Chapter 22
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Chapter 22 - History of Henry County Missouri 1883



City of Clinton - The Model Town

      Clinton, in its plat and Surroundings, may well be called the "The Model Town." There are very few as handsomely located towns in the state as Clinton, and this, combined with the beautiful residences, handsome churches and splendid business blocks, its flagstone sidewalks, make one of the most desirable resident cities in the state. Could her wealth be utilized within her border she would hold an advanced position and Henry County itself, would stand, in wealth and productive capacity, in the front rank of counties in the state. Fully two million dollars are invested outside of Henry County by her citizens, and she thus loses the advantages arising from this large increase of wealth, and the taxation it would legitimately produce. Of course this wealth has a right to be invested where its owners elect, but it don't speak well for home pride or public spirit, both of which is required to build a town and increase the material prosperity of the county at large.

      Right in the center of a magnificent prairie, sitting upon a natural elevation or crest, the "Model City" stands, bathed in the sunlight, with the spires of her Christian temples glistening in the bright rays which are reflected for miles around, for upon the open prairies, far to the south and east, these spires which ascend toward heaven can be seen for many miles, showing to the traveler that where they stand rest can be found on his earthly journey, and in his heart they stand before him as a harbinger of rest, a beacon light to direct him on the journey of life, which passes through the narrow way, crossing the dark and mystic river which flows through the valley of death, but when safely crossed the golden shore is found.


When and Where Located

      The gentlemen selected to locate the county seat of Rives County although appointed by the act of the legislature, December 13, 1834, failed to make that selection until the fall of 1836, or about twenty-one months after their appointment.

      Anderson Young and Daniel McDowell, of Lafayette County, and Daniel M. Boone, of Jackson County, were the commissioners appointed, and they made the selection of the southeast quarter of section 3, township 41 of range 26, as the site for the seat of justice of Rives County. Their report was presented to the county at the November term, 1836, and accepted by it.

      The county court at once acted upon the report by appointing Peyton Parks county seat commissioner, with full power to plat and lay out the same, and to sell lots, etc. Mr. Parks called on James M. Goff, surveyor, to plat a certain portion of the quarter section, which Mr. Goff did with the assistance of James Gladden, Robert H. Sproull and William C. George. Sixty-four lots were laid off, and the first sale of lots took place February, 1837.

      The first building was put up by Thomas B. and Benjamin F. Wallace. This was a store house built of logs and weather boarded, and into this building they moved their store, the first in the place, from their location, a mile north of town. The lot was known as lot number 17. John Nave put up the first hotel. This was a first class structure, looked a good deal like a cattle pen, and was located on the ground where Fulkerson & Parks drug store now stands. He had three rooms facing on Franklin Street, two facing on Main, with a hallway between the last two rooms. Nathan Fields hauled the logs for Wallace's store, and part of those for the hotel. They were one story and a half buildings, or had a good sized loft overhead. It was not long before other buildings were put up by John M. Reid, B. Fand and A. W. Bates, and soon Clinton became quite a village in size and appearance.


Streets, Etc.

      With the letting of the new court house, and the location or removal of the court from Goff's, Clinton seemed to be full of life and growing rapidly. In 1840, she boasted of nearly 250 inhabitants. In the platting of the town, streets were laid out as follows:


      Main Street, east side public square.

      Washington Street, west side public square.


      Franklin Street, north side public square.

      Jefferson Street, south side public square.

      First street north of Franklin was named Greene Street. The first street south of Jefferson was called Grand River Street. The first east of Main was called East Street, and west of Washington, Water Street. The streets around the square were marked out eighty feet wide, and were laid off and named in January 1837, at the time of the platting of the town. So it seems the first buildings put up were completed in February 1837, and others soon followed.


Date of Entry

      The quarter section upon which Clinton stands was not entered until December, 12, 1837, when John F. Sharp was authorized by the county court to proceed to Lexington and enter the same. This was done on the date above mentioned.

      On examination the section line was found to be west of East Street, and that street was just over the line on section two, and it was therefore withdrawn or not laid out.
      Thomas B. Wallace and John F. Sharp were appointed to superintend the building of the court house, and they were ordered to let the same. There were several that supposed that no one would take the job for $2,500, and several Calhounites were positive, but it was let to John D. Mercer, of Pettis County, and work begun. The brick used was burned on the public square. The clay was little mixed with iron, which made the brick of a dark color, but it was excellent brick clay.

