Montgomery, TX


By: Robin N. Montgomery

Revised by: Kameron K. Searle

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: February 21, 2022


Montgomery is located at the junction of State Highway 105 and Farm Road 149, near the southwestern edge of the Sam Houston National Forest, fifteen miles west of Conroe and fifty miles northwest of Houston in western Montgomery County. It traces its origins to June 4, 1825, when Stephen F. Austin signed a second empresario contract with the Mexican state of Coahuila and Texas to settle 500 additional families in what would become known as Austin’s second colony. Under this contract, Austin granted land to sixteen colonists between the West Fork of the San Jacinto River and the stream known as Lake Creek in 1831. One of these colonists was John Corner who received a league of land (4,428.4 acres) on May 10, 1831. Within two years of the arrival of the colonists, the settlement had become known as the Lake Creek Settlement, the earliest Anglo-American settlement in present-day Montgomery County.

In 1835 William W. Shepperd, a colonist originally from Surry County, North Carolina, bought a 200-acre tract located in the northwesternmost corner of the John Corner League for $100. Shepperd, a first cousin of Jared Ellison Groce and a brother of U. S. Congressman Augustine H. Shepperd of North Carolina, built homes and lived on this 200-acre tract with his wife, Mary Steptoe Shepperd, their children, and their slaves. He soon built a store, the first business in the Lake Creek Settlement, at this location, and operations later expanded to include a mill and a cotton gin. Three men residing with the Shepperds fought in the Texas Revolution: Jacob H. Shepperd, whose service included fighting in the battle of Concepción and the siege of Bexar; John Bricker, who served under Capt. Moseley Baker and was killed while defending the Brazos River crossing at San Felipe de Austin; and John Marshall Wade, who fought in the battle of San Jacinto.

On May 17, 1837, W. W. Shepperd became the first postmaster, and his store became the first post office in the Lake Creek Settlement. His establishment was strategically located on Republic of Texas mail routes No. 1 and No. 14. Route No. 1 ran from Houston through Shepperd’s store to the town of Cincinnati. Route No. 14 started at Shepperd’s store and ran to the La Bahia Crossing on the Colorado River, via the Fanthorp Inn, Washington-on-the-Brazos, and Independence (see POSTAL SYSTEM OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS).

In July 1837 W. W. Shepperd founded the town of Montgomery at the site of his home and his store on the 200 acres of land he had purchased on the John Corner League in 1835. On July 8, 1837, the Telegraph and Texas Register published an advertisement, submitted by W. W. Shepperd and his business associate John Wyatt Moody, for the new town of Montgomery. Moody was the first auditor of the Republic of Texas. Shepperd provided the land for the town. Moody provided the political influence to encourage the creation of a new county by the Congress of the Republic of Texas with the town of Montgomery as its county seat. Montgomery was the first town founded in the Lake Creek Settlement and is the oldest town in present-day Montgomery County. Though the exact source of the name of the town of Montgomery is not yet known with certainty, the most likely explanation is that Shepperd and Moody named the town after Montgomery County, Alabama, which was named after Maj. Lemuel P. Montgomery.

Five months after the town of Montgomery was founded, Montgomery County (named after the town) was created, and the town of Montgomery was the first county seat. Montgomery County Chief Justice Jesse Grimes held open court, and County Clerk Gwynn Morrison recorded documents in the town of Montgomery as early as February 1838. In her book Texas in 1850, Melinda Rankin wrote, “Montgomery was at one time the local seat of government of a territory larger than the State of Delaware, extending from the San Antonio Road (the old “king’s pass” of the anti-Texan era) on the north, to Spring Creek on the south, and from the Brasos (Brazos River) on the west, to the Trinity river on the east, some seventy miles on either course – and now containing the counties of Grimes, Walker and Montgomery.”

Shortly after the town of Montgomery became the county seat, W. W. Shepperd purchased an additional 212 acres of land from John Corner on February 26, 1838. These 212 acres were located due south and adjoining the 200 acres upon which Shepperd had originally founded the town of Montgomery. At the first Montgomery County Commissioners’ Court meeting on March 1, 1838, Shepperd, through his agent, Charles B. Stewart, donated an equal half undivided interest in 200 of the 212 acres to Montgomery County. At the same time, the commissioners voted to move “the place of the town” of Montgomery to these 200 acres of land. A house owned by W. W. Shepperd was leased to the county to serve as the first Montgomery County courthouse. The town of Montgomery grew and flourished as the county seat of Montgomery County for more than five decades. In October 1839 Shepperd sold his interest in the town of Montgomery to James McCown. He also sold McCown the house that was being used as the Montgomery County courthouse.

In 1845 John Marshall Wade established the Montgomery Patriot, the first newspaper in the town and county. The July 2, 1845, edition of the Montgomery Patriot indicated the town’s significant growth as a business center. Businesses advertised included: M. O. Dimon, general merchandise; B. F. Duncan, fashionable tailor; M. Shaben and Bro., general merchandise, dry goods and groceries; Lem. Smith, cabinet manufacturer and upholsterer; P. J. Willis and Bro., dry goods and groceries; and John Marshall Wade, newspaper and printing office. Advertisements also mentioned three medical doctors practicing in Montgomery: Dr. E. J. Arnold, Dr. James H. Price and Dr. Tucker.

