Ruth Montgomery

Close to 500 glass plate negatives from a sea captain’s daughter from Boothbay that document her life and travels.

Ruth Montgomery was a daughter of the sea; her father, Capt. Adelbert Montgomery, both grandfathers, and many of her uncles and grand uncles were deep-water ship masters, and most of them were from East Boothbay, Maine. Ruth Montgomery’s mother was Isabelle Montgomery, a first cousin to Ruth’s father. Ruth was born in 1880 in East Boothbay. Her mother died in 1881, when Ruth she was 3 years old. Adelbert remarried in 1884, when Ruth was about 4 years old, to Mary A. “Mame” Thorpe, a school teacher in the town of Deering. Ruth first went to sea at the age of 5, and she and her brother Frank, who was a few years older, accompanied their parents on almost every voyage thereafter. It is believed that she was schooled by “Mame” while at sea.

In 1895, Ruth’s father took command of the bark Carrie Winslow when Ruth was 15 years old. It was around this time that Ruth began making taking photographs. Her photographs capture the three voyages to South America in 1899, 1901 and 1903. Through her photographs one gets to know her family and see the faces of her relatives as well as view scenes from sea and her exotic travels to Buenos Aires and Rosario. She continued to make photographs on glass plates until 1916.

Adelbert Montgomery retired from the sea upon completion of his last voyage to South America in 1903. He became a superintendent with the Boston Cold Storage Warehouse where he worked until his death in 1927. Ruth Montgomery worked at that firm as a clerk/secretary until she retired in the 1940s. While in Boston she lived with her Uncle Charles and Aunt Annie Adams. Aunt Annie was the sister to Ruth’s stepmother “Mame” Montgomery. Ruth spent summer vacations in East Boothbay at the home of her fraternal grandmother, Sarah Jane (Webber) Montgomery, located on Barlow’s Hill. When Ruth retired she relocated to East Boothbay and lived in the home of her maternal grandmother, Ruth (Seavey) Montgomery, which is located beside the old Boothbay Mineral Spring, opposite the Methodist Church. Ruth died in 1967, at the age of 87, and was buried with her family in the Green Landing Cemetery in East Boothbay.

The Montgomery collection came to the Penobscot Marine Museum in 1990 as a donation from John Race Chesebro, whose twice-great grandfather, Captain Leonard Montgomery, was Ruth’s grandfather on her father’s side. Mr. Chesebro spent considerable time cataloging the plates and identifying persons, places and events captured by Ruth’s camera. The collection consists of nearly 600 4” x 5” glass plate negatives.