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Black Settlers of Mound Bayou Had Skills Needed to Build Town - page 2 / 4





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Management Skills Isaiah acquired his father's management skills and went to work in Joe Davis's office when he was 10 years old. While working there, he soon learned how to keep books. After Emancipation, Isaiah's father used his savings to buy a general-merchandise business in Davis Bend, Mississippi, which he named Montgomery & Sons General Store. In 1868, the Montgomery family bought Hurricane, the very plantation on which they once had lived as slaves.

Men who are in earnest are not afraid of consequences.

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    Marcus Garvey

After the L.N.O. & T. Railroad Company acquired thousands of acres of land in the rich Delta region of Mississippi, the railroad's owners asked Isaiah Montgomery to act as their land agent. For his services, they were willing to pay him on a commission basis. Isaiah staked out a proposed town site and enthusiastically began selling plots of land. His first clients were people he knew who had expressed a desire to relocate.

Sales Skills

Being a good salesman, however, Isaiah did not wait for buyers to come to him. He traveled throughout Mississippi and several other states distributing fliers and handbills publicizing the town plots and surrounding farmland. Through eloquent speeches, he tried to get as many blacks as possible to see the value of working to build for themselves and their families since they were free from the restrictions of slavery. What greater value, he asked them, could there be than having the chance to own their own property? Such a proposition, he preached, would open up new opportunities for them and their children for generations to come.

Among his first land purchasers were his cousins Joshua Montgomery and Benjamin Green. Both of these men possessed skills and experience that would prove to be very helpful in the development of the new town. Joshua was born a slave in 1854. After Emancipation he apprenticed to study law and engineering. Later he practiced both of these professions. Green, who had also been a slave, lived with the Montgomery family for a while, acquired commercial skills, and became manager of Montgomery & Sons.

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