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The Montfort Family 1624: A Narrative

The Low Dutch Colony
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Francis Monfort, Sr.  1746-1825 

Francis was born in July 14, 1746 in Hunterdon County, NJ, and named for his maternal grandfather, Frans Marston.  It is likely he married Geertje Banta, about 1767-1768, as their first child was born in August of 1769.  No record of their marriage has been found to date.
 
His wife, Geertje Banta, was called Charity,  the daughter and last of 6 children of Hendrick Banta 3rd and his first wife, Rachel Brower. Charity was born November 3, 1749 at Hackensack, New Jersey.  Following the death of her mother, her father married a remarkable woman, Antie Demarest, a relative of the first wife.  She would raise the 6 children of the first wife, have at least 13 known children of her own, and take on the care and raising of 8 stepgrandchildren when their parents died. 
 
Francis and Charity would have 9 children, 1. Rachel who would marry John Voris, 2. Catherine who would marry Francis Voris, 3. Charity who would marry Cornelius Luyster, 4. Maria who would marry Stephen Terhune, 5. John Calvin who would marry Nancy Agnes Mitchell first, then Ruth Gess, 6. Henry who would marry his first cousin, Catherine Montfort [daughter of Lawrence] and move to Ohio, 7. Francis who would marry his half first cousin, Polly Banta, daughter of John and Polly Riker Banta, 8. Jacob who would marry his cousin, Margaret/Peggy Banta, daughter of Cornelius Banta and second Nancy Lyneback, and 9 Sarah or Sallie who would never marry.
 
Francis and Charity had a 140 acre farm in Mt Joy Township of York County, and called it Walnut Bottom.  Charity's father, Hendrick, had a farm nearby called Loss and Gain, apparently a description of what the land had to offer or not offer, in some years.  Records indicate all of their children were born in York County, PA and likely this is where they met and married.
 
While living in York County, Francis joined the7th Pennsylvania Line in 1776 in the company of Capt Hugh Campbell and under the command of Col. David Grier.  His service in the Revolutionary War has been proven and was accepted  by the DAR in 2003.
 
Charity's father, Hendrick Banta 3rd, was the recognized Patriarch of the Low Dutch Colony in York County and after careful study, made the decision to move to Kentucky in the late 1770's.  There would be two groups leaving for the west, by two routes.  Some of the Dutch of York County had moved south to what is now West Virginia, but were in contact with the Conewago Colony on a regular basis.  Of the group in Berkeley, West VIrginia, was Sam Duryea, married to Wyntie, a sister of Hendrick Banta 3rd.  The decision was made for Sam to lead a group out of Berkeley to Kentucky by skirting the eastern slopes of the Appalachian Mountains along the Wilderness Road, over the Cumberland Gap and north into Mercer County, Kentucky. 
 
Hendrick 3rd would lead another group over the mountains of PA to Ft Pitt.  There they would build flatboats and float down the Ohio River to what is now Louisville, Kentucky [Jefferson County.]
 
A dangerous decision to move, as Kentucky was then part of Virginia and the country was in the midst of the American Revolution.  Each of the routes had their own dangers to surmount but the decision to move on and make a place for themselves was too strong.
 
Francis and his family were not in the original 1780 Low Dutch movement to KY, but signed a petition to Congress in 1783 by the Colony, as an intended friend.  This indicated his intention to join those of the Conewago Colony, already in Kentucky.  His son, Francis Jr, was born in 1784 in York County, PA, based on the records of the Shakers and the next child, a son Jacob was born in Feb of 1787 in Mercer County, KY.   It is likely Francis and his family moved sometime in 1785-86, probably taking the Ohio River by flatboat. 
 
The Low Dutch traveled back and forth, Indians willing, from the Mercer County settlement near Harrodsburg, to the Low Dutch settlement in eastern Jefferson County, KY.  A road named Dutchmans Lane indicates the location of this settlement and a sign erected by the state of Kentucky is placed at the site of their original settlement on Bowling Blvd.  and Browns Lane in Louisville.  A park is located at the site of this Low Dutch Station. 
 
There is evidence that Francis spent some time in the Dutch settlement in Mercer County, but ended up along the Henry/Shelby County line at a town first called Banta Town, then changed to Pleasureville.   He was part of the Low Dutch Colony and signed the Articles of Agreement in 1790.  The original leather pouch with the names of those in the colony and the minutes of their meetings can be found in the Filson Historical Society Manuscript Dept in Louisville, Kentucky. 
 
Charity Banta Montfort would leave her husband and join the Shakers in August of 1805, with her youngest daughter, Sallie.  Francis Sr would go to a meeting or two with the Shaker representatives from the east,  as they sought to gain converts in Kentucky, but he backed away from them and remained on his farm in Shelby County, Kentucky.
 
Francis would make out his will in 1818 pointedly leaving his wife's name out of it.  I believe he was angered when she left to join the Shakers and on purpose excluded her, as she outlived him by 3 years.  He did name all of his children in the will, even the 4 who joined the Shakers, Sallie [in 1805], Francis Jr [in 1806], Jacob [in 1809] and Rachel [ in 1810].  He died in April of 1825 and was buried in Shelby/Henry County, KY, most likely in the cemetery at Pleasureville, KY. His will is recorded both in Henry County, KY and in Switzerland County, IN.  He owned property in Indiana as well as in Henry County, KY. 
 
 
Note**  There are several  spelling variations for Geertje....I chose to use this one but it can also be found spelled Geertruy, Gertie.  She was named for her maternal grandmother, Geertruy Terhune Banta.
 

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