Montgomery thrived as a river port for many years, but by 1902 when the first railroad was built, river trade had declined; and the town gradually moved east about two miles to the railroad station, which was then called Machen but later was renamed Montgomery. Old Montgomery's beautiful bluffs contain fossil beds which have attracted national attention. In 1982, a fossilized whale, estimated to be forty million years old, was excavated by geologists. Those beautiful bluffs are now hidden from view due to stabilization of the river with locks and dams. A curve in the river at the bluffs was straightened in the 1980's and left a sand bar between the bluffs and the river. Willow trees quickly covered the sand bar. They grew rapidly to block the view of the bluffs. The town, when I left it in 1951, according to the 1950 census, had a population of 1150 but by 1980 it had dropped to 650 people. It has a high school and a junior high school (which was formerly the Negro School). Elementary School children are now bussed to Verda, LA for integration purposes. Its closeness to Iatt and Nantachie Lakes make it attractive to sportsmen and retirees.
Our forefather, Alexander Brock, lived near Montgomery when it was still located on the river. His sister Nancy married Abel Deen. They had a son, Dan, who led a group of vigilantes to eliminate a band of murdering night riders known as The West-Kimbrell Clan. Dan and Jim Maybin travelled to the state capitol to see the govenor in an effort to get the Malitia to come and rid Winn Parish of these marauders. The Governor, Henry Clay Warmoth, could not comply with a request from their neighbor, Jim Mabin, who asked that he send the Militia to hunt down these marauders, but he did sign forty blank pardons for the vigilantes. The names would be filled in later. A book entitled "Nightriders" details the history of the West Kimbrell clan, who murdered many people. Most of these people were passing through Winn Parish on their way West over the El Camino Real (a road of sorts), also known as the Natchez Trace, Three Notches Road, and locally known as the Old Harrisonburg Road. They robbed these travelers, murdered them, and threw many many bodies of men, women, and children in secret wells. Some of these wells were located at Wheeling, LA near the graveyard at Mt. Zion where the bodies of the Wilson Family are buried.
Alexander Brock was one who was pardoned by Governor Warmoth, in advance, to eliminate the West-Kimball Clan. Levi Spikes Sr., whose son Levi Jr. would later marry a sister of Carroll C. Wilson, was also a member of the Vigilantes. The two of them helped hunt down and execute the West-Kimbrell clan. Alexander Brock was fifty nine years old when he "got himself in a heap of trouble" by answering a neighbor's call for help. Dan Dean's mother had sounded a call for help one night by blowing a Conch shell, which she normally used to call workers in from the fields. Dan had been ambushed at his home by the West Kimbrell Clan because he wouldn't join them and knew too much to be left alive. The Clan had left by the time Alex and other neighbors arrived. But the Clan knew who responded and who could testify against them. This they would not tolerate.
A few days later, on Easter Sunday 1872, Alex was taken captive by the West-Kimbrell Clan in Atlanta, LA, along with his second wife, Matilda Ann Rogers Brock, her brother Greenberry Rogers and several others. They were tied up by their thumbs to the rafters. The Clan planned to kill them later to keep them from being around to testify against the Clan. They were being held hostage in the Masonic Lodge while the leader of the Clan, John West, went to Mt. Zion Church to attend to his duties as Sunday School Superintendent. What a hypocrite! He had always kept up an appearance of being a solid citizen.
Laws Kimbrell and Lec Ingram were left to watch the prisoners in Atlanta. But they were lax in their duties, watching from across the street at Collier's Store and Saloon. The prisoners were able to escape with the help of Dan Dean. When Dan cut the prisoners down, Alexander Brock, Greenberry Rogers, and the other men allowed as how they would join the vigilantes. Later that day thirteen of the Clan members were gunned down nearby, by a firing squad of vigilantes, mostly young men who were still in school. Alex was not a member of the firing squad. However, in days to come he did help hunt down other members of the Clan. I don't know the exact details, but I do recall my Daddy telling me about the hunt for the rest of the Clan. Some were hanged and some were shot.
Details of the West-Kimbrell Clan are reported in a book entitled "Nightriders"
Inside Story of The West and Kimbrell Clan, by Richard Briley III. My copy
was published by Dogwood Press, Rt. 2 Box 3270, Woodville, Texas 75979
(Telephone: 409 837 5519).