source: Harrison County Bicentennial History, 1976
by Edra Hagler
excerpts transcribed by: Melody Beery

Blythedale, Colfax township, is a child of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad.  Many settlers, attracted to the beautiful rolling prairie land, were living in the Community before Blythedale was born, in 1880. 

Jubilee Hammer homesteaded a farm 2 1/2 miles north of Blythedale, later known as the H.P. Canady farm, now owned by John Higbee.  here in 1840 he built one of the oldest mills in the County.  Power was furnished by horses and oxen.  Bolting of the flour was done by hand.

The Grinsteads lived in a log cabin northeast of the town site, about 1850, now the Ralph Emerson farm. 

William Canady came to this community in 1854 and purchased fourteen forties of land.  A year later he brought his family to Missouri.  He later became a charter memeber of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Blythedale.  he was one of the organizers of the Old Taylor Grove Church and school.  Taylor Grove church and cemetery about 3 miles northwest of Blythedale in the south part of Section 22, Colfax Township.   All the surrounding community was referred to as Taylor Grove.

James Morgan Neville and family, with his two brothers, John R. Nevill and Henry O. Nevill, came to this area in 1850.   James Madison, son of James Morgan Neville was born in 1847.  He was three years old when he came to Missouri.  In 1881, he became deputy sheriff of Harrison County, under W.H. Gillespie.  In 1890, he was elected sheriff and served four years.  He died in 1927.

James Morgan Nevill served  two terms in the State Legislature, 1858-60; 1880-82.  Henry O. Neville served one term, 1854-56.  James Morgan Neville and Henry O. Nevill were twins.  the observance of the birthdays became a community celebration as years went by.

James Nevill Richardson, 1844-1932, came to Missouri from Hart County, Kentucky, with his family, in 1851.  They drove one horse team and one oxen team seven hundred miles in seven weeks.  they never crossed a railroad.  The first winter they lived with the Chas. Bridges family, making 19 persons living in one log house.  The Richardson family settled near Taylor Grove.

It was 120 miles to the nearest railroad at Ottumwa, Iowa.  At age 18 or 19, James helped drive 1500 hogs to Ottumwa.  It took 13 days to go.  Pay was 60 cents a day and no dinner, and five days to return with team and wagon.  The hogs belonged to Eph Harrold and sold for 3 cents a pound.  He mentioned there was snow on the ground, but he had neither overshoes nor heavy coat.

S.J. Moore and Caroline Dale were married in 1859, settling northeast of town.  Abraham Dale lived four miles northeast of Eagleville in Colfax township in the year 1853.

Andrew Sheets owned land in the southwest part of Colfax in 1850.   This land is still owned by the Sheets family.  This was paid for with a Black Hawk Indian War Grant.

The old McFall school house was built in 1857 by Ez Hulse.  Early day pupils were John Canady, George Patton, Frank Shirley, Mrs. Patton Anderson and sister, Joan, Mrs Susan Richardson (nee Brooks), and Mrs. Sarah Neville (nee Brooks).

Enos and Lydia Moore lived near the town site about 1870.

In 1870, ten years before Blythedale was a town, the old Koontz school was one and one quarter mile east.  John Kirk was the teacher that year.  In 1910 he was president of Kirksville State Normal, and returned to Blythedale to address the graduating class of 1910.  (In later years there was a Koontz  school southeast of Eagleville).

Three families, all related, came to Colfax Township from Wisconsin, in 1870.  They were the W.W. Hurds, the Brinigars and the Kreamers.  They settled south of the town site.  The land acquired by the Brinigars is still owned by that family in 1975.  This farm is now in Marion Township.

Martin and Ellen Devine Jenkins lived in a log house north of Blythedale.  A son, James B., was born to them in 1872.  He married Sallie Richardson in 1895 and became the father of Mrs. Earl (Mamie) Stephens and Mrs. Fred (Letha) Moore, both living in Bethany in 1975.

Lewis T. and Elizabeth Wernitch Coats had a home northeast of Blythedale, 1876-1922.  He later was a member of the town board and had a dray business in Blythedale.  The old Coats school house north near the Iowa line was first built in 1869.

The population of Colfax Township in 1880 was 1,198, the largest of any township in Harrison County.

The above mentioned families were only a few of the early settlers.  The township was laid out in 1872, after a county election.  The votes tallied 1,988 in favor of township organization.  There were 636 votes against it.  Colfax consisted of all of Congressional township 66, Range 27, and part of township 67 same range.

