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Early deaths plague Montain family

Albert Montain and his friends were just fooling around. His friends dared him to climb to the top of the telegraph pole at the corner of 7th Street and Cedar Avenue on the West Bank. He made it, but as he turned to wave to his friends he made contact with the electrical wires and was electrocuted. It was September 26, 1911, and Albert was sixteen years old.

Albert had lost both of his parents by the time that he was six. His mother, Christine, died from tuberculosis on January 16, 1901, and his father, Adolph, died from brain fever on March 29, 1903.

The responsibility for holding the family together fell to Albert’s older siblings. Richard, the oldest, was 18 years old when their father died; Hilma, the oldest daughter, was 17. The other three of six children were Ellen, aged 14, George aged nine and Walter aged eight.

Their parents, Adolph and Christine Montain, were born in Sweden. They married in 1883 and the following year left Sweden for Minnesota. By 1884 Adolph was working in the flourmills. He spent the rest of his life working in the mills, mostly employed as an oiler but occasionally as a sweeper or watchman. Richard followed in his father’s footsteps and by age 18, he, too, went to work in the mills.

When she turned 18, Hilma began working as a seamstress. Within a few years, Ellen began working as a machine operator for the Northwest Knitting Mills, George as a clerk for the Soo Line Railroad, and Walter as a finisher for Boutell Brothers. By the time that he was 16 years old, Albert already had a job. He was a driver for the Northwest Automobile Company.

When Albert died, it had been ten years since Christine had died and eight years since Adolph’s death. His siblings were grown and ready to move on, and soon after his death the family began to scatter. George moved to the West Coast where he worked as a locomotive engineer in the Puget Sound Naval Ship Yards. He married and had several daughters; he appears to be the only one of Adolph and Christine’s children who had children who survived infancy. Richard married and moved to Ohio where he worked in an automobile factory.

Both of Albert’s sisters died young. Ellen Montain got married on January 22, 1913 and gave birth to a baby girl on October 18, 1913, but the baby was born prematurely and died after only three hours. The baby, identified in cemetery records as the Babe Arthur Anderson, shares a grave with Adolph Montain near the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Lake Street. Ellen Montain Anderson died 14 months later, on March 18, 1914, at the age of 25. She is buried in Lakewood Cemetery.

Hilma Montain married on July 12, 1910. She gave birth to one child on May 20, 1913, but he died the same day. Hilma Montain Myhre died on July 9, 1917, after giving birth to another son, Robert; Robert died on July 11, 1917.

Walter is the only son who stayed in Minneapolis. He served in World War I and upon his return, married Saretta Barden. Their only child was a baby girl, stillborn on December 21, 1921. Walter’s died in 1966 and he, his wife and daughter are buried in Lakewood Cemetery. His death marked the end of the Montain family line in Minneapolis.

Albert Montain is buried with his mother in a grave close to the 29th Street bridge on Cedar Avenue. His mother’s name is the only one on what turned out to be their shared marker.

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