- Chapter I. An Act to Organize Worth County
- Chapter II. Physical Features
- Chapter III. Early Settlements
- Chapter IV. Allen Township
From the book published as The History of Gentry and Worth Counties, Missouri by the National Historical Co., St. Joseph, Missouri in 1882
What wonderful changes a few years have wrought in Northwest Missouri! Less than fifty years ago not a single white man dwelt within the present limits of Gentry and Worth Counties. Their soil, perhaps, had occasionally been traversed by the foot of the reckless hunter and daring adventurer, but their beautiful prairies, their charming timber-fringed streams and enchanting groves were the homes of the antelope, the elk, the buffalo and the red man. Now all has been changed by the hand of progress. To-day the busy hum of industry everywhere resounds, and the voice of culture and refinement echo where once were heard the howl of the wild beast and the war-whoop of the Indian. These have been years fraught with important events to the sons and daughters from the old firesides of Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana, and from the more distant homes beyond the Atlantic. The energy and bravery of these hardy pioneers, and their descendants, have made Gentry and Worth Counties what they are. Their labors have made the wilderness "to bud and blossom as the rose," and to preserve the story of this wonderful change, and to hand it down to posterity as a link in the history of the great state of which Gentry and Worth Counties form an integral part, has been the object of this book. While the publishers do not arrogate to themselves a degree of accuracy beyond criticism, they hope to have attained a large measure of exactness in the compilation and arrangement of the almost innumerable incidents which are here treated. These incidents have been gleaned from the memory and notes of the old settlers, and although an error may here and there seemingly occur, the reader must not hastily conclude that the history is in fault, but rather test his opinion with that of others familiar with the facts. Among those whom we would especially mention as having greatly assisted in the preparation
of this history are, Colonel C. G. Comstock, E. W. Dunagan, Isaac Miller, Charles O. Patton, Caleb S. Canaday, Dr. M. M. Campbell, T. J. Stockton, W. T. Dickens, Jr., William B. Whitely, Joshua B. Thomas, Francis M. Setzer, Hon. Edward S. Aleshire, George Ward and Dr. W. H. Alexander, of Gentry County, and W. H. Campell, John C. Dawson, A. W. Kelso, C. R. Murray, J. D. Harrigan, W. F. Osman, Hon. E. S. Garver, Ex-Gov. L. J. Farwell, John M. Hagans, J. E. Colburn, Dr. D. E. Harding, C. Tilton, A. T. and G. W. Frakes and W. L. Stone, of Worth County. It only remains for us to tender the people of Gentry and Worth Counties, in general, our thanks for the many courtesies extended to us and our representatives during the preparation of these annals; without their friendly aid this history would have been left beneath the debris of time, unwritten and unpreserved.
Nearly half a century has passed, since the first white settlement was made within the bounds of that territory now known at Gentry and Worth Counties, Missouri.
Previous to that time the uncivilized aborigines roamed the prairies wild and free, unfettered by the restraint of common or statutory law, and uncircumscribed by township boundaries and county lines. The transformation which has taken place in the physiognomy of the country alone is beyond the comprehension of the finite mind; luxuriant groves where there was the wide stretching prairie; cultivated fields where was the primeval forest; orchards, vineyards and gardens where waved the tall prairie grass. So marked has been the change in the physiognomy of the county that there was been a decided change in the climatology. The elements themselves seem to have taken notice of the great change and have governed themselves accordingly. While the annual rainfall and the mean annual temperature remain in the same quantity, they are now entirely different in quality, and although imperceptible and independent of man's will, they have nevertheless come under the same civilizing power which has changed the wilderness into a fruitful land.
The great change which has taken place in the development of the material resources of this country is ore noticeable, as man can more readily discern the changes which take place by deatail in his own cir-
cumscribed field of activity that he can those grand recolutions in the boundless domain of nature. The changes which have occurred in social, intellectual and moral conditions are still more marked, mind being more swift to act on mind than on matter.
These changes can best be estimated by the institution of a brief contrast:
Then the material resources of the country consisted simply in the streams of water which quenched the thirst of the aborigine, wherein was found the fish which he ate, and upon which floated his frail canoe; the forest where he procured his fuel, material for the construbtion of his rude weapons, and which sheltered the game which afforded him a meagre and uncertain sustenance. Such were the material resources made available to the owner of the soil. The social condition of the people was scarcely more advanced than is that of certain orders of the lower animals, whose social attainments are comprehended in the ability to unite for mutual offense or defense. In intellect and morals, there was a people somewhat above the brute, but on the lowest round of the ladder.
Now the material resources of the country include in their number the4 soil, with every useful and ornamental product known to the temperate zone; the forest with every species of manufacture, useful and ornamental, known to the civilized world. The water in the streams, and the currents of air above us, are alike trained to do man's bidding, which from the depths of the earth beneath our feet is brought forth the hidden wealth, which was hoarded by the turmoil of ages. Citis with their thousands of people, a country with its thousands of inhabitants, while in the city and country the lofty spies of churches and school houses are evidences of the social, moral and intellectual conditions.