      Thomas B. Wallace now lives in Lexington, Missouri, and is in the real estate and insurance business. Benjamin F. Wallace, who was the first postmaster of Clinton, is now living in California. John Nave, Asaph W. Bates, John F. Sharp, and Robert Allen, have all closed their earthly career, Nathan Fields is living in Fields Creek Township. The first election ever held in Clinton was for a justice of the peace for Grand River Township, and the election was held November 23, 1837.

      The first physician was Dr. Hobb, who was there as late as 1842. At the time the post office opened in Clinton, there had been only one in the county and that was at Goff's, and William Goff was postmaster. As Calhoun was laid out about the same time, or a little sooner, than Clinton, the Goff post office was removed to that town, and these two post offices were the only ones in the county, James Fields being postmaster of the Calhoun office. Benjamin Wallace made a map of all this section of Missouri in 1839 and sent it to Washington. This knowledge of the country caused him to be appointed government agent in this section, of the post office department, and he was required to appoint or recommend postmasters for the new offices established, and in many cases to locate them. He gave a bond of $10,000, on which bond were the names of George W. and Preston Walker, Robert Allen and Thomas B. Wallace. The following is the first deed of record:


Deed of Town Lots, Clinton

      This indenture, made the 19th day of February, in the year of our Lord 1838, between John F. Sharp, the county seat commissioner of Rives County, and the State of Missouri, of the one part, and John Brumet, of the County of Rives, of the other part, witnesseth, that the said John F. Sharp, on behalf of the County of Rives, for and in consideration of the sum of fifty-seven dollars to him in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, doth bargain, grant, sell and convey, and confirm unto the said John Brumet, his heirs, and assigns forever all the right, title and claim the County of Rives has to the following lots, situated and being in Clinton, the county seat of Rives County, and state aforesaid, to wit: Lot Number 42, fronting on the south side of Jefferson Street, one chain, fifty-eight links and one-tenth; thence running back three chains and sixteen links and two-tenths; also Number 54, fronting on the east side of Main Street, containing the same number of chains and links in front and length; also lot Number 56, fronting on the east side of Washington Street, containing the same in front and back, and also Number 57, fronting on the west side of Washington Street, containing the same number of chains and links in front and back, supposed to contain one half acre each, by survey, be the same more or less, together with all and singular, the appurtances thereunto belonging, or in anywise appertaining to have and to hold the above described lots unto the said John Brumet, his heirs and assigns forever. And the said commissioner, John F. Sharp, the aforesaid lots unto the said John Brumet, his heirs and assigns, against the claim or claims of all and every other person whomsoever, do and will warrant and forever defend by these presents.

      In witness whereof tile said commissioner, John F. Sharp, party of the first part, have hereunto set his hand and seal the day and year first above written.

JOHN F. SHARP, Commissioner for the County Seat of Rives


On which is the following endorsement:



      On the 19th day of March, 1838, personally appeared before me, the undersigned clerk of the county court, John F. Sharp and acknowledged the above and foregoing deed of conveyance to be his act and deed, for the purpose therein expressed, and I do further certify that the said John F. Sharp is personally known to me to be the same person who executed the same. - F. A. PINNELL, Clerk

      Recorded the above and foregoing deed and acknowledgment this 23rd day of May, 1838. - F. A. PINNELL, Clerk


Hotels and Saloons

      Having a first-class hotel, other public institutions were also thought to be necessary and it was decided that a first-class saloon should be opened for the convenience of the traveling public and other callers that came within their gates. Mr. Preston Wise came forth as the good Samaritan and proclaimed his willingness to provide liquid refreshment for the men who were caught in the rain storm and announced that they were very wet, and, also, that they were very dry. Mr. Wise got a "dramshop" license May 3, 1841, and the beverage could be had soon after at five cents a drink, or generally in those days a "fip," which was a Spanish sixpence.

      There was very little to impede the growth of the town, yet Clinton did not grow very fast in those days. The closing out of every merchant in the county but one in 1842 give the town a set back; still immigration came in and settled up the beautiful prairies, something that in time would be a substantial backing for a town. A town is a convenience - but it is the country that makes towns and villages and supports them.


The Town of Clinton

      They wanted an incorporated town in 1858, and this was the petition:

      "Whereas a petition was presented to the court signed by sundry citizens of the town of Clinton in this county, praying to have said town incorporated, and setting forth the metes and bounds thereof, and it appearing to the satisfaction of the court that two-thirds of the taxable inhabitants of said town have signed said petition, and, also, that the prayer of said petition is reasonable. It is therefore ordered by the court that the said town of Clinton be declared to be incorporated within the following metes and bounds as set forth in said petition, to wit: The southeast quarter of section number three, and that part of the west half of the southwest quarter of section two, lying south of Franklin Street, contained in Davis Addition to said town, all in township number forty-one (41), of range number 26, and to be known, styled by the name of the "Town of Clinton;" and the court do hereby appoint George H. Warth, William H. Schroeder, William H. Cock, Jerald G. Dorman and Andrew M. Tutt, a board of trustees for said town, according to the statute in such cases made and provided." - February 6, 1858.


