Camden County History
As compiled by J. W. Vincent, editor of “The Reveille” of Linn Creek, Mo. Published July 2nd to September 3rd of 1896, from interviews with some of the oldest settles living in Camden County at the time. Early Settlements From a historical standpoint there are two geographical divisions in Camden county – the eastern, being that portion east of the line between ranges seventeen and eighteen, most of which was taken from Pulaski county; and the western, formerly territory of Pulaski and Greene counties. The few square miles north of the river, once belonging to Morgan, are hardly looked upon from the divisions named. Thus considered, the “East End” is not only the largest, but most populous, best developed and oldest in port of organization and settlement. No definite record or tradition of the first settlers or “squatters” to make their homes in this region seems to have been preserved. It is more than likely that their occupation was limited in duration by their isolation, roving disposition and passive hostility of the natives. The government did not encourage intrusion into the Indian domain, but seems to have taken no active steps to prevent it. In 1827, Harrison Davis and a son-in-law, Reuben Berry, of Kentucky, after a tour through other parts of the state, pitched their camp on the Dry Auglaize, near what is now Chauncey, eight miles east of Linn Creek, and not far from the encampment of three tribes of Indians, among whom was a band of the Osages. Negotiations were entered upon, and they soon exchanged sundry blankets, bridles, etc., for the possession of sufficient land for their needs. Returning to Kentucky for their families, they settled there in 1828, their nearest neighbors being the “Fulbright Settlement”, in what is now Laclede county, which had been established about a year previously. To the west of them lay an unbroken wilderness. Mr. Davis lived on the land thus acquired some thirty years, and some of his descendants still reside near by. Mr. Berry died at the home of his grandson, Hon. H. H. Windes, in Linn Creek, May 15, 1883, at the great age of ninety-two years and five months. July 10, 1885, his son, Alex. E. H. D. Berry, who played with Indian boys in childhood, also died. Some years before a favorite son of the younger Berry had accidentally shot himself through the heart, and it is thought this tragedy saddened and perhaps shortened the father’s life. With the exception of William Pogue, on the Osage River, the only additional settler of whom there is any record up to 1828, in the county as now constituted, was James Wilson, near the mouth of the Dry Auglaize. Wilson, like Davis and Berry, had slaves and plenty of stock, a good farm, substantial buildings and comfortable surroundings. He had also – what was of far more importance to the settlers – a small horse mill, capable of grinding about 25 bushels of corn per day, which he had brought to the frontier for his own convenience, and afterwards used for the accommodation of customers. This man Wilson was originally a hunter and trapper, occupations which he followed more or less all his life. He took more pride in his pack of “b’ar dogs” than in his mill or other wealth, but was nevertheless a good citizen, and did much for the early development of the county. Some of the Wilsons and Cralls who live on the Dry Auglaize at the present time are his descendants. A Three Years’ Record It is fair to conclude then that actual settlement began in 1826, for if there were any improvements before that time, they were probably transient, and many miles apart. Ludwell L. Blanton, another settler who still has a posterity in the county, located on the Auglaize in 1829. His older son, Thomas, was five years old at the time, while Crockett C., the younger, was an infant. They are now the oldest surviving settlers in the county. The nearest store at that time was at the mouth of Little Piney, on the Gasconade River, and the principal commodities kept were salt and coffee. Spencer Abbott and Maston Skaggs settled about 1830. Peter Goodwin settled on the Dry Auglaize in 1830, but on land afterwards assigned to Laclede county. Thomas Woolsey settled near Decaturville in 1831, and his son Daniel Woolsey, now of Chauncey, was a good sized boy at the time. He is still, at the writing, vigorous and well preserved for one of his years, with a good recollection of events in pioneer life. His earliest and liveliest memories of the “good old times” are connected with going long distances to mill. He drove oxen, spending two days on the road, both in going and returning, and camping on the way. The Garrison family came soon after the Woolseys and settled near them. Judge A. Garrison, the oldest surviving member of the family at the present time, was a small boy at that date, but his habits of observation and excellent memory have given him a considerable fund of information on the settlement and development of the country, some of which has been used in this work. By the end of the year 1831 there were thirteen families on the Dry Auglaize and its tributaries, but most of them were south of what is now included in Camden county. Settlers on the Wet Auglaize at the beginning of 1832, so far as their names can be learned, were William Piborn, Jacob Piborn, Ned Piborn, Eli Cornwell, and Adamson Cornwell. Morrell Holden and G. W. Huddleston also came at a very early day, but whether prior to the