Second printing to revive history book on Montgomery

An update of volume written for nation’s bicentennial

By: Jake Uitti
   MONTGOMERY — The Van Harlingen Historical Society is close to reprinting a history of the township that dates from the nation’s bicentennial.
   "Montgomery Township: An Historic Community," was originally published for the township’s bicentennial in the 1970s by resident Ursula Brecknell, and it documents the history of the township from 1702 to 1972.
   Ms. Brecknell, the unofficial township historian, according to members of the Historical Society, describes in about 90 pages of text and photographs how Montgomery was settled and grew.
   "We still go to her for historic knowledge of the town," said former Mayor Don Matthews, a trustee of the society.
   "I like to write and research," said Ms. Brecknell, describing the genesis of the book. "I was a natural. At the time, I was one of a group of volunteers who wanted to do things for the township’s bicentennial. Candis Willis and Marian Palmer deserve a lot of credit for their work on the book, as well."
   The Historical Society is in the process of revising the text and correcting any printing inaccuracies that may have been made during the first printing, Mr. Matthews said.
   Ms. Brecknell will also include a new introduction, explaining why the reprint process was chosen.
   The next step is getting funding for the reprinting. The question of whether the money will come from the township or from the Historical Society is still up in the air, Mr. Matthews said. And how the book reprint is paid for will dictate how much each copy will cost. The price should be in the area of $5 to $10 per copy, Mr. Matthews said.
   Even though the township may not be able make a grant because of legal restrictions, "It is a tremendously worthwhile project," Mayor Louise Wilson said.
   Mr. Matthews noted, "The idea to reprint the book has been kicked around for a long time. We just have to put the finishing touches on it now. Within 30 days, we will be ready to print."
   Once it’s printed, the Historical Society has plans to distribute the book to residents, the Mary Jacobs Library and possibly to township schools to teach the students about the history of where they live and how the township was formed, he said.
   "As mayor, I would use the book constantly, referring to different parts of the town," Mr. Matthews said. "Whenever something came up, I went to Ursula’s book."
   A section of the foreword, written by Ms. Brecknell, reads, "This present community, measured out in hedgerows, ornamented with silhouettes of silos, served by neighborhood tradesmen, governed by a particular body of laws — this is the impress of those who first chose the land, a wilderness, and made it home."
   The book also includes a copy of the minutes of the first Montgomery Township meeting, photographs of historic buildings and a map of Montgomery’s first major land divisions.
   "Montgomery is a unique town," Mr. Matthews said. "We have one of the best school systems in the country and one of the best open-spaces programs, as well. Both of these are reason why we have residents move in, so it is significant that residents know the history of the town."