Montgomery County was named in memory of Major Lemuel P. Montgomery, of Virginia, who fell at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, on March 27, 1814. He was shot in the head by a Redstick musketball, becoming the first man to die in the battle. A statue of Major Montgomery graces the entrance of the Montgomery County Courthouse, located at 251 S. Lawrence St.
The lands of Montgomery County were put up for auction at the Federal Land Office in Milledgeville, Georgia in 1816. Larger parcels were sold to developers who subdivided the land into lots for urban commercial and residential use, predetermining a major city on the banks of the Alabama River at Montgomery.
A hardy and superior class of people penetrated the wilderness. Settlements and towns sprang into existence everywhere. The City of Montgomery, which became the county seat in 1822, was built on the side of the Indian town Ikanatchati (Econachatee), which means red ground, and Towasa on a high red bluff known to Alibamu Indians as Chunnaanaauga Chatty. Hernando DeSoto and his troops, who passed near Montgomery in the autumn of 1540, were the first Europeans to visit this region.
When the Alabama Lands were offered for sale in 1817, two groups of speculators made their initial payments. One group, a company of Georgians led by General John Scott, bought the area along the river bluff and called it "Alabama Town." Later, a second group, led by Andrew Dexter, bought the area bounded by present day Court, Ripley, Scott, and Jefferson Streets and named it "New Philadelphia." The Georgians abandoned the Alabama Town and built the town of East Alabama, in competition.
A bitter rivalry between the two groups was finally terminated when the two towns were merged under the name Montgomery. Incorporated December 3, 1819, eleven days before Alabama was admitted into the Union, the city of Montgomery was named in honor of Major Richard Montgomery of Revolutionary War fame, who lost his life in the Arnold expedition against Quebec.