Within The Realms
This township is the northeastern one of the county, and while it is mostly composed of high, rolling prairies, it has also a large amount of timber which line the banks of Tebo Creek, its east fork and their branches. Tebo Creek itself runs due south within less than half a mile of its western border, but rises in the north part of Windsor Township, having two branches that unite after passing some two miles through the northwest corner, just over the line in Tebo Township. One large branch rises in the center, nearly, of the township and empties into Tebo Creek nearly three miles from its southern boundary.
The East Fork of Tebo Creek rises in the north and east part of the township, and passing south along its eastern border, it turns west, passing clear across the township to its southwestern corner, within about one and a half miles of its southern line.
The township, as can be seen, has plenty of wood and water, and is divided into about three-fifths prairie and two-fifths wood land. Its soil is rich, its prairies susceptible of a high state of cultivation, and as a stock and cereal country has few superiors. It is bounded on the north by Johnson County, east by Benton County, south by Springfield, and west by Tebo Townships. It is five miles wide on its southern side, and on its north side it is six miles wide, taking in one square mile of what should be Tebo Township. It is seven miles north and south. It comprises a congressional township of thirty-six square miles, and has an area of 23,040 acres of land.
When the county was organized, the present Windsor Township was a portion of Tebo, the latter township comprising in its territory one-fourth of the county. Windsor's bounds were first made at the May term of the county court, May 8, 1868. Windsor was then declared a voting precinct.
Windsor Township was one of the first settled portions of Henry County. In fact, no portion of the county can claim an earlier white man's settlement, and on Tebo Creek and its east fork were first found the cabins of the white man. They roamed the woods as the red man did before them, and the ring of the woodman's ax and the sharp crack of his rifle soon became familiar sounds where all before had been a wilderness and the Indians were lord of all.
Quite a number of settlers came in the year 1830, and while prospecting parties had traversed Henry County and hunters and trappers trod its rich prairies and hunted in its wooded dells as early as 1828, there were no actual settlers until 1830. Old Ben Kimsey and John Brummet came in 1828, but they staked their claim just over the line in Johnson County, but Thomas Kimsey, his son, located a little further south and found a home in this country in 1830. Kimsey settled on section 1. It is bard to say who was the first man who put up his cabin. Thomas Matthew, James Arbuckle and Isom Brummet all came the same year. There were no less than seven families who found a home in the county in 1830. The Arbuckles settled just west and southwest of Windsor. In 1831 William Ogan settled on section 1, John Woodward did the same.
Thomas Anderson, the first blacksmith in Henry County, settled near where Windsor City now stands.
In 1832, came James Woodward, Amos and Benjamin Goodin, Isaac N. Hughes, Obediah Austin, Thomas Parazette, Robert Gladden, Joseph Bogarth, Joseph Means, R.S. Means, Colby S. Stevens, and in 1833, W.H. Ham, Mrs. J. G. Ogan, and others. There was quite a number followed in 1834, '35 '36, '37, '38 and '39, their names being found in the old settlers list in the early settlement history.
These were the men who formed the pioneer band of the northeast, and stamped the era of civilization upon the broad prairies and the wooded bottoms of Windsor Township, and laid the foundation of a future that has since blossomed into a more perfect day. Hunting in those days was both a pastime and a necessity. Game was plenty, deer and turkey being the most abundant, but wolves were also thick, and night was sometimes made melodious by their howling, and cattle, sheep and hogs seemed to think that around the cabin of their owner was their safest place.
Death By Lightning
Probably the first death in the township and county was that of Joseph Bogarth, who came early in the spring of 1832. Joseph Means and Joseph Bogarth had been some distance up in Pettis County on business, and on their return while crossing the prairies north of Windsor were overtaken by a heavy rain storm. Joseph Bogarth and his horse were killed by lightning, and Mr. Means riding by his side struck senseless. Whether his horse had been hurt he did not know.
When Mr. Means recovered his senses he found his companion dead and also his horse, while his own horse was a few yards distant, quietly feeding on the rich prairie grass. He managed to secure it and ride home and give the sad tidings of the fate of his companion.
This occurred August 19, 1832, and Mr. Bogarth was buried about half a mile southeast of Windsor City. Mr. Means was some weeks recovering from the effect of the lightning stroke.
