Daniel Montague


    When Nathaniel Journey joined General Dyer’s campaign to “punish the Indians” in 1838, the more prominent figure on the Fannin County scene, after  John Hart, was Daniel Montague (pictured below).

    According to historian Steely: After Montague’s aggression, “seemingly without provocation,” killing several Indians near Warren:

    Samuel Washburn became perhaps the first victim of Indians in Fannin County. He was killed near Bois d’Arc Creek on April 29, 1838, the same week the first campaign to the Trinity River Indian villages took place.... On their fourth day out the ninety whites attacked a few Indians in their village and Hart collected a few scalps.... 

By now the settlers were hearing that Mexican agents were inciting the Indians to make trouble.


    1838 May 28: Brigadier General John H. Dyer

“forming a defense” was in charge of the Texas Militia’s Fourth Brigade. He sent scouts west for information on Indian activities and in September reorganized his forces. The Second Regiment would be led by Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Montague; under him Captain Journey’s company of forty-one men served between September 14, 1838 and March 13, 1839. Captain Robert Sloan’s company had thirty-two men; all moved out toward Pilot Grove Creek. Dyer himself also led an expedition later described as “a hard trip for no purpose only to convince the Indians that we could come to their hiding places.” He joined Montague’s forces at Pilot Grove, then they moved to the Clear Fork of the Trinity. When they returned home in mid-October the Indians “were reassured that the white men could not carry on a campaign in the prairies.”

    1841 July 14: Daniel Montague received title to land he purchased from Journey in 1836. In three installments starting in September 1845 and ending on February 1, 1849, Montague sold this land to John D. Black: 847 acres for $907, plus 320 acres “on a judgment obtained by John Emberson,” and 2,193 acres with a warranty clause, “Against all persons unless it should be claimed by virtue of an old Spanish grant, in that case I will not defend.” In 1843 Black also bought adjacent land, the entire headright of L. B. Franks, “assignee of Siraco Contes.” After 1850 much of the Franks/Contes land will become the Smith Plantation.

    Writing of John Black in 1917, the Masons’ committee regretted “inexpressibly our utter inability to write a perfect history of so noble and interesting a character on account of the paucity of necessary information.... Brother Black...was a noted planter and surveyor on Red River...held...an immense quantity of the virgin lands....”

    “Reset” now for Lora B. Tindall’s view of Daniel Montague:

    Colonel Daniel Montague, whose name is synonymous with the early growth of north Texas, should be remembered as one of the most stirring and energetic men of the time.  It was said that all women found him attractive; even though, he was not a handsome man.

    Daniel Montague, the son of Richard Montague, was born in South Hadley, MA, 22 August 1798.  After receiving a good education as a civil engineer and professional surveyor, he left MA and became a successful surveyor in Louisiana.  During the next fifteen years, he married, became the father of six children, and owned a plantation with many slaves.

    Upon hearing of the fall of the Alamo and the massacre at Goliad, he left his family in Louisiana and hastened to Texas.  By the time he reached Texas, the Battle of San Jacinto had been won.  He returned home to take care of his business and bring his family to Texas.

    In the fall of 1837, Colonel Montague settled his family at Old Warren, an abandoned trading post established by Abel Warren, about where Ambrose, TX, now stands.  This was not far from the Dugan family homestead.  Along with his family, he brought a number of slaves.

    He immediately began construction of a house that was the marvel of the region for its beauty and convenience.  It had two large rooms with a wide hall between, side rooms, and a front porch.  This put his log house a notch or two higher in the scale of aristocracy.  The logs were “finished off” and the cracks chinked with mortar smoothly put on.  The whole inside and outside was treated to a coat of whitewash.  The puncheon floor, made extra smooth, was something few homes had.  There was, of course, the deep and wide fireplace for warmth and cooking.

    The year of Montague’s arrival in Warren, saw the creation of Fannin County from Red River County.  The new county embraced numerous present counties including Grayson, Collin, and Cooke Counties.  In 1838 Warren was chosen as county seat of Fannin County.  Later it was moved to Bonham, which is the present day county seat.

    On the Fourth of July, 1839, the house completed and the family settled in, the Montagues held a grand ball and house warming.  Invitations were sent out and around about to friends and acquaintances as far as Honey Grove and Preston Bend to attend this important event, perhaps the first ball ever for Fannin County.  (This area had not yet been divided into Grayson County.)  Extensive preparations were made by the settlers to attend.  “Biled” shirts came up from the depths of the family chests; forgotten finery saw the light once more; and “bar’s grease” went up in the market immediately.

