2005-12-16 / Society

Bet Montgomery celebrates 100 years

By Warner M. Montgomery

Elizabeth “Bet” Montgomery celebrates her 100th birthday at her home in Kingstree. Enjoying her pleasant wit are Al Montgomery, Warner Montgomery, and Carole Montgomery Hunt.Elizabeth “Bet” Montgomery celebrates her 100th birthday at her home in Kingstree. Enjoying her pleasant wit are Al Montgomery, Warner Montgomery, and Carole Montgomery Hunt.

Elizabeth Montgomery of Kingstree celebrated her 100th birthday December 13 with tea, cake, and hundreds of guests at her home. She is the esteemed first cousin of the late John A. and Miller Montgomery of Columbia.

“Bet,” as she is known to her family and friends, was born in Kingstree in 1905. She attended Williamsburg Public Schools and graduated from Kingstree High School in 1923. Wanting to be a teacher, she went to Winthrop Training School (now Winthrop University) where she graduated in 1927.

The newly graduated teacher took a position in upper SC for two years then moved to Florence where she married Robert W. Montgomery of Bishopville. Her husband died in 1950. In 1958, Bet retired and moved back to Kingstree. Not wanting to leave the classroom, she taught at Williamsburg Academy for another nine years before retiring a second time.

Bet and her siblings – Isabel, Isaac, and Katherine – were the children of Samuel and Florence Montgomery who traced their ancestry to Nathaniel Montgomery who came to Charleston from Northern Ireland in 1768. Nathaniel’s son, Samuel settled in Williamsburg County.

Samuel built the family home “Cedar Lane” on the Black River in 1804 after serving in the Revolutionary War in General Francis Marion’s Brigade. From his six children with Jane Spry are descended the current Montgomerys, including Bet.

My father, Miller Montgomery, who grew up in Greeleyville, spent many happy days hunting and fishing on the Cedar Lane property. Though the property is no longer in the family, the family still maintains the Cedar Lane Family Cemetery there.

Daddy, who died in 1996, always spoke of the beauty, elegance, and intelligence of the “Kingstree Girls,” his first cousins Isabel, Bet, and Kat. During his last days in the hospital, he had visions of the Kingstree Girls dancing and playing with giant rabbits on the ceiling of his room.

Isabel never married and spent her entire life near the Montgomery homeland. She died in 1997 at the age of 94. Isaac, known as Ike, died in 1996 at age 87 leaving one child, two grand children, and two great grand children.

Kat married Glenn Dickson and had four children: Wells, Ed, Elizabeth, and Meg. She finished Kingstree High School and Florence Business College, then worked in the office of AAA and the Williamsburg Registration Board until her retirement 20 years ago. She is going strong at a very young 90 years of age.

The Dickson’s organized Bet’s birthday party and invited family from around the country. Linda and I attended with cousins Al Montgomery and Carole Montgomery Hunt. Bet, hard of hearing and a bit blind, remembered all of us and spoke kindly of our fathers, Miller and John A., the “Greeleyville Boys.”

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