WALKER, DAVIS AND PRES. BLEVINS TOWNSHIPS
When It Was Born
This township came into existence in the spring of 1873. It was originally a part of Grand River until 1840, and then became a part of Deepwater until the date above given, of its organization, which is given as follows:
NO. 15 - Walker
"Composed of all of congressional township No. 41, of range No. 28." It is bounded on the north by White Oak, east by Davis, south by Deepwater, and west by the Bates County line, and being a congressional township is six miles square, with an area of 23,040 acres of pretty good land, about two-fifths of which is timber. The timber mostly lies in the south half of the township. The banks of Deepwater are heavily wooded, while Brushy Branch, Grand Daddy's Branch, and Camp Branch, show a large supply of timber. Deepwater lies upon its southern border, covering about two-thirds of the distance, where Brushy Branch empties in it, after passing through nearly the whole of the west side. Grand Daddy's Branch rises in the north and passes through the center, while Camp Branch waters the entire eastern side. It is one of the best watered and wooded townships in the county. There has been a fine coal vein found on section 16, but has not been developed. There is undoubtedly plenty of coal to be found in the township, there being plenty of indications.
It had a population in 1880 of 1,102, which is exclusively a farming community, there being no towns in the township. It was during the Grange movement one of the strongest in favor of it in the county, the farmers of the township believing in the principles of the Grange or Patrons of Husbandry.
The first white man who located in the township was an old man by the name of Greenup and he came in 1835. He did not have many neighbors. The was two miles and the next five. He belonged to the pioneer stock, loved a frontier life and was not satisfied when settlers began to locate all around him, as they were doing in 1837 and 1838.
In the spring of the latter year Dr. Amasa Jones, a prominent preacher, who had been connected with Harmony Mission since 1821, came through that part of the county, and was so pleased with Greenup's place, who had settled on section 34 near the banks of Deepwater, that he offered to purchase his claim. In fact, Greenup seeing him so pleased, offered to sell, and he was at once taken up, just what he had been wanting for a year or so. Dr. Jones was about the first settler of the township, with the exception above mentioned. He had a large family, and on his locating he was soon followed the same year by John H. Austin, a teacher at Harmony Mission.
Dr. Jones on leaving the mission had taken his family with him, and one of them was named Miss Jane M. Jones. Mr. Austin secured himself a quarter section of land adjoining the doctor's, and then invited Miss Jones to become the mistress of his cabin, and so early in the year 1839, Miss Jane M. Jones became Mrs. Austin, the ceremony being performed by her father . The writer of this history called to see this old lady, who, though nearly seventy years of age, was in good health with all her faculties seemingly unimpaired. This was the first marriage in the township, and was considered quite an event at the time, but the wedding trip was short, her new home being only about a quarter of a mile from her father's. They didn't go off on the cars, neither was her new home a brown stone front, with a mortgage attachment, but the old lady said "that she didn't see how she could have been any happier than she was." After twelve years of wedded life John H. Austin passed to his eternal home. Mrs. Austin, still his widow, at three score years and ten, is calmly waiting to meet him, who had her first and only love, upon the golden shore. May she meet him to part no more when He shall call her home.
Both Dr. Jones and Mr. Austin settled on section 34. A Mr. James Gates settled on section 22. A portion of the Gragg family, Mr. M. Gragg and Robert Gragg, also settled in this township in 1839. George Cowen and Joe Harness settled the same year. Quite a number of settlers came in 1840, 1841 and 1842, so that in the latter year there was quite a large settlement along the banks of Deepwater, on Camp Branch and on Brushy Branch.
First Church and School
The first church organization was the summer of 1840, under the lead of Dr. Jones. A meeting was held, as many others before had been, under the spreading branches of a tree, and there a church was organized, with five members besides the doctor, of the Old School Presbyterian denomination. Two years after, in 1842, Dr. Jones built a church of adobe brick on his farm, and this was not only the first church in Walker Township, but in the western part of Henry County. And, perhaps, as a building purely for church purpose, the first really in the county. school houses and churches had been the rule. This church was a leading church for years. The doctor preached constantly, but did not confine his labors to this church alone, but the "good word "was carried by him from cabin to cabin in all that country round.
