County Histories of Northeast Missouri
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Montgomery County, Missouri
By Howard Ellis, New Florence

 

Mother of Warren County

The early settlers of Missouri were liberal indeed in their distribution of lands. The counties of Montgomery, St. Charles and Warren have many things of a kindred nature and truly can be called sisters. On October 1, 1812, Governor William Clark, in accord with an act of congress, proclaimed St. Charles a county within itself and defined its limits as follows: "From the Missouri river on the south to the British possessions on the north, and from the Mississippi river on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west." This territory embraced Montgomery County and continued to do so until December 14, 1818, when Montgomery and Lincoln counties were organized and the dimensions of St. Charles County correspondingly decreased. Consequently it can truthfully be said that St. Charles County is the Mother of Montgomery County.

The territory, as embraced by Montgomery County at its organization in December, 1818, remained so largely until January, 1833, when the legislature, then in session at Jefferson City, Missouri, duly designated by metes and bounds the county of Warren, taking such territory from Montgomery County; hence, it can also be truthfully said that Montgomery County is the Mother of Warren County. The early history of these three counties is so interwoven as to apply directly to each other in many incidents.

Organization and Settlements

Callaway County was organized November 25, 1820, securing from Montgomery County a portion of its territory.

The early settlers no doubt reached what is now Montgomery County interior as early as 1725, being the French, who ascended the Missouri River, and Loutre creek in search of game. Along this stream of Loutre were found many otter, and the stream was named in their behalf.

The first actual settler within the border of either of the four counties was Louis Blanchette, a Frenchman, who located at the present site of St. Charles in 1769.

The first American to settle in the territory was Daniel Boone, who also located in St. Charles County about 1791. His son, Daniel I. Boone, settled in St. Charles County in 1795, afterwards moving to Montgomery County in 1816, thereby becoming among the first American settlers within Montgomery County.

The early French settlers located along the Missouri River and on Loutre Island, where trading posts were established and commerce carried on with the Indians. The Indian in his attempt upon the life of these settlers, apparently in his effort to take from them their hunting ground, was very daring and cruel in his treatment and the settlers never left the water or ventured away from the timber, leaving the fertile prairies on the north to later and more progressive inhabitants. Accompanying the Boone family from Kentucky were a great many from their native county, and Montgomery County received as its earliest American settlers the best blood of Kentucky. The county received its name for Montgomery, Kentucky, because so many citizens from that county had settled here previous to its organization.

The early settlers of Montgomery County made their homes in the southern section and did not venture into the northern section until after the red man began to take his course westward. Therefore, the earliest history connected with the county is found in the southern part. Many evidences can be found as to settlers earlier than this record of 1725. Along the Loutre River stood for years block houses built of stone with portholes. To these houses the settlers are supposed to have retreated from the Indian. Even as late as 1864 there stood in the middle street of Danville a block house built for the protection of the people and to keep away the intruder.

Early Settlements and Settlers

The Big Spring settlement was next in order following that at Loutre Island. Here the first cabins were built in about 1808. Jacob Groom was a prominent citizen of this place in 1810. Later in the year and during the attack of the Indians, Mr. Groom moved from the Big Spring settlement to Fort Clemson for protection. Mr. Groom was a native of Kentucky, a man of considerable education and was among the first school teachers of the county. He also represented the county in the state legislature.

James Massey, who located at the Loutre Lick springs in 1813, was the first white settler in what is now known as Danville Township.

Following James Massey was Major Isaac Van Bibber and a little later Robert Graham from Kentucky. Daniel Boone, the noted Kentuckian and the father of Daniel M. Boone, made frequent visits to the homes of Major Van Bibber and Graham.

Townships

From 1818 to January, 1872, Montgomery County consisted of five townships, and at this latter date the county court changed these townships and formed the county into six municipal townships. The new one created was called Montgomery and was taken in part from Danville, Upper Loutre and Prairie.

Wars with the Indians

In the years 1808 to 1811 a great influx of people came to the county, chiefly from the state of Kentucky. Most of these settled along the Loutre River and all that country was thoroughly explored by the new people who kept one eye open for game and the other for Indians. The hills along Loutre creek were sparsely timbered and the new comers peered from the edges before exhibiting their entire bodies. The first victim of the Indian wars was Harris Massey, who in the early spring of 1813, was killed while plowing in his father's field near Loutre Lick.

