Franklin County, Missouri Genealogy Trails


Source: Goodspeed's Franklin County History, 1888, Goodspeed Publishing Co
Transcribed by: Barb Z. © 2009

Boundary.—Franklin County is situated in the eastern part of Missouri. It is bounded on the north by Warren and St. Charles Counties, separated from them by the Missouri River; on the east by St. Louis and Jefferson Counties; on the south by Washington and Crawford Counties, and on the west by Gascon­ade County. Its extreme length from north to south, near the west boundary line, is a trifle over thirty-three miles;its shortest distance from north to south is about twenty-two miles; from east to west its greatest breadth is thirty-three miles, and the shortest breadth is the southern boundary line, thirty-one miles. The area of the county is about 8-j() square miles, or 544,000 acres.

Topography.—Topographically, the county is divided into well defined systems of uplands and valleys. The principal ridge enters the county from the east, north of Pacific, as an extension of the Ozark range of hills, and extends, by way of Gray's Summit, westwardly to Mamie's Store; thence southwestwardly, by Jeffriesburg; thence westwardly, north of Beaufort, and thence southwestwardly into Gasconade County, west of Shot-well. A short ridge extends from New Haven southwestwardly into Gasconade County, northwest of Boeuf Creek. A point near the Canaan road, in Section 20, Township 43, Range 3 west, is the highest point of land in the county. Keizer's Knob, or Flat Knob, as it is otherwise called, about three miles southwest of Etlah, is the second highest point in  the county,  and is about 1,000 feet above the level of the sea. Newport is about one-half mile north of another high point. A high ridge extends from near Moselle southwestwardly, leaving the county in the south­west corner of Meramec Township, near Sullivan. This ridge is traversed by the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway, the heights above the sea of various points on which are, according to data furnished by Mr. James Dun, chief civil engineer of that road, as follows: The east end of the Sullivan switch, the highest point on the road, in Franklin County, 983 feet above the sea; one mile west of Pacific, the lowest point in the county, 468 feet above the sea; Sullivan, 981 feet; the Meramec bridge at Moselle, 498 feet, and Pacific, 472 feet. In the southeastern part of the county, in Prairie Township, occurs again the high and broken land.

The elevations above the sea, along the line of the new rail­road, the St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado, are as follows, according to Joseph Eckert: Labaddie, 522 feet; Wood's Sum­mit, five miles east of Union, on the St. Louis rock road, 708 feet; Bourbeuse River, at Union, 480 feet; Union, 557 feet; Jeffriesburg, 750 feet; Flint Hill, near Beaufort post-office, 798 feet, and the crossing of the Springfield road and the Franklin County line, 890 feet.

Streams.—The Meramec bottom is usually about one-half a mile wide, the Bourbeuse the same. Boeuf Creek averages over half a mile, and in some places is a mile and a half. Big Berger and St. Johns Creek bottoms, about one-fourth of a mile. Following are the names of the principal rivers and creeks: Meramec River, a large, crooked and beautiful stream, enters the county in Section 13, Township 40, Range 2 west, and pur­sues a general northeast direction until it leaves the county just south of Pacific, in Section 13, Township 43, Range 2 east. The tributaries of the Meramec, from the southeast, are Big Calvey Creek, Little Meramec River, Rye Creek, Gibson's Branch, Big Indian Creek, and two others, which are not named. Its tributaries from the northwest are Brush Creek, the Bourbeuse River, another Brush Creek, and Hoosier Creek.    The Bourbeuse River enters the county from Gasconade County, in Section 27, Township 41, Range 4 west, and follows an exceedingly tortuous course, northeast by east, until it unites with the Merameo, in Section 11, Township 42, Range 1 east. Its tributaries from the south are Birch Creek, Hamilton Creek, Hamilton Branch, Spring Creek, Boone Creek and Little Bourbeuse. From the north, the tributaries of this river are Pin Oak Creek, Flat Creek, Schiller Creek, Voss Creek, Clates Creek, Big Creek, Little Creek, and Bed Oak Creek. The northern part of the county is drained by the Missouri River. The tributaries of the Missouri River from Franklin County are Big Tavern Creek, Bidenhour Creek, Labaddie Creek, Dubois Creek, St. Johns Creek, Boeuf Creek and Berger Creek.