The first school taught in the township was in the year 1845 in a log school house, located on Dr. Gates' farm, and built by him. It was taught by a young lady from "York State," Miss Cynthia Robards by name, now wife of Dr. Toucey, of Bates County. She taught a four month's term with twenty' scholars, and gave satisfaction. The first who received a United States patent for land was Dr. Jones, in 1843.
All the lumber used in the township was hauled from Boonville, but it must be admitted that very little was hauled. They did get some, however, and also four-light window sash. But the sturdy fashion was puncheon floors, clapboard doors and mud and stick chimneys.
The grangers of this township believe in education, and they have six district schools within the township. They are all frame houses and six months schooling is taught annually. The attendance is above the average.
Old Time Leaders
The next preacher after Dr. Jones was the Rev. William Loor, of the M. E. Church. Dr. Jones, as was stated, was a doctor as well as preacher, and following him was Dr. M. A. Stewart, who was county judge in 1873 to 1881. The third doctor was Dr. Gates, and the fourth, Dr. Walker.
The first mill in the township was the Huntley Mill, on Grand River. It was not in the township, but it was the mill the settlers of the township patronized. A saw mill by horse power also was kept up for two years, by Mr. M. Gragg.
The first justice of the peace was John H. Austin, in 1839, and he also was the first constable of the township. The next justice was Alexander Gragg, of Deepwater proper, Walker being a portion of the township. This is in 1842.
Marriages, Births, Deaths
The first death was that of Peggy, the wife of Robert Gragg, who died the year they came, in 1838, of cancer, and was buried in Camp Branch. The second death was that of William Gragg, son of Robert, in 1839, thus losing wife and son within about a year. The son's age was about thirty years.
The first marriage was that above stated of Mr. Austin and Miss Jones. The second was that of Miss Walbert, but was within the present town of Deepwater. The third was in the winter of 1839, being that of Miss Elanda Gragg and George Cowan; fourth that of Mary Ann Gragg and William B. Poage. The former by Esquire Bedwell, and the latter by Dr. Jones. They were sisters of the Rev. R. M. Gragg. The latter were married May 9, 1844. In 1845, Robert Gragg and Miss Peggy Gragg were married, the latter his cousin. These were the early marriages.
M. E. Church
The Brushy M. E. Church was organized in October, 1866, and located on Brushy Creek, on north half of the west half of the southeast quarter of section 29. The class was organized by the Rev. Jesse Bright, at the Adobe Church, the old church erected by Dr. Jones. The original members were: Jacob Covey and wife (class leader), Joshua Covey, Priscilla Hunt, Verlinda Hart, Sarah B. and Mary E. Hart, Mrs. Paralia Walker, Mrs. Laura Covey, and Mrs. Melinda Covey. After the organization the congregation worshipped at the Brushy Creek school house, but a few steps from where the church now stands, until they erected their present church edifice in 1872. The building is frame and cost $800. The church was never dedicated, probably through neglect. There is at present a membership of 140, but at the time the church was built there were 95 members. Death and removals have been the cause of some changes. The first pastor was the Rev. Robertson, the Rev. T. S. Bennefield three years, and then the Rev. A. Warren, two years, under and during whose ministry the church was erected; in 1874, Rev. A. Anderson, three years; 1877, Rev. T. S. Bennefield, one year; Rev. H. H. Dunlavy, two years; in 1880 Rev. J. R. Criss, who died December 7, 1880, and was succeeded by the Rev. J. R. Reader, temporarily, until March 1881, when they secured the Rev. Isaac N. Entwisle for one year; he was then succeeded by the Rev. Thomas Pingrey, who still retains pastorate.
The principal incident connected with the church was the revival of October, 1880, under the charge of the Rev. J. R. Criss. The meeting continued, resulting in forty conversions and thirty accessions to the church. Three camp meetings, all largely attended, were held in 1868, 1869 and 1871.