Among the incidents of early life in which the settlers had trying experiences with the Indians, probably none elicited greater bravery than that manifested by John Snethen, who located in Montgomery County in 1808. During the bitter war with Great Britain from 1810 to 1815, Mr. Snethen and his family lived on a small creek in the southern part of the county. For many months they had not been disturbed by the red man. One evening about dusk a neighbor came walking into the home as Mr. Snethen was placing away his stock for the night. The expression upon this neighbor's face was one of despair and when questioned by Snethen, replied with one word, "Injuns.'' Without further ado Mr. Snethen and family began to barricade their home against an attack of the anticipated "Injun.'' In the stillness of the night a tramp, tramp, tramp, was heard on the roof of the cabin which startled the occupants within. A slight flame from the fireplace was quickly extinguished by a dash of water. The neighbor made ready to defend the door entrance. The smoke and steam rising up the chimney caused to fall sprawling upon the floor a big burly Indian. At the same time a much stronger one, with his deadly tomahawk in hand, bolted through the door. Mr. Snethen grappled with his adversary from the chimney while the neighbor crushed to the floor the giant of the aborigines at the door. Mrs. Snethen, standing in the center of the room, holding in her hands a heavy pole axe that never missed its place each night, looked upon the scene and wondered as to which one to help. Suddenly her eyes discovered a large puncheon rising from the floor. These large timbers were never fastened but kept their place by means of their weight. Mrs. Snethen instantly divined the cause and significance of the moving and from one great blow of her axe with a dead thud the timber settled back to its place and moved no more. By this time Mr. Snethen had made away with the adversary, the neighbor had conquered his foe and for a few seconds all was still. Mrs. Snethen told of her experience, the neighbor raised the puncheon floor and pulled therefrom a dead Indian which he lay alongside the one killed by himself, as well as that one by Mr. Snethen. The neighbor crawled through the opening in the floor and after an anxious wait of some two hours returned and informed Mr. Snethen that it was time to go. By sunrise the next morning a cart filled with the wife and children, proceeded and followed by a man carrying a long rifle, moved steadily toward Fort Clemson on Loutre Island for protection.

Another incident in the life of Mr. Snethen occurred while living at the fort on Loutre Island. A band of Indians had attacked a colored boy hauling wood and caused him to race for his life to safety. Volunteers were called for to ascertain the strength of the attacking enemy. John Snethen was placed in charge and after traveling a few miles along Loutre River overtook the fleeing party. They were about of equal number and seemed to occupy formidable positions on opposite sides of the river. Each man faced his respective foe and kept a close watch. So great was the distance and so uncertain the aim, that members of both parties became unusually venturesome, exposing themselves even carelessly. Snethen took shelter under a large white oak tree and was determined to get a shot at a brave Indian on the other side of the creek. At length he exposed a greater part of his body in order to get a better view of his enemy which drew the Indian's fire. The ball the Indian had fired struck the tree several feet above Snethen's head, so drawing his ramrod he motioned to the Indian with it and then pointed to the spot where the ball had struck. The Indian evidently understood the ridicule and quickly fired before Snethen could take refuge behind the tree. This time the ball cut a slit through his hat crown, after which he wasted no more time before retiring to shelter. In his old age, Snethen often related this story to groups of his friends as the most adventure some one of his life and usually wound up with the expression, "and by gum, boys, that was the last time that I ever showed an Indian where he was shootin'."

