Isaiah T. Montgomery


Isaiah T. Montgomery was born on May 21, 1847, on Hurricane Plantation, Davis Island, Warren County, Mississippi. He was a slave of Joseph E. Davis, the elder brother of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Isaiah's father, Ben Montgomery, was afforded the opportunity to educate himself at the Davis plantation, and he made sure that each of his children had the same opportunity, including Isaiah.

In his youth, Isaiah T. Montgomery served Joseph E. Davis as a valet and also as a private secretary, copying correspondence and recording plantation accounts. During the Civil War, when the Union began its final attack on Vicksburg, Montgomery was employed by Admiral David Porter as a Union gunboat porter. He was also present at the battle of Grand Gulf and the surrender of Vicksburg.

As an adult, Isaiah T. Montgomery worked for his father at the cotton mill, Montgomery and Sons. Although the cotton mill experienced early success, it was later plagued by financial problems and eventually closed. Isaiah T. Montgomery later owned and operated his own cotton mill and manufacturing company.

Montgomery was the only black delegate to the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1890. He was appointed receiver of public money for the United States Land Office, Mississippi Division, in 1892; however, Montgomery later resigned due to allegations of financial mismanagement. He served as a commissioner of the Atlanta Exposition in 1895. Montgomery and Booker T. Washington organized the National Negro Business League in 1900. He was also a land agent for the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad. Montgomery established the town of Mound Bayou in Bolivar County, Mississippi. He died on March 7, 1924.

Bio courtesy Mississippi Department of Archives & History

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