News from the Lake Creek Settlement:
Why the Montgomery Trading Post Is
Like a Chinese Menu
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 Edition
Montgomery County News
Many of you will recall the way the menus in Chinese restaurants used to let you
"Choose one item from Column A," "Choose one item from Column B" and "Choose one item from Column C." In each
column were a number of entrees from which to choose. Typically, you could only have one item from each column.
You would then tell the waiter which item you wanted from each column. If the item you wanted was not there,
you could order it special, but it would cost you extra.
As we have seen over the last three months, at least six writers have written about a so-called
Montgomery Trading Post. Anna Landrum Davis started us off with her essay "Old Montgomery" in 1925. Then came Mary Davis with
her paper for the Senior history class students in 1938. She was followed by W. N. Martin's master's thesis, "A History of
Montgomery" in 1950. William Harley Gandy then wrote his master's thesis, "A History of Montgomery County, Texas" in 1952.
Shortly after the Montgomery Historical Society was founded in 1955, it published the booklet, "The Choir Invisible." And
finally, Robin Montgomery published his book, "The History of Montgomery County" in 1975.
After the first of these accounts was written, an interesting phenomenon occurred. Montgomery
County historians began to treat the details of the so-called Montgomery Trading Post like they were ordering from a Chinese menu.
As these historians began to write about the so-called Montgomery Trading Post, they were presented
with all the different versions of the Montgomery Trading Post myth that had come before them. The details in these different versions
of the myth often conflicted greatly. No one had seemed to notice and no one had seemed to care that the important details of the story
changed from one historian to the next.
Rather than pretend to do any original research, the historians that came later simply began to pick
and choose the details they liked best from each of the previous versions of the Montgomery Trading Post myth like they were ordering
a meal from a Chinese menu. If they could not find what they wanted in a previous version, they would order a new item that was not on
the menu. Now there are plenty of entrees in each column to choose from.
What is there to choose from in the "Founders" column? Three of the above-mentioned historians served up
Jacob Shannon as the founder of the trading post. Two of the historians told us that Owen Shannon was the founder. One of the historians
advised us that Andrew Montgomery founded the trading post.
What is there to choose from in the "Date of Founding" column? One writer advises us that the trading post was founded
"about 1830." Another advises that it was founded in "1830." One of the writers says "mid-1830's." Another writer provides a different
decade all together and serves up "1823" for the date his trading post was founded.
What is there to choose from in the "Location" column? Three of these writers told us that a trading
post was located about a half mile north of town below the hill on Town Creek. One writer said it was located a mile northeast of
town on the creek that later became known as Town creek. One writer advised us it was located two miles northwest of town at the
crossing of two roads identified as the Loma del Toro and the Lower Coushatti Trace.
What do we have to choose from in the "Source of the Name of the Town and County" column? This is the bonus
column with seven appealing choices. You can choose from illustrious Revolutionary War Brigadier General Richard Montgomery;
James Montgomery and his wife Margaret Montgomery; Jacob Shannon's mother, Margaret Montgomery Shannon; Owen Shannon wife's maiden
name (Montgomery); a surveyor named William Montgomery; or a filibusterer named Andrew Montgomery.
With such variety on the menu, subsequent historians did no primary source research of their own; or
they assumed all the research had already been done; or they thought it would be more interesting to just pick and choose the
details they liked best from what was available from the writings of the earler historians. Or all of the above.
Now, anyone can have his or her own version of the Montgomery Trading Post myth. Just pick and choose what suits your
tastes from each column of the menu. And if what you want is not on the menu, you can make a special order. "Historian" have been dishing out new
versions of the Montgomery Trading Post myth since 1925 without any actual historical evidence whatsoever. No two histories regarding the
Indian trading post that preceded the town of Montgomery are the same.
As no real historical evidence has ever been required, you too can have your own Montgomery Trading Post
myth dished up any way you like it. Just like a Chinese menu.
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 27, 2009 edition of the Montgomery County
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