The name of Montgomery, is one which has been honorably connected with the history of this county. Two brothers by that name came to America as soldiers in the British army, at the time of the Revolutionary war. It is related that they sympathized with the cause of the colonists, instead of that of Great Britain, and at the first opportunity went into the American army, and thenceforward, fought bravely against British tyranny and oppression. One of these was Thomas Montgomery, the grandfather of the subject of this biography. He was in the Continental army till the close of the war, and was present at Yorktown, and saw the surrender of Cornwallis; the last great act in the seven years struggle of the colonies for independence. Thomas Montgomery was a cousin, it is said, to Gen. Montgomery, who commanded the hazardous expedition against Quebec, and gained a reputation for gallantry and bravery, unexcelled by that of any other officer in the American service at the time of his unfortunate death. Thomas Montgomery settled in Virginia, and afterward emigrated to the state of Kentucky. Mr. Montgomery's father, William Montgomery, was born in Virginia, and at the time the family went to Kentucky, was a boy of ten or fifteen. The Montgomerys were among the pioneer settlers of Nelson county, Kentucky. William Montgomery was raised in nelson county, and on reaching manhood, determined to move still further west. He accordingly came to Illinois, and settled in Madison county. The time of his coming to this state is not exactly known, but he was living in Madison county during the war of 1812, and was a soldier in one of the companies of rangers organized for protection against the Indians, who then roamed undisturbed over the whole county to the north of Madison county. He married Sarah Rattan, who was also born in Kentucky. Rattan's prairie, a well-known district of country in Madison county, took its name frm the father of Mr. Montgomery's mother, who was an early settler there.
John Montgomery, the second of a family of twelve children, was born on Rattan's Prairie on the 7th of February, 1817. At the time of his birth, Illinois was yet a territory with the seat of government at the little French town of Kaskaskia. It was not admitted in to the Union as a state, till the succeeding year. The white settlements at that date, had scarcely extended beyond the northern limits of Madison county, the remainder of the state being wild and uninhabited, except by Indians and wild beasts. His father lived in "Rattan's Prairie", six miles from Edwardsville till his death, and Mr. Montgomery was raised in that vicinity. The schools were of a rough and rude character, and only the commonest opportunities for obtaining an education were at his command. He never attended a free school in his life, such institutions being the product of the civilization of a later day. He lived with his father till 1839, and then came to Macoupin county and settled on section four of township seven, range eight, where his father had entered land the previous year. He went to work to improve this land, and has been living at the same place ever since. He was first married on the 15th of October, 1848, to Mrs. Mercy H. Eavens; her maiden name had been Mary H. Loveland, and she was born in Rhode island, May 23d, 1824. At the time Mr. Montgomery moved to Brighton township, it was a wild and unsettled country, and he is now one of the oldest citizens of the southwest part of the county. His first wife died January 15th, 1862. His second marriage occurred on the 11th of September, 1866, to Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson, formerly Miss Elizabeth Johnson; her father was Reuben Johnson, and she was born in Wayne county, Indiana.
In politics he is an old democrat, and on general elections has never voted any other than the democratic ticket. He cast his first vote for Van Buren in 1836. He has a farm situated in the northern part of Brighton township, containing five hundred and ninety-six acres, which is made up of a fine and valuable tract of land. An illustration of his farm and residence appears on another page. He has four children, whose names in the order of their ages are as follows: Thomas J. Montgomery, who is now living in Colorado, Maranda A., the wife of A. D. Wood, of Woodburn; John P., and Mary Alice, who are living at home. He has been one of the substantial farmers of Brighton township, and during the forty years he has resided on his present farm, he has witnessed wonderful changes in the development and growth of the surrounding country. The prairie was then uncultivated except along the edges of the timber; now it is covered with magnificent farms, and costly improvements in the way of residences and buildings. In all this progress he has taken a part with the others, for he is a man of enterprise, and fortunately has accumulated sufficient means to enable him to take life easily and comfortably. He has never been a candidate for any public office, and it has better suited his tastes to lead the quiet and retired life of a farmer.