"Our Old Pioneers"
Memorial Address by Hon. J. W. Armstrong
at the Hillhouse Graveyard, Camden County, Missouri
The following article was contributed by Jim Jones of Redondo Beach,
California. It appeared in a South Bay Genealogy Society magazine.
The Los Angeles Family History Center was removing the magazine from
their files and Jim saved it and passed it along.
On Sunday, May 31, 1925, about 1,000 persons gathered at the Hillhouse
Cemetery, a few miles northwest of Stoutland, for a Community Memorial
Service. The main address of the day was delivered by the Hon. J. W.
Armstrong, representative in the State Legislature from Pulaski Co. In
order to conserve space, we present below an abridged version of his
remarks, having deleted only comments not germane to the history of the
early families of the area.
We have met here to do “honor to whom honor is due” - the old pioneers
of this community. We owe a debt to the sturdy men and women who braved
the dangers and privations of pioneer life, that we, their descendants and
others coming after might have homes and the modern conveniences and
comforts we now enjoy.
I will be unable in the time allotted me, to even mention the names of all
those we are seeking to honor on this occasion. I can only select a few
for special mention and typical of all the rest. We have met in honor and
memory of ALL to whom honor is due.
I have not been designated for this purpose on account of any peculiar
ability or special fitness, but perhaps because I too am a descendant of
these early pioneers. I was born here and am of the fourth generation
from the earliest settlers of this community. Three full generations of
my mother’s family have lived here - lived and wrought - labored and
died and are buried in the soil where they made their homes. Many of my
generation are already sleeping beneath the soil our forefathers wrested
from the wilderness. Already some of the fifth and sixth generations have
been placed beside their forefathers.
Some of the real pioneers I have known are buried here and many more in
other family graveyards in this vicinity. The first funeral I can
distinctly remember was that of Uncle Minter Hillhouse, which I understand
was the third person buried here. This was in May, 1871.
The first person to be buried here was an old man by the name of Hedley,
who came to the home of Uncle Minter and Aunt Margaret during the Civil
War. He came sick and a stranger, but was taken into their hospitable
home and cared for until his death. The fortunes of war had stripped the
farm of both wagon and horses and the sons were all gone from home - some
in the army wearing the blue and one the grey. There was no means of
moving the body to a distant graveyard. Uncle Minter and Uncle Dick
Craddock made a coffin and prepared a grave, dug mostly by Uncle Minter
himself. These two secured some little assistance and carried the body
across the Hollow from the old home and deposited it here.
Some years after this I remember the death of old Mr. Debery, Thomas
Debery, the father of all the older Deberys. On account of an accident
when a boy he was a cripple and unable to do farm work, but applied
himself to the task of making shoes and boots for the early settlers. He
was the father of twelve children, four by a former marriage before he
came to Missouri from Ohio. Eight children were by Emma A., the wife we
knew. She had so many grandchildren who called her “Granny” that we
all - almost everybody called her “Granny”. She lived until 1899.
Another funeral I remember before I was ten years old was that of William
Craft, the founder of the Craft family.
Worthy of special mention is A. Y. Carlton, a schoolmaster of the old
sort, born in North Carolina, but who moved here from Kentucky in 1842.
He once taught school in a rude school house on this farm, situated near
the home where Uncle Dot died a few months ago. It was through him that
many of the children of the first settlers gained all the education
possible for that day and age. One of his closest neighbors was Uncle
Felix Hammer, the founder of the Hammer family. When I was a boy he had
so many sons and grandsons settled about him that it was called “Hammer
Town”. All his children are now dead, except his youngest child, Grundy
- who, though long past seventy years of age, still lives in the house
where he was born and has never lived anywhere else.
One of the Hammer girls married William Winfrey - a family that deserves
special mention. The large Winfrey family was most useful in the trying
days of the first settlers. It is said that Uncle Joe Winfrey, was, at
his death, the oldest white person born in Camden County.
The Burke family was founded by two pioneers - Uncle Milton and Uncle
Albert. Many of their descendants are present. How many descendants are
now living I do not know, but I judge several hundred. Uncle Milton was
the father of 19 children by two wives. Judge John A. Burke was a child
by his first wife and Uncle Mark and Uncle Billy by his last wife.
The founder of the Pritchett family was so old when I knew him that
everybody called him “Dad”. He reared a large family on what is now
the Smith Blackburn farm. I think all his children are dead - some buried
here - but many of his posterity are here.
The Riggs family was prominent in the early development of the country.
Many are buried in what is known as the Riggs graveyard near here. I
remember Old Dr. Riggs who was buried at Richland.
Old Uncle Joe Huffman was almost the only buyer for live stock when I can
first remember. He bought entirely on credit and paid for the stock after
they were sold. He bought hundreds of head of cattle and drove them away
to distant markets - never giving any written evidence of debt. His word
was as good as his bond, and as soon as he had sold the stock he would
return home and ride around and pay for everything purchased.