All this change in material things has been brought about by the incoming of a new people from the far-off east and south and that, too within the space of a half a century. History furnishes no parallel to the rapid development of this western country; it has been a chain whose links were ever-recurring surprises, and mong the astonished, there are none more so than those whose throbbing brains have planned and whose busy hands have executed the work.
Almost a century ago, a friend of America, although an Engishman, in language most prophetic, wrote:
The settlement of the new world, alluded to by the writer, has, as a whole, fully met the conditions of that prophecy, but not till the past half a century did the onward march of empire culiminate in the settlement of Northwest Missouri. With the exception of a few mining towns in the gold regions of California, and the silver districts of Colorado, nothing has been like it before, andit will not be exceeded in time to come.
This has not been by accident. All kinds of material development follow recognized and well established laws, and in nothing does this fact more reveal itself than in the settlement of a country.
Whoever has made it his business to study the "Great Northwest," as it has unfolded itself in history, during the last quarter of a century, has doubtless met with ever returning wonders. The story of its unparalled growth, and almost phenomenal development, has so often been repeated that it has become a common-place platitude; but a careful study of the country will suggest questions which have, thus far, not been answered and cannot be. Why, for instance, have some sections filled up so rapidly, and certain cities sprung up as if by magic, while others seeminly no less favored by nature, are still in the first stages of development? These questions cannot, in all cases, be answered; but whoever has studied the matter carefully, cannot fail to have discovered a law of growth, which is as unvarying as any law of nature.
The two leading factors in the problem of municipal growth, are, location and character of first settlers. The location of these two counties was most favorable, and what is true of these counties is true of the whole state. More than half of the state is surrounded by two of the most renowned water courses of the world, and one will readily see that it possessed advantages enjoyed by no other state in the Union. These conditions, so favorable to the past and future development of the country, are beautifully illustrated by an ingenious little poen entitled "Two Ancient Misses," written by a gentleman who has won a wide-spread reputation at the bar. We here quote it, as it well illustrates our point and is of sufficient merit to be preserved:
In entering upon the work before us, we have not underestimated the difficulty and importance of the task. The chief difficulty lies in the fact that the eents to be treated, while they have to do with the past, are so intimately interwoven with the present that they are properly a part of it. The writer of history, as a general thing, deals wholly with the affairs of past generation, and his aim is to pause when he arrives at that realm bounded by the memory of men now living. The whole field of our investigation lies this side of that boundary line, as there are a few who will doubtless peruse this work, who, from the first, have witnessed and taken part in the events we shall attempt to relate.
While there were a few who came to Gentry County as early as 1834, its permanent settlement did not properly begin until 1836. Assuming 1836 to be the beginning of the history proper, there have elapsed but forty-six years, and a few who came at that time, or shortly afterwards, still live in our midst. And such, while they have grown prematurely old in body by reason of the hardships and privations incident upon a life of more than ordinary activity and trial, have not grown old
in spirit. Each one of such knows the history of the county, and, be it said, with due reverence for their hoary heads and bended forms, each one knows the history better than anyone else. Such readers are very uncharitable critics; and a work of thiskind, absolutely accurate in all its details and particulars, were it within the scope of human possibility to make such a work, would undoubtedly be pronounced, my many well meaning and honest persons, faulty and untrustworthy. This results from the fact that forty-six years, though not a long period in the history of the world, is a long time in the life of an individual. Events occurring in that length of time in the past, we think we know perfectly well, when the fact is we know them very imperfectly. This is proved and illustrated by the reluctancy and hesitation manifested invariably by old settlers, when called upon to give the details of some early transaction; the old settler usually hesitates before giving a date, and after having finally settled down upon the year and the month, when a certain event occurred, will probably hunt you up, in less than a day, and request the privilege of correcting the date. In the meantime, you have found another old settler, who was an eye-witness of the act in question, and the date he will give you does not correspond with the first date, nor corrected date as given by the first old settler. There are some marked exceptions, but as a rule the memory of the old settler is not trustworth; his ideas of the general outlines are usually comparatively correct, but no one who has the grace to put the proper estimate upon his mental faculties when impaired by age and weakened by the many infirmities of years will trust it to the arbitrament of questions of particulars and details.
