Davis Bend was one of the first towns developed after the Civil War. The architect of the town was a black man, Benjamin Montgomery. Montgomery was once enslaved on the property when it was referred to as the “Joseph Davis Plantation.” While on the plantation, he functioned as an overseer and owned the plantation store.
After the Civil War, Davis sold the land the plantations rested on to Montgomery for $300,000 in gold at a 6 percent interest rate. Several plantations rested on the 4,000-acre of land, with Hurricane being the largest. In 1872, Benjamin Montgomery’s son, Isaiah, ran Hurricane as its property manager, informal counsel, and diplomat to white neighbors, agents, and suppliers from Vicksburg, Cincinnati (Ohio), New Orleans (Louisiana), and St. Louis (Missouri).
After Montgomery died, his son Isaiah continued to manage Davis Bend but the community was struck with difficult times. Floods, insects destroying crops, and hostile political conditions were some of the issues that forced Montgomery to consider continuing his father’s legacy in a new location. He was also struggling with a severe labor shortage, caused by 70 tenants leaving to partake in the Kansas Exodus. After visiting Kansas and witnessing this migration movement firsthand, Montgomery became even more determined to build a black town made up of Davis Bend residents. In 1887, Isaiah Montgomery and eleven other people from Davis Bend founded Mound Bayou, an all-black town in Northwest Mississippi.