Camp Branch M. E. Church
This church is one of the oldest in the township, having been organized as far back as 1850. The original members were Malcolm Gragg and wife, Robert M. and Nicholas Long and wife, Allen Ing and wife Ellis White and wife and Jonathan Smith and wife. The church grew and had a membership of forty. They have no church, but use the school house in their neighborhood. Those who have officiated as pastors are the following, in the order named: Rev. Jonathan Smith, Rev. Ellis White, Rev. R. M. Gragg and Rev. William Kinney. Present membership, forty.
The township at this time is settling slowly. Along its creeks and branches are found the largest farms, leading out and taking in much of the rich and fertile prairies. There is a large amount of excellent farming land to be had cheap, and few persons can find a better location than there is in this township. The lands are low in price, market is convenient and school and churches at hand, which is enough to show that it is and will be a desirable settlement for farmers.
The man who more than others stamped his individuality upon the people of the township, as also of Deepwater, was Dr. Amasa Jones, the eminent Presbyterian divine. We can close this article with no better reading than a short biographical sketch of this early pioneer.
Amasa Jones was born at Rindge, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, April 28, 1796, and died at Deepwater, Henry County, Missouri, April 17, 1870. His father's name was Asa and his mother's Mary. He was one of a large family, nearly all of whom have preceded him to the world of spirits. He remembered his Creator in the days of his youth and in early life became a follower of Jesus. The consecration of himself to the service of his Master was whole-hearted. In answer to the inquiry, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" God spread out before him the mission field. In his endeavors to discern the indications of Providence to duty he was made to behold the broad field for Christian enterprise among the benighted heathens of all nations of the earth. These researches, laying the foundation of characteristic benevolence and self-denying toil, resulted in the resolve, "Here am I, Lord, send me." He desired to teach the heathen and to lead them to Christ. On February 15, 1821, he was married to Miss Roxana Stearns, of Ashburnham, Worcester County, Massachusetts. In a few days afterwards he set out with a number of others to go to a mission field of the then Far West by an overland route, there being then but few facilities for traveling. He came out under the auspices of the American Board of Foreign Missions, and became an assistant missionary at the Harmony Mission, a station established on the Marais des Cygnes, about three miles from its mouth, and in the extreme western part of the then new state of Missouri.
This was then the home of the Osage Indians. His labors there were principally in the school. His letters spread upon the pages of the Missionary Herald, of the years 1825 and 1835, inclusive, amply testify to his devotion to the cause of civilizing and Christianizing the Indians. He attained to other spheres of usefulness. He devoted much of his time, spared from the school, to the study of theology. It seemed necessary for him to study medicine also. Dr. W. N. Belcher, now in New York, was for six years the physician of the station. But his health failing, he was required to quit the post. Foreseeing this step, and knowing Mr. Jones' general adaptation to the work, Dr. Belcher recommended that he prepare himself, and he studied medicine under the doctor for some time. But the taking care of souls was a higher sphere of life and duty for him. He was ordained and set apart to the ministry of the gospel at Harmony Mission, October 12, 1830, by the Arkansas Presbytery, having been licensed to preach a few years before. He ever had a realizing sense of the grave responsibilities of the office. But his soul was fired with fresh hopes and nobler aspirations. But as the white man advanced the red man receded, and in 1835, the Harmony Mission Station was abandoned. The old site is still discernible near Papinville, Bates County. Dr. Jones moved with his family, his wife and two daughters, Mary and Jane, to Deepwater, then in Rives County, where he procured a tract of land and opened a settlement. A church was soon organized and he took charge of it as pastor, and continued so till July, 1867, when Rev. B. F. Powelson was associated with him. He preached the word in many places throughout this region. and the old settlers can well testify to his attachment to the cross of Christ and zeal for the glory of God. He went about doing good, and was successful in winning many souls to Christ. He was quite successful in the practice of medicine, and contributed much towards ameliorating the sufferings of mankind.
