Montgomery, established in 1719 as a French trading post, wasfirst called Bon Dieu Falls. The land on which it was located passedback and forth between Frenchmen and Spaniards and eventually became theproperty of General Thomas Woodward. Red River, which now flows by thebluffs at Montgomery, was originally Rigolette de Bon Dieu. Whenin 1832 the river changed its course between Shreveport and Alexandria,it took over Rigolettes channel, thus placing the trading post on the banksof Red River and enabling it to become a permanent settlement. GeneralWoodward purchased the land in 1840 and named the settlement Creola Bluffs,legend says, after an Indian girl Creola, whom he loved but could not marry. When the settlement was incorporated into a village, he changed its nameto Montgomery, supposedly for Creola's son Montgomery Woodward Rogers. I haven't been able to establish whether there is a relationship here toAlexander Brock's second wife, Matilda Ann Rogers.
Montgomery thrived as a river port for many years, but by 1902 whenthe first railroad was built, river trade had declined; and the town graduallymoved east about two miles to the railroad station, which was then calledMachen but later was renamed Montgomery. Old Montgomery's beautiful bluffscontain fossil beds which have attracted national attention. In 1982,a fossilized whale, estimated to be forty million years old, was excavatedby geologists. Those beautiful bluffs are now hidden from view dueto stabilization of the river with locks and dams. A curve in the riverat the bluffs was straightened in the 1980's and left a sand bar betweenthe bluffs and the river. Willow trees quickly covered the sand bar. They grew rapidly to block the view of the bluffs. The town, when I leftit in 1951, according to the 1950 census, had a population of 1150 butby 1980 it had dropped to 650 people. It has a high school and ajunior high school (which was formerly the Negro School). ElementarySchool children are now bussed to Verda, LA for integration purposes. Its closeness to Iatt and Nantachie Lakes make it attractive to sportsmenand retirees.
Our forefather, Alexander Brock, lived near Montgomery when it was stilllocated on the river. His sister Nancy married Abel Deen. They had a son,Dan, who led a group of vigilantes to eliminate a band of murdering nightriders known as The West-Kimbrell Clan. Dan and Jim Maybin travelled tothe state capitol to see the govenor in an effort to get the Malitia tocome and rid Winn Parish of these marauders. The Governor, Henry Clay Warmoth,could not comply with a request from their neighbor, Jim Mabin, who askedthat he send the Militia to hunt down these marauders, but he did signforty blank pardons for the vigilantes. The names would be filledin later. A book entitled "Nightriders" details the history of the WestKimbrell clan, who murdered many people. Most of these people werepassing through Winn Parish on their way West over the El Camino Real (aroad of sorts), also known as the Natchez Trace, Three Notches Road, andlocally known as the Old Harrisonburg Road. They robbed these travelers,murdered them, and threw many many bodies of men, women, and children insecret wells. Some of these wells were located at Wheeling, LA nearthe graveyard at Mt. Zion where the bodies of the Wilson Family areburied.
Alexander Brock was one who was pardoned by Governor Warmoth, in advance,to eliminate the West-Kimball Clan. Levi Spikes Sr., whose son Levi Jr.would later marry a sister of Carroll C. Wilson, was also a member of theVigilantes. The two of them helped hunt down and execute the West-Kimbrellclan. Alexander Brock was fifty nine years old when he "got himselfin a heap of trouble" by answering a neighbor's call for help. DanDean's mother had sounded a call for help one night by blowing a Conchshell, which she normally used to call workers in from the fields. Dan had been ambushed at his home by the West Kimbrell Clan because hewouldn't join them and knew too much to be left alive. The Clan hadleft by the time Alex and other neighbors arrived. But the Clan knewwho responded and who could testify against them. This they wouldnot tolerate.
A few days later, on Easter Sunday 1872, Alex was taken captive by theWest-Kimbrell Clan in Atlanta, LA, along with his second wife, MatildaAnn Rogers Brock, her brother Greenberry Rogers and several others. They were tied up by their thumbs to the rafters. The Clan plannedto kill them later to keep them from being around to testify against theClan. They were being held hostage in the Masonic Lodge while theleader of the Clan, John West, went to Mt. Zion Church to attendto his duties as Sunday School Superintendent. What a hypocrite! He had always kept up an appearance of being a solid citizen.
Laws Kimbrell and Lec Ingram were left to watch the prisoners in Atlanta. But they were lax in their duties, watching from across the street at Collier'sStore and Saloon. The prisoners were able to escape with the helpof Dan Dean. When Dan cut the prisoners down, Alexander Brock, GreenberryRogers, and the other men allowed as how they would join the vigilantes. Later that day thirteen of the Clan members were gunned down nearby, bya firing squad of vigilantes, mostly young men who were still in school. Alex was not a member of the firing squad. However, in days to comehe did help hunt down other members of the Clan. I don't know theexact details, but I do recall my Daddy telling me about the hunt for therest of the Clan. Some were hanged and some were shot.
Details of the West-Kimbrell Clan are reported in a book entitled "Nightriders"Inside Story of The West and Kimbrell Clan, by Richard Briley III. My copywas published by Dogwood Press, Rt. 2 Box 3270, Woodville, Texas 75979(Telephone: 409 837 5519).