Montgomery County

Montgomery County, Virginia was formed in 1777 from Fincastle County.  The county is named for Richard Montgomery, a Revolutionary War General killed in 1775 while attempting to capture Quebec City, Canada.  Much of the county is mountainous, but the portions capable of cultivation are rich and productive and yield fine crops of corn, oats, and wheat, in addition to vegetable and orchard products. The county is watered by the New River and the headwaters of the Roanoke River.  The county seat is Christiansburg.

The story of the Zentmeyers in Montgomery County is the story of Johannes Zentmeyer, the grandson of our emigrant ancestor Johann Bernhard Zentmeyer, his wife Barbary, and their offspring.  The earliest mention of Johannes in Montgomery County turns out to be erroneous.  Suffice to say that early history books relating to the eighteenth century were not always accurate.  In the History of the Lutheran Church in Virginia and East Tennessee, by C.W. Cassell, 1930, it is written that the Moravian Missionary Leonhard Schnell visited the New River Lutheran settlement near present-day Blacksburg in 1749, and found Johannes Zentmeyer among its inhabitants. But a research request to the Moravian Archives to review Schnell's personal travel notes revealed that while Schnell did visit the settlement, the settlers he met did not include Johannes.  This finding was a relief to us, since Johannes had not yet been born, and for that matter, there would be no Zentmeyers in Virginia until 1789.  It is obvious that the author Cassell mistakenly put Johannes in the first paragraph instead of the second, Johannes was probably the 'Johannes Mayer' in the second paragraph, as he was in fact a founder of the Zion Lutheran Church.

In the History of Patrick and Henry Counties Virginia, by Virginia Pedigo, 1933, it is written that Johannes was born in Germany, came to Maryland, and then went to to Cave Spring in Roanoke County.  Johannes did live in present-day Cave Spring, but was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and not in Germany, (albeit his father was born in Germany) and although he passed through Maryland, we have seen no evidence he ever lived there.  And although Cave Spring is presently in Roanoke County, that county was not formed until 1838, so during Johannes' time there, Cave Spring was in Botetourt County.  Pedigo also incorrectly identifies the birthplace of Johannes' son John as Cave Spring instead of Montgomery County near present-day Floyd.

Cave Spring takes its name from an actual spring which eminates from a small cave.  Here is a descendant of Johannes, who is a geologist, examing Cave Spring.  Although John St.Mire had previously obtained rights to 135 acres in Montgomery County near present-day Floyd in 1783, he purchased 40 acres on Mudlick Creek near Cave Spring from Daniel Miller in 1797, and built a cabin there, identified on the deed both as John Saintmoir and St.Mire.  It was there daughter Elizabeth and son Daniel were born.  We inferr the location of the cabin from a poem written by Johannes' son David Wendel Zentmeyer. (the 'hills of Miami' refers to the lands adjoing the Little Miami River in Warren County, Ohio, where David and his wife Mary Terry farmed 76 acres.)

Johannes and Barbary moved to Montgomery County near present-day Floyd in 1800, or shortly thereafter. (1800 according to multiple sources, or shortly thereafter, if David Wendel Zentmeyer's poem is accurate.)  Over time he acquired and farmed over 400 acres, while living on a farm now addressed as 622 Barberry Road.  This property currently comprises about 70 acres. 

As mentioned above, Johannes was a founder and long-time elder of the Zion Lutheran Church.  This congregation, originally called the Little River congregation, was established in the early 1790s by German settlers.  At the time Johannes and Barbary moved into the area there was no permanent pastor, so the congregation was served by travelling preachers who would periodically come by to preach, baptize, and admister the sacraments of the church.  John Sendmeier was recognized as one of three Officers of the church in 1809, and Johannes C. Meyer was first on a list of Charter Members of the church in 1813.   The original log building which served as both church and school was replaced in 1838, and again in 1861.  The present church building was constructed in 1898.  Johannes, Barbary and their son Daniel are buried in the cemetery adjacent to Zion Lutheran Church.