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Clinton County, Missouri

Old Settlers


1833—Forty-eight years constitute a long period in the life of man. His recollection, however tenacious of the most important events which transpire around him, fails as to exact dates and names of individuals. We have, however, obtained sufficient data, which we believe to be authentic, and from which our readers may learn much of the early history of Plattsburg, and of the men who founded it.

Among the old veterans, was Richard R. Rees, who was appointed the first circuit and county court clerk. Mr. Rees was originally from Kentucky, but came from Clay County to Plattsburg. He continued his clerical labors, as an officer of the courts until 1836, when, obtaining a license from the supreme court of the state, he resigned and began the practice of law. In about 1836, he moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he continued the practice of his profession, filling in the meantime many important offices, among which was that of probate judge of Leavenworth County. He died in 1879.

John Livingston came about the same time from Kentucky (1833), and had the honor of building the first house in Plattsburg, (then called Concord). This building was a pole cabin, and was used for a court house and clerk's office. It was located southeast of where the court house now stands. Mr. Livingston was fond of hunting, and during his first winter here, he killed forty-eight black bears; twenty-two of these were killed on a large elm tree, which stood upon the present site of the court house. Mr. Livingston died in Plattsburg in 1867. His two sons, T. R. and C. G. Livingston, still survive him, and are citizens of Plattsburg.

1834—The first business house was that of Edward M. and George W. Samuels, who began business as early as July, 1834, a few doors east of where the Plattsburg Bank now stands—general merchandise. The Samuel brothers were from Kentucky, but came from Clay County to this place. They had business houses at that time at several other points in Clay, and afterwards in Platte, Buchanan and Andrew counties, of this state. George W. resides in St. Joseph. Edward M. was at one time Receiver in the United States Land Office, in Plattsburg.

1835—The next business firm (general merchandise) was J. & J. Long, who came in 1835, from Woodford County, Kentucky, and opened their store in June. James Long now resides in Missouri City, Missouri.
Anthony Miller located here in July, 1835, and operated a grocery store.

Shadrack B. Taylor, came also in 1835, and opened a grocery store. Mr. Taylor was afterwards sheriff of the county.

1836—E. P. Howell located here, and commenced business. He was from Clay County, and remained in Plattsburg till 1849, when he went, with others, to California, where he now resides.
Solomon Kinsey began business in 1836. He was for some years a prominent man. Besides being a merchant, he was a minister of the Gospel, and was one of the first sheriffs of the county. He left the county many years ago.

W. J. Moss & Co., from Liberty, Missouri, opened a store, which was operated by Nathan M. Vance, who afterwards became the sole owner. Mr. Vance was from Garrett County, Kentucky.

James Smith, the first blacksmith, came during this year, also Anthony Miller, who was the first tailor. His shop stood on the corner, .where the Plattsburg Bank now stands.

The first hotel in the town, was opened and operated in 1836, by Joseph Hunter, a Kentuckian. It occupied the corner where the Laclede Hotel now stands, and was a log building.

Willis Long, brother of James Long, came in 1835, and died in California. During the same year, Hiram Smith, and A. S. Gunter, began business.

1837—there were nine licenses issued to business men. How many of these were issued to men who had been in the mercantile "business in the preceding year, we cannot tell. It is a fact, however, that among these, was a peddler's license, granted to Alvin L. Howell, who was the first peddler in the county.
George Funkhouser came in 1837, from Virginia, and soon began merchandising. He is still in the same business.

Doctor Henry Essig settled here in 1837, coming from Center County, Pennsylvania. He immediately began the practice of his profession, to which he devoted himself exclusively until 1866, when he retired from practice. He still lives in Plattsburg, at the age of seventy-three years.

Reuben Randolph and his son, William, located here in 1837. They were the first carpenters in the town, and constructed some of the earliest residences. They were from Clay County.

