*** Please note that my
email address has just been changed to the correct one. I
apologize for the long absence from this website. I have
not had time to maintain this site, and although I'm still very
limited, I can now make minor changes, or additions. Thank
Welcome to the Montrose, Iowa site! There are two ways to
view the pictures located in the left column. You may either
click on the main page for each category, (Montrose Area, School
Students,etc.), to view thumbnails for each picture under that category
or click the links for individual pictures. If you have any
comments, or pictures you would like to add to the site, please email
Thank you and hope you enjoy the site. Ruth
The town of Montrose, Iowa was originally named Mount of Roses by
David Kilbourne in about 1837. He named it Mount of Roses because of
the beautiful roses that were covering the hill sides along the Bluff
Park. The name was later changed to Montrose. The town was first
settled in 1832 by Captain James White, established in 1854 when Mr.
Kilbourne drew the original plat of the town and later incorporated in
Going back to the history of the area before Montrose
was even a
town, the first white man to live in this area was Louis Honore Tesson.
Mr. Tesson was a French Canadian and was issued a claim by Zenon
Trudeau, Lt. Governor General of Upper Louisiana, on March 30, 1799.
This was quite a large claim which included Montrose. It is believed
that Tesson's home was located near the foot of the hill on what is
now River Road in the southern part of Montrose. In this claim Tesson
was required to plant trees, sow seeds, help the Indians to cultivate
the soil and plant seeds, but mostly to encourage them to accept the
Catholic religion. Mr. Tesson and several friendly Indians then
traveled on horseback to near St. Louis where they bought apple trees
to plant Iowa's first apple orchard.(The
stone in the above picture was placed in Montrose to
Tesson Orchard - click on the picture to read the plaque).
The Indian village located here was called Cut Nose Village.
Many of the male white adventurers, trappers,and traders,
inter-married with the Sac and Fox women. Because of these marriages
that produced half-breeds, a treaty was made on August 4, 1824 between
the Sac and Fox and the United States. This treaty included the south
part of Lee County, totalling about 119 thousand acres, to be reserved
for the half-breeds to live on but not to own. Later in 1834 the
half-breeds could acquire the land in fee simple. Because of this
speculators who knew the weaknesses of the Indians rushed in and
purchased land from the half-breeds knowing that often times a gun,
blanket, pony or whiskey was enough to purchase a large piece of land.
Illegal claims made by speculators and half-breeds brought many
conflicts as there had been no authorized surveys or boundary lines
for claims. To settle these disputes it was decided to sell the whole
tract of land to Hugh Reid. Once again errors were made so the
judgment titles failed. It was then in 1841 they decided the only
legal way to sell would be by "drawing lots" of 101 shares.
Montrose was settled in 1832 by Captain James White. He enclosed
six or seven acres and built a double log cabin from trees growing on
a nearby island, not far from a creek, which was thought to have been
Jack Creek. In 1834 the government then bought the land from Captain
White for a military post. This was called the First Fort Des Moines.
The military post was occupied by three companies of the First U.S.
Dragoons. The Dragoons stayed at Montrose until the spring of 1837.
It was after this time then that the town of Montrose began to
grow. Montrose was an important river town during the 1850-1870's.
Boats had to stop at Montrose to unload or load due to the shallow
rapids of the Mississippi River. It brought many jobs to the area and
was then that many immigrants began to settle in this area. The town
grew with up to 1200 residents by the 1870's.
The town population soon became much smaller with the building of
the government canal in 1877. Boats no longer had to stop at Montrose
to unload or load their goods. Then the building of the Keokuk dam in
1913 flooded many business that were located at the riverfront. Today
the population of the town of Montrose is about 957.
At one time, Montrose consisted of many factories and businesses,
making it a very busy town. To the left is the Curtis Button factory,
established in 1903. This factory along with a sawmill, a distillery,
two canning factories,and pickle works were all situated near the
mouth of Horton's Creek in an area nicknamed "Catarogus".
The Montrose Sawmill shown at the right was operated in 1877 by Guy
Wells, G.B. Fett, and D.J. Spaulding. This business employed between
fifty and seventy-five men and could cut over fifty thousand board
feet of lumber a day. This sawmill also made shingles and lath and
fence pickets. Mr. Anderson of Anderson Windowalls Co., began his
career in the lumber business in Montrose in the early 1880's and was
part owner of this sawmill around 1884. The sawmill closed around
~~~~~Photos courtesy of the Montrose Library~~~~~
Montrose History & Pictures - Continued
on Page 2
A special thanks to ROOTSWEB
for sponsoring this site.
Sally Youngquist, co-coordinator of the Lee County website, for all
her help and encouragement with this site and to Lana Clark, Montrose
Librarian, for all her help in getting information and pictures.