Montagues Led In Chattanooga Banking, Industry; Fine Homes Were Knocked Down On Cameron Hill

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - by John Wilson
D.P. Montague home on Cameron Hill
D.P. Montague home on Cameron Hill

One of Chattanooga's first banks opened after the Civil War's end was a project of two Northerners, who had first eyed Cincinnati for their First National Bank. The First National opened Nov. 15, 1865, in an unpretentious brick building between Third and Fourth streets. The founders were Theodore Giles Montague and William Perry Rathburn. They had moved on to Chattanooga because the Treasury Department was unwilling to grant another bank charter in Cincinnati. Chattanooga was suggested as a town with much potential and in need of a bank. The drawback was that it was a risky business to set up a bank in a war-broken community with "no livestock, farm tools or fences, not much merchandise in the stores and very few greenbacks around." A bank in Chattanooga just after the war "would be certain to find a host of borrowers, but few who could back up their loan requests with much collateral."

However, the two Northerners decided to make the gamble after securing backing from William and Tom Crutchfield, John King, former Union Army officer Timothy R. Stanley and several others. The first stockholders meeting was held in the law office of Stanley and Henderson, a frame shanty back of A.W. Lauter's saloon. A temporary location for the First National Bank was found in a brick structure on Market Street near Fourth.

The Montagues trace back to Drogo de Montacute, who was born in Normandy in 1045 and was part of William the Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066. The Montagues settled in Boveney, England, a hamlet on the Thames River 23 miles from London. Richard Montague, who was born there about 1614, made his way to Hadley, Mass., in 1659 or 1660. His parents were Peter and Eleanor Montague. The line went to John Montague, who married Hannah Smith, to Peter Montague and to Josiah Montague, who was born in 1727. His son, Giles Montague, was born in 1774 at Granby, Mass. He married Rachel Preston. Giles Montague fell dead on Oct. 13, 1817, at the age of 43. He was out harvesting rye on his farm. A marble slab was placed at the site, which was a half mile northeast of his house.

His son, Theodore Langdon Montague,  was born Aug. 21, 1801, at Granby. He moved to Ohio as a young man in 1825. A lawyer, he lived for half a century near Pomeroy, Ohio. He died in Chattanooga at the home of his daughter, Mrs. W.S. Marshall, on McCallie Avenue in 1880. His wife, Catherine Stivers, was born at Homer, N.Y. in 1822, and she also came to Ohio at a young age. She was living in Chattanooga at the time of her death in 1889. One of her relatives, Charles E. Stivers, was in charge of the commissary during the siege of Chattanooga. He afterward returned to the city and became head bookkeeper at the First National Bank. The Ohio native had left school at the age of 14 to go into a printer's office. He also served as a store clerk before enlisting in the Union Army in 1862. 

T.G. Montague, a son of T.L. and Catherine Stivers Montague, was born Dec. 8, 1836, in Chester, Ohio. He was educated at the Pomeroy Academy and afterward worked in a general store. He was offered a position as teller in the bank of Daniel and Rathburn at a annual salary of $300. His assigned duties were porter, collector, bookkeeper and teller. He enlisted in the 140th Ohio in 1863 and served as adjutant through the remainder of the war.

T.G. Montague became active in the Presbyterian Church at Chattanooga. Dr. Thomas H. McCallie wrote of T.G. Montague, "When he came to Chattanooga he was a young man. I was a young man, pastor of the Presbyterian Church. I remember the promptness and regularity with which he came to our services. He illustrated his fine qualities by sustaining and casting his lot with the good men and women who stood for righteousness. Later he assisted in organizing the Second Presbyterian Church of which he was an officer for many years. Honorable and upright, kind and genial, gentle and modest, Mr. Montague left an ineffaceable record."

