Henry County Missouri
THE BEGINNING OF THE COUNTY
THE FIRST COUNTY COURT - STORES ESTABLISHED - COUNTY SEAT LOCATED - ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.
The records show that the first County Court was held at Henry Avery's on the fourth and fifth of May, 1835, the next term being held at the cabin of William Goff in Deer Creek township. Here was held the first term of the Circuit Court, in December, 1835, with Charles H. Allen as judge.
The trading point of the early settlers was Boonville, on the Missouri River. Goods were brought up the Missouri River by boat and thence overland to Henry County. The needs of the growing county demanded the establishment of stores, and so in 1835, not far from the home of Henry Avery, Thomas and Charles Waters opened the first store ever opened in Henry County. Clark and Boggs, the former a merchant of Boonville, opened the second store. Near the home of William Goff James Field opened the third mercantile establishment, while a little later "the store down on the creek" was started by Hall and Ketcham, at the crossing of Tebo Creek. The hard times which followed in the "panic of 1837" caused the failure of all of them except one, and that was owned by Wallace Brothers, at Clinton, where in the year 1836 the county seat was located.
In the year 1834 the Legislature of Missouri, which organized Rives County, appointed a commission composed of Anderson Young and Daniel McDowell of Lafayette County, and Daniel M. Boone of Jackson County, to locate a county seat for the newly organized Rives County. Twenty-one months after their appointment, in the fall of 1836, these gentlemen reported that they had selected the southeast quarter of section 3, township 41, range 26, for the location of the county seat. The County Court accepted the report at its November term, 1836, and appointed Peyton Parks as county seat commissioner, with full power to lay out and plat the new county seat, to build roads, etc. James M. Goff was named by Mr. Parks to lay off sixty-four lots and the first sale took place in February, 1837. The first building was for the store of Wallace Brothers, which had hitherto been located in Fields Creek township, north of Clinton, but it was moved to the county seat after the commissioners had located it.
At the time of the location there was some rivalry over the matter. It is probable that the present site of Calhoun would have been selected had it not been that the commissioners felt that it lay too far north of the center line of the county. The first hotel was put up by John Nave and was located on the ground now occupied by the Clinton National Bank. Logs are said to have been hauled by Nathan Fields and the buildings themselves obtained the sky-scraping dimensions of one and a half stories.
As was stated earlier, the trading point for the people of the county up to 1836 was Boonville. Even with the establishment of the county seat and the revival of trade and credit that followed the panic of 1837, the wants of the settlers were not as extensive as the average citizen's of today, who is unable to live without the telephone, the automobile and the electric light. Travel was on horseback. Light was given by tallow candles, while the method of communication was the mail which reached them through the post office at Muddy Mills, some thirty to fifty miles distant. The land was worth $1.25 an acre, cows from $5.00 to $10.00 apiece; a good horse cost $25.00, a dressed hog from $1.25 to $1.50. Wheat sold for from thirty-five to forty cents a bushel, corn could be bought for fifty cents a barrel and a young calf for seventy-five cents. Farm-hands received from twenty-five to fifty cents per day and their board, while the price for splitting rails was twenty-five cents per hundred.
With the coming of the country store came also the horse-mill, so that it was not necessary to continue to go long distances to have corn ground. In 1835 Richard Wade erected the first horse-mill in Henry County, which was situated on section 7, township 43, range 45, or about three miles west of the Avery settlement. In the same year, William Collins put up a mill in the eastern part of Henry County; in 1838, a grist-mill was established on Honey Creek, by John Dickson, and Huntley's mill, which had a run of burrs for both wheat and corn and which was considered a particularly good mill, was established in Clinton township in 1845.
THE OFFICIAL ORGANIZATION
JOHNSON AND RIVES COUNTIES ORGANIZED-THE FIRST OFFICERS-THE FIRST SHERIFF-ACTS OF THE COUNTY COURT.
In reality the official history of Henry County as a county separate from that of Lillardor Lafayette may be said to begin with the year 1834; for on the thirteenth day of May in that year the Legislature passed an act organizing the counties of Johnson and Rives. Rives, later called Henry County, was named for the Hon. William C. Rives of Virginia. Its organization was officially recognized on the fourth day of May, 1835, by the convening of the county court consisting of two members. The commissioners named in a preceding chapter were appointed to select a county seat for Johnson County and a county seat for Rives County. At the same session of the General Assembly, the boundary line of St. Clair County was more defined, but as there were not enough settlers in St. Clair County to justify it being set apart as a distinct organization for civil and military purposes it was attached to the County of Rives.