He was an earnest, self sacrificing, indefatigable laborer in his Master's vineyard. He sought not - desired not - compensation for his toil, from among the stores of earth. His practice as a physician, and the results of his own ingenuity and industry secured for himself and family a comfortable living and ample provision for old age.
He was a student all his life - assiduous and unrelaxing in his efforts in early life, and determined, fixed ever in his purpose, to acquaint himself with the movements of mankind, in the various spheres of life, and specially to keep himself posted in regard to the progress of the church of Christ. He was a close reader, and though he had never seen the great improvements of the age, remaining at his post on the frontier, yet he had a fair knowledge of these things, and his descriptions of them were astonishingly accurate. His independence of mind and originality of thought, shaped and drawn out, no doubt by necessity, were evidenced in quite a number of productions, material and immaterial. He looked with favor upon the progressive spirit of the age. But he set his face against countenancing, in any way, the great evils of the world. He refused to enter upon any compromise with intemperance, profanity or Sabbath breaking. He was unflinching in his devotion to the great principles of Christianity, and sought in every conceivable way the establishment and perpetuity of truth, and the maintenance of the right. He labored among all classes faithfully for the sowing of the precious seed, for the culture of the tender vines, and for the maturity of the fruits of the Spirit.
He oftentimes seemed impatient in sickness - desiring to be in his place with God's worshippers, and fearing lest his absence should prove a hindrance to the cause of Christ. His zeal thus carried him sometimes beyond the capabilities of the flesh. The last Sabbath he spent on earth was one of special exertion and anxiety to him. It was the Sabbath preceding the meeting of his own Presbytery and a neighboring Presbytery among his people. He wanted the people to be interested in these things. He longed for this meeting. He wished to see the last vestige of separation carried away and the two branches of the Presbyterian Church inseparably united. He longed to greet the brethren once more, and congratulate them on the accomplishment of so noble a work. As Simeon to see Christ, so he longed to see the running together of these kindred streams. He was desirous to share with his people the promised feast of love and joy. He attended services in the morning, and a prayer meeting in the evening, where he made an earnest appeal to sinners to come to Christ. In his last days, the few appeals he attempted were exceedingly earnest. The fire glowed fervently on the altar of his love. His soul yearned for the salvation of those who surrounded him. His conversation indicated a ripening for heaven and glory. For many months he seemed to be amid the scenes of the Delectable Mountains and the land of Beulah. He was near Christ, and could well call upon his friends to come to him. And yet his soul longings were "Nearer my God to thee."
While subject to temptation and danger, he kept his armor on, and when death came it thus found him. His last foe was conquered, and he breathed his last breath out sweetly reposing on the bosom of the Conqueror - Him whom he delighted to serve while upon the earth - Him, who called him to come up higher - Him, whom he now adores with the hosts of heaven. Jesus called him. He was ready - willing to go. His longings had been satisfied beyond expectation. The latest intelligence assured him that the ark of the covenant was being carried forward, that his youngest granddaughter was singing a song of praise to Christ's redeeming love, and that his brethren, in the glorious light of the reunited church, had seen each other face to face, and sung, as they emerged from the shadows of separation, "Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love, etc." His face seemed radiant in the light of his triumph. The conflict was over. Victory blazed out upon the banner of his faith. VICTORY made resplendid the cross, and rendered altogether lovely the dying Savior. He triumphed in him who burst the gates of death. It was enough. "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." And heaven opened its portals. He is gone!
Gone to begin a new and happier story,
The bitterer tale of earth now told and done.
These outer shadows for that inner glory
Exchanged forever - O thrice blessed One!
The earthly Sabbath, gave place to the eternal Sabbath. He sleeps! "not dead, but sleepeth."
He is not tasting death, but taking rest,
On the same holy couch where Jesus lay,
So soon to awake all glorified and blest,
When day has broke and shadows fled away.
