Art & Culture
Conroe Founder’s Day to Celebrate Isaac Conroe
CONROE, TX – The Isaac Conroe Founder’s Day is Tuesday, August 2 from 6:00-8:00pm at the Isaac Conroe Homestead, now the City of Conroe Connection Transportation Services at 202 Ave. A. There will be an Isaac Conroe Look Alike Contest in two age brackets-14 and under, and over 14 years of age with a cash prize. This is a free event with elected officials, period costumed docents from the 1800’s, cannons, and descendants of Isaac Conroe who was born Aug 2, 1835, and died at the age of 62 in 1897. Refreshments will be served.
The National Anthem will be sung after the presentation of the flags by Major General Patrick Cleburne’s 7th Texas Infantry Camp of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans with a cannon fired at the close with a black musket by the Rolling Thunder Cannon. Local, state, and federal elected officials will be on hand to share the celebration of Isaac Conroe, born 187 years earlier.
The first Founder’s Day was celebrated August 2nd, 2018, with the hope is to make it an annual event with a parade and community engagement. This year one person will be honored as the Conroe Citizen of the Year. The candidates must live in Conroe, be over 21, have made a significant contribution to the City of Conroe, and must submit an email by July 18th to DGuin@CityofConroe.org. Self- nominations are acceptable with awards given to the winner on Aug. 2 at the event.
Isaac Conroe is the founding father of the City of Conroe. There is NO other city named Conroe in the world. Isaac Conroe coerced the railroad to make a stop in the town, and it was named the “Conroe Switch.” He later built a sawmill and the famous white wooden house on 202 Avenue A that is considered the birthplace of Conroe. This house served as his family’s residence, the first Post Office and the first Courthouse.
Isaac Conroe Obituary from 1897
Captain Isaac Conroe of Conroe first came to his inheritance of the sunshine and shadow of life in Long Branch, New Jersey. February 1834, and after a brief but severe illness the Recording Angel wrote finished at the end of his loyal service to the Master on Monday, August 2, 1897, at 3:30 p.m. At the end of four years’ service in the United States Army he cast his lot in Texas settling first at Lynchburg, later at Houston, where he is so well known and esteemed; and nineteen years ago, where to the pine woods the sound of the locomotive was strange, but where now flourishes the brave little town that bears his name and of which a month since he was appointed postmaster. Always large-hearted, and public spirited there is not a church, school, or enterprise of any kind there that has not received his substantial aid and encouragement. Living ever for the betterment of the race he has indeed been “househand” to the town as well as his home circle. The world is better for his having lived in it and his “foot-prints in the sands of time” may well encourage those whom he has left behind to live up to the very highest standard of humanity. Life was not all success, but time and space will not admit the record of how bravely difficulties were met and overcome, nor the firmness and courage with which life’s battles were fought. Every business house in Conroe closed its doors in respect to his memory and the entire population at this sawmill, some 200, followed the loved form as far as the train. No one person throughout Montgomery County could be more universally mourned. He was laid to rest in Glenwood beside his loved wife, who preceded him a year ago. A son, Mr. William Munger Conroe, two daughters, Mrs. Hart and Miss Effie Conroe, and a granddaughter, little Marguerite Hart, mourn a father ever just, wise, and loving.
The following is from Captain Isaac Conroe by Kristin F. Smith, available at the Montgomery County Memorial Library:
Isaac Conroe, eldest son of Levi and Ann Conroe was born in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1834. Levi, a farmer, and mechanic moved the family to Chicago in the 1840s, and there Isaac grew up in a bustling household which included several siblings and his maternal grandparents. Other Conroe relatives lived nearby. Isaac became a carpenter.
In August 1861, amid the turmoil of the Civil War, he joined the Union Army. A tall, blue-eyed, dark-haired man of twenty-seven, Isaac was also apparently a skilled equestrian. When he enlisted as a private in McClellan’s Dragoons, 12th Illinois Cavalry, he provided his own mount and accoutrements. He served throughout the war, rising to the rank of captain. [Click here for Isaac Conroe’s Civil War Pension Card]
At Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, he suffered a gunshot wound to the face and neck, an injury so severe his commanding officer initially reported him as “killed in action.” Lt. Conroe spent the next month in hospital, then rejoined his troop. Posted to Memphis, New Orleans and finally Texas, he mustered out as a captain at Galveston in May 1866.
Isaac Conroe, farmer’s son, one-time carpenter, came to love the Dine woods of East Texas, and after a quick trip to Washington, D.C. to marry his fiancée, Margaret K. Richardson, he settled here and built a sawmill. The mill was originally located at Halton, south of Conroe. In 1881, Isaac purchased land near the present city of Conroe and moved his operations to this place. A 2½ mile tram route connected the mill with the I&GN railroad. [See Isaac Conroe, Lumberman]
In these years, the Conroe family lived in Houston and Isaac commuted there by train, using his handkerchief to flag the engineer. On one of his trips, he sat next to an official of the railroad, and convinced that gentleman to make the place a regular stop. The official suggested the name “Conroe’s Switch,” later shortened to “Conroe’s.” A thriving community grew up. The Conroe family built a home here, and Isaac became a respected leader in the town he had founded.
Isaac Conroe died August 2, 1897, suffering a heart attack while hard at work in his mill. He was 63. The local paper concluded a heartfelt and florid obituary with the simple words, “A good man has passed away.”
For more information on Isaac Conroe, contact the Heritage Museum and order a copy of Isaac Conroe, Founder of Conroe, Texas 1834-1897 and some of his Ancestors & Descendants, compiled by Vera Meek Wimberly.