The stranger who comes into the county with none of the information which those possess who have resided here for years, works at great disadvantage in many respects. He does not at first know whom to interview, or where to find the custodians of important records. However, he possesses one great advantage which more than makes up for this: he enteres upon this work with an unbiased mind: he has no friends to reward, and no enemies to punish; his mind is not preoccupied and prejudged by reports which may have accidentally come into his possession while transacting the ordinary affairs of business; and when in addition to this, he is a person whose business is to collect statements and weigh facts of history, he is much better qualified for the task, and to discriminate between statements, seemingly of equal weight, than those who either immediately or remotely are interested parties, and whose regular employment lies in other fields of industry. This is true, even though the former be a total stranger and the latter have become familiar with men and things by many years of intercourse and acquaintance-
ship. He is best judge and best juror who is totally unacquainted with both plaintiff and defendant, and he is best qualified to arbitrate between conflicting facts of history who comes to the task without that bias which is the price one must pay for acquaintanceship and familiarity. The best history of France was writted by an Englishman, and the most authentic account of American institutions was written by a Frenchman, and it remained for an American to wrote the only authentic history of the Dutch Republic.
The American people are muich given to reading, but the character of the matter read is such, that, with regard to a large portion of them it may truthfully be said that "truth is stranger than fiction." Especially in this case in respect to those facts of local history belonging to their own immediate county and neighborhood. This is, perhaps, not so much the fault of the people as a neglect on the part of the book publishers. Books, as a rule, are made to sell, and in order that a book may have a large sale its matter must be of such a general character as to be applicable to general rather than special conditions--to the nation and state rather than to county and township. Thus, it is that no histories heretofore published pertain to matters relating to county and neighborhood affairs, for such books, in order to have a sale over a large section of the country, must necessarily be very voluminous and contain much matter of no interest to the reader. After haing given a synopsis of the history fo the state, which is as brief as could well be, we shall then enter upon the histories of the counties. The physical features of the counties and their geology will first engage our attention; then the act under which they were organized and the location of the first county seats. We shall then speak of the first settlements. Pioneer times will then be described and incidents related showing the trials and triumphs of the pioneer settler. Then the settlement of the townships. Then county organization, courts and first records, the early bench and bar, California emigrants, old settlers' reunions, the civil war, and subsequent events, etc. Then we shall speak of agriculture, the growth and proeperity of the county, manufacures, newspapers, schools, churches, railroads, publc buildings, enterprises, citizens, etc. We shall give a biographical directory, the value of which will increase with years, and conclude with a chapter of facts and miscellaneous matter.
The compiler of a history of a county has a task which may seem to be comparatively easy, and the facts which come within the legitimate scope of the work may appear commonplace even when compared with national events; the narration of the peaceful events attending the conquests of industry as
"Westward the coarse of empire takes its way."
may seem tame when compared with accounts of battles and sieges. Nevertheless, the faithful gathering, and the truthful narration of facts bearing upon the early settlement of these counties, and the dangers, hardships and privations encountered by the early pioneers, engaged in advancing the standards of civilization, is a work of no small magnitude, and the facts thus narrated are such as may challenge the admiration and arouse the sympathy of the reader, though they have nothing to do with the feats of arms.
Chapter I. An Act to Organize Worth County
Be it Enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, as follorws:
SECTION I. That all the territory included within the following limits, to wit: Beginning at the northeast corner of Gentry County proper, thence north with the line dividing ranges twenty-nine and thirty to the northern boundary line of the State of Missouri; thence west with said northern boundary line to the former western boundary line of said state; thence south with the former western boundary line to the northeast corner of Gentry County proper; thence east with the northwestern boundary line of Gentry County proper to the place of beginning, be and the same is hereby organized into a separate and distinct county, to be known by the name of Worth County.
SEC.2. That David Brubaker, of Gentry County, John D. Williams, of Daviess County, and Nathaniel Mothersead, of Gentry County, be, and are hereby appointed commissioners to select the seat of justice of said County of Worth, whose duty it shall be to meet on the first Monday in April, 1861, at the town of Smithton, in the last named county, for the purpose of selecting and locating the permanent seat of justice of said county.
SEC. 3. The Governor of this state is hereby authorized and required to appoint and commision three persons, residents of said County of Worth, as justices of the county court thereof, and one person, also a resident of said county, as sheriff thereof, who, when so appointed and commissioned shall have full power and authority to act as such in their respective offices under the existing laws, until the general election in the year 1862, and until their successors are duly elected and qualified.
SEC. 4. The circuit and county courts to be held in Worth County shall be held at the town of Smithton until the permanent seat of justice shall be established, or the county court shall otherwise direct.
The first term of the county court of said county shall be held on the first Monday in March, 1861.
SEC. 6. The circuit and county courtts of said county, or judge or justives thereof, in vacation, shall appoint their clerks, who shall hold their offices until he general election in the year 1862, at which election the qualified voters of said county shall elect a clerk of the county court, and also a clerk of the circuit court of said county, who shall respectively hold their offices until the next general electiono of clerks of said courts, and until their successors are duly elected and qualified.
SEC. 7. The county court of said county is hereby authorized and empowered to appoint an assessor for said county, who shall hold his office until the general election for assessors in the year 1862, and until his successor is duly elected and qualified; and the said county court is authorized and empowered to appoint a surveyor for said county, who shall hold his office until the general election for surveyors in the year 1862, and until his successor is duly elected and qualified.
