Chapter 11
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Chapter 11 - History of Henry County Missouri 1883



Fruits and Berries

      There has been of late years considerable attention paid to all kinds of fruit and berries, and it is only of late years that serious attention has been given to that which is prolific in yield and of such healthful qualities as good ripe fruit. Up to, say, 1875, there was very little attention paid to the raising of any kind of fruit outside of home consumption, and even in that respect it was a scarce article. Berries, outside of a few vines or bushes in the garden, little attention was paid to them, and yet you Will scarcely find a county in the state where fruit can be grown in greater perfection or berries give a more prolific yield. But orchards now dot the county, and the apple crop alone probably exceeded a million bushels in the year 1882, which was a memorable one for nearly all kinds of fruit in the immensity of its yield. Apples are principally, but there are peaches and plums in plenty, and cherries everywhere. The berry crop is not large as yet, but strawberries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries and blackberries are all grown, sufficient for home consumption. Why these berries are not cultivated more is hard to tell. The people have hardly yet got to know the luxury they are very unnecessarily depriving themselves of, when with but little trouble they could feast on these health-giving and luscious fruits of the garden.

      The day is not far distant when all this will be changed, and they will wonder how they ever could have lived without them. The apple orchard is now a staple of the farm, and it Will not be long before the county will equal in the yield of apples that of any county of the state, and she is not far behind now.

      There are but few vineyards in Henry County at this time, and the cultivation of the grape has not become general. The soil is well adapted to the raising of some varieties of the grape, the Concord being the leading grape grown and considered the hardiest and less liable to mildew. The Alvira is little grown and but little known, but for Wine it is considered superior to the Norton's Virginia or the Martha. There is no mistaking the quality of the wine it produces, both in body and flavor It is not as prolific in its yield as the Concord, and for that matter there is no grape that equals it in yield, or can be said to be as hardy, but the Concord does not make a rich Wine. It is lighter in body, and lacks that delicate flavor which gives to the Norton's Virginia, Alvira and Martha their chief attributes, and calls forth high praise. The Catawba is a grape that Was cultivated many years, but it is light in yield and light in body in the quality of its wine.

      The Concord for light wine is the superior of any grown, When yield and quality is considered. This is meant in the nature of a common wine. The Herbemont is also cultivated to some extent, and has yielded a very heavy crop, about eight hundred gallons to the acre. Among the varieties promising well, but Which are as yet not extensively cultivated, are the Cunningham, Clinton, Hartford Prolific, Taylor, Cynthiana, Martha, North Carolina Seedling, Roger's Hybrid, No. 1, and last, though not least, the Alvira. The average value of Catawba wine is $1.50; Norton's Virginia Wine, $4; Concord wine, $2.50; Herbemont wine, $3. These are the comparative prices in accordance with their quality, and are nearly correct. In a comparison of the wine made from the Alvira and Norton's Virginia, the preference was given by good judges to the former. Still there is but little difference, and the latter gives a greater yield per acre. The average yield per acre of leading varieties may be put down as follows, one season with the other, under fair treatment:




Catawba, per acre


Norton's Virginia, per acre


Concord, per acre


Alvira, per acre

800 to 1,000

Martha, per acre

800 to 1,000

Herbemont, per acre


Clinton, per acre



      There is no doubt but the grape finds here its natural home, and will produce unrivaled yields, and While at this time the Concord is the favorite, from its hardy nature and sure returns, other varieties will doubtless find favor as vineyards increase, and a taste for superior vintage becomes more widespread and desirable.

      Whether coal can be called a mineral is perhaps subject to controversy; but one thing is absolutely certain - that coal abounds in great quantity in Henry County, fully three fourths of her surface being underlaid with a very fine article of bituminous coal, and at no very distant future will be mined in such quantities as to make it an important factor in the aggregate of her yearly revenue. Even now it has an important bearing in the financial resources of the county. There has been as yet no deep mining in Henry County. Numerous veins of coal have been opened, varying from twenty inches to three feet in thickness, which are now being worked at a profit. They are, comparatively speaking, near the surface, being from 10 to 120 feet deep. One million bushels and over are now being taken out annually.      In 1870 a vein of coal nine feet in thickness was discovered on Mr. Cook's farm, known as the "Old John Gutridge farm," some 300 yards from the line of the located Tebo & Neosho Railroad.

      The Widow Tyler Coal Mines, three miles east of Clinton, have been worked since 1869. In 1871 two sets of hands were engaged to keep up the supply, the demand being so great.

      Another shaft was sunk north of Clinton and has been worked since 1870.

      The Lee Owens Shaft has been worked considerable, and it was at this mine that John Woolfort, a miner, was killed in 1877, the contents of a "pot" falling on him.

