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

Clark County, Missouri
By S. D. Ball, Kahoka



Clark is the extreme northeastern Missouri County. It is bounded on the north by the state of Iowa, and on the east by the state of Illinois. The Des Moines River forms the boundary line of a portion of the northeast of the county, and below its confluence with the Mississippi, the latter stream forms the boundary line between Missouri and Illinois.

Clark County contains about five hundred square miles. It is watered by the Mississippi, Des Moines, the two Fox Rivers, two Wyacondas, the North Fabius, Sugar creek, Honey creek and lesser streams. The Des Moines flows in a southeasterly direction through a picturesque valley ornamented by many high bluffs and empties into the Mississippi a short distance above the town of Alexandria, Missouri, and almost at the suburbs of the city of Keokuk, Iowa, now world-famous as the ''water power'' city, between which municipality and the lesser city of Hamilton, Illinois, the great $200,000 horse-power dam is being constructed. This vast project will be completed July 4,1913. The several streams mentioned flow in a southeasterly direction and all empty into the Mississippi River. As will be gathered from the course of the several streams, the general trend or slope of the country is south and east. In the county there are numerous living springs and many ''deep" wells. Shallower wells supply water from ''veins'' and sheet water. In the more level prairie regions sheet water of excellent quality may be obtained, wherever desired, and at an easy depth.

Approximately two-thirds of the county is made up of upland and bottom prairie; the balance was timber and hazel land. About twelve thousand acres of land in the extreme northeast of the county, and lying between the Des Moines and Fox rivers, is protected by a levee. A part of this levee was originally built by the Egyptian Levee Company, which company was succeeded by the Des Moines and Mississippi Drainage District No. 1. This latter company is now completing an extensive levee and drainage system, designed to reclaim much low-lying land, extending from the Des Moines, south to Fox River. A minor part of this district was, at an early day, covered with a magnificent growth of timber, of the several valuable varieties common to this region.

The general surface of the county varies from the gently undulating prairie to the gracefully rounded hills. In portions of the county the hills are quite steep and in places along some of the streams there are precipitous clay bluffs and high cliffs of lime rock. For the most part the soil along the bottom lands is alluvial and sandy; but there are stretches of fertile, stubborn ''gumbo." The soil of the uplands is of a dark to clay loam, with a joint clay undersoil. This latter is remarkable for its fertility and for its peculiar property of conserving fertilizer placed upon the top soil.

Wyaconda Drainage District No. 1 is the style of the organization formed for the purpose of making a drainage ditch for the reclamation of 6,140 acres of the exceptionally fertile lands of the Wyaconda River, beginning at a point below the confluence of the two Wyacondas. This ditch will begin at the south of the Santa Fe Railroad and extend down the stream, departing largely from the old channel of the river and following in the main, the lower regions of the expansive bottom. The ditch will be twelve and one-half miles long and drain about ten square miles of territory. The mammoth dredge boat is now at work on this ditch. Presumably another district will be formed immediately below this and if so the two, or rather the continuation of the first, will afford a stream nearly straight, carrying the waters to the rock-walled portions of the water-course, lying below the Lewis county line.

Mississippi River Steamboat

Another district has been formed embracing lands in southwest Clark, Lewis, Knox and Scotland counties. Clark has two thousand acres in this district and will carry a ditch four miles in length. This last is known as the Fabius River Drainage District No. 3.

Early Explorations

It was on the 17th day of May, 1673, when Father Marquette and Sieur Joliet, French missionaries, with five other men, departed from the mission of St. Ignatius, on the Straits of Mackinaw, Michigan, bent upon the discovery of the "Great Father of Rivers." In their historic journey they passed by the territory now known as Clark County, and circumstances which cannot be here recorded, furnish pretty conclusive proof that the Frenchmen landed near the mouth of Fox River. Here were found some metal instruments of French making and bearing the date 1670.

Pike, in his admirable history, gives what is accepted as the most authentic account of explorations touching this county.

When the White Man Came

Explorers, surveyors, hunters and possibly adventurers, visited Clark County long before the white man arrived to make this territory his permanent home. It was in September, 1829, when Jacob Weaver, his wife, Elizabeth, and their five children came from Kentucky. They settled upon the banks of the Des Moines, near the site of the present town of St. Francisville. It is not disputed that "General" Harrison, trapper, trader and interpreter, had invaded this territory prior to the coming of the Weavers; but they were first to locate.