SEC. 8. All lands situated within the boundary of Worth County, as hereinbefore defined, and all personal property subject to taxation by the laws of this state, which may be within said county on the first day of February, 1861, shall be subject to taxation in Worth County in the year 1861.
SEC. 9. It shall be the duty of the assessor of Worth County to procure from the County of Gentry, or the clerk thereof, a complete list of all lands situated in Worth County, and now subject to taxation, for which the county clerk of Worth County shall pay said clerk a reasonable compensation.
SEC. 10. The justices of the peace within the County of Worth, who have been commissioned by the county court of Gentry County, may continue to act as such for the County of Worth in their respective townships until their successors are duly electyed and commissioned and qualified, and in case of vacancies, the county court of Worth County may fill the same, and may appoint additional justices of the peace, who shall lhold their offices until the next general election, in the year 1862, and until their successors are duly elected and qualified.
SEC. 11. The several administrators, executors and guardians and curators residing in the County of Worth, shall have the lawful priviledge to remove their administrations and guardianship from the county and probate courts of Gentry County to the county court of Worth County; and the said administrators, executors, guardians and curators shall settle their administrations and guardianships in the same manner and with the same effect as if the same had commenced in the County of Worth.
SEC. 12. Upon the requisition of the county court of Worth County, the judge of the probate court and the clerk of the county court of Gentry County shall deliver to the clerk of the county court of Worth County the papers and vouchers in their respective offices pertaining to the cases referred to in the last preceding section. The requisi-
tion thus made shall be filed in the office of the judge of the probate court and of the clerk of the county court of Gentry County, together with receipts of the clerk of the county court of Worth County.
SEC. 13. The commissioners appointed by this act shall each receive for his services a compensation of three dollars per day for every day they may be employed in the discharge of their duties afrewsaid, to be paid out of the funds belonging to Worth County, the amount to be ascertained by the affidavit of one or more of said commisioners.
SEC.14. If any vacancy shall happen in the office of said commissioners by death, resignation or otherwise, the remaining commissioner or commissioners shall fill such vacancy by appointment. The commissioner or commissioners so appointed, shall possess all the qualifications required by law, and shall possess the same power as though they had been originally appointed by the general assembly.
SEC. 15. The county court of Gentry, shall settle with the county court of Worth County, for all moneys arising from the sale of school lands, overflowed and swamp lands, or other lands, situate in Worth County, which have heretofore or may hereafter be paid into the county treasury of Gentry County, and which properly belongs to Worth County, or to the people thereof, and also all moneys collected as tax from the citizens of Worth County, or on property situate therein, and to which Worth County may be entitled by virtue of any existing law of that state; and after deducting the necessary expenses of collecting and preserving said moneys, shall pay the residue thereof to the County of Worth, and the county courts of Gentry and Worth Counties may respectively appoint a commissioner or commissioners to settle and adjust the accounts between said counties respecting the moneys aforesaid, and to pay over and receive the same.
SEC. 16. The County of Worth shall be entitled to one representative in the general assembly of this state, the first election for which shall take place at the next general election in the year 1862.
SEC. 17. Any person who is a resident of Worth County at the time of the first appointment to any of the offices hereinbefore named, shall be qualified to discharge the duties of said office: Provided, He has resided in this state one year.
SEC. 18. That Worth County shall be, and is hereby attached to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.
This act to take effect and be in force from and after the twenty-fifth day of February, 1861.
Approved February 8, 1861.
General William Jenkins Worth
He whose name appears above, was one of the bravest and most distinguished of American soldiers. He was born in Hudson, New York, March 1, 1794, and died in San Antonio, Texas, May 7, 1849. He entered the army as a private in 1812, became second lieutenant and aide to General Lewis kn 1813, and in 1814 aide to General Scott. At the battle of Chippewa, he won the brevet of captain, and at Lundy's
Lane, where he was severely wounded, of that major. In 1815 he was made captain, and from 1820 to 1828 was instructor of infantry tactics and commander of cadets at West Point. He was made major of ordnance and colonel of infantry in 1838. In 1840 he was sent to Florida, and in 1841 took the chief command against the Seminole Indians, bringing the war to a final close in 1842, when he was breveted brigadier general. For his meritorious conduct in the Florida war he was presented with a sword by the State of Louisiana. As soon as Mexico declared war against the United States, no man buckled on his sword with greter alacrity than the gallant Worth. During the war with that country he greatly distinguished himself in the battle of Monterey, in the capture of Vera Cruz, in the engagements of Cerro Gordo, Pueblo and Molino del Rey, and in the storming of the City of Mexico. For these services he was breveted major general, and received swords from Congress of United States, the State of New York, and his native county. After the war with Mexico he was assigned to the command of the Department of the Southwest, with headquarters at San Antonio, where he died. His remains now rest beneath the memorial monument erected by the City of New York at the junction of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Such, in brief, was the man for whom the County of Worth was named.
