Clinton.—The county seat of Henry County, on the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas, and the Kansas City, Osceola & Southern Railways, eighty-five miles southeast of Kansas City, and 230 miles west of St. Louis. The business center is substantially built, and the residence districts are laid out in broad streets and avenues, upon which stand beautiful homes of various types of modern architecture, surrounded with spacious and well adorned grounds. Water is provided by the Home Water Works, incorporated in 1886. For two years the supply was drawn from Grand River. In 1888 a six-inch well was sunk to a depth of 840 feet, and in 1894 a second well was sunk, eight inches in diameter, and 550 feet deep. The aggregate capacity is 600,000 gallons per diem. The water is slightly sulphurized. Other large water sources are the artesian wells of the Clinton Ice Plant, 800 feet deep, and eight inches in diameter; and the free-flowing unutilized well, 900 feet deep and eight inches in diameter, owned by Britt’s and Dorman. The Holly system affords pressure for fire purposes, and the city maintains a fire department at an annual cost of $960 for men in charge, paying additional men when called into service. The city expends $4,000 per annum for water for public uses, and $3,700 per annum for electric lighting, furnished by the Clinton Gas & Electric Light Company. The bonded indebtedness is $18,000 on sewer and building account.
The city hall is a two-story brick building, erected in 1891 at a cost of $6,000; it contains a council chamber, police court room, calaboose, and rooms for the fire equipment. The courthouse is a beautiful edifice of Warrensburg stone, completed in 1893, and costing $50,000. The walls are rough, with smoothly dressed facings of same material as the body of the building.
Church edifices are spacious, and in most instances are of modern and handsome design;
These are of the Baptist, Catholic, Christian, German Evangelical, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, South; Presbyterian, Cumberland Presbyterian and Protestant Episcopal denominations. Churches are also maintained by the colored Baptists and Methodists.
The public schools were organized soon after the Civil War, with Rev. L. C. Marvin, Dr. G. Y. Salmon and Judge J. G. Dorman as directors. The first superintendent was Aaron T. Bush, and he was assisted by Mrs. Richard Wooderson, Miss Irene Rogers (Mrs. B. G. Boone) and Miss Almira Parks (Mrs. A. M. Fulkerson). The first school building was a four-room, two-story frame structure, located about half a block west from southwest corner of the square. The Franklin school, of six rooms, was built in 1870 at the northwest corner of Franklin and Third Streets, and the frame school building was moved to North Clinton and named "Lincoln School." This was occupied by the colored school until 1894, when it was destroyed by fire, and a four-room, two-story brick structure took its place. In 1881 six rooms were added to the west side of the Franklin building, and an east wing, consisting of six rooms, was built in 1885. Eight years later a six-room brick edifice was erected at the corner of Franklin Street and Orchard Avenue for the benefit of the children in the western part of the town. This school was named ''Jefferson Park." The crowded condition of the rooms necessitated still another schoolhouse, and in 1897 Washington School, on the corner of Ohio and Sixth Streets, was built. Although there are eight rooms in that building at the present time (1900), only seven have been used. About four miles southeast from Clinton is Reid School, which, although it is in many respects but a rural school, yet is in the Clinton district and under the supervision of the city school. There have been fourteen superintendents since the war: Aaron T. Bush, 1865-6; Joel Townsend, 1866-7; J. A. La Vergue, 1867-8; Mrs. Maggie Salisbury, 1868-9; c- L- Wells, 1869-70; L. M. Johnson, 1870-3; F. Rowe, 1873-4; J. N. Cook, 1874-6; E. W. Stowell, 1876-8; C. J. Harris, 1878-9; E. P. Lamkin, 1879-81; C. B. Reynolds, 1881-97; G. M. Holiday, 1897-9; F. B. Owen, 1899. Since 1875 there have been 258 graduates from the high school. In 1897 the course was lengthened from three to four years, two courses—Latin scientific and English scientific—were offered, and the high school was placed on the list of approved schools of the State University. The preparatory work is divided into eight grades—four years primary and four years grammar. Upon the completion of the work in the grammar school, certificates of admission into the high school are given. The school board is strictly non-partisan, each of the two leading political parties making one nomination each year. The growth of the schools may be shown by the following: Teachers employed in 1886, 18; 1891, 22; 1893, 27; 1895, 30; 1897, 32; 1898, 36; 1900, 37. Value of buildings and grounds, 1886, $40,000; 1891, $51,000; 1893, $65,000; 1897, $79,000. It is said that Judge J. G. Dorman, one of the prominent citizens of Clinton to-day, at one time knew the name of every child in the district, and that he was one of two who took the enumeration in an hour's time.
The report of the State superintendent for 1899 shows the following: Total enumeration, 2,131; total enrollment, 1,617; number of days school is maintained, 180; number of pupils that may be seated, 1,861; volumes in library, 1,125; value of library, $1,000; assessed value of taxable property, $1,452,680; levy for school purposes, $1 on $100.
