At the southernmost part of the Great Valley of Virginia lies the quiet old village of Fincastle, seat of Botetourt County. The history of Botetourt dates back more than two hundred years to 1769. As one of the earliest settlements west of the Blue Ridge, the town of Fincastle was founded in 1772.
Fincastle was one of the first communities in the vastly sprawling area of newly formed Botetourt County that included all of Kentucky, part of Ohio, most of Indiana and Illinois, and stretched as far as the Mississippi River. The settlement, first known as Miller's Mill, was soon to be named Fincastle and was chosen as the county seat of Botetourt. Fincastle was far more than just a county seat in those days; it was virtually the western capitol of Virginia. Through it went many of the pioneers moving west. Fincastle was the last place where adequate supplies could be purchased before the great plunge into the wilderness and the expansive, mostly unknown territory of the western frontier.
Historic Fincastle Today
Fincastle has been the seat for Botetourt County since the town's founding by the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1772. It is currently a town of about 350 people and is a living museum of American architecture from the late 1770's. Both the county courthouse and the museum are filled with records of families who migrated through the Shenandoah Valley on their way south and west. The center of town, Courthouse Square, contains the famous courthouse reportedly designed by Thomas Jefferson. It is only one of many contributing buildings to the Historic District that has both state and national historic places recognition.
The grandson of a Virginia frontiersman, Henry Montgomery is thought to have been born in either Rockbridge or Botetourt County Virginia in 1837. Traditional family history claims this branch of the Montgomery family may have common ancestors among the Monacan or Cherokee native American Indian tribes. Henry and his wife, Rebecca Ann Sorrell Montgomery, were married in Rockbridge County on February 18, 1861 just prior to the beginning of the American Civil War. They raised a family of twelve children in what was at that time a very sparsely populated Allegheny Mountains area of western Virginia. Henry is consistently listed on United States census records as a farmer. Details of Henry's family connection with other more well known Montgomery families in the Rockbridge – Botetourt vicinity of Virginia has not currently been well documented. Henry Montgomery died in 1895 from complications of an eye injury he received during his military service. Henry's wife Rebecca passed from this life on June 19, 1929 in Botetourt County, Virginia not far from the place where she was born. Henry is buried at Mount Joy Cemetery in Botetourt. Rebecca is buried at Wesley Chapel Cemetery, also in Botetourt.
Wesley Chapel Cemetery, Botetourt, Virginia
Clan Montgomery Society International
Richmond Family Ancestry
West Virginia Division of Culture and History
USGS National Map Viewer
Find A Grave
Binn's Genealogy, Early Virginia Tax Lists
Library of Virginia
Library of Congress
Samuel W Montgomery and Elizabeth Bowman, Franklin County, Virginia
For nearly twenty years I have delved into researching the families of Botetourt, Virginia. Much of this time involved the quest for further information on my Montgomery line. Over the past two years my efforts have been concentrated on discovering all I could about Samuel W Montgomery of Franklin County, Virginia because my research had led me to believe my own line was closely related to the Montgomerys of Franklin County.
As most good researchers know, LDS sites, like Ancestry, Family Search, RootsWeb, etc., will accept and publish any genealogy file which is uploaded to their system by members. Personal data files should only be considered a starting point for further research and often do not offer the necessary source citations to track back where the information actually came from.
Every published account of the Montgomerys of Franklin County I have seen can eventually be traced back to a report delivered to a Montgomery family reunion at the farm of Thomas Franklin Montgomery in Franklin County, Virginia by Rebecca Montgomery Maiden in 1934. Her work, of which I have a copy, is completely unsourced. Though it is a beginners tool for generations following Samuel and Elizabeth Bowman Montgomery, it cannot in any conceivable way be considered a definitive source of information regarding the parentage of Samuel Montgomery. Nor does it offer any source for the existence of more than a single spouse for Samuel. Mrs. Maiden's work was later plagiarized in published accounts, the most notable a book garnering the name of a noted historian, Marshall Wingfield, which consisted of his research papers printed posthumously by friends of his widow. In this book, titled "Pioneer Families of Franklin County Virginia", portions of Mrs. Maiden's report are presented practically word for word.
Beginning in 2009 I set about gathering every original piece of source material I could find about Samuel Montgomery and Elizabeth Bowman. Here is what I know as fact.
Samuel W Montgomery was born in Virginia sometime between 1771 and 1793. I think 1779 may well be an accurate guess. He married Elizabeth Bowman at Franklin County, Virginia 30 September 1805. This is the date of the Marriage Bond. He was recorded on the 1810 through 1860 federal census records of Franklin County, Virginia. His household never included any children which cannot be accounted for other than two daughters for which names have not been positively verified. Some claim these daughters were named Delilah and Annie. I have found nothing to proof their names. His known children - all named in his last will and testament - were John, Elizabeth, Samuel, James, Andrew, Joel, Hannah, Lydia, Eli and Sarah.
