Back When … SHAPING MONTGOMERY COUNTY, PART 2
By Char Schneider
When Montgomery County was created on Dec. 13, 1837 it became only the third county in the State of Texas. The original county included large parts of what are now Grimes, Walker, Waller, San Jacinto, and Madison counties. It was not until 1873 that the final parts were removed and the county became the size it is today.
During the 19th century there were two typical types of homes. One had wide verandas, windows, fireplaces, and in some cases, large columns. The second type was a typical log cabin.
Dr. C. B. Stewart was one of the early settlers who was very instrumental in the development of the county and state. In addition to being an army interpreter between Sam Houston and Santa Anna, he was on the committee to draft the state constitution. As an artist he designed the State Seal and the Lone Star Flag.
The business center of the county changed several times until Conroe became the County Seat in 1899. Montgomery was actually the earliest center of government. It came to prominence when Owen Shannon established a trading post on Town Creek and named the community after his wife, Montgomery.
In the 1870s the railroad brought the town of Willis to the foreground. There was great rivalry between Montgomery and Willis until Willis became the County Seat in 1874. By the 1890s the tobacco industry was growing the economy. This was replaced by the timber industry when Conroe built a sawmill. The railroad had a stop at Conroe’s Switch, which was later dropped to just Conroe. In 1899 Conroe had 300 residents; by 1900 it had 1,009.
Economic growth was spawned first by farming, then by the railroad and timber, and finally by the discovery of oil.
Tune in next month to learn more about the early years of the county.