- Montgomery, James Boyce, 1832-1900
- James Boyce Montgomery family papers
- 1873-1954 (inclusive)18731954
- 3 cubic feet, (6 document cases), (1 flat box)
- Collection Number
- Mss 2727
- Papers of three generations of the family of James Boyce Montgomery, railroad construction contractor who settled in Portland, Or., in 1870. Includes correspondence between Montgomery and his wife, Mary Phelps Montgomery; letters to Margaret Montgomery Zogbaum from Adolfo de Bosis; letters from Margaret Zogbaum written from Europe and elsewhere in the 1910s and 1920s; and personal diaries of Mary Montgomery and Margaret Montgomery Zogbaum detailing travels, social events, and family matters.
- Oregon Historical Society Research Library
1200 SW Park Avenue
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open to the public.
- English, Italian
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Biographical NoteReturn to Top
James Boyce Montgomery was a railroad contractor who grew wealthy through construction projects in the eastern and western U.S. Born near Harrisburg, Penn., in 1832, he worked first as a journalist, eventually becoming editor and publisher of the Pittsburgh Morning Post. He moved on to railroad construction in the late 1850s and built bridges and rail lines in Pennsylvania and vicinity in the following decade. He served on the boards of many railroad companies and purchased a portion of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad. He moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1870 and constructed portions of the Northern Pacific Railroad, travelling to Europe to raise capital and obtain materials. In addition he organized other enterprises, such as the dredging of the Columbia River channel and construction of docks in the Portland area. He was also an influential figure in Republican party circles, although his only major public office was that of Multnomah County representative to the Oregon legislature, to which he was elected in 1890.
In 1861 Montgomery married Rachael Anthony and the couple had one son, Henry Moorhead Montgomery (1863-1932). After Rachael's death in 1863, James Montgomery married Mary S. Phelps in 1866. She came from a prominent Missouri family and was the daughter of John Smith Phelps, who served as the governor of the state from 1877 to 1886. Mary Phelps Montgomery (1846-1943) led a strenuous and long life filled with travels, social activities, and active club work. She served as hostess for her father during his gubernatorial term in Missouri; lived in Berlin in the late 1880s and at later periods; served on the Board of Lady Managers for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis; organized the Portland chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Colonial Dames of America; travelled extensively; befriended famous people, such as President Ulysses S. Grant; and managed her husband's financial affairs after his death in 1900. Among her seven children were: Mary Montgomery Talbot, Antoinette Montgomery Frissel (b. 1871), Phelps Montgomery (b. 1872), Eliza Montgomery (b. 1874), Constance Montgomery Burrell (b. 1875), Russell Montgomery (1877-1900); and Margaret Montgomery Zogbaum (b. 1887).
Margaret Montgomery Zogbaum pursued a literary career and wrote essays, plays and novels. She lived much of her youth in Europe and had a brief love affair around 1912 with an Italian nobleman, Adolfo de Bosis. In 1914 she married a U.S. naval officer, Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum II, who was stationed in London and later became the commandant of the U.S. Naval Station in Pensacola, Florida. The two travelled throughout Europe and the Middle East and settled eventually near Tryon, North Carolina, in the late 1930s. Among their children were Wilfrid Zogbaum (1915-1965), an artist and musician, David Zogbaum, and Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum III (called "Fair").
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The collection provides a sampling of personal papers from three generations of a wealthy American family. Although the materials probably represent only a small percentage of the family's output, they are filled with great detail and vivid descriptions. The writing in the letters and diaries is well composed and fairly legible throughout.
The correspondence between James and Mary Montgomery, which dates from the late 1870s to the late 1890s, provides details of their family life, their social engagements, their travels, and their observations on current events. James's letters contain some information about contemporary politics and his business ventures, although most of the writing is family-oriented.
A large file of letters from Adolfo de Bosis to Margaret Montgomery date from 1912 and contain often extravagant declarations of love. Most are written in Italian. One letter from Margaret to Adolfo is included as well, and this is possibly a draft of her final communication with him. A file of letters from Margaret to her friend Lady Johnstone give Margaret's own emotional account of the affair with de Bosis. Additional letters are from other family members and friends, including Margaret's sons Wilfrid and Rufus, and her husband. Of particular interest is a bound set of letters written by Margaret to her mother from Europe and elsewhere. Titled "Letters of Margaret Montgomery Zogbaum. London, Paris, Ragusa, Zagreb, Constantinope, Hawaii," the letters date from 1913 to 1929 and are packed with details of travels, children, and daily life. Additional letters from Margaret to her mother, unbound, are also of the same nature.
