La Monte township is on the western border, a few miles north of the west center of the county. It is bounded on the west by Johnson County, on the east by Dresden township, on the north by Blackwater township and on the south by Elk Fork township. It contains thirty-six sections, or 23,040 acres of land. It is drained by Muddy, Walnut Branch, South Fork and Brushy. The land is gently undulating and from a standpoint of productiveness, no better land lays out of doors. Farming and stock raising are the principal industries. Any crop that can be produced in Missouri can be grown on the lands of this township. The farmers are all prosperous and keep their farms up to date. The main line of the Missouri Pacific railway runs west through sections 13, 14,15, 16,17, and 18, a little north of the center of the township.
In the early days, the imperfect surveys caused much annoyance and quite a few law suits. It was not an uncommon thing for a resident of the township to build his cabin, only a few months later, to find that he had built it on his neighbor's lands. The first justice of the peace in the township was Jesse Pemberton.
The first settlement of the township was made in 1832, or about one year before the organization of the county, by Mr & Mrs R Craighead. Mr. Craighead was from Bedford County Kentucky and Mrs. Craighead from Franklin County, the same state. Mr. Craighead came to Callaway County Missouri in 1819 or 1820 and remained in that county until he was married in 1831, when he emigrated to Pettis County and settled in the southeast corner of LaMonte township, and erected the first house built in the township. Judge Jesse Pemberton, also from Kentucky, James Kemp, Jefferson Moore, Dr. Thomas Pemberton, George Pemberton, Harrison James, Mr. Hughes (his wife, Mrs. Jane Hughes, was probably the oldest person living in La Monte township, being 96 years of age), Squire Sharpe, Dr. J W Snoddy, J S Fleming, from Virginia; Reuben DeHaven from Virginia; Solomon Sandridge, Wm Moore, Andrew Carroll, John H Divers, Wm Brown, Thomas McKeean, John F Yankee and John W. Allen.
The educational interests of the township were looked after at an early date; when neighbors became near enough a suitable person was employed, and schools were held at private houses. The first district school house in the township was erected about two miles southeast of the present town of La Monte. The first teacher who occupied this pioneer structure, which was erected in 1842, was Thomas Hill. After teaching in this house sometime, he married one of his pupils, Miss Catherine J. Craighead.
The first church erected in the township was built about 1837. Prior to this meetings had been held in the private houses. This first chapel was built about four miles south of the present town of La Monte, on Walnut Branch by the Baptist denomination. The first minister was the Rev. Martenis Embry. The next church building in the township was erected in the present town of LaMonte. The other churches of the township were situated in La Monte. They were the Methodist Episcopal South, Baptist and Christian.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was located in La Monte, but the class was organized in August 1866 by L P Siceloff, the first year of his ministry at Craighead school house. The original members were, Robert and Nancy H Craighead, John S and E I Fleming, Mr & Mrs Higginbothan, Mrs. Elizabeth Moore, Mrs. Monroe Garton. The church building was erected by Joseph Bradfield and Robert and R Brown, carpenters. It was completed in 1871, and was dedicated by Rev. Wm M Prottsman, presiding elder of this district. The early pastors were: N Talbot, J R Bennett, presiding elder; J M Kelley, A M Radar, W S Woodars, M Adkinson, presiding elder; W M Bewley, M M Pugh, presiding elder; M. Dusun, J B H Wooldridge who being afflicted resigned the charge.
The Christian Church of La Monte was organized December 7 1869, by James Randall, with 19 members. W D Snoddy and B R Taylor were elected elders of the congregation. The latter resigned the position in 1874 and William Duke was elected to fill his place. The church met regularly every Lord's day since its organization to worship. It had a Sunday school connected with an average attendance of 75 pupils. J W Snoddy superintendent. The following were the early pastors of the church: James Randall, O. Spencer, C A Hedrick, James Morgan, J C Crippin, William Dorsey, G. Phillips, S K Hallam, E M Berry. The church building was frame and was built in 1870. Original membership includes the names of W D Snoddy, E A Snoddy, Vincent Terry, Sallie A Terry, W B Shaw, Susan Shaw, John Schutt, Utica Schutt, John Bard, Mary A Bard, B R Taylor, Polly A Taylor, Thomas Terry, N Terry, George Duncan, Bettie Duncan, Lanora Hardy, Olive Shaw and Fannie Bard.
The Baptist Church of La Monte township was organized in 1837, and is one of the oldest churches in the county. The house of worship in the town of La Monte was built by the Presbyterians, and the congregation of the town consisted of 20 members, as follow: Rev. W S Webb, W B Webb, A J Hall, Sarah H Hall, Kittie Fleming, Mrs. Zoda Webb, Sallie Fleming, E J Webb, Jennie Craighead, Mrs. Oberby, Cardy Oberby, Susan Strickle, E S Webb, G F Bailey and M L Bailey.
On August 29 1874, Bethel Church with a membership of 30 united with the congregation above mentioned. For three years the congregation worshiped in the Presbyterian Church building and for three more years their services were held in the building belonging to the Methodists. The former building was purchased in 1880, from the Presbyterian congregation. It was erected in 1871, and cost about $1,500. Rev. W S Webb was pastor for four years, and Rev. J K Godby pastor for three years. The building was dedicated by Revs. W S Webb and Godby in December 1880.
Methodist Episcopal church in La Monte, was organized in 1866 at Craighead school house and moved later to La Monte. Its early ministers were: Revs. M Duran, J B H Woolridge, J J Hill, W T Eastwood, R F Campbe, J A Jared, J R Strong, W B Cobb. More recent ministers have been J F Casky, E Y Ginn, G S Welborn, B V Alton, L P Norfleet, R J Kyle, W C Bewley. Present minister is Rev. J Russell Brown. Present church building is an old frame built in 1871. The parsonage, in connection, is a comfortable frame, seven room house. Church membership is 201, with Sunday school enrollment of 215.
The La Monte Baptist Church, is situated in the town of La Monte. The church building is a neat structure and is in good condition. The building is splendidly furnished and equipped. Fixtures and building represent a money value of about $2,200. The church membership is 97, and the average Sunday School attendance is 51.
The La Monte Christian Church is located on South Main street, three blocks south of the Missouri Pacific Depot. The church is a frame building, four rooms, separate Sunday school rooms, is equipped with furnace and electric lights. Church is nicely furnished and the main auditorium will seat 300 people in comfort. Membership is 250 with Sunday school attendance of 150. Revs. C V Pierce, J F Quisenberry, and Emmett Davison have ministered to the church. Rev George Buckner, Jr., is the present minister.
There are also two Negro churches in La Monte. One is a Baptist church and the other is a Methodist.
This township, in the town of La Monte, has the only first class high school in the county, outside the city of Sedalia, and the inhabitants are proud of the accomplishments of the institution. It has an enrollment this winter of 48. Mrs. Marian Moore is superintendent, with Stella may Chatham and Clara Brown, assistants. The public schools are six in number and are excellently taught and controlled. Crystal Springs school enrolled 14 this winter and Gertrude Burke is teaching. Pleasant Green school has an enrollment of 20 and Gussie Elliott is teaching. Allen school has 17 pupils and Dottie Owen is teaching. East Prairie Grove has 6 pupils and Mrs. J R Downs is the teacher. West Prairie Grove has an enrollment of 12 this winter, and Minnie Ginder is the teacher. La Monte school has a full enrollment this year and Mrs. Marion Moore is teaching the school.
Transcribed by Laura Paxton