Soil.—The soil on the uplands varies largely in different parts of the county. In the northern portion, to a distance of about ten miles back from the Missouri River, it is a very rich clay loam. On the ridge from Gray's Summit westward it is in places rather thin, and, though mainly clayey, is also to some extent sandy. The ridge between the Bourbeuse and Meramec is of a rather thinnish clay soil, underlaid with a. hardpan subsoil, and in the southeastern portion of the county, in Prairie Township, there is a good deal of rich land. In the valleys of the rivers and creeks the soil is a vegetable mold, varying in depth from one foot to ten feet, averaging probably about four feet in depth. Gener­ally speaking, in the southern part of the county on the ridges the soil is not so fertile as in the northern portions, in the low lands of which are large areas of humus. Nutritious wild grasses grow luxuriantly, and the celebrated blue grass, wherever opportunity offers, springs up without effort on the part of the farmer. This is the best grass for pastures afforded by this climate. Timothy, clover and red-top appear to be the most valuable of the cultivated grasses, affording abun­dant crops of hay, as well as being well adapted to pastures.

Timber.—About two-thirds of the county is as yet covered with timber, thin timber lands being, however, in greater propor­tion in the southern than in the northern portions. The hills in the southern portion are mostly covered with a variety of scrub oak and pest oak, growing to a height of from ten to twenty-five feet. Besides these kinds of oak there is considerable black jack, and occasionally some white oak, growing larger in the valleys than on the hills. In the bottoms, ash, walnut, elm, hickory, birch, and sycamore grow. In the northern portion there is plenty of linn, black walnut, elm, mulberry, white oak, hickory, cotton-wood, gum, sassafras, Spanish oak, black hard oak, and soft maple, pecan, sycamore, poplar and other varieties. About one-fifth of the northern portion of the county is yet timber land, and about one-third of the county is under cultivation.

Grain.—Wheat is mainly relied upon as a money-making crop, and the soil is well adapted to its growth, the yield rang­ing from six to forty bushels per acre. Corn is also a valuable dependence of the farmer, the yield varying from twenty-five to fifty bushels on the uplands, and from fifty to seventy-five in the valleys; oats, rye and other cereals are raised to some extent. Fruits of all kinds grow abundantly on the hill tops and ridges, and in most parts of the county vegetables and root crops richly repay the labor of the husbandman. The climate of the county is for the most part mild and healthful; but little snow falls in winter, which is usually short and not severe, but in summer the heat is often quite intense. Malaria is rapidly disappearing before the advance of civilization and improved methods of cultivating and draining the soil.

Mineral Wealth
—In the southeastern part of the county commences the rich mineral region of Southeast Missouri and Northern Arkansas; lead, iron and copper ores crop out of all the hills and bluffs, and also show on the surface of the valleys. The southeastern lead region of Missouri comprises, besides Franklin County, Jefferson, Washington, St. Francois, Madison, Ste. Genevieve, Crawford and Bollinger. The productive geo­logical formation of this area is the third magnesian limestone, which, generally speaking, is the great lead-bearing series of the State. It is nearly a true dolomite, containing the calcite and magnesian carbonates in equal proportions. It is believed that where entire this formation is upward of 500 feet in thickness. The first and second magnesian limestones crop out on the surface. The first is a kind of bastard limestone, and as a metal-bearing rock is of  but little value;  the second  carries with it galena, and is about 150 feet in thickness, and the third is found at a depth of about 650 feet, and is about 400 feet thick, according to the opinion of Prof. Swallow. Prof. Swallow also estimates that there is a sandstone below the third magnesian lime stone from 150 to 200 feet in thickness, and a fourth formation of magnesian limestone below this of about 800 feet in thick­ness, richer even than the third in lead.

The iron found in Franklin County lies in the southwest part of the county in the vicinity of Dry Branch and Sullivan. There is also a small quantity in the western part of the county in a sandstone formation.

Copper is found in two localities, but has been worked in only one. The Stanton copper works ran for a number of years and a large amount of copper was produced and hauled to St. Louis in wagons. This difficulty in getting the ore to the works and the unskillful manner in which it Avas worked after reaching the works, caused the entire business to be unprofitable, and hence its abandonment. But little copper has been mined in this county for about twenty-seven years. The indications are that iron sur­rounds the localities in which copper is found. Where the Boone copper mine is located, after working it a short time the copper turned out to be iron. This mine is being worked at the present time. What is known as the Park mine, which has been worked to some extent, lies partly in Washington County.

