At Eventide Custom, we see history in the trees. The oaks, the walnuts, the pines, the hickory. All the trees tell a story. The story of our area is not a loud one. We are not some big city where powerful men have pushed forward bold agendas. We are a quiet place with noble people who led lives of integrity. And our trees tell those stories.
It may have been in the slow quiet of the evening, along the bank of the moving river, that French explorers Marquette and Joliet walked on the land where Eventide Custom now stands. Their birch bark canoes were believed to have followed the edge of the Mississippi River, and early residents of this county thought they came aground less than a quarter mile north of the Eventide workshop in 1673.
A quarter mile to the south of Eventide workshop, Louis Honore Tesson, a French Canadian, received a land claim from the Lt. Governor General of Upper Louisiana in 1799, and planted the first apple orchard in what would later become the state of Iowa. While a boisterous Zebulon Pike hurried his way up the Mississippi past the sandbars, Tesson quietly interacted and cooperated with the Illini and Sac and Fox Indians who had lived and traveled through this land for - who really knows how long? The village of Chief Cut Nose, later known as Chief Wapello, only half mile away to the west of Tesson's home.
By 1824, the “Half-breed Tract” was established to provide a home for the children of relationships between Europeans and Native Americans. The tract included 119,000 acres in what is now south Lee County, Iowa. The concept soon fell to corruption, however, and the land was eventually sold off to non-Indians. Following the Black Hawk War in 1832, the state of Iowa was opened to settlement and an Army post was established near Tesson's site. In 1832, Captain James White 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 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 soldiers stayed at Montrose until the spring of 1837.
After the dragoon barracks were abandoned, local businessmen David and Edward Kilbourne set up a store on the fort grounds. The Kilbournes are credited with naming the site Mount of Roses because of the wild roses that were plentiful on the bluffs above the settlement. Their business partner Isaac Galland contracted with Thomas Gregg, who was the editor of the first Hancock County, Illinois, newspaper published June 18, 1836 to start a newspaper to attract people to the Iowa side of the river. This Iowa newspaper, The Western Adventurer, may have been how members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came to the Montrose area. The Mormons had been forced off their property and out of the state of Missouri and were seeking shelter and a place to start anew. The dragoon barracks proved to be adequate housing for the families of many, including Brigham Young and Erastus Snow. LDS Church leader Joseph Smith later negotiated with Galland to purchase land on both the Illinois and Iowa sides of the river. By the 1840 census, most of the heads of household around Montrose were Mormons. The land on the Illinois side of the river would be renamed Nauvoo.
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Eventide Custom is located in Montrose Iowa, a small town across the Mississippi River from Nauvoo, Illinois. Montrose was a small river town at the turn of the century in 1800. It had a small trading post and a fruit orchard built by a pioneer in the late 1700s who grew apples, pears, and peaches under the bluff south of town.
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