Chapter II. Physical Features
Location and Boundary
In size, Worth County is twenty-one miles east and west, by thirteen north and south, and contains 174,720 acres. Like Gentry County, it is located in Northwest Missouri, being the third county east of the Missouri River, from which is it separated by Nodaway and Atchison Counties. It is bounded on the west by Nodaway County; on the north by the State of Iowa; on the east by Harrison County; on the south by Gentry County. The county is divided into six municipal townships, which are as follows: Allen, Fletchall, Greene, Middle Fork, Smith and Union. The population of the county, by the census of 1880, was 8,200; now, however, it is claimed that a fair estimate of the population since the rapid influx of emigration during the past two years, would not fall short of 10,000 persons, which shows an annual increase of more than 12 per cent.
The face of the country is somewhat higher, more rolling, and perhaps more broken than that of Gentry County. In the central and other portions of the county are broad reaches of open plain or prairie land from whose margin the country dips with graceful incline outward and downward in sympathy with the diverging water-courses that flow down through groves and green, frassy glades, intervals and fringes of timber and pretty low-lying, winding valleys to where they are lost in the larger streams and forests. Here and there along these larger streams may be seen a range of low hills, with occasional out-croppings of the lime rock in the wild, weird, picturesque forms, but the general aspect of the landscape is peaceful and pastoral, and many point possess the semblance of a magnificent park, to whose native charms the hands of man have added a thousand graces of art in grain field, orchard, homestead, hedgerow and lawn.
The Water Supply
of this county is alike abundant and admirable. A number of deep set streams, among which are the East, Middle and West Forks of the Grand River, Platte River, Marlow Branch, Big Rock, Little Rock, Little Muddy, Bear and Lot's Creeks traverse every portion of the county and with numerous springs, artificial ponds and many living wells and cisterns, furnish pure water for all domestic uses. We know of no territory of the same extent in the state that is better watered, the water supply being nowhere more admireably adjusted to the wants and necessities of the county than in the counties of Gentry and Worth.
The county is well supplied with
nearly thirty percent of its surface being covered with oak, ash, walnut, sycamore, hackberry, maple, cherry, mulberry, box-elder, hickory, linden and kindred woods. There is still standing much of the original forest which skirted the streams when the county was first settled, and there are now many clusters of brush and lines of young forest trees which often stretch away in gracefully winding belts, marking the beginning and course of some tributary to a neighboring stream. In addition to the timber which margins the streams, there are a number of large and small groves, which here and there, singly or in groups, dot the prairies and vary the beauty of the landscape.
of Worth County are developing elements of productive wealth as cultivation advances, which are a surprise to even the most sanguine of the older farmers. The prairie soil, which covers about thirty per cent of the entire country, is dark, friable alluvial, from one to three feet deep, rich in humus, very easily handled, and produce fine crops of corn, oats, flax, rye, broomcorn, sorghum, vegetables and grasses. The oak and hickory soil of the principal wood lands is a shade lighter in color, often taking a reddish case, is rather more consistent, holds a good per cent of lime and magnesia, carbonate, lime phosphate, silica, alumina, organic matter, etc., produces fine crops of wheat, clover, and fruits, and with deep rotative culture gives spe3ndid returns for the labor bestowed.
The valleys and bottoms of the Grand River, and its tributaries in Worth and Gentry Counties, are covered with a deposit of black imperishable alluvial, from three to six feet in depth, and as loose and flexible as a heap of compost, grows from 60 to 100 bushels of corn to the acre and gives an enormous yield to everything grown in this latitude. While these soils present a spendid array of productive forces, they are supplemented by subsoils equal to any known to husbandry. The entire superficial soils of the county are underlaid by strong, consistent, silicious clays and marls that centuries of deep cultivation will prove them, like the kindred loess of the Rhine and Nile valleys, absolutely indestructible.
Health and Climate
The question is often asked, "How does Worth County compare with other sections of the country in regard to health?" To answer, "very favorably, indeed," would be strictly true, for there are no endemics peculiar to this section, and epidemics are no more frequent and no more severe than in other sections of the country of like extent; and, indeed, it is said that they are much less frequent, and much less severe than in many other localities.
The land, except the valleys along the largest streams, is rolling, almost hilly, indeed, and this circumstqance renders drainage almost perfect. There are no extensive bogs or marshes, and those of limited extent are for the most part drained.
There are four streams called rivers traversing the county form nort to south, namely: the Platte River, in the extreme western part of the county, then the West Fork of Grand River, then the Middle Fork of Grand River, and in the eastern part of the county we find the East Fork of Grand River. These have many tributaries, so that the county is admirably watered, as well as drained.