    Turkeys, chickens, pigs, and wild game of all kinds were cooked by the wholesale in every style known by the backwoods culinary art.  All other edibles to be had, flanked by drinkables, from persimmon beer to something a little stronger, were provided.  For two days and nights mirth and good cheer reigned supreme.  For a little while troubles and anxieties were forgotten.  The lads and lasses tripped the light fantastic toe to the music of fiddles and during the intervals, when the musicians were tuning up and putting a “little more rosin on the bows”; what a flutter there must have been among the rustic belles at the call of “choose your partners.”  The memory of whistling bullets and yells of savages was lost amid the intricate mazes of the “Virginia reel” and the inspiring sounds of “Monkey Musk.”

    As surveyors were the most hated among the new-comers by the Indians, Daniel’s scalp became a special trophy for the Indians to seek.  His red hair only added to the prize.  It became necessary for him to organize the settlers to protect themselves against the Indians.  So he was engaged much of the time in active Indian warfare.  In 1846, he joined the army and commanded a company in the Mexican War known as “The Red River Volunteers.”

    When not engaged in military service, he surveyed land for the government.  He was paid in land grants and in this way, he accumulated a vast amount of land extending from Fannin County to the present town of Haskel.

    In his travels to survey and to record his findings, he brought back to the settlers, the news of the surrounding territory.  He also met many interesting people.  They and their friends were often guests in the Montague home.  You might say, Daniel Montague was a link between the settlers and the rest of the world.

    Daniel was a leading merchant at Warren, which was a principal trading post with the Indians on both sides of Red River.  In 1838 he built with William Henderson a merchandise store at Warren.  During this time, he was homesteading a large claim near Warren.  His trading with the Indians and leading active warfare against them, may sound contradictive; but many Indians were on good terms with the settlers.  Most of the trouble was from renegade bands.  Yet some of the Indians killed in the raids proved to be “friendly” Indians who had worked and traded with the settlers.

    Montague’s wife died by 1840.  On 14 November 1841, he married for a second time.  His new bride, Miss Mary Pierceall Dugan, daughter of his neighbors, Daniel [1784-1861] and Catharine (Vaden) [1789-1866] Dugan, was born 11 August 1819, in Greene County, IL, and had come to Texas with her family in 1836.  An account of the wedding is mentioned in the book, “Indian Depredations in Texas,” by Wilbarger.  Colonel Montague and Mary Dugan were married on a Sunday afternoon (at Dugan Chapel), a large number of relatives and friends attending and witnessing the ceremony.  On Monday morning after breakfast, the wedding party left for Warren, the bride accompanied to her new home by her brother George and her sister Emily....  [Mary Pierceall’s brother, Daniel Dugan, along with William Kitchin, had recently been killed by Indians, on July 27, 1841.]

    Daniel and Mary (Dugan) Montague became the parents of two children:  James Montague, born 1843, died 1844, and Catharine Montague, born 1845, died 1851....  [from another account:  Mary Montague came down with the “lung fever,” and died 15 December 1846.  She and her children are buried in the Dugan family cemetery.  (Mary Montague and her sister, Emily Whiting, died the same day of the same disease, likely flu or pneumonia.)]

    The last battle with Indians in Grayson County is said to have occurred in 1843 in a large grove of trees just south of the present town of Sherman, on the old road to Howe.  A band of Indians had been moving about the country to rob the settlers and steal their horses.  The Indians chose this grove of trees to make camp for the night.  Col. Montague, with a group of settlers, followed the Indians to the grove and attacked in the early morning killing sixteen Indians, which was most of the band.  There was a legend afterwards that said so much blood spilled on the grass, the flowers the next year were all red in color.  The grove of trees has been called “Montague’s Grove” since that time.

    Sometime after marrying for the third time on 1 August 1848, Daniel and his new wife, Jane Shannon, moved westward.  Their home was four miles northwest of Gainesville, TX.  He had a daughter by this marriage, Elizabeth Montague, who became the wife of W. C. Twitty.  Twitty was a captain in the mounted volunteers, Confederate Army, formed 22 May 1861, in Gainesville, TX.

    Colonel Montague, a dyed-in-the-wool Confederate, was so devastated by the outcome of the Civil War that he left the United States of America to live in old Mexico.  He located in the Tuxpan River Valley and remained there eleven years.

    Upon the death of his son, Daniel Ross Montague, he returned to Texas, aged and feeble, to spend the remainder of his days with his only living child, Elizabeth Montague Twitty.  (Daniel Ross was likely a child from his first marriage.  Nothing is known of the other five children.)

    While on a visit to a friend at Marysville, Cooke Co., TX, Col. Montague was stricken with pneumonia and died 20 December 1876, at 78 years of age.  Throughout his life, he was a consistent Christian and an active member of the Methodist Church.

    Montague County, which was organized the first Monday in August 1857, was named for Colonel Daniel Montague, surveyor, Indian fighter, pioneer, and colorful personality.