The top story of Volume 37, Issue 17 is "Boom Town: Then & Now, Montgomery County's Economic Growth." It was a very informative article because it contained alot of information about Montgomery County history, and since I moved here a few short years ago to be closer to family and friends, I wanted to know more about my adopted home county.
I learned alot from the article. The writer, one Mark Williams, I initially thought of as one sharp guy, I mean doing all this research on Montgomery County had to be hardwork and all, and with The Bulletin, well they obviously can't pay much. It turns out Williams did no research at all, or at the very least the most minute amount to account for his pre-heralded handiwork.
Williams even noted a source, The Handbook of Texas, which was written back in the late '80s, and wrote "numerous artifacts from the Paleo-Indian and Archaic cultures have been found in the area, suggesting that it has been continuously occupied for more than 10,000 years," leaving the impression that that was the only thing noted in Williams piece from the The Handbook.
Well as it turns out with Mark Williams so-called "originality" in regards to the piece, and as with all liberal enterprises such as "man-made global warming" and the Democrats "concern for American soldiers lives in Iraq" -- it was all a FRAUD. Williams is more believeable when he writes about Bigfoot.
You will not find one quotation mark in Williams piece denoting the work of The Handbook articles author Christopher Long, who is now an Asst Professor with UT Austin's School of Architecture.
Mark Williams plagiarism of Professor Long's piece is an affront to journalism. I guess Williams is too busy store clerking or boat valeting, or whatever he does, rather than writing original material. In many places in Williams piece "Boom Town" he copies word for word or closely follows the original Handbook article.
To verify, I typed the words from "Boom Town's" sixth paragraph "When the first Europeans arrived the region it was dominated," after I did an edit-find on The Handbook's Montgomery County article, and low and behold there was a match with not one quotation in sight, and this is quite evident throughout most of the piece.
I'm convinced that Mark Williams copied Long's article to his word processor as the basis for his work, and began nipping here and tucking there, all the while thinking that The Bulletin's dumbed-down readership would do or say nothing, and not to mention "do any of their own research" into what was written. It might as well be the CBS Evening News purposely ignoring good news on the economy, Iraq, etc. just to make the President and the US look bad in front of the world.
The following is the article mostly plagiarized by Williams is posted here, because you know it will be deleted from embarrassment by The Bulletin when the news gets out. To best view Williams so-called original work, do what he did to retrieve it for his foundation. Highlight it, right-click and copy, and paste it into your word processor to enlarge the text.
Thu May 03 12:03:16 2007
Montgomery County's Economic Growth -- Then & Now
Mark Williams, Bulletin Staff Writer
To say that Montgomery County has grown in the past two decades is...
well, calling it an understatement is an understatement. Montgomery County is
the 4th fastest growing county in Texas and 36th in the nation. Montgomery
County is, these days, more than just a cluster of bedroom communities for those
commuting to jobs in Houston; it is now considered a destination -- a clean,
safe place when families live, work and vacation. There is an abundance of
restaurants, shopping, multiple locations of Starbucks, fun family events and
But this has not always been the case: when my family moved to
Conroe from Houston nearly 30 years ago, in the summer of 1978, Montgomery
County was... well, it seemed very small and sleepy -- sound asleep, actually.
The Woodlands was still very much wooded, Lake Conroe was filled with an aquatic
pest called hydrilla and Conroe's busiest shopping destination was the
Crossroads Center. There was no outlet mall, no major department stores, very
few restaurants -- and there wasn't a Starbucks in sight.
In 1990, there was just under 183,000 residents in Montgomery County; a decade later, the
population jumped to over 293,000. In 2006, an estimated 394,000 people
inhabited our little part of the world; and in four years, it is predicted that
over 475,000 folks will live around these parts.
In the last 20 years, the economy of Montgomery County has been significantly expanded. No longer
dependent on just a handful of industries, the county has attracted a plethora
of manufacturing, retail, health care, construction and tourism businesses. In
shoring up this economic expansion, Montgomery County has attracted a highly
skilled, educated workforce. There are more than 500,000 potential employees
within a 30 mile radius of Conroe and more than two million more workers in
Montgomery County has truly come into its own in recent years;
but, despite the sonic boom of a growth spurt brought on by the new century,
Montgomery County has long been the site of human habitation. According to the
Handbook of Texas, published by the Texas State Historical Association at the
University of Texas at Austin, numerous artifacts from the Paleo-Indian and
Archaic cultures have been found in the area, suggesting that it has been
continuously occupied for more than 10,000 years.
