Montalba is on State Highway 19 ten miles north of Palestine in north central Anderson County. The name was given to the place as early as December 1881, when William J. Hamlett, Jr., applied for a post office to be located eighteen miles east of the Trinity River and four miles south of Beaver Creek. According to the application, the nearest post office at that time was Tennessee Colony, nine miles west. Montalba was named by Hamlett, presumably because of the white sand on the mountain to the east. The post office was originally located, in 1848, at Beaver Valley, two or three miles north of Montalba. Among the first settlers was P. G. Oldham, who built his home just northwest of Montalba in 1853. Nearby was the Beaver Valley Primitive Baptist Church, which was also used as a school. A cemetery was established. Later this area became known as Holly Springs.
Location on the road from Palestine to Athens made first Beaver Valley and later Montalba into a central gathering place for local farmers. There is no indication of early industry, although within the loose boundaries of the community is the site of a foundry used during the Civil War to make firearms and ammunition. The area is primarily agrarian, and Montalba is a supply point and local market. The public school, which had its origin when Mrs. Peter G. Adams and Mrs. B. H. Brooks worked to consolidate the schools of Black Rock and Pace's Chapel, has since been consolidated with surrounding systems. The school district enrolled 188 White and 183 Black children in 1933.
In 1978 the town had two gas stations, a combination gas station-general store, a 4-H Club building, a community center, a post office, several homes, and three churches. The community's population has fluctuated from as low as fifty in 1925 and 1933 to as high as 300 in 1931. The number of residents reached 200 by 1964 but dropped to 110 between 1974 and 1989. Through 2000 it remained 110.