At the first session of the County Court, which met on Monday, the fourth of May, 1835, at the house of Henry Avery, only two judges-Thomas Arbuckle and William Goff-appeared. Jonathan D. Berry was appointed clerk by the judges present. The record shows that Henry Avery was the justice of the peace of Tebo township of Lafayette County and William B. Price was constable. These gentlemen appeared at this first session of the County Court of Rives County and presented their resignations. The Court appointed George P. Woodson assessor and John G. Castleman constable. On the second morning the Court proceeded to lay off the County of Rives into municipal townships, dividing it into four and naming them Big Creek, Tebo, Springfield and Grand River. The northeast quarter of the county was called Tebo township; the north-west quarter Big Creek; the southeast quarter Springfield and the south-west quarter Grand River. Tebo township comprised the present municipal townships of Windsor and Tebo; the eastern half of Shawnee, the northern half of Springfield and Deer Creek and the northeastern quarter of Fields Creek. Big Creek township was composed of the western half of Shawnee, the northwest quarter of Fields Creek, the north half of Honey Creek and White Oak and all of Big Creek and Bogard. Spring-field township was east of the line which divided Fairview, Clinton and Fields Creek townships, while Grand River township was west of it.
The County Court also accepted the resignation of Mr. Avery on the second day of this term, appointed Colby T. Stevenson to succeed him, named the County of St. Clair, which was under the jurisdiction of Rives County, the township of St. Clair, and adjourned.
At the second meeting of the County Court Joseph Montgomery, who had received his commission from Governor Daniel Dunklin, appeared to sit with the other two judges. In passing it may be well to pay tribute to the memory of Governor Daniel Dunklin, for it was he who was the father of the present free school system of the State. To no man is more honor due than to the statesman who can realize the fact that upon public education depends the welfare of any State, and who can, through practical application of his idea, bring such education home to all the children of a commonwealth.
At the second session of the County Court held at the home of William Goff also appeared Joseph Fields, with his commission as sheriff. His bond was approved by Charles H. Allen, judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, and was recorded by the Court. A record of the first three years of the Circuit Court has been lost, but Judge Allen was at Goff's house on the twenty-first of September, 1835, and signed his name as judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit. The Court levied, at an adjourned meeting held on the twenty-third of December, ten cents on the one hundred dollar valuation as the tax rate for that year. Merchants' licenses were fixed at $12.00 for six months. Peddlers were to pay a license of $20.00 and taverns $18.00 per year. The poll tax was thirty-one and a fourth cents. Mr. Woodson received for his services as assessor for the year 1835 the sum of $54.50. The election in 1835 of township officers resulted in the choice of Abraham Banty as constable of Springfield township, Chesley Jones of Tebo township and Phillips Cecil as justice of the peace of Springfield township. On November 28, 1835, Sheriff Joseph Fields appointed Nathan A. Fields as his deputy, while Fielding A. Pinel had been appointed as circuit clerk pro tempore.
The first sale of school lands was the 16th section of township 42, range 26. These were sold on the first of February, 1836. In this year also the first road was laid out in the county and was the one which started at the Johnson County line "near or at the high point of Post Oaks" and thence to a point designed as the county seat of Rives county, thence south through the County of St. Clair, etc.
In 1836 Phillips Cecil, justice of the peace, died. This is the first death of record whose will is recorded. His wife, Polly Cecil, was administratrix. Peyton Parks was appointed assessor for the year 1836 and the same tax levy was made. Joseph Fields died early in 1836, leaving Nathan Fields, his son and deputy, as acting sheriff until after the election of that year, when Robert Allen was elected. Jonathan Berry, who had been appointed county clerk, resigned at the August term and Fielding A. Pinel, formerly circuit clerk, now became county clerk.
THE COUNTY SEAT LOCATED
CLINTON SURVEYED-NEW COURT HOUSE ORDERED - CENSUS TAKEN - FIRST LOTS SOLD.
In surveying the city of Clinton Mr. Goff had as his assistants James Gladden, Robert Sproul and William George. For the survey Mr. Goff received $42.75. The first lots sold by Mr. Parks amounted to $1,356.48. Even after the County Court had appointed superintendents to plan for a new court house, it was some months before they looked after the patent for the quarter section on which the county seat was to be located. The following order was therefore made and placed upon record :
"John F. Sharp is appointed agent for and in behalf of the County of Rives to deposit with the registrar and receiver at Lexington $200.00 for the purpose of obtaining a pre-emption right to the quarter section of land on which the seat of justice for Rives County has been located; and it is further ordered that said county pay said agent $2.50 for each day he may be necessarily engaged in transacting said business."
The entire bill which was presented and allowed to Judge Sharp for transacting the business outlined in the above order was $12.50.
Meanwhile the court had appointed Judge Sharp and Thomas B. Wallace, who had succeeded William Goff as treasurer of the county, as commissioners for a new court house. In December, 1837, these gentlemen reported on a plan for the court house which was to be a brick structure for which the county was to pay the sum of $2,500 after the contract had been let to the lowest and best bidder. The contract to build it was let in January, 1838, to John D. Mercer, who was to complete the court house within eighteen months and who was to be paid for it in three equal payments. Judge Sharp was appointed county commissioner for the permanent seat of justice with the full power to transact business in the name of the county. After the lots in the first plat were sold, an-other survey was ordered. In passing it may be noted that for one lot sold at private sale George W. Lake paid $8.00 for what was supposed to contain a half acre of ground.
The census of Rives County was taken in 1836 for which Robert Allen was paid $35.00. This and many other of the early records have been lost, so that it is impossible to state what this census showed.
