Who Was Harriet Monty?

Monty Photograph Album Pictures Courtesy of Karen Harrison

 Karen Harrison first contacted me in August of 2015. Karen had a mystery she was trying to solve, and since her husband and my wife had a DNA match, she thought I might be of some help. In short, I was of no help. But let me back up a little and give you some detail on what Karen was searching for. It might just be you will have the key or that helpful suggestion she needs to open the door that is between her and the information she is after. Karen’s husband, Paul, and my wife Sandy share a common ancestor Francis (Francois) and Marie J Bergevin Monty. Marie, my wife’s 4th great grandmother, was to give birth to 16 children, most of whom lived well into adulthood between 1763 and 1782. To say there are many Monty descendants today would be an understatement. My wife’s line is through Francis and Marie’s son Joseph born in 1768, and Karen’s husband Paul is through the family line of John born 1774. It seems John’s son Lewis married Harriet (Sears?, Leware?, Lewave?, Wood?) whose last name is a mystery. We are reasonably certain that Harriet came from the Canadian province of Quebec when she married Lewis in 1838 in Clinton County, New York. The 1900 U.S. Census states her father was born in Germany and her mother in Canada, and that she came to the U.S. in 1830. I will not go into the list of records checked and research done by Karen, but it was exhaustive. I, however, had no new information I could give her. Below is the obituary for Lewis Monty Harriet’s husband, which shows her maiden name as Lewave.

This obituary for Lewis Monty Harriet’s husband gives her maiden name as Lewave. The News Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) Dec. 28, 1910

After we exchanged emails in 2015, I did not hear from her until earlier this year. She had acquired a photograph album, which she believes to be possibly of the Lewis Monty family line. It has 33 photographs, of which only one was identified. Let me break from this story here to remind everyone to get their pictures identified and save future generations the task of trying to figure out who is who. She was trying to put names to these pictures, which are shown at the beginning of this blog post. She wondered if I could identify any of the people. I could not be of help but sent an email with an attachment of the photographs to my wife’s cousin Carl Gonya who has an extensive collection of Monty photographs. Unfortunately, neither of us could be of any help. Below you will again find these photographs broken up so you can have a closer look.

Monty pictures. Do you know any of these people?
Monty Pictures. Do you know any of these people?
Monty pictures. Do you know any of these people?

The one photograph that was identified is Lillis Monty, born 1854 in Clinton County, New York, to Lewis and Harriet Monty. She was to marry Samuel Parker Hayward in Massachusetts and eventually make their way to Bellingham, Washington, where Lillis died in 1936. I realize some of you know the frustration of having an album with just one or two photographs identified and the rest just one big question mark. I hope this blog post helps Karen if even a little in that regard. 

Lillis A Monty Hayward Photograph Courtesy of Karen Harrison

One quick note on the marriage record below for Lillis and Samuel shows Lillis’s mother Harriet’s maiden name as Sears. Lewis and Harriet had 12 children. That would give anyone enough aunts, uncles, and cousins to research. Perhaps one or more of them will have those very same pictures or the proof of what was Harriet’s real maiden name. 

Lillis Monty marriage marriage record. Gives her mother’s maiden name as Sears. One of many possible maiden names for her mother Harriet.

As I was getting this ready to write up for my blog, I found in the records a Mrs. Freeman Bury. Mrs. Bury turns out to be the youngest child of Lewis and Harriet and, of course, Lillis’s sister. She was born Marie E Monty in 1866, Plattsburgh, New York. I did find her marriage record in Michigan, but the mothers’ maiden names were not asked for. As you can see from her obituary below that at the time of her death in 1946, she had one daughter, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Perhaps one of those families has some of the answers. 

Mrs. Freeman Marie Monty Bury Obituary The News Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan) Nov. 29, 1946

Finally, below is part of a letter from Karen outlining her research and some of her problems.

The Missing Parents of Harriet LeWave Monty

     Harriet LeWave was born in Lacolle, Quebec, on October 27, 1819, per online trees. 

On various census records, when she gives her age and place of birth, it does align with this information, but I have not been able to find a baptism record in the Quebec records. I have her immigration date as 1830 at age 11, as she stated this in the 1910 census. The next important date is her marriage of December 26, 1838, to Lewis Monty, who was the son of Jean/John Monty, the son of Lt Francois Monty. 

