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Audrain County

County History

The county of Audrain was organized December 17, 1836, and named in honor of Colonel James H. Audrain, of St. Charles County, who was a man of considerable note and a member of the Legislature in 1830. The seat of j justice was located at Mexico at the same time the county was organized.

Mexico was founded in 1836, by Rev. Robert Mansfield and Mr. J. H. Smith, who donated twenty-five acres of their land to the embryo town. The place did not improve much until the opening of the North Missouri railroad, in 1857, when its growth became rapid and substantial. It is now one of the principal inland towns of Missouri, in point of location and trade, and numbers a population of more than 5,000. It commands a wholesale and retail trade that extends over several adjacent counties, and its public buildings, business houses and private residences are unsurpassed by those of any other inland town in the State. This is the home of Governor Charles H. Hardin, who has done much by his energy, influence and ample means to build up the town and give it a reputation abroad.

The early' settlers of Audrain county were principally from Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee. They built small cabins in the timber, on the water courses, and devoted themselves to hunting, trapping and fishing. Game was abundant, and hunting not only an exciting pastime, but a remunerative occupation, and pleasure and profit were combined in its pursuit. The game consisted of deer, elk, wolves, raccoons, wild turkeys, and a few bears and panthers. The buffaloed had already taken their departure to the prairies of the distant West. In fact the French and Spanish had, in a measure, driven them away before the Americans began to settle within the present limits of Missouri, and but few of those animals were to be found in this State after 1800. In early times there was a salt lick in Dog Prairie, St. Charles county, which was frequented by buffaloes as well as deer and other wild animals; but there is no authentic account of any buffaloes having been seen there after 1800, except an old one and its calf that were killed at that place about 1816. They had evidently strayed away from the herd and got lost.

Wolves were so numerous and daring that it was almost impossible to raise sheep or other domestic animals, and there being no inducements for any but hunters and trappers to locate in that region, the larger portion of the land in Audrain county remained unoccupied and in possession of the government until 1854, when it was rapidly entered at twelve and a half cents per acre, under the "Graduation Act." Citizens of other counties then flocked to Audrain, entered homesteads and erected cabins, many of which are still standing on the beautiful prairies, but most of them have given place to neat frame and brick farm houses.

The streams of this county are all small, and all except one or two head near its center. Salt River is the principal one, and is merely a prairie brook, distinguished by the title of river probably because of its association with streams of much smaller dimensions. The people supply themselves and their stock with water by digging cisterns and ponds, and except in extremely dry seasons they have all they require. The streams are fed by living springs, and flow during the entire year, affording abundant water for mills and manufacturing purposes.

Most of the creeks derived their names from the people who first settled upon them, and several incidents have been obtained in this connection sufficiently amusing and instructive to be presented here.  The creek called Littleby was named for Robert Littleby, an Englishman, who settled upon that stream, near where it empties into South Fork of Salt River, in 1816, and lived the life of a hermit for many years, his dogs being his only companions. He hunted and trapped extensively, and sold his furs and peltries in St. Charles. His food consisted of game, wild fruits, and the vegetable portion of the earth's natural productions. He cured his
meat by soaking it a week in a strong concoction of lye. Beaver, otter, muskrats, raccoons, etc., were there in abundance, and he reaped a rich harvest from their furs. In 1822 he removed to Platte river, and died soon after.

The next settler in that part of the county was Benjamin Young, who located there in 1821; and Young's creek was named for him. He was a native of Stokes county, North Carolina; had been raised by the Indians, and married a squaw for his wife. In the same county there lived a woman named Mary Ring, who was captivated by Benjamin's prepossessing appearance, and proposed matrimony to him. He frankly told her that he was already married to the squaw, but had no desire to see her carried to an untimely grave from the effects of a broken heart, and if she would whip the squaw she might take him. She accepted the proposition, "cleaned out" the squaw, and claimed her reward. Young was not the man to “go back" on his word, so he dismissed the squawk and married the white woman. The result proved good, for they lived pleasantly and happily together, and the devotion of his new wife to him increased as they passed down the stream of life together.

In 1809 Mr. Young placed his wife and worldly goods on a little pony, and started on a journey to Kentucky, which he performed on foot, with his rifle on his shoulder. They lived in Kentucky two years, and then settled in Howard county, Mo., where they lived until 1821, when they removed to what is now Audrain county, and built their cabin on the bank of the stream since known as Young's creek. For many years they were the only persons, who lived in that part of the county, and they never saw the face of a fellow creature except when some traveler would get lost and wander that way, or a solitary hunter would stumble upon their humble habitation.