Water for house use is easily obtained from natural springs, and from wells, which are mostly from twenty to thirty feet in depth, and the water for the most part is of an excellent quality. The soil is a deep, rich black loam, with here and there spots more or less sandy or gravelly.
The climate is somewhat changeable, though it compares favorably with that of Southern Pennsylvania, Central Ohio, Central Indiana and Central Illinois. Very severe drouths are not common, nor are very severe winters usual. The spring season will compare favorably with that of other localities of the same latitude, and the autumns generally are charming.
There is more or less malaria (so-called) along the river bottoms, and, indeed, on the upland, but much less than along large rivers, and it is very seldom that a case of severe "old-fashioned ague" is seen, such as will cause the stoves and windows to shake. Indeed, this so-called malaria is so attenuated in Worth County that its meagre density or concentration cannot be relied upon by theorists to prove that it ought to be considered an entity.
Tpyical [sic] typhoid fever is seldom seen here, as it usually is of the typho-malarial form, though occasionall a case occurs as typically pure as those that occur in crowded cities or in illy-ventilated hospital, but such cases can mostly or always be traced to crowded prisons or something very similar, and therefore will occur in every section of the country--not one more than another--where people breathe for a considerable time air that is surcharged with the echalations from the lungs or other organs from the surface of the body, or when they eat pork or drink water surcharged with poison. Remittent and intermittent fevers prevail to some extent, but they cannot be said to be more prevalent than in other localities in the same parallel of latitude. Malaria (so-called) is quite often associated with other diseases not generally regarded as of a malarial nature, but this is not at all a peculiar circumstance, for this associationis found in all localities. Malignant or pernicious diseases are not common, though occasionally causes of malignant diphtheria appear. Phthisis Pulmonalis (old-fashioned consumption) is hardly known here except cases established prior to locating in the county, and it is commonly believed that the climate is antagonistic to the disease.
Catarrh, or rather nasal catarrh, is somewhat prevalent, but in all probability it is due to the kind of houses that have been and are still to some extent used, rather than to any peculiarity of climate, for it is a lamentable fact that many of the houses or huts so common in all new countries are still quite numerous here, and many of the better class of houses are one story and a half high, thus putting those who sleep up stairs too near a cold roof, where they are constantly exposed to a current of cold air. And those who sleep on the lower or first floor are in very many houses exposed to currents entering the room through crevices in the wall, or rather in the siding of the house. It is a cheering fact, however, that this state of affairs is rapidly changing, for good houses are rapidlytaking the place of inferior ones. It is entirely within the bounds of truth to say that Worth County is a desireable place to live, considered from the standpoint of health, as well as in many other respects. In fact, there is not to be found in northwest Misouri a more healthful climate than that of Gentry and Worth counties.
Chapter III. Early Settlements
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 any 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 differeed 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 ountry. 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 hillocks in every cemetery, to which each year contributes its quota, are all the amrks what 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 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 settlers, 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 transmissioni is a priceless gift to the future. Forty-two years constitutea 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 not 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 latt3er county was one Henry Lot, who emigrated from Southern Missouri (but formerly from 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 soliary 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 the mastery. Lot made friends and companions of the red men, and by his superior wit and cunning, procured from them, either directly or indirectly, a meagre sustenance for himself and family. After he had been here about three years, a man, whose sirname [sic] was Wolfe (the place of his nativitiy not known), emigrated to the county, in company with a few others, and settled also in Lot's Grove. He purchased from 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 from Indiana, and settled in what is known as Fletchall's 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 begane to spread and increase until at length not only the groves but the prairies and every nook and corner of te country became the habitations of the civilized and progressive white man.
Among the early settlers, in addition to those already mentioned, were Judge James A. Robertson, Henderson Robertson, W. F. and E. G. Allen, F. S. 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 now remain. A few more years of watching and waiting, and they too will have joined
"The innumerable caravan, that moves
To that mysterious real, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death."
Chapter IV. Allen Township
Beginning at the northwest corner of section 2, in township 65, range 32; thence running east six miles, to the northeast corner of section 2, township 65, range 31; thence south six miles to the southeast corner of section 24, township 65, range 31; thence west six miles, to the southwest corner of section 35, township 65, range 32; thence north six miles, to the place of beginning, containing thirty-siz square miles.
About one-third of Allen Township is timber land. The prairies generally are high and rolling, with numerous fertile valleys bordering the water courses. The township is well watered. The streams, in fact, are so admirably distributed that every portion of the township is supplied with living water. The East Fork of Grand River, with its tributaries, passes through the western part of the township. Big Rock Creek flows through the central part, in a southwesterly direction, finally uniting with the East Fork of the Grand. Little Rock enters the northeastern part of the township, meanders towards the southwest, and empties into the east Form of the Grand, while Little Muddy rolls its turbid waters across the southeastern corner of the same, thus carrying moisture and fructification from center to the entire circumference.