year named, cannot be ascertained. The Events of 1832 The year 1832 was the most momentous in the settlement of Camden County. The frontier of civilization advanced, at one stride, as it were, from the Gasconade to the Niangua, the intervening territory being bought for the first time directly under the sway of civil authority. The settlements of that memorable year were principally on the Wet Auglaize and many descendants of pioneers who then located along its shores have been and are highly respected and influential citizens of the county. Among the first immigrants was James Dodson, who settled near the subsequent site of Glaize City. His son, Dr. J. N. B. Dodson, was one of the founders of Linn Creek and also of Glaize City. Another son, Dr. William Dodson, was a noted physician and clergyman, and Benjamin D. Dodson, a third son, was one of the county’s most successful business men and best citizens. A daughter, Mrs. Lucy A. Estes, still lives near the old home. She remembers many incidents of early pioneer life. David Meredith, who came the same year, has children still living in that locality, one of whom, Mrs. John Glover, is the oldest native born inhabitant of Camden county, having been born near Toronto, Nov. 25, 1832. Her brother, Mathias Meredith, who lives near the Miller county line, is some years her senior, and remembers “32” quite distinctly. John and Charles Laughlin settled near by, and members of the family now reside on the Niangua, in the vicinity of Ha Ha Tonka. Other settlers on the Wet Auglaize in that year were Laban Ivey, William Malone, John Dean, Israel Light, and Benjamin Wiseman. Waynesville, 25 miles away, was the nearest trading point, and was also the county seat after Pulaski was organized. On the Dry Auglaize a family named Pettijohn, Thomas Parrish, Daniel Rainwaters, Joseph Berger, Abe Berger, James Aikman (afterwards sheriff of Pulaski county), Ned Howerton, William Yandell, Mack McClellen and John Klein took up their residence about the same time. There were a number of others on both the Auglaizes of whom no definite data is obtainable, but most of them remained but a short time, and could hardly be classed as settlers. A man named Pollard lived in Linn Creek valley near where the second school house, (since sold), was built, between upper and lower town. William Capps settled on the Niangua, near the Allison ford, in 1832 or earlier, and died soon after. His widow remained on his clearing or claim for some years, raising a few hogs and sheep and such other stock as she was able. William Boyce is said to have located on the Little Niangua in 1832, but probably the first farm opened on that stream was the one now owned by George J. Moulder. It was settled by a man named Walmsley, who was attracted to the spot by the waters of a copious spring, one of the finest in the county. It is thought by some that Capps and Walmsley immigrated as early as 1829 or 1830, but of this nothing can be known with certainty. Josiah DeJarnett made an improvement on the Niangua, four miles about its mouth, in 1832. He was the first sheriff of Kinderhook county. Other very early settlers were two men named Clinton and Cummins, who occupied the Moulder place, afterwards known as Cave Pump, also on the Niangua, and William Montgomery, on the Little Niangua. Louis Oder lived on the Osage River, above the mouth of the Niangua at that time, but whether or not he settled in that year or earlier is uncertain. He was a mechanic, working, as the county settled up, in the capacities of carpenter, boat-builder and millwright, and also farming a little. A man named Richardson had a little cabin and a little clearing on the river bank, opposite where Linn Creek was afterwards built. As the settlements of the Auglaize were under the jurisdiction of Crawford county and those on the Niangua belonged mostly to Benton, the two localities had but little in common, until intermarriage, trade and the navigation of the Osage River drew them together. Beginnings of Development The colonies on the Wet and Dry Auglaize extended gradually, first up and down those creeks, then to the smaller streams, and lastly and more slowly to the prairies and uplands. Probably the first school house was built on the farm of Daniel Meredith, in 1833. There was also a subscription school on the Wet Auglaize, not long afterwards in a tobacco barn, but this was probably in Miller county. The first school on the Dry Auglaize, was on David Fulbright’s place, in Laclede county. In 1833 or 1834 Sampson Wilson established a small store near the mouth of the Dry Auglaize. This was the first commercial enterprise in the present county of Camden, and although very limited, was a great convenience to the scantily and scattered population. John Smithers of Smathers established what was afterwards known as the Pritchett mill, near Wet Glaize, early in the ‘30s. It was originally a corn mill, with a capacity of about 15 bushels per day. It was probably the first mill on the Wet Auglaize, although John Pope built the first flouring mill on that stream as early as 1835. The “bolt” was run by hand, and was considered a wonderful innovation in those days. For many years the “old Pope mill” was noted far and wide, and its site is still a landmark for all the old settlers. The Arnhold Mill, probably the most noted in the county, was founded in 1833 by a man named Kieth. People in the “east end” sometimes patronized