Of the families contributing to the up building of the country were the
Traws; Uncle Simeon being the first of a large family of brothers to move
here from Kentucky. They all opened up new farms on which they reared
large families and died honored and respected by all.
Uncle John and Adam Gorman belong to the group of honest hardworking
citizens who added materially to the development of the country.
Uncle Joe Story, and his wife, Aunt Lindy, lived and died honored by all
who knew them.
Uncle Dick Craddock, a helpful neighbor and active in every good work,
lived on the farm now occupied by Dr. John M. Carlton. He was a good
farmer and splendid blacksmith.
The Monday and Miller families were active in the county’s development.
Their numerous descendants are still here contributing their full share to
hold and keep what their forefathers gained.
William Simpson was a civil engineer of the highest attainments. Corner
stones erected by him in the early days are still standing, and re-surveys
have proven him to have been one of the most accurate and painstaking
surveyors that ever handled a compass.
I shall have little to say about my own family, though they were among the
first white people to settle on the Wet Glaize. You will pardon some
reference to my mother’s father, Dr. William M. Dodson - called Uncle
Billy by many - who came here with his parents from Tennessee almost one
hundred years ago. He was intimately associated with almost everyone
mentioned here today. In his capacity of family doctor, he was present at
the birth of many present here today and many more long since dead. As a
minister he married them and as a physician he treated them in their last
sickness, and again in his capacity of minister of the Gospel he preached
their funeral. It is generally believed that he rode more miles on
horseback, married more couples and preached more funerals during his more
than eighty three years than any one who ever lived in this part of
Missouri. I mention this not because he was my grandfather, but because
he was a part of the early history of this community. I know he was held
in high esteem by those with whom he was co-worker during the days that
tried men’s souls.
I must not fail to mention another pioneer preacher, he of the Baptist
faith - Rev. James Gideon, whom I do not remember, though I do remember
his wife, who survived him many years. His youngest son is still among us
and living on the farm settled by his father.
The name of Fulbright has been prominent from the earliest settlement.
The Turner family - once numerous, but now reduced in number should not be
omitted. Nor could the history of Camden County be complete without the
Vernon family, who played such a prominent part in its very organization.
The first County Judges of Kinderhook - now Camden County, were Laban Ivy,
David Fulbright, and Miles Vernon. The first County Clerk was James N. B.
Dodson, a brother of my grandfather. Martin Fulbright was the first
Sheriff. The county seat was on the bank of the Osage river and was
I will digress sufficient to mention the fact that Uncle Minter Hillhouse
was the first road overseer for Auglaize Township and Levi Fulbright was a
member of the first Grand Jury. This was all in 1841. Two years later
the name of the county was changed to Camden. It was under the
supervision of Uncle Minter that the first roads were marked out in this
part of Camden and Laclede counties. Uncle Henry Evans was elected County
Judge in 1858.
The Lambeth family has long been identified with all that makes this a
better and more desirable country in which to live. The older Rogers were
old time residents - all dead and gone now, but their descendants now
living are laboring honestly and cheerfully at the task set before them.
Others worthy of mention, though moving here later, but buried here are
Boone Daniels and wife. Uncle Charles Jacobs and wife and mother. Uncle
Charlie Jacobs and his mother, I understand, were born in Germany and are
probably the only ones buried here who are natives of Germany.
Here are also buried Mrs. Marshall, who was born in Ireland, the mother of
Amos Marshall and also his little sister who was burned to death nearly
fifty years ago. Another good old citizen buried here is Samuel Seybold.
His wife was buried at Stoutland.
Uncle Bill Bailey has long since passed to his reward. His family are all
gone so far as I know, but in the olden time he was a prominent character.
Though sometimes rough in manner he was honest, industrious and ever
helpful. In his later life he became a devout Christian and died honored
and respected. Beneath his rough exterior there was always an honest
heart, and his closing days were as tranquil as his early life had been
boisterous. In the early days he lived on what is now called the Widow
Clifton place north of the Dick Craddock farm.
This review would be far from complete without mention of the McClure
family and especially Uncle Dave and his wife, Aunt Mahala who lived such
a long life together. His wife was a daughter of Aunt Phoebe Fulbright
and they celebrated their sixty-eighth wedding anniversary before their
death at Stoutland only a few years ago. At the time of their death they
were perhaps the longest married couple in the State.
The founder of the Kissinger family - Uncle Enos Kissinger, lived on what
is now the Amos Marshall farm and reared a large family. Uncle Jim
Kissinger, now 80 years old, and family are still with us and some live
near the old homestead. Uncle Enos Kissinger married a daughter of Uncle
Israel Light, who then lived on what is now known as the William Ware
Miller farm. He was nearly 80 years old at the time of his death.