As one of the oldest settled portions of the county, Windsor Township continued to increase in population. Its broad prairies became dotted with farm houses, the cattle literally roamed its thousand hills, and progress, civilization and Christianity, hand in hand, welcomed others and gave promise of future wealth and contentment. The new settlers coming in moved further south, and a few of the early ones had reached the banks of the main channel of Tebo Creek, then known as Springfield Township, having been cut off of Tebo Township in May 1834. The country for miles and miles south and west was a beautiful panorama of nature, such as delighted the eye and quickened the pulse of those who gazed upon its wild beauties, and those who came west to make their homes made no further progress towards the setting sun. What lay before them satisfied their longings and desires, and this Eden of the Southwest was quickly peopled by those who not only comprehended the beauty of the landscape, but were aware of the richness of the soil which required but a modicum of labor to bless them with an abundant harvest.
Henry T. Douglas and wife came in 1835, the former from Howard County, Missouri, the latter from Lincoln County, Kentucky; S.S. Johnson, from Woodson County Tennessee; W.R. Taylor, Jefferson County, Kentucky, and R.F. Taylor, Louisville, Kentucky, the former in 1838, and the latter in 1839; Daniel Palmer, of Garrett County, Kentucky; B.F. Williamson, of Tennessee, and others settled in this township in 1840. From this time until its organization, in the year 1868, as above stated Windsor Township increased steadily, but in the census of 1870 it was enumerated as a part of Tebo Township Its voting precinct was called Bellemont, and was so known in 1860, at which time it was one of the nine voting precincts of the county.
The census of 1870 and 1880 compared shows the heaviest population in Windsor Township, while a part of Tebo Township. Of course the same routine of pioneer life was the fate of the earlier settlers of Windsor. Miles had to be traveled to reach a postoffice, Boonville and even Mt. Vernon, on the Missouri River a few miles below Lexington, in Lafayette County, were visited for supplies, and the trade was deer and coon skins, venison hams, honey, now and then a wolf skin, and they got everything in exchange which was then demanded of a merchant suitable to a pioneer's life. From 1840 to 1860 was an era of prosperity, not rapid, but none the less sure because it came gradually, by honest toil and economical lives.
Darkness to Light
Where the wild game once roamed free and undisturbed, are now being filled up with lowing herds. There was little to disturb the monotony of pioneer life, or the onward march of material progress, until the dark days which were ushered in in the year 1861, and which culminated in this township as with others, in deserted homes, destruction of property, loss of life and a hatred engendered by passion and despair. For four long and bitter years, bitter in the sorrow, the troubles and the struggles for life, the people found no advance or progress. In many cases the labor of years had been swept away, and when peace once more found a resting place, desolation had marked with a merciless hand almost the entire country. But while all was desolation around, peace gave hope, and with hope came courage, and the people rallied to the work of taking unusual care of what was left, and with renewed exertion once more commenced the battle of life. It was not long before strong hearts and willing hands began to show their work, and hope fluttered with joyous wings over the hearts and homes of the people. The people of Windsor Township were showing undaunted courage and unlimited endurance, and her rich soil gave a hearty and healthful response to her sons of toil.
While the town was really bounded by imaginary lines as a voting precinct her true and present organization came in 1873, under what was called the new organization law. In the spring of that year, the county having been divided into nineteen municipal townships, Windsor being one, her boundaries were described as follows, and was called:
NO. 1 - Windsor
Composed of congressional township No. 43, of range No. 24, excepting sections Nos. 6, 7, 18, 19, 30 and 31, in said township and range. Also including sections Nos. 31 to 36 inclusive, in congressional township No. 44 of range 24.
Politically it is the banner Democratic township of the county, giving two-thirds of its votes to the Democracy to one-third to the Republicans.
In point of population it is the second, Clinton Township only exceeding it. In comparison with that township it shows a greater agricultural population. The population of the township in 1880 was exactly 1,900, including the town of Windsor which was given at 872. There is nothing in this growth and position that Windsor need be ashamed of. Still had the capital city of this township become the county seat of "Meadow" County, just to what her growth and pride would have reached at this day would be hard to determine.
That the first school kept in this township was in the fall of 1833, and the first teacher, Colby S. Stevenson, who came from Christian County, Kentucky, and was one of the two first justices of the peace, after the organization of this county, for Tebo Township, a part of which Windsor then was. It was an old deserted cabin, a school building proper not being erected until 1835. This cabin was on Tebo Branch, near the bank, and about two and one-half miles south of the present town of Windsor.
The first preacher was a Methodist circuit rider, the Rev. Millice, who preached for several years, his first appearance being in the summer of 1832. He was quite a favorite of the old pioneers, and they always gave him a hearty welcome when his rounds brought him to their cabins.
The nearest postoffice was Muddy Mills, that was some miles beyond the present site of Sedalia, in Pettis County.