There is but little coal in Franklin County, and that little is in Township 42, Ranges 3 and 4 west, close to the Gasconade County line, in which county coal has been mined for a number of years.

Limestone fit for building purposes is found in the vicinity of Union and near the Missouri River, along the line of the St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado Railroad. On the line of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railway there is a very excellent quality of sandstone. It is good for building, but not for orna­mental work. There are indications of granite near Reed's Lauding, on the former of the two above named railroads, but it can not be said that the granite is of any special value. There are deposits of fire clay near Washington and New Haven and in and around the town of Union, and any amount of building brick clay along the Missouri River. The deposits of white sand in and near Pacific, and along the Missouri River, and about one and a half miles south of Union, are remarkable for the extreme fineness and clear grit of the sand. It varies somewhat in color, some of it being slightly tinged with yellow, and other portions being very nearly pure white, as the little mountain of it south of Union. It is exceedingly valuable in the manufact­ure of fire brick, glass, etc. Mineral paints are found in three or four different localities. They have not yet been brought into market, owing to the expense of transportation. When the St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado Railroad shall have been com­pleted through the county, it will pass very near a valuable deposit of these paints. Zinc is found north of Dry Branch, but it has not yet been developed. Barytes is also found in the rich­est portion of the mineral belt.

The principal portion of this mineral belt of Franklin County is about eighteen miles long, by twelve in width. The townships and ranges comprised within its limits are Townships 40, 41 and 42, and a part of 43, and Ranges 1 east and 1 west. There are but small quantities out of this area. Following are some facts and figures with reference to the various lead, iron and copper mines that either have been or are now in operation. The true fissure or vertical lead mines are the Virginian mine, in Section 16, Township 41, Range 1 east. The depth reached in this mine is about 480 feet, and about 15,000 tons of galena have been taken out. The ore is, as nearly as possible, an exact counter­part of that of the famous Cornwall mines of England. Mount Hope mine is in Sections 3 and 4, Township 41, and Section 28, Township 42, Range 1 east; Caswell mine is in Section 3, Town­ship 40 and Section 34, Township 41, Range 1 east; and Cove mine is in Section 34, Township 42, Range 1 east; from these three mines about 15,000 tons of ore have been extracted. North­umberland mine is in Section 5, Township 41, and Section 32, Township 42, Range 1 east. It has been mined to the depth of about 100 feet, and has yielded about 500 tons of ore. Evans mine is in Section 33, Township 42, Range 1 east, and has been mined to the depth of about eighty feet.    The yield has not been ascertained. It is not now in operation. Silver lead mine is in the same section, has been mined to the depth of 110 feet, and has yielded a large amount of ore. North Virginia mine is in Section 9, Township 41, Range 1 east. It has been worked to the depth of about 260 feet, and has yielded about 5,000 tons of ore. South Virginia mine is in Section 21, Township 41, Range 1 east, has been worked to the depth of about seventy-five feet, and has yielded 25,500 tons of ore. Giles mine is in Sec­tions 32 and 33, Township 41, Range 1 east, and has been mined to the depth of about forty feet. Skinner mine is in Sections 19, 30 and 31, Township 41, Range 1 east, and has been worked to the depth of about seventy-five feet. Piney mine is in Sections 8 and 17, Township 41, Range 1 east. It has been mined to the depth of about forty feet, but is not now in operation. Jeffries mine is in Section 21, Township 41, Range 1 east, and has been mined to the depth of about fifty feet. Otten mine is in Section 3, Township 42, Range 1 east. It has been but recently opened. Knuckles mine is in Section 28, Township 41, Range 1 east and has been mined to the depth of about twenty-five feet, and Golconda mine is in Township 43, Range 1 east, and has been mined to the depth of about 150 feet. Neither of the last two mines is now in operation.

The lead mines in horizontal strata are the following: The Thomas mine in Section 5, Township 40, and Section 32, Town­ship 41, Range 1 west. This mine is on Survey 3279, granted to Gabriel Cerre, as mentioned below. It has yielded about 2,500 tons. Appleton mine is in Section 5, Township 40, Range 1 west. Its yield has been about 1,000 tons of ore. Ellett mine is in Section 6, Township 41, Range 1 west; Hamilton mine is in Section 31, Township 42, Range 1 west, and Patton mine is in Section 30, Township 42, Range 1 west. These three mines have yielded about 1,500 tons. Wicker mine is in Section 5, Township 41, Range 1 west. Its yield has been about 100 tons. Shotwell mine is in Section 32, Township 42, Range 1 west. It yielded about seventy-five tons during the last six months of 1887. Peninsula mine is in Sections 15 and 16, Township 42, Range 1 west It has been in operation about forty years, and has yielded about 600 tons.    Jack mine is in Section 24, Township 42, Range 2 west, and has yielded about fifty tons. Bins-backer mine is in Section 3G, Township 42, Range 2 west. It has recently been discovered; and the Highland Mining Com­pany's mine is in Section 21, Township 42, Range 1 west.