The Killing of Captain Callaway

The early settlers of the county were of that progressive nature and disposition that caused them to face any hardship or fight any battle whereby they might attain the things they most desired. During its early life Montgomery County was the scene of many tragic incidents in which human lives were sacrificed in order that the daring spirit of progressiveness might prevail. Probably the tragic death of Captain James Callaway on March 7, 1815, is of greatest renown. The Sacs and Fox Indians continually stole horses from the Loutre island neighborhood. Captain Callaway, with a company, started in pursuit of these marauders, overtaking them at the head of Loutre creek. Captain Callaway retook the horses and proceeded on his return to Loutre Island. Things went pleasantly until just before reaching Prairie Fork. Captain Callaway put his lieutenant, Jonathan Riggs, in charge of the company, the Captain undertaking to swim the horses across the creek. A body of Indians numbering from eighty to one hundred, who had lain in ambush, suddenly attacked Captain Callaway and party. Captain Callaway was mortally wounded and died soon after reaching the southern bank of Prairie Fork. Several of his comrades were also slain. The friends of the captain buried the body on the hill just south of the creek and the grave is to this day marked by a huge pile of stones. Captain Callaway was the nephew of Daniel Boone and for him Callaway County was named. A monument stands in the courthouse yard at Fulton to his memory.

Pioneer Families

Jefferson Benson, a son of Thomas Benson of Maryland, settled in Montgomery in 1832, locating in the southern part thereof. He married Sarah Hayes, to which union were born nine children, and these children have been instrumental in the success of Montgomery County. The name of Benson is a household word.

The name of See is familiar throughout Montgomery County. The early history finds two brothers, Jacob and Noah, playing prominent parts in the civilization of the county. Jacob See settled in the county in 1837, and represented the county in the state legislature in its early days. He was a great stock raiser and in 1871 raised 18 hogs that averaged from 700 to 1,000 pounds each. He took them to St. Louis and had them made into bacon and sent the hams to Memphis, Tennessee. The merchant at Memphis shipped them back with this statement, "We are not buying horse hams.'' Mr. See also raised the largest ox in the world and exhibited it in the Centennial at Philadelphia in 1876. This ox weighed 4,400 pounds. Samuel See, a retired farmer now living at New Florence, Missouri, is a son of Jacob See. Noah See, a brother of Jacob See, settled in Montgomery County in 1839. He was an influential and wealthy citizen. His children, M. F. See, George W. See, S. C. See, Robert W. See and Mrs. Anna Weeks still reside in the county.

The name Bush is another familiar county name. Ambrose Bush in 1818 settled on Dry Fork. He was a shrewd business man and made quite a fortune. Mr. Bush served as sheriff and assessor of the county, as well as a member of the state legislature. Several members of this family are yet living in the county. W. D. Bush of Fulton is a member of the family.

In the early part of 1818 Richard Fitzhugh of North Carolina located on Loutre. This is one of the old families in the county, a number of descendants of whom yet reside in its borders, E. H. Fitzhugh, now president of the Central Vermont Railroad, with headquarters at Montreal, was a member of this family, born at Danville and reared in the county.

George Bast settled in Montgomery County in 1819 near Loutre Island. His son, Dr. George Y. Bast, located in after years near New Florence. His sons, William and Charles have been prominent men in the affairs of the county. William died some years ago and Charles now resides at Mexico.

David Knox settled in the county in 1818. He was one of the men to locate the county seat when moved to Danville. He reared a large family of boys, one of whom is now living, a retired merchant of Portland, Missouri, D. R. Knox. The grandchildren of David H. Knox, William H, and John U., are now prominent farmers in Montgomery County engaged in stock raising. John U. occupies the old Davault home of stage coach days one mile south of New Florence.


Van Bibber Tavern Built in 1821

Isaac Van Bibber was a son of Isaac Van Bibber of Holland, who came to America and settled in Virginia previous to the Revolutionary War. His father was killed when he was only 2½ years old. He was adopted and raised by Col. Daniel Boone and at the early age of 13 acted as a scout against the Indians in Virginia. In 1800 he came to Missouri with Nathan Boone and settled in St. Charles County, moving in 1815 to Loutre Lick of Montgomery County. Major Van Bibber was one of the interesting characters of bygone days. His tavern was a much sought after place for weary travelers. The major believed in evolution and not only believed it but preached it. Two travelers, after spending the night with him, discussed the theory in its fullness. Upon attempting to depart in the morning, they appeared to be a little short of funds. Asking Major Van Bibber to credit them, said, "that they would pay him when they returned 1,000 years hence.'' The major, with his quick thought, exclaimed, "You are the same rascals that visited me 1,000 years ago. You did not pay me then and you are not going to get away now."