The funeral services were held in the Adobe Church, (a building the deceased had erected during his life) on the morning of the 18th, the room being crowded to its utmost capacity. Rev. Mr. Paige, of Springfield, delivered a sermon, and was followed, in brief and touching addresses by Rev. Mr. Brown, of Neosho, and Rev Mr. Requa, of Lone Oak, and a contemporary with Mr. Jones among the Indians. The corpse was taken from the church to its place of burial, one mile east of Germantown, preceded by the members of the Osage and Southwest Missouri Presbyteries and followed by a large concourse of friends.
"And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord from henceforth; yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." - B. F. P.
Germantown, Mo., April 28, 1870.
This township, so far as the quality of the soil is concerned, and its magnificent landscape, is the equal of any township in the county. From a prominent point on what is called "Mound Prairie," can be seen one of the prettiest sights, both as regards the beauty of the landscape and the richness of the waving grain in the summer season. This tells of a soil of surpassing richness and a population of enterprising people. There is not, perhaps, as much thrift in the southern part, but the land is fertile, and its future need not be uncertain.
There is undoubtedly an abundance of coal in the township, but it is scarcely developed at all. In 1877 and 1878 a mine was worked, and probably is now, but not much beyond home consumption. Coal has cropped out on sections 21 and 22, and there are indications in quite a number of other places, so that on the question of fuel there is no cause for alarm for several generations to come.
Area and Population
In 1873 the county court gave this as the boundary of the township:
No. 14 - Davis
"Composed of all of congressional township No. 41, range No. 27." At the same time they defined the bounds of Honey County, following, or nearly so, the line of Grand River. In doing this they left out all of sections 30, 38 and 32, all of 33 except the northeast quarter, the southwest quarter of 29, and the south half of section 34 in township 42, range 27.
This ought to have been added at the time to Davis Township, but it was not, and if it has not been added since, there are about four and a half sections of land which may have a tangible existence, but has no name. This spot will be named and treated at the end of this sketch. It has not, however, interfered with the progressive spirits living there in a corner by themselves, barred on two sides by Grand River and the other two sides by township lines.
If this territory belongs to Davis Township and it was so intended probably, if not so stated, the township has a landed area of 25,920 acres, mostly prairie land, watered by Grand River on its northeastern and northern border, and on the south by Deepwater Creek. Of the five small branches that empty in Grand River and rise within the township Elm Branch and Fishing Hollow are the two largest, but are still small streams. Camp Branch empties into Deepwater in the southwest corner of the township, and Willow Branch and one other near the center. The township is fairly watered, has but little timber, lying what there is, principally on Grand River and Deepwater.
Its population in 1880 was 1,074, of which 140 was claimed by LaDue, a railroad station in the southeast corner of the township.
The township is divided into six school districts, with a good and substantial frame school building in each district. At the Willow Branch School House, subdistrict No. 3, located on the northeast quarter of Section 29, there has been for quite a number of winters a debating school or Society kept up, called the Willow Branch Debating Club. This is a feature to be commended and worthy of emulation by other schools throughout the county.
is situated on the M. K. & T. division of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, and both in name and location is unfortunate. While the name is not regarded with any great degree of favor by the people of Henry County, its location being nearly midway between Clinton, the county seat, and the enterprising town of Montrose, its business is called away by these towns, but it is a good deal more than a flag station on the line of road. The report that the conductors on the road say that when a man stops off at this station that he is a fugitive trying to hide, or a lunatic, is not true so far as the writer can ascertain. Two conductors have at least denied the soft impeachment on being interrogated. They both, however, would wind up their remarks with, "But," with a look so expressive and at the same time so terrible that our investigations went no farther. Yet this town, or village, had in 1872: one dry goods or general store, Kepsby Gragg, Wright & Co., one of whom was postmaster; one grocery and provision store; one blacksmith and wagon shop; one cooper shop; one boarding house; one saloon and eight dwelling houses.