Only a little later the ''General" did locate at Marysville, further northwest, on the Des Moines. Following soon after Weaver came John Sackett, then Jeremiah Wayland, George Haywood and Samuel Bartlett, all from the same neighborhood in Kentucky. All located at or near St. Francisville and the descendants of each are now honored citizens among us. The families of these sturdy men did not follow them until the following spring. The cabin built by Jeremiah Wayland on the first bottom, near the river, was swept away by the flood of 1832. He built again, and better, within the limits of what is now St. Francisville.

In 1830 Peter Gillis, Giles Sullivan and William Clark joined the little colony. The wedding of the last named to Elizabeth Payne, at the home of Jeremiah Wayland, was the first occurring in the county. Romance was added to this in the knowledge that the minister performing the ceremony was an impostor. Esquire Robert Sinclair later legally tied the knot and another dinner was in order.

The first white children born within the territory of the present county were John Weaver, Elizabeth Bartlett and Martha Haywood. The first death was that of the wife of Giles Sullivan, 1831; the second that of Mrs. Joseph Wayland.

In 1831 Dr. J. E. Trabue settled on what in late years is known as the J. W. Jenkins farm, in Clay Township. Here he built a horse mill and executed grinding for the community, thus obviating the necessity of going to Palmyra, a distance of forty miles, with the grists.

Following soon after those mentioned were Asa Wormington, Henry Floyd, the latter going further west and settling about two miles north of the present site of Waterloo

Col. Thomas C. Rutherford, with his family and several slaves from Tennessee, settled at the present homestead, in Madison Township

John Condiff and Jeremiah Riley; William Henshaw, wife and children.

But few additions were made to the settlement of the year 1832, due to the great flood and trouble with the Indians.

Among those who ventured was George K. Biggs, who settled on the old homestead in Clay Township.
Others residing in the county in 1832 were: Uriah S. Gregory, on the farm later owned by Judge John Boulware, who came shortly after;

Harvey and John Thompson, then on the farm now owned by Ed Connable
Asa Wormington, on the old Dr. Chapman place
W. W. Clifton, near Fox River church
John Montgomery, who lived east of the present church site
Peter Hay, to the north
Judge John Taylor, and Fielding Wayland
Daniel Mullen had established an Indian trading post and store in what is now Sweet Home Township.

In this year there was only a log cabin at the site of Alexandria. During this year Alexander Waggener, William Phelps and John Billings located near ''Sweet Home." It will be observed from the foregoing that the major portion of the early settlement of the county was along the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers bluffs. Many of the pioneer homesteads are yet held by the descendants of the sturdy men who first came to blaze the way for those to follow.

The Black Hawk War

The Black Hawk war caused no open hostilities in the territory now named Clark County. But in May, 1832, a company from Pike County marched to and erected a fort at St. Francisville, which was named Fort Pike, in honor of the county from which the men came. Following the cessation of hostilities ''Uncle" Jeremiah Wayland and Colonel Rutherford spread a notable banquet to the Indian chiefs and a few of their "braves" done in celebration of the declaration of peace.

Public Lands

The first survey of lands, including Clark County, was made by Thomas Rector, in the year 1820. The first entries were made by Jacob Weaver, George Haywood, Samuel Bartlett, the Waylands and others. The title to this land was then vested in the United States government. Subsequently the public lands were classified and designated as congress lands, swamp lands, and school lands. The swamp lands were donated to the state; this by act of congress, in 1850. Under this act, in 1858, 2,722.56 acres of land were conveyed to the state of Missouri. Again in 1860 the government patented to the state 825.23 acres of swamp lands. The sixteenth section of each congressional township was donated by the government to the states to be sold and the proceeds used to create a perpetual school fund; the principal to be loaned and the interest to be used for current school purposes. These lands sold at from $1.25 to $4.00 per acre. By this method and other increments, Clark County's permanent public school fund has accumulated to more than $50,000. A total of $24,296.20 was originally derived from the sale of these lands.