      S. D. Garth also struck a thirty-inch vein, only a short distance southeast of Clinton, in October, 1881.

      These might all be called surface veins, as the deepest, Osage No. 1, is but 124 feet in depth, and as before remarked vary from twenty inches to thirty-six inches in thickness. It is frequently dug from the sides of ravines and creeks. Several other shafts have been sunk and the mines are being worked.

      The geological report of the lower coal measure is of great importance to this county, as the veins are of great thickness and of the finest quality of bituminous coal. It says that the lower coal measures are found exclusively in Henry County, comprising a vertical section of rock and shale of 250 to 300 feet, including five workable seams of coal from eighteen inches to five and one-half feet in thickness, and several thin seams covering an area of 300 square miles, with three and one half feet of workable coal, and 250 square miles with six and one-half feet of coal, and 150 square miles with ten and one-half to twelve feet of workable coal, or in all 650 square miles with three and one-half to twelve feet of workable coal.

      The mines at Lewis and near Windsor will be found described in the history of those townships.


Iron and Stone

      Iron ore is also found, and there are also indications of coal oil. The iron has never been looked after or efforts made to work it, and the same may be said of coal oil. There is nothing positively known of the latter, but iron is known to exist in paying quantity.

      Limestone may be said to be most numerous of the different rock. Sandstone is found at intervals, as is also cotton rock, fire rock, etc. There has been a fine quarry of a very handsome stone found on the farm of John Rhoads, about one and one-half miles from Montrose. The stone is a finer grade than the celebrated Warrensburg stone, and susceptible of a higher' finish. It is destined to be one of the most valuable quarries of building stone in the state.

      There are quite a number of quarries of other stone in the county, which will in the future be of great value. The demand at present is light, but as the people grow in wealth and culture, much of this fine stone will be used, both for the substantial and ornamental, the qualities of which will prove satisfactory. There is perhaps more limestone in the northern section of the county, but stone of some kind is found in almost every section. The fine quarry above spoken of, Mr. Rhoads', is in the southwest, while south and east are the sandstone quarries. Now and then, on the hills overlooking Grand River and the Osage, some flint is found. Take it altogether there are few counties in the state better supplied with a first class article of building stone than Henry, but really there has been but little done to develop its resources in this particular. The same might be said of coal. There is a home market for from a half to three-quarters of a million bushels of coal, and beyond this, and what is supplied to the railroad, covers the extent of the mining interest. Yet there is coal enough to make it the equal, if not the leading product of the county.


Agricultural Society

      Henry County, as a county, has never been largely interested in an agricultural and mechanical association. There have been a few moving spirits, who have struggled from year to year to educate the people up to the belief of the well-known fact, that a well sustained agricultural society, would do more to advance the farming interest than any one thing connected therewith, outside of intelligent manual labor. In one respect the farming population of Henry County, cannot be called a reading one, and to some extent this may account for their want of interest in a society which would prove so valuable to them. Not only does their pocket interest suffer, so also does their moral and social existence. The neighborly feeling encouraged and promoted by these societies, the social gathering and interchange of thoughts, views of experience of each, go a long way to develop improvements in farm and stock, which cannot so well be found in any place or institution as at an agricultural fair. The spirit of social life, of improvement and progress, seems to be in a measure lacking among the farmers of the county. As before remarked, not all are wanting in this spirit, but up to the year 1883, the few have failed to leaven the mass, and Henry County, rich in soil, prolific in production, and by prudence and economy, has amassed much substantial wealth among her people, yet among her rural population there is seemingly a want of intelligent enterprise.


The First Move

      There has been from the first organization of the county, some spirits, who believed in agricultural societies and fairs, and it is found that as early as 1838, there were farmers who desired to form an agricultural association. The affair took shape in February, 1839, when the county court granted an order for an election for the "purpose of organizing an agricultural society."

      Nothing, so far as the records show, was accomplished. Who were the moving spirits was not stated. It slumbered for two years and six months, when the county court made again the same order for an election, and for the same purpose, at the August term, 1841. It again failed to materialize, and seemed to have slept the sleep that knows no waking. The spirit had died out, and for seventeen years nothing was heard of an agricultural society in Henry County.


The Spirit of Progress

      Once more the spirit began to move, and in 1857, the talk assumed a demonstrative tone, and during the summer of the following year, that of 1858, and the first fair ever held in Henry County was in the fall of that year, and for three days. In 1859, there was another, and both of these exhibitions were a success, and gave promise of much future usefulness. When those early days are considered, the success was phenomenal, and in the number, quantity and quality of articles exhibited, augured well for the future. Yet these two fairs were all that were held in those ante bellum days. If they could have been continued there can be no doubt that the generous and friendly rivalry which was stimulated, and the personal acquaintance and friendship which was cultivated, would have led to very excellent results to the farming population, and benefited the community generally. Among the projectors and early friends of the society were Joseph Davis, Joshua Sweeney, A. M. Tutt, R. Allen, A. C. Marvin, John A. Rogers, A. C. Legg, James Hogan, Major Good and others. What caused the failure of 1860 is not reported, and after that the general demoralization attending the fierce civil strife put an end to all ideas as to fairs or anything else that savored of friendship or progress. The people drifted along until the times once more became settled, and they had, in a measure, recovered from the prostration and poverty left them when grim-visaged war had ceased, and the white winged angel, "peace," hovered once more over the land.