a mill commemorated in the name of “Hominy Mill Spring,” on the Tavern, in Miller county. In 1833, Aaron Crain, from Boone county, bought the improvement of the man Richardson, mentioned previously, and some of his descendants still live on the same place, where they have operated the Linn Creek ferry for many years. Mr. Crain was accompanied by his son, Saunders W., his sons-in-law, Andrew McQuitty and Samuel Ayers and their families. Another son, W. L. Crain, is one of the oldest settlers now living on the Osage river, having lived on the same premises for 65 years. When the Crains came to the country, the trading point for this portion of the Osage river was Booneville, on the Missouri, and they packed salt from the Boone lick, in Howard county, over 100 miles away. There were remains at that time of an Indian village about one mile above the mouth of the Niangua, and traces of it and of their devices for catching fish, etc., could be seen after 1870. There was the hull of an old keel boat near by, which was said to have been abandoned by French traders who were forced to leave the country on account of trouble with the Indians. A town was afterwards laid off on the “point”, but never amounted to much. Other families at that time on the part of the Osage river now included in Camden county, were the Walkers, Uptons, William Porter, Louis C. Oder, John Davidson, Daniel Purcell, John Fryrear, William Ray, and Thomas Wallace. Richard Popplewell, afterwards a prominent business man of Linn Creek, came to the country in 1834. In 1835 Jonas Brown and his son-in-law, Williamson Foster, from Kentucky, came to the Little Niangua, Mr. Foster afterwards settling on the Osage river, some five or six miles above Linn Creek. Mr. Brown opened a place on the Little Niangua, near the mouth of Prairie Hollow, and about a year later John D. Foster, a brother of Williamson, came from Kentucky, and married Gleanor, a younger daughter of Mr. Brown. His widow and son, John W. Foster, still live on the place settled by Mr. Brown over sixty years ago. At that time Stewart Condon lived at the mouth of Firey Fork, Pollard Wisdom on the G. S. Howard place, William Hart on the place afterwards owned by Andrew Estes, and Thomas Hart at the place already mentioned as having been settled by Mr. Walmsley. These constituted all the settlements they knew of on the Little Niangua. Of other neighbors, about all that have not been mentioned elsewhere were a family of Fitchews, on the Cunningham hollow, between the Little Niangua and Osage. Mr. William Russell settled the place afterwards owned by Judge John Cyrus, on the Little Niangua, in 1836, and several of his sons still reside in that locality. Mr. Russell killed four panthers after coming to the county, one of which was nine feet long. John Shipman also came to the country in 1836, settling between the Wet and Dry Auglaize. The first schools on the Little Niangua were on the farm of William Russell, and another near Jonas Brown’s taught by Moses Wilson. In 1836 the first recorded murder occurred, a man named Edwards being assassinated at his home on the Niangua. Two desperados, named Quillen and Jones, were suspected, and the agitation then begun finally led to the trouble afterwards known as the “Slicker War”, concerning which many conflicting and erroneous stories are told. Another Memorable Year Within the confines of the present county, the first attempt at a town or business point of which there is any reliable account was made at Purcell or Gayhorn Spring, now known as Hopkins Spring, three miles down the river from old town or lower town of Linn Creek. The site selected is beautiful in many respects, though disadvantageous for a town, as the sequel proved. It is opposite the mouth of a valley known as “Race Track”, and at the foot of a bottom two miles or more in length, while below the spring, a high, imposing bluff extends down the river for about a mile, adding picturesqueness to the scene. The spring is quite near the river, and is the second in volume in the county, with a flow estimated at 15,000 barrels per hour. The main body of water is very deep and of considerable extent, the flow to the river being rapid and of great volume, affording ample water power for any ordinary machinery, except when backed up by the river, as happens during every considerable rise. At this point a grist mill, carding machine, store and dram shop were established in 1833, and did quite a flourishing business for those pioneer times. This point was designed for the seat of justice when the county organization should be perfected, but the embryo metropolis being on comparative low ground, the rise of 48 1/3 feet in 1837 carried off all the buildings and wrecked the machinery. Owing to this untoward circumstance, the business center was moved two miles up the river, to the place afterwards known as Erie. The bluff alluded to was the scene of the most terrible tragedy ever enacted in the county; resulting in the death of David Lyne, Mary Kirtz and Hiram Webster, Dec. 4, 1885. Judge G. C. Thornton, who has been at different times one of the county court justices, came to his present home on Horseshoe Bend on the Osage river, in 1837, although he had lived at the mouth of the Big Gravois, a few miles away, in what is now Morgan county, since 1832. There were then only seven families in the “bend”, comprising twelve miles of river, now occupied by about 