After the sale of lots, it was ordered that the County and Circuit Courts should be held at Clinton. At the last session of the County Court held before going to Clinton the commissioners who had selected the permanent seat of justice of Rives County presented their bill. The two gentlemen from Lafayette County were given $12.00 each, while Mr. Boone of Jackson County was paid $14.00, for their services in determining the location of the county seat of a county in Missouri.
In this last term of court held at Goff's house, a blind man by the name of George Manship became the first pauper taken charge of by the county.
After it was decided to locate the county seat at Clinton, there was no determined county seat fight. Mr. Mathew Davis succeeded Judge Sharp as superintendent of the court house building, while Thomas B. Wallace remained as the other commissioner until the completion of the work. What is not known to many of the present residents of Clinton is the fact that at the same time a public well was deemed necessary; this was made possible by the offer of A. W. Bates and Thomas B. Wallace, who contributed $100.00 toward the making of a well on the condition that the County Court would make up a like amount.
THE ORIGIN OF NAMES IN HENRY COUNTY
RIVES-CHANGED TO HENRY - CLINTON - BLAIRSTOWN - CALHOUN - DEEPWATER - LEWIS STATION - MONTROSE - URICH - WINDSOR.
Henry County organized as Rives County on December 13, 1834, first named in honor of William Cabell Rives, United States Senator from Virginia, who was born in. 1795 and who died in 1864. Senator Rives was educated at Hampden Sydney and William and Mary and studied law under Thomas Jefferson. He served in the militia in 1814 in the second war with Great Britain. He was elected to Congress in 1822, was later appointed minister to France by President Jackson. In 1832 he became United States Senator, but resigned in 1834 because he was unwilling to vote to censure President Jackson for the removal of the United States bank deposits, of which Rives personally approved, but to which the Legislature of Virginia was opposed. In 1835 he was elected to the United States Senate as a Whig and was again appointed minister to France in 1849, under Zachary Taylor. Mr. Rives was not in sympathy with the secession of Virginia. His daughter is the celebrated author, Amelia Rives.
On account of the change of politics of Mr. Rives, the Legislature of Missouri, in the year 1841, changed the name of Rives County to Henry County, in honor of Patrick Henry, another Virginian who ren-dered so much service to the cause of America at the time of the Revo-lutionary War. The following is a copy of the Act of Legislature of Missouri changing the name:
"An Act to Change the Name of Rives County. follows:
Section 1. That all that portion of country bounded as follows, to-wit: Beginning at the southwest corner of section 30, township 44, of range 28; thence south, to the line between townships 39 and 40; thence east, to the line between ranges 23 and 24; thence north to the southeast corner of Johnson County; thence west to the beginning, shall compose the County of Henry.
Section 2. All laws in force relating to the county of Rives be construed to apply, in all respects, to the county of Henry, and all acts and things done and performed, and contracts made, or which may be done or made, before the first day of September next, in the name of the county of Rives, shall be as valid and binding in that county and all others, as if made or done in the name of the county of Henry; and all matters and business which is commenced, or which shall before the said first day of September, be commenced in the name of the county of Rives, shall be continued in the name of the county of Henry, and all officers, civil or military, appointed, or to be appointed for the county of Rivee, shall be deemed and taken to be appointed for the county of Henry, and are hereby authorized to act as such.
Section 3. All courts, heretofore established and directed by law to be held in the county of Rives, shall in all respects apply to the county of Henry.
Approved February 15, 1841."
At the same time that the name of Henry County was changed from Rives to Henry, the name of Van Buren County was changed to Cass Comity because of the so-called treachery of former President Martin Van Buren to Senator Lewis Cass, nominee of the Democratic party. The origin of other names, as given by David W. Eaton in the Missouri Historical Review, are as follow:
Clinton, county seat of Henry County, selected by commissioners, Henderson Young and Daniel McDowell, of Lafayette; and Daniel M. Boone, of Jackson. They fixed upon the present site of Clinton and signed a patent to the site to the county, dated May 1, 1843. Named for DeWitt Clinton, Governor of New York, one of the prime movers in constructing the Erie Canal.
Blairstown, laid out by a railroad company, and named in honor of John I. Blair, a noted capitalist.
Calhoun, laid off in 1837, by James Nash and named for the statesman, John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina.
Deepwater, founded by Keith and Perry Coal Company, of Kansas City, and takes its name from the stream of deep water nearby.
Lewis Station, named for Howell Lewis, an early settler. Lewis was a chairman in many of the government surveys in Benton and Henry Counties.
Montrose, platted in 1870, by Brad Robinson, for the railroad company. Urich, platted in 1871, by H. C. McDonald, and named for the French General "Uhrich," who so heroically defended Strasburg against the Prussians in 1870. The first "h" was dropped to simplify the name.
Windsor, founded by R. F. Taylor, and laid off in 1855 and for a time was called Belmont. Robert D. Means is responsible for the present name by calling it Windsor Castle, after the residence of Queen Victoria in England. Name was changed from Belmont to Windsor by Act of Legislature, December 9, 1859.
[Source: History of Henry County Missouri by Uel W Lamkin 1919]
BACK -- HOME