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Samuel Clay Montague

born Trinidad, Colorado, 1876 died San Francisco, California 1945
Samuel Clay Montague was born in Trinidad, Colorado November 3, 1876. (His death certificate says 1876 and his draft registration card says 1877). His parents were Henry C. Montague and Mary Francier.

The 1880 Census of Las Animas County, Colorado, lists "Harris" Montague with wife Juana Romero and two sons, Feliz and Samuel, so for many years we believed that Samuel was the birth son of Harry and Juana.

Family legend says Harry Montague was a sheriff and was shot to death by outlaws and buried on "Boot Hill" when Samuel was very young. The family was separated and his brother Feliz went to live with one aunt while Samuel went to live with another. They never saw each other again, and Samuel, throughout his life, never indicated that he knew any Spanish, so he must have lived with either a Francier relative or a Montague relative.

We found Juana on a later census with her mother Maria J. Romero and her son Feliz. She was married to Marcelino Mestas.

Samuels real birth mother appears to be Mary Francier. Nothing is known of her. She must have married Henry/Harry sometime between 1870 when he was single, in Elizabethtown, CO and 1876-7 when Samuel was born. She was gone by 1880.

It remained a puzzle that Juana remarried and she and her mother and one son stayed together, while Samuel was nowhere to be found. Why would she keep one son and not the other, younger one?

Finally, on the marriage license of Samuel and Annie St. Martin, we found Mary Francier, not Juana Romero listed as Samuel's mother, so the puzzle is partially solved, but Samuel kept his background a secret. Both George and Richard recalled that Samuel never talked about his parents or events of his youth.

Now we believe that Henry C. Montague and Mary Francier were Samuel's parents and that Mary died before Samuel was two or three, perhaps even in childbirth. We also think that Maria Romero, with her daughter Juana and Juana's son Feliz, were keeping house for Harry Montague in 1880 (as they had been for William Preet on the Los Animas Census of 1870, ten years earlier). Click here for more about Samuel's stepbrother, Feliz and his descendants.

Samuel left home in Colorado to escape being the family "workhorse" and went to work in Yellowstone National Park in Montana handling the horses and wagons for the hotel. He is listed in the Montana Census of 1900 as living with a partner and being 26 years old.

While working in Yellowstone he met Anna Louise St. Martin who had come from Minneapolis, Minnesota to work as a maid at the hotel during the summer. In their time off they went for rides and walks in the woods. Annie returned to her family after the first summer and then came back to Yellowstone again the following summer.
They were married in Missoula, Montana in August 2, 1906. The 1910 Census of Missoula, Montana lists Samuel as a barber working in a barber shop. He and his wife were both 33. They were living with their two oldest children, Helen and Evelyn.
They moved to Oakland, California where Samuel operated a team of horses. On Saturdays and Sundays he would drive people up Telegraph Avenue in Oakland to Mountain View Cemetery at the end of Piedmont Avenue where they would picnic. He registered for the draft in World War I .
He and Annie bought a house at 2525 12th Avenue in Oakland where they lived with their five children, Helen Dolores (June 12, 1907, Evelyn Florence (1909), Marion Margaret (Sr. Donata) (July 11, 1910), George Samuel (July 16, 1914), and Richard Edward (February 11, 1919). Richard remembered that they didn't have much money, but they were never poor and never hungry. They had bean sandwiches for lunch at school every day, and often they traded with their classmates for variety. As a child Samuel never learned to read or write, so it was a big moment when he learned to write his name. In later years tears came to the eyes of each child as he or she recounted the story of the night they came home from school and their mother announced that their father had a big surprise for them. They all sat around the table to see their father laboriously take a pen and write his name, "Samuel Clay Montague." They all clapped and cried with delight.
The family took in a homeless child who turned out to have lice. One night Annie had a headache and took a pill from the medicine cabinet. To keep from waking the family she decided not to turn on the light. It turned out to be lice medicine. By the time she got to the hospital the next morning it was too late. She died at Providence Hospital in Oakland from accidental mercuric cyanide poisoning on May 29, 1934 at age 56.
Sam stayed in Oakland as a barber, opening his home to his children, their spouses and children. Uncle Ed St. Martin came to live with the family for several years.
When Sam developed skin cancer of the jaw he lived with George and Elizabeth, and Richard and Ruth, with each couple alternately providing meals and care. Ultimately the cancer proved fatal. He died at St. Mary's Hospital in San Francisco on August 20, 1945, buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Hayward, California.
Photos of Samuel Clay and Anna Louise St. Martin Montague and their family
Click here for information about Samuel's father, Henry/Harry/Harris Montague and stepmother Juana Romero Montague (possibly Mestas as a second marriage).