In determining Samuel's birth year the following information from federal census records must be taken into account:
Samuel W Montgomery birth range according to census records
1810 - birth between 1766 and 1784
1820 - birth between 1776 and 1794
1830 - birth between 1771 and 1780
1840 - birth between 1771 and 1780
1850 - age reported as 57 placing birth abt 1793
1860 - age reported as 81 placing birth abt 1779
Samuel W Montgomery wrote his last will and testament on 21 April 1857. All his children were named beneficiaries, with caveats extending through the life of his spouse, Elizabeth, and his unmarried daugher, Elizabeth. He named Jacob Flora Jr as executor. It was signed and sealed, then witnessed by John Jamerson [Jamison], Jacob Flora Jr, Richard C Drury, and Isreal Flora. Samuel's LW&T was presented and proven in Franklin County court on 5 November 1860. The Rev Mr Jacob Flora Jr having refused administration of the LW&T, Samuel's sons, Andrew Jackson and Joel assumed this responsibility after posting $3000 bond.
Samuel's widow, Elizabeth, lived until at least 17 June 1880 when she was recorded on the federal census record for Franklin County, resident in the household of her son Joel along with his family. Her age is noted as eighty-eight years.
In Rebecca Montgomery Maiden's report of 1934, she enumerates all the generations of Samuel and Elizabeth's offspring save one. The only detailed mention she gave to son Samuel was,
'Samuel, son of Samuel went to Southwest Virginia, then Illinois. No further information.'
Recently I have researched all Samuel Montgomerys born in Virginia from year 1800 to year 1820. I looked at every Samuel in Virginia and every Samuel in Illinois. After careful and considered evaluation I arrived at the conclusion that the only Samuel who fit the profile of this son Samuel, was Samuel Montgomery, born 1811, who resided all of his adult life in Botetourt County, Virginia. Using this information, my cousin, Margaret and I eventually contacted a 2nd great grandson of Samuel and Elizabeth who still lives in the area south of Boones Mill, Virginia where Samuel lived. His pedigree leading back to Samuel and Elizabeth is impeccable and fully proven. He agreed to submit yDNA samples to Family Tree DNA at our expense. The final results of the sixty-seven marker yDNA test revealed a near perfect match to our Montgomery yDNA. The only variation was on marker DYS640 where we varied by a single step. This marker, which is so far unique to the Botetourt family of Montgomerys, from a field of about one hundred J2 haplogroup Montgomerys, is thought by many to be a recent mutation, occurring in the past two or three generations.
My original research, in tandem with the yDNA results, have convinced me that the Botetourt Montgomerys are descendants of the Samuel mentioned in elder Samuel's LW&T.
Regarding the parents of Samuel Montgomery of Franklin County - Samuel is indicated on both the 1850 and 1860 federal census as born in Virginia. This is slightly ambiguous on the 1860 census, as the enumerator only indicated all on page were born in Virginia. Samuel's stated place of birth is completely unambiguous on the 1850 federal census where the enumerator placed the word "Virginia" next to Samuel's name.
It is widely reported that Samuel was born in Rockingham County, North Carolina of parents Samuel and Miss Wood Montgomery. This information also comes from Rebecca Montgomery Maiden's report. At the time of Samuel of Frankin's birth, Rockingham County may not have existed. Rockingham formed from Guilford County in 1785. Further, an examination of North Carolina tax and census records reveals no Montgomerys resided in Rockingham County until 1830. And no Samuel Montgomery resided in Guilford County, North Carolina, parent county of Rockingham, who would fit the profile for father of Samuel. At this time I think it best if his parents are stated as "UNKNOWN". Further research may eventually reveal Samuel's parentage.
The middle initial "W" is found on the LW&T of Samuel. There is no indication this stands for "Wood" and could just as easily be for "William".
Note that an Abraham Gossett is found in Franklin County, Virginia on the 1820 federal census. His household includes nine people total, including several young children. None of these children can be found in the household of Samuel and Elizabeth Montgomery of Franklin starting in 1830. All Montgomery children on later census records, including the two daughters whose names are uncertain but thought to be Delilah and Annie, can be identified by name.
The Montgomery Pedigree
Bloodline: The Evidence
This link to "Bloodline: The Evidence" is presented here for those interested in the ancient history of the Montgomery family and does not constitute, and should not be misconstrued, as an endorsement of the information contained therein.
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