William Gladden, who came in 1831, was a large powerful man, a great wrestler, a splendid shot, a through hunter, and like all large men thoroughly good natured. He was a great favorite of the Indians being more than a match in the above feats of arms and strength of any of their tribe. He was called "Big Man Billy," and had lots of offers to become a full-blown Indian chief of the Shawnee tribe. He declined their seductive offers, but was always on friendly terms and on hunting expeditions an Indian wigwam was as likely to be his home as any place, if it was found on the line of his travel.
The first doctor who practiced his profession in Henry County was probably a Dr. Sappington, of Saline County. He paid visits to settlers as early as 1831, but the first resident physician was Dr. Thurston, who settled near Calhoun in 1835. There was also a Dr. James Hogan, who settled near Calhoun and practiced a short time in the county and in the township, now Windsor. He, however, did not remain long, but removed, leaving the field of practice to Dr. Thurston.
The first school house, as before mentioned, was erected in the fall of 1835, and the winter of 1835-36 a three months school was taught. Thomas Irason was the teacher and it being a subscription school he got $1 per scholar and "boarded round." This was not making a fortune, but it secured a living.
The first child born in Windsor Township was a negro child, a girl, and named Julia Ann Sherman. She was born in June 1832, and is now living in Windsor, at the age of fifty-one years. The father of the child lived to be 105 years old. They both, also the mother, belonged to the family of Robert Means.
The first store patronized by the people of Windsor Township was that of Hall & Fletcher's, on Tebo Creek, about five miles from Windsor City, established early in 1835. The same year Fields' store was started at Goff's, and was in full blast in September, at the time of the meeting of the first circuit court in Henry County, which was held at William Goff's house.
The first horse mill was started in 1835, and a water mill was established on Tebo Creek in the year 1842, but this is not certain, nor could the exact location of the mill be ascertained.
The first town or village located in Windsor Township was in the year 1855 and called Belmont, and was founded by R.F. Taylor and Mr. Majors.
While much has been said of the richness and fertility of the soil of Windsor Township, and the fact that water is plentiful, and where streams are not found wells can be dug to the depth of from fifteen to to fifty feet and water found in abundance, and therefore is a good stock raising country, yet with this wealth to be found on the surface there is much more and fully equal in magnitude under the surface in the extensive coal veins which underlie almost the entire township.
The best and it is believed the largest veins are north and west of Windsor, but with the exception of the southeast part of the township, coal can be found in almost any other section. Coal is found on sections 3, 8, 13, 20, 28, 32, 33 and 35 in township 43, range 24, and on sections 34 and 35, in township 44, range 24, these latter being the famous mines once owned by the Pacific Coal Company, so-called. Then there was the Osage Mining Company, who worked a vein within one mile of Windsor City. This Osage Mining Company was a part and parcel of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad Company. This was a good vein, but being some distance from their railroad they sold the tract, consisting of ninety acres of coal land for $36,000. There was rumored some pretty fine work by the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Company. After selling this tract, they opened at Lewis Station, a mine that they had previously secured, some twelve miles from Windsor, on their line of road. They sank a shaft 120 feet deep and found a four foot vein of very good steam coal. Previous to this they had sunk shaft and found a twenty-two inch vein, about four miles from Calhoun, but they left it, let the lease lapse, and opened the Lewis Station bank, calling it the Osage No. 1. The railroad company then raised the freight on coal so high, it is said, that the company who purchased the coal bank at $36,000 was compelled to quit mining, and finally sold their property to other parties for $12,000, and left the county in disgust. This latter company tried it awhile, and they too quit, and at this time a solid vein of coal, only forty feet below the surface, and five feet thick, lies undeveloped, to satisfy the rapacity of a railroad company that has control of transportation. If this is true, and it is scarcely to be doubted, for it is common talk, there ought to be a way to prevent this discrimination, which virtually blocks the spirit of enterprise, and withholds the resources of a county from development and sale.
The shaft near Calhoun is now being worked by John Gedway and T.C. Morse, but filling only the wants of a local trade.
Big Coal Bank
There is, about three and one-half miles from Windsor, a coal bank by the above name. It is probably one of the most valuable mines of bituminous coal in the state. It lies, the first vein, but thirty feet below the surface, and the vein is five and one-half feet thick, with a heavy slate covering sixteen feet in thickness, making a roof self-supporting. This vein is what is known as steam coal, and is of a first quality and burns with a bright clear flame, and being free from iron makes no clinkers. This, however, is not the most valuable part of this wonderful mineral development. The state geologist once stated there were two veins of coal, one underlying the other, through that section, but gave as his opinion that there was quite a wide space between the veins, and made no mention that the lower vein was of a different quality. When the first vein was struck, and five and one-half feet found to be its thickness, no further attempt was made to reach the other vein or examine it. Five and a half vein of solid coal would last a good while, as it was traced for a good distance.
