Texas History Page

 

News from Lake Creek Settlement

 

The Evolution of the Montgomery Trading Post Myth – Part 11

 

     In 1975, Robin Montgomery published The History of Montgomery County (Austin: Jenkins Publishing Co., 1975). It was the first history of the county to be published in book form. In this book, the Montgomery Trading Post myth will see major changes to the details of the basic myth: the year a trading post was founded, its ownership and the location of the trading post will all change dramatically in the pages of Robin Montgomery’s book. 

     Several important details must be noted as we begin our study of Robin Montgomery’s book.  First, like Gandy and the earlier writers whose works we’ve explored, Robin Montgomery was unaware of the pre-Republic of Texas settlement in Austin’s Colony known as the Lake Creek Settlement. As such, the Lake Creek Settlement does not appear anywhere in the book’s 333 pages. Therefore, its importance was not considered, and many assumptions were made that were not correct.

     Though W. W. Shepperd’s role in the founding of the town of Montgomery had been covered in each of the preceding histories, every detail of Shepperd’s role as founder of the town of Montgomery is completely absent from The History of Montgomery County. Robin Montgomery makes no mention of “the store of W. W. Shepperd on Lake Creek.”  

     Throughout his book, Montgomery writes about places called the “Andrew Montgomery Trading Post” and “Montgomery Prairie.” As has been pointed out in a number of articles in this series, neither of these names can be found in any actual primary documents dating from the period in question, i.e. the years before the town of Montgomery was founded in 1837.

     On page 89 of The History of Montgomery County, Robin Montgomery wrote, "Andrew Montgomery … established a trading post at the confluence of the Loma [del Toro] and Lower [Coushatti] Trace. Since his Montgomery Post emerged about two miles from the present town of Montgomery, Texas about 1823, that town may trace its origins to that date.” It is important to note here again that no primary document, not even one, has ever been located that proves any of the statements made in either of the last two sentences quoted.

     The intersection of the Loma del Toro and the Lower Coushatti Trace, according to the Montgomery book, is located west of the present day town of Montgomery. 

     Even though Montgomery deposes Owen Shannon as the founder of the Indian trading post, he could not shake Owen and Margaret Shannon altogether. The story of the Owen Shannon trading post found in Gandy’s thesis, and later in The Choir Invisible, had received wide acceptance since the 1950s, and Montgomery incorporates them into the Andrew Montgomery Trading Post story. 

     On page 99, we read the following, “In 1827, they [Owen Shannon and Margaret Shannon] came over the Lower Coushatta Trace to settle near the trading post….At the time of their arrival, the area had already become known as Montgomery Prairie due to Andrew’s influence….It continued to carry that name even after Andrew relinquished ownership of the post to Owen and Margaret around 1829.…”

     Again, no primary document that actually dates from the time period alleged has ever been found to prove the existence of a place anywhere in the vicinity of the present town of Montgomery named Montgomery Prairie. It is important to note that none of the five previous historians we have previously looked at ever mentioned a place called Montgomery Prairie either.

     While the basic theme of the Robin Montgomery trading post myth contains each of the same elements as the previous accounts of the earlier writers, Montgomery’s version substitutes into the 50-year old trading post myth a different name for its owner, a different date and a different location.  According to Montgomery, Owen Shannon did not establish the trading post, Andrew Montgomery did. The Montgomery Trading Post was not founded in 1830; it was founded in 1823. The Montgomery Trading Post was not located a half-mile north of the present town of Montgomery on the creek that would later be known as Town Creek; it was located two miles west of the present town at the intersection of the Loma del Toro and the Lower Coushatti Trace.  The only new element in Robin Montgomery’s version is that Andrew Montgomery later “relinquished ownership” to Owen and Margaret Shannon. As is true with all previous writers, there is no evidence whatsoever supporting either the myth or the changes made by this writer. This is, rather, the old, unsubstantiated story dressed up in new clothes.

 

     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 May 6, 2009 edition of the Montgomery County News.

 

Click here to Return to Index and more articles.