Doctor Noah F. Essig came, in 1837, from Center County, Pennsylvania. He was the father of Doctor Henry Essig, above mentioned. The doctor was one of the first treasurers in the county, which office he filled for many years. He died here in 1859.

1838 TO 1840.

During the summer and fall of 1838, Thomas McMichael, from Ohio, became a settler in Plattsburg. Shortly after coming, he engaged in the mercantile business, and continued therein at different intervals until 1863, when he retired from business, and still lives in the town, at the advanced age of seventy-one years.

In 1838, Judge Charles Young, from Bath County, Kentucky, located here, but is now a resident of Concord Township, where he follows the pursuit of a farmer. Judge Young built the first house in Kansas City, Missouri. Nelson O. Hopkins. David R. Gallaway, and William Hughes came in 1838. The latter was a merchant, died several years ago, and was the first man buried in the Plattsburg cemetery.

W. P. Gibson, a tailor, located here in 1839! John Patton and Joseph Young, both shoemakers, about the same year, Young preceding Patton. Hervey Whittington came from Woodford County, Kentucky, 1840, and was the pioneer saddler and harness maker of Plattsburg. He followed this business for some years, and then engaged in other pursuits. He still resides in the town, engaged in selling groceries.

Winslow Turner came in 1840, from Liberty, Clay County. He was formerly from Massachusetts, and came to Clay County from Fort Leavenworth.

Colonel Turner was, for many years, circuit and county court clerk. During his terms of office, the records were most admirably kept by him, and are even now, models of neatness and excellent penmanship. He afterwards practiced law, and died in Plattsburg in 1874.
John Steel came in 1840, and began work with Hervey Whittington as a saddler. He was from Pennsylvania, and made the first saddle that was manufactured in Clinton County. He still resides here and follows his old trade.

The above named parties, who settled in Plattsburg between 1833 and 1840, were among the very earliest pioneers of the town.

Soon after the year 1840, came Judge James H. Birch, a Virginian by birth and education, who moved to Missouri in 1826, and located in Plattsburg, Clinton County, in 1841. Judge Birch was for many years register of the land office in Plattsburg. In 1848, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of the state, and in 1866, began the publication of the Clinton County Register, a weekly newspaper, which is still in existence. The Judge was a leading politician in this portion of the state, and was one of the best informed men of his day.

General James W. Denver, was also an old citizen, and resided here several years, engaged in teaching school and the practice of law. He went to California from Plattsburg, and was afterwards appointed Governor of Kansas; was a representative in Congress, and filled other important positions both civil and military. The city of Denver, Colorado, was named after him, which is now (1881) the place of his residence.

Thomas E. Birch, brother of Judge Birch, came after 1840, and was appointed register in the land office here, under General Taylor's administration.

Among other prominent men who resided here at an early day, were General Bela M. Hughes, who now lives in Denver, Colorado, practicing law, and Allen McLane, register of the land office. Then came B. O. Bean, from New Hampshire; Dr. William Evans, from Ohio ; Joel Funkhouser, from Virginia; Charles W. Porter, from Vermont; Joseph B. Biggerstaff, from Kentucky; Moses Shoemaker, from Pennsylvania; Isaac N. Hockaday, Benjamin Craig and James M. Clay, from Kentucky; Charles Ingles and W. W. Scutt, from New York, and Andrew Meininger, from Germany. At a later day came Judge T. D. Phillips (present postmaster), W. P. Hooper (present mayor), J. H. Bennett, A. Doniphan, E. M. Lyons, W. H. Conner, James Stonum, D. H. Lindsay (present circuit clerk), A. W. Stearns, H. S. Force, Jack Bowlby, John Vallandigham, William L. Ferguson, Captain E. C. Thomas, Virgil R. Porter (present probate judge), J. M. Lowe (present county attorney), and others, who came at a still later period.
Source:  "The History of Clinton County, Missouri..."; St. Joseph, MO; National Historical Company; 1881; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack 

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