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

Schuyler County, Missouri
By Winfred Melvin, Lancaster

 

Schuyler County is situated in the central northern part of Missouri, which land is included in the Louisiana Purchase acquired from France in 1803. After 1812 the northern part was known as the Missouri Territory. At first the settlements followed the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, but at the close of the War of 1812, the immigration grew larger, most of the settlers coming from Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Schuyler County was visited by the Sac and Pox Indians in their hunts, and excepting the fight on Battle Creek, in the southwestern part of the county, where several were killed on both sides, they were always on friendly terms with the whites. It is thought by some that the Mound Builders once inhabited this county, since a number of mounds have been discovered. But these were probably graves of Indians.

First Settlements

The first permanent settlement in the county was made in the southeast corner by Moses Stice late in 1834 or in the early part of 1835.

The next settlement was made by Samuel Eason in township 65, range 16, near the Chariton River.

Then came David Floyd, who settled in the same township, and in 1837 Jefferson, Richard, and John S. Fulcher settled in township 65, north range 15 west.

Other early settlers were John Davis, Martin Parton, Robert Bowler, Henry Downing and a man named Taylor.

In 1837 Henry Downing settled four miles southwest of where the village of Downing now stands.

The following is a list of names of the early settlers in the respective parts of the county:

Early Settlers

Central and Southern
Price Arnold
William Baker
William Barlow
Spottswood Bradford
M. F. Brasafield
Elias Bromer
John Bromer
Benjamin Brown
John Brown
James M. Bryant
George Crump
Henry Davis
Thomas B. DuBois
Austin Coffey
A. D. Farris
Herman Figge
John M. Fish
Elias Fletcher
Isom B. Fletcher
John Fugate
Edward K. Gibbon
Leonard Griggs
Josiah Hathaway
Elkanah Hensley
Moran Hilsley
Jesse Holt
John Johnson
John Lesley
Charles M. London
William T. London
John Mikels
Isaac Mitchell
Henry Mull
William A. Rhodes
David Rice
Ezekiel Rice
Uriel Sebree
John S. Sheller
Nicholas Sloop
Jacob Snowbarger
Thomas Threlkeld
Samuel Tipton
Oliver Towles
Frederick Warner
Henry Weitzel
James Wells
Northern
William Athel
Peter Blansett
George Bridewell
Thomas Butts
A. K. Cowgill
James Custer
Stephen G. Custer
James H. Ford
Mancil Garrett
Bright Gilstrap
Jesse Gray
James Hombs
George Hombs
Morris James
Robert J. Maize
William Maize
Henry Piercy
Hiram Reeves
George Tobin
Moulter Tobin
Eastern
Henry Buford
Thomas Butts
Charles Cook
Henry Downing
A. D. Farris
James Hall
A. T. Hite
John Hulen
George Kethe, Jr.
Henry Kethe
Henry H. Kethe
George Lyle
John Lyle
William Ogg
George Palmer
Henry Prime
Nicholas Shobe
Edward Snyder
William Webster

The first settlers located in groups, or, as they termed them, settlements. One of the chief attractions to them was the great number of bee trees. Beeswax was one of the principal exports. Honey and wild fruits and game were their principal articles of food. A whole neighborhood would go bee-hunting sometimes a great distance from home. Until the white people came, such wild animals as the buffalo, bear, panther, wolf, wildcat, catamount, deer, and wild turkey were numerous. But as the country became settled these animals gradually moved westward to unsettled parts. The early settlers followed the streams and the timber. One reason offered for this was because they needed the timber for their homes and were assured of food and fuel; but the principal reason seems to have been because they came from timber countries.

