Mississippi community mourns loss of bartending legend, storyteller, larger than life figure

Published 6:17 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

The mayor of Natchez Under-the-Hill has passed away.

Friends and patrons of the Natchez Under-the-Hill Saloon posted tributes online Tuesday to John David “JD” Montgomery, the longtime bartender and iconic patron of the saloon.

He had been a bartender for decades, including stops in New Orleans, the American West and finally In Natchez. He retired a few years ago from the Under-the-Hill Saloon. He had many nicknames, including Godfather, and he was the unofficial Mayor of “Under The Hill.”

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“I wouldn’t know where to begin. Knowing you for decades or since the 70s you were such a wonderful ambassador for Natchez Under the Hill Saloon,” Edward Killelea posted on social media. “I feel like a part of my childhood and adulthood is gone. You will truly be missed by so many patrons and people from all over the world who passed through those doors.”

Others fondly recalled Montgomery’s storytelling and tall tales.

“John David was small in stature and larger than life,” posted John Charles Edwards.

While John David did not have any advanced degrees, he was one of the most well-read individuals I have known. The poetry he could recite from memory was simply wonderful.

John David was a follower of Jesus, which to him meant to love everyone, and he did. He traveled the world and would often speak with great fondness of his camping trips to Arkansas in years past.

“John David was an epic storyteller with few peers. We will miss his stories and we will certainly miss him.”

Myles Milan McMillin talked about Montgomery’s zeal for life.  “Living Life to his fullest. If you knew him, ever witnessed it.”

John Ballard, a Natchez native, called Mongtomery “a true American original who stood out in a town full of them. “

“J.D. was a true Natchez character,” shared Daye Dearing. “I know he was greeted by a host of friends when he entered the pearly gates.”