There is no documentation of the marriage in Clinton County records. I personally went to NARA and pulled her Civil War pension file, and Harriet attests to the fact she was married on that date and was never given a certificate of marriage. She also says her maiden name is Harriet LeWave!  

Lewis and Harriet migrated to Berrien County, Michigan, after the Civil War (Lewis served in the 118th N.Y. Infantry). 

Lewis died there in 1910, and Harriet passed December 27, 1914. Her death certificate also gives her maiden name as Seels, but I think the son in law informant meant Sears. He gave the wrong place of birth (N.Y.) also, so typical wrong information on a death certificate by an informant who is guessing.

  Research problems/issues:

1. The surname of LeWave: There is absolutely no such name in any 

Quebec French record of a name like LeWave. In the 1800’s many people were illiterate and did not know how to spell. Based on the pronunciation of LeWave in French, searches were made under Lavoie (used first name possibilities also like Marie Henriette).  

Then I looked under Sears/Cyrs because that name appeared in the marriage and death records of some of her children, the DAR records, and a county history. I also looked under dit names like Cyrs dit Lavoie or the reverse like Lavoie dit Cyrs/Sears. Harriet reports on census records her parents were both born in Canada also.

2. Census records: there should be a census records for 1830 prior to her marriage in our U.S. records, and I can’t find one. They may have migrated after the census was taken that year, so maybe that is easily explained. However, I would think there would be a census record with other siblings still at home for the 1840 census. Maybe she had no siblings, or she was the youngest child? I can’t find any parent candidates in Chazy area where the Monty family lived, and I have looked a bit further into Vermont and Maine even as I don’t know where she was living between 1830 and 1838. Many boys from Chazy and adjacent areas married gals from the neighboring states.

3. DNA: since she is the great-great-grandmother, she would only share 6.25 %, so that is getting more difficult to find matches to determine her parents probably. It is not impossible, but no definitive matches so far have contributed any good clues.

4. Legal documents like land deeds and wills have proven to be very difficult to obtain without knowing the actual names of her parents or location.

5. Burial and obituary: the obituary did not give any clues on her parents and no mention of any siblings. 

She is buried in Berrien County, Mi with Lewis and no other older relatives in that cemetery plot/area are likely candidates. 

There was never any indication anyone else migrated with them except Lewis’ brother Hiram Monty.

If anyone has suggestions, please comment below. I am sure Karen will be reading and hoping for a breakthrough. 

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32 Responses to Who Was Harriet Monty?

  1. dlpedit says:

    I’m sorry I can’t help you or your friend. It must really be frustrating to have such a potentially valuable album but have only one of the portraits identified! I’m really amazed at the depth to which you and your contact have gone into the genealogical research! I would never have the time or patience to do what you do. I wish you well.

    • chmjr2 says:

      But you also do research for your books and magazine articles. It is perhaps for a different reason but the work is very much the same.

  2. Luanne says:

    I cannot help, unfortunately. But this is fascinating. And the photos!!! One thing this made me think of though is that I have several times run across men marrying more than one woman with the same first name. At first it’s confusing because I always think it is the same woman. Eventually it is revealed that he married two Elizabeths or two Johannas. I don’t know if that would even be possible with your chronology, but just a thought to keep in mind always.

  3. Re-blogging in about 2 hours in case any of my readers or followers have suggestions. I let them know to post suggestions to this post.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I can’t help, but posting the photos may. I was able to identify one of my ancestors by seeing her photo on line.

  5. Pingback: Who Was Harriet Monty? — Moore Genealogy | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

  6. How frustrating! Karen has obviously done exhaustive research. One site I found at https://ldsgenealogy.com/NY/Clinton-County-Church-Records.htm might lead to finding a marriage record.
    Also, if Harriet’s father was born in Germany, might Leware be Lewald? Just a thought.

  7. Pingback: My Own Unknown Great-Grandfather – June 17, 2020 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

  8. GP Cox says:

    The DNA recording and the internet have done amazing feats for families to find each other.

  9. Peter Klopp says:

    Sorry, with all my ancestors being from Germany I can’t help with your search.

