Montgomery, Edmund, 1835-1911Alternative names
Edmund Duncan Montgomery, physician, philosopher, and scientist, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on March 18, 1835 and died at Liendo Plantation near Hempstead, Texas on April 17, 1911. He was the son of Isabella Davidson Montgomery and Duncan MacNeill, an eminent Scottish jurist. Raised in Paris, France and Frankfurt, Germany, he entered Heidelberg University in 1852 as a student of medicine, earning his Doctor of Medicine degree from Wϋrzburg in 1858. In 1860 he moved to England, serving as the resident physician at the German Hospital, and at Bermondsey Dispensary. He also served as a demonstrator of morbid anatomy at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London.
In 1863, Montgomery relinquished these positions and moved to the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira after being diagnosed with Tuberculosis. There he married Elisabet Ney. He practiced medicine from 1863 to 1869 in several locations: Madeira, Menton, Rome, and Munich. In 1869 he retired from medical practice. He and Elisabet Ney immigrated to America in 1871.
At the urging of their friend Vicco von Stralendorff, Montgomery and his wife spent the first two years in America in a colony promoted as a resort for consumptives near Thomasville, Georgia. In 1873, they purchased Liendo, a cotton plantation near Hempstead, Texas, which had been established in 1853 on 1,100 acres of Justo Liendo’s Spanish land grant.
Montgomery devoted his time to intensive research on the nature of protoplasm which he had begun in London. His biological studies appeared in a number of papers published in Popular Science Monthly, St. Thomas Hospital Report, the Index Jenaische Zeitschrift fur Naturwissenschaft, Archiv fur die gesammte Physiologie, and in a final monograph, The Vitality and Organization of Protoplasm. In these papers he maintained what may be called a neo-vitalistic point of view in contrast with the materialism popular in his day.
Montgomery’s wife was the sculptor Elisabet Ney. Described as beautiful, talented, and self-willed, she was born in Muenster, Westphalia, Germany on January 26, 1833, the daughter of Johann Adam and Anna Elisabeth (Wernze) Ney. At age nineteen she announced she was going to Munich to study art at the Academy of Arts. Her talent and personal charm brought her many admirers, among them a young medical student from Scotland, Edmund Montgomery.
After two or three years Elisabet Ney traveled to Berlin and studied under Christian Daniel Rauch. There she made busts of great men such as Arthur Schopenhauer and Alexander von Humboldt. In 1859 she moved to Hanover where she made a colossal bust of George V, King of Hanover. In 1861 she returned to Muenster, where she remained until 1863 when she followed Montgomery to Madeira and married him on November 17th. She generally lived with Dr. Montgomery, but she would not admit the marriage and continued to call herself Miss Ney. She subsequently bore two sons, Arthur (1871-1873) and Lorne Ney (1872-1913).
Elisabet Ney spent several years in Italy, where she made a bust of famed Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi. Heralded on the European continent, she made busts of German chemist Justus von Liebig, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, King Wilhelm I of Prussia, and a full-length statue of Ludwig II of Bavaria, which now adorns Linderhof Palace in southwestern Bavaria.
In 1873 she moved with Montgomery to Texas. Miss Ney eventually sought the stimulation and appreciation of Austin where she secured a commission from the state to execute statues of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston for the Texas Exhibit at the Word’s Fair in 1893. The two now stand in the Capital at Austin and copies of them represent Texas in the Capitol at Washington. Those statues were much admired and brought many other commissions, including a statue of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth walking in her sleep, and a recumbent statue of Civil War General Albert Sidney Johnston, considered her best work, which resides in the Texas State Cemetery.
Ney died on June 29, 1907 and was buried at Liendo Plantation. Montgomery suffered an apoplectic attack two months later and was an invalid the remainder of his life, during which time he wrote his last work, The Revelation of Present Experience, published in 1911. He died at Liendo Plantation on April 17, 1911.
Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "Montgomery, Edmund Duncan" http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/MM/fmo10.html (accessed August 20, 2010).
From the guide to the Edmund Montgomery and Elisabet Ney papers Mss 0050., 1830-1949, (DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University)
- Women sculptors
- Women sculptors--Texas
- Texas (as recorded)