Prattville – Maybe the footsteps of Captain Montgomery will be heard climbing the spiral staircase or the voices of someone in the Stewart family will be detected in the dining room. That is, if you believe in the spirit world. Perhaps you simply welcome a curious adventure.
Whatever the case, for a cost of fifty dollars for the two nights, one can go investigating with the Southern Paranormal Researchers. This fee will also include a tour of the mansion, lectures, and panel discussions on related subjects.
Buena Vista was originally called Montgomery House when it became the antebellum home of riverboat captain William Montgomery. He completed the work on the house with a Federal Style facade in the 1840s.
Two headstones are visible from the side driveway of the home. William’s daughter, Ann, wife of physician James H. Bowen, died on Christmas Eve in 1873 at the age of 33. Nine-year old Lurline Montgomery passed away on July 24, 1878. Her parents were John and Jennie Montgomery, as she was one of William’s grandchildren.
The third stone is flat and is the final resting place for William P. Huie. It reads that he is the only son of Josiah and Eliza Huie. William was born on October 18, 1826 and he died on October 23, 1839.
Further research on the Huie family reveals that William was not the couple’s only son. He died at the young age of thirteen and at the time of his death was a member of the Academy of Hayneville. The couple had two other children, Jane and Henry, while they were living at Buena Vista (from 1830-1844).
The family moved to Alexandria, Rapides Parish, Louisiana, and by 1846 another son was born (the last son would be born in 1849). The Huies amassed quite a large plantation there because at the time of Josiah’s death it was worth $208,600, quite a large sum in those days.
Mary Emma Scott Stewart purchased Buena Vista in 1910 and changed it to Greek Revival Style. The Stewart name is not included in the official name ((Montgomery-James-Whitaker home), but, the Stewarts owned it much longer than the James family did.
Mary was born on April 19, 1876 in Autauga County, Alabama and died on March 16, 1959. She married Patrick Henry Stewart and they had five children together.
Her father, James Scott (born August 23, 1807), was listed as one of Autauga County’s oldest citizens in his death notice in 1886. He married twice and Mary ended up with a total of fourteen siblings (a large brood that would include six half brothers and four half sisters).
One of Mary’s uncles, Andrew J. Scott, was a Methodist minister in the late 1850s and at some time prior to his death pastored the Pine Level Methodist Church.
The Fred Whitaker family bought it in 1937 and restored it to what it is today. It probably received the name “Buena Vista” (meaning “good view” in Spanish) also during that time. Since 1982 it has been owned by International Paper and maintained by the Autauga County Heritage Association.
Buena Vista is located approximately two miles from downtown Prattville, overlooking the Alabama River, and sits on about three acres. It is available for receptions and luncheons and has even served as a re-enactment place for the Prattville Dragoons (Civil War Company from Autauga County.
The home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and is open to the public Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment.
Article by Melissa Parker
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