  10. Sharon says:

    Oh how we wish they had been labeled for you. Lillis and Samuel Hayward jumped right out at me as I live in Bellingham, WA. A little digging on them (which I am sure you have both done) was that Samuel was a minister in the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They actually lived out in the county in Nooksack, WA on 2nd St. There is a Adventist Church in Everson, WA just across the Nooksack River a distance of 2 miles or so from where they lived- Perhaps the church has photo’s of the ministers and then you might be able to match it to the men. My only other suggestion is to continue to contact DNA connected matches, build trees on all children and see if other photo’s show up 🙂

    • chmjr2 says:

      Yes Samuel was a minister as well as other means of employment. You have some good ideas of which I am sure Karen has, is, or will do. Small world in that you live in Bellingham, Wash.

  11. Eilene Lyon says:

    I do so understand the frustration of the unidentified photos and the confusing surnames! You didn’t mention where the photo album came from. Knowing who put it together and the order the photos appear can provide clues, i.e. closest family at the front of the album, more distant relations (perhaps) further back.

    • chmjr2 says:

      I never did ask Karen the story of how she got the photo album. You did make some good suggestions and perhaps they will be of help to her.

      • Eilene Lyon says:

        I also thought of juxtaposition – photos close together might be spouses or siblings, or a group of aunt, uncle and cousins. That sort of thing.

  12. Amy says:

    From Karen’s letter, it’s clear that she is a very thorough and experienced genealogist and has likely done anything I can think of. For the photos, I recommend Ava Cohn aka Sherlock Cohn. She helped me identify a whole album of photographs. Granted, there were more clues than Karen has here, but you never know. I also am a big fan of Facebook genealogy groups, especially for specific locations. If she hasn’t already tried a Quebec Facebook genealogy group, it might be worth a try. Best of luck to her!

  13. Sandi McGinnis says:

    Wow how frustrating! She has done a wealth of research! And guess we all have that experience of photos without names or anyone to ask! Am afraid we are guilty too with our own photos. Wishing her the best of luck in her quest.

    • chmjr2 says:

      We have all been there, especially if we have worked on family history long enough. I hope she finds the answers she is looking for. But you and I both know that will only bring about more questions.

  14. Our family album has been lost. I saw it once in my life, when my Grandad pointed out a photo of him with his one surviving brother. It was given to one of my aunts and she doesn’t know where it is now. They have moved house and I think it was lost during the move.

    I was interested by the photo showing two men wearing boxing gloves. Could this be a line of research?

    • chmjr2 says:

      I am very sorry to hear about your lost album. Perhaps it will turn up one day. I also noticed the picture of the two men in a boxing pose. It seemed a little out of place. At least to me it did.

  15. chmjr2 says:

    I have received a comment in a email from Karen and thought I would post it here.

    Thanks everyone for your input! I do have a correction to make on the photo #3 and photo #4.
    Photo #4 was the one that had Libby Monty b July 21,1888 17 yrs old and 14 days. The youngest child of Lewis and Harriet was Marie Elizabeth Monty Bury who was born July 7,1866 according to marriage license and census records. The person who put the date on the back had the day correct amount of days (14) but was off on the year, but I am sure this is Marie Elizabeth as she always went by Libbie her whole life. Then on photo #3 it was taken in E.Pepperill, Ma and when I researched the Goss Photo studio there, it fit perfectly for the time period that Lillis Monty Hayward was living there with her husband Samuel Hayward. OK that means two photos identified and 31 to go-LOL. Actually the first photo I am pretty sure was George Barnes Monty the son of Lewis and Harriet. He went west to the Washington Territory about 1885 and I theorize he gave this album to his parents before he left with his photo in it. It makes sense that the album was returned to him when his mother died, because he had it in his possession and passed it to his son and then his grandson. That is how the it was recently discovered when the grandson’s house was sold and it was found in a box of family photos.

    The Grandson I mentioned above is now 93 years old and we just sent in his DNA test! Hoping that DNA match list will give us some clues on the parents of Harriet. I tried to attach an older identified photo of George Barnes MOnty to see if everyone thinks it looks like the same man, but I could not figure out how to attach a photo in the comment section. Karen

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