Cedar County, Missouri
A county in the southwestern part of the State, 110 miles south of Kansas City, on the northwestern slope of the Ozark range. It is bounded on the north by St. Clair County, on the east by Polk County, on the south by Dade County, and on the west by Barton and Vernon Counties. Its area is 496 square miles, about equally divided between prairie and timber. The prairie bears a rich soil, black, brown and red, unexcelled for producing the cereals, grasses and tobacco. In the eastern part of the county nearly all the timber land can be made tillable. The county is abundantly watered. The principal stream is Sac River, flowing almost centrally to the south, where it meets the Osage. Its larger tributaries are Turkey, Silver, Bear, the east fork of Sac, and Brush Creeks, from the east. Its largest feeder is Cedar Creek, flowing from the southwest, and uniting with it near the northern boundary of the county. Horse Creek and other water courses flow from the west. There are numerous excellent springs, particularly one near Stockton, and Conner's Spring and White Hare Spring, on Conner's Prairie, ten miles northwest of Stockton.
At Eldorado and Jerico are mineral springs of medicinal value. In the Sac and Cedar Creek bottoms, the country is hilly, breaking into abrupt bluffs in places. The timber is principally hickory, oak and black jack, but in the lowlands are found walnut, ash, maple, birch, box elder, redbud, butternut, mulberry, honey locust and black locust. Cedar abounds on the stream known by that name. There is abundance of good building stone. Iron ore exists in large quantities, but is not worked. In 1840 a forge and furnace were operated on the Little Sac River, but the enterprise was unprofitable owing to the difficulty of shipment, and the works were destroyed by the unpaid workmen, and were never rebuilt. Coal underlies the county, and there are indications of copper and lead in various parts. The principal towns are Stockton, the county seat, and Eldorado Springs and Jerico Springs, health resorts.
Railways entering the county are the Greenfield branch of the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis, reaching Stockton, and a branch of the same road reaching Eldorado Springs. In 1898 the principal surplus products were: Cattle, 4,900 head; hogs, 14,310 head; sheep, 1,310 head; hay, 320,000 pounds; wool, 5,200 pounds ; poultry, 147,000 pounds; eggs, 175,000 dozen; hides, 11,000 pounds. In 1900 the population was 16,923.
The first settlement in the county was made by John Crisp, Robert Graham, Thomas English, and a man named Crump, who located on Sac River, two miles east of the present Stockton, November 17, 1832. The first mill was built by Philip Crow, on Bear Creek, three miles northwest of the present Stockton, and about the same time John Williams built a mill on Cedar Creek. The first child born in the county was Susan, daughter of Robert and Ann Graham, October 13, 1833 he became the wife of George W. Sallee, and died in 1888. The first marriage was the same year, that of John Crisp, and Melinda, daughter of Thomas English. The first funeral, date not ascertainable, was that of James Hopper; James J. Johnson, a Baptist, the pioneer minister, conducted the services. The first physicians were Samuel W. Horn and William Gordon. Zimri Crabtree located on the site of Stockton, March 26, 1846, and the same year the first store in the county was opened there. In 1847 James M. Blakey operated a ferry on Big Sac River, where he had a mill, on the road from Stockton to Polk County. In 1849 Samuel Caplinger' built a mill on Sac River, seven miles north of Stockton.
The first school was taught by Andrew Stewart, in 1841, near Stockton, and among his pupils was Thomas B. Graham. Another early teacher was C. Lindsey. In 1847 school townships were organized, but there is no record of school instituted. In 1898 there were eighty-seven schools, 106 teachers, and the permanent school fund was $35,735.89. The first preachers were Baptists; James J. Johnson was the pioneer, in 1837, and organized a church on Cedar Creek soon afterward. Other early ministers of the same denomination were Obadiah Smith, Daniel Murphy, David Satterfield and J. Lunsford.
Cedar County was created February 14, 1845, from portions of Dade and St. Clair Counties, and was named for Cedar Creek, one of its principal water courses. The first county court was held April 7th, following, at Crow's Mill, near the mouth of Bear Creek. Thomas Jones, James L. Henry and Ezra Hamer were the justices, with Joseph Allen as clerk, James Cawthon as sheriff, and Thomas Smith as assessor. The seat of justice was established at Stockton in 1846. The first circuit court session was held by Judge Foster P. Wright, September 29, 1845, at the house of Elisha Hunter, two miles south of Stockton, on the Greenfield Road. A grand jury was impaneled, which retired to a buckeye grove, in the absence of a room other than that occupied by the court.
Among the early attorneys were S. M. Grant and Shadrach Chandler; Waldo P. Johnson, afterward a circuit judge and a United States Senator, and DeWitt C. Ballou and Littleberry Hendricks, who both occupied the bench in later years. Until recent years there was much to retard progress. Previous to the Civil War the county was disturbed by hostile meetings between Free-Soil and slavery men, on account of its proximity to Kansas. It is believed that the arms-bearing portion of the population entered the contending armies in about equal numbers.
In the Union service were two companies of the Seventh Provisional Regiment, commanded by Captains P. H. Rohrer and Dennis H. Connaway, afterward forming a part of the Fifteenth Cavalry Regiment, Missouri State Militia; a considerable portion of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment, Missouri State Militia, commanded by Colonel Joseph J. Gravelly, a distinguished citizen of the county; and a part of a battery of artillery, commanded by Captain William C. Montgomery, in which served Lieutenants T. M. Montgomery and T. J. Travis. In the Confederate service were the Stockton Grays, commanded by Captain B. F. Walker; companies commanded by Captains J. A. Musgrove and J. W. Prowell, and a portion of a company commanded by Captain Reynolds, then of St. Clair County. Captain Walker became colonel, succeeding Colonel James Cawthon, of Stockton, who was killed in battle.
During the war the county was frequently traversed by bodies of troops of either side, and many deeds of violence and destruction were committed by irregular bands. After the restoration of peace, a new immigration began, and new towns were established, among them Lebeck, many of whose people were Adventists and Latter-Day Saints. The entire population is of a stable character, and the county is steadily advancing in all material ways.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri Volume I; Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack.]
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