Pioneer Homes

Their homes were crude. The typical house was built of logs and consisted of one room. The cracks were filled with mortar. The floor was made of puncheons split out of white oak timber and one side made smooth with an ax. The roof was clapboards fastened overhead by weight poles. The fireplace or chimneys were boards or wood plastered from top to bottom with clay mortar. The doors were made of clapboards and were very open, allowing the wind, rain and snow to enter freely. Oftentimes a log was left out of the side of the house that sufficient light might be received. Nails were not to be had and this was a great inconvenience. The bed was made by fastening a post in the floor and running poles into holes bored in the logs of the wall on the two adjacent sides of the house. Chairs and other pieces of furniture were made of hickory bark. P. C. Berry gave the following account:

"Our cooking utensils consisted of coffee pot, skillet, frying pan, and small pot for boiling dinner. Cook stoves were not in use at that time. The cooking was by the fireplace. My father's family consisted of nine persons and the cooking, eating and sleeping were all done in the same room for a number of years. Our food consisted of cornbread, hog meat, coffee and vegetables. There was no fruit except wild fruit, such as plums, crab apples and blackberries. Our bread cost us more labor than any other part of our food. The corn was ground on steel mills by hand. These mills were made of steel and iron on the plan of a coffee mill. It was bolted to an upright post and had a crank or handle on both sides in order that two persons could work. The meal was of a coarse variety but made very good bread. There was no mill at that time nearer than Monticello in Lewis County. But, after all, living was not bad."

The implements, as well as the houses and furniture, were very crude. The plow of that period had a wooden mold-board and cut a furrow from thirty to forty inches wide. It was drawn by from four to ten yoke of oxen. The average settler did not possess this number of oxen, so certain settlers in each neighborhood broke prairie for the neighbors for wages.

The settlers had no money except what they got in trading with the Indians, who received money from the government. The taxes were paid in wolf scalps. The state gave one dollar for every wolf caught and killed. At that time the taxes were of very slight importance.

For years stock ran at large. Each settler used a peculiar mark to designate his herd. The cattle were branded. A number of hogs strayed away from the owners to the dense forests and became wild and savage. Those who had lost hogs this way would organize into clubs in the late fall and hunt and kill the wild hogs. The horse was a rare animal; oxen were used instead. The pioneer strove as hard to have a matched yoke of oxen as the present farmer does for a matched team of horses.

Early Customs

In the early period the settlers endured many hardships. Markets were far away and roads were very bad. The growing, spinning and weaving of flax took up a great portion of their time and the rest was spent in hunting. So little time was left for the securing of extra wealth. Money was very scarce and what little they had went to enter land; therefore the barter regime was put in full play. They used skins, furs, honey, venison, beeswax, hogs, etc., to pay for their imported articles. Neighbors frequently exchanged commodities. The average farmer made a trip to market each year and this annual trip was one of the utmost importance. The wagon, drawn by an ox team, was loaded with skins, venison and other commodities of trade. A large bunch of hogs were driven behind the wagon. They often traveled more than a hundred miles to market and sometimes received as high as two cents a pound for the hogs. The principal markets were Ottumwa and Alexandria. The farmer usually received in exchange for his commodities a barrel of sugar, a barrel of whisky, and as many other household necessities, such as turpentine, powder, tin cups, etc., as he could procure with his load of produce. Later when the little villages and towns sprang up it was a familiar sight to see the farmers come to town about harvest time with two large jugs, one in each end of a sack. One they filled with New Orleans molasses; the other was reserved for whisky with which to treat the harvest hands.

The Grinding of Corn

The settlers were far away from mills and blacksmith shops, which are so essentially necessary in all communities. In some neighborhoods there was a hand-mill with which to grind the corn. These mills were steel and were fastened to a piece of timber, so fashioned that two men could work at the same time. They were carried from one house to another on horseback. They were set up in a mortise in the sleeper in front of the fireplace. Two men could grind three or four bushels of corn in a day. They were not adapted to wheat, as flour was used only on Sunday and special occasions. Those who could not get the use of a steel mill pulverized the corn in a mortar with a maul or iron wedge. One old pioneer had described the way they fared thus:

"We made what we called a hominy mortar, so you see we had plenty of meal when we ground it, and plenty of honey when we found it, with plenty of fat hog and hominy."

