Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Family of Francis Montfort Sr

Francis was born in 1746 and moved to York County, PA about 1767. He married Geertje Banta, daughter of Hendrick Banta 3rd and his first wife Rachel Brower, before 1768 when their first child, Rachel, was born. Geertje was always known by the name Charity, and I will refer to her by that name in this journal.

He probably moved to Kentucky about 1785-86, in the spring, and seems to have first settled in Mercer County, Kentucky where his youngest two children, Jacob [1787] and Sarah [1789] were born. Several sources give the last two childrens birthplace as being in Mercer County, KY, including the original journals of the Shaker Society at Pleasant Hill, KY [Filson Historical Society, Louisville, KY], as both Jacob and Sarah were members of the religious society.

Following his father in law to Henry/Shelby County, Kentucky, he was part of the Low Dutch Company that formed there by 1790 and received his 200 acre allotment as part of the company. This land sits next to the site of the current location of the Six Mile Meeting House just outside the town of Pleasureville in Henry County, KY. His name and signature appear in the "MINUTE BOOK 1790-1831 and ACCOUNT BOOK 1784-1813 OF THE LOW DUTCH COLONY OF SHELBY COUNTY, KENTUCKY" found in the Jayne Beers Collection of the Filson Historical Society archives MSS A B415.

He would eventually sell this 200 acres and purchase a smaller lot where he lived with his son John Calvin till Francis' death in the spring of 1825. In lieu of caring for his father, John Calvin would eventually inherit this piece of property.

In February while still on the original farm, Francis and Charity walked over to the farm of his wife's half brother, John Banta, to listen to the Shaker missionaries from Ohio talk about their society and encourage those attending to join with them. This ended up being the first organized Shaker meeting in the state of Kentucky with 300 in attendance in the afternoon gathering and another 200 attending the evening meeting in the Banta barn. Francis was not impressed. Perhaps he questioned turning over his property to the Shakers, perhaps it was the part about being celibate, who's to know? But he did not join and was very upset when his wife did.

Francis and Charity had been married about thirty eight [38] years when she left him to become a member of the Shakers. Along with her she took their youngest child, Sarah, who also joined the society at the age of 16. Besides Sarah, they had eight [8] other children, Rachel married by this time to John Voris and having numerous children; Catherine who had married Francis Voris; Marya the wife of Stephen Terhune; Charity wife of Cornelius Luyster; Henry who had married his cousin Catherine Montfort and moved to Ohio; John Calvin married to his first wife, Nancy Agnes Mitchell; Francis who had married his half first cousin, Polly Banta, daughter of John Banta; Jacob who had just recently married his half first cousin, Margaret/Peggy Banta, daughter of Cornelius.

Of the nine children he fathered, four would follow their mother in to the Shaker society, Sarah in 1805, Francis Jr in 1806, Jacob in 1809 and Rachel in 1810. All but Sarah brought into the society, their wives, husband and children.

When writing his will, Francis seems to have made a point of leaving out of it his wife Charity, though he did mention all nine of the children, including those who followed her into the Shakers. I think there are two reasons for his leaving her out, though she outlived him by three years. One is anger. He was still angry that she left his side to become a Shaker. The other is about any property left to Charity. It would automatically have been taken into the communal property of the Shakers. This seems bolstered by the fact that property left to the four children who followed her into the society, were left property held by their father in Indiana. I am not up on law, let alone laws governing this time frame, but it would seem more difficult for the Shakers to acquire property from their members that was left to them in another state.

Francis died at the home of his son John Calvin, or so it appears and was probably buried on the family farm a bit to the north of Pleasureville. He died the 22nd of April, 1825 in Henry County, KY.

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