In 1838 the Methodist Episcopal Church appointed the first circuit-riding preacher to the “Montgomery Circuit.” The circuit-riding preachers assigned to the Montgomery circuit between 1838 and 1850 included: Isaac L. G. Strickland, Joseph P. Sneed, Daniel Carl, Moses Speer, Richard Owen, James H. Collard, Robert Crawford, James G. Johnson, Daniel V. N. Sullivan, A. B. F. Kerr, and George W. Rabb. The Montgomery circuit included all the territory between the Brazos and Trinity rivers and from Cypress Creek on the south to the Old San Antonio Road on the north. In 1850 James G. Johnson was stationed as the preacher in the town of Montgomery by the Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. On July 20, 1851, the first church building, known as Alexander Chapel, was dedicated in Montgomery on land that James McCown sold to the Methodist Episcopal Church for $10. Alexander Chapel was named for pioneering missionary and minister Robert Alexander. By this time, a Baptist church had been organized in the town and funds to construct a church building had been obtained, but no church edifice had yet been erected.

On February 26, 1848, Montgomery was incorporated by the Second Legislature of the State of Texas. Nathaniel Hart Davis was the first mayor. With the Civil War and Reconstruction, the political and economic power in Montgomery County shifted away from Montgomery. When the Houston and Great Northern Railroad laid track through the center of the county in 1870, Conroe was established. In 1889 it was chosen the new county seat. The population in Montgomery dropped from 1,000 in 1890 to 600 two years later, although the town's businesses still included cotton gins, sawmills, and two hotels. The population decreased to 350 by 1925 but revived after World War II, reaching 750 in 1950, when Montgomery remained a market and shipping center for the western part of the county. The population slowly declined to fewer than 300 in the 1980s, but 10,000 people lived within a seven-mile radius of the town. Real estate, ranching, and oil underpinned the economy of Montgomery. In 1990 the population was 356. That figure steadily increased from 489 in 2000 to 621 in 2010. In 2020 the population was 1,948.

Many historic homes and buildings in Montgomery have been preserved by the Montgomery Historical Society. The homes of Judge Nathaniel Hart Davis and Dr. E. J. Arnold have been maintained as museums. The Dr. E. J. Arnold house (Arnold-Simonton House) now located in Fernland Historical Park was constructed in 1845 and is one of the oldest houses in Montgomery County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Montgomery claims the title of “Birthplace of the Texas Flag” and attributes the design of the Lone Star Flag of Texas to early Montgomery resident, Charles B. Stewart, in 1839.

James M. Day (comp.), Post Office Papers of the Republic of Texas, 1836–1839, vol. 1, (Austin: Texas State Library, 1966). Max Freund, ed. and trans., Gustav Dressel's Houston Journal (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1954). William Harley Gandy, A History of Montgomery County, Texas (M. A. thesis, University of Houston, 1952). Montgomery Patriot, July 2, 1845. Macum Phelan, A History of Early Methodism in Texas, 1817–1866 (Nashville: Cokesbury, 1924). Melinda Rankin, Texas in 1850, (Boston: Damrell & Moore, 1850). Kameron K. Searle, The Early History of Montgomery, Texas (Montgomery, Texas: City of Montgomery, 2012). Kameron K. Searle, “Lake Creek Settlement in Texas: Scans of Primary Source Documents in Support of Narrative History” (https:www.lakecreeksettlement.info), accessed November 20, 2021. Kameron K. Searle, “Map of the Lake Creek Settlement” (https://www.lakecreeksettlement.info/Map.html), accessed March 31, 2021. Kameron K. Searle, “Roads and Traces in the Lake Creek Settlement” (https://www.lakecreeksettlement.info/Roads.html), accessed March 31, 2021. Kameron K. Searle, “Early History of Methodism in Montgomery, Texas,” Texas History Page (https://www.texashistorypage.com/Methodist-Church-Montgomery-Texas.html), accessed November 29, 2021. Kameron K. Searle, “W. W. Shepperd Sells the Town of Montgomery to James McCown for Slaves,” Texas History Page (https://texashistorypage.com/Shepperd-Sells-Town-of-Montgomery-to-McCown-for-Slaves.html), accessed November 28, 2021. Telegraph and Texas Register, March 17, 1836; July 8, 1837; November 18, 1837. The Texas Almanac for 1872, and Emigrant’s Guide to Texas (Galveston: Richardson & Co., 1872).

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robin N. Montgomery Revised by Kameron K. Searle, “Montgomery, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 01, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/montgomery-tx.

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1952
February 21, 2022

Place
Montgomery
Currently Exists
Yes
Place Type
Town
USGS ID
2411148
Town Fields
  • Has post office: Yes
  • Is Incorporated: Yes
Belongs to
  • Montgomery County
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 30.39264480°
  • Longitude: -95.69736700°
Population Counts
People Year
356 1990
489 2000
621 2010
1,156 2019
Great Texas Land Rush logo
Adoption Status: ⭐
This place has been adopted and will not be available until November 12, 2022
Adopted by:
Ken & Elisabeth Becker