These steel mills were followed by horse mills. William Hendren, living in the eastern part of the county, built the first one. Later another was built by Oliver Towles and W. H. Harrison in the western part. In 1840 John Jones erected a carding machine near Tippecanoe to which was attached a set of burrs for corn. After a time these mills gave way to two water mills built on the Chariton River, by James Hargraves and James Wells.

The Life of the Pioneers

In the early period cows were worth five dollars a head; a veal calf could be bought for seventy-five cents; a yoke of steers for $22; horses ranged from $25 to $40 a head; hogs (dressed) from $1.25 to $1.50 each; wheat brought from 35 cents to 40 cents a bushel; com 50 cents a barrel, delivered; honey 25 cents a gallon; venison 50 cents a saddle, skin thrown in for a quarter of a dollar; wages for labor were 25 cents a day, and mils were split for 25 cents a hundred.

While it is true that the pioneers suffered many hardships, they also had many pleasures. In general they preferred the cornbread to the wheat-bread and consequently did not suffer much when deprived of the wheat-bread. They fattened their hogs on acorns and such feed, making their pork coat them but little. Then with plenty of wild honey, vegetables, wild turkey, venison and pork, "and a hoe cake to sop in the gravy." they lived rich as kings. The settlers were very friendly and helped each other in harvesting, house-building, etc. Men would go for miles to help raise a cabin.

Judge Caywood, a well-known early settler, gave this account: "A large proportion of the early citizens of this and neighboring counties were made up of men and families of more than ordinary culture and education. This is accounted for in this way:

Following the hard times and general crash among all classes in the year 1837, found thousands of the best business men, including all classes, hopelessly ruined; and rather than drag out an aimless life when they were all at the bottom round of the ladder, without hope, many of them gathered up their little remnant of a former fortune and determined with brave hearts to start anew in life, in the far west and there, with the class of hardy hunters that had preceded them, rebuild their ruined fortunes; and they carried with them what they found among the earlier pioneers, hearts over-flowing with kindness and good feeling for their fellowmen; all being poor, with no wealthy nabobs amongst them to imitate or envy, their wants few, and each one made it a point to contribute to the general enjoyment and happiness and, with moderate industry, aided by the rich virgin soil, they soon gathered around their humble homes a sufficiency to make them comfortable and, as time rolled on, advanced to even the luxuries of life and now from among the children of this stock have arisen and gone out into the world the best business men and the finest talent of the country."

The proof of the statement that the pioneers were poor and self-reliant, is seen in the fact that very few brought slaves. In 1850 there were only 57 colored people in Schuyler County. Thus the county did not sustain a great loss by the abolition of slavery. At that time there were only 39 colored people in the county and only a portion of these were competent to work. For a number of years there has not been a colored person residing permanently in the county.

One evidence that the pioneers had pleasures as well as hardships is the description and pictures left of the happy family or families gathered around the fireplace. The time was spent in roasting apples, popping corn, making molasses taffy, and telling ghost stories. P. C. Berry gave the following account of one of the Fourth of July celebrations: ''It was customary in the early days to celebrate the Fourth of July with a barbecue. I remember being at Hill Town July 4, 1849. A small beef was roasted with plenty of bread and coffee. I suppose there were present twenty-five or thirty people. John W. Minor, a lawyer from Lancaster, was to make the speech, but for some cause he did not come. The Declaration of Independence was read by an old man by the name of Wells, after which dinner was declared ready. But before you were allowed to eat, a gentleman appeared on the ground with a tin cup and a three gallon bucket of whisky. He proclaimed that no man should drink until the ladies were served. He proceeded to take the bucket and the tin cup around among the ladies. Every woman and man on the ground took a drink out of the bucket. The day was wound up with an old-fashioned dance under the shade of a tree.''

County Organization

Schuyler County was created by an act of the legislature passed February 17, 1843. The boundaries of the county were: Beginning at the northeast corner of Adair County in the middle of range 13, thence due north to the boundary line of the state of Missouri, thence west with said state line to the middle of the Chariton river, thence south through the middle of the main channel of said river to the northern line of Adair County, to the place of beginning. At first Schuyler County remained a part of Adair especially for civil and military purposes, but the revenue collected in Schuyler County was set aside for its use. On March, 1845, the legislature completed the organization of the county.