The township is underlaid with excellent building stone, which is quarried in many places near the surface. The soil is good and of a dark, rich color, producing all the cereals, and furnishing the best and most nutritious grasses.
Among the earlist [sic] settlers of Allen Township was Joseph Robertson, who came from Virginia to Ray County, Missouri, in the fall of 1837, and to Worth County in the spring of 1842 and located one and a half miles east of Denver, near Rock Creek, where he followed agricultural pursuits until his death, which occurred in July, 1853.
Judge James A. Robertson, son of Joseph Robertson, came from Campbell County, Tennesee, with his parents in the spring of 1842 and settled with them in Allen Township. He is now one of the county judges. Judge Robertson still resides on the old homestead. He entered the northwest forty of the southeast quarter of section 19.
Thomas Reynolds came from Tennessee to Worth County in 1841 and located one mile east of Denver, on what is now known as the James Womack farm. He went to Iowa in 1847.
Daniel Roe came from Michigan in 1841 and opened a farm southeast of Denver, where he remained until 1843, when he went east.
Perry McCully was also an early settler, coming to Worth from Daviess County in 1841, and settling about three miles from Judge Robertson's farm, in Allen Township. He removed to Daviess County, Missouri, where he died.
Henry Casner located a farm three miles east of Denver on the farm now occupied by Samuel Stewart.
Aaron M. Allen emigrated from Illinois in the spring of 1843, and settled in Allen Townshyip, entering the northeast forty acres of the southwest quart6er, section 14, in 1853.
Littleton Seat came in the spring of 1844 from Tennessee to DEaviess County, and from Daviess to Worth during the same year.
O. Swaim was also among the pioneers, settling in Allen Township as early as 1843. He built the first water mill that was erected in the county, the site of the same being where Denver now stands -- on the bank of the East Form of Grand River. This mill had one pair of stones and was operated about two years by Swaim, who sold to William McKnight, who ran it until 1854. The old mill-site is now occupied by the mill of Lyman & Williams. Swaim was from Ohio.
Ransom Coger erected a horse mill in the east part of the township about thirty years ago.
The earliest and most primitive structure in the way of mills, was a hand mill, brought to the county in 1841 by John Hunt from Gentryville, Gentry County, Missouri. This mill was used at Denver. It was made of steel and operated by hand. Mr. Hunt had been in the neighborhood the year previously, in search of a millsite for a water
mill, and had promised to return the succeeding year, and erect it, where the town of Denver now stands, but failing to do this, he did the next best thing he could, and brought to the same locality the steel hand mill as above stated. With this, the people of that portion of the county, did their grinding for some time, free of charge.
Samuel Vassar, originally from Clark County, Kentucky, but from Andrew County, Missouri, to Worth County, at an early day. In fact, Mr. Vasser may have said to have been brought up in the frontier counties of Missouri. He assisted in the removal of the Musquakie Indians from Gentry and Work Counties, under Captain George H. Simonds, to Kansas.
Major Calvin Hartwell came from Ohio about the year 1850, and located within three-fourths of a mile of Allenville, where he resided until about 1861, when he went to Iowa. He was a brickmason, and erected the first brick house (residence) that was built in the township.
Dr. James E. Cadle, a brother of Judge Cadel, of Worth County, came from Jackson County, Missouri, in 1847, with his mother and brothers, and located at Denver. He came on a huntin expedition in 1846, passing through the county to the Iowa line, and returning to his home the same fall. His companion was Jim Hink, who shared with him the perils and trophies of the hunt. The doctor entered the farm known as "Evans place." At the time he located in Demver there were only two houses or cabins standing on the present town site. One of these was occupied by Swaim, who was then operating a small water mill, and the other was occupied by McKnight, the doctor's brother-in-law. The doctor lived in Worth County until the summer of 1861, when he moved to Nebraska City, where he resided until 1863, when he returned to Missouri, settling at Chillicothe, Livingston County. Dr. Cadle related the following amusing incident, which occurred soon after he came to the county: Rev. Theodore Ball, a Hard-Shell Baptist minister, had been holding religious services in the neighborhood. Several persons had joined the church, and a day (Sunday) was set apart when the ordinance of baptism was to be observed. In the same vicinity where services were held lived a man by the name of Washington Stevenson. Stephenson, wishing to be present at the baptizing, dressed himself for the occasion in the best he had. His shoes, however, were considerably worn, and having no blacking with which to polish them, he greased them with a salty piece of bacon. In that day, when game was in great abundance, the pioneers had their dogs as well as their guns, and their dogs usually accompanied
them to church, whether they desired their company or not. Stephenson went to the baptizing and the keen-scented and hungry dogs snuffed the pungent smell of bacon about the time of his arrival on the ground. They gathered around him in large numbers--curs and hounds--and began to lick his shoes, and were so persistent in the efforts to remove the grease from his pedal extremities that Stephenson beat a hasty retreat for home, swearing eternal vengeance on the race of dogs, and throwing his shoes into the creek.
