Pioneer to 
The Connecticut Western Reserve

Thomas Montgomery

According to property records in Blandford, Massachusetts, Thomas' father, Robert, held land there until about 1790, when they moved to Harpersfield, NY.

Thomas is listed as the first permanent settler in the Connecticut Western Reserve, at Salem (Conneaut), Ohio, 1799, with his wife, Rebecca, and children Miriam, Benjamin, John, Margaret and Ruth, and friend Aaron Wright. The following year Thomas' Father, Robert, and the rest of  Thomas' brothers and sisters, except for brother (Rev.) Robert, Jr., came to the new land and settled in Conneaut.  His brother Rev. Robert came later.

Source: Aaron Wright related in 1841, in a dictated statement, "Sketch of the Early History of Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, as related by Aaron Wright, Esq.") that he and 
Thomas Montgomery first visited Conneaut Creek harbor in 1798. They went back to Delaware Co., New York, to gather the necessary provisions and then returned to settle in Ohio during the spring of 1799. The first settlers at Conneaut Creek included the Thomas Montgomery family, Aaron Wright, Robert Montgomery and family, Levi and John Montgomery, Nathan and John King, and Samuel Bemus.  Aaron Wright married Thomas' younger sister, Anna, when Anna was 14.

January 1804: Joined the Congregational Church at Austinburg, Ohio:  This is an entry in the diary of the pioneer preacher Rev. Joseph Badger:  "January, 1804. Wednesday, rode to Conneaut, twenty-four miles; Thursday, wrote journals and letters; Friday, preached; Saturday, made family visits and examined Thomas Montgomery and wife for admission to the church; Sabbath, preached twice, admitted the two persons into the church and baptized five of their children."  Source: CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH - The Story, Loral, and Past Historic Sketch of Local Churches.  Austinburg Congregational Church records show Thomas and Rebecca were received into membership in June 1804.

18 Nov 1808 - After being instrumental in the beginnings of Salem / Conneaut, OH, Thomas purchased property in Harpersfield Township, Ohio; Lot 76, except 4-1/2 acres, 50 134/160 acres, according to Jefferson County, Ohio, Recorder's Office Records.  
         Thomas' Lot 76 is purple on Map at right.  >
(Thomas' son Benjamin's Lot 108 is in yellow, Thomas' brother Levi's Lot 76 is in green.  The pink circle is the town of Harpersfield,.  The pink Lot  of Silas Brigham denotes an ancestor whose descendant cousin would later to marry a Montgomery descendant in 1906.)  

This Jefferson County Record differs slightly from the Chardon County, OH, Recorder's Office, vol. 4, pg 20, which shows the same Lot 76, but 46 126/160 acres, $300.00, from James Thompson.  (Subsequently purchased in Harpersfield Township, Ashtabula County, Ohio, was; “Levi Montgomery (Thomas' brother) purchased 100 acres, Lot 78, 1809.") 

On Incorporation of the Township of Madison, per the Clerk, "Pursuant to which, the citizens convened.  Abraham Tappan was chosen Chairman, Samuel Potter and John A. Harper, Judges, and Samuel Potter, Clerk.  The Officers elected on this occasion were Uriah Bartram, Asa Turney and Thomas Montgomery, Trustees, April 1, 1811."  Madison Library, Middle Ridge Road, Madison, OH.

According to Abraham Tappan's notes:  
"Thomas Montgomery settled in Madison (Twp), June 18, 1811."
"Thomas Montgomery was hurt by the fall of a tree, June or July 9, and had his leg amputated in consequence of the injury, in 1818."   NOTE:  His name does not appear on the Plat of the 100 acres dated 1820, but the name of son, John Harper, (J.H. Montgomery) appears.

So, Thomas and Rebecca settled in Madison Township, on Lot 9 Tract 9, approximately 100 acres or more (shown in purple on Map at right>), between April and June 18, 1811, with 8 of 10 children in tow.  This land was later owned and lived on by Mr. & Mrs. Oliver and Rachael Smead, ca. 1830-1878, and as late as 1880, as recorded on two Deeds dated 10-03-1864 and 04-24-1878, and in a speech given by General Abel Kimball to the Congregational Church in Madison, on March 4, 1880, about the "General History of the (Madison) Township", when Mr. Kimball wrote, Thomas had originally "pioneered on the land now lived on by the widow Rachael Smead".  The name Oscar Smead appears on Tax Maps for these 100 acres, in 1830, Rachael Smead in 1874.

Thomas Montgomery may have not owned, but rented (and paid the taxes before 1820 on) the 100 acres in Geauga / Lake County as that 100 acre parcel was sold after 1820 (1827) to an Oscar Smead, not by Thomas / John Harper Montgomery but by the ORIGINAL Land Owner / Speculator, Titus Street, who obtained the land (and about 24,000 other acres) in about 1797 from the Connecticut Land Company (Western Reserve) as part of the original sale of lands of the Reserve. Had Thomas Montgomery owned the land, his sale to Smead would reflect the names Montgomery to Smead on the record, not Titus Street to Oscar Smead.

