Caldwell County, Missouri Genealogy Trails

History

 

CALDWELL COUNTY, MISSOURI
A county in the northwestern part of the State, bounded on the north by Daviess County, on the east by Livingston and Carroll south by Ray, and west by Clinton and DeKalb Counties. There were no permanent settlements made in the territory now Caldwell County until 1830.
That year Jesse Mann, who is credited with being the first permanent settler, located on land near what is now the center of the county,
in the vicinity of the site of Kingston. A few other settlers, among whom was Rufus Middleton, settled the same year on Shoal Creek,, It is not known that any others took up their residence in the county until 1832, when Zephaniah Woolsey settled in what is now the eastern part of the county. In 1834 Robert White, Richard Beerner and a few others settled near where Woolsey had located.
The State Legislature organized Caldwell County, December 26, 1836, by detachment from Ray County.
The author of the bill creating the county was General Alexander W. Doniphan, and he named the county after Colonel John Caldwell, of Kentucky. The Mormons, in 1836, moved into Caldwell County and laid out a town, which they called Far West. Leaders among the Mormons who settled in the county were Joseph and Hyrum Smith, John Carroll, Sidney Rigdon, W.W. Phelps, Edward Partridge, Philo Dibble, Elias Higbee, Edward Partrid?e, Oliver Cowdery, and many others.
Far West was the rallying point for all the "Saints" and Joseph Smith and his associates planned to make it one of the grandest cities of the world.
This town was made the first county seat.
In 1842 the county seat was moved to Kingston, about six miles southeast, a town laid out for county seat purposes and named in honor of Governor Austin A. King. There a courthouse was built. It was destroyed by fire, April 19, 1860, with all the records it contained.
[Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri Edited by Howard L. Conard  Vol. I, 1901 Pages 466-467 - C. Horton - 0409]

 

A county in the northwestern part of the State, bounded on the north by Daviess County, on the east by Livingston and Carroll, south by Ray, and west by Clinton and DeKalb Counties; area, 275,480 acres. The surface of the county is sufficiently undulating to afford excellent drainage, and about half of it is upland prairie, the other half timber, which is so evenly distributed that few sections of its area are destitute of wood. Shoal Creek runs through the county, near the center, from west to east. Crooked River drains the extreme southwestern corner. These streams have numerous small tributaries.

The soil is a dark, sandy loam of great fertility, and 98 per cent of the land of the county is arable, and about 85 per cent is under cultivation, the remainder being in timber, consisting chiefly of oak, white and black walnut, hackberry, elm and cottonwood. There are considerable deposits of bituminous coal in the county, which is mined for home use and export. Lead and zinc have also been discovered, but not in sufficient quantities to justify serious attempts at the development of mines.

All the hardy varieties of fruit grow abundantly, and the cultivation of orchards and vineyards is one of the profitable industries of the county. The chief pursuits are stock-raising and general farming. According to the report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1898, the surplus products shipped from the county were: Cattle, 15,414 head; hogs, 86,818 head; sheep, 8,406 head; horses and mules, 587 head; oats, 6,520 bushels; corn, 2,186 bushels; flaxseed, 429 bushels; hay, 78,800 pounds; flax, 861,048 pounds; ship stuff, 5,540 pounds; lumber, 24,272 feet; walnut logs, 24,000 feet; coal, 6,504 tons; brick, 82,000; stone, 69 cars; wool, 204,035 pounds; poultry, 738,899 pounds; eggs, 522,542 dozen; butter, 135,966 pounds; cheese, 42,011 pounds; game and fish, 3,977 pounds; tallow, 10,195 pounds; hides and pelts, 86,341 pounds; strawberries, 130 crates; raspberries, 103 crates; fresh fruit, 9,069 pounds; vegetables, 7,000 pounds; furs and feathers, 5,125 pounds. Other articles exported were cordwood, lime, whisky, wine and vinegar.