400 people. The nearest sawmill was at Porter Spring, thirteen miles up the river, which, however, is so tortuous in its course that the distance by land is only two and one-half miles. This was probably the only saw-mill in Camden county territory. There were more inhabitants in Shawnee Bend, which extends fifteen miles below, than in Horseshoe, but there was less than 250 acres in cultivation in the two, a distance of 27 miles, now including many of the finest farms in Camden county. Judge Thornton is the oldest surviving licensed steamboat pilot on the Osage. A family named Goodrich made the first settlement on Prairie Hollow, in the southwest part of the county, now containing a number of fine farms, in 1837. Samuel Aikmen and James Hobbs also moved to the Dry Auglaize in the same year. The Moulder family, since the most numerous and prominent in the county, first arrived in 1837. Judge G. W. Moulder, the first of these, came to Lincoln county in 1830, and to Camden (then Pulaski) in the year named, buying a farm on the Niangua, eight miles above Linn Creek, where he lived nearly fifty years, and died in 1886. He was one of a family of twelve children, and was afterwards joined by three brothers, Valentine, Silas and Rufus, and by two sisters, Rebecca Capps and Elizabeth Doyle, the latter of whom is still living, on Prairie Hollow, the only surviving member of her father’s family. Judge Moulder had six sons, William G., John B., A. F., Joseph C., V. P., and T. H. B., all of whom served their country during the late war. On the old Judge Moulder farm there is a very fine spring in a cave, easily entered from the foot of the hill, below the house. Part of this cave has been fitted up for a spring house, probably the finest in the county. On top of the hill, near the house, is a round hole or natural well which penetrates to the cave directly over the spring, and through which water is drawn for the use of the family. From this curious circumstance the place is called “Cave Pump.” A post office of that name was conducted by Judge Moulder for many years, before, during and after the war. The Moulder family now has hundreds of representatives and over a thousand relatives in the county, and members of it have held various positions of profit and trust in the county, extending over a period of fifty-five years. Ha Ha Tonka, on the Niangua, so-called from the spring and lake of that name, was settled in the ‘30s, though just how long is a matter of some doubt, for reasons connected with the lawless character of its inhabitants, one of whom was James B. Gunter, the spring being called by his name until after 1890. The wonderful scenery, the immense water power and other advantages that have rendered this spot so noted, were recognized and written up by one of the government surveyors who first sectionized the land, and circulated in the form of a pamplet. This work was seen in Philadelphia by Joseph Crall, one of a family of millers, who was attracted to the country by it possibilities as a mill site, and he and his brother, Samuel, thus became pioneers of the county, where the family still holds an honorable place in business, politics and society. By 1837 settlements were becoming more or less general in various parts of the county. Much of the wilderness had been but little explored, and William Kuykendall, one of the pioneers, killed a bear in that year, but still an attempt to record individual settlements up to that time would give but an imperfect idea of the population, which then numbered several hundred. Pioneer Conditions It has already been said that settlers on the Dry Auglaize sent their children to a school on David Fulbright’s place, within the present limits of Laclede county. They also patronized a store within the same community, owned by David and John Fulbright, whose nearest customers, outside of their own settlement, were six or eight miles away, and by 1838 there were five or six such stores within reach of the pioneers. There were no frame houses, and it is very doubtful if a pioneer would have defied the traditions of the community by living in one. T. C. DeGraffenreid was a hunter of no mean ability, and owned slaves and other property, but was sometimes hard pressed for the immediate necessities of life by reason of his frontier environment. One Christmas morning the family, including seven children was without provisions, and the lamentations of the good woman over this state of affairs found a ready response in his sportsman’s instinct. While casting about for means of meeting this emergence, Mr. DeGraffenreid heard a turkey gobble, seized his rifle and started in active pursuit. His anxiety was increased by the fact that he had only two bullets, and did not know just where to get another nearer than Jefferson City. He began to call and presently one of the fowls, of which there were several, leisurely plumed itself, flew across the creek, only to fall dead on the sands before the deadly fire of the anxious hunter. The family had a Christmas feast fit for the proudest in the land. One of the Fulbrights had 200 head of horses, which ranged in the woods and prairies, and I. H. Parrish, who came to the county in 1838, was employed to look after them. No attention was paid to land titles, settlers fixing boundaries to suit themselves, and having no occasion or disposition to intrude on another.
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