William J. Shumate was born May 22, 1822, a son of Thomas and Malinda Shumate. Shortly after he purchased the Montgomery Hall Farm tract of about 300 acres for the sum of $12,000.00, Shumate’s first wife, Elizabeth Ann Campbell Shumate, died. Their infant son died a week later and they were buried in Hebron Cemetery. Shumate later remarried and had surviving children from both marriages. William J. Shumate and Virginia A. (Bower) Humphreys, widow of F. M. Humphreys, were married in Fauquier County, Virginia in November, 1852.
In September, 1870, Shumate was elected as a delegate representing Beverley Manor township for a meeting at a congressional convention that took place in Harrisonburg, Virginia on October 5, 1870. Shumate’s interactions with both enslaved and newly emancipated African-Americans were often unpleasant. W. J. Shumate later moved with his second wife to a farm in Fauquier County, Virginia. He died in 1883 and was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery in Fauquier County.
During his ownership of Montgomery Hall, Shumate both purchased and sold tracts of land, adding to and later subtracting from the property’s original acreage, including land needed for the new railroad. When he advertised Montgomery Hall for sale in 1870, the property had been reduced to about 150 acres. The advertisement below appeared in the Cultivator & Country Gentleman, volume 35, 1870:
Shenandoah Valley Property
See the advertisement of an attractive and valuable farm, by Wm. J. Shumate, Esq, Staunton, Virginia:
Splendid Estate for Sale in the Valley of Virginia
I offer for sale privately the farm whereupon I now reside known as Montgomery Hall. It is a most beautiful and attractive property containing about one hundred and fifty acres situated in the County of Augusta, immediately on the great Chesapeake and Ohio railroad and one mile west of the flourishing town of Staunton.
The LAND is a fine limestone well adapted to grass and all the cereals. It is in a high state of cultivation. Fences well built and in good condition with a sufficiency of timber to keep them up. Water excellent and abundant.
About 40 acres of this land are in ORCHARDS of the choicest fruits. Trees young and vigorous and now laden with the most promising crop.
The DWELLING HOUSE is a large and imposing edifice, an office, the kitchen, and smoke-house are built of brick in the best style, and occupy an eminence commanding a fine view of the railroad and surrounding country. The yard is spacious and highly ornamented with trees and shrubbery. The garden contains several acres and is remarkable for both its beauty and its fertility. A spacious lawn with ancient oaks and trees of modern growth extends from the yard and garden to the railroad.
Situated as this estate is in the heart of the great SHENANDOAH VALLEY of Virginia, on the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad (which is under the able and efficient management of eminent New York capitalists, is now being rapidly extended to the Ohio River) and within one mile of Staunton, which presents so many advantages in respect to society and the facilities for educating children. It offers peculiar inducements to a gentleman of fortune and cultivated taste who desires to enjoy a tranquil life and rear his family under the most favorable auspices. As a mere pecuniary investment the farm and orchards would yield a handsome income.
The subscriber finds himself compelled by the force of circumstances to part with this property. It must be sold. To parties really desirous of purchasing, a GREAT BARGAIN will be offered.
The system of white labor generally prevails in the Shenandoah Valley, there never having been many colored people west of the Blue Ridge mountains.
For further information apply to Smith & Elder, Attorneys at Law, Staunton, Va or to the undersigned at the same place.
Wm. J. Shumate
The above advertisement did not result in Shumate’s securing a buyer for the property. Montgomery Hall was sold at public auction on October 25, 1871 with N. K. Trout and Thomas C. Elder as special commissioners representing the sale. William W. Donaghe, Sr. was the highest bidder and he purchased Montgomery Hall for $19.200.00.
There were other dwellings and buildings on the property not mentioned in W.J. Shumate’s advertisement.