Colonel Thomas H. Benton used to stop at Mr. Young's house and pay him a visit whenever he was out on an electioneering tour, and the old hunter felt so much honored by the kind attentions of the great man that he named one of his sons Thomas Benton in honor of him. Benton also sent him a great many public documents, which he could not read, but would place, in prominent positions about the house as ornaments.

Mrs. Young, who was a very large woman, was almost as good a hunter as her husband, and would frequently go into the woods and camp for weeks at a time on hunting expeditions. She was an excellent bee hunter, and always kept her family supplied with nice, fresh honey. One day she went into the woods accompanied by her son, Thomas B., on a bee hunt, and while they were wandering about Tom saw a nice, straight grape vine that he thought would make a good clothes line. So he mounted upon it some twenty feet, and cut the vine above his head, without stopping to consider the law of gravitation, or the effect of being suspended in the air with nothing to suspend upon. The natural result was that he got a fall which jolted him so severely that he never entirely recovered from it, and he did not make as great a man as his distinguished namesake.

When Mr. Young's eldest daughter was married, the wheat from which the bread and cakes for the festive occasion were to be composed was ground on a hand mill, and the flour bolted through Mrs. Young's muslin cap. They had no sifter or bolting chest, but the muslin cap answered the purpose very well.

Mr. Young was killed in 1833, by a pet bull. His coffin was made by Rev. Mr. Hubbard, under directions from the widow, who stood by and told him to make it large and roomy, as her old man never did like to be crowded. It was accordingly made "large and roomy," and the old hunter was buried in a decent and comfortable manner. Let us hope that he sleeps well.

As the county began to settle up with enterprising farmers, schools and churches were established, mills and shops erected, and other branches of industry were inaugurated, so that to-day Audrain is fully abreast of the older and more populous counties by which it is surrounded.
(Source: A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri: with numerous sketches, by William Smith Bryan, publ. 1876. Transcribed and submitted by Andrea Stawski Pack)

Audrain County.—A county in the northeast central part of the State, bounded on the north by Monroe and Rails; on the east by Pike and Montgomery; south by Montgomery, Callaway and Boone; and west by Boone and Randolph Counties; area 439,000 acres. Audrain is one of the counties that lie on the "divide" between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The surface of the county is generally high and undulating, with about three-fourths of its area prairie, the remainder originally wooded, with some small tracts of bottom lands along the streams, the largest of which are scarcely of sufficient size to deserve the name of river. The principal stream of the county is Salt River, which rises in the southern part, and flows in a northerly direction near the center. Salt River has numerous small tributaries, the chief ones being known as Saling Creek, Long Branch, South Creek, Young's Creek, Davis Fork, Beaver Dam, Littleby and Skull Lick Creeks. In the eastern part of the county is West Fork of Cuiver River and Hickory and Sandy Creeks. The county has few natural flowing springs, and the streams are not of sufficient fall to afford water power. The soil is generally a dark loam containing in places considerable sand, having a clay subsoil, and is susceptible of high cultivation. Nearly 90 per cent of the land is arable and 85 per cent is under cultivation, the remainder in timber, chiefly white, black and burr oak, maple, walnut, hickory, sycamore and lind. The minerals of the county are coal, limestone, potter's clay and fire clay. The average yield per acre of the cereals and grasses are corn, 35 bushels; wheat, 12 bushels; oats, 30 bushels; clover seed 3 bushels; timothy seed, 31-2 bushels; timothy hay, I 1-2 tons; clover hay, 2 tons. According to the report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics the surplus products Shipped from the county in 1898, were cattle, 12,355 'head; hogs, 66,815 head; sheep, 12,529 head; horses and mules, 3,207 head; wheat, 633 bushels; oats, 18,764 bushels; corn, 2,768 bushels; flax seed, 2,132 bushels; hay, 205,000 pounds; flour, 3,963,530 pounds; corn meal, 785 pounds; ship stuff, 36,675 pounds; clover seed, 48,745 pounds; timothy seed, 588,080 pounds; logs, 12,000 feet; walnut logs, 6,000 feet; coal, 8,704 tons; brick, 1,371,300; wool, 111,170 pounds; potatoes, 3,136 bushels, poultry, 958,082 pounds; eggs, 540,290 dozen; butter, 41,634 pounds; game and fish, 8,157 pounds; tallow, 32,145 pounds; hides and pelts, 116,950 pounds; apples 1,009 barrels; fresh fruit, 21,180 pounds; honey, 6,141 pounds; nursery stock, 31,280 pounds; furs, 4,062 pounds; feathers, 27,789 pounds. Other articles exported were cooperage, clay, ice, melons, vegetables, lard, beeswax, cider and vinegar.