The past summer, however, W.S. Bray, J.H. Haines and J. Ellis formed a partnership to work or operate the "Big Coal Bank." At the bank and where the vein had been developed, they purchased 120 acres of this coal land, and then tracing the vein, leased of other owners 460 acres more for twenty years, with right of renewal. They seem to think they have got the bulk of the ground, but this is extremely problematical. That they have covered by purchase and lease a very valuable mineral property is true enough, and that which they have secured lies nearest to transportation, and therefore not liable to much opposition is also true, but the veins extend far beyond and some day will be found valuable, and means of transportation furnished to meet the requirements of so much hidden wealth which must find the light of day. Even railroad magnates will have to bow to his majesty, for coal will be king, and the black diamond will show its power.
The leasing and purchase of this valuable bed of coal by the above named gentlemen was not on account of that five and a half foot vein of steam coal. On clearing away the debris, preparing to mine the vein, they cut below it through a shale or slate of about one foot in thickness, and just below that they again struck coal. This rather surprised them.
They investigated a little further and it soon became apparent that it was an entirely different kind of coal, and the one foot of shale was of a uniform thickness, distinctly separating the two veins. It soon became apparent that the second vein was the one spoken of by the geologist, but instead of being several feet below, was only one foot, and of a far more valuable quality, being no more nor less than a bona fide vein of gas coal, six feet in thickness, and apparently following in its course the upper vein. This fact being thoroughly proven, led to the above purchase and lease, and the present year this mine of wealth will be opened. Very little of this gas coal is found in this section of the state, and the coal so far mined in this county and in Bates and Vernon, only show steam coal. Here there is a vein or veins of coal eleven feet six inches in thickness, and might be called surface mining, as the bottom of the lower strata is less than fifty feet below the surface. Windsor Township is rich alone in having this vein within her borders, and yet it is but an item of her wealth.
On section 32, of township 44, range 24, a fine stone quarry has been found, which shows a splendid quality of building stone. It has not been worked only for local consumption, as it is some distance from railroad transportation, but it will at some future day become a valuable property to its owner.
Henry County is known as one of the healthiest portions of the state of Missouri, but that an additional inducement may be held out to suffering humanity, she has her celebrated mineral spring of crystal healing water.
On section 29 in Windsor Township will be found a chalybeate spring, whose waters are of a highly medicinal nature, ranking with some of the noted springs of Saline County. At this time, beyond the facts above stated, the spring is left to bubble and run without let or hindrance. So far the people of Windsor Township feel healthy enough without recourse to this spring to give them life, and to this fact may be attributed the careless indifference to this fountain of health lying within their border. But the spring is there, it has come to stay, and when called upon will give up liquid life that others may live.
Windsor Township is secure in her transportation facilities, the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad entering at the northeast corner of the township, and, running southwest, leaves the township about one and a quarter of a mile from its southern boundary. This leaves no part of the township to exceed three miles from the road, except the extreme southeastern section and the northwest corner of the township. In this respect it has the advantage of all the townships, except Clinton, in the county at this date. It will thus be seen that Windsor Township has all the elements of mineral and agricultural wealth. It is the home of cattle, sheep, hogs, horses and mules. Blue grass is indigenous to her soil, transportation at hand, and man, labor and judgment alone is needed to develop her magnificent resources.
An Old Land Mark Gone
In 1856 a gentleman from Tennessee by the name of Baker, commenced the erection of the finest residence in Henry County. It was a three-story brick residence, placed upon a rising knoll, which gave him a magnificent view of the surrounding country, for it was in the midst of an extensive prairie which stretched for miles and miles, and its surface rising and falling in gentle undulation like the swells upon the bosom of the sea. It was about one mile from the town of Windsor. The old man had several daughters and he was a good entertainer, and his home was known far and near for the great hospitality of its owner, and the lively and entertaining ways of his daughters. Standing as it did, upon an eminence, it became a guide and landmark of those who traversed the vast prairies, for roads were few and far between prior to the war, and the castle of "Tennessee" Baker, as he was called, became the beacon light of the traveler, for the neighbor who perhaps lived ten or twenty miles away. On the night of December 14, 1877, the house took fire and burned to the ground, little being saved. It was the first brick residence in the county outside of Clinton.