T.G. Montague became president of the First National Bank upon the death of William P. Rathburn. Concerning his service of 40 years as a banker, Capt. A.J. Gahagan said, "No man did more to give encouragement to those in hard lines or to help in a business way the thousands who went to him for advice or financial help." T.G. Montague backed many promising Chattanooga ventures, including the construction of the Read House and the founding of the Chattanooga Medicine Company. He was a director of the Roane Iron Company, the Cahill Iron Works, the Lookout Water Company, the Chattanooga Gas Company, the Forest Hills Cemetery Company, the Chattanooga Pipe and Foundry Company, the Shelton Mills, the Crystal Springs Bleachery and the Columbian Iron Works.He once agreed to run for alderman when the city was in financial difficulty. At his suggestion the board served without salaries. He was the first president of the Tennessee Bankers' Association.  

T.G. Montague also was the principal financial backer of a new suburb east of town past the National Cemetery. This section was then "a dense thicket traversed only by a few cow trails." Montague and several of the developers were discussing a name for the proposed residential community when Montague said, "Why not call it Highland Park? It is 'high land.' "

When the New York Times printed a list of "the seven millionaires of Chattanooga" T.G. Montague was included. After T.G. Montague retired from the First National Bank, it merged with the Chattanooga National Bank. It kept the name First National Bank and remained in its longtime location at Eighth and Broad. He retired from the bank in 1905.  

T.G. Montague lived on Walnut Street across from the Summerfield Keys. The Montague place took up most of the block between Fifth and Sixth streets and Walnut and Lookout streets. It included the stately frame Montague house and barns and stables.

T.G. Montague married Mary Thayer, daughter of Norton Thayer and Lucy Wales Thayer, in Boston in 1873. She was a leader in church and civic work in Chattanooga. He died Sept. 2, 1910. Mrs. Montague survived her husband 11 years, passing away Oct. 21,1921. T.G. Montague gave the land for Montague Park to the city at his death.

Their children were Lucy Wales, Norton Thayer, Theodore Langdon and Mary Montague, who married George M. Guild, brother of the talented engineer Jo Conn Guild. The Guilds made their home in California. 

Norton Thayer Montague, son of T.G. Montague, lived at 537 (837) Oak St. He was named for his maternal grandfather. Thayer Montague attended the Hotchkiss School and Yale University. He married Carrie Enona Bair in 1906. Thayer Montague was involved in real estate development and he was an official of the First National Bank at one time.

Theodore Langdon Montague, another son of T.G. Montague, was active as a director in a number of local endeavors. He married Hazel Montgomery, sister of the wife of Ross Faxon. Their daughter, Hazel Montague, married John L. Hutcheson Jr. The T.L. Montagues lived at 426 (726) Oak St., then moved to the East Terrace of Cameron Hill. 

Five of the brothers and sisters of T.G. Montague also came to Chattanooga. These included Clara as well as Katherine, who married William Stanhope Marshall, a Union Army general. Marshall afterward was president of the Brush Electric Company at Chattanooga. Dwight Preston Montague, a young brother, arrived in town in 1875 following his graduation from Cornell University. He was involved in the management of the Roane Iron Company, becoming its president after the death of Capt. H.S. Chamberlain. The Roane Iron Company started the first professional baseball team in Chattanooga.

Dwight Preston Montague and his brother, Langdon Evans Montague, also headed a brick and clay works. The Chattanooga Fire Clay Works (Montague Sewer Pipe Works) was just south of the Roane Iron Works on the west side of Cameron Hill. The plant produced brick, sewer pipe, drain tile, flue pipe and other products in this line. This was later the W.S. Dickey Clay Manufacturing Company. D.P. Montague was one of the largest landowners in the area, at one time controlling thousands of acres in Hamilton County. One of his holdings was the former Amnicola Farm by the Tennessee River. He developed the Glenwood subdivision and a part of Highland Park. It was said that "his genius for business administration and capacity for organization accomplished much in the upbuilding of Chattanooga and contributed to his personal success."   