The iron mines located in the county are as follows: Judah Spring mine, on Section 19, Township 41, Range 1 west. Its yield has recently increased from fifty tons to 100 tons per day. Booth Bank is in Section 27, Township 41, Range 1 west, two and a half miles from Dry Branch. The ore is a red hema­tite, and it has yielded since 1882, when it was opened, about 2,000 tons.

The Moselle Iron Furnace is located on Section 14, Township 42, Range 1 east, within three-fourths of a mile of Moselle Sta­tion. It was built in 1849, by F. A. Evans and George L. Huckles, in the interest of parties residing in Kentucky. The ore used was in part from the Benton Creek bank, in Crawford County, but a brown hematite was also used, found in the vicin­ity of the furnace. In 1850 the furnace was started on the cold-blast process of making iron. The output was small, about five or six tons per day, which was hauled to the Missouri River and shipped to markets along the rivers below the mouth of the Mis­souri.

Limited demand and low prices did not justify the cost of production, and, as a consequence, the property changed hands. About 1856 or 1857 it was purchased by a party, who operated the works a few years. Henry T. Childs and Walter C. Carr were the principals. The former, as manager of the works, was assisted by his nephew, T. C. Childs, now a resident of Mahon-ing County, Ohio. Mr. Childs devoted much of his time to the works, making iron successfully. Many of the older residents of Franklin County still remember him as an upright, generous, liberal-minded gentleman. The furnace remained idle from about 1859 to 1866, when the property, together with the furnace prop­erty south of the Meramec River, known as the Stellaville Fur­nace and lands, was purchased by a company consisting of Joseph H. Brown, Richard Brown, William Bonnell, Abraham Powers, Will­iam Powers, E. J.Warner and John Craig Smith. The furnace was in operation most of the time from 1867 to 1874, under the management of the last named gentleman, who, by raising the furnace stack to the height of thirty-four feet, putting up brick and iron hot-blast ovens, and remodeling the machinery, largely increased its capacity, making from twenty to thirty tons per day of hot-blast foundry iron, which, in quality, equaled anything produced from Missouri ores; but the revolution in iron making from char­coal to coke as fuel came, and again, owing to low prices of pig metal, caused by Eastern competition and the extremely high railroad freights on ore which was required from points along the line, principally as a mixture, as well as market freights on pig metal, it was thought advisable to shut down the works. Accordingly they were left idle, in charge of employes, who have since been making agricultural improvements on the property. Four of the owners named above have since died—Joseph H. Brown, William Bonnell, Abraham Powers and William Powers. They were men of practical experience and extensive business, principally in coal and iron, in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The firm name in this county was originally J, H. Brown & Co., but it was afterward changed to a corporate company, known as the Moselle Iron Company, of which J. Craig Smith, of Youngstown, Ohio, is still manager, having filled that office for the past twenty years.

—One of the remarkable caves in Franklin County is known as Labaddie's Cave. It is situated on one of the main roads leading from Union to the farm of C. S. Jeffries, near Labaddie Station, on the St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado Railroad. To this attaches the most melancholy interest of any in this part of the country. It is said that in the early days, just when no one seems now to know, a hunter named Labaddie, accompanied by his son, a small lad about twelve years old, trailed a bear which he had wounded into this cave. The hunter followed the bear into the cave, under the impression, it may be, that the bear was nearly or quite dead. The father did not return, and the son, after waiting several hours for him to return, became alarmed, and went back alone to St. Louis. If a rescuing or investigating party was ever organized, its efforts at finding the body were fruitless, the difficulty being probably to identify the locality.      In after years a gentleman entered the cave, and found the skeletons of the hunter and bear where they had fallen in an unseen but not unequal death struggle, as both had per­ished. The remains of the lost hunter were not brought out for interment, it being thought that the most fitting place for them to rest and molder away was where they were found.

