Vol. 12


The Montgomery Indians

late 1800s; Patterson, Missouri, USA

In the late 1800s Great-Great-Grandpa Joe moved from Virginia to Wayne County — Patterson — Missouri. He was in his twenties, and he would go to the Holmes Cave to have a square dance with all the neighbors. There was a part of the cave near the mouth that had collapsed and made a perfect dance floor, and the musicians sat on a ledge above the cave’s entrance. People tied the horses and buggies on top of the cave. A sinkhole was about thirty feet back on top of the cave. One night at a square dance a horse escaped with a buggy and fell into a sinkhole and didn’t live.

About forty years later, Grandpa Johnny Montgomery was a young boy and lived in a four-room house. It had a kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. Grandpa Johnny and his siblings had to walk across the porch outside to access their two bedrooms. The house had no electricity and was heated only by two stoves. One was a kitchen stove and did not provide as much heat. To keep their produce cold, they would go to the Holmes Cave across the road, where it was always about sixty degrees. Grandpa Johnny and his siblings would play in the cave and use pine knots1 for light. After their light went out, they would draw on the walls with the burnt remnant of the pine knot.

Soon Grandpa Johnny grew up and had kids of his own. He found out that Holmes Cave had been opened to the public. He took his own kids to see the cave that he had played in as a child. When they were on the tour, the tour guide said, “The markings on the cave walls are from Indians. The damaged stalagmites are from the Indians’ torches.”

After the tour was over, Grandpa Johnny told the tour guide, “The Montgomery Indians made the drawings on the wall, and I am one of them!” He also showed the tour guide a secret room that they didn’t know existed. The cave is now called Rebel Cave, but it is not commercially operated at this time.

Camden Mallady; Missouri, USA


1. A pine knot is a joint in pinewood. Pine knots burn long and hot because they are hard and have a lot of resin.


This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


Photos of the author visiting Holmes (Rebel) Cave, below, compliments of the author's family.


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