Guide to the Papers of the Dawson-Montgomery Families, 1849-1961

Digital Research Library, University Library System

Summary Information

Repository
Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Title
Papers of the Dawson-Montgomery Families
Creator
Dawson-Montgomery Families
Collection Number
MSS#101
Date [inclusive]
1849-1961
Extent
.75 cubic feet (2 boxes)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Abstract
The Dawson and Montgomery Families were middle class families who lived in Allegheny City and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These papers include correspondence, a diary, greeting cards, programs and other sundry items which primarily document the Civil War service, education and social life of the younger members of these families.
Sponsor Note
This finding aid has been encoded as a part of the Historic Pittsburgh project, a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Funding for this portion of the project has been donated by the Hillman Foundation.

Preferred Citation

Papers of the Dawson-Montgomery Families, 1849-1961, MSS #101, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

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Biographical Sketch of the Dawson-Montgomery Families

The Dawson and Montgomery Families were middle class families who lived in Allegheny City and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1809, four year old William Dawson (1805-1888) moved, with his family, from Wilmington, Delaware, to the Pittsburgh area. In 1832, Dawson married Susannah Scott (1810-1902), and worked as a steamboat captain on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Dawson remained in the area throughout his life and played a role in the local community. He helped to organize the North Presbyterian Church in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania in 1863 and served as its ruling elder. William and Susannah had six children: Mary Elizabeth (1833-), Harriet Jane (1836-), Caroline (1840-), William Albert (1843-1923), Edwin Alexander (1845-), and Annie Lea (1850-1871). Of primary note with these papers are Caroline, Edwin Alexander, and William Albert (Will). Edwin and William both served with the Union Army during the Civil War. William served with Company A of the 102nd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers from 1861 until he was wounded in 1864. Edwin served with Company B of the 193rd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers from enlistment through the end of the war. Caroline Dawson was one of three members of the first graduating class of Pittsburgh High School in 1859; she married Joseph Montgomery in 1869.

The Montgomery Family was also an early Pittsburgh family who came to the region during the first half of the 19th century. Alexander Montgomery (1799-1864), arrived in Pittsburgh in 1834 and established a carpentry/cabinet-making shop. Montgomery married Sarah Jane Hamilton and had six children: Nancy (1835-), Mary (1840-), John Alexander (1843-), Joseph Hamilton (1842-), and Jennie. John Alexander (called Alex) and Joseph both served with the Union forces during the Civil War, enlisting in 1862. Alex served with Company F of the 136th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers for one nine-month term. Alex was wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg (Virginia) in December 1862. Joseph served with Company H of the 123rd Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteers and later re-enlisted with Company F of the 193rd Regiment, the same company as Edwin Dawson. After the war, Joseph became a Presbyterian minister and in 1869, married Edwin Dawson's sister, Caroline Dawson. In 1879, Caroline gave birth to the couple's only child, Annie Montgomery. Annie Montgomery attended Pittsburgh High School and graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women (Chatham College), Pittsburgh, in 1900. She married John Mason Young, and they had one daughter, Rosalie.

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Scope and Content Notes

The Papers of the Dawson-Montgomery Families include correspondence, a diary, greeting cards, programs and other sundry items. These papers primarily document the Civil War service, education and social life of the younger members of these families. Dawson Family material includes Civil War letters and material relating to William and Susannah Dawson's children. Included are a description of a high school course of study from 1857, Edwin Dawson's copy book from school, and other items primarily documenting the family's social life. Caroline Dawson's "beauty book" from her high school years includes poems written to her by her girlfriends, and even her future husband, and gives an idea of the interaction between school-age girls and their peers. Of greatest value among the Dawson Family material is Civil War correspondence between Will, Edwin and various family members. Though brief in number, these letters document everyday life for a soldier during the Civil War. The Dawsons wrote freely about the initial excitement of enlistment, and problems including reduced rations, late pay, lost letters, unexplained maneuvers and orders. These letters chronicle their entire careers from enlistment through their discharge. Will Dawson's correspondence documents his growing despair over the conditions of a soldier during the war. Having written in the fall of 1861 on his superior living conditions, "who wouldn't be a soldier," two years later he wrote about conversations with Confederate soldiers indicating that men on both sides were sick of fighting and wanted to go home. Edwin's letters of April of 1865 describe his and others' reactions to Lincoln's assassination and the end of the War.

Montgomery Family material includes Alex Montgomery's Civil War diary and other sundry items. Like the Dawson material, the diary documents a soldier's daily life and provides information on the battles he fought in, especially the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. The primary sense one gets from his diary is not of the action of the war, but the patience demanded of a soldier during countless marches and changed orders. The diary is also marked by an August 1863 homage to those in his regiment who died in Virginia. Young Family material is primarily historical in nature and includes programs and historical sketches of the North Presbyterian Church on Pittsburgh's North Side (Allegheny, Pa.). Miscellaneous material includes programs for school reunions, theatricals and literary club programs. Published material primarily includes greeting cards produced between c1880 and 1910. These cards were sent for a variety of holidays, most of which were Christmas and Valentine's Day, and provide numerous examples of Victorian cards. These papers provide little information on the older members of the family or their business and career concerns.

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Arrangement

The Dawson-Montgomery Family Papers are housed in two archival boxes and are arranged alphabetically by folder title with miscellaneous material and published material arranged to the rear.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Digital Research Library, University Library System  Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Spring 2000

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
library@hswp.org

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or publish, please contact the curator of the Archives.

Acquisition Information

These materials came on one accession, in 1984.

Acc# 1984.99 -- Gift of Rosalie Persons, (Papers. Mrs. Persons is the daughter of John and Annie Young).

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed by Historical Society Staff in c1975. The papers were rearranged and the inventory rewritten by Jennifer Geller on March 4, 1994.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Martha L. Berg on April 11, 2000.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Chatham College.
  • North Presbyterian Church (Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • United States. -- Army. -- Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 102nd (1861-1865).
  • United States. -- Army. -- Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 136th.
  • United States. -- Army. -- Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment, 193rd.
  • Sixth Street Bridge (Pittsburgh, Pa.).

Genre(s)

  • Diaries.

Geographic Name(s)

  • Allegheny (Pittsburgh, Pa.) -- Social life and customs.
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Religion.
  • Shadyside (Pittsburgh, Pa.) -- Buildings.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- War work -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.

Personal Name(s)

  • Dawson family.
  • Montgomery Family.
  • Young family.

Subject(s)

  • Bridges -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.
  • Christmas cards.
  • Church buildings -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.
  • Dwellings -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.
  • Education -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.
  • Fredericksburg (Va.), Battle of, 1862.
  • Greeting cards.
  • Presbyterian church -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.
  • Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.
  • Valentines.
  • Women -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh.

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Collection Inventory

Dawson Family 
  boxfolder
 1854-1884 11
  folder
Civil War Material  1861-1865 2

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  folder
Montgomery Family  1849-1903 3

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  folder
Young Family  1885-1962 4

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  folder
Miscellaneous Material  1859-1905 5

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Published Material 
  folder
Birthday Cards  1880-1890 6
Christmas Cards 
  folder
 1865-1889 7
  folder
 1890-1915 8
  boxfolder
Easter Cards  1880-1890 21
  folder
Valentine's Cards  1880-1910 2
  folder
Miscellaneous Cards  1880-1900 3

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