Opening up Montgomery’s past

By: 
Wade Young

I purchased a piece of Montgomery history a while ago, and it’s pretty cool.

It came by way of Charlene Washa, of Le Center, who was cleaning out a closet when she discovered a “slightly used and aged” Montgomery Messenger cigar box. She posted it online, and Kathy Peterson tagged me on it because it had to do with the Messenger.

Charlene said she didn’t know much about the box, but she received some information from Kathy Heyda, who has extensive history on the Richter family history.

Here’s what she provided. It’s important to know the names of everyone involved because they are sprinkled throughout the cigar box’s history.

Christopher and Fredericka Richter’s second daughter, Pauline Rosina Richter, was born 10 May 1865 in Lanesburgh Township and died 2 March 1943 in Le Sueur County.  She was born while her father, Christopher, was fighting in the Civil War. 

On 3 March 1892, Paulina married Emil Henry Miller, an immigrant from Posen, Germany who came to America in 1885. Emil was born 17 October 1866 and died 21 August 1951 in New Prague. 

The couple had six children born in the Montgomery area: William Henry, Bertha Louis, Arthur Louis, Alfred Emil, Edna Lillian and Leonard Lee.

In addition to operating the family farm, they had a cigar making business in their Montgomery home and began producing 5 cent “Monty Messenger” cigars. 

The cigar business turned out to be quite successful, and in 1897 Emil added an 18-by-28-foot building to house his cigar-making operations. The business continued until 1912, after which Emil and Pauline bought a farm in nearby Kilkenny Township where their family was living as of the 1920 Census. 

On the 1930 Census, Emil and Paulina were living on the farm with their three youngest children. Oldest son, William Henry owned the farm next door. 

According to the 1940 Census, Emil, Pauline and their youngest son, Leonard, were still operating the farm.  

Pauline died on March 2, 1943, in Montgomery at the age of 77. Emil died eight years later on August 21, 1951, at the age of 84. They are both buried in St. John Lutheran Cemetery in Montgomery.

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