A Success Story of African-American Entrepreneurship
(Excerpted from Making Money the Old-Fashioned Way by Aaron Bocage and George Waters, EDTEC, Inc., 2000, pp.31-34. Used with permission.)
The Montgomerys Settle Mound Bayou
Like others, blacks chose to settle new territories with their families and friends. This was true in the case of Isaiah Montgomery, who, along with his cousins, settled the town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, in 1888. Montgomery's family was a remarkable one, and young Isaiah proved to be a natural entrepreneur.
His father and mother, Ben and Mary, were slaves on Hurricane plantation in Warren County, Mississippi, which was owned by Joe Davis. Davis was the brother of Jefferson Davis, who later became President of the Confederate States during the South's secession from 1861 to 1865.
Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people
who prepare for it today.
Black Settlers of Mound Bayou Had Skills Needed to Build Town
Literacy Because Isaiah's father was literate, Isaiah learned to read and write early. Not all slaves were savagely treated, and Isaiah enjoyed a youth similar to those of many free blacks. Even during the period of slavery, Ben Montgomery was given the freedom to build a house and a store for his family on the Davis plantation. From his trading in merchandise, and by hiring himself out to others as a mechanic, Isaiah's father was able to pay Davis a regular sum of money, while still supporting his family.