Fraternal societies include a Masonic lodge, a chapter, a commandery and a chapter of the Eastern Star; two lodges and an encampment of Odd Fellows, and lodges of the Knights of Pythias, United Workmen, Modern Woodmen, Woodmen of the World, the Maccabees, the Ancient Order of Aegis, the Home Roofers, and the True Samaritan; the latter order has its principal office here. In 1895 was organized Company F, Second Regiment Infantry, National Guard of Missouri, under command of Captain John W. White; it served with its regiment during the Spanish-American War under Captain A. C. Landon, and under him resumed its place in the State military establishment after being mustered out of the service of the United States. The newspapers are the "Democrat," daily and weekly, Democratic, founded in 1868 by Joshua Ladue, and now conducted by Charles H. Whitaker & Son; the "Tribune," weekly, Democratic, founded in 1895 by Hutchinson, Stark & McBride, and purchased in 1897 by the present proprietors, E. R. and W. P. Lingle; the "Eye/' weekly, Democratic, founded in 1885 by its present proprietor, T. O. Smith; and the "Republican," the only Republican newspaper in the county, conducted by Harry H. and T. E. Mitchell; it is successor to the "Clinton Advocate," founded in 1845 by W. H. Lawrence, and purchased in 1891 by Harry H. Mitchell, who changed its name.
The oldest banking house is that of Salmon & Salmon, one of the pioneer financial institutions of southwest Missouri. It was founded December 1866, by George Y. and Harvey W. Salmon, and De Witt C. Stone; Stone retired in 1873, the Salmons buying his interest, and yet continuing in management. The capital is $50,000, the deposits are $600,000, and the loans are $500,000. The Citizens' Bank of Clinton was founded in 1872, as the First National Bank of Clinton; in 1894 it surrendered its charter, and became a private bank under its present title; March 20, 1900, its capital was $25,000, its deposits were $115,000, and its loans were $90,000. The Brinkerhoff-Faris Trust and Savings Company, capital $150,000, was established in 1867, and incorporated in 1887. The industries comprise two large steam roller process flour mills, a custom mill, a foundry and machine shop, an ice factory, and two pottery works, one operated by steam. Large shipments are made of live stock, grain, flax seed, broom corn, flour, pottery ware, coal, leather and cigars. One and one-half miles southwest of Clinton, at the terminus of a horse-car line, are the beautiful grounds of the Artesian Park, containing a spacious lake, with hotel of three stories, basement and attic, equipped with all modern conveniences, including dancing hall, billiard rooms and bowling alley, a pavilion, and boat and bath houses. The artesian well on the grounds discharges palatable water, possessing known medicinal qualities, containing the chlorides of potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium, the carbonates of magnesium and calcium, sulphate of calcium, and sulhydric gas. The park is a favorite resort, and attracts visitors from considerable distances. Adjacent to this property, and owned by the same company, are the fair grounds of eighty acres, which afford annual exhibits of farm and garden products, and are the scene of spirited contests in the speed ring. One and one-half miles east of Clinton is Englewood Cemetery, owned by the city, upon rolling and well shaded grounds, containing many artistic productions from the chisel of the sculptor.
Clinton was made the county seat of Rives County (see "Henry County") in November, 1836, and the first sale of lots took place in February following. The first building erected on the site was a weather-boarded log house, built by Thomas B. and Benjamin F. Wallace, who opened a store, removing to it a stock of goods from their old location a mile northward. Others who soon put up buildings were John M. Reid, Asaph W. Bates and John Nave, the latter named opening the first tavern. In 1837, when the population of the town did not exceed fifty, the building of the court house was begun, and a postoffice was established. The office was known as "Rives Court House," and retained this name for some time; Benjamin F. Wallace was the first postmaster, and was succeeded by Frank Fields about 1841. In the latter year came Dr. Hobb, the first physician, and Preston Wise opened a dramshop. In 1843-4 the United States land office had been removed from Lexington, and Daniel Ashby was receiver, and John L. Yantis was register. Gold and silver were required in payment for public lands, and large quantities of specie were conveyed by wagon to St. Louis, guarded by armed men. One Turner was keeping a school in a frame building on what is now Franklin Street, near the public square; among his pupils were Dr. J. H. Britts, afterward a man of prominence; Mrs. B. L. Owen and her sister, Mrs. Garth, and others. The population was then not much more than 100.
Religious meetings were held in the courthouse. The first preachers were itinerants, among whom are remembered Frank Mitchell, a Methodist; Reece, a Cumberland Presbyterian; Longan, a Christian, and Marvin, a Universalist. The first church building was of frame, built in 1858, on the south side of the public square, on Main Street, by William Schroeder, a Methodist preacher; the building was occupied by preachers of various denominations, as they made their visits. In 1858 the first newspaper appeared, the "Clinton Journal," Isaac E. Olney, publisher. It suspended publication in 1861. The town suffered no material damage during the Civil War, but industry and development were paralyzed. Progress was slow for some years after the restoration of peace. The first church building erected after the war and next after the Schroeder church, was that of the Cumberland Presbyterians. It was a two-story brick structure; the lower floor was used for religious purposes; the upper story was used as a Masonic lodge room, and was occupied by the resuscitated Tebo Lodge No. 68, chartered in 1844, and suspended during the Civil War.
Numerous churches' organized in 1866, and began the erection of houses of worship. Among these was the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, the fruit of a revival held by Hugh R. Smith and J. H. Houx; the latter named had been invited to Clinton after his arrest under the provisions of the Drake Constitution test oath, while conducting a revival at the Bear Creek camp ground, in the south part of the county.
In 1866 Salmon & Salmon opened a bank, and G. Sellers began the publication of the "Advocate" newspaper. Its first issue claimed for the town a population of 250. August 26, 1870, the first railway, the Tebo & Neosho, reached the town, and that dates the beginning of the substantial development and prosperity of the place. Clinton was incorporated February 6, 1858; it became a city of the fourth class April 2, 1878, and a city of the third class February 24, 1886. Population in 1900, 5,061.
[Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri: Edited by Howard Louis Conard; Publ. 1901; Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack]