I have been asked on several occasion why I have
put so much time and effort into exposing the many errors in the
Montgomery Trading Post myth. There are three reasons why I have
researched, studied and exposed the Montgomery Trading Post myth in so
every historian who has written a history of the town or county of
Montgomery, Texas, has included the story of the Indian trading post
that preceded the town of Montgomery. Montgomery County historians
have considered the story of the Indian trading post very important
to the history of the town and the county since they began writing
Since 1925, almost every historian has used the Indian trading post
to try and explain the source of the name of the town and the county
of Montgomery. A so called Montgomery Trading Post has been offered
by these writers since 1925 as the source of the name of the town
Third and Most
Importantly: With the
exception of the basic core truth (i.e. that there was an Indian
trading post that preceded the town of Montgomery about a half
mile north of the town below the hill on the creek), the Montgomery
Trading Post Myth is not true! There was never a Indian trading
post anywhere in the vicinity of the present town of Montgomery,
Texas known as the Montgomery Trading Post. The dates that have
been offered are wrong. The alleged founders of the so-called
Montgomery Trading Post are all wrong. In some versions of the
Montgomery Trading Post myth, the location of the trading post is
also wrong. Most versions of the Montgomery Trading Post myth also
have many other details ascribed to them that have absolutely no
basis in fact.
In this section we will
look at the origin of the Montgomery Trading Post myth and its
evolution over time. First, we will look at a brief synopsis of the
true details of the actual Indian trading post that preceded the
founding of the town of Montgomery, Texas. We will then look at the
first documents that began to fictionalize the history of the trading
post by substituting erroneous details for the true facts. Beginning
with the oldest documents that mention the trading post, we will watch
the trading post's ownership, location, date of founding and other
details evolve over about an eighty year period (1925-2008).
in fact an Indian trading post that preceded the town of Montgomery,
Texas. Founded in 1835, it was located about a half mile north of the
present town of Montgomery under the hill on the creek that later
became known as Town Creek. Click here to read
the detailed history of
the Indian trading post that became the town of
In reality the name I
have given the Montgomery Trading Post myth is a misnomer. There is
not just one Montgomery Trading Post myth. There are as many
different versions of the Montgomery Trading Post myth as there are
authors who previously wrote histories about the Indian trading post
that preceded the town of Montgomery, Texas. As we will see, each
historian changed the story a little. Some of these historians
changed the story a lot.
In reading their
histories of the Indian trading post they call the Montgomery Trading
Post, it becomes eminently clear that each of these historians either:
did not care to do
any historical research,
assumed that the
historical research had already been done,
assumed that there were
no primary sources to be consulted or
had been told traditions
and legends so convincingly that they assumed there was no reason to
validate their accuracy.
As these historians did
not look at primary sources with regard to the trading post, they were
not confined by the actual facts and could freely speculate as
creatively they pleased.
Montgomery Trading Post Myth
Definition of myth
(noun) - a fictitious narrative presented as
historical but without any basis of fact.
Over the last 80 years
or so, numerous theories have been postulated regarding the early
history of the Town and County of Montgomery, Texas. Speculation as
to the origin of the name of the Town and County of Montgomery,
Texas has often been included in these theories. These theories have
evolved and culminated into what this author denominates the
"Montgomery Trading Post Myth."
the Montgomery Trading Post Myth, a trading post known as Montgomery
Trading Post was owned and operated by one or more of the following
people: Jacob Shannon, Owen Shannon and/or Margaret [Montgomery]
Shannon or Andrew Montgomery. According to the myth, the Montgomery
Trading Post was located a half mile north or northeast of the present
town of Montgomery on the Owen Shannon League near what is now known
as Town Creek OR the Montgomery Trading Post was
located a couple of miles west of the present town of Montgomery at
the intersection of Loma del Toro and Lower Coushatti Trace. [Note
the various historians cannot even agree on details such as ownership,
location and years of operation.] The "Montgomery Trading Post Myth"
further alleges that the lands around the Montgomery Trading Post were
known as Montgomery Prairie or Montgomery Settlement and that the Town
of Montgomery derived its name from this place and subsequently the
County of Montgomery derived its name from the town. Additionally,
there are as many variations in the other details regarding the
Montgomery Trading Post myth as there are historians who have written
This article will prove
the Montgomery Trading Post myth is not true. All the recent
histories of Montgomery County, Texas are wrong.
The Town of Montgomery and Montgomery County, Texas were NOT
named after Jacob Shannon, Owen Shannon, Margaret [Montgomery]
Shannon, William Montgomery or Andrew Montgomery! Furthermore,
the town and county of Montgomery were
not named after any place known
as Montgomery Trading Post, Montgomery Settlement or Montgomery
Prairie. Those places never existed.
The evidence will also
show that no one named Montgomery or Shannon had anything to do with
the founding of the Indian trading post or the town of Montgomery,
Texas. The evidence will also show the founder of the town of
Montgomery had no reason to name the town after anyone named Shannon
In the Timeline below we
will start with the true story of the Indian trading post and work our
January 1, 1831
- William C. Clark Purchased
600 Acres from John
September 15, 1835
- W. W. Shepperd Bought
200 acres from William C. Clark
W. W. Shepperd Founds
Indian Trading Post
Shepperd founds Indian
July 8, 1837
- Town of Montgomery Founded
by W. W. Shepperd
"Old Town" of
W. W. Shepperd and his
partner J. W. Moody found the town of Montgomery of Montgomery on the
200 acres W. W. Shepperd purchased from William C. Clark in 1835.
- Citizens of Washington County Petition
for the Creation of a New County
14, 1837 - Montgomery County is Created
Commissioners appointed to select county seat of Montgomery County.
Commissioners select the "old town" of Montgomery as the first county
seat of Montgomery County. county business is conducted by county
officials including Chief Justice Jesse Grimes and Clerk and Recorder
Gwynn Morrison in the "old town" of Montgomery in February of 1838.
February 26, 1837
- Shepperd Buys 212 Acres
from John Corner
200 of 212 acres. Tract No.
4 = "Town Tract"
3 days before first Commissioners court meeting
March 1, 1838
- First Montgomery County
The "New Town" of
March 1, 1836.
- Major John Wyatt Moody Dies in Houston
Telegraph and Texas Register.
- W. W. Shepperd Dies in Montgomery
- C. B. Stewart Dies in Montgomery
July 7, 1922
- E. B. Stewart Writes Mrs. Brosig
"...entirely ignorant of the
the 'principality' of Montgomery..."
W. W. Shepperd
founded the Indian trading post. W. W. Shepperd in partnership with
J. W. Moody founded the "old town of Montgomery. W. W. Shepperd in
partnership with J. W. Moody and through his agent, C. B. Stewart
founded the "new town" of Montgomery. These three men who were the
only three men intimate with the details of the founding of the
trading post and the town all died by 1885. Those who did not know the
details of the genesis of the trading post, the town and its name,
began to speculate and guess. Erroneous details began to slip into
the history as people began to make up details to fill in the blanks.
And the Montgomery Trading Post myth was born.
The Montgomery Trading
Post Myth is Born
- Anna Landrum Davis Essay
In 1925, Anna Landrum
Davis wrote an essay, Old Montgomery, for a Statewide local
history contest called the Caldwell Prize. Influenced by her aunt,
Mary Davis, and another woman named Lulu Shannon, Anna Landrum Davis,
a senior high school student, would be the first to write a version of
the Montgomery Trading Post Myth.
Document - Old
Montgomery Essay written for Caldwell Prize - Won 5th place. (To
read more about it, do a Google book search: "Anna Landrum Davis
Montgomery County Texas". See University of Texas Bulletin, No 2546,
Dec 8, 1925 - The Texas History Teachers Bulletin, Volume XIII, Number
1, pp 42-47.)
Contentions regarding the Trading Post
Changes in Montgomery Trading Post myth:
- Davis substitutes Jacob Shannon for W.
W. Shepperd and establishes the Montgomery Trading Post myth.
- Maintained that the trading post or
town receive its name from someone named jams Montgomery and his
wife, Margaret Montgomery.
May 1, 1938 -
Mary Davis History Paper
Written for the Senior History Class
(See Early History of
Montgomery, written by Mary Davis at the request of the Senior
Amongst Oldest - Mary Davis
There is a "book" (its
really a ring binder) of materials transcribed by Lloyd A. Biskamp in
1998. The Montgomery Historical Society sold these books as a fund
raiser back in 1998. Biskamp had gotten together with Bessie Price
Owen and Anna Landrum Davis Weisinger and they let him transcribe many
of their "histories" and other documents they had collected over the
years regarding Montgomery County history. These documents included
papers and articles written by Mary Davis.