The Montgomery County Hermit

The strangest of strange characters that have ever resided in the county was George Baughman, a hermit, who for 30 years lived a solitary life in a cave south of Danville. During all that time he was searching for gold, which he claimed was hidden in the surrounding hills. Baughman, being struck with the gold fever, started for the West in 1852. Camping at Loutre Lick for a few days, one of his oxen died and the other strayed away. In search of the stray animal, he found the cave which afterwards became his permanent dwelling place. Baughman died in Danville after having been removed there by order of the court that he might be better cared for. His remains were buried near the cave in which he had so long lived. The deep wells surrounding the cave will long remain as a monument to this noted character.

County Seats and Courthouses

At the organization of the county in 1818 the county seat was located at Pinckney near the Missouri River, a point long since swept away by the river. The first terms of the county and circuit courts were held some three miles west of Pinckney in a log cabin owned by Maj. Ben Sharp, the first clerk of these courts. Pinckney being the southeast comer of the county was inaccessible to the few settlers in the central and western parts. In 1826, by a vote of the few people, the seat of justice was moved to Lewiston, a point just north of the timber line and on the old Boonslick road, now the National Old Trails road, the official cross state highway of Missouri. The county seat remained at Lewiston until 1834, when Oily Williams laid out and platted the town of Danville and to which the seat of justice was moved. Danville became the most thriving town in this section of the state, its population increased and it soon numbered about five hundred people. With the building of the North Missouri Railroad, Danville was left to the south some six miles and her glory began to fade. While still the county seat, it is now one of the smallest hamlets within the county with more history connected therewith than any other town. With the coming of the railroad new towns began to spring up, new territory was opened and the broad prairies heretofore unoccupied were soon seized by the settlers and Montgomery County began to grow in all of its parts.

During the Anderson raid in October, 1864, the courthouse was destroyed, together with all the records of the county from its organization. After the close of the war the county court proceeded to rebuild the county courthouse and did so at a cost of $27,700, the contract having been let to James Getty of St. Louis. At that time it was fair to presume that the location of the county seat was permanently settled, but since several attempts have been made to remove it to either New Florence or Montgomery City, but the people have never seen fit to grant the necessary two-thirds vote. The records and county offices have frequently been moved from Danville to Montgomery City on technicalities, but as readily returned under orders of the Supreme Court. In 1889, by an act of the legislature, terms of circuit, probate and county courts were established at Montgomery City. The citizens of Montgomery City donated to the county a courthouse. Courts are still held at Danville, but a majority of the county's business is done at Montgomery City.

The night of April 12, 1901, fire broke out in the dome of the courthouse of Danville and the building with many of its valuable records which had accumulated since the previous fire of 1864, was destroyed. This fire caused much trouble in the land titles of the county and to assist in correcting many errors, the legislature by h special act legalized the Gupton Abstract Books as correct transfers. The courts and county officers at Danville are located in a small frame building near the site of the burned courthouse.

Montgomery Cities, Towns and Villages

Americus | Bellflower | Big Spring | Bluffton | Buell | Egbert | Florence | Gamma | High Hill | Jonesburg | Marling | McKittrick | Middletown | Mineola | Mineola Springs | Montgomery City | Pinnacles | Price's Branch | Rhineland | Wellsville

Political History

Montgomery County has played well its part in politics. The first election in which its citizens took part was in 1820 when James Monroe carried the county for president, the only voting place at this time being at the house of Jacob Groom. George W. Windsor of Mineola now has in his possession the poll book of these early elections. In 1824 John Quincy Adams carried the county for president after a very warm and close fight. In 1840 the Whigs carried the county. In 1860, possibly the warmest contested election in the early days of the county, resulted in the Bell electors receiving 658 votes, the Douglas electors 612, the Breckinridge electors 83 and the Lincoln electors 45. For a number of years after the close of the Civil war the Democrats were in power and carried the elections by a safe majority. Of recent years, the Republicans have often elected some of their ticket. In the election of November, 1912, the Democrats carried the county by a majority of 186 votes. As to the present county officers, their political complexion is as follows:

