Saturday, January 17, 2009

Theodore Roosevelt Montgomery and Helen Grace Lippincott

Theodore was the youngest of James & Carrie's boys. He was about 16 when he lost his mother in 1920. From the tales he told, I am inclined to assume he was something of a devil. He told one of the truant officer coming to find him one day when he skipped school. He was up on the shed roof, making repairs ( if his story is to be believed). "I'm looking for Theo Montgomery", the gentleman called up to him. "Nobody here by that name", he replied. "How about Theod. Montgomery?" the gentleman inquired. "Nope, nobody here by that name either." After several tries to make something of the abbreviated name in his records, the officer left, but somehow, I think he knew his quarry was right in plain sight.

Playing in the streets was commonplace during Ted's boyhood. One fall evening, when dusk was approaching, he and a bunch of his buddys were tossing matches (lit of course) down through the hole in a manhole cover. All of a sudden, the sewer gas in the pipe was afire, and flames were spurting up through the hole in the manhole cover. Fearing that the burning gas would somehow catch a passing hay wagon afire the boys tried to put out the fire by tossing dirt down he small hole in the manhole cover. Handful, after handful went down the hole. Suddenly, there was a horrible rumble and the manhole cover flew up, up, up into the air, followed by a rush of air that put out the fire.

Not waiting to see where the cover landed, the boys hightailed it home. Ted ran through backyards, ducking under clotheslines filled with clean white linens, and plodding through gardens with abandon. Upon his arrival, he was met by an irate father, who dragged him out behind the woodshed and proceeded to whale his nether regions. He thought one of the neighbors had complained about his mad rush under her clothesline, or through her garden. It wasn't until many years later, somewhere around 1935 that his brothers explained to him that the sudden rush of sewer gas from the exploding manhole had "Blown the old man off the toilet!" and somehow he knew that Teddy was involved.

Back row: Dan, James E. Front row: Ernest, Earl and Ted.


A buddy on the left Ted on the right

"The Alfred Sun, Wednesday, March 21, 1900, Alfred, NY


Last Sunday morning the inhabitants of this community received a shock, which,, while it excited the sensibilities, at the same time touched the inmost hearts and sympathetic natures of all, when it was learned the the home of Eugene Ferrin, who lives in a house belonging to Wm Ostrander, situated three miles from this village on the McHenry Valley road, was burned to the ground, together with the entire contents and two of the Ferrin's children had perished in the flames.

About twelve o'clock Saturday night Mrs. Ferrin arose and put a chunk of wood in the stove to keep the fire unti morning. She then retired again and her attention was soon attracted by a reflection of light which proved to be a fire which had started around the stove pipe hole down stairs. Mrs Ferrin gave her husband the alarm and went to the stair door and called the three older children who were sleeping overhead, two boys in one room and a little girl in another. They answered and the little girl came down. The fire was at first apparently not very serious and Mr. Ferrin endeavored to extinguish the flames with tow pails of water which were handy; but this amount being insufficient and the water privileges being very inconvenient, he was obliged to abandon the effort.

When it became apparent the house would be destroyed, Mrs. Ferrin rushed out of the house with her baby and little girl.

Seeing that the boys did not come down stairs in response to the call, Mr. Ferrin became alarmed for their safety and started up the stairs to rescue them but was met by a wall of seething flame which caused him to retreat. He then rushed out of the house and after procuring a ladder climbed to the chamber window which was located near the bed in which the boys had been sleeping. We are informed that when Mr. Ferrin broke through the window he found that the children had left their bed and were in the opposite corner of the room cut off from him by the flames so that it was impossible to effect their rescue. In his efforts to save the children he was very badly burned, the hair being burned from his head and his hands and one side of his face being entirely blistered. The two boys who were cremated were aged 9 and 3 years. Mr. and Mrs Ferrin and the other two children escaped with nothing save their night clothes and walked one third of a mile to Mr. Otrander's in their bare fee. The night was severely cold, the thermometer standing at eight below zero, and their feet were badly frozen from the exposure. They are at present at the home of Mrs. Ferrin's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry McIntosh, and it will be some time before they recover from the burns and effects of exposure. Mr. and Mrs Ferrin have the sincere sympathy of the entire community in their great calamity and bereavement, and several parties are busily engaged in collecting effects to aid them in their time of need. Surely this is a Christian duty, and we trust that all will join in bearing these heavy burdens that they may be made as light as possible for those on who they will fall with crushing weight. The remains of the little ones were placed in a casket together and interred in Woodlawn Cemetery Monday afternoon."

Helen was born four years after the fire. She was later adopted by the Lippincotts. Her older brother, the baby in the fire, came looking for her when she was 15 years old. Until then, she hadn't known she was adopted.