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As It Was: Author Matthea “Hilda” Thorseth Montgomery Dies in Ashland at 100

As a young girl growing up in Minnesota at the turn of the century, Hilda Montgomery, born Matthea Thorseth, always loved to write.  She used to scribble notes and stash them in her apron pocket while doing chores on the family farm.  She later moved to the Pacific Northwest and became a teacher and best-selling regional author.

Her first book, “Cradled in Thunder,” written in 1946, detailed the events of her parents’ migration from Norway to Minnesota in 1884.

In 1949, still writing under her maiden name, Matthea Thorseth, she published “The Color of Ripening” about the International Workers of the World, known as the Wobblies, whose meetings she attended as a young girl.  The Wobblies were known for their slogan, “Workers unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.”

Hilda married Earl Montgomery in 1949, and the couple moved to Ashland.  For many years, they operated the Montgomery Trading Post furniture store.  Her last book, “In the Wake of Vikings,” was finished in time for her 100th birthday party in 1989, the year she died.

Sources: Watson, Louise. "Author to mark 100th with new book." The Daily Tidings, 17 Aug. 1989;  "Ashland author Montgomery dies at 100." The Daily Tidings, 12 Sept. 1989, p. 3.               

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Sharon Bywater of Ashland, Oregon grew up in Southern California. She taught English literature and writing at Syracuse University in New York, where she also wrote and edited adult literacy books and published freelance articles in local media. Later, she lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked as an international telecommunications policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce. She has Master’s degrees in English and Communications Management.