Representative, S. S. Cox, Democrat
Presiding judge of the county court, J. W. Shocklee
Democrat; associate judges, William Schroer and William Martin
Republicans; prosecuting attorney, Harry C. Black
Democrat; sheriff, W. H, Verser
Democrat; county clerk, E. W. Hunter
Republican; circuit clerk, Everett Barton
Republican; recorder, D. P. Grennan
Republican; collector, L. E. Blades
Republican; assessor, Harry S. Bishop
Democrat; treasurer, John D. Ulrich
Republican; coroner, Dr. J. M. Menefee
Democrat; surveyor, T. L. Cardwell

One of the first three judges of the supreme court of the state of Missouri was Matthias McGirk of Montgomery County. Judge McGirk settled in this county in 1819, living in the Missouri river bottom, and erected a brick house which stands today well preserved and in use. Judge McGirk was appointed to serve until he arrived at the age of 65. He resigned in 1841.

Anderson's Raid

Perhaps the most terrible event in the history of the county during the Civil war took place in October, 1864, when Bill Anderson's band of guerillas made its entry into the county and left behind destruction, death and sorrow. In Danville, the county seat, the guerillas charged the citizens, firing and riding upon them and killing every living thing in view. Building after building was fired and the town almost completely destroyed. The courthouse was burned and the records of the county from 1818 lost.

After the destruction of Danville, Anderson proceeded to New Florence where the depot was burned, stores were robbed and boxes in the depot were robbed of their contents. The post office was robbed. The guerillas, in the light of the burning depot, deliberately opened and took therefrom the contents of all letter mail. Anderson next proceeded to High Hill where the depot was burned, stores ransacked and citizens mistreated. Emil Rosenberger, a saddler at that time, was robbed of all his harness and saddles and horsewhipped with the whips from his own store. Mr. Rosenberger, now 82 years old, still lives in Montgomery City. On each recurring day in October Mr. Rosenberger celebrates this day by firing his pistol many times.

Another sad event of the Civil war occurred near New Florence, when F. M. Ellis, John Marlow and Ira Tatum, reputable citizens, were ordered by Capt. Kendrick to haul rations from New Florence to the Rhineland militia. They did so and returning Ellis induced Marlow and Tatum to haul back corn for him. Upon their return and when within two miles of New Florence, they were met by the Bill Anderson guerillas and taken captive. Just about this time, the Wellsville militia, which had been in pursuit of Anderson during the two days intervening his entry into the county, came upon the party. Anderson and his men made their escape and the Wellsville militia continued firing upon these peaceable citizens until Marlow and Tatum were killed, together with John Anderson and Mr. H. Patton who had joined them on their return. Ellis and a young Whiteside made their escape. The militia alleged that they were mistaken in attacking this party and supposed them to be bushwhackers.

Schools

The educational part of the county is well up, and well maintained district schools are found in all sections. Montgomery County has eighty public school districts. These are superintended by a county officer, devoting his entire time to their success, visiting each of these schools two or three times a year, enabling the teachers to raise the standards higher. No county in Northeast Missouri has a better school system, and becoming better each year. Montgomery City, Wellsville, Middletown, Bellflower, New Florence and Jonesburg have graded school systems, Montgomery City and Wellsville schools are doing improved work and a diploma therefrom admits to the State University.

The first public schools in the Big Spring settlement and the second in the county was organized in 1824.

A female college was established in Danville in 1844. This school, during its first three years, was in charge of Mrs. Monroe, the wife of Andrew Monroe, the noted preacher. This became a college of much note. In 1847 Prof. James H. Robinson took charge and the college afterwards bore his name. Its attendance reached three hundred and here the young girls and women of this and adjoining counties received their higher education. This college flourished until the Anderson raid in October, 1864. The experiences of the boarding students during this raid is still fresh in the memory of many living today with all of its horrifying effects. A short time after the close of the Civil war this college closed and the building today is used for private residences.

Churches

The dates of the organization of the various churches in Montgomery County seem to have been lost. The first Baptist church of which we have record was organized April 16, 1824, at the house of John Snethen on Dry Fork. A small log church was erected the following July. In this church on January 4, 1825, were ordained the first ministers from Montgomery County, Alexander Snethen and Jabez Ham. That the churches were not conducted then as now is proven by the fact that only $1.75 was taken up in collections during its first four years existence.