      On November 20, 1869, a joint stock company was formed and called the agricultural and mechanical society of Henry County, and the following prominent citizens of the county, at that time, composed its first board of directors, viz: A. C. Marvin, R. Z. Fewell, Thomas E. Owens, Isaac M. Cruce, John L. Gray, John A. Bushnell, James Hogan, Moses W. Sevier, John O. Covington, Robert Allen, Jacob C. White, R. K. Murrell and Burt Holcomb.

      On January 29, 1870, a meeting was called, and an election of officers took place. For the presidency of the association there were four candidates) and Dr. J. H. Britts was elected by a vote of forty-three to twenty-five for all the others. Captain Curtis was chosen vice-president and Will H. Lawrence, corresponding secretary. The following executive committee was then appointed by townships: Bogard, Captain J. A. Will; Big Creek, L. E. B. Winslow; Grand River, Marshal Lahue; Springfield, Columbus Banta; Osage, Reuben Good; Tebo, George Casey: Deepwater, James T. Tags; White Oak, S. L. W. Robinson; Windsor, I. N. Hughes.

      Active work was commenced to get the farmers interested so as to hold a fair the coming fall, and during the summer it was announced that the "Sixth Annual Fair of the Henry County Agricultural and Mechanical Society would be held on the fair grounds, near Clinton, commencing September 20, 1870, and continuing four days.

      The effect was really a success, the display of stock and the product of the farm was first class and the entries numerous. A very liberal premium list was offered, the aggregate being $1,200.

      The board of directors elected and holding office in 1871 were: Dr. John H. Britts, president; Colonel William H. McLane, vice-president; William H. Cock, treasurer; D. H. Pierson, secretary, and R. Z. Fewell, H. P. Epperson, J. P. Waddell, John Hopton, William M. Doyle, D.R.D. Dobyns and Joseph Reid as constituting the board.

      This seemed to be the first fair held since the war and the last until 1878. Just why such a prosperous beginning should have been allowed to die out, of course cannot be told, only upon the ground taken in the commencement of this article, that while there were a few public-spirited and energetic men in the county, there were not enough of them to imbue with the right spirit an era of progress in the people's hearts, and the association died of inanition, a want of nourishment and that kind of food which makes all public objects a success.

      The closing of the fair of 1870 left the matter at a rest or standstill until the year 1878, above mentioned, when another spasmodic effort was made and resulted in having a fair held on the 11th and 12th days of October, 1878, two days only. This was under the control of the former directory. One more attempt was made and a three days' fair was held in 1879, and this endeth the chapter so far as a separate fair in Henry County is concerned. The gentlemen who have been instrumental in infusing life occasionally into the society have become somewhat despondent, and after some twelve years of struggle, of time and money spent, have, we believe, given up, at least for the present, any hope of making an agricultural and mechanical society in Henry County a permanent success. The effort of 1880 having proved abortive, a few have attended what is called a district fair held at Appleton City, in St. Clair County, but close to the border of Henry and Bates, Let us hope that a more liberal spirit will yet take hold of the farmers of Henry County, and that the public spirited citizens may in the near future see the full fruition of their hopes and desires and that the Agricultural and Mechanical Society of Henry County will yet have a permanent being and become a pronounced success.


Farmers Club

      There was a farmers club organized in 1869, of which Dr. Britts was president. At the meeting held at Clinton on February 5, 1870, there was a lively discussion about the stock law. There were quite a number of lawyers who got up and undertook to explain the law and air their farming knowledge, which latter was about all hearsay and theoretical, but announced in that sort of matter of fact way that they knew all about it, in fact much more than the tillers of the soil themselves. When these limbs of the law got through a quiet old farmer by the name of Winslow, got up and grimly remarked, "that it made the meeting a heap more spicy by hearing from those who knew nothing about farming," and then sat down. It was a sort of a wet blanket on the legal lights, who afterwards kept silent, fearing perhaps they had exhibited more ears than was really necessary, the old farmer chuckled quietly to himself, and the neighbors smiled amiably, and this ended the meeting. There were other meetings of the club which, when the Grange furor passed over the country became embodied into that institution known as the Patrons of Husbandry. This was an order of high merit and wielded, during its short existence, immense power for good, and it has been the only organization strong enough it its way to make corporations tremble at its word and railway kings bow to its behests. The order is not yet extinct, but its power has waned. It may again come forth, clad in the armor of right, with power to enforce, and if based upon the creed upon which it first started into life, may God speed the day of its coming. An organization armed with aggression in the cause of right and justice, with the power to carry it out, is something badly needed in this accursed monopoly ridden era, and it cannot come too soon. Speed the day that the justice of its cause, and the power of its might, may become triumphant, that labor may have its reward and be forever removed from the slavery of capital.


