BY JULIA M. FALLON
Julia Montgomery Street was born Julia Lilly Montgomery in Concord, North Carolina in 1898 to Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Lewis Montgomery. Her father only lived two more years. Her mother, Elizabeth Norris Montgomery, took the children Amy, Bays and little Julia back to the family home in Apex, North Carolina. Julia Lilly, a precocious young reader, was fondly doted upon by the extended Norris family. Her happy upbringing included playing on the farm and at home in the small, Wake County railroad town.
Julia’s mother, Elizabeth, known as Lizzie, went to Peace College in Raleigh, and Julia also wanted to attend college. Sadly, Lizzie, passed away in Raleigh in 1914, but Julia Lilly’s dream remained. She wanted to honor her mother’s memory and attend college.
Julia graduated from Apex High School. As for her siblings, her brother, Bays, fought in World War I in the Cavalry, and sadly passed away in 1925 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Her sister, Amy, married and moved to Kentucky in about 1915 with her own family, and later moved to California.
Julia kept in touch with the Apex and Raleigh relatives. She had a wonderful time while attending the first two years at The State Normal and Industrial School in Greensboro. At summer school in a UNC playwriting class taught by Dr. Fred Koch were writers: Paul Green (The Lost Colony author), Thomas Wolfe, Bernice Kelly Harris and Legette Blythe. College money had run out, so she taught school for a couple of years with a two-year certificate. She then returned to Greensboro to finish at the newly named Women’s College.
The administrator told her that the schools in Forsyth County paid the highest in North Carolina, so after her 1923 graduation, she got a room and began teaching elementary school in Winston-Salem.
And there, in the spring of 1924, she met the love of her life: Dr. Claudius Augustus Street, the Forsyth County Doctor. A Harvard medical school educated doctor, he hailed from Linville Falls, North Carolina. When he saw her, he said to himself: “That’s my girl.” Of course, she did not know that until later!
Julia and Claude courted as they traveled the country roads while seeing his patients and getting to know one another. After one week, they were engaged, but had to wait until the fall because Julia had made a promise to work for the Children’s Home in Greensboro for the summer. So, a simple wedding was held in Raleigh, and they started their life. She visited Linville Falls after the wedding and grew to love the mountain people, and they later influenced her stories.
The Steets had two children: Carol Montgomery Street born in 1926 and Claudius Augustus Street (Gus) born in 1928. Dr. Street studied pediatric medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. The family returned to Forsyth County for him to establish one of the first pediatric practices in North Carolina. They then moved to Oaklawn Avenue.
Julia developed many friendships through the years including Ruth Prongay. The Prongays have remained friends through four generations with the Streets and McMillans and the Fallons. Ruth and Julia started a Birthday Club that lasted for about 60 years!
Julia wrote stories and poems for Sunday School papers and magazines as well as radio scripts. She then published her first of seven historical NC books when she was 57.
Fiddler’s Fancy 1955, NC Mountains, Moccasin Tracks 1958, Cherokees, Drover’s Gold 1961 Buncombe Turnpike, Dulcie’s Whale 1963 Ocracoke Island, Candle Love Feast 1959 reissued by Old Salem Inc. in 1991, Moravian Candle Love Feast. North Carolina Parade, 1965 with Richard Walser, North Carolina stories. Judaculla’s Handprint and Other North Carolina Mysteries, 1975, NC Ghost Stories. Poetry books: Street Lights and Salem Christmas Eve.
Mrs. Street won the American Association of University Women the Best Juvenile Book of the Year: Fiddler’s Fancy, Dulcie’s Whale and North Carolina Parade.
She received the Distinguished Service Award from UNC-Greensboro for preserving North Carolina history for school children. She was the North Carolina Historian of the Year-West posthumously November 1992. She enjoyed book signings near the end of her life when Candle Love Feast was reissued by Old Salem, Inc. in 1991. In later years she wrote book reviews for the Suburbanite. She attended the North Carolina Writer’s Round Table and the North Carolina Writer’s Conference. Phone calls, visits and letters were also important. And, to help the community even more, she taught writing classes at the YWCA. Most of her classes produced a published author, for which she was extremely proud!
Mrs. Street loved the people of Forsyth County where she raised her children and cats! The Forsyth County Library was dear to her. Hobbies were painting, knitting (including hospital preemie caps), sewing and volunteering as a pink lady at Forsyth Memorial. She was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Julia Montgomery Street – truly a 20th Century Forsyth County Woman!