Another church organized in Montgomery County was located on Bear creek in the year 1834. It was of the Baptist denomination and located near a pond and, because of the continuous music of the frogs, it received the nickname "Frog Pond Church." This church as afterwards moved to Jonesburg and the congregation is still in existence.

The first Methodist church congregation to be organized in Montgomery County was formed in 1819 by the Rev. Drury Clanton and the Rev. Robert Baker. A Sunday school was also organized at the same time and place. This congregation met some five miles south of Danville on what is now known as "Pinch."

The most prominent Methodist preachers who preached in Montgomery County in early days were Jeff Green, Andrew Monroe, Richard Bond, William Tatton, William W. Redman and Bishop Marvin.

The most prominent Methodist preachers born and reared in Montgomery County are D. R. Shackelford and his brother Willis Shackelford, and S. W. Cope. William W. Redman was born in Indiana in 1799, received on trial in Missouri conference in 1820, was secretary of Missouri conference for fourteen years, was presiding elder for thirteen years, elected three times as a delegate to general conference, a member of the famous general conference of 1844, when the church divided, and died at Danville, October 31, 1849, where he had lived for some time. His grave has been suitably marked by Methodists.

Dr. Richard Bond was born in Maryland in 1800 and was accidentally shot by a gun in his own hand at Danville, Missouri, March 7, 1823. He was transferred to Missouri conference in 1841 and was appointed presiding elder of St. Charles district at once. He made his home in Danville from 1841 until his death. He was a graduate in medicine from Columbia College, Washington, D. C.

Two prominent preachers, who for some years made their home in Montgomery County, were George Smith of Jonesburg, and B. H. Spencer. The first Methodist meeting house at Danville was built in 1836 or 1837.

The various religious denominations have churches in most of the towns.

Bellflower has five churches and four Sunday schools, Middletown has four churches and four Sunday schools, Wellsville has four churches and four Sunday schools, Montgomery City has four churches and four Sunday schools, New Florence has two churches and two Sunday schools, High Hill has three churches and two Sunday schools, Jonesburg has three churches and three Sunday schools and Mineola has two churches and one Sunday school.

The Montgomery County Sunday School Association is one of the oldest organizations in the state, being organized in 1868. It has held sessions regularly. In 1908 and 1909 Montgomery County was the banner Sunday school county of the state.

The County's Resources

The products of the county are varied, agriculture being the principal occupation. Corn, wheat, oats, rye, barley, timothy, are raised in all parts of the county, some alfalfa in the southern portion. Stock raising is followed very largely and very profitably. Large herds of thoroughbred Shorthorn, Black Polled and Hereford cattle are found in various portions of the county. The fanners have quite a competition among themselves in cattle raising.

The watershed between the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers runs angling across the county from the southeast to the northwest. Along this watershed lay the tracks of the Wabash Railroad Company. The water falling on the north side courses its way to the Mississippi. The water falling on the south side finds its exit through the Missouri.

The county contains 327,129 acres. From north to south its extreme length is nearly thirty-two miles, from east to west twenty miles. As to the topography of the county, nearly seventy-five per cent of it is beautiful rolling prairie interspersed now and then by clear running streams, along whose banks are many varieties of timber. The southern part of the county is broken and slopes gradually toward the Missouri river bottoms. Along the Missouri river are lands so rich as to do credit to the Valley of the Nile. The broken section of the county extends from its eastern to its western borders in a strip some four or five miles wide, and affords some of the rarest sceneries and landscapes even beyond the reflection of the finest painter's brush. The soil of this section, while of not that deep nature, is very productive and today is producing apples, peaches, pears, strawberries, plums, currents and other small fruit of the finest quality.

Products and Pursuits

While the citizenship depends entirely upon agricultural pursuits for its livelihood, flour is manufactured in all of the larger towns: Mineola, Wellsville, New Florence, High Hill and Jonesburg, have large and up-to-date flour mills. These mills ship their products to various parts of the state, as well as into other states.

Some mining is carried on in the county. While maps indicate an underlying strata of coal, it is only mined in the northern section near Wellsville. Fire clay is mined extensively at Jonesburg and High Hill. At Jonesburg an electric line conveys the coal from the mines to the railroad. Many clay beds remain untouched south of the Wabash Railroad and will someday prove a very valuable asset to the county.