Most of the diaries in the collection were written by Mary Phelps Montgomery and date mainly from the 1890s through the 1910s. They contain details of her active social life, her travels across the U.S. and Europe, her work for the Daughters of the American Revolution, and her activities relating to the St. Louis Exposition of 1904. She mentions meetings with prominent political figures, friendships with German nobility in Berlin, and visits to the White House, among many other topics. Also included are some entries written in Portland, with mention of people prominent in local society. Two diaries of Mary's daughter Margaret Zogbaum provide details of her travels in Europe and the Middle East with her husband and children. Her writing is highly descriptive and vivid.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
The Oregon Historical Society is the owner of the materials in the Research Library and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the Research Library prior to any use of reproductions. The Society does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collection. In some cases, permission for use of reproductions may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners.
James Boyce Montgomery Family Papers, Mss 2727, Oregon Historical Society Research Library
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
The collection is arranged in two series:
- Series 1: Correspondence and related papers, 1873-1954
- Series 2: Diaries and notebooks, 1891-1934
Purchased from Jack Reitsma, 1986
The Oregon Historical Society Research Library also houses papers of Henry Moorhead Montgomery (Mss 2298), son of James Boyce Montgomery.
Photographs from the James Boyce Montgomery family are housed in Org. Lot 428 of the Photographic Collections, Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Scrapbook compiled by James Boyce Montgomery, SB 129, is held by the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1873-1954Return to Top
Correspondence of James and Mary Montgomery
Letters from James to Mary Montgomery
Letters from Mary to James Montgomery
Letters to Mary Montgomery from her children
Letters to James Montgomery from his children
Letters from James Montgomery to his children
Mary Montgomery correspondence concerning the Daughters of the American Revolution
Mary Montgomery correspondence concerning the Colonial Dames of America
Mary Montgomery correspondence regarding Women's Relief Committee
Letters to Mary Montgomery from her grandsons
General correspondence of Mary Montgomery
Letters to Mary Montgomery from Claire Willmann, Zogbaum's governess
Invitations and calling cards to Mary Montgomery
Writings of Mary Montgomery (mostly family history)
Biographical and genealogical materials on Montgomery and Phelps families
Correspondence of Margaret Montgomery Zogbaum
Letters from Adolfo de Bosis to Margaret
Letters from Adolfo de Bosis to Margaret
|1912 Oct.-1913 July|
Cablegrams and telegrams to Margaret, mostly from Adolfo de Bosis
|1912-1913; 1923; undated|
Margaret's last letter to Adolfo de Bosis
|1913 July 12|
Writings of Adolfo de Bosis
Letters to Margaret from Lillian de Bosis (Adolfo's wife)
Letters to Margaret from her husband, Rufus Zogbaum
General letters to Margaret
Letters from Margaret to Nettie (Lady Johnstone)
Letters from Margaret to her mother, Mary Montgomery
Letters from Margaret to her mother
Bound volume of letters from Margaret to her mother
Letters from Margaret to her husband, Rufus Zogbaum
Letters from Margaret to her sisters
Fragmentary letters of Margaret
Letters to Rufus Zogbaum from navy friends in Europe
Letters to Mary Montgomery from Rufus Zogbaum
Letters from Wilfrid Zogbaum to his father, Rufus Zogbaum
Letters from Margaret Zogbaum and others to Wilfrid Zogbaum, and school information
Margaret Zogbaum writings
|circa 1912-1927; undated|
Ephemera and general materials
Certificate of marriage and announcement, Margaret and Rufus Zogbaum
Lineage of Zogbaum family
Series 2: Diaries and notebooks, 1891-1934Return to Top
Diaries of Mary Phelps Montgomery
This diary appears to have been used by both Mary Montgomery and her daughter Constance
Some entries appear to have been written by Margaret Montgomery Zogbaum
Diaries and related materials of Zogbaum Family
Margaret Zogbaum Diary
Margaret Zogbaum Diary
Margaret Zogbaum notes for her play Imortal Mortal
Margaret Zogbaum notebook
Rufus Fairchild Zogbaum III diary
Wilfrid Zogbaum diary
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Women—United States—History
- Bosis, Adolfo de, 1863-1924—Archives (creator)
- Mongomery, James Boyce, 1832-1900—Archives (creator)
- Montgomery, Mary S. Phelps—Archives
- Zogbaum, Margaret Montgomery—Archives (creator)
- Zogbaum, Rufus Fairchild, 1879-1956—Archives (creator)
- Zogbaum, Wilfrid, 1915-1965—Archives
- Daughters of the American Revolution
- Montgomery Family
- Zogbaum Family
- Europe—Description and travel
- Greece—Description and travel
- Portland (Or.)—Social life and customs
- Turkey—Description and travel
- United States—Description and travel
Form or Genre Terms