When the first Europeans arrived in the region, it was dominated by various tribes of the Atakapan
Indians, a predominantly hunting and gathering people whose range extended south
and eastward to the Gulf Coast. In the early 18th century, one of these tribes,
the Arkokisas had campsites along Peach Creek and on the banks of the San
Jacinto River. The Bidai Indians, another Atakapan tribe, also ranged across
most of the future county, their territory extending as far north as the Old San
Antonio Road. Most of these natives peoples eventually succumbed to European
diseases, were killed by other Indian tribes, intermarried, or migrated
elsewhere; by 1850, virtually no trace of them remained.
The earliest European explorer of what would become Montgomery County was a Frenchman -- René
Robert Cavelier, who passed through the area in 1687. When news of French
incursions reached Spanish authorities, they sent several expeditions to the
region to reclaim it for Spain. During the mid-18th century, the Spanish made
several attempts to establish settlements in the area and eventually set up
three missions on the banks of Spring Creek within the current boundaries of
Montgomery County, but the missions were abandoned in 1756 and no permanent
Spanish settlements were made.
The area was included in the colonization
contracts issued by Spanish and later Mexican authorities to Stephen F. Austin,
and during the early 1820’s Anglo-American settlers began moving into the
region. Over 40 families in Austin's colony got land titles and settled in
western Montgomery County. Among the earliest settlers was Andrew Montgomery,
who established a trading post at the crossroads of the Loma del Toro and lower
Coushatta traces. He was soon joined by friends and relatives and the settlement
eventually grew into the town of Montgomery.
During the early 1830’s, the population of the region increased rapidly, and in December 1837, the Republic
of Texas Congress established Montgomery County, which was named for its largest
settlement. The new county was carved from Washington County, and its borders
originally extended from the Brazos River on the west to the Trinity on the
east, and from the Old San Antonio Road on north to the San Jacinto River on the
south, an area which included future counties Grimes, Walker, San Jacinto,
Madison and Waller. The county's present boundaries were established after the
establishment of Waller County in 1870.
The town of Montgomery, positioned on the stagecoach line that ran from Huntsville to Houston, was made
the first county seat and became the focal point for new immigrants to the area.
The first courthouse, a two-room log structure built in 1838, was replaced in
1842 by a two-story building of handcrafted lumber, and in 1855 a large brick
courthouse was completed. The population grew quickly during the 1840’s and
1850’s, as large numbers of settlers, lured by the abundant land, moved to the
area. In 1850, the population was 2,300, and by 1860 it reached nearly
The great majority of the new immigrants came from the Old South, many
of them bringing their slaves with them. Already in 1850 there were 1,448
bondsmen in the county, and by 1860 their number increased to 2,416, or nearly
half of the entire population. As many as two-thirds of the white families owned
one of more slaves, and two of the state's largest slaveholders lived in the
Montgomery County's economy in its early years was based on
subsistence farming, but by the 1850s a thriving plantation economy, based
largely on cotton production, had developed. By 1860 the county was producing
more than 8,000 bales annually, most of which was hauled overland by horse-drawn
wagons and ox carts to Houston and Galveston.
As the Civil War began, Montgomery County was in most ways typical of the counties of the region,
decidedly Southern in character and outlook, with a rapidly developing
plantation economy. Montgomery remained the largest town, but several other
trading centers had emerged, including Danville, Bay's Chapel, Cincinnati, and
Waverly; in the early 1850’s, Baptists had organized the first church.
The Civil War brought big changes to the county. Not surprisingly, given its large
number of slaveholders, 80 percent of Montgomery County residents cast their
votes for secession. The county's men volunteered for the Confederate army in
large numbers, a sizeable number of them serving in the Fourth Texas Regiment of
Hood's Texas Brigade; others joined Terry's Texas Rangers.
