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Bozeman Daily Chronicle
Tuesday – 28 Feb. 1984
107-Year-Old ‘Colonel Joe’ Dies
Lewistown (AP) – “Colonel” Joe Montgomery died here Sunday morning at the age of 107.
Montgomery was the nation’s second-oldest veteran and a survivor of the Spanish
American War, according to Veterans Administration officials.
He was born in Wayne County, Iowa, on August 24, 1876, and lived through over half of
the United States’ history.
He served in the Phillipines for two years during the Spanish American War. He never
rose above the rank of private in the military, but was called “Colonel Joe” by his
In 1893, shortly after his 17th birthday, he took part in the historic Cherokee Run in
what is now Oklahoma. He was interviewed earlier this year by some Oklahoma City
journalists who said he was the last survivor of that historic event, in which about
50,000 people staked claims in a mad rush on Sept. 16, 1893.
Montgomery moved to Montana the following year.
His first years in Montana were spent in the mining camp of Kendall, northwest of
Lewistown. He was part-owner of the Wedge Saloon and ran its gambling operation.
When the mines closed at Kendall, around 1912, he moved to Hilger for a brief time and
then to Lewistown.
He worked for the Department of Interior there, helping homesteaders locate their
claims. He also served as chairman of the Fergus County Draft Board during World War I.
Over the years, Montgomery, a strong Republican, built a reputation as a political
forecaster. He predicted with accuracy the outcome of many national and international
elections, including the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980.
Among his last predictions, last November, were that President Reagan would seek
re-election and that John Glenn would win the Democratic nomination.
A biography of Montgomery, “Colonel Joe, Last of the Rough Riders,” was written several
years ago by Claudia Brownlee of Lewistown.
Montgomery never married. He is survived by a niece in Iowa.
The funeral will be Wesnesday morning in Lewistown.
The 1880 census for Iowa, Wayne Co., South Fork lists the following: (parents born)
James Montgomery - head - male - age 46 - b. Penn. - farmer
– father b. Ireland - mother b. Ireland
Julia Montgomery – wife – age 30 – b. Ohio – keeping house
- father b. Ohio – mother b. Ohio
John Montgomery – son – age 13 – b. Iowa – at home – f.b. Penn. – m.b. Ohio
Martha Montgomery – daug – age 9 – b. Iowa – at home - f.b. Penn. – m.b. Ohio
Hattie Montgomery – daug – age 7 – b. Iowa – at home – f.b. Penn – m.b. Ohio
Tinsie Montgomery – daug – age 5 - b. Iowa – at home – f.b. Penn – m.b. Ohio
Joseph Montgomery – son – age 3 – b. Iowa – at home – f.b. Penn – m.b. Ohio
Ellen Montgomery – daug – age 1 b. Iowa – at home – f.b. Penn – m.b. Ohio
Jane Montgomery – mother – widow – age 72 – b. Ireland – at home – f. & m. born
The 1930 census for Montana, Fergus Co., Lewistown lists the following:
Joe Montgomery – age 53 – lodger – b. Iowa – father & mother born U.S. & U.S.
occ. Manager – Cigar Store
Joe was one of twelve lodgers at the home of
Clarence McDowell – head - age 40 – b. Nebraska – occ. Mechanic – Cement Plant
Trace McDowell – wife – age 37 – b. Kans. – occ. Lodging House – Lodging House
Millicent McDowell – daug – age 17 – b. Kans. – f.b. Nebr. – m.b. Kans.