Two Lasley brothers also came from Pomeroy, Ohio to Chattanooga. They were sons of Francis Maria Montague, who had married Judge William Hamilton Lasley in 1832. William Montague Lasley and Theodore Hamilton Lasley became involved in the First National Bank and the pipe works. They then went into clay manufacturing and paving for themselves. They headed the Southern Clay Manufacturing Company and the Southern Paving and Construction Company. William Lasley lived at 229 East Terrace and Theodore Lasley lived at 213 East Terrace.  

D.P. Montague and Langdon E. Montague lived in the same section on the East Terrace. The D.P. Montague residence was built in the mission style, with the windows and doorways constructed of hard-carved stone. There was a marble staircase inside, as well as the largest pipe organ in Chattanooga. A white marble hall in the home included a fountain and pool in the center, adorned by goldfish. The drawing room walls were of Italian brocaded silk, and the ceiling was in gold. The D.P. Montague house also boasted a six-foot-high fireplace. The mantel and most of the furniture was imported from Italy. There were not one, but two, ballrooms.

D.P. Montague was born July 20, 1853, at Chester, Ohio. He founded the Montague Company. He was also president of the New Soddy Coal Company, the Fox Coal Company, the Chattanooga Sewer Pipe & Fire Brick Company, the Richmond Cotton Oil Corporation, Stonegap Colliery Company and the Roane Iron Company. He was a director of Hamilton National Bank.

D.P. Montague married Genevieve Allan on Sept. 21, 1882. She was born at Cincinnati, but she grew up on her father's plantation at Richmond, Va. She was the daughter of Patterson Allan and Caroline Wilson. She attended the University of Cincinnati and came to Chattanooga as a bride in 1882. Genevieve Allan Montague designed the official flag for Chattanooga.

The D.P. Montagues introduced their daughters to the Italian nobility. Caroline Montague married Count Nerino Rasponi de la Teste. They resided in Florence, Italy. D.P. Montague died in Chattanooga on May 25, 1921. Other daughters of D.P. Montague were Genevieve and Mildred, who married Col. Richard Huntington Kimball, an Army officer. The Kimballs had a daughter, Mildred Montague Genevieve "Tweet" Kimball. Genevieve was "a leader in Chattanooga's civic, patriotic and social affairs." She collected data on those from Hamilton County who participated in World War I. She was president of the Chattanooga Society of Colonial Dames.

Tweet Kimball lived alone for many years in a Scottish-style castle on the 5,000-acre Cherokee Ranch north of Sedalia, Colo.  She had eclectic art and book collections, including originals by Rubens, Brueghel, and Pliny the Elder. The rare book collection included a folio of Shakespeare's works that was published while Shakespeare was living. She made arrangements for the land to be placed in a conservation easement prior to her death in 1999 at age 84.

William L. Montague Sr., a son of Norton Thayer Montague, was an investment broker. He married Mildred Moon, daughter of Deaderick Moon Sr. and Elise Chapin Moon. Mildred Moon Montague lived until 2015 when she was almost 97. One of their sons, Carrington Montague, was active in a number of preservation efforts, including on the slopes of Missionary Ridge. Another son, Deaderick Chapin "Rick" Montague, was an official of Baylor School, then he became the executive director of the Lyndhurst Foundation. Another son, William Lasley Montague Jr., was an official of the American National Bank and was a prominent patron of the artists and art institutions. Rick Montague married Alice Lupton and then Cannon Wann. His children were L. Thomas Montague and John Montague. Carrington Montague married Shelby White and their children were William Carrington Montague and Genevieve Shelby Montague. 

Norton Thayer Montague Jr., brother of William L. Montague Sr., married Mary Ivens Wright. They had twin sons who were physicians. Dr. Norton Thayer Montague III was a cardio-vascular surgeon in Birmingham who practiced surgery often in Honduras after retirement. Dr. Robert Toombs Wright Montague practiced medicine in Montana, then he returned to Chattanooga to co-start the new specialty of emergency medicine in several area hospitals. Their sister, Mary Caroline Montague, married Robert Awerkamp. The Awerkamps lived in St. Marys, Kan., and had nine children - Georgia, Caroline, Virginia, Robert W., Louise Anna, Marilyn, Joseph, Francis and Mary Evangeline. 