The governor of the state of Missouri, John C. Edwards, appointed William L. Robinson, Alexander D. Farris, and William Hendren as county judges; Joshua Riggs, sheriff, and G. W. Johnson, surveyor. These county judges met at the home of Robert S. Neeley on the third Monday in April, 1845, and organized the first court organized by choosing William L. Robinson as presiding justice. Then they appointed Isaac N. Ebey clerk, George Naylor assessor, and Robert Neeley treasurer. The court then proceeded to divide the county into the municipal townships, Fabius, Independence, Wells, Chariton, Liberty, and Salt River. Later Schuyler lost jurisdiction over Wells and Independence, as it was the disputed land between Missouri and Iowa and fell to Iowa in the settlement. Then a new Independence Township was formed, also Glenwood and Prairie, making seven townships, the present number.

First Court Proceedings

The first jury empaneled in the county, the first jury trial, the first verdict rendered, and the first guardian and ward was when Jesse Hall presented a petition for the appointment as guardian for Joseph Jackson, thought to be of unsound mind. The court ordered a jury to be empaneled of ''six good and lawful men'' to investigate the affair. The jury gave a verdict of insanity and appointed Jesse Hall guardian of the estate and person of Joseph Jackson.

At this time the road problem held the attention of the county. Commissioners were appointed to view the best places for roads. There were unique descriptions of roads. In 1853 the court described a road as ''beginning between the garden and stable of Jefferson Fulcher and running nearly a westerly course along said Fulcher's orchard fence, thence north along said fence to a pasture, thence a few yards in said pasture, etc.'' The first public road established in Schuyler County led from Kirksville to Iowa City. It was established in 1845 and laid out by Isaac N. Ebey, William L. Robinson and Henry Davis who were allowed $9 each for their services. George W. Johnson was allowed $18 for surveying the road through the county. Peter Klein and Thomas S. Davis were allowed $4.50 each as chain carriers. Then a number of roads followed. The average width of the road was thirty feet. The expense of road building was paid from the state apportionment of the road and canal fund. In the summer of 1847 Schuyler County began to negotiate with Putnam County for a bridge across the Chariton. Funds were appropriated and the bridge built.

In 1859 the North Missouri railroad or the Wabash was extended through Schuyler County to Glenwood, Missouri. It was not until the summer of 1872 that a railroad passed through the county seat.

The Census

From 1850 when the first census was taken to 1900 the population of the county had increased from 3,287 to 10,840. It took the first assessor, George Naylor, twenty-two days to assess the taxable property of the county. He was allowed $44 for his work, the one-half to be paid by the state and the other half by the county. There is a striking contrast between the time it took and what it cost then to assess the county and the time it now takes and what it costs to assess the county. But then the county was in its infancy and there were only a few persons and but little property to assess.

Church History

The first sermon preached in the county was in 1837, and was delivered by Elder William White of Boone County, a minister of the Christian church. The second sermon was by the Rev. Abraham Still, a Methodist minister, who shortly afterward settled in the southern part of the county. He was also a physician and the father of Dr. A. T. Still of Kirksville. In those days there were no churches and the meetings were held out in the groves where the settlers erected rude pulpits of slabs and seats of the same material for the congregation. In the winter and bad weather the meetings were held in the cabins of the settlers. The entire population were church-going people and when a minister came into the neighborhood everyone went to meeting and united in the work with the greatest zeal regardless of denomination.

The following account came from P. C. Berry: ''Religious meetings were held in cabins or the woods. I have seen as many as ten or twelve persons at one meeting, sometimes not more than three or four. The people seemed inclined to be religious and I think, as well as I remember, the majority belonged to the church. The first sermon I heard preached after we came here in the fall of 1849, was by the Reverend Dr. Still. I remember he sang a song, the chorus of which I shall never forget. It was

''This world is a howling wilderness,
This world is not my home.''