In June 1880, C.E. Perkins came to the community.  He was an agent for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.  His mission was to establish a station and a town for the coming railroad.  People were in need of such service.  Fifty-three acres in Section 34 and 35, twp 66, Range 27 were purchased from W.J. Nevill.  A.B. Smith made the survey.  It showed seventeen blocks and the following streets: Broadway, Elm, Maple and Walnut running north and south; First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh running east and west.  The new town was called Queen City.

Much maneuvering and political influence was used by communities to obtain the railroad.  Collections of as much as $40,000.00 were offered as an inducement to come their way.  Otto Wilson related the struggle between Blythedale and Eagleville.   Eagleville had one last big rally in the summer of 1879, promoting the railroad.  By fall, it was conceded Blythedale was the winner.  In the winter Otto and several young men went to Eagleville sledding.  Seeing a large group of men and boys gathered on a corner, they stoped the horse and inquired, "Could you tell us which street to take to get to the depot?"  A big fellow started for the sled and said, "By____I'll show you."  

The Blythedale boys whipped up the horse and came home in a hurry.  Otto related some wanted to go back, but he was ready to come home.

The Nevills' south of town provided room and board for several men working on the railroad.  Fresh bread had to be baked every day.  The men slept in the barn.  Charges were fifty cents a day for board and room.  The first passenger train came through Blythedale in 1881.  Fred Allman, living south of town, was there to see it.  The last passenger train ran in 1951.  Mr. Allman's great-granddaughter, Debbie Allen, was there to watch it pass.

R.R. Beamer was the first station agent.  The first section foreman, to the south, was "Dad" Byers.  He was a German, but did not like to be called one.  He always insisted he was Prussian.  A house caught fire in the town.  Mr. Byers filled two twenty-five pound wooden candy buckets with water, and started for the fire.  Just as he reached the house he fell and spilled the water all over himself.  Mr. Wilson recalled it was the first time he ever heard anyone swear in German. "Dad" was an Elder in the Christian Church, but bless my soul he could sure hit it off."

On November 22, 1880, a post office was established.  Application was made to the government for a permit and it was found there was already a town called Queen City, Mo.  The name Blythedale was then chose, in honor of a Mr. Blythe, who was a civil engineer with the railroad.  The first postmaster was W. J."LongJimmy" Neville.

With the coming of the C.B.& Q., housing was badly needed.  John J. Wilson, carpenter and his five sons, lived south of town.  They moved to Queen City to help build the town.  The sons were: Otta A., Willis, Clinton, John and Elmer.  though he did not know it, Otto was to spend his life "building the town."

At this time there were only two businesses in town.  A.J. August had a store just west of the present Citizens Bnk.  Across the street south J.W. Wightman published the "Blythedale Clipper" The Wightmans' came to Blythedale in 1880 and published a paper for twenty months. 

In 1887, there were only three graves in Cedar Hill Cemetery.  At that time it was known as the Nevill Cemetery.  It was on the Nevill farm.  The first grave was a child of H.O. and R.G. Neville; Louie M., 1851-age 5 yrs.  The fourth grave was a young girl, Amelia Wilson, sister of Otto Wilson.   The Cemetery is refrred to as Cedar Hill in Obituaries about 1914-15.  There are now around 750 graves there, and is always referred to as Cedar Hill.

In 1888 the town had a population of 250 to 300.  There were two churches, Presbyterian and Baptist.  Merchants at that time were: Young Brothers, dry goods and general store; R.H. Grinstead, general store; Monore Davis, hardware; Sherman Henry, groceries; Mr. Taylor, general; Mrs. Phillip Young, milinery; coon and Reeves, mill; A. Dennis and R.O. Baker, blacksmiths; Young Brothers, lumber; William Walton, railroad agent.  There was a Stanley Post No. 208, of the Grand Army, with 35 members.  (Civil War Veterans).

The coming of the railroad made Blythedale an important shipping point.  The surrounding cournty was well suited to livestock production, and livestock was driven or hauled in wagons, to the railroad, from several miles away.  In November 1900, John Carter of Hatfield drove about 900 turkeys from Hatfield to Blythedale, for shipment.  They left Hatfield on Sunday and the shipment was made on Tuesday.  Nine men drove the turkeys.

Ora Casady, son of Col. L.E. Casady, well-known county auctioneer, commented on boyhood days spent in Blythedale.  "A Big thrill" on Monday morning was the rush at the stock yards and livery stable.

Back to Towns Main Page

Back to Harrison County Main Page


Copyright © Genealogy Trails All Rights Reserved with Full Rights Reserved for Original Contributor