      Thus Clinton became an incorporated town, but at that time, it did not put on any metropolitan airs, or did it seem much impressed with its new honors, still, it was slowly but steadily improving in appearance as well as in population, though it was far from being a large town.

      In 1860, twenty-three years after Clinton was first settled, it boasted of a population of some 500. This was not a rapid growth, in fact Clinton had exhibited but little energy or enterprise, being willing to float along with the current.

      About this time the Abolitionists of the North and the "Fire-Eaters" of the South, came to an agreement to disagree, and this resulted in a four years' war, and to Clinton of a loss of at least half of her population. The following item was found in the first issue of the Advocate, January 1866: "Clinton has a population of 250 inhabitants, white and black." November 10th, of the same year, 1866, the boundary of the town of Clinton, was defined, and it is possible it can be traced yet, if the doctor hasn't cut or destroyed the "peach tree" or removed the rock.


Boundary of the Town of Clinton

      "The west half section No. 2, and the east half section No. 3, township No. 41, of range 26, or in other words : commencing at a rock near a peach tree, in the yard and directly south of the residence of Dr. McLane, running east to the northwest corner of the fair ground; thence north, to the township line, near one acre, owned by Charles Snyder at the north end of Seventh Street; thence west, one mile to the line of George W. Hancock's, or to the northeast quarter of section 3; thence directly south, one mile, to the southwest corner of Oak Grove Cemetery; thence east, on Ohio Street, to the place of beginning."

      Here, then was the leaven which was to transfer nearly a dead town to life and progress, to raise her up and place her before the people as the "model town." The record of 1845 was duplicated in 1866, and Clinton stood at the latter date just where she had stood twenty-one years before in point of population. But when the white-winged angel of peace, which had hovered over our ill-fated country for four long years, found rest for its feet once more, hope took upon itself a spirit shape, and sank into the hearts of the people, nestling there, with whispering of a bright and glowing future, if manhood and womanhood would step to the front. Hope, indeed, told a flattering tale, but it took truth as a companion, and the records of the past eighteen years have proven to the people that they were not deceived.

      Although Clinton had no flatboats to navigate Grand River, and in fact that stream failed to flow nearer than two miles of her corporate limits, yet she took a start, and clothing herself with energy and enterprise, and making "progress" her aim, she moved forward, and the census of 1870 gave her a population of 640. Here was a gain of over 150 percent in four years. This seemed to encourage her to greater efforts. New business houses began to appear, handsome residences took shape, and she spread herself, radiating from the public square. In the meantime, railroad and telegraph facilities had come to hand, she had communication with the outside world, and seemed to imbibe some of its metropolitan airs. The ghastly sight of board shanties, which had filled the public square, had all been removed, arid the town felt a new inspiration at the change.


The Iron Horse

      August 23, 1870, was a day of triumph for the people of Clinton and they made the most of it. The bells rang out a joyous peal, the boom of the cannon was re-echoed from the hills and valleys and rolled over the prairies like the voice of heaven's artillery. The people who came from far and near took up the shout of welcome, and amid these evidences of joy and good will came the "iron horse," the earth trembling at his tread, his nostrils breathing fire and smoke, bidding defiance to time and distance. The people had gathered three thousand strong, and the day was given over to speech making and rejoicing.

      Colonel Boudinot of the Cherokee Nation, made an eloquent speech of welcome, followed by the solid Burdette then the member of congress from this district, who gave a history of the iron horse and the road he travels. Then Colonel J.D. Hines, of Harrisonville, gave one of his brilliant off-hand speeches, and this, with some appropriate closing remarks, ended the speaking of the day. Each one of these orators of the day made history. Colonel Boudinot still ranks as one of the ablest men of his nation and stands deservedly high in the confidence of his people. Of him alone we speak. It was that same year that a brewery was started in Clinton, but it succumbed to life's fitful fever, and this was about the only manufacturing establishment of which Clinton could boast at that date, except her splendid flouring mills.

      However, there was quite a manufacturing fever developed during 1870 and 1871, but it did not materialize. A few meetings were held, some talking was done but it failed to act or germinate in the establishing of manufactories or a manufacturing town. And this is the position of affairs as late as January 1, 1883. With the completion to Osceola and to Kansas City or Holden of the present railroad move, the manufacturing interests may take a new lease of life, and germinate into something tangible. It would prove the foundation stone of a prosperous future.