This hunter was Sylvester Labaddie, who, on August 5, 1788, at " St. Louis of Illinois," laid claim to a piece of land, eight by forty arpents, or three hundred and twenty arpents, bounded in front, east, by the road leading to Mr. De Lor's village, and on the north side by that of Maria Borchou, widow of Augustin Choto, and on the other two sides by His Majesty's domain, and opposite the back part of Don Benito Vasquez's plantation, in the place commonly called the "Little Prairie." On November 1, 1833, when the board of commissioners on land claims granted this claim to the heirs and legal representatives, it was described as " eight arpents in front on the Mississippi by forty arpents in depth," and it was on the road from St. Louis to Prairie Catalan. The grant was made by Don Manuel Perez, lieutenant-governor of Louisiana, and the order of survey was signed by Estevan Miro, governor-general of the Territory. The board of com­missioners which allowed the claim was L. F. Linn, F. E. Con-way and A. G. Harrison. Labaddie's grant in Franklin County is referred to elsewhere.

Fisher's Cave is the largest and most popular as a place of resort of any in the county. This cave is situated about two miles south and one mile east of Stanton. It is entered by an opening in the bluff of the Meramec River, which, for the first 100 yards, is about fifteen feet high and twenty-five feet wide. For the next quarter of a mile the passage grows smaller and is winding, and the roof descends so low as to compel visitors to stoop. Along this pas­sage is a small stream of clear water with an occasional pool. Passing through this narrow opening, and ascending some fifteen steps, the cave itself opens up to view as a cavity about 100 feet in diameter, from the floor of which arise numerous stalag­mites; from its roof are found hanging many stalactites, all of which are of a peculiarly beautiful dark tfblor. This room is sometimes facetiously styled the " colored department."    Another room in this cave is a wide and high expanse, from the roof of which, as in the former case, hang many beautiful stalactites, rang­ing in size from a slate pencil to a mammoth one some ten feet in diameter, which by slow degrees descended until it met its own ascending stalagmite, and now the two form one gigantic column or pillar which seems to serve as a support to the roof from which it once perpended. There are many other columns of varying sizes, but none of them so large as the one above described, and occasionally they are so near each other that it is impossible to pass between them. About one mile back from the entrance and near the end of the cave is a pool of water, clear as crystal, into which one may hear the dropping of water constantly dripping from above. This is called the " dripping spring," and its water is always pure, cool and refreshing.

Garrett Cave is one and a half miles east of Sullivan, but not so extensive as Fisher's. Until disturbed by vandals it was a beautiful cave, but now its beauties are to a great extent de­stroyed. It is about three-fourths of a mile in length, in places from sixty to seventy-five feet high, and from thirty to forty feet wide. Its stalactites and stalgamites are also quite numerous and beautiful, and there are columns ranging from two to four feet in diameter.

Saltpeter Cave is a large opening below Fisher's Cave. It is entered from near the river. Its height averages about thirty feet, and it is nearly a fourth of a mile in depth. Gunpowder was made in this cave at an early day.
Persimmon Gap is due south from Stanton about three miles. A spur of the mountain comes down to the bend of the river, and some distance back from the point a straight hole, from ten to fifteen feet wide, passes clear through the point, about one-fourth of a mile in length. There are other small caves along the Bourbeuse which it is not worth while to describe.

Jacob's Well is a strange curiosity. It is located in Town­ship 43, Range 4, about one and a half miles west of Detmold. The mouth of the well is in a slight depression, and at the bot­tom of this depression is an opening about fourteen inches wide and four feet long, down through the solid rock. After going down this rock the well opens out to be ten or twelve feet square, and descends about eighty feet to the water, in the cen­ter of which there is a hill or mound large enough to hold two or three persons. Extending north from this mouth is a large body of water, a kind of lake, the rock roof above the water being about twenty-five feet high. This well was discovered and explored in 1863 by A. P. Foster, John Manpin and A. W. Maupin. Mr. Foster and A. W. Maupin went down into the well by means of a rope, and found the lake to be filled with snakes, lizards and various other reptiles and apparently having no out­let, the water being very dark colored and malodorous. The size of this underground lake is indicated by the fact that the echo from the sound of a stone, thrown as far as possible from the little mound, falling into the water, was about one-third of a minute before it was heard.


Franklin County, Missouri Genealogy Trails
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