Uncle Jacob Bilderback, who did not come until later, moved here from
Indiana. His death resulted from a fall and broken limb when he was
nearly ninety years old.
Another old mother buried here was Mrs. Calistia Farquer, mother of the
Farquer family, some of whom were my school mates at the Pritchett School
Reverting to those who were the earliest residents and true pioneers of
this immediate community, I will now briefly review the early history of
the most numerous and influential families in the early history of the
country. These three families by their intermarriage and extreme
fecundity have become inseperably associated with us all, and I am
confident a large majority of those within the sound of my voice are in
some degree, either by blood or marriage, bound to these three families in
bonds of kinship.
I refer to the Oliver, Evans and Hillhouse families. When I say that
probably the majority of those present are in some way related to these
families I have only to point to the fact that when Aunt Margaret
Hillhouse died in 1895, aged 88 years, 5 months and 17 days, she left 246
living descendants. The mother of 12 children, 10 were living at the time
of her death, together with 68 grandchildren, 154 great-grandchildren, and
14 great-great-grandchildren. Twenty-six of her descendants had preceded
her to the grave.
George K. Oliver and Parthenia Burton Oliver, who were originally from
Mississippi, moved here from Tennessee at a very early date, and are both
buried at the Hooper Graveyard, only a few miles from here. Also the
parents of Mrs. Oliver, Uncle Humphrey Burton, and wife Nancy Bledsoe
Burton, are buried at the same place. It is worthy of note that the
Burtons were originally called Halliburton, but was abbreviated by common
usage until they were generally known as Burton.
The Olivers had 10 children as follows:
Mary, who married William Thompson, lived long and reared a large family
on what is now the Henry Debery farm.
Giles J., the oldest son, and his wife Caroline Evans Oliver, were the
parents of Henry M. Oliver who still survives and is the father of Dr.
Oliver, Ed Oliver, Clarence Oliver, and several other children who are not
now living in this vicinity. Mabel married John Ragan, a member of one of
the pioneer families, and a brother of Dr. Ragan, who lived and practiced
medicine so long in Richland. Another daughter Frances, married E. R.
Fulbright [Uncle Eph]. Billie, named for his Uncle Billie Oliver, married
a sister of Dr. Riggs. They were also the parents of Leander Oliver, who
died when a boy.
Shade, who married Prudence Evans [Aunt Prude] who still lives among us,
the only living member of the older Evans family. She is nearly 89 years
old and is here surrounded by numerous descendants.
Nancy, who married William Huffman, a brother of Uncle Joe Huffman.
Margaret, who married Alfred or Al Lawrence.
Martha, married Joseph Wilson. Poley Wilson and brothers, of the Dry
Glaize are descendants of this branch of the family.
Susan died before marriage.
Ophelia, married Joseph Appling and lived near Lebanon.
Billie married Anna, the oldest daughter of Uncle James Perkins, who lived
farther down on the Wet Glaize. They moved to Miller County and lived
near Eldon where they raised a large family. Uncle Billy has been dead
only a few years and his wife still survives. Grandma Perkins, the mother
of the wife of Billie Oliver is still hale and hearty at the age of 86
As an evidence of the longevity of these older families, I call your
attention to the fact - so unusual as to be almost incredible - that the
oldest child of Mabel Oliver Ragan, above referred to, was nursed on the
laps of six grandmothers - her grandmother Oliver, her great-grandmother
Oliver and her great-great-grandmother Burton. Also her grandmother
Ragan, her great-grandmother Evans and her great-great-grandmother Prater.
Mary Evans, whose maiden name was Dain, was born Sept. 1, 1801 and died
April 1, 1879 and lies buried here in the Hillhouse Graveyard. Her
husband, Jacob Evans was born Oct. 27, 1790, died and was buried in
Tennessee. As a widow, Mary moved here from Tennessee with eight
fatherless children. She also had two other daughters - Liza and Sally
that married in Tennessee and never moved to Missouri. Both married men
by the name of Stokes. The sons were Hartwell, Henry J., John C., and
Oliver Evans. Oliver was usually called Jake. Her daughters who lived in
Missouri were Caroline who married Giles Oliver; Martha, always called
“Mit”, who married Jasper Light; Luvenia, who was always called
“Aunt Din”, married John W. Pritchett - Judge Pritchett he became; and
Aunt Prude, who married Shade Oliver, the father of “Little Henry”
Oliver and brothers and sisters.
All of this remarkable family except Aunt Prude have long since passed
away. I remember the tragic event in which Uncle Henry Evans lost his
eyesight. He lived a long and eventful life and died full of years and
good deeds. He served during the War with Mexico, and again when civil
strife broke out in 1861, he joined the Confederate army under Gen.
