Letter to the Editor —
What’s Your Opinion? Indian Trading Post or Not?
Well of course there was an Indian trading post
below the hill on the creek!
It’s a Fact!
"There were at that time a few of the descendants of the original
settlers of this county who came with their parents to this section as colonists, but were altogether ignorant of
the organization of the old 'principality' of Montgomery....W.W. Shepperd was the first to have a store at the old
town of Montgomery under the hill….I am enclosing to you for your inspection the original draft of the flag of the
Republic of Texas. The work was without question the work of my father..."
Edmund B. Stewart (son of Charles
July 7, 1922 letter to Mrs. J. W.
In the April 1, 2009
edition of the Montgomery County News, Col. Ramon Laughter wrote a
letter to the editor regarding my articles: “News from Lake Creek Settlement – The Evolution of the Montgomery
Trading Post Myth.”
First let me say, I hold Col. Laughter and all the members
of the Montgomery Historical Society in the highest regard for all they do to preserve the history of the town
of Montgomery, especially their years of hard work to preserve the historic buildings in and around Montgomery
and for their successful preservation and operation of the Nat Hart Davis Pioneer Complex and Museum. I cannot
think of another town in Texas that has such dedicated local historians. If you are reading this, and you are
not a member, you should join and get involved with this great group.
Again, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Col.
Laughter for his very kind words in his letter to the editor regarding my research.
Col. Laughter’s letter to the editor was titled, “What’s
your opinion? Indian Trading Post or not?” In his letter Col. Laughter wrote, “I am often approached for a
statement concerning the position of the Society as regards the constant and repetitious reference to the fact
that there really was never an “Indian Trading Post” that preceded the Town of Montgomery.”
I apologize if I have given my readers this impression. It
was not my intent. My goal has been to show that the true history of the Indian trading post was hijacked a long
time ago and a myth was substituted in its place. Over the past several weeks, the goal of my series of articles
titled “The Evolution of the Montgomery Trading Post Myth” has been to point out the many errors,
inconsistencies and total lack of evidence in each of the histories reporting the so-called Montgomery Trading
Post. There was an Indian trading post; however there was never a trading post called the Montgomery Trading
I was going to save much of this evidence for the end of my
series of articles about the Montgomery Trading Post myth; but I did not want to leave anyone with the
misconception that there was not an Indian trading post below the hill about a half-mile north of town on the
creek that would later became known as Town Creek. Montgomery County Clerk deed records and Lake Creek
Settlement documents have provided the answers. This may be the most detailed letter to the editor in the
history of the Montgomery County News, but what we will learn
together is definitely worth it. Below, as Col. Laughter would say, is “the rest of the
The first settlers, in what would later become western
Montgomery County, received their Mexican land grants in 1831. These settlers included John Corner, Mary Corner,
William C. Clark, Owen Shannon, Zachariah Landrum, Jacob Shannon, William Atkins, William Landrum, Benjamin
Rigby, Raleigh Rogers, etc. These settlers received their leagues of land from Empresario Stephen F. Austin.
These Mexican land grants were located in Austin’s Second Colony.
On January 1, 1831, William C. Clark purchased six hundred
acres of land on the John Corner League from John Corner. The six hundred acres were contained within the
following lines and boundaries, to wit, “commencing at the North West corner of the aforesaid [John Corner]
League and running thence South half mile English measure. Thence due East a line parallel with the East and
west line of the same League such a distance as will make Six hundred acres or will enclose that amount of land
and the upper line of the Tract to commence at the North west corner of the League and run East the distance
requisite." See Deed from John Corner to William C. Clark, Montgomery County Clerk, Deed Vol. B. pp.
317-320. It is very important to notice that this land description begins in the northwest corner of the
John Corner League and runs south a half-mile.
William C. Clark paid John Corner $250.00 on
January 1, 1831 for these six hundred acres of the John Corner League before John Corner actually received the
title to it. Given the fact that this purchase pre-dated Corner's receipt of his land grant, it appears
that William C. Clark helped to pay John Corner's costs and fees to clear his title out of Stephen F.
Austin's land office at San Felipe.
On May 10, 1831, John Corner finally received his Mexican
land grant for one league of land [League No. 27] from Empresario Stephen F. Austin in Austin’s Second Colony.
As shown above, John Corner had already sold six hundred acres of land out of the John Corner League to William
C. Clark on January 1, 1831. See deed from John Corner to William C. Clark, Montgomery County Clerk, Deed Vol.
B. pp. 317-320.
Soon after the first settlers arrived, the lands between the
West Fork of the San Jacinto River and the stream called Lake Creek became known as the Lake Creek Settlement,
District of Lake Creek, Precinct of Lake Creek or simply Lake Creek. See 1833 Articles of Agreement, Jacob
Shannon to Rutha Miller, Montgomery County Deeds, Vol. N,
p. 254. Also see the “Lake Creek Settlement” link at www.TexasHistoryPage.com for many other
documents that prove this point.
