James Montgomery, Kansas Free-Stater
by Frank W. Blackmar (1912)

Montgomery, James, pioneer and soldier, was born in Ashtabula county, Ohio, Dec. 22, 1814. He was a cousin of Gen. Richard Montgomery, who fell at the storming of Quebec in 1759. He received an academic education and in 1837 went to Kentucky, where he was for a time engaged in teaching school. While there he joined the Christian church and became a minister of that denomination, but later in life espoused the doctrines of the Adventists.


In 1852 he removed to Pike county, Mo., with his family, and a year later he went to Jackson county, in order to be ready to enter Kansas as soon as the territory was organized and the lands opened to settlement. Some of his friends, among whom was Dr. Thornton, knowing him to be opposed to slavery, persuaded him to go to Bates county, Mo., by telling him that he could obtain as good land there as he could in Kansas.

He accepted their advice, but quickly became dissatisfied in Bates county and returned to his original resolution to settle in Kansas. Accordingly he purchased a claim from a pro-slavery settler about 5 miles from the present town of Mound City late in the year 1854. It was not long until he was recognized as a leader by the free-state men of that locality. In 1857 he organized and commanded the "Self-Protective Company," which had been formed to defend the rights of the anti-slavery settlers, and backed by this company Montgomery ordered some of the most rabid pro-slavery citizens to leave the territory.

After their departure, he settled down to improve his claim, but later in the year some of the free-state men of Bourbon county, who had been expelled by George W. Clarke in 1856, returned to take possession of their homes along the Little Osage river. They met with opposition, and called upon Montgomery for assistance. In December he took the field with his company and created so much disturbance that Gov. Denver found it necessary to order a detachment of soldiers to that part of the state to preserve order. In 1859 he was a candidate for representative in the territorial legislature, but was defeated by W. R. Wagstaff.

On July 24, 1861, he was mustered into the Union army as colonel of the Third Kansas infantry, but was transferred to the command of the Second South Carolina colored regiment, with which he made a raid into Georgia. This regiment, with Col. Montgomery in command, distinguished itself at the battle of Olustee, Fla., Feb. 20, 1864. After the war he returned to his home in Linn county, Kansas, where he died on Dec. 6, 1871. During the border troubles preceding the Civil war, some of his men would frequently indulge in plundering their enemies, but Montgomery never was a party to such proceedings. One writer says: "He died poor, although he had abundant opportunity to steal himself rich in the name of liberty."

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