Alexander E. Montgomery, well and favorably known for a generation past in Moline and Rock Island, was born February 2, 1831, in County Down, Ireland, and died in the City of Moline, Illinois, at his daughter’s (Mrs. Thornton’s) home, on Twelfth Avenue, July 17, 1906. His father and mother, James and Margaret (nee Swart,) were natives of Scotland, descended from Scotch-Irish ancestry, of honorable history.
Mr. Montgomery received a common school education in his native land. In the year 1849, at fourteen years of age, he immigrated to New York City, and entered the service of the United States Hotel as bookkeeper. In the year 1853 he came west, and for seventeen years succeeding, lived on a farm in Rural Township, Illinois. At the expiration of this period, in 1870, Mr. Montgomery sold his farm, removed to Rock Island, and entered upon contract work for the United States Government, in connection with which he built the excellent rock road, which traverses the Arsenal between Moline and Davenport approaches. During the first year in this employment he resided part of the time in Rock Island and part of the time in Davenport; then taking up his abode in a dwelling on the Arsenal Island, belonging to the government, he continued in that residence until the house burned down July 21, 1898. Thenceforth Mr. Montgomery resided in Moline until his death, continuing an unbroken service with the government for the prolonged period of thirty-four years, during the earlier portion at the Arsenal Shops, and latterly as guard at the Moline Bridge, where his honest Scotch face and sturdy figure were a familiar and welcome object to the multitudes who passed his watch daily through many years.
Republican in politics, Mr. Montgomery never sought nor cared for office, being well content to pursue the even tenor of a quiet, industrious life, in the bosom of his family, and enjoying the respect and confidence of his neighbors.
He was a devoted member of the United Presbyterian Church, and had the satisfaction of participating in the building of the beautiful church edifice and fine parsonage which were finished only recently, and of worshiping to the end with his sons and daughters (whose biographical sketches appear in this book) about him.
Mr. Montgomery was an active member of the Knights of America, the Ancient Order of United Workmen, was a charter member and grand commander of McLean Lodge, No. 26, of Moline, serving two years as commander and nine years as treasurer.
Mr. Montgomery was married to Miss Margaret King in New York City, July 5, 1850. Mrs. Montgomery was also a native of Ireland, born in County Armogh, and immigrating to America in 1848, one year in advance of him who was to become her husband, and with whom she lived in ideal conjugal happiness until her lamented death, April 14, 1903.
Eight children, four boys and four girls, were born to Mr. and Mrs. Montgomery: Martha J., widow of Mr. John H. Thornton; Miss Lizzie; Maggie, wife of Mr. George W. Brooks; Alexander E., secretary and treasurer of the Moline Elevator Company; James T., who was, before his demise, president of the same, and who died August 4, 1906; Robert J., superintendent of construction for the same, and Samuel H., president of the company. One girl died in infancy in New York.
All these surviving offspring reside in Moline, and all are actively connected with the flourishing manufacturing business, the growth and firm establishment of which their honored father watched with paternal solicitude from its beginning. At the time of his death, his hopes for his family were realized and he was well content.