Montgomery, Joseph Addison
Correspondence of the family of merchant Joseph Addison Montgomery, Natchez, Mississippi, son-in-law of the Rev. James Smylie, pioneering Presbyterian minister of Mississippi, 1820-1834

Group of 5 letters, 13 manuscript pages, folding letter-sheets, dated 8 May 1820 to 1 August 1834; some tears along folds, plus 1 manuscript “Deed Pool,” dated 4 August 1806, between Alexander Halle and Tench Coxe, Esq., of Philadelphia, for a “tract of land containing four hundred acres, situated on the north branch of the Little Juniata, on the north side, including several springs, leading into the Little Juniata about two miles from the mouth thereof…”

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Description of Correspondence:


The five letters offered here are family letters of Joseph Addison Montgomery, including one letter written to him by his wife, Amelia Smylie; one written to him by his brother James, one letter written to Amelia Smylie by her cousin Emeline; and one letter written to the Rev. Smylie by a friend, John P. Watson. There is also one other letter written to the President of Mississippi’s Oakland College. The letter details are as follows:


1 letter of Amelia F. Montgomery to her husband Joseph Addison Montgomery at Natchez, Mississippi, dated Pine Grove, [MS], 8 May 1820.


1 letter of John P. Watson, of Adams Co., MS, to the Rev. James Smylie, Pine Grove, MS, dated 24 October 1825.


1 letter of James H. Montgomery, of Morgans [?], to his brother, Joseph Addison Montgomery, c/o Rev. James Smylie, Centerville P.O., Amite Co., MS, dated 14 August 1830.


1 letter of Emeline Fishey, of Retreat, [?], to her cousin Amelia F. Montgomery, at Centerville, Amite Co., MS, dated 25 Aug 1831.


1 letter of [P.B.] Harrison, of Natchez, MS, to “Parson Chamberlain, President of Oakland College,” MS, dated 1 August 1834, torn at folds, in three pieces. Parson Chamberlin would appear to be Jeremiah Chamberlain (1794-1851) an American Presbyterian minister, educator and college administrator. Educated at Dickinson College and Princeton Theological Seminary, he served as the president of Centre College in Kentucky from 1822 to 1825. He was founding president of the Presbyterian-affiliated Oakland College in Claiborne County, Mississippi, serving from 1830 to his death in 1851.


The letters offered here offer a glimpse at the domestic life of the Montgomery family of Mississippi, includes social history, family history, health and sickness, etc.





Rev. James Smylie (1780-1853) and Joseph Addison Montgomery (1807-1888)


Reverend James Smylie (1780-1853), a Presbyterian clergyman, was sent by the Synod of the Carolinas to Mississippi in 1805. He was organizer of the Washington (Pine Ridge) Presbyterian Church, Adams County (1807) and rector of the Bethany Church, Amite County. He was also an educator and planter (1809-1853). Smylie is said to be the 1st Presbyterian minister who settled permanently in Mississippi, and continued laboring as an evangelist from 1805 to his death in 1853. He was educated in Guildford Co, North Carolina, by Dr. David Caldwell and licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Orange in October, 1804.


In 1829, at Myrtle-Heath Plantation, Amite Co., Mississippi, Rev. Smylie’s daughter, Amelia Farrar Smylie (1812-1877), married Joseph Addison Montgomery (1807-1888), son of the Reverend William Montgomery, rector of Ebenezer and Union Presbyterian churches, Jefferson County. During the early years of her married life, the couple lived in Wilkinson and Amite counties.


The Rev. Montgomery and the Rev. Smylie were friends prior to Amelia marrying Joseph. Amelia was born on Myrtle Heath Plantation in Amite County and inherited Belmont Plantation in Claiborne County from her maternal uncle, James Cotton.


Joseph Addison Montgomery was a merchant of Natchez, the owner of Belmont Plantation near Port Gibson, Claiborne County, Miss., and a commission merchant in New Orleans. In 1846, Montgomery moved to New Orleans and was associated with C. C. Lathrop, cotton brokers, and in 1847 became an independent broker. In 1859, his family moved to Belmont Plantation near Port Gibson, Claiborne County and in 1888 Joseph Montgomery died at Port Gibson and was buried in the Wintergreen Cemetery in that town.


Montgomery had at least two brothers, Samuel and Jonathan E., of Jefferson County; and at least one sister, Elizabeth.