On early Madison Township, Geauga County, Ohio, Religious Matters:
"July 29, 1814, a Congregational Church was organized at the log cabin house of Lemuel Kimball.  There were nine members, as follows: Jesse Ladd, Sr., John Cunningham, Thomas Montgomery, Rebecca Montgomery, Jesse Ladd, Jr., Ruby Ladd, Lemuel Kimball, Polly Kimball and Abigail Mixer.  Prior to the ordination of Rev. A. Hyde, August 1819, this church worshiped upon the south ridge.  After that time, and until 1830, the Middle Ridge was the place of their meetings, occupying for that purpose the Town Hall, then standing on Lot 1."

Thomas and Rebecca Harper Montgomery had the following children (of which is known):

  • Benjamin MONTGOMERY b: 1791 in Harpersfield, Delaware County, NY  
  • John Harper MONTGOMERY b: 1 Mar 1793 in Harpersfield, Delaware County, NY
  • Margaret MONTGOMERY b: 1794 in Harpersfield, Delaware County, NY
  • Ruth MONTGOMERY b: 14 Oct 1796 in Harpersfield, Delaware County, NY
                                                (photo at right>) 
  • Miriam "Minnie" MONTGOMERY b: May 1800 in Harpersfield, Delaware County, NY
  • Sarah MONTGOMERY b: 1801/1802 in Salem / Conneaut, OH 
  • Robert MONTGOMERY b: bet 1803/1805 in Salem / Conneaut, OH
  • Dyantha MONTGOMERY b: 8 Oct 1806 in Salem / Conneaut, OH  
                                 (photo at right>)
  • Clarissa MONTGOMERY b: 1808 in Salem / Conneaut, Ashtabula County, OH 
  • Eliza Lorraine MONTGOMERY b: 20 Sep 1810 in Madison Township, Geauga County, OH
(photo at right>)

According to 1820 US Census records, Thomas and Rebecca were living on the 100 acre farm with their son, John H(arper) Montgomery, in Madison Township, Geauga County (now Lake), OH, and had 6 girls in the household between the ages of 10 and 26, of whom three were, Dyantha, Clarissa and Rebecca. The other three young women are a mystery.  (J. H. Montgomery was listed as Head of Household on the Census.)  The US Census of 1820, Madison Township, Geauga County, OH, shows the following "head counts" and age groups which apply to those individuals known, as of 31 Aug 08, to be family members of Thomas and Rebecca and members of his son's family, that of John H. Montgomery.   Also shown below is each person's age and status as of 1820:

  • FWM 0 to 10 yrs - 1 = infant son of John H. William Harper b Dec. 29, 1819(?)
  • FWM 26 - 44 yrs - 1 = John H, age 27 (head of household, whose name is on Land Tax Map, 1820)
  • FWM 45 + up yrs - 1 = Thomas, age 53 (one leg amputated June/July 9, 1818)
  • FWF 10 to 15 yrs - 3 = Dyantha age 14, Clarissa age 12, Eliza age 10 (daughters of Thomas and Rebecca), all single as of 1820
  • FWF 16 to 25 yrs - 4 = Malinda age 21 (wife of John H) and 3 unknown females
  • FWF 45 + up yrs - 1 = Rebecca age 47 (wife of Thomas)

Other known older children of Thomas and Rebecca not in the "J. H. Montgomery" household, their ages and status, as of 1820:

  • Benjamin age 29 - married Atta Hill 13 January 1811 - not in above household
  • Margaret age 26 - married Jonathan Hill 15 April 1813 - not in above household
  • Ruth age 24 - married Cyrus Earle 8 December 1815 - not in above household
  • Miriam age 20 - married John Wood 1817 - not in above household
  • Sarah age 18 - married Jarvis Pike 1819 - not in above household
  • Robert (deceased 1819: accident from the felling of a tree)

Thomas' daughter, Miriam Montgomery Wood, is buried in Fairfiew Cemetery, 0.4 miles south of Madison Village Park, Madison (Township), OH, with her husband John Wood.  These two lived and raised a family just south of the Grand River, to the eastern edge of the Township of Madison.   
However, the graves of the earlier generation's Thomas and Rebecca do not appear on an index of graves for this cemetery.  

Fairview Cemetery may not date back far enough (on a Land tax Map dated 1874), except for many graves and stones moved to this cemetery (see above) from other resting places by the Township around 1854 and earlier.  See "History / Inscriptions / Section Map, Fairview Cemetery, Madison Village, River Street", as compiled by the LCGS (Lake County Genealogical Society - Ohio).  The original Fairview burying ground covered the areas now known as Sections B2, B3, and the south part of Section BB, and a strip on the south side of Section A2.  

Thomas' and Rebecca's graves are yet to be located (as of November, 2020).

The music background on this page is from the motion picture,
"Braveheart", that of  "Amazing Grace" 
done with bagpipes,
another title surely indicative of the courage our ancestors displayed in their nearly generational travels westward.
Dyantha Montgomery Follett, b. 1806
Ruth Montgomery Earl, 
b. 1796
^  1820 US Census, Madison Twp. 
^  1820 Madison Twp Tax Map, 100 ac. 
A Montgomery Family Genealogy
As recorded and developed by W.J. Montgomery
Eliza Lorraine Montgomery Collins, 
b. 1810