This church was organized in 1866, in Davis Township, and some of the original members were William Davis and wife, and four of their children, Henry Settles, William Briggs and his wife Rebecca, Albert Briggs and his wife Lucy, Dr. A. P. Bowman and wife. When LaDue became located, the church was removed to that place, and is now known as the "LaDue Christian Church." In 1878, a neat and substantial frame church building was erected at a cost of $850, and this congregation has a pleasant place of worship. The pastors have been Rev. J. W. Kellar and Rev. William Bridge, and they have been mostly transient, Rev. W. P. Dorsey the last. The church has now eighty members. Elders, Henry Settles, Dr. A. P. Bowman and William Davis. One of the most pleasing and instructive incidents of the church was a public debate, on the part of the church by the Rev. W. P. Dorsey, and his opponent the Rev. Williams, of the Baptist denomination. It came off in August, 1882, and lasted a week. The church is exercising a strong influence for good which is constantly extending.
Notwithstanding the fact that LaDue lies between two good business points, it is gradually growing, and its business more rapidly than its population. The fact is, the country is rich around it, and the farmers in good circumstances. Then the business men are energetic, and don't propose to be undersold by anybody. This fact being pretty well known it has secured a handsome trade. There are in LaDue:
R. M. Bolton, drugs and medicines
S. H. Jones & Son, drugs and medicines
Smith, Steck & Co., general store
G. F. Rock, general store
E. L. Fahnestock, general store
One stock dealer
Dr. Joseph Noble
One good school building
The Christian Church
It is quite a shipping point, hogs, cattle, corn and flaxseed being the leading articles, while hides, tallow, provisions, etc, fill up, in all, over 100 car loads per annum.
The first store started in LaDue was by Joshua Cates in the fall of 1870. He was followed by Claiborn Dowell with the first residence. In virtue of having a store Joshua Cates became the first postmaster. He was followed the next year by H. M. Wright, who only held it a short time, and Mr. A. E. Gragg took it of Gragg, Wright & Co. In 1873 it was turned over to Mr. E. L. Fahnestock, who has retained it since, being the present postmaster of the town.
In 1880 LaDue had a population of 140 and it will now reach 200. It is not expected to become a very large town, but as a railroad station and trading point, it will prove a great convenience and is likely to hold its own.
The town was laid out on the land of William Davis in the year 1870, and has about eighty acres in the town plat. The growth of the town has been since the arrival of the railroad.
The First Settler
The first settler in Davis Township was Ezekiel Blevins, who really settled in our new township, "Pres. Blevins." He located on section 32, removing from section 16, Shawnee Township, where he had settled in 1832, and sold his claim in 1833. R. P. Blevins, called "Pres." Blevins, was a shouting infant less than six months old, and is today the oldest male child born in Henry County. Others soon followed and the north half of Davis Township and along the banks of Grand River some of the earliest and best of the old pioneers located, and they stamped the native energy and integrity of their character upon their descendants. Davis Township's prosperity lies in the energies of her sons, the land is there beautiful to the eye, and labor will make it blossom like the rose.
"Pres. Blevins" Township - A New Discovery
A new discovery has brought to Henry County another township. Having found four and one-half sections of land without a local habitation, or a name, but surrounded on all sides by municipal divisions, the writer has given it the name of "Pres. Blevins" township, after the first white male child born in Henry County, Preston Blevins, and also from the fact that he is one of the largest land owners in the new township, as well as an honored and well known citizens of Henry County. Davis Township, as will be seen in the foregoing pages, was made by the county court in 1873 the size of a congressional township, while Honey Creek Township followed, a measure, the windings of Grand River, leaving the southwest corner without being defined.
It Will Now Be Known
The good citizens of "Pres Blevin" supposed they belonged to Davis, but it is not so recorded, or was not January 1st, 1883, and it has been outside the pale of legal civil life for all these years. Having found it and christened it, it will now be known as "Pres. Blevins." It is bounded on the north and east by Grand River and Henry Creek; south by Davis and west by White Oak Townships. It has four and one-half sections of splendid prairie land, except that which lies on Grand River, which is well wooded. Is has both wood and water in abundance, and about as live and energetic a farming population as any township in the county.
There is no government land in the township, or any legal government for that matter, but R. P. Blevins is hereby appointed "governor," until such time as his successors shall be elected and qualified, with full power to act and to send for persons and papers.