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Home / Browse / Montrose (Ashley County)
Latitude and Longitude:
0.458 square miles (2010 Census)
354 (2010 Census)
July 8, 1904
Historical Population as per the U.S. Census:
Located at an important railroad junction, the city of Montrose in eastern Ashley County is at the intersection of U.S. Highways 165 and 82. Always an agriculturally based city, Montrose is best known today as the home of the Sassy Jones Sauce & Spice Company.
Although western Ashley County is noted for the timber industry, which was centered in Crossett (Ashley County), the eastern part of the county belongs to the Mississippi Delta region, which was home to numerous cotton plantations before and after the Civil War. Dugald McMillan was the first landowner who registered a patent for the land where Montrose now stands. His plantation, like others in the region, employed a large number of slaves, many of whom remained after the war working as tenant farmers for the same landowners. Consequently, African-American citizens have outnumbered white citizens in the area from the time slavery ended up to the present time.
Principal landowners in the twentieth century were W. T. Cone and Sam J. Wilson; Cone had been a merchant in Hamburg (Ashley County) before acquiring farmland in the Montrose area. In 1922, with the national decline in cotton prices, Cone sold his land to Wilson and left the area. Cotton remained the main crop in the area throughout the twentieth century.
Around the beginning of the twentieth century, the Iron Mountain Railroad built a line in the Mississippi River Valley that extended into Louisiana. It established depots at regular intervals where train engineers could obtain additional fuel and water. Many of these depots were named for railroad executives and employees. This is probably the case for Montrose, although no record of the namesake has been preserved. A post office was established at the Montrose stop in 1898. The Montrose depot became more significant when a team of investors created a short line railroad—called the Mississippi River, Hamburg, and Western Railway—to connect the Crossett area to Luna Landing on the Mississippi River; this line intersected the Iron Mountain line at the Montrose depot. (Both lines became part of the Missouri Pacific company later in the century.) Homes and businesses were quickly built around the depot, and Montrose incorporated as a second-class city in 1904.
Montrose, like many other cities in the Mississippi Delta, was devastated by the Flood of 1927. The city recovered, but, like the rest of the country, it languished through the Depression in the years after the flood. Improvements to Highway 82 brought much traffic through the city, as the road was one of the more significant routes across southern Arkansas.
By the middle of the century, the combination of mechanized agriculture and social changes brought about a decline in population, as many farm workers sought better-paying jobs in the larger cities of Arkansas as well as in northern states. Due to school consolidation, all the schools in the county are now part of the Hamburg School District, which does not have any school buildings in Montrose.
In 1986, Bill Jones opened a business in Montrose based around the barbecue sauce recipe of his grandfather, Jasper Jones of Carrollton, Mississippi. Sassy Jones Sauce & Spice Company makes and distributes various foods, including sauces, jams, jellies, and syrups.
The city of Montrose celebrated its centennial on July 10, 2004. The success of the celebration led to the establishment of an annual festival; the first Heritage Festival in Montrose was held in 2006. The festival includes a talent contest, a cornbread competition, a horseshoe tournament, a bingo tent, children’s games, a dunking booth, gospel and country music, and fireworks.
For additional information:City of Montrose.http://www.cityofmontrose.net/(accessed January 31, 2013).
Etheridge, Y. W.History of Ashley County. Van Buren, AR: Press-Argus, 1959.
Steven TeskeButler Center for Arkansas Studies
Last Updated 1/23/2017
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