; that no divorce was obtained either by the soldier or his first wife.
The beneficiary testified that before she was married to the soldier he had informed her that he had been previously married and that his wife and three children had died from scarlet fever; that she never knew that the soldier's first wife was not dead at the time she was married to him until a year or two before the soldier died.
The soldier in his last will and testament recognized the beneficiary as his wife and appointed her his executrix. It appears that a contest was made against the probate of this will by the children of the first marriage, but it is shown that the will was admitted to probate on September 6, 1896, and that administration of the estate was granted to the beneficiary as his wife.
The Pension bureau held that the marriage of the beneficiary to the soldier in 1873 was null and void under these circumstances, and that a lawful marriage could not be considered as having arisen or to have taken place between the beneficiary and the soldier until a year before his death, when the beneficiary had the first intimation that the soldier s first wife had not died at the time when she married him in 1873.
Proof filed in the Pension Bureau shows that the beneficiary dependent upon her own exertions, having no property other than the equity in the estate of her deceased husband, and that her equity will not exceed $500. The beneficiary has not remarried since the soldier's death. The soldier died of paralysis. The beneficiary having been the wife in fact of the soldier from the time of her marriage to him in 1873 up to the time of his death in 1896, and having entered into a marriage relation with the soldier in good faith, she should now be recognized as the widow of the soldier and be granted the relief given under the act of June 27, 1890, to soldier's widows, namely $8 month.
The passage of the bill is therefore recommended, when the same shall have been amended an follows: In line 6 strike out the words " Wright E. Clarke, alias." In line 7, after the word "Montgomery," insert the words "subsequently known as Wright E. Clarke." In same line strike out the words "private of Company I" and insert in lieu thereof the words " hospital steward." In lines 8 and 9 strike out the words "at the rate of twelve dollars per month" and insert in lieu thereof the words "and pay her a pension at the rate of eight dollars per month."
Source: The Manistique Courier - May 7, 1897
In Memoriam. None but kindly, charitable memories are worthy to cluster round the tenderness of the tomb.
On Friday, May 22, A. D 1896, MAJOR WRIGHT E. CLARKE, a notable resident of Manistique since April 1880, attained to the ineffable. Many in this community realized to the fullest extent that they had lost a reliable and sincere friend for he by his expressed thought and notable actions caused all with whom he had relation to feel that he was their friend, and the record of his life while a resident here was proof positive that they were justified in the conclusion, that by nature's stern edict they had lost in his "passing" one who had shown that he was ready and willing to help those who stood in need of help. He was ever ready to assist in any possible way by counsel and advice, by service of purse, by cheerful cordial voice and beaming eye and merry, if even feeble attempts during his later days to shed rays of sunshine into the lives of passing friends and also to sojourners in our midst; in this regard it may truthfully be recorded that he was a hero: not heroism in the ordinary acceptance of the term but nevertheless a hero: a blessing and a comfort to those with whom he came in contact.
It was a matter of history that he was a veteran of the wars of his country during his life time, and also in the wars of the pure in mind against all vice, particularly the vices of slander and intemperance. Those who knew him best and well held him in high regard and esteem, for he was a most companionable man, always pleasant and cheerful, hopeful, considerate of the feelings of others, thoughtful in giving the kind word of welcome and any information
requested, and in fact all those little courtesies which truly indicate a thoughtful consideration for the welfare of others.
He was a public spirited citizen, writing and working in support of everything lending to the development and growth of this village, he was uncompromising with pen and tongue in his warfare against the reign of intemperance, vice and lawlessness which prevailed here at an early day, and did not waiver when the stand he took imperiled his life and caused the destruction of his property by incendiarism, yet through it all he seemed to entertain no resentment or personal bitterness. His fight was not personal, not against individuals but their methods He was charitable and disposed to be friendly towards those whose practices he condemned the most severely; he looked for and sought out the good in every man and often mentioned some good quality he descerned in those, others were condemning as totally bad.
He almost always seemed to have on his hands some drunkard he was trying to reform, some unfortunate who was down on his luck, sick and broke, away from home, or some friendless waif he had picked up and was helping to make a start.
He was loyal in support of his friends as many in this community can recall if they will, substantial aid and encouragement freely given when most needed in furthering their political or business projects, often without praise or expectation of fee or reward, more that appreciation upon the part of those assisted.
He was true to his friends, kind in his family, loyal to the interests of his country and particularly to those of this locality, faithful in the discharge of every duty: lived a moral, charitable and upright life in this community during the many years he spent working for its welfare and whatever clouds may have shadowed his path under other skies, and in other times and places, his life here was beyond reproach and an example worthy of all emulation, no one ever doubted his sincerity and no one ever questioned his earnestness of purpose or his desire to help, aid and assist his fellow creatures.
The pen in his hand was endowed with most estimable qualities; justice impartial fortitude undaunted and its point with mercy unrestrained.
He is now removed beyond the effect of our praise or censure. That he had faults and foibles, is but to repeat what his mortality demonstrates, that he had a human nature, not devine.
"After I am dead, think of me not as I was, but as you know I wished to be:" was a request made by him to this writer shortly before his death.
The memory of his virtues lingers in our rememberence and reflects its shining luster beyond the portal of his tomb.