Population of Clinton

      It is in the population of Clinton that the story of her progress is best told, and so the record is here given, the first few decades taken from local sources:


The population of Clinton in 1840


The population of Clinton in 1850


The population of Clinton in 1860


The population of Clinton in 1865


The population of Clinton, census 1870


The population of Clinton, census 1880




      This last is one of the most surprising gains of any city in the state, a gain of within a fraction of 450 per cent, or more than doubling her population of 1870, every two and a half years.

      There is another important factor in this matter. Take her population, say 3,000, and there is probably not another city in the state according to the above population, that can equal her in solid wealth. It may not all find its way on the assessors book, but it is here, if they will just figure it up.

      With a new railroad to Osceola, gas works with a pledge of paying $3 per thousand feet of gas for twenty-one years, there will be a chance to invest in lands and coal mines for an income sufficient to meet the expense of gas bills. So the business adjusts itself. To a new reservoir of wealth a conduit is attached which will be able to carry it off with equal facility.


Before it was Forth Class

In 1876 the following list of town officers were installed for the year:


Trustees - William H. Lawrence, chairman; R. C. McBeth, Frank S. Gobar, Henry Reihl, Martin W. Mann

Collector - Earnest Snyder

City attorney and city clerk - Samuel E. Price

Assessor - Charles Snyder

Treasurer - Harry S. Leonard

Marshal - Asa Smith

Census taker - Samuel B. Orem

Engineer - James Burgen


      In 1872 J. G. Middelcoff was chairman of the board of trustees, and Dr. S.P. Jennings in 1874 and 1875. The latter year the following constituted the board:

      Trustees elected - S.P. Jennings, J.B. Colt, John Oechsli, James Brannum, Dr. G.Y. Salmon.


A City of the Fourth Class

      The election, which resulted in an almost unanimous vote for a city of the fourth class, having been counted, the next move was for an election for city officers. There was considerable maneuvering between the parties to get control of the city affairs, these parties being republican and democratic.


      The election came off on Tuesday, April 2nd, 1878, and below are both tickets and the vote. It was hotly contested:








1st Ward

2nd Ward

3rd Ward












 Blatt's majority

























 Jones' majority






Aldermen - First Ward
















Aldermen - Second Ward
















Aldermen - Third Ward













    Democrats designated by an *.


      This gave the Democrats three aldermen out of six and a Democratic mayor, who had the casting vote in the council on a tie.

      This was claimed as a great Democratic victory, as it was believed the Republicans had a sure thing until the votes were counted. C.A. Calvird was appointed clerk.

      When the city officers became duly installed they very naturally wanted to know what kind of a prize they had drawn, and they directed their attention in the first place to the city finances, and found nothing left to speak of. The Clinton Advocate made the following statement of the situation to which the "new city" had fallen heir:

      "The books of the town for the past year were posted in the aggregate, at the last meeting of the old town board, and show, April 4, 1878:


Expense, all kinds


Receipts, from all sources


Warrants outstanding and unpaid


Sidewalk account outstanding


Delinquent tax uncollected



      This showing leaves the finances of the city in a bad fix for the new board to take hold, inasmuch as the law under which a city of the fourth class operates, will not permit the issuance of warrants unless there is money in the treasury to pay the same. The outstanding sidewalk account, which is inexcusably large, will doubtless continue to outstand, unless there is an attempt at forced collection; and the collections will be extraordinarily good if there is enough of the $985.18 delinquency collected to meet the deficit of outstanding warrants of $660.87. The new board has been left high and dry with no heritage except the expense bills of the old, and the startling figures of $4,547.08, representing the financial ability of the old board to-spend money, to say the least."

      The impression among the new city officers was, that it was not a very flattering state of affairs, but as they were in office, and the welfare of the city in their keeping, it was necessary to go to work and bring not only order out of chaos, but some money into the city treasury, wherewith to move the wheels of progress, pay the debt and start forward on the road to success. To accomplish this the new officers went manfully to work to build up the "Model Town," so-called.


The Financial Exhibit 1880

      At the close of Mayor Blatts' administration of two years, a report of receipts and expenditures was made, which gave a total expenditure for the year of city expenses proper of $2,551.36, and a total disbursement of $3,030.83, the reduction of the city debt being $479.47.


The Election of 1880

      The election of 1879 was only for aldermen, and resulted in the choice of Albestus Moore in the First Ward, W. D. Tyler in the Second, and Simon Hirsch in the Third Ward. The election of 1880, was for mayor, marshal and three aldermen, and meant a change all around.