On September 15, 1835, William W. Shepperd (hereinafter W.
W. Shepperd) purchased two hundred acres of land from William C. Clark in the northwestern-most corner of the
John Corner League. These were the two hundred western-most acres of the six hundred acres that William C. Clark
purchased from John Corner on January 1, 1831. See Deed from William C. Clark to Wm. W. Shepperd, Montgomery
County Clerk, Deed Vol. A, pp. 29-32.
It is here in the middle of the Lake Creek Settlement on the
two hundred northwestern-most acres of the John Corner League that W. W. Shepperd founded the first trading
post. Here, he traded with the Indians and the early settlers. Known as “the store of W. W. Shepperd on Lake
Creek,” this is the Indian trading post that preceded the town of Montgomery. And it is exactly where historians
said it was supposed to be—about a half mile north of the town under the hill on the creek that would later be
known as Town Creek. See the numerous deeds and other records executed at “the store of W. W. Shepperd on Lake
Creek" at the “Lake Creek Settlement” link on the TexasHistoryPage.com.
C. B. Stewart married Julia Shepperd on these two hundred
acres of land at “the house of W. W. Shepperd on Lake Creek” on March 11, 1836 while serving as delegate to the
Convention at Washington. See marriage record of Charles B. Stewart and Julia Shepperd in Deed Book A-1, Washington County Clerk, pp.
On July 8, 1837, “Montgomery” and the “town of Montgomery”
appeared in print for the first time in the Telegraph and Texas Register newspaper. The town of
Montgomery was founded in Washington County by W. W. Shepperd in partnership with J. W. Moody, the First Auditor
of the Republic of Texas. The town was founded on the 200 acres of land W. W. Shepperd purchased from William C.
Clark on September 15, 1835. Shepperd had previously founded his
trading post or store here. Later historians will refer to this town as “the old town under the hill” or “old
It is important to note that by July 1837, the town had a
store, a gin, a stockyard and a blacksmith shop. W. W. Shepperd and his wife Mary Steptoe Shepperd lived there
in a house with their minor children. Their adult children, including Jacob Shepperd, also lived there. By July
1837, Charles B. Stewart was living there with his wife Julia as well. The blacksmith was named Thomas Adams and he had built a house. W. W. Shepperd
owned a number of slaves. His wife, Mary Steptoe Shepperd, owned at least eight slaves that she had inherited
from her father. Of course all of these slaves would have lived in houses there as well.
Following the July 8, 1837 advertisement in the Telegraph
and Texas Register, W. W. Shepperd would begin selling lots on these 200 acres. As an example, Charles
Garrett, the son-in-law of Owen Shannon and Margaret Montgomery Shannon, purchased a lot from Shepperd here in
1837. See Deed of William W. Shepperd to Charles Garrett, Montgomery County Clerk, Deed Vol. B, p.
W. W. Shepperd and his partner, J. W. Moody, named the town
Montgomery after Montgomery, Alabama where J. W. Moody had been the Clerk of the County Court of Montgomery
County, Alabama, for many years before coming to Texas. Montgomery, Alabama was named for Brigadier General
Richard Montgomery of the American Revolution.
Five months after the town of Montgomery was founded, the
Congress of the Republic of Texas created Montgomery County out of the territory of Washington County. President
Sam Houston signed this act into law on December 14, 1837. The county is named after the
On February 26, 1838, just
three days before the first Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting on March 1, 1838, W. W. Shepperd
purchased four tracts of land from John Corner containing a total of 2,426 acres. One of these tracts was Tract
No. 4 which contained 212 acres of land. These 212 acres are located immediately south of the two hundred
acres Shepperd had purchased from William C. Clark on September 15, 1835. See Deed of John Corner to Wm. W.
Shepperd, Montgomery County Clerk, Deed Volume A, pp. 21-28.
The tract described as Tract No. 4 in this deed is important.
On March 1, 1838, W. W. Shepperd will donate a one-half undivided interest in 200 of these 212 acres of
land to Montgomery County. Tract No. 4 will later be known in future deeds and documents as the
“Town Tract” or the “Montgomery Town Tract.”
At the first meeting
of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on March 1, 1838, through his agent C. B. Stewart, W. W. Shepperd
donated an equal half undivided interest in the Town of Montgomery and sixty acres of pine land adjoining
the town to the county. "[I]t being put to question whether said donation should be accepted it was
unanimously received— and the question being also whether the place of the Town presented by C. B. Stewart as
agent for W. W. Shepperd should be received the same was also unanimously received and
The site selected as the county seat is the same land
purchased by W. W. Shepperd from John Corner three days before on February 26, 1838. Later historians will
describe this as “the new town of Montgomery” or “the town on the hill.”
