Daniel Montague, pioneer surveyor, state senator, and foreman of the jury involved in the Great Hanging at Gainesville, son of Seth and Rachel (Smith) Montague, was born at South Hadley, Massachusetts, on August 22, 1798, the third of nine siblings. His moved to Vermont after 1800, and he was educated as a surveyor and engineer. As a young man he moved first to Ohio; in 1819 he and a younger brother, Rodney, went to Virginia to work for some eighteen months in the Kanawa Salt Works. Then Montague traveled down the Mississippi and settled in Louisiana, where he worked as a surveyor and established a plantation. He moved to Texas in 1836 to assist Sam Houston but arrived after the battle of San Jacinto. He then returned to Louisiana to settle his business affairs and in 1837 brought his family to Texas to settle at Old Warren in the Fannin Land District on the Red River. He and William Henderson built a general merchandise store at Warren, probably in 1838. As the first surveyor of that district he amassed a large estate. Montague became a leader in the settlers' fight against the Indians. In 1843 he led the attack in what was said to be the last Indian fight in what is now Grayson County; the grove in which the Indians were killed came to be known as Montague's Grove. Montague was a member of the Snively expedition in 1843, and during the Mexican War he served as a captain of volunteers in the Third Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, under the command of Col. William C. Young. By 1849 Montague had moved to Cooke County, where he was employed to survey the county boundaries and locate the county seat. He was listed as a farmer in the 1850 Cooke County census. Afterward, he continued his work as a surveyor and amassed extensive landholdings in Cooke, Grayson, Collin, Fannin, and Montague counties. He was elected district surveyor in 1854, Cooke county commissioner in 1858 and 1862, and state senator in 1863.
When the Union League of Texas was discovered in Cooke County in 1862, Montague was one of the twelve men selected by a citizens' group to serve on a jury for the event that came to be known as the Great Hanging at Gainesville. He was elected by his fellow members to preside over the jury. After the Civil War, with his wife and son, Daniel R., he moved to the valley of the Tuxpan River in Mexico. He was the only juror to escape being tried during Reconstruction for involvement in the Great Hanging. In September 1876, after his son died, he returned to Texas to live with his daughter and her husband, Elizabeth and William Carroll Twitty, near Marysville in Cooke County. Montague was active in the Methodist Church. He was married four times, first to Rebecca Covington McDowell, who died on January 15, 1831. In this marriage he had three children, only one of whom survived to adulthood. On May 11, 1833, Montague married Mrs. Sarah Margaret Ross Grilling, who died on March 21, 1841. They had four children. On November 13, 1841, he married Mary Dugan; they had two children, neither of whom survived infancy. Montague's fourth wife was Jane Elizabeth Shannon, whom he married on August 6, 1848; no children were born to this marriage. Montague died on December 20, 1876. Montague County, where he had served as surveyor, was named in his honor.
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Sam Hanna Acheson and Julia Ann Hudson O'Connell, eds., George Washington Diamond's Account of the Great Hanging at Gainesville, 1862 (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1963). Michael Collins, Cooke County, Texas: Where the South and West Meet (Gainesville, Texas: Cooke County Heritage Society, 1981). Richard B. McCaslin, Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1988). George William Montague, comp., History and Genealogy of the Montague Family of America (Amherst, Massachusetts: Williams Press, 1886).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Margaret P. Hays,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed July 01, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
May 1, 1995