It is probable that the early French trappers and hunters visited the territory that is now Audrain County, before the beginning of the nineteenth century. Long before the advent of white men there, according to Schoolcraft, the tribe of Indians known as the Missouri’s made it their hunting ground, and by the aggressive Sacs and Foxes and the lowas were driven from the land. For many years after there were cultivated farms in the Audrain County section, the Indians, principally the Sacs, Foxes and lowas, hunted over the prairies, and if the evidence of the earliest settlers is not erroneous, buffalo was the chief game they sought, in different places skeletons of those animals having been found. The earliest authentic record of white men visiting the "Salt River Region," as the country now Audrain County was called, places the date at 1812', when a number of settlers on Loutre Island followed a band of horse-thieving Indians northwest of the site of Mexico, to a point on a creek which is known as Skull Lick. Here the party camped for the night, and were surprised by the Indians, who killed all but one member of the party, an account of which is given in the sketch of Montgomery County in these volumes. Some years afterward some travelers discovered in a lick on the banks of this stream some human skulls, supposed to be those of the men killed, and from these facts the creek was given its name. It was about four years after this massacre that, according to the most reliable tradition, which is substantiated by irrefutable evidence, the first permanent settlement was made in the country afterward Audrain County. The name of the first settler was Robert Littleby, an Englishman, who in 1816 settled on a small stream, a tributary of the South Fork of Salt River, which is now known as Littleby's Creek. Traditions of the other early settlers are that Littleby lived the life of a hermit, and sustained himself by hunting and trapping. For five years he was the only known white resident of the big territory that became Audrain County. In 1822 Littleby removed to the Platte River country, where, it is supposed, he died a few years later. The next one of whom there is a reliable record of his early settlement in the territory was Benjamin Young, a native of Stokes County, North Carolina, who, in 1821, took up his residence in what is now the northwestern part of the county, on the creek which bears his name. Young had been raised with the Indians and took unto himself a squaw wife, whom he later cast aside for a white woman, who accompanied him to Missouri, and who bore him a number of children. He was killed in 1833, gored to death by a pet bull. Up to 1827 there were but few families located upon land in Audrain County territory, and there was no marked immigration until after 1830, when numerous emigrants from Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, located upon land. Many of these had previously settled in Montgomery, Boone, Callaway and Howard Counties, from which they removed. It is said that in 1825, two brothers, John and William Willingham, who had for some time resided in Boone County, took up their residence upon land within the limits of what is now Audrain County. In 1830, among those who located in the territory, were Joseph McDonald, William Lavaugh, John Barnett, Caleb Williams, Black Isam Kilgore, John Kilgore and Richard Willingham. Nearly all of these here named moved from nearby counties, where some years before they had located, and about all were natives of Kentucky. John Kilgore, according to a short history of Audrain County, written by Judge S. M. Edwards, now (1900) a resident of Mexico, located upon the south side of Davis Fork, on what was later known as the Mcllhanay farm, and in 1831 there was born-to him and wife, a son, the first white child born in Audrain County territory.