The county is drained on the northern side by the Cuivre River, on the southern by Loutre River. These streams have been navigated by small boats.

In the early days of the county tobacco was a profitable article to raise and many farmers living in the timber section produced it, creating a demand for a tobacco factory which was established in Montgomery City in the spring of 1880 by Messrs. J. H. Lacy and Paul Brown. The company began operation January 1, 1881, under the name of Lacy & Brown Tobacco Company. This factory was the foundation for the Brown Tobacco Company of St. Louis. Mr. Brown, after a few years, moved the plant from Montgomery City to St. Louis and later sold it to the American Tobacco Company.

Celebrations

The first Fourth of July celebration was held at Loutre Lick, or Mineola Springs, in 1821. Major Van Bibber was the ruling spirit and paid all expenses attached thereto. Speech makers were present from St. Louis and St. Charles. At night there was a big dance in the Van Bibber tavern engaged in by the prominent guests.

Old Settlers Picnic

The disposition of the citizens of Montgomery County is indeed social. The most noted gathering within the history of the county and probably within the history of Northeast Missouri is that of the "Old Settlers,'' of Montgomery County, who organized themselves into an association on June 3, 1882, in the Woodland district, a short distance west of New Florence. This association has held a reunion annually. It has grown in importance and attendance until now it is the largest picnic held in Northeast Missouri. The attendance has reached fifteen thousand. The association owns its park of twenty acres, where on the first Saturday in each August gather not only the old settlers but the young settlers as well. The politicians of the state have come to recognize it as a good place and here many booms for governor, United States senator and minor offices have been launched. To carry further the social idea, nearly every community has a day for its annual picnic.

Agricultural Fair

The Montgomery County Agricultural and Mechanical Association was organized and held its first fair in Montgomery City in 1866. Since that time fairs have been held at New Florence, Wellsville and again at Montgomery City. The present Montgomery County Agricultural and Mechanical Association was organized in 1908 and holds annually successful fairs.

Newspapers

The newspapers of the county are eight in number:

The Standard, published at Montgomery City
Optic-News at Wellsville
Star at Wellsville
The Chips at Middletown
The News at Bellflower
The Montgomery County Leader at New Florence
The Journal at Jonesburg
The Record at Rhineland

Each of these papers has a modern plant and is issuing a weekly edition in harmony with the present progressive spirit of Missouri.

Roads and Travelers

The early travel from the eastern to the western states, and especially during the gold fever of 1849, found its way across the county over the Boon's Lick road and it is said that as many as 3,000 people passed over it monthly.

In matters of transportation, Montgomery County has the Wabash Railroad running through its center; the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in the northern section; the Missouri, Kansas & Texas along its southern borders. Several surveys for an electric line, extending from St. Louis to Kansas City, have crossed its borders, and those interested feel confident that this too will be built in the near future. With the railroad facilities the county enjoys, she is thrown in close touch with the eastern markets, as well as the western markets.

The spirit of good roads has lain dormant these many years. During the years 1911 and 1912 more progress was made in the improvements of roads than ever before in its history. The Old Trails road, the official cross-state highway, approved by the State Board of Agriculture, enters the county just east of Jonesburg and continues its way across to the western border, a distance of 20 miles. Near New Florence the North State Highway branches from the Old Trail and extends through the northern central section. The farmers of the present day realize their need of transportation facilities for reaching the railroad and are enthused with a spirit of making their conditions better.

Societies

The county, as a whole, is well supplied with secret societies. The Masonic order has lodges at Jonesburg, New Florence, Montgomery, Wellsville, Bellflower and McKittrick, forming a district within itself.

The Odd Fellows have organizations at New Florence, Montgomery City, Wellsville, Bellflower and Middletown.

The A. O. U. W. has a lodge at Montgomery City.

The Modern Woodmen of America have camps at Rhineland, McKittrick, Wellsville, Middletown, Bellflower and New Florence.

The Order of Eastern Star has a strong organization at New Florence, the only one in the county. 

  Northeast Missouri| Missouri Counties | Books on AHGP

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913

 

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