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The Evolution of the Montgomery Trading Post Myth –

Part 1

 

   As we have seen in the last few weeks, the lands around what would become the town of Montgomery were originally known as the Lake Creek Settlement.  Primary historical records prove conclusively that, prior to the founding of the town of Montgomery in July of 1837, the area was known as Lake Creek Settlement, District of Lake Creek, Precinct of Lake Creek or simply Lake Creek. These same documents prove conclusively that the area was not known as Montgomery Trading Post, Montgomery Settlement or Montgomery Prairie.

 

   The Montgomery Trading Post is a myth.  A myth is defined as "a fictitious narrative presented as historical but without any basis in fact."  Many people have wasted decades searching for the archeological remains of the Montgomery Trading Post when they should have been searching for a single primary document that proved it ever existed.  Even though the Montgomery Trading Post has been referred to in any number of histories over the last 8 or 9 decades, no Montgomery County historian has ever bothered to locate a single primary historical document that mentions such a place prior to the founding of the town of Montgomery.  The romantic story of a trading post that traded with the Indians and early settlers was just to good to tamper with.

 

   The great cynic Voltaire, wrote, "History consists of a series of accumulated imaginative inventions."  This is where the Montgomery Trading Post comes from -a series of accumulated imaginative inventions."  As we go through each of these histories over the next few weeks, we will see the evolution of the Montgomery Trading Post myth.  As we proceed, the reader will observe many changes in the "history" of the Montgomery Trading Poet.  The ownership will change, the locations will change, the years of operation will change, explanations for the name will change, etc.  And these changes will occur with no primary historical evidence to back them up or explain them.

 

   Let us begin our study with a paper entitled "Old Montgomery" by Anna Landrum Davis.  This appeared in the University of Texas Bulletin No. 2546: December 8, 1925, pp. 42-47.  Also see The Texas State Texas State Teachers Bulletin, Vol. XIII, No. 1.  This article seems to be the earliest appearance of the Montgomery Trading Post myth.

 

   "Old Montgomery" provides, "Montgomery is one of the oldest towns in the State.  It had its beginnings in 1830 when Jacob Shannon, James Montgomery, and one or two others built homes on Town Creek, about a half mile north of the present site of the town.  Jacob Shannon, who had come from Kentucky in 1826, and who had taken part in the Fredonian rebellion, established a trading post here. He carried beautifully dressed hides bought from the Indians to Kentucky, and brought back horses and goods for the settlers.  Local tradition says this little settlement took its name from James Montgomery and his wife, Margaret Montgomery, and that the county was afterwards named for the town.  William Sheppard [sic] donated one hundred acres to the county commissioners for the county seat.  This was on the hill south of the old town."

 

   Some historical inaccuracies jump out immediately even to the most casual reader of Montgomery County history.  Stephen F. Austin did not make the first land grants in the area around the present town of Montgomery until 1831.  James Montgomery was not married to Margaret Montgomery.  Owen Shannon was married to Margaret Shannon.  Town Creek was not called Town Creek until sometime after the town of Montgomery was founded in July 1837.  Town Creek flows across the John Corner League, not the Owen Shannon League.  There is no record of anyone by the name of James Montgomery living on either the Owen Shannon League or the John Corner League.  Several documents prove that Jacob Shannon and other members of Shannon family believed they lived in the Lake Creek Settlement.

 

   William W. Shepperd donated a one half undivided interest in two hundred acres of land to Montgomery County not one hundred.  There was no "old town" prior to the founding of the town of Montgomery by Shepperd in July 1837.  W. W. Shepperd's compound (his house, store, gin, stockyard, and slave quarters) was the only thing located where the Town of Montgomery was founded in July of 1837.  The town founded by Shepperd in 1837 was the original town of Montgomery.  There was no earlier town before it.

 

   As will be seen over the coming weeks, later historians, over the next 70 or 80 years will make many changes to the details regarding the Montgomery Trading Post first mentioned in Anna Landrum Davis' high school history paper.  But, none of them will provide a single primary source or document to prove it ever really existed.

 

     Kameron K. Searle is an attorney in Houston, Texas who has thoroughly researched the history of the Lake Creek Settlement and the early history of Montgomery County for the last eight years. For more information about the Lake Creek Settlement, the Indian trading post or the founding of the town of Montgomery, go online to TexasHistoryPage.com.

This article originally appeared in the February 25, 2009 edition of the Montgomery County News.

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