Isaiah Montgomery and the founding of Mound Bayou mississippi

Mound Bayou traces its origin to freed African Americans from the community of Davis Bend, Mississippi. Davis Bend was started in the 1820s by planter Joseph E. Davis (elder brother of former Confederate president Jefferson Davis), who intended to create a model slave community on his plantation. Davis was influenced by the utopian ideas of Robert Owen. He encouraged self-leadership in the slave community, provided a higher standard of nutrition and health and dental care, and allowed slaves to become merchants. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Davis Bend became an autonomous free community when Davis sold his property to former slave Benjamin Montgomery, who had run a store and been a prominent leader at Davis Bend. The prolonged agricultural depression, falling cotton prices, flooding by the Mississippi River, and white hostility in the region contributed to the economic failure of Davis Bend.

Isaiah T. Montgomery led the founding of Mound Bayou in 1887 in wilderness in northwest Mississippi. The bottomlands of the Delta were a relatively undeveloped frontier, and blacks had a chance to make money by clearing land and use the profits to buy lands in such frontier areas. By 1900 two-thirds of the owners of land in the bottomlands were black farmers. With the loss of political power due to state disenfranchisement, high debt and continuing agricultural problems, most of them lost their land and by 1920 were landless sharecroppers. As cotton prices fell, the town suffered a severe economic decline in the 1920s and 1930s.

Shortly after a fire destroyed much of the business district, Mound Bayou began to revive in 1942 after the opening of the Taborian Hospital by the International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor, a fraternal organization. For more than two decades, under its Chief Grand Mentor Perry M. Smith, the hospital provided low-cost health care to thousands of blacks in the Mississippi Delta. The chief surgeon was Dr. T.R.M. Howard, who eventually became one of the wealthiest black men in the state. Howard owned a plantation of more than 1,000 acres (4.0 km2), a home-construction firm, a small zoo, and built the first swimming pool for blacks in Mississippi.

The following newspaper story of a killing in Mound Bayou Mississippi


Isaiah Montgomery Participated in Fu
neral of Riley Griffin, Shot and
Killed by Negro at Mound
Bayou Slayer Escapes.

Mound Bayou. Riley Griffin, a white
farmer, was shot and killed here by an
unknown negro, who has made his es
cape. Consensus or opinion among
whites as well as the negroes has been
since the killing that it was done in
elf-defense aa both Griffin and his son
were said to have been drinking and at
tacked the negro, who wa-s a ticket seller
in front of a negro carnival show.
Both negroes and white citizens of the
county nave joined to suppress any inti
mation of violence since the crime, and
the funeral of Griffin, the victim. Isaiah
Montgomery, negro, founder of the negro
town of Mound Bayou, participated in
the funeral.
The white victim of the tragedv was
buried in the city cemetery. Mayor
Creswell of Mound Bayou was requested
by the family of the dead to superin
tend the making of the grave. Attend
ing the- funeral was a delegation of ne
gro citizens from Mound- Bayou, headed
by the venerable Isaiah Montgomery.
And now comes the unusual happening
for the South a really Unheard of thing
m Mississippi. At the grave of the vic
tim, just before “Ashes io ashes and dust
to dust” was solemnly Baid, the white
minister called upon Isaiah Montgomery,
the man who founded the town in which
this white man was killed by a negro but
two days before, to make some remarks,
which he did, speaking appropriately.

Persistent link:

Published book to pay college expenses
negroe student who hoboed from Mississippi adops unique method to defray his expenses.
Boston MA April 27th 1911
Edward J Smyth Jones

who beat his way here last summer from his home in Mississippi in order that he might prepare for Harvard University,
has published a book of his adventures entitled the Sylvan cabin..Jones was arrested on his arrival here and
charged with vagrancy but dismissed from custody by judge Arthur P Jones associate justice of the third District Cour
t in Cambridge and as a graceful Remembrance of his benefactor he inscribed the book for the judge.

.Persons who have become interested in the young Mississippian when they heard of his long journey in order to get an education,
secured a position for him as a janitor at Harvard University. He is now at the boys Latin school preparing for Harvard
and hopes to realize enough money by the sale of his book to finish his education in the University.


Edward Smyth Jones (1881-1968) was born in Natchez, Mississippi to slave parents. In 190
he brought out a book of poems under the pseudonym Invincible Ned entitled The Rose That Bloometh in My Heart (1908). … Google Books

Originally published: 1911