This township derives its name from its principal creek, Heath's Creek, which flows through it. The creek was named after tow brothers, John and Robert Heath. In 1809 the Heaths build a plant, a kind of salt works, at the mouth of this creek where it empties into Lamine River in Cooper County. John Heath was a member of the first Constitutional Convention of Missouri. He was a delegate from Franklin County to the convention, which was called together in St. Louis on June 12 1820 and continued in session until July 19, when the constitution was adopted. The creeks and their branches were all named by the earliest settlers. Some were named from the settlers themselves, others were named from some incident that occurred at that time. Cedar Creek was thus named from the large cedar tree which grew at its mouth, near Muddy Creek. Panther Creek was thus named because the first panther killed in this region was taken on that branch. Cold Neck derived its name from the fact that one William Bryant, an early settler of this county, while hunting a bear at this place became very cold and remarked to a companion that it was a "cold neck." Muddy Creek is said to have received its name from the following incident: Hiram Jenkins and John Heath, while on a hunting expedition, camped near what is now known as Farmer's City Ford, on a little island. During the night there came up a heavy rain, and in the morning they found that their horses were gone. They hung up their blankets and went in search of their horses. When they returned they found the island submerged in water. The remark was made that "this is muddy," and the creek has since and from that incident retained the name Muddy.
Heath's Creek township is one of the oldest organizations of townships in Pettis County. It originally embraced its own present limits and also that of Longwood and part of Bowling Green, and continued by this name until 1844, when the townships were rearranged and Bowling Green was cut down and Heath's Creek given the northeastern part of the county which contained the northern part of Longwood and its own township. In this shape it continued until 1873. In that year the county adopted the township organization and Heath's creek still retained the northeastern portion, but was separated from Longwood and as it is now organized it is nine miles north and south by six east and west, and contains 34,560 acres of land. It is bounded on the north by Saline County, on the east by Cooper County, on the south by Bowling Green township, and on the west by Longwood township and is one of the two largest townships in Pettis County.
The township surface is diversified with rolling prairie and timber. The township is more abundantly supplied with water courses than any other in the county . Its largest stream is the Muddy Creek, flowing through the southern portion; the Lamine River touches its eastern border and makes a detour into the township in section 1; Heath's Creek flows across the northern part of the township and each of these have their smaller creeks and branches flowing into them from almost all directions. Still, with all of these creeks and streams flowing through it, it has large tracts of as fine farming lands as there is in the State. Nearly all of the branches are fed by springs and many afford enough water to supply mills along their banks. There are two salt springs in the township, one in the northeastern section and the other in the northern part of the township near the Saline County line, on the northeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 21.
The township has no railroad. The wagon roads are good and the streams are crossed by substantial bridges. The physical condition of the land makes it quite easy to keep good roads, and these conditions are used to the best advantage.
Hiram Jenkins, John Bowles and Thomas Martin were the first permanent settlers of this township and in fact, the first settlers of the county. With their families they crossed the Missouri River in February 1817, and located near the mouth of Heath's Creek. Their place of stopping was about three miles from the present Saline County line, and about the same distance from the Cooper County line. Hiram Jenkins had charge of the boat that brought up the metal fixtures belonging to John and Robert Heath for their salt works, located near the mouth of Heath's Creek. They continued to manufacture salt in Cooper County until the War of 1812, when the Indians made a raid on their works and one of the tow Negro men there employed escaped to St. Louis and the other was never heard from. The War of 1812 deterred Hiram Jenkins from coming to this section. He had been over the ground two or three times on hunting expeditions and in that way had become familiar with the beauties and advantages of this country. Hiram Jenkins started from Murfreesborough Tennessee in October 1816, and came overland, crossing the Mississippi River a few miles about the mouth of the Missouri. He was the leader of the party. The three families mentioned above came from Tennessee and Thomas Marlin's family consisted of 11 persons, Mr. Jenkins' seven and Bowls' eight. Hiram Jenkins lived here for years and then went back to Tennessee where he died. Marlin and Bowles both died and are buried in the township. William Anderson came in 1829 from Louisiana. Aaron Jenkins came in 1817 with his father from Tennessee. Baldwin Jenkins, a brother of the former, came from Tennessee. James Smily came in 1827 from Kentucky. C H Hieronymus came to the county from Howard County in 1826. He was a native of Clark County KY., but came to Missouri with his father's family in 1822. Sylvester Hall came to the township in 1828 from Kentucky. He is buried in this township. Henry Raines came in 1828 from North Carolina. Jesse Swope came to the township in 1826 from Kentucky, lived here a number of years and is buried in the township.
The farming land of this township is that belt of rich, black loam which traverses Aline, Lafayette and the northern part of the county, and from the standpoint of a farmer can not be surpassed. Every advantage is offered, soil, water, timber, and drainage. Mules, Cattle, hogs and sheep are successfully and profitably raised here.