Joseph A. Montgomery and his wife Amelia had at least thirteen children: James Smylie Montgomery m. Olive Scott; Anah (Anna) Jane Victoria Montgomery F (1832-); Alice Cornelia Montgomery (1833-1841); Mary Emaline Montgomery (1834-1844); Eliza Montgomery (1839-1844); Wm J Montgomery M (1841-); Augusta Montgomery F (1842-); Samuel Cotton Montgomery (1845-1925), he was a Confederate veteran and served with the 8th Mississippi Calvary in the Forest Brigade; J C Montgomery M (1846-), he may have attended Oakland College, Mississippi; Mathew B Montgomery M (1849-); Alexander Thomas Montgomery (1850-); W L Montgomery M (1853-); and Julia E Montgomery F (1856-58).


Joseph Addison Montgomery died in 1886, his wife predeceased him in 1877.


Sample Quotations:


“Adams County, Miss – Oct 24th, 1825

Dear Sir:


Suffer me to drop a few lines to you to let you know how times pass with John P – In the first place I have to say that since the first day I came to Pine Ridge I believe my health has been improving. I may say that myself and little family has not been a day sick since the time we got over the fatigue of coming here. Our little son is a port little red headed boy his name if you know it not is Samuel William. Although we were so much blest with health our neighborhood has been a good deal afflicted though I think not in proportion to the population here as I have known there with the exception of Washington and Natchez. I believe they are on the mend both in Washington & Natchez. You have heard no doubt of the death of Samuel [Postlethwaite], Dr. Ferguson, and Mrs. Hunter, Dr. Foster with many others. Mr. Hunter bears his trials well he seems to take it as though it was for some wise purpose for good people in the neighborhood are generally well. I believe I had rather live up here than down in Amite, in all probability I will stay here another year. People are more-friendly here than there. Set apart connections I am better satisfied than I expected to be before I came, my prospects for a good crop were as flattering as I ever saw, about 1/3 or 1/4 of cotton [rotted] which will clip me short of what I should have made. I have got gathered 90,000 of cotton. I think I have 50,000 more to gather, great complaint of rot except at James Bislands, your mother-in-laws and Mr Cowns quit crops, expecting Witherspoons Bailing did you not find it with Capt. W. Jackson.


The particulars respecting Witherspoons killing his wife and what has become of him, the particulars about my friend Dr. Smith what his health has been and what doing and why he has never answered my letters, the health and welfare of your mother…Nathaniel and family John’s children, your own family including [Jared] Robeson. I expect mother in law is quite uneasy about us. If you will have an opportunity of sending her word, please let her known we are all well. If you had your improvement you have there on your land there my impression it would be more to your advantage if I knew how you and my friend Dr. was, I would have something to say to you both about some of the ladies of Adams County this may be out of season I say no more about it only I have one a piece picked out for you.


With this I conclude my respects to all who may enquire after J. P. Watson …”


“[Retreat], August 21st 1831

Dear Cousin,


Your kind and affectionate letter was received last evening just after I had commenced writing to you. Your kind advice and sympathy was accepted with gratitude, by one who feels that she needs the kind admonitions and advice of dear friends to remind her of her duty both to God and man. I fear that I too often forget myself and murmur because of the affliction that is sent upon me, and may the Lord in his infinite mercy forgive these sinful regrets for I feel them to be sinful when I think of the happiness that my dear husband is now enjoying in another and better world and the pain and misery he might be in were he in this world again. O my dear cousin what a comfort it is to the friends of the departed, to feel assured that they were Christians, to think of the happiness that they are enjoying in eternity. This and the hope of soon meeting him again where there will be no more parting, or sorrow, cheers my saddest hours and makes me feel happier than I otherwise should.


I am glad to hear that your boy is so healthy. I am very anxious indeed to see him. Our family are all well at present & the neighborhood is generally healthy. There has been considerable sickness in Rodney, but only one or two cases proved fatal.


We heard from Uncle Mathew’s family last week they were all well, some of Uncle J. Watson’s family had been quite sick but were convalescent. Uncle J. himself has become a cripple caused by an unruly cow hurting him in some way. Cousin James M has been quite sick but is getting better, cousin John A. and Mr. W Montgomery I believe are quite well.


We expect to start a Sabbath school at the College next Sunday. I have been requested to take a class and I think I shall do it. I expect to pay you a visit before very long; if your Pa comes up to Presbytery, I hope to be able to return with him. I should be very glad if you would come up with him.


Tell Alexander that Smylie and John are well and often speak of him, and wish that he was here with them, his little puppy has been quite well and as playful as ever until with a few days past he has been sick, but Smylie thinks that he is getting better, he says it has caught one or two rats since Alexander left here. I wonder how Alexander got along without his sweetcakes if he has missed his watermelon seeds yet, he left them all on the bureau the morning he started.


I believe I have written all the news that I can think of…I remain your affectionate cousin, Emeline Fishey”