Cockrell, afterward Senator of the United States from Missouri.
Uncle John Evans was known as Squire Evans. I cannot avoid reference to
his long service as Justice of the Peace. For a long time he was all the
law many of us knew; for as a matter of fact I was never in Linn Creek,
the county seat, until after I was grown and married. The little
differences between citizens were invariably settled in the Court of
Squire Evans - sometimes not according to the technicalities of law as
interpreted by special pleaders, but in keeping with rugged justice. His
fairness was recognized by all and his decisions usually settled all
I have now reached the Hillhouse family. Here on this farm, they lived
for nearly a hundred years, many have died here and are buried on the farm
where born. Josiah Minter Hillhouse was born July 22, 1805 and died May
4, 1871. He was ordained a minister of the M.E. Church, South, at a very
early age, and continued a local preacher as long as he lived. His wife,
whose maiden name was Watts, was born June 12, 1807, and died November 29,
1895. After the birth of the couple’s first three children, they moved
from Giles County, Tennessee to Missouri in 1828. After a short stop on
Cobb’s or Mill Creek, they lived for a short time on what is the Julius
Lambeth farm. About 1829 or 1830 they settled on the present farm and
reared their family of twelve children. All are now dead except two
The seven daughters were:
Emily, the oldest daughter was the second wife of Uncle Levi Fulbright who
had five children by a former marriage. They were: Uncle John and Bruce
Fulbright, Matilda who married William Story, Susan who married Uncle Joe
Huffman and Ann Eliza who married Ples Joiner. Aunt Emily and Uncle Levi
Fulbright had eight children. The daughters were: Vine who married
Wright Jones; Caroline, called “Tim”, who married Harvey Pritchett;
Ellen who married Richard Jones; and Roxanna [Aunt Dutch] who married
Kelly Thompson. Their four sons were: Ephraim, Dan, Josiah and Sam.
Sarah E. [Aunt Sallie] first married Henderson Ivy, by whom she had two
daughters - afterwards the wives of Bruce Hutton and Sherman Goss. Mr.
Ivy started to California during the gold rush and was killed by Indians
on the Plains. After some years of widowhood, Sarah married John C. Evans
[Uncle John]. Many children and other descendants of this branch of the
family are here present, and their position and influence in the
development of all that is best in the community is well known.
Adaline, wife of Henry Evans raised a family of which the community is
proud today. Some are dead, but others are present today, proud to be
counted as descendants of this noble family.
Aunt Jane, widow of Mart Evans, who was a son of Hartwell Evans, still
survives and lives among us. Like her sisters who have passed away, she
has long exceeded the Biblical allotment of years, but we hope she may be
spared many more years in which to meditate upon a long and useful life.
Aunt Bettie was left with a large family when her husband, Oliver Evans,
was taken away suddenly by a stroke of lightning. She survived him many
years and reared her family to manhood and womanhood before she was called
to meet other members of her family who had gone on before.
I still remember Aunt Mandy, wife of John Woods. They have both been dead
many years and I am informed their children are living in or near Pueblo,
Colo., except Ellen, wife of Schell Honey.
The baby girl of the family is Mrs. Ellen Bohannon, widow of Thomas G.
Bohannon. She is present and is the mother of ten children - nine of whom
are still living. Lee, her oldest son and one of my best friends, I
understand is largely responsible for this service - he having made the
suggestion at Uncle Dot’s funeral some months ago.
Of the five Hillhouse brothers, I can speak from personal and intimate
association of only three. James died before he was grown and was the
second one buried here. Uncle Frank I only knew in a casual way. He
married Catherine Hensley, a half sister of Uncle Joe Laquey and died and
was buried in Pulaski county near Laquey.
Uncle Bill was an intimate friend of my father and mother and used to tell
me incidents about my parents before I was born. His wife was Aunt
Martha, daughter of Hartwell Evans, and a sister of Mart Evans. It used
to be said that they “swapped” sisters. Their children grew to
manhood and womanhood here on this same farm.
The last of the family to die and join the celestial choir was Uncle
“Dot” - Monroe Dodson Hillhouse, who with his brothers, William and
Thomas, purchased the old homestead from the other heirs and lived and
died on the farm where they were born.
Some time ago a descendant of this pioneer stock we are honoring today,
remarked to me that his family were all plain people, without ability to
do the big and worthwhile things of life. No greater eulogy of these
pioneers could be pronounced than that they were plain people, seeking
only that which they honestly earned. They never asked for places of ease
or importance above their fellowmen. They never sought positions of
power, but were content to help others to the preferred places. They were
never candidates for high office, but were content to leave them to
others, and oftimes to those less worthy. Because they lived the simple
life - content to bear burdens that others might enjoy more abundantly, is
sufficient to earn for them a place in the hearts of all mankind.