The oldest church organization in the township is the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and this is one of the first congregations organized in the county . It was organized by the members of the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination about 1831 and the church was built by John Ridde. Some time after its erection, it was dedicated by Rev. Peter Ray. It was a frame structure and was erected at a cost of $900. The names of the pastors who have preached to the congregation are, James Wear and L. Burns (organizers of the congregation), W B Wear, Finis Witherspoon, Jonas Martin, John Jopling, Rev. Arnick, and for the last three years James Martin. Among the early members were Baldwin Jenkins, Thomas Marlin and wife, Thomas Marlin, Jr and wife, Hiram Jenkins, Mrs Hall, Alfred Brock and wife.
Wharton Chapel, M E Church, South is one of the oldest organizations of the township . It was built in 1878 by John Thompson, and was dedicated in the fall of 1878 by C C Woods. It was a frame building and was erected at a cost of $1,200. Early pastors were J L D Blevens, M Duran, Josiah Godby, W B McFarland, L M Phillips, A M Rader, G P Smith and E G Frazier.
The Christian Church (formerly the old Union Church), was organized by four denominations, the M E Church, Cumberland Presbyterian, Reformed and M P Churches in 1852. The building was of brick and was erected under the supervision of MR. C R Hieronymous by these four denominations at the cost of about $1,000. Among the first pastors of the church were Rev. Allen Wright and Rev. Wilkes, J B Wright, Jiles Phillips, Rev. Chapple, R W Gentry and Samuel McDaniels. During the war there was a large revival conducted by Elder Peter Donan, and one after the war conducted by Elder Robinson.
Hopewell Baptist Church organization was effected August 1 1867 by elder E H Burchfield and E T Brown and a house of worship 12 miles northeast of Sedalia, was built in 1868 by Z J Thomas. The building was dedicated in 1868 by Elder E H Burchfield. The early pastors were E H Burchfield, J K Godby, L Whipple, W V Parsons, J T Corwin. This church is still called Hopewell and is in a flourishing condition.
The present churches are well attended and kept. Miller's Chapel is a Presbyterian Church and is one of the oldest churches in Pestis County being organized in 1852. It was a camp meeting place many years before a church was organized there. The present building is a frame 40' by 60'. Miller's Chapel Cemetery is a part of the church property, being fenced in with the church by a nice 48" wire fence with a large iron gate on the west side. No serves are being held at Miller's Chapel at the present time.
Hopewell Baptist, situated in the southwestern part of the township, is one of the older churches of the county, having been organized in 1867. It now has a membership of 132, with a Sunday School attendance of 60. The church property is well kept and the estimated value if $1,200.
Memorial Baptist Church situated near the center of the township, has a membership of about 100, with a Sunday school attendance of 50. The church property is in a good state of preservation and represents a money value of about $1,100.
Gillead Christian Church, is located 10 miles northeast of Hughesville and about 6 miles north of Beaman. Rev. Kratzer is the present minister. Membership is 100, with Sunday school attendance of about 80. The principal church officers are, O D Jenkins, Thomas Raines, Judge Leftwich and A M Leftwich.
Union Church, 18 miles northeast of Sedalia, is a Union church, being used by both Baptist and Methodist denominations. Rev. Zebb Thomas held a successful revival in this church in August of this year. The building is a good substantial frame and is well furnished. The Union Sunday school is well attended.
There were many early schools in this township. School No. 1 was taught in 1881 and 1882 by Miss Minnie Parish. She received $35 per month for her services. School No. 2 was taught by Miss Ruth Settles in 1881. School No. 3 was taught by Miss Liva Parish, of Cooper County in 1881. School District No. 2 was taught by Miss Lucy Nobel. Miss Emma Mose taught School District No. 3 and Miss parish taught District No. 4 in 1881. The present-day schools of this township compare favorable with any other in the county and are well equipped and taught. They are as follows: Hopewell, with 53 pupils and Helen Nash teaching. Woodland, with 38 pupils and Selma Leisher teaching. Lookout, with 50 pupils and H B Payne teaching. Science Hill, with 27 pupils and Zula McMullen teaching. Scott with 46 pupils and Blanche Hood teaching. Anderson, with 38 pupils and Mae Alexander teaching, and Postal, with an enrollment of 32 and Nellie Price as teacher.
The first court held in the county was held at Judge James Ramey's and the second at Pin Hook, or St. Helena. The first marriage in the county occurred in this township. It was Nathaniel Newball to Miss Sarah Swope, a daughter of Jesse Swope. The first birth in the county was in the Bowls or Marlin families, it is not certain which. The first death in the township was that of Robert Ellison aged 109 years. He was the grandfather of Aaron Jenkins.
[Transcribed by Laura Paxton.]