Early Reminiscences, Personal Incidents and Anecdotes,
And A Complete Business Directory Of The County
By Samuel D. Chapman 1879
Contributed by Patty Delmott and Transcribed by Cyndi Vertrees
This is an enterprising town of about six hundred inhabitants situated on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad about send miles west of Tama City. It is beautifully located and is one the most thrifty and enterprising towns in the County. It is located on section twenty-one and twenty-eight and covers about one hundred and twenty acres of land. Miron Blodgett, and Phineas Helm, were the original owners of this land, and for a number of years before this town was established used it for farming purposes.
The first business established at this point was by Dr. John Doe in the fall of 1863, who opened a stock of dry goods in a small building which was moved from Indiantown. E. Ruggles who had been engaged in business at the latter place, prior to the road reaching Montour, was the next to erect a store and engage in business at the new town. From this date, 1863, the place grew very rapidly and to-day it is well represented in all branches of business as our business directory will show. The first dwelling house was erected by B. McCullen and the first hotel was the Orford House, moved here from Indiantown. The railroad depot was built by the people, and as soon as this was done it gave an impetus to the place and from that time to the present date the town has continued to grow. It was called Orford at eh request of some of the citizens after the well known Orford of Vermont, but since changed to Montour, the present name. The scenery in and around town is truly beautiful. The bluffs here are its true mine of wealth; not only do they add charms to the place, but they are composed of a formation which at no distant day will cause the town of Montour to become a place of no small note. One-fourth mile west of the town are the kilns of the Orford Lime Company, where are deposits of oolitic limestone of large quantities, from which they are manufacturing lime and doing a good shipping business. This, from its appearance, belongs to the sub-carboniferous era, for the whole formation seems to consist of deposits of fish bones, shell, spines, etc. the finest however, has the appearance of the spawn of millions of fish being thrown together and cemented in one solid mass; and upon examination it is almost impossible to find a specimen in which traces of organic life cannot be seen. It is from appearance a fine carbonate of lime, minus sand or quartz, but seems held together by a crystallized calcareous spar. It varies in color, sometimes being of grayish white with sections of light blue, and sometimes of a dark cream running through it. It is quite soft when first quarried but grows hard upon exposure. The deposit here is about twelve to fifteen feet in thickness, and the lime manufactured form this cannot be surpassed, it having now an almost universal reputation. This business adds greatly to the interest of the town.
On the sixth day of December, A. D. 1870, a vote was taken for or against organizing as a town under the general laws of the State, resulting in its almost unanimous adoption, only two votes being polled against it, and the following named gentleman were elected to the various offices: Mayor, J. W. Niman; Trustees, H. Winchell, J. H. Stevens, S. Ellis, J. White; Recorder, T. R. Oldham. Thepresent officers are as follows: Mayor, H. J. Stevens; Recorder, W. C. Burgess; Trustees, T. P. Smith, H. C. Burgess, R. E. Tewksbury, H. C. Waggenor, A. B. Gage, and R. M. Tenney.
With reference to the public schools of the place the citizens take an especial pride, and their schools rank among the best in the County. In the southern part of town between Main and Division Streets is located a fine brick school building the main part of which is 36 X 54, with tow large wings 14 X 26. This building was erected in the year 1877 at a cost of about $9,000, is quite showy, and neat, yet well proportioned. The foundation is of limestone, while the main walls are of red brick. It is in height two stories and contains three large and nicely arranged school rooms, with tow recitation rooms, each being provided with the best modern school furniture and every appliance that would aid one in acquiring knowledge. Everything in connection with the building is in good taste and reflects great credit upon the city.
The public schools for the past two or three years have been conducted by W. H. Black, who has succeeded in a perfect organization of every department of the schools, and has flled his position to the satisfaction of the people. The following are the present school board: T. P. Smith, J. H. Stevens, A. N. Poyneer, H. D. Williams, H. G. Wallace, R. E. Tewksbury.
E. Ruggles, dry goods