Mound City :: A nice place to visit ... A great place to live

Fort Montgomery

This unique structure was framed piece by piece out in the forest in 1855 after the log house of James Montgomery had been burned in the night by Border Ruffians.

The following is excerpted from Mitchell’s Linn County Kansas, A History

There was scarecely a week without some ugly crime to bring distress and indignation to the families of all the free-state settlers. Montgomery was frequently shot at and his numerous escapes made him thoughtful to secure better protection for himself and family, so when his home was burned he assembled a number of friends who went into the timber and cut down good sized oak and walnut trees.

From these trees logs eight feet long were cut out and the center section eight inches thick was split out with wedges. A chalk line was snapped on the edge to insure accuracy and a broad-ax made both sides as smooth as a sawed board. With both sides dressed the slab was turned down and a chalk line marked the full width it would hew out. When finished a tenon six inches long was cut on each end. In the meantime the site of this new house was selected up on the side of the hill where as this had a wide range of vision. A stone foundation was laid and on it were logs twenty-four feet long and mortised to fit the tenons on the timbers dressed out in the woods. Each stick was measured to fit its mortise and numbered for its place.

When all was in readiness the various timbers were assembled, stood on end side by side, augur holes bored through mortise and tenon and an oak pin driven through to hold it. A mortised log received the tenons at the top which were secured in like manner by pins. Thus Fort Montgomery was a log house with the logs set vertically, so cleverly and accurately put together that there was nowhere a crevice big enough for a bullet. It was larger than the average log house, being sixteen by twenty-four feet. A big fireplace was cut into the end facing the northwest and there was a door cut on the north into a “lean-to” similarly made and about ten by twelve feet in size. An outside door was set in near the southeast corner and another outside door near the northeast corner, with porches. One little window set higher than a man’s head furnished the only light and ventilation on this first floor, and when the thick puncheon doors were closed and barred it was a fort indeed.

In the northwest corner a slightly inclined ladder led through a hole two feet by four feet into the room upstairs which had some distinction of its own. Three logs were laid horizontally on the top mortise log with a scallop three inches deep cut out at two places in the log. Similar scallops were cut out of the top log so that when placed in position they made portholes six inches wide and two feet long on the north and south sides, and one in each end, affording ventilation and light and permitting free use of rifles, rafters carried a roof of shakes rived out of clear oak and dressed with draw shaves. In the construction of this house the work was done out in the forest and like Solomon’s Temple very little noise was made by hammer and saw as they put it together. There was one feature that even few of the friends knew about and that was a crude tunnel that had previously been dug and filled up during the work of building and which was secretly reopened when Montgomery moved in. This enabled him to save his life several times when “posses” came in and searched for him.

Comments are closed.