Experience of the Pioneer-Every New Settlement Writes a History-Reason for holding Reunions-Sketches of Pioneers not the work of Vain Glory-First Settlement-Lot's Grove-Fletchall's Grove-Black's Grove-Early Settlers-But a few Pioneers Remain.
The first settlers in any new country pass through an experience which no succeeding generation will ever be able to fully appreciate. The time is already passed when the youth of the present even, have an correct idea of the vicissitudes, dangers and trials which the pioneer fathers and mothers were compelled to undergo to gain a foothold in the states west of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Every new settlement wrote a history of its own, which differed from others in the nature of its surroundings, but the aggregate of the experience of all was one never again to be repeated in the same territory or country. The mighty woods and the solemn prairies are no longer shrouded in mystery, and their effects upon the minds of the early comers are sensations which will be a sealed book to the future. It is, therefore, not without a weighty reason seated in the curiosity, if not the affections of the race, that the old settlers hold annual re-unions, and compare notes with each other, as to their mutual privations and isolation from the former outer world. Year by year the circle is narrowing. All that is most valuable and vivid in memory is disappearing. Gray hairs and bowed forms attest the march of time. Fresh hollyhocks in every cemetery, to which each year contributes its quota, are all the marks that are left of a race of giants who grappled nature in her fastnesses and made a triumphant conquest in the face of the greatest privations, disease and difficulty. The shadows that fall upon their tombs, as time recedes, are like the smoky haze that enveloped the great prairies of the early days, saddening the memory and giving to the dim distance only a faint and phantom outline, to which the future will look back, and must often wonder at the great hearts that lie hidden under the peaceful canopy.
It is for this reason, therefore, that no personal sketch of pioneer settler, however rudely drawn or immature in detail, can be classed as the work of vain glory. On the contrary, the future will treasure them, and, as the generations recede, they will become more and more objects of interest and real value. The memory of the pioneer is one that the world will never consent to let fade. Its transmission is a priceless gift to the future. Forty-two years constitute a long period in the memory of man, yet such has been the length of time since the first settlement was made within the limits of what is now known as Worth County. At that time Gentry County, the mother of Worth, was an unorganized territory, paying tribute to the civil and judicial government of Clinton County. The original settlers of Worth County came from Gentry, which borders it on the south. Among the pioneers of the latter county was one Henry LOT, who emigrated from Southern Missouri (but formerly form Clark County, Kentucky, to the West), and located west of the present town site of Albany, in 1837. Here he remained until 1840, when a few of his nearest neighbors informed him that his presence in their midst was rather too obnoxious to be longer tolerated. Taking them at their word, he silently folded his tent and took up his abode in what is now known as Lot's Grove, in Smith Township, Worth County. Here he remained for two or three years, the solitary white settler not only of the large grove where he built his cabin, but of Worth County. The indians and wild animals were still here, struggling for mastery. Lot made friends and companions of the red men, and by his superior wit and cunning, procure from them, either directly or indirectly, a meager sustenance for himself and family. After he had been here about three years, a man, who's surname was Wolfe (the place of his nativity not being known), emigrated to the county, in company with a few others, and settled also in Lot's Grove. He purchased form Lot his possessions, after which Lot moved on what is now called Lot's Branch, in the same township. While here, and during the year 1844 or 1845, he again became obnoxious to his neighbors and departed suddenly, in company with a wandering, vagrant tribe of Indians.
After this settlement of Lot's Grove, a small colony from Platte County, consisting of John FLETCHALL, Daniel COX, Sr., Daniel COX, Jr., Joseph CAMPBELL and E.W. LYNCH, all coming originally for Indiana, and settled in what is known as Fletchall Grove, in Fletchall Township.
The next settlements were made in and about Black's Grove, so called after Judge Adam BLACK, who was one of the first county judges. Black's Grove is in Allen Township, about two miles south of Grant City. Mills and church edifices were erected, we believe, in all the groves mentioned, and from these embryo settlements the population began to spread and increase until at length not only the groves but the prairies and every nook and corner of the county became the habitations of the civilized and progressive white man.
Among the early settler, in addition to those already mentioned, were Judge James A. ROBERTSON, Henderson ROBERTSON, W.F. and E.G. ALLEN, FS MORRISON, H.N. SEAT and brothers, Peter VASSAR, Freeman O. SMITH, Jacob GRINDSTAFF, John L. RICHARDSON, and many others, whose names are mentioned in the history of the townships where they settled
But a few of the pioneers of Worth County now remain. A few more years of watching and waiting, and they too will have joined.
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death."
History of Gentry and Worth County, Missouri, pp. 519-521.