''And as I look back over the time, I think nothing could have been more appropriate. I remember at one of these meetings held in a grove near my father's cabin in August, 1842, while the minister was preaching a swarm of bees came over the congregation causing some disturbance. The minister turned it to good account by telling his hearers that they should seek a home in Heaven as the bees were seeking a home in the forest. It had quite a good effect on the congregation. A Sunday school was organized in a grove. People came five or six miles to attend it. They brought their dinners with them and held one session in the forenoon and another in the afternoon.''

The first camp meeting was held in the county in 1840, on Battle creek in the southwest part of the county, by the Rev. Abraham Still and the Rev. Jesse Green of the Methodist church. The organization of the Methodist church in the county dates from this period. Dr. Still was the first circuit rider in the county.

The first Methodist Episcopal Church society in the county was organized at the house of Jefferson Fulcher in 1838. Prominent among the members were;

Mr. and Mrs. Jefferson Fulcher
Mr. and Mrs. Mansel Garrett
Mrs. Threlkeld
John and Richard Fulcher
Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Robinson
George Naylor and Mrs. Mitchell

Other Methodist Episcopal churches were soon organized. In 1844 the church was divided by the question of slavery. The new organization was designated as the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Until after the Civil War the new church was the stronger in Schuyler County, but since the war it has been outstripped by the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1854 the Methodist Episcopal Church organization at Lancaster erected a building which was used after the Civil war by the Methodist Episcopal Church. Later a more commodious brick building was erected. The Methodist Episcopal Church in Glenwood was organized in 1870 by Rev. John Wayman. The same year they erected a building costing $1,200. The Methodist Episcopal church at Queen City was dedicated on Sunday, October 22, 1871, by the Rev. John Wayman and A. H. Hamlin. The Methodist Episcopal church South has two organizations in the county, one at Bethel, the other at New Hope.

The first Baptist church in Schuyler County was known as Lynn Grove church and was organized about 1837. The first meeting house in which this society worshipped was a log cabin which was erected on the south side of Bridge creek and three-fourths of a mile south of the present Lynn Grove church. The next church building was also made of logs and stood near where the present frame building stands, which is between two or three miles south of Downing. Among the original members were the families of William B. Rippey, H. Garden Petty and Mr. Lake. The Rev. A. T. Hite was the first pastor. While he was preaching during the fifties, donations were not numerous then and some of the people forgot to pay their dues. Mr. Hite appealed to one of these delinquents one day and the man gave him a calf if he would catch it. The proposition was accepted and after a prolonged chase, in which the preacher's clothes were considerably soiled with mud, he succeeded in capturing the animal. During the Civil War he was shot and killed one night while sitting by his own fireside. The second Baptist church in the county was organized at the home of David Floyd.

The first Christian church in the county was organized during the forties by the Rev. Mr. Wells of Boone County. George Nichols, John Sleighton and Josiah Hathaway were the first elders of the church, the Rev. Isaac Foster succeeded as pastor and continued preaching and organizing churches until about the year 1858. In 1845 a Christian church was organized, meeting a mile north of Lancaster. A brick church building was afterward built in Lancaster. Later this church was taken down and a frame building put up just south of the south west corner of the square. Plans are now being cogitated for a more commodious building. The Christian church has grown in Schuyler County until it has as many and perhaps more different organizations than any other religious denominations. The Christian church at Downing was organized in 1883, with W. B. Smith, Jerome Bridges and J. K. P. Tadlock as elders.

Other denominations in the county are the Lutheran, Union and Holiness churches. In the early day the Presbyterians had an organization in the county, but it has since dissolved.

