Davis Bend was one of the first towns to spring up following the Civil War. Benjamin Montgomery, a black man, designed the town. Montgomery was enslaved on the property, which was then known as the “Joseph Davis Plantation.” He worked as an overseer and owned the plantation store while on the plantation.
Following the Civil War, Davis sold the plantations’ land to Montgomery for $300,000 in gold at a 6% interest rate. The 4,000-acre plot of land was home to several plantations, the largest of which was Hurricane. In 1872, Isaiah Montgomery, Benjamin Montgomery’s son, served as Hurricane’s property manager, informal counsel, and diplomat to white neighbors, agents, and suppliers from Vicksburg, Cincinnati (Ohio), New Orleans (Louisiana), and St. Louis (Missouri).
Following Montgomery’s death, his son Isaiah continued to manage Davis Bend, but the community faced difficult times. Floods, crop-destroying insects, and hostile political conditions were among the factors that compelled Montgomery to consider carrying on his father’s legacy in a new location.
He was also dealing with a severe labor shortage as a result of 70 tenants fleeing to join the Kansas Exodus. Montgomery became even more determined to build a black town comprised of Davis Bend residents after visiting Kansas and witnessing this migration movement firsthand. In 1887, Isaiah Montgomery and eleven other Davis Bend residents established Mound Bayou, an all-black community in Northwest Mississippi.