Mary Rhoda Montague, a daughter of Norton Thayer Montague Sr., married Dudley Porter Jr., who was an official of the Provident Life and Accident Insurance Company. She attended Smith College and was a regent at Gunston Hall (home of George Mason). She was president and a very active board member of Chattanooga’s Childrens Home. Dudley Porter's grandfather, James Dudley Porter, was governor of Tennessee 1875-l879 and later served in several positions of President Grover Cleveland’s administration. He was also chancellor of the University of Nashville and president of Peabody College. Dudley Porter served on the first board of the Chattanooga Nature Center, on boards  of the Senior Neighbors, the Childrens Home, the Moccasin Bend Hospital, the Tennessee Historical Commission, and for many years was a trustee of the Maclellan Foundation. He is credited with helping to create the Tennessee River Gorge Trust at a Sunday afternoon meeting on Elder Mountain consisting of himself, Adele Hampton, and Gaston Raoul.

Dr. Norton Thayer Montague III married Cynthia Eleanor Greene. Their children were Dr. Charles Thayer Montague and Margaret Ann. Dr. Charles Thayer Montague married Jennifer Thomas. Their children were Jared Thayer Montague, Helen Rhoda and Charlotte Racheal. Margaret Ann Montague married John Pollack and they had Mary Charles Elenor Montague and John Thayer Montague. 

Dr. Robert Toombs Wright Montague married Ann Elizabeth Baldwin. Their children were Robert Toombs Wright Montague Jr., Mary Frances and Dudley Porter Thayer Montague. Robert Toombs Wright Montague Jr. married Kiran Joy Montague. They had Grace Murty Montague, Sana Elizabeth Montague and Joy Leela Wright Montague. Mary Frances Montague married Jason Huntington Hart Stone. Their children were John Porter Montague Stone, Charles Huntington Keiser Stone, Harrison Robert Stone, and twins Mary Margaret Stone and Elizabeth Thayer Stone.

Dudley Porter Thayer Montague married Carrie Suzanne MacKenzie. They had three children - Dudley Porter Thayer Montague Jr., John William MacKenzie Montague and Robert Toombs Wright Montague III.

T.L. Montague had several children, including T.L. Montague Jr., who married May Temple. One of their sons, T.L. Montague III, was an official of the Interstate insurance firm, then he switched to Provident. Dwight Preston Montague, another son of T.L. Montague Jr., was an official of First Federal Savings and Loan Association before entering the construction business. He later was the town consultant for Lookout Mountain, Tn.  Other children of T.L. Montague Jr. were T.L. Montague III, May Temple who married a Mitchell, Charlotte Giles who married a Shields, and Langdon Morris Montague..

Several handsome Montague residences were among those demolished during the urbanization of Cameron Hill in the early 1960s. These included the D.P. Montague place at 949 East Terrace. It was put up for auction because so many people asked about getting the handsome, over-sized bricks. The winning bid of $1,350 was offered by a wrecking company. Mildred Montague Kimball, the widow of Richard Kimball, lived there until 1950. The house had stood vacant since that time.

The former home of T.L. Montague next door at 941 East Terrace was also taken. It was the old Sam Winchester place. The house was in use as the headquarters for the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Mental Health Association at the time of its demise. 

The house at 931 East Terrace that was once occupied by Langdon E. Montague was knocked down. It had remained empty for many years after the last resident, Mrs. Merritt E. Bryan, left. The fine homes of the Lasleys on East Terrace were also razed.

A book on the Montagues that traces the family back to England is in the local history section at the Chattanooga Library. 


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