Franklin W. Seat came from Cooper County, Missouri, in 1844, and located four miles northeast of Denver, on the southeast forty of the northwest quarter and the northeast forty of the southwest quarter of section 21.
John Post, from Illinois, came in 1843; settled in the east part of the township; sold his claim to Littleton Seat, and returned to Illinois. Littleton Seat came in 1844, and was a brother of Franklin.
Henry N. Seat, another brother, came in 1844, and took the northeast forty of the northeast quarter of section 22.
Jasper Seat entered the southeast forty of the northeast quarter of section 22.
Henry Casner emigrated to Worth County in 1842, and settled east of Denver, on the Samuel Stewart place.
Among other early settlers were: John Hunt, from Ohio; William Martin, Nathaniel Blakely, Ransom Coger, Tennessee; Jordan Coger, Tennessee; Adam Black, Daviess County, Missouri; Adam Wilson, Daviess County, Kentucky; Thomas Reynolds, William Swaim, William McKnight, Jackson County, Missouri; Judge Patterson Cadle, Lawrence Dry, Illinois; Andrew McElvain, Illinois; Chauncy Benson, Iowa; G. M. Hull, Ohio; Joseph Hutton, William Richmond, Missouri; David Hoblett, North Carolina; B. Branson, Missouri; Jake Stormer, John Maupin, Perry Maupin, George Smith, John Smith, C. K. Dawson, Tennessee; John Horton, Livingston County, Missouri; I. B. Garrison, Illinois; Charles Hopewell, Indiana; P. Black, Jackson County, Missouri; James Lochart, Robert Lochart, O. P. Falkner, John Falkner, Woodburn Perry, John A. Fannin, Illinois; Charles W. Mattox, Ray County, Missouri; Joseph Jake, Ike, George and Frank Farris; Adam Wilson, David Teague, S. S. Morrison.
New Hope Church (Baptist) was built in 1878. The organizing members were Robert Walker and wife, Henry Seat and wife, Frank Seat and wife, W. A. Pendleton and wife, William Lewis and wife, R. B. Murray and wife, S. R. Clark and wife, William Richmond, James
A. Robertson and wife, Jesse and D. H. Robertson and their wives. P. W. Jones was the minister in charge after the erection of the church. Rev. S. R. Dillon is the present pastor. The first minister to proclaim the gospel in the township was Absalom Hardin, of the Baptist denomination. He came as early as 1843, and afterward went to California.
The first church organization inthe township was effected in 1843, at the house of Thomas Reynolds, by Rev. Qurry, a Baptist. Among the original members were Thomas Reynolds and wife, Coffey and wife, David Ruby and wife, Henry Rudy and others.
The pioneer church building was located at Black's Grove, and was partially erected about the year 1858, by the Missionary Baptists. It was never fully completed, and was finally taken to Grant City. The frame work of the present Baptist Church at Grant City was a part of the old church at Black's Grove.
The first school for the township, and possibly the pioneer school for the county, was taught by John McGinley, just in the edge of Gentry County, The pupils were generally from Worth County. Among the pupils were Judge Robertson and his two brothers (Jesse and D. F.), William Rowe, Mary and Harrison Rowe, John, Darah, Charles and Lewis Reynolds. This, the first school, was a subscription school; the teacher took his pay in anything--such as potatoes, corn, rails and flax. The building was erected by the people of the neighborhood. The school house was built of round logs, the space between them chinked and then daubed with mud. About five feet from the west wall, on the inside, and about five feet high, another log was placed, and running clear across the building. Puncheons were fixed on this log and in the west wall on which the chimney was built. Fuel could then be used of any length not greater than the width of the building, and when it was burned through in the middle, the ends were crowded together; in this manner was avoided the necessity of so much wood chopping. There was no danger of burning the floor, as it was made of green puncheons. The seats were made of stools or benches, constructed by splitting a log, hewing off the splinters from the flat side and then putting four pegs into it from the round side for legs. The door was made of clap-boards. On either side, a piece of one log was cut out, and over the aperture was pasted greased paper, which answered for a window. Wooden pins were driven into the log running lengthwise, immediately beneath the windows, upon which was laid a board, and this constituted the writing desks. The teacher who taught in this wonderful typical structure, was
a typical pedagogue, and undoubtedly achieved results of which he ought to have felt proud.
"The people all declared how much he knew;
'Twas certain he could write and cypher two;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage--
And even the story ran, that he could guage."
Charles W. Mattox was the first physician to locate in the township, and came from St. Joseph in the spring of 1849. He went south during the late war and never returned. He lived at Denver.
The first blacksmith in the township was John Hunt, the man who operated the first handmill at Denver. He ran in connection with his mill a blacksmith shop.