Schools

The school houses were very crude constructions. One pioneer has said: ''The teachers were like the school houses and the pupils were like the teachers.'' Few books could be gotten hold of. In early times they used Webster's spelling book, the New Testament, Aesop's Fables and United States history for readers. The pupils were known as subscription pupils, each one paying $2.00 for three months. Usually there were fifteen to twenty pupils. Sometimes they lived five miles or more from the school house. In 1860, when, according to Parker's Gazette, Schuyler County had 6,658 people, there were seven frame and twenty-seven log school houses. There were 3,091 children, of whom 1,748 were in school at that time. There were thirty-three common schools, six select schools and no high school. Years ago some pioneer settler published in the Excelsior the following retrospective view of a backwoods school house of seventy or seventy-five years ago: ''When enough had settled in a neighborhood, say from three to four miles around, some sage old veteran would suggest to his neighbors the necessity for a school. Then by common consent they met at a convenient place to wood and water, with chopping ax in hand a schoolhouse to build, and while some of them do cut and haul, others hew and maul puncheons for the floor; and at night they have it ready for the school. Then who is to teach comes up. There is one of them who has learned to read and write and cipher to the rule of three, and he proposes to teach six months if they will raise twenty-five scholars, he to teach for $1.50 per scholar per quarter, of thirteen weeks, and board around; if not, he must have $1.75 and board himself; in either case the tuition to be paid at the end of each quarter. School commences and the little fellows have blue primers and wooden-back Continental spellers and the older ones have slates and Dillsworth's or Smiley's arithmetic and in the bosom of their hunting shirts the English reader. The school must be taught from an hour after sunrise until an hour before sunset. They are seated on long benches. At such places Corwin and many others were educated and the teacher was paid in coon skins, bear meat, venison, etc."

The first school house in the county stood a few miles south of the present site of Downing. In this rude cabin Miss Hathaway, afterward Mrs. Edwin French, taught the first school in the county in the spring and summer of 1841. The second school was taught at the old town of Tippecanoe, the same summer, by Jesse K. Baird. In 1842 James Johnson began teaching at a point about a mile northeast of Lancaster. He died about the middle of the first term and Miss Hathaway finished the term.

Log schoolhouses then sprang up in various parts of the county where there were enough settlers to sustain a school. The schoolhouse of the forties was built of logs, generally hewn, and was in size perhaps sixteen feet square. A fireplace took a large part of one end of the house. The chimney was made of sticks and clay. The roof was made of clapboards and at first these were kept in place by weight poles. The seats were split logs supported on sticks which were fitted into holes bored into the ends of the logs. Such a thing as an individual desk was unheard of. A long board fastened against the wall slantwise and held in place by pegs was the writing desk and the pupils would line up to this desk in a row for instruction in penmanship. The ordinary schoolhouse had two small windows in which oiled paper was used for panes, but sometimes light was furnished by leaving out a log from the side of the house. Log school houses were not uncommon as late as 1880. Reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic constituted the course of study. Any desire for more learning was gratified by taking more work in arithmetic. The teacher who could do fractions was considered a very learned person.

By an act of the legislature approved March 12, 1859, John M. Minor, Reuben Whitewell, E. M. Bradley, Richard Caywood, William Buford, R. J. Christie, Q. B. Alverson, William S. Thatcher and William V. Rippey were granted articles of incorporation for the formation of Lancaster Academy. The school was established and progressed well until the outbreak of the war. It was disorganized during the war and afterward became a public school under the free school system.

The first public school building was erected in 1869, which has since been remodeled and is now one of the most beautiful homes in town. It is owned by Dr. W. A. Potter. The old building was not used as a school house after 1886, when another house more commodious was built in the southwest part of town. This building was destroyed by fire on Monday, April 27, 1908. A modern, large, fireproof building now stands in its place. A four year high school course is offered and it is accredited by the University of Missouri.

In 1846 the first school census was taken. This was done by a justice in each of the six townships. In 1854 one district added orthography, geometry and natural philosophy to the usual three subjects. The same year William Casper was appointed the first county school commissioner in Schuyler County. He was paid $1.50 per day, not to exceed forty-five days in the year.

At the present time there are rural schools and one high school, offering a four-year course.

Cities, Towns and Villages

Coatsville | Glenwood | Greentop | Lancaster | Queen City | Tippecanoe

County Fairs

In 1859 there was presented to the county court a petition to permit the organization and incorporation of a society known as the Schuyler County Agricultural and Mechanical Society, the purpose of which was the improvement of agricultural and mechanical arts. It was signed by fifty names of freeholders. The court granted them the right to incorporate. They leased from Elias Brown land for a fair ground. The first fair was held in the fall of 1859. During the Civil War they were discontinued. The last fair was held in 1867.