The Creation of Clark County

Prior to the organization of Clark County, the territory was a part of Lewis County. In the present confines of this county were originally the civil townships of Jefferson, Des Moines and Jackson.

Jefferson Township comprised the territory lying north of the lines dividing townships 65 and 66.

Des Moines contained all of township 65 and that portion of township 64 lying north of Sugar creek.

The residue of the territory was Jackson Township.

The county was organized in 1836, under and by virtue of an act of the legislature, duly approved on the 16th day of December. The county was named in honor of Gov. William Clark. In accordance with the act, above referred to, the governor appointed John Taylor, Thaddeus Williams and Robert McKee to act as county court justices, and Uriah S. Gregory to act as sheriff. These men met at the house of John Hill, three miles south of St. Francisville, on the 10th day of April, 1837, and organized the first county court. John Taylor was created president, and Willis Curd, clerk.

Their first act was that of granting to William Bedell a license to keep a grocery on his farm in Sweet Home Township, upon payment of the sum of $5 to the state and an equal sum to the county. At the second meeting of the county court, Joseph McCoy was appointed county treasurer, and required to give bond in the sum of $500.

The first election was ordered to be held in the several townships of the county on the 6th day of May, 1837. Two justices of the peace for each township were to be chosen.

The County Capital

The commissioners appointed under the act creating the county recommended that the county seat be located in section 15, township 65 north, range 8 west. That is to say, just in front of what is now known as the Oscar Ensign house, west and a little north of Kaluka. This report was held to be erroneous, hence its rejection. Afterwards, but at the same term of the county court, April, 1837, the court appointed Stephen Cleaver, of Ralls county, Obediah Dickerson of Shelby County, and Micajah J. Noyes, of Pike County, as commissioners to locate the county seat of Clark County. These officials recommended that the county's capital be located at the village of Waterloo. Title for the site was procured from John H. Alexander and Sarah, his wife, for a consideration of $1.00. The deed for the same was dated the 17th day of June, 1837, and called for four acres and seventeen vacant lots. Beginning with August, 1837, courts were held at Waterloo. Samuel D. South was appointed commissioner for the county seat and Joseph McCoy was appointed superintendent of the building of the county's first courthouse, which was completed in the summer of 1840. In 1829 the county was further sub-divided and additional townships created. In 1837, by an act of the legislature, a portion of the Territory of Scotland County was attached to Clark County.

In July, 1847, the county court was petitioned for the removal of the county seat from Waterloo to the town of Alexandria. A remonstrance was also filed. At the special election held on the 13th and 14th days of December, 1847, it was determined that a majority of the tax-payers and householders favored removal. The court so ordered and the seat of justice was removed to Alexandria. The people of that town donated the ground and built the house, which was a plain, two-story brick building providing for the county officers on the first floor and the courtroom on the second, or just the reverse of the arrangement at Waterloo.

But the permanent seat of county government was only temporarily located. On the 9th of November, 1853, a petition was filed, praying that the county seat be sent back to Waterloo. The election was held on the second Monday in June, 1854, and the voice of the people ordered that the county officers be relocated at "the city by the classic Fox." Accordingly the old courthouse was repaired and the first session of court held on the fifth of November, 1855. Ten years later and by an act of the state legislature, approved February 20, 1866, the county seat was again made the subject of petition. It was in this instance determined by the court that a majority of the legal petitioners desired removal to Kahoka, and the court so ordered. On the 8th day of June, 1865, petitions were presented to the county court praying for the removal of the seat of justice from Kahoka to Clark City and again the court appointed commissioners to locate a site.

Another election followed on November 6, 1866. Again a majority favored removal. At the December term following, the court was asked to set aside the previous order; which motion was overruled. Meantime, the county's capital remained at Waterloo and in December, 1869, the court was again asked to create a commission to locate the county's ''Hub." The court refused to create this commission. The state Supreme Court was appealed to by the petitioners and that tribunal issued a writ of mandamus, the legal effect of which was to cause the county court to provide the commission, as prayed. This body was composed of Thomas Woods and John Pugh, of Lewis County; J. W. Allen, of Knox, and Sterling McDonald and William Purdy, of Scotland. These men recommended that the courthouse be located at the site