Smithton township is situated in the eastern part of the county, a little south of the center. The main line of the Missouri Pacific railroad runs through the northern part of the township.
The principal industry is farming and stock raising. Fruit thrives better in this township than perhaps any other in Pettis County. Dairying is carried on to a limited extent. Smithton township, in taking its name, honors the founder of Sedalia, George R Smith, whose history will be found interwoven around Sedalia in its early days.
This township was originally a part of Bowling Green and was organized in 1864. It was separated from that township in 1864. The County Court records show that while separate voting places were established in that year, still the township was not organized until May 13 1873. The township is square. It is bounded on the north by Bowling Green township, on the east by Morgan County, on the south by Lake Creek township, and on the west by Flat Creek and Sedalia townships. It has 23,040 acres.
The early settlers, while the township was yet a part of Bowling Green were Joseph Scott, who came from Kentucky in 1815. James Roberts came to the township in 1820. N Steel came from Kentucky in 1820 to this township. John Porter, from Kentucky came in 1825. George Smiley came to the township in 1825. Robert Ross came to the county and settled in the township in 1827. Daniel Wright came to the state from Alabama in 1831 and settled in Bowling Green township. William Smiley came to the township from North Carolina in 1832. George Small came in 1825 from Kentucky and lived a number of years in the township. Andrew M Wright came to the township from Alabama in 1831. Clinton Young came to the township in 1830, from Tennessee and his brother, Clayburn Young, from the same State in 1839.
The first marriage in the township was that of Mr. Robert Ross to Miss Mercy Potter in 1832.
The pioneer ministers were Revs. Wolf and E Morey, both Old School Baptists. They looked after the spiritual welfare of the early settlers in 1831. In 1837 Dr. Thomas Evans located in the township. The first school was taught in a log cabin in 1832, by William Miller. Mr. Miller was afterwards elected County Judge. The school house occupied a piece of ground in section 23, township 46, range 20. The first meeting was held at the residence of Joseph Scott.
At an early day the churches of different denominations held meetings in private houses. The first church building that was erected in what is Smithton township, was erected in 1844 by the Methodist Episcopal denomination. It was built of logs with rough benches for seats. Rev. Sebastian Bard was the officiating minister. Mr. Bard was the circuit rider for this district in those early days, and his circuit extended from Jefferson City to St. Joseph. Preaching was held at each appointment once each month and the ministers frequently had to ride 40 miles in one day to meet his appointments. He preached every day in the week. The next church erected in the township was build at Farmers City. This church was moved to Smithton shortly after that town was started.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Smithton was organized November 26 1866, by Rev. J B Stout. In the summer of 1868 a commodious frame house of worship was built at a cost of $3,600 by Rev. Nathan Jewett. It was dedicated on Nov. 28 1868 by Rev. T H Hagerty and W R Marshall. The pastors to 1881 were Revs. J B Stout, G McRea, N Jewett, S Alexander, W A Boucher, E P F Wells, A H Heinlein, A P Sallaway, J B Daniel, and W G Cowan. The original members of the class were T. Ellison, E Ellison, N Ellison, J Silken, Mrs. Silken, Mr and Mrs J M Norton, Mr & Mrs W D Norton, Mr and Mrs E N Norton, Mrs. Galbrath, C Bohon, Susan Bohon, S Martin, W H Mers, E Mers, Lydia Heismeyer, P Martin and Lucy Wilkinson.
The German Methodist Episcopal Church of Smithton was organized by Rev. Charles Stneckmann in the year 1866, and they erected a frame house of worship in 1868 at a cost of $1,700. The building was dedicated by Rev. F Stoffregen in May 1868. The following were early ministers in charge: Revs. C Sha, J A Reitz, J P Miller, C F Fleiner, Charles Stneckmann and J H Aslin. The original members were: M Monsees Sr., G Monsees, M Monsees Jr., H Monsees, H Alkin, H Demand J H Kruse, M W Wittlinger and F Tangler.
The Church of Christ was organized in Smithton by Elder Allen Wright in 1860, and in the fall of the same year the congregation had a commodious frame house of worship erected at a cost of $2,400. The original members were: Joseph Fowler and wife, John Fowler, Hannah Fowler, F B Taylor and wife, Job Harned and wife, James Major, wife and daughter and B P Smith and wife.
The Flat Creek Baptist Church was located southwest of Smithton five miles and was organized at Johnston's school house, September 23 1846, by Elder J G Berkley and Elias George. The original members were Benijah Gentry and Mary, his wife; James Harvey and Nancy his wife; J G Berkley and Cornelia, his wife; Mary A Berkley, Nancy Berkley, Lucy Johnston, Sarah Carpenter and Nancy Carpenter. First officers, J G Berkley, pastor and moderator; J E Crawford deacon and James Harvey, clerk. Elder Berkley served a pastor and Moderator until 1851.
The early school in the township outside of Smithton academy were five in number and they were primitive affairs, the buildings and seats being made of hewn logs and the teachers of the stern type. The buildings were mostly frame. The present school building in Smithton was built in 1870. The contractor who erected the building was James L Moore of Illinois. The cost $5,000. The first teachers in the building were Mr & Mrs E M Brundige. The colored school was under the supervision of W J Baucher.
There are many churches in this township. The Flat Creek Baptist church is five miles southwest of Smithton. The building is white, built on ground sloping from three sides, with public road on the south side. The membership is 98 with Sunday school attendance of 40. Rev. L R Kenney is the present minister. Church has cemetery connection, Flat Creek Cemetery, just north of the church building.
Smithton Methodist Episcopal was organized there in 1896. Rev. William Leatherman is the present minister. Ministers since 1882; W V Hamel, I J K Lunbeck, William Stephens, W G Pyles, M G Rambo, W F Jones, George A Glens, Homer A Babbitt, Clark Baker, F S Beggs, Zed Wright R N Jones. The church building is located on the southeast corner of Locust and Third streets. It is situated on tow beautiful lots near the center of the town and just across the street east of the parsonage and handsome grounds, consisting of a quarter of a block. The church, as it no stands was completed in 1902.
Smithton Christian Church was first organized at Farmers City. Bros. Orrison, Sterling, Trader, Couch, Cunningham, Ferrell, Barrow, Baker and Dunkleberg have been ministers to the church since 1882. The building is a substantial frame building. There are 60 members and the Sunday school attendance is 40.
Smithton Baptist Church is located in the town of Smithton. The church property is substantial and swell cared for, representing a money value of approximately $1,600. The church has a membership of 35 with an average Sunday school attendance of 32.
Smithton has another Methodist Church, the German Methodist, situated in the southern part of the town. The church building is a frame in good condition. The church has a membership of about 100. Rev. Winker is the minister in charge.
This township is proud of her schools. The Smithton High School is one of the best in Pettis County. E L Zion is superintendent; Ora L Stephens principal and Anna Swafford is assistant. The grade teachers are Mariam Homan, Iva Smith and Cora Lamm. There are five public schools. Brushie enrolled twenty this year; and Mrs. G F Rudy is teaching. Pin Oak school has an enrollment of 15 and Leo Shepherd is the teacher. E L Zion is teaching Smithton school and they have 140 pupils. White has an enrollment of 18 and Ruth Dow is teaching. Maplewood school enrolled 20 this year and Lena Montgomery is teaching.
(Transcribed by Laura Paxton)