      For Mayor - T. W. Collins

      For Marshal - George Hopgood

      For Aldermen - G. Y. Salmon, William W. Bolinger George Hovemeyer

      Henry S. Marvin was continued city treasurer. Egbert King received the appointment of street commissioner, and Samuel B. Orem clerk and city attorney.


      The total delinquent list, real and personal, from 1877 to 1879,

inclusive, was reported at $3,466.23.

      The aldermen elected for 1881, were Wilson H. Bledsoe, first; Gustavus C. Hughes, second, and R. C. McBeth in the Third Ward.

      June 28, 1881, E. King resigned as street commissioner, and T. H.

Rains was appointed.

      November 22, 1881, Henry S. Marvin resigned as city treasurer, and W. D. Tyler received the appointment. There were no other changes until the following spring election.


Election of 1882

      The choice of city officers at this election was, for

      Mayor - W. D. Tyler

      Marshal - George Hopgood

      Aldermen - Daniel S. Duden, First Ward; J. S. Fenn, Second Ward,

W. B. Calvird, Third Ward


      Mr. E. Marks received the appointment for street commissioner. The city treasurer having been elected mayor, that office was filled by the appointment of William H. Dodge, as treasurer. Thomas P. Bates was made collector, and William Elliott, policeman.



      The statement at the first meeting of the council after the election of 1880, was to the effect that the city debt then amounted to a little less than $400, and to meet this debt, current expenses, and city improvements, it would require $3,500. To raise this sum a levy was made of a city tax of 50 cents on the $100 valuation, arid $1 poll. This met all expenses and the debt, and left a balance in the city treasury from the collector's report, April 25, 1882, of $286.93.

The collector's return for the two years was :









    The delinquent list which in 1880 had footed up $3,466.23, for the years 1877-8-9, was with the year 1880 added, as follows:


Personal delinquent


Real Estate





      The City of Clinton, is except perhaps a hundred dollars in running accounts, out of debt, and the city treasury held January 1st, 1883, $725.84, cash on hand to its credit.


Small Pox Scare

      In January, 1881, it was reported that there was small pox in Clinton and the mayor promptly called a meeting of the city council to verify the report from the physicians of the city, and to take prompt measures to confine it to as few cases as possible. The meeting of the council was held January 19, 1881, and the city physician reported that he had three cases on hand, and while at that stage of the disease he could not possibly say it was small pox, yet that was his belief and that the symptoms he thought justified him in that belief.

      This seemed to satisfy the council that the dread disease was among them and active steps were taken to secure a pest house and to confine the cases to those that had been considered in danger by coming in contact with those stricken down before the nature of the sickness had been known. At the next meeting of the council Hon. Harvey W. Salmon offered the old brick machine shop to the city, free of charge, as a pest house, and further supplemented his generous offer by an offer to furnish money needed to place it in order for the reception of the sick. The city accepted the kind offer with thanks and no better place could have been chosen while the building was capable of housing all that might be or should become afflicted.

      On February 1, 1881, the scourge might be said to have culminated. Up to that time there had been seventy-seven cases of sickness, thirty of which had been declared small pox and of this number nine had died. At that date there were eleven cases still in the hospital. The citizens met the scourge nobly and worked unceasingly to ameliorate the condition of those stricken with the loathsome pest.

      This noble action on the part of the citizens met a handsome response from the people of the county, who through their county court donated $500 toward the expense of the citizens in fighting the dread disease.

      This was the first and the last time this pest had ever invaded the city of Clinton, and there is not much danger for the future, though it is not, of course, free from the visits of strangers who may possibly have the disease in their system and bring it, as was done before.


It's Future

      The growth of Clinton has been marked the past few years. That is, it has been greatest since 1876, but came again nearly to a standstill the past year, that of 1882. Very few residences were put up and no business houses of any value. The opening of 1883 seems to hold out more encouraging prospects. The new railroad, when completed, will give it more life, and while many of its citizens think that outside investment will pay them better, strangers will come and make fortunes right under their noses. There is no mistaking the fact that Clinton is a good point for trade and will be better by and by. The situation is such that she has a large country tributary to her, and she is far enough from the large markets of Kansas City and St. Louis to hold a market of her own. With a railroad to Holden or completion of the Osceola road would give her many advantages, and that outlet, the writer learns, has been decided upon by the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company. Then her future is sure, if enterprise and public spirit shall be the guide of her business men. The city can well be called the "Model Town," from the beauty of her surroundings and commanding position. Let her business men also be known in the same manner for their public spirit, energy and enterprise.