On page 1 of the book
is the Early History of Montgomery "written by Mary Davis at
the request of the Senior History Class," May 1, 1938.
On page 5, the copy of the Mary Davis paper that was given to Lloyd A.
Biskamp had a note written by Mary Davis to Bessie Price Owen that is
Now keep in mind the
1938 Mary Davis history paper will be quoted and relied upon by just
about every historian that follows Mary Davis for almost 80 years
including W. N. Martin, William Harley Gandy, Robin Montgomery, Harry
G. Daves, Jr., Bessie Price Owen, etc. as well as a number of
compiled county histories. Most of her statements about the trading
post will be accepted as fact and later evolve into the of Montgomery
Trading Post myths we have today.
At the end of the Mary
Davis paper, Early History of Montgomery, transcribed by
Lloyd A. Biskamp in his 1998 book, Old Montgomery we find
this very amazing note from Mary Davis to Bessie Price Owen on page 5:
"Bessie: I am
sending you this to read.
It is not a history,
and I don't think you will care to copy it.
pretend to write a history, and I don't
know who changed this title, when copying it.
strung along my memories of what my mother and others had told me,
interspersed with "scraps" that I thought 16-year-old boys and girls
I learned later
from Matilda Rankin that the Charles Jones Academy was chartered
before 1850. And Old Dan Tucker was not written until sometime
after this period. I knew that at the time, and I meant to
substitute another tune later when I could find one that was popular
Mrs. Dewey Dikeman
has a copy of this, but I am sure you will not lose it. Keep it
until you have read it and copied anything you like.
This is extremely important!!!
The author of
one of the single most influential histories in Montgomery County
history wrote Bessie Price Owen a note and specifically told her that
not a history" and that she
pretend to write a history." Mary
Davis then goes on to make it very clear to Bessie Price Owen that she
just "strung along my memories of what my mother and others had told
me." Combined with the references to the Charles Jones Academy and
Old Dan Tucker, it is obvious that she did no primary research. The
whole thing is based on pure hearsay.
And in my
research on the Indian trading post, the "old town" of Montgomery and
the "new town" of Montgomery, I never ran across Mary Davis' mother,
Melissa Landrum, as one of those having anything to do with the
organization of the trading post or the town. In fact it appears that
Melissa Landrum was born in 1834. She was 1 when the trading post was
founded by W. W. Shepperd in 1835. Melissa Landrum was 3 when the "old
town" of Montgomery was founded in 1837 and she was 4 when the "new
town of Montgomery was founded in 1838. When W. W. Shepperd sold his
interest in the town to James McCown in 1839, Melissa Landrum was 5.
influential historian of her time (Mary Davis), just admitted to one
of the most influential historians of her time (Bessie Price Owen)
that her history paper was not a history. She admitted it had errors,
was based entirely on hearsay. She put together a bunch of
stories that she thought would interest a class of teenagers. Instead,
she influenced every historian and history that came after her. Mary
Davis died in 1944. The pen is mightier than the sword. Look at all
the trouble Early History of Montgomery has caused. In
1938, Mary Davis did not have a clue as to the effect her paper would
have. She just thought she was trying to get some teenagers excited
about the town's early history.
Davis had relied on her aunt, Mary Davis, when she wrote her paper in
1925. In 1949, the Montgomery County Historicade will rely on
this 1938 Mary Davis paper almost word for word. In 1950, W. N. Martin
will rely on this 1938 Mary Davis paper. In 1952, William Harley Gandy
will rely on this 1938 Mary Davis paper. Following the founding of the
Montgomery Historical Society in 1955, The Choir Invisible
will be published and will not only rely on the 1938 Mary Davis paper,
but will quote it word for word in many places throughout the
And we see
here in this note from Mary Davis to Bessie Price Owen that Mary Davis
herself did not even consider the 1938 paper a history: "It is not a
history." "I didn't pretend it was a history..." "I just strung along
my memories of what my mother and others told me."
- W. N. Martin Master's Thesis
Sam Houston State
William Harley Gandy Master's Thesis
University of Houston
Mid to Late 1950's
- Montgomery Historical Society
Published The Choir Invisible
- Robin Montgomery Book
The History of
Published in 1975, The History of Montgomery County by Robin
Montgomery was the first history of Montgomery County published in