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The Evolution of the Montgomery Trading Post Myth – Part 13

“Mr. Austin, You’ve Got Squatters out There on the Coushatta Trace!”

     In writing The History of Montgomery County (Austin: Jenkins Publishing Co., 1975), the fifth work in our study of Montgomery County histories, author Robin Montgomery introduced a previously undocumented trading post he called the Andrew Montgomery Trading Post with an undocumented location that he called the Montgomery Prairie. The writer gives no sources for this new information.

     In his book, Montgomery tells us that Andrew Montgomery, a filibusterer in the failed James Long Expedition (1819-1820), established his trading post about 1823. This trading post supposedly was located two miles northwest of the present town of Montgomery at the intersection of two roads Robin Montgomery identifies as the Loma del Toro and the Lower Coushatti Trace. We are further advised that Andrew Montgomery operated the trading post for six years until 1829 when he “relinquished ownership” to Owen and Margaret Shannon.

     On page 285 of  The History of Montgomery County, Robin Montgomery went on to write, “Andrew [Montgomery] immediately set about encouraging settlers to venture down these roads [the Loma del Toro and the Lower Coushatti Trace] to become his neighbors and clientele. In this manner Andrew’s Trading Post became the major pivot point around which the settlement of the later Montgomery County region revolved.”

     In the past two weeks we have focused on the total lack of primary historical evidence to support Robin Montgomery’s assertions regarding his Andrew Montgomery trading post. Using historical information that we do know, we will focus this week on the extreme improbability of this version of the Montgomery Trading Post myth.

     A “squatter” is defined as a person who settles on unoccupied land without legal title. At the time and place described by Robin Montgomery, Andrew Montgomery would have been a squatter in the Mexican State of Coahuila y Texas and in Austin’s Second Colony. Not only did Andrew Montgomery settle on unoccupied land without legal title, we are supposed to believe that he openly and brazenly operated a trading post at the intersection of two supposedly busy roads for six years.

     Empresario Stephen F. Austin received his second land contract from Mexico in 1825. Austin made no land grants in the area alleged as the location of the Andrew Montgomery trading post until 1831. If we subscribe to Robin Montgomery’s description for the location of the Andrew Montgomery trading post, it appears that it would have been located on what later became the Benjamin Rigby League in 1831, in Austin’s second colony. 

     According to Stephen F. Austin’s Register of Families, Andrew Montgomery did not arrive in Austin’s Colony until October of 1830. In Stephen F. Austin’s Register of Families, Andrew Montgomery’s occupation is listed as “Farmer” and his place of origin is listed as “Alabama.” Wherever Andrew Montgomery may have been in Texas prior to October of 1830, Austin’s Register of Families is incredibly strong primary evidence that Andrew Montgomery did not arrive in Austin’s Colony until October of 1830. See pages 83 and 84 of  Stephen F. Austin’s Register of Families located in the Texas General Land Office in Austin, Texas. Also see the book, Stephen F. Austin’s Register of Families, edited by Villamae Williams (Austin: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1984), p. 63.

     According to Robin Montgomery, Andrew Montgomery participated as a courier in the failed Long Expedition (1819-1820). The Long Expedition was an attempt by American filibusterers led by Dr. James Long to wrest control of Texas from the Spanish colony of Mexico. As such, Andrew Montgomery would have been a filibusterer. It is well documented that the filibusters who participated in the short-lived Long Expedition were killed, imprisoned or driven out of Texas, in short, not tolerated within the territorial boundaries defined by the Mexican government.  

     We are expected to believe that a participant in the failed Long Expedition was allowed to openly and illegally operate a trading post in Mexican Texas from 1823 to 1829 on lands belonging to the Mexican Government in what later became Stephen F. Austin’s Second Colony in 1825. Not a chance!

     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 20, 2009 edition of the Montgomery County News.

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