The community of Montvale was established in 1884 when the pioneer settlement of St. Elmo was relocated here. Then a part of Tom Green County, Montvale was located on the Shafter Military Trail, an early road from Fort Concho.
A community school, the earliest in the area, was in operation by 1886. Three years later the town was platted by H.B. Tarver, the surveyor for Tom Green County. It is believed the settlement was named for a nearby hill referred to in Tarver's field notes as Mt. Vale.
Early businesses in Montvale included the saddle and harness shop of R.B. Cummins and the general store and blacksmith shop of B.Z. Cooper. The town was also the site of a Methodist church, a hotel, a post office and a variety of stores. About 1889 R.B. Cummins started the town of Cummins (5.4 miles northwest) upriver from Montvale. Both settlements began to decline in 1891 with the establishment of Sterling City (3.5 miles northwest) as the seat of government for the newly created Sterling County.
A community cemetery is all that remains of the townsite of Montvale, a pioneer settlement that played an important role in the area's development.