Historically Yours: Montgomery County and its organization

Elizabeth Davis
Special to Boonville Daily News

Montgomery County is in the east central part of Missouri and was organized on Dec. 14, 1818, along with three other counties.

According to the US Census of 1820, its population was 3,074. It experienced continual growth until 1870 when it reached 16,850. For the next eight decades it declined until 1970 when the population hit 11,000. Since then, with the exception of 1990, Montgomery County has been making a come-back, reaching a population of 12,236 in the 2010 census. 

The county was named after Richard Montgomery who was born on Dec. 2, 1738, in Dublin. He was an Irish soldier who fought for the British during the French and Indian War.

After the war, Montgomery returned to Britain for health reasons, but in 1773, came back to the colonies where he married Janet Livingston and became a farmer. When the Revolutionary War began, he fought for the colonies. The Continental Army commissioned him as a Brigadier General in June 1775. After capturing Fort St. Johns and Montreal, he attacked Quebec City and was killed in battle on Dec. 31, 1775.

Montgomery City is the county seat and largest city. It was platted in 1853 and took its name from the county. It had a population of 1,165 in 1880. While its growth has varied over the decades, it had grown steadily since 1980 and reached an all-time high of 2,834 in the 2010 census. 

Montgomery County can boast a diverse list of entries on the National Register of Historic Places. Graham Cave, one-half mile north of Mineola, was the first to make the list Oct. 15, 1966. Pinnacle Lake Rock Shelter followed in 1969. Mount Horeb Baptist Church, High Hill School were listed in 1980 and Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows in 1982. Two homes and two business buildings make up the remaining nine places on the National Register. 

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News for over ten years. She has covered the Civil War, US history, and Cooper County history. In celebration of Missouri’s Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.davis@gmail.com.