There were no permanent settlements made in the territory now Caldwell County until 1830. That year Jesse Mann, who is credited with being the first permanent settler, located on land near what is now the center of the county, in the vicinity of the site of Kingston. A few other settlers, among whom was Rufus Middleton, settled the same year on Shoal Creek. It is not known that any others took up their residence in the county until 1832, when Zephaniah Woolsey settled in what is now the eastern part of the county.

In 1834 Robert White, Richard Beerner and a few others settled near where Woolsey had located. During the few years following there were numerous settlements made.

In 1836 the first mill was built in the county. It was located on Shoal Creek, was run by water power, and was a combined saw and grist mill.

The State Legislature organized Caldwell County, December 26, 1836, by detachment from Ray County. The author of the bill creating the county was General Alexander W. Doniphan, and he named the county after Colonel John Caldwell, of Kentucky.

The Mormons, who had been driven out from Jackson and Clay Counties in 1836, moved into Caldwell County and laid out a town, which they called Far West. Leaders among the Mormons who settled in the county were Joseph and Hyrum Smith, John Carroll, Sidney Rigdon, W. W. Phelps, Edward Partridge. Philo Dibble, Elias Higbee, Oliver Cowdery and many others. Far West was the rallying point for all the "Saints," and Joseph Smith and his associates planned to make it one of the grandest cities of the world. This town was made the first county seat. The Mormons, in 1837, far outnumbered the Gentiles, and at the first election from their ranks elected nearly all the county officers. Emissaries of the "Saints" were sent to the Eastern States, and to different parts of Europe, and converts by the hundreds rushed to the new Mecca, the sanctified city of Far West.

The fertile prairies of Caldwell County were converted into farms, and Mormon settlements extended into Daviess, Livingston and Clinton Counties, but far west was the central point for all. By 1839 it contained nearly 3,000 inhabitants. For the city a magnificent temple was planned. It was intended to be the grandest in the western hemisphere. The town had been laid out about a grand square, approached on its four sides by streets one hundred feet wide. In this square the building of the temple was commenced. In 1838 the laying of the corner stone was the occasion of great rejoicing, and this ceremony was performed with great pomp and demonstration. The fates did not decree that this wonderful temple should be built, and barely was its foundation completed when the "Saints" were driven from the county, and sought a place of refuge in Illinois, where they founded the town of Nauvoo. (See "Mormonism.") The exodus of the Mormons shattered the greatness of Far West, which became a deserted city, and in 1842 the county seat was moved to Kingston, about six miles southeast, a town laid out for county seat purposes, and named in honor of Governor Austin A. King. There a courthouse was built. It was destroyed by fire April 19, 1860, with all the records it contained, excepting those of the probate court. In 1859 the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad was completed as far as Kingston.

Caldwell County furnished a number of volunteers for the Mexican War, and soldiers to both the Northern and Southern sides during the Civil War. In July, 1864, Confederates under Major Thrailkill entered the county and billed two and captured a number of Home Guards. A few days later Thrailkill and his men entered Kingston, and, his forces greatly outnumbering the Home Guards stationed there, the latter, along with a number of citizens, left the place and went to Hamilton, in the northern part of the county.

The Confederates having possession of the town broke open the courthouse vault, from which they took about $8,000 belonging to the school fund. They destroyed all records and papers appertaining to the enrollment of the militia, but did not burn the county records. After robbing a number of stores of goods and money they passed on to Plattsburg, in Clinton County, stopping at Mirabile, where they looted the stores and houses. These were the chief events in the county during the conflict.

Caldwell County is divided into twelve townships, named, respectively:
Breckenridge,
Davis;
Fairview;
Grant;
Hamilton;
Kidder;
Kingston;
Gomer;
Lincoln;
Mirabile;
New York;
Rockford.

There are 56.88 miles of railroad in the county, the Hannibal & St. Joseph passing east and west through the northern part; the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul through the southeastern part, and the Hamilton & Kingston running from Hamilton, in the northern part of the county, to Kingston, the county seat. The number of public schools in the county in 1899 was 84; teachers employed, 146; pupils enumerated, 5,098. The population in 1900 was 16,656.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri: Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901;  Pgs. 466-467; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack.]


 

 

 

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