Many of the early volunteers saw considerable action during the war, and as many
three-quarters of them were killed or injured before the end of the war. For
those who remained at home, there were other problems to deal with: lack of
markets for goods, shortages, and wild fluctuations in Confederate
The end of the war brought changes and struggles to the county's
economy. For many of Montgomery County's white residents, the abolition of
slavery meant devastating economic loss. Prior to the Civil War slaves had
constituted nearly a half of all taxable property in the county, and their loss
coupled with a decline in property values caused a profound disruption for most
Like most of Texas counties at the time, Montgomery County
experienced a prolonged post war agricultural depression. During the Civil War
prices for cotton had skyrocketed, and landowners had planted ever increasing
amounts of land in cotton in order to reap the benefits. After the war falling
prices and the loss of cheap slave labor combined to severely depress the local
To make ends meet, many landowners opted to grow even more cotton,
in the process badly depleting the soil. By the 1880’s the soil in many areas of
the county was so poor that cotton yields were as low as one-third to
three-quarters of a bale per acre. Some farmers turned to livestock raising or
other small grains, such corn and wheat, but cotton nevertheless remained the
county's leading cash crop until the end of the century.
The county's economy began to recover with the construction of several railroads. In 1871, the
International-Great Northern Railroad built across the county; in 1879 a
narrow-gauge line known as the Houston, East and West Texas was constructed; and
in 1880 the Houston and Texas Central built a branch line from Navasota to
Montgomery and extended eastward to Conroe.
The construction of the railroads
touched off an intense controversy concerning the location of the county seat.
The first railroad missed the town of Montgomery. Willis, a new town on the
railroad was voted county seat in 1874, but the county seat was moved back to
Montgomery in 1880, after the Houston and Texas Central was built to run through
the territory. In 1889, the county seat was moved to the fledgling community of
Conroe, which was positioned at the junction of the International-Great Northern
and the newly built Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railway.
The construction of the railroads also set off a major period of expansion in the county. Numerous
new towns grew up, and the population, which had risen only slightly since the
Civil War, saw a marked increase. Despite the loss of considerable territory due
to the splitting off of several new counties, between 1870 and 1880, the number
of residents grew from 6,400 to just over 10,000, and over the next two decades
the population increased to more than 17,000.
The construction of the railroads also marked the beginnings of the county's great lumber surge.
Commercial lumbering had begun in the county prior to the Civil War, but the
lack of easy access to river or rail transportation severely hampered efforts to
exploit the area's rich timber resources. With the arrival of the railroads,
however, lumbering quickly developed into a major industry.
By 1882, 45 steam sawmills were in operation and within a short time lumbering emerged as the
county's largest source of income. The lumber boom gave rise to numerous new
communities like Bobville, Cowl Spur, Dobbin, Egypt, Fostoria, Honea, Karen,
Keenan, Mostyn, Leonides, and Security -- all of which developed as lumber
shipping points or mill sites.
The boom also helped to transform the county
in other ways: as late as the early 1870’s, 80 percent of the county was still
covered by thick pine forests. Over the next four decades much of the county was
deforested, permanently altering the landscape and opening the way for a steady
increase in livestock raising and farming.
The agricultural economy, which had been on the wane since the Civil War, began to recover in the 1880’s.
Spurring its growth was the introduction of tobacco, which began to be planted
in large quantities in the 1890’s. The center of the industry was Willis, which
by 1895 had seven cigar factories. But high railroad shipping costs and the high
initial investment and labor involved in curing and sweating the tobacco
discouraged many farmers.
Between 1898 and 1901 the amount of land given over
to tobacco production fell dramatically from more than 1,000 acres to only 70.
The subsequent lifting of a United States tariff on Cuban tobacco, which had
kept prices artificially high, finally ended the experiment, and within a few
years virtually no tobacco was being grown in the county.
The agricultural economy declined at the turn of the century, but by 1910 it began to show slow
but steady growth. Between 1910 and 1920 the number of farms in the county
increased and the amount of improved acreage grew to over 80,000. Although
cotton and corn continued to be grown in considerable quantities, many farmers
after 1910 turned to truck farming, growing fruits and vegetables for the
ever-expanding cities on the Gulf Coast.
Farm production gradually increased after the turn of the century, and by the early 1920’s agricultural revenue in
some areas reached new highs; but the period also saw high land prices that
forced many farmers into tenancy; already by 1910 nearly half of all farmers
were tenants, many of them barely making a living.
Despite the upswing in farming, lumber remained the county's primary industry after 1900. In 1914, the
Delta Land & Timber Company built a mill in Conroe, which at the time was
the most modern sawmill in the state and one of the largest in the South. The
lumber industry also gave rise to a number of related business, including box
and cross-tie factories, which flourished during the 1910s and early
Timbering remained the area's principal source of income during the
early 1920’s, but by the end of the decade it was in steep decline, largely
because most of the best timber had been cut. The lack of available timber
forced many of the mills to close, and many smaller lumber communities were
abandoned. By the late 1920’s, large numbers of lumber workers were leaving the
county to seek work elsewhere.