In 1872 another society was organized under the name of ''The Schuyler County Agricultural and Mechanical Association.'' The society bought fifty-five acres of land from Edwin French and James Roley in the suburbs of Lancaster. The following year the ground was fitted up and a fair held annually until 1881, when Louis Schmidt became the sole owner of the capital stock through a mortgage sale and the organization dissolved.

County Jail

In April, 1847, the county appointed James M. Bryant to superintend the building of a jail. Before this time the county prisoners were boarded by some citizen; for example, James M. Bryant was allowed $1.26 for such service. A small two-story log building was erected and in 1853 was consumed by fire, supposedly set afire by Renoch Reeves, confined there on the charge of horse stealing. In 1869 the court appointed F. M. Wilcox to superintend the building of a new brick jail.

The county poor farm consists of 200 acres and is located on sections 3 and 4 in township 66 north, range 14 west. E. E. Barker was the first manager of the county farm.

Newspapers

The first newspaper published in Schuyler County was the Lancaster Herald, established at Lancaster in 1855 by Huron Jackson of LaGrange, Missouri.

It was succeeded by the Lancaster Democrat. In 1861 it was discontinued because of the war, but in 1866 the weekly Lancaster Excelsior was established by H. D. B. Cutler, which later took the name of The Excelsior, In a column of the first copy of The Excelsior this item was inserted: ''George Washington was first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen,'' but George Mann was the first subscriber to The Excelsior and J. F. Fenton the first advertiser." The paper is now conducted by Winfred Melvin and is Democratic in politics.

October 18, 1899, James L. Baker established the Schuyler County Avalanche, now Republican, which he published until April 16, 1906, when he sold to George B. Shaffer, the present editor. It is Republican in politics.

The Queen City Transcript was established in 1887 by Nat L. Johnson. It is now owned by J. W. McNaught and is Republican in politics.

The Glenwood Criterion was established in 1870 by Cutler and Wilcox. In 1872 Cutler became sole owner and published it until 1884, when he sold to G. D. Gray, who sold it the next year to Grant M. Potter. Mr. Potter ran the paper six months, then in 1887 sold it to W. D. Powell. During the campaign of 1876 H. H. Williams published it as a Democratic organ. At all other times it has been Republican. It ceased publication in the nineties and was succeeded by the Phonograph in 1894. It suspended publication in 1910. Its last editor was Mrs. Fred Crook.

Besides the Republican, Excelsior, and Transcript, the other county papers are: Downing News, independent in politics, published by J. F. Hargis; Queen City Leader, Democratic, published by Saxbury and Eason; and Glenwood Journal, independent, published by W. O. Forsythe.

War History

In early times the Sac and Fox Indians came to this county to hunt, but their title was thrown aside by a treaty with the United States. However, the early settlers permitted them to continue their annual hunts here. In 1835 James Myers, who had settled on Bear creek in the southwest part of the county, refused to give up the property. A fight followed. Several Indians and two white men were killed. The white men were driven back to Huntsville. Except for this one fight, the Indians and the settlers of Schuyler County lived peaceably together.

The Iowa War was an important one and peculiar in the fact that no battles were fought and no lives were lost. It was a dispute as to the boundary line between that part of the state of Missouri and Iowa. A strip of territory about nine miles in width, between the Des Moines and the Missouri rivers, was claimed by both states. A Missourian cut three bee trees on this territory and was arrested. The difficulty was decided, without bloodshed, favorable to Iowa.

Civil War

The first great division of Schuyler County came with the outbreak of the Civil War. In October, 1861, it was rumored that Col. David Moore was at Memphis and was threatening Schuyler County. An embassy was sent to entreat him not to enter Schuyler County. When they arrived at Memphis they found that Colonel Moore had not arrived. They then returned. In a short time Colonel Moore came to Memphis and on the 24th of November he took possession of Lancaster. Capt. John McCulley with his company of state guards took position the day before, a half mile south of town for the purpose of forcing Colonel Moore back. But the latter met with no opposition on his march through the city. He sent out a foraging party to get hay for his horses. This party met Captain McCulley and a skirmish took place, in which five people were killed, among them Captain McCulley.

