Major General Richard Montgomery

Major General Richard Montgomery

Montgomery County was named for Major General Richard Montgomery, who was in the British army when he distinguished himself in the French and Indian War. In 1772 he imigrated to America and later joined the  Revolutionary forces against England. He became leader of the Continental forces in Canada. General Montgomery was killed at Quebec in December 1775 and was considered by the people of that day as a great hero.

Montgomery County was originally a part of Augusta County, which was formed in 1738. In 1770 Botetourt County was formed from Augusta County, and in 1772 Fincastle County was formed from Botetourt County. When Fincastle County was abolished in 1776, Montgomery was the easternmost of the three counties formed: Montgomery, Washington and Kentucky.

The first explorers came into the area in 1671 when Col. Abraham Wood sent out a party from Fort Henry, near present day Petersburg. When they came upon what is today’s “New River,” they named it Wood’s River for their commander. The settlement period of Montgomery County came after the large land grants of the 1740’s and 1750’s.

As the settlers pushed into the valley and westward, they had two routes to take them from the valley floor to the plateau of the southwest some 1000 feet higher. The earliest route to Montgomery County was up the Catawba Valley from the present site of Roanoke, past today’s Lusters Gate, to the top of the ridge that defines the east-west water divide in Montgomery County. The site of Blacksburg developed on the “resting place” from the steep climb from the valley. A second route was up the Roanoke River Valley to Hans Meadow, or Christiansburg. The second route eventually became known as Wilderness Road and became the preferred one causing Christiansburg to develop more rapidly than Blacksburg.

The first court for Montgomery County was held in Fort Chiswell, near present day Wytheville. In order to be more centrally located, it was relocated in 1789 to Hans Meadow, present day Christiansburg.