The countywide population, which had reached
over 17,000 in 1920, fell over the next decade and by 1930 had dropped to
14,000. The decline in the timber industry came at an unfortunate moment for the
county: by 1930, the effects of the Great Depression were being felt, and within
a short time the ranks of the jobless swelled enormously. Hardest hit were the
county's farmers, who were forced to endure the combined effects of falling
prices, soil depletion, and boll weevil infestations. Those with large plots of
land were able to make it through the hard times, but many of the county's
tenant farmers and sharecroppers were forced off the land. Between 1930 and 1940
the number of farms in the county fell sharply, and as many as a third of all
tenants left to seek other work.
But a reversal of fortune was in the
offing, when oil was discovered southeast of Conroe in 1932. Evidence of oil had
been found in the county as early as 1901, when Santa Fe Railroad engineers
drilled a water well and noted traces of oil. Natural gas was found southwest of
Conroe in 1924, and several major oil companies acquired leases in the area; but
initial tests were unsuccessful, and the companies lost interest.
In August 1931, oil wildcatter George William Strake began drilling a test well 6 miles
southeast of Conroe and in December hit oil; by June 1932 Strake had brought in
a second, even larger well, which was spewing out more than 900 barrels daily.
The discovery immediately triggered an tremendous oil boom. Within days
thousands of fortune-seekers, financiers and roughnecks flooded the area. The
population of Conroe, estimated at 2,500 in December 1931, mushroomed to more
than 10,000 within a few months.
At the beginning of 1933 more than 100 wells
had been drilled, and more that 25,000 barrels per day were being produced; by
the end of the year the number of producing wells had grown to 679 and the daily
output was more than 52,000 barrels. Oil was subsequently discovered in several
other areas of the county and the combined oilfields of Montgomery County made
it one the richest oil producing areas in the nation.
Although the majority of Montgomery County residents saw no direct benefits from the discovery, oil
money contributed to a general prosperity that helped offset the worst effects
of the depression. Oil money also helped to remake the face of the county. Roads
were graded and paved, new schools were built and public buildings and monuments
erected. Conroe saw a construction boom as numerous new buildings -- banks,
offices, and homes -- were erected with oil money. The population of the county,
swelled by the boom, grew by nearly 10,000 between 1930 and 1940, increasing to
just over 23,000.
The prosperity continued during the years of World War II:
oil refineries and a carbon black manufacturing plant were built, and efforts
were intensified to produce as much oil as possible for the war effort. After
the war, oil production declined, but it has remained one of the county's
consistent sources of income; in 1990 alone more than 2 million barrels were
Since World War II, the agricultural scene has also seen
change: during the 1940’s and 50’s, many farmers turned to truck farming, but in
recent years cattle and horse ranching have increased. In the early 1990’s the
majority of agricultural income came from livestock and livestock products, with
smaller amounts from greenhouse and nursery products.
Lumber is also once again a major industry: after the wholesale harvesting of the 20’s, many forests
were allowed to grow again, and by the early 90’s over three-quarters of the
land was timbered. The Sam Houston National Forest covers much of the northeast
and northwest portions of the county.
Between 1950 and 1960, the number of
residents grew to nearly 27,000, but since that time it has increased more and
more -- rising to just under 50,000 in 1970, nearly 129,000 in 1980, and 183,000
a decade later. Today, as the county has grown in all directions, there are more
businesses than ever before and homes are being built at a frenetic pace. More
and more people from across the country and around the world call Montgomery
But with that growth comes certain problems: roadway fatalities
happen here in greater numbers than ever before and the sale and use of illegal
narcotics is way up in the county nowadays; in 2003, the violent crime rate was
9.8 per 1,000 people in Montgomery County, according to the Federal Bureau of
Investigations -- but the homicide rate was nearly non-existent.
However, the good outweighs the bad when it comes to life in Montgomery County; but with
areas like Willis, Lake Conroe, South County and Magnolia constantly building,
growing and changing, we might just be a little hard pressed to find room for
all those nearly 100,000 new residents due to move here in the next three
But we'll manage somehow..."