Henry County Medical Society

      This society was organized in Clinton April 5th, 1870. Dr. Britts was called to the chair, and Dr. Winch secretary. On organization the first motion was by Dr. Stewart, to the effect that the name should be called the "Henry County Medical Society." Articles 2nd and 4th, articles of the State Medical Society, was adopted as the 2nd and 3rd articles of this constitution, as was, also, the 6th and 7th of the state constitution made the 5th and 6th in the Henry County Society. Bylaws were drawn up and adopted at the next meeting, but the regular officers were chosen at the first, at the date of organization. For permanent president, Dr. John H. Britts; for vice president, Dr. W. L. Shankland; for treasurer, Dr. Samuel Jones; for recording secretary, Dr. Robert Zener; for corresponding secretary, Dr. T. F. Leech; for librarian, Dr. Bronaugh. Executive committee - Dr. Leech, Dr. Stewart, Dr. Trevey.

      A committee on election was appointed, and a fee of $1 charged for membership. The national code of ethic was adopted, and Dr. J. W. Stewart elected to represent the association in the State Medical Society, which was to meet at St. Louis on the 26th of April.

      The association met pretty regularly during the ensuing year. A fee bill was prepared and adopted and a small pamphlet was published, embracing the constitution and bylaws, the code of ethics and the fee bill for use of the members. With the exception of the papers and essays prepared and read, the above constituted the principal business of the year.

      The election in May, 1871, resulted in the selection of the following: President, Dr. J. P. Dimmitt; vice president, Dr. J. W. Bronaugh; corresponding secretary, Dr. W. H. Wirich; recording secretary, Dr. Robert Zener; treasurer, Dr. Samuel Jones; librarian, Dr. I. F. Houx; Executive Committee - Drs. Britts, Royston and Chilton; Elective Committee - Drs. Stewart, Trevey and Shankland.

      There were lively and interesting discussions at all these meetings, but all within the jurisdiction of medicine and the experience and practice of each physician as detailed, when of importance, was of essential advantage to the members of the society.

      There was a fine assessed for absenteeism toward the latter part of the second year. Still there was no doubt that a hearty interest was taken in the society by all its members.


Its Third Year

      The third annual meeting, May 28,1872. Dr. W. L. Shankland, president; Dr. Robert Zener, vice president; Dr. I. F. Houx, corresponding secretary and librarian; Dr. P. S. Jennings, recording secretary; Dr. J. W. Stewart, treasurer; Executive Committee - Drs. Chilton, Trevey and Dimmitt; Elective Committee - Drs. Britts, Bronaugh and Winn.

      The society clearly announced the position that it did not recognize the school of medicine known as homeopathy.

      The society closed its labors for some reason in 1874, at which time Dr. P. S. Jennings was president and Dr. J. H. Britts secretary. That it had accomplished much good during the four years and a little over of its existence was freely admitted by the physicians, members of the society and many able papers were read and discussed, but removals from the county, and by death, decimated the ranks, and the membership declined.

      One serious trouble was in the unfailing health of Henry County. It is not a prosperous field for many doctors. The people are given to health and longevity, and the daily sight of this kind of people has a sorrowful feeling upon a doctor's mind, and the effect upon his pocketbook is entirely too realistic to illumine his face with a joyful presence. A few have prospered and many have left, but at this time the future of a Henry County medical society, of a near or ultimate resurrection, is not flattering.


The List of Members

The total membership was twenty-two, as follows:


Dr. John H. Britts

Dr. Thomas F. Leech

Dr. William H. Winch

Dr. P. S. Jennings

Dr. I. F. Houx

Dr. B. H. Land

Dr. Robert Zener

Dr. Edward Chilton

Dr. W. L. Shankland

Dr. A. P. Bowman

Dr. Robert Trevey

Dr. C. F. Mercer

Dr. Samuel Jones

Dr. J. S. Jones

Dr. John W. Bronaugh

Dr. John Wilson

Dr. E. C. Royston

Dr. W. A. Davidson

Dr. J. W. Stewart

Dr. J. D. Axtine

Dr. J. P. Dimmitt

Dr. Samuel H. Jones



Veterinary Club

      A veterinary club was formed in Clinton in the year 1870, the intention of which was to make horse and its diseases their special study. Its officers were Dr. F. M. Estes, president; Will H. Lawrence, vice president; William E. Wallor, secretary, and George P. Durst, treasurer. What the society did, or how long it was in existence cannot at this day be clearly established. It lived, yet seemed to have died.