According to the same authority, in 1834 the total population of the section now Audrain County did not exceed thirty families. The people were noted for their hospitality and sociability. To go fifteen or twenty miles to assist a "neighbor" at a "house raisin'" or to help 'harvest a crop was considered a pleasurable task, and trips on horseback to St. Charles, for many years the nearest trading point, were looked upon as pleasant journeys. There was abundance of game in the country and the hunt supplied all the fresh venison and other meats that constituted, along with corn bread and rye coffee, the chief food of the settlers. The large game in the country at that time was elk, deer, bear and wolves, the latter causing the pioneers great annoyance by the destruction of the few domestic animals they brought into the country. An incident of about two years ago discloses that the early inhabitants of the county had some superstitious ideas regarding cures. J. T. Johnson, who now owns the farm improved by the late Judge Doan, was clearing away some timber near where the old residence stood, and on cutting down a large oak tree and splitting it up, found near the center, a few feet above the ground, a well preserved lock of human hair. Inquiry developed that a superstition believed by many, years ago, was that croup in children could be cured by cutting a lock of hair from the child's head and boring a hole in a tree just as high as the top of its head and putting the hair into it, and that when the child grew above the hole, the croup would disappear. Inquiry from some of the older members of the Doan family revealed that this belief had been prevalent in the family, and that about fifty years ago, one of the children since dead, was severely affected with croup and phthisis. What is now Audrain County was originally included in the old St. Charles District. When Montgomery County was organized, December 14, 1818, the unorganized territory west of it was attached to it for military and civil purposes. Callaway, Boone and Rails Counties were created, however, in November, 1820, and for civil and military purposes parts of what is now Audrain County, were attached to each, and when Monroe County was organized, January 6, 1831, a portion of the unorganized territory lying south was attached. Januaryi2th of the same year the Legislature passed a supplemental act, denning the boundaries of Monroe County, and also "denned and designated a completed county, to be known as Audrain County, and as soon as 'inhabitants sufficient to justify a representative, it shall be organized and entitled to all the rights and privileges of all of the other counties in the State. The parts of aforesaid county shall remain attached to Callaway, Monroe and Rails Counties" for civil and military purposes. Thus it can be seen that, when the counties contiguous to Audrain were organized, Audrain remained not a part of St. Charles, as erroneously stated by some historical writers, but an unorganized territory, more the result of the faulty or accidental outlining of the boundaries of the counties surrounding it. This also accounts for its peculiar form, which is different from any other county in Missouri. Audrain County was formerly organized by legislative act, approved December 17, 1836, and named in honor of Charles H. Audrain, a prominent pioneer of St. Charles County, who was a member of the State Legislature in 1830. In 1842 the Legislature passed an act further denning the boundaries of Monroe and Audrain Counties, and a strip of territory one mile wide—in all thirty-one square miles—was taken from the southern part of Monroe and added to Audrain County. As at that time denned, the boundaries of Audrain County have since remained. The act organizing Audrain County named as commissioners to locate a permanent seat of justice, Cornelius Edwards, of Monroe, William Martin, of Callaway, and Robert Schooling, of Boone County, and directed that they meet on the first Monday in June, 1837, at the house of Edward Jennings, in "New Mexico."

An amendatory act passed January 20, 1837, changed the day of meeting to the first Monday in March, 1837, on which day the commissioners met at the place designated. In April, 1836, Rev. Robert C. Mansfield and James H. Smith laid out a town on land which they had entered at the government land office and called the town New Mexico. They platted fifty acres into lots and donated to the county a public square and each alternate lot upon condition that the town be made the permanent seat of justice. This donation was accepted by the commissioners, and was approved by the circuit and county courts. May 4, 1837, an auction sale of town lots was held for the benefit of the county building fund, and later that year, in block 8, lot 6, fronting the public square, a log courthouse was built. It was of white oak logs, 18 x 36 feet, one story high, "ten feet between floor and ceiling," and contained two rooms. 'This building was used until the spring of 1839, when the second courthouse, of brick, two stories high, was built on the public square, the county court appropriating $i,6bo for its building. This structure served the county until 1869, when the present substantial courthouse was completed at a cost of $42,870.71. In July, 1870, the county purchased a farm on which to sustain its poor. Fortunately the number of paupers in the county is small and are supported at a minimum expense to the taxpayers. The members of the first county court were James Harrison, James E. Fenton and Hezekiah J. M. Doan. February 6, 1837, the first meeting of the court was held at the house of Edward Jennings, in the town of New Mexico, James Harrison" and James E. Fenton, two of the justices being present. Joel Haynes was the first county clerk. The session was opened by William Levaugh, elisor, who was appointed by the court, James Jackson, who was commissioned sheriff by the Governor, having refused to qualify. Later James M. Hicks was appointed to the office of sheriff. The first business of the county court was the acceptance of the bond of the county clerk. The first order made by the court was leave to James E. Fenton, one of its number, "for selling and retailing spirituous liquors and groceries at his house in the town of New Mexico for six months, from the I7th of December, 1836, upon his paying a tax of five dollars; also a tax of one-eighth per cent on every $150." After making this order the County of Audrain was divided into five townships, named respectively, Saling, Wilson, Salt River, Prairie and Loutre, and it was ordered that elections in each township be held on the 28th of February, for the purpose of electing two justices of the peace and two constables. John A. Henderson was appointed the first treasurer of the county. At a subsequent meeting of the court the report of the commissioners to locate a permanent seat of justice was adopted, and the original town of New Mexico became officially known as Mexico. The amount of money found necessary to defray the county expenses in 1837, was $204.36. From the sale of town lots and from taxes collected at the close of the year 1838, the county had in its treasury, after paying all expenses, nearly $1,500, which was used for the purpose of building the second courthouse of the county. At the first general election held in the county in 1838, Jonah B-.Hatten, James E. Fenton and George W. Caldwell were elected county justices; John B. Morris, county clerk; John Willingham, sheriff; William White, county treasurer; and James Jackson was elected the first representative to the Legislature from the county. The first term of the Circuit Court for Audrain County, as directed by the General Assembly, was held on March 13, 1837, at the house of Edward Jennings, Honorable Priestly H. McBride, judge of the second judicial district, presiding, with John Heard, circuit attorney; James M. Hicks, sheriff; and Joel Haynes, clerk. The first case before the-court was entitled, "The State of Missouri v. Richard Bryant, upon indictment of larceny." The members of the first grand jury, were Thomas Kilgore, foreman; William Wood, Eli Smith, William C. West, Adam Cluck, Joseph McDonald, John Peery, Delaney Willingham, John Wood, John H. Kilgore, Roland McIntyre, James Davis, John B. Kilgore, John W. Barnett, Joseph Brown and Harrison Norvel. The first attorneys enrolled for practice in the courts of Audrain County were John Heard, James R. Abernathy, Sinclair Kirtley, William H. Russell, Henry Cave, Phillip Williams, W. R. Vanarsdall and Thomas Miller. During the earliest sessions of the court the cases to call for attention, and which were most numerous, were the betting on poker, betting on three up, gaming, playing poker and cards, selling liquor without license, etc. The first indictment for murder was returned at the July term of court, 1840, when one Monroe or Milroy Powell was charged with the murder of George Eubanks by striking him aver the head with a weeding hoe. In this case the instructions to the jury by the court were of considerable length. The trial resulted in a verdict of "manslaughter in the fourth degree," and, in the words of the verdict rendered, the jury "do find him in the sum of three hundred and twenty-five dollars." Powell was sentenced to six months' imprisonment in the county jail by the court. However, he was released before the expiration of his term. The second indictment for murder was in June, 1854, when one Hart, a slave, was found guilty of administering poison to the slaves of John R. Croswhite, and in 1856 Emily, another slave, the property of Thomas Lakin, was tried for infanticide. One of the most sensational criminal trials to occupy the attention of the court was that of James N. Rodman for the murder of Captain John W. Ricketts, February 24, 1857, on the outskirts of the western part of the town of Mexico. Ricketts was found dead, an inquest showing he was killed by a shot gun. Rodman was arrested, tried for the crime, and strong circumstantial evidence was adduced against him. After two or three trials the defendant was acquitted after which he left the country. On the 15th of June, 1878, Stephen J. Moore shot and killed his brother-in-law, Gentry, in a quarrel over Gentry's dog killing hogs belonging to Moore. Moore was tried and acquitted. On the night of September 30, 1879, Octave Inlow was shot and killed near Mexico. Joe Hicks, Jake Muldrow and Nathan Faucett, all colored, were accused of the murder, and Emma Prilly, a white girl, was charged with being an accessory. All accused were of the lowest stratum of society. The four accused were arrested and tried, and Faucett and Muldrow found guilty, Hicks, who afterward confessed to firing the shot, was acquitted and the girl released and ordered to leave Mexico. Later she returned, confessed to her complicity in the crime and was sent for a term of ten years to the penitentiary. April 16, 1880, Faucett and Muldrow were executed in Mexico. On the 6th of the month prior (March 6,1880) Walker Kilgore was hanged on the same scaffold, and was the first criminal to be legally executed in Audrain County. Kilgore was found guilty of killing, by shooting, S. D. Willingham, a farmer, January 27, 1879. There have been numerous other murders, but no other executions in the county since, but generally serious crimes have been confined to the lower element of society. Prior to i878Audrain County was unfortunate in having prosecuting attorneys whose duties were hampered by conditions arising out of the Civil War. During this period there were some murders, but cases against lawbreakers were not vigorously punished until John McD. Trimble was elected to the office of prosecuting attorney. He immediately set about to reform abuses and succeeded admirably. Of nine defendants prosecuted for homicide by him, seven were convicted. There has never been a lynching in Audrain County, and only three legal executions, as herein mentioned. The residents of the county from its earliest settlement have been of the most law-abiding class and crime has been kept at the minimum. The first deed recorded in the county was a transfer of the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 36, Township 51, Range 9, containing forty acres, to John B. Morris by William Wood and his wife, Isabella, the consideration being $102.50. The first marriage in the county took place February 2, 1837, the contracting parties being Samuel Riggs and Nancy Dollins, who were married by Robert A. Younger (father of the notorious Younger brothers), a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The first school of which there is any reliable record was started in 1832, in what is now the southern part of the county, in a log building, which was built on the northeast corner of Section 35, Township 50, Range 9, about six miles south of the present site of Mexico. Archibald Gregg was the first teacher employed, and some of the children who attended came from Callaway County. The first sermon preached by a minister was in 1832, in the settlement where the school was located, by Rev. Mr. Hoxie, of the Presbyterian Church, who was at that time pastor of a church at Auxvasse in Callaway County. About the same time Rev. Robert A. Younger and a Rev. Mr. Taze, both of the Methodist Episcopal Church commenced holding meetings at the house of Madison Dysart, which was later known as Calhoun Place, located about eight miles southwest of Mexico. The first church undoubtedly to be established within the limits of Audrain County was the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, organized August 6, 1836, with a membership of fourteen including William M. Jesse and wife, and William Black and wife. On May 16, 1840, the Davis Pork Regular Baptist Church at Mexico was organized with a membership of nine. The same year the Littleby Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized. In 1850 the Mexico Presbyterian Church was established. Ten years prior, in 1840, the Mexico Christian Church was organized. Before the building of churches in Mexico all ministers of different denominations held services in the courthouse, which was a recognized place for religious worship, regardless of denomination. In the courthouse nearly all the church organizations of Mexico first held services, and before the Catholics had a church visiting priests from other parishes read mass in the court room to the members of their flock. The first newspaper published in Audrain County was the "Weekly Ledger," which was established at Mexico in the summer of 1855, by John B. Williams. Mr..Williams, who was well known as a newspaper man in central Missouri, conducted the paper until 1856, when he sold it to William D. H. Hunter who continued its publication until January, 1862, when fire destroyed the office. In January, 1863, a paper called the "Audrain County Beacon" was established by Captain Amos Ladd and O. A. A. Gardener. In 1866 it was purchased by John T. Brooks who changed its name to the "Mexico Ledger." In March, 1872, Colonel J. E. Hutton purchased the paper and rechristened it the "Intelligencer." In 1879 Colonel Hutton began publishing a daily edition of the paper. In 1885 the paper was purchased by Samuel B. Cook, who, in 1898, accepted C. M. Baskett as partner, and in 1900 Cook sold his interest to Baskett, who is now its publisher. In October, 1865, W. W. Davenport established the "Messenger" and soon afterward sold it to M. F. Simmons, who conducted it until September, 1874, when it was purchased by J. Linn Ladd, who changed its politics from Republican to Democratic, rechristened it the "Ledger," and in 1876 sold it to its present publisher, R. M. White. Mr. White began publishing the "Daily Ledger" in 1886. In 1859 the "Audrain County Banner" was started by William H. Martin, but existed only a few months. A paper called the "Signal" was established in 1858 by William A. Thompson, who ran it for about two years and then sold it to Joseph A. Armstead who, after publishing it for about a year, discontinued it. In October, 1868, the "Agriculturist" was started by W. G. Church, and lived one year. John Beal began publishing the "Mexico Message" November, 1899. The "State Leader," a Prohibition paper, is published at Mexico by Charles E. Stokes, the candidate of that party for Governor in 1900. In October, 1868, the "Audrain Expositor" was started by Ira Hall, J. D. Macfarlane and Milton F. Simmons, and existed about a year. The "Mexico Union" was established in 1878 by Harry Day, and in 1879 was acquired by C. A. Keeton, who changed its name to the "Audrain County Press," which, after an existence of a few years, ceased publication. At different times journalistic ventures were put forth, flourished for a while, and died natural deaths. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War the Whigs and the Democrats in the county were about equally divided. In 1860 Lincoln received only one vote in the county. When the realities of war were no longer chimerical, apparently the sympathies of the people were about evenly divided. There was a large conservative element. In the election of 1862 there were two county tickets in the field, the Anti-Emancipation and the Unconditional Union. So evenly divided was the sentiment that some on each ticket were elected. The feeling of the people is better explained by the number of soldiers furnished each side. The records of the Confederacy fail to throw much light on the exact number from the county who took up arms against the Union. Some historical writers estimate the number at from three to four hundred. A careful examination of the poll lists and the other available data of the war period shows that the estimate is greatly in excess of the real figure, and, as near as can be ascertained, the total number from the county who entered the regular Confederate Army was 104, while the number enrolled in the militia and regular service in support of the Union was in excess of 350. During the war there was one small skirmish within the county, that at McClintock's barn, in the northern part of the county. The Confederates were under the command of Captain William O. Johnson, and, being mostly undisciplined farmers of the neighborhood, quickly gave way at the first fire from a company of disciplined Federal troops. No one was killed on either side, and only a few were slightly wounded. There was some bushwhacking, and a few good citizens killed. Federal soldiers doing guard duty at Mexico shot two men, William Lockridge and Garland Surber. Lockridge was trying to leave the town on horseback when shot, and Surber, a farmer, had brought a load of potatoes to town, and his horses, becoming frightened at the shooting, ran away, and while he was trying to check them he was killed by an ignorant guardsman. June, 1861, a portion of the Second and Eighth Missouri Regiments, in all about 600 men, under command of Colonel Morgan Smith, took possession of Mexico, and remained about a week. Colonel Smith was relieved by Colonel U. S. Grant, in charge of the Twenty-first Illinois, who remained for about three weeks, when he was ordered to Bird's Point. Colonel Grant, by the orderly conduct of himself and soldiers, gained the respect of the citizens of Mexico. He had his headquarters in West Mexico. It is stated in some histories published that, while at Mexico, Grant was made a brigadier general, but this is a mistake. He received his commission as brigadier general at Ironton, in Iron County, a few weeks after leaving Mexico, and the spot which is now known as Emerson Park, where he stood when his commission was received, is marked by a fine statue of him. In his memoirs Grant speaks of his sojourn at Mexico. In 1866 the county court of Audrain County voted $300,000 in bonds in favor of the Louisiana & Missouri River Railroad, known at present as the Chicago & Alton. In October, 1871, the company completed its line through the county from east to west, and the Fulton branch was finished in March, 1872. As in other counties where railroad bonds were voted, some of the people failed to heartily support the scheme, and tried to create dissatisfaction among the taxpayers. However, the conservative and progressive element in the county prevailed, with the result that in 1880 the last cent of indebtedness on account of the railroad bonds was paid, with the utmost satisfaction to the taxpayers of the county and all concerned as well. Had the elements antagonistic to the bonds predominated, as in some other counties of Missouri, Audrain would have been precipitated into costly and lengthy litigation that no doubt would have caused the original debt to be increased into the millions. Audrain County is divided into seven townships named respectively, Cuiver, Loutre, Linn, Prairie, Saling, Salt River and Wilson. The assessed valuation of real estate and town lots in the county in 1899 was $5,513,250; estimated full value, $11,026,500, assessed value of personal property, including stocks, bonds, etc., $2,727,495; estimated full value, $5,454,990; assessed value of merchants and manufacturers, $228,835; estimated full value, $457,670; assessed value of railroads, $1,435,359.69. There are 78 1-4 miles of railroad in the county, the Chicago & Alton passing from the northeast corner to the western line, with a -branch from Mexico south to the southern boundary line, and the Wabash, entering near the southeast corner, and passing in a northwesterly direction to the center of the western boundary line.

The number of public schools in the county in 1900 was 99; amount of permanent school funds, both county and township, $62,946.68. The population of the county in 1900 was 21,160.
(See also "Live Stock Interests of Audrain County.") - George Robertson.
[Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri: Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901;  Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack]

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