The spring of 1862 was a period of strong and profound excitement on both sides of the vague and shifting line which divided the loyal North from the misguided, but honest and brave men of the South. The Civil War was now in full blast and the once quiet little towns and villages were crowded with Federal soldiers. From morning until night could be heard the fife, the drum, the bugle call and the tramp of hundreds of soldiers marching and drilling preparatory for active service in the near future.

On Sunday, September 6, 1862, a portion of Capt. Robert Maize's company of the enrolled militia was stationed in Lancaster with a few sentinels posted on the outskirts of the town. The guns of the company and a few men were in the court room of the courthouse, but most of the men of the company were sitting on the south side of the public square and some were scattered elsewhere, all feeling that no enemy was near. John McGoldrick, the enrolling officer, on his way ''up to town,'' saw the enemy coming from the north just as he reached the southwest corner of the public square. He waved his hat to the men seated in the courtyard and ran to the courthouse, but was tired upon before reaching it. He ran in the courtroom and aroused the few inmates and urged them to action. He was followed closely by Capt. John Baker, who immediately took charge of the firing squad. The militia men on the south side of the courthouse, unarmed, fled southward into the hollow for protection.

A force of the enemy, consisting of foot soldiers, commanded by Captain Searcy, and mounted men, commanded by Captain Leeper, had passed the sentinel at the northwest corner of town and had nearly reached the public square before they were discovered. On coming into the square they were fired upon from the windows of the court rooms and thus checked in their advance. The firing continued for some time, during which Edwin French, one of the men in the court room, carried water from his residence for his comrades who did the firing, thus exposing himself to great danger. Finally, the enemy, finding their attempt to defeat the men useless, left the town. There were only nineteen men, including Mr. French, in the courtroom and they did all the fighting on the Federal side.

A number of stores and farms in the county were confiscated during the war. A large number of the county's people answered the call of their nation and bravely gave their lives for the cause.

Elections were held at private houses in the different precincts in the county in the early days. The voting was done by the work of mouth, there were no ballots. The law required the constable to cry the vote at the window of the voting place in a loud voice, as the voter called the name. The clerks registered the name of each voter and placed the vote under the name of the man voted for.

Edwin French was the first representative to the legislature from Schuyler County. He was elected twice, in 1846 and 1848.

Court Proceedings

The first term of the circuit court of Schuyler County was held in April, 1846, beginning the ninth day. Judge Addison Reese was on the bench; James R. Abernathy, of Macon County, circuit attorney; Jonathan Riggs, sheriff; Isaac N. Eby, clerk; and the following named attorneys were enrolled as members of the bar for Schuyler County:
James R. Abernathy
James Ellison
Samuel S. Fox
James S. Green
William R. Jones
Clare Oxley
Thomas S. Richardson
G. C. Thompson
Levi J. Wagner
Joseph Wilson

James S. Green was afterward United States senator and Thomas S. Richardson was circuit judge of this district.

In July, 1846, the county court met for the first time in the new courthouse. Prior to 1852 the office of county attorney did not exist. In lieu thereof was a circuit attorney, representing the state in each of the counties in his judicial circuit. The present county officers are:

Presiding judge of the county court, Green Drummond, Republican
Judge of the county court, northern district, L. Freeman, Democrat
Judge of the county court, southern district, S. M. Swanson, Republican
Judge of probate, C. M. York, Democrat
Clerk of circuit court and recorder, P. O. Sansberry, Democrat
Clerk of the county court, W. A. Geery, Democrat
Prosecuting attorney, E. E. Fogle, Democrat
Sheriff, G. P. Hope, Democrat
Collector, Spencer Mitchell, Democrat
Assessor, E. F. Harris, Democrat
Treasurer, J. H. Green, Democrat
Surveyor, George Grist, Democrat

  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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