Note: As these records clearly prove, no one named Jacob
Shannon, Owen Shannon, Margaret Montgomery Shannon, James Montgomery, William Montgomery or Andrew Montgomery
had anything to do with the founding of the trading post, the "old town of Montgomery" or the “new town of
On July 7, 1922, Edmund B. Stewart of Montgomery, Texas,
wrote a letter to Mrs. J. W. Brosig of Navasota, Texas. Historians in the town of Montgomery and in Montgomery
County have cited this letter for decades to prove the provenance (history of ownership) and authenticity of
Charles Bellinger Stewart’s original drawing of the Lone Star flag of Texas. Edmund B. Stewart was the son of
Charles B. Stewart and his second wife. This letter originally appeared in a newspaper article, “Original Flag
of Texas Shown Here Tomorrow,” in the August 11, 1922, Daily Examiner in Navasota, Texas. This July 7, 1922 letter was the letter in which Edmund B. Stewart transferred
the original drawing of the Lone Star flag drawn by Charles B. Stewart to Mrs. Brosig to display in her hardware
store in Navasota.
Edmund B. Stewart wrote,
"There were at that time a few
of the descendents of the original settlers of this county who came with their parents to this section as
colonists, but were altogether ignorant of the organization of the old 'principality' of Montgomery. My
father came to Texas in 1829 and joined Austin's colony at San Felipe. Came to Montgomery and settled near the
town in 1837. W. W. Shepperd was the first to have a store at the old town of Montgomery under the
hill. It was later moved to its present situation. My father, through his father-in-law, W. W.
Shepperd, donated 100 acres of land for the purpose of building a court house and jail (log house)....I am
enclosing to you for your inspection the original draft of the flag of the Republic of Texas. The work was
without question the work of my father ..."
See the Dr.
Charles B. Stewart Family Papers, MSS
0150, Houston Metropolitan Research Center (Texas Room, Julia Ideson Building), Houston
Public Library, Houston, Texas. Also see 1997 House Resolution
No. 1123 in which the Texas House of Representatives of the 75th Texas Legislature officially
commemorated Montgomery County, Texas as the birthplace of the Lone Star Flag of Texas.
I recently discovered that the Anna Landrum Davis history
essay, "Old Montgomery" was actually written in 1925. The Edmund B. Stewart letter to Mrs. J. W. Brosig
pre-dates the Anna Landrum Davis history paper by three years making his letter the earliest account. It is
the family history of a member of the C. B. Stewart household. There were only three men that had an active role
in the founding of the trading post and the town of Montgomery: W. W. Shepperd, J. W. Moody and C. B.
Stewart. Though this family history is a secondary source, it is reliable in that it is the family history
of a member of the household of one of those intimate with the actual details of the earlier trading post and
the founding of the town (C. B. Stewart was married on the two hundred acres where the trading post was located
and he lived in the “old town” of Montgomery). Edmund B. Stewart’s letter is also well corroborated by a large
number of primary historical documents. I know what some of you are going to say, “Kameron is relying on a
secondary source.” Yes, but it is a very reliable secondary source in that it is very well corroborated by so
many primary sources unlike the Montgomery Trading Post myths which are corroborated by nothing.
Where many Montgomery County historians seem to have
made their mistake is in assuming that the two hundred acres of land on which the present town of Montgomery was
founded was the northwestern most corner of the John Corner League. Under this assumption, the land north of
town would be the Owen Shannon League. But, as we have seen, this is not the case. The two hundred acres due
north of the “Montgomery Town Tract” is actually on the John Corner League.
It is extremely important to note here that Town Creek is
located on the John Corner League and not on the Owen Shannon League. It is another detail repeated in almost
every version of the Montgomery Trading Post myth that is completely
wrong. See Montgomery County maps 83 and 86 by Hodge
Mason Maps, Inc. in the Montgomery County Appraisal District Office in Conroe, Texas. These maps show
the City of Montgomery as well as the boundary lines of the John Corner League and the Owen Shannon
League. These two maps show that, after leaving the Benjamin Rigby League, Town Creek is on the John Corner
League for its entire length.
The history of the Lake Creek Settlement, the Indian trading
post and the town of Montgomery are no longer a matter of opinion or “what we like to believe.” The early
history is now based on real primary historical documentation dating from the time period, written and executed
by the earliest settlers and residents.
Just as the Montgomery Historical Society endeavors to
preserve actual historic buildings, I am endeavoring to preserve actual history. Toward this end, I will be glad
to work with anyone to preserve the true history of the Lake Creek Settlement, the Indian trading post, the “old
town” of Montgomery and the “new town” of Montgomery. This generation of historians truly has the opportunity to
do something the so-called “old timers” did not. We can get it right! Are you with me?
P.S. All of the deeds mention in this article can be found online at the “Indian Trading Post and Town of
Montgomery” link at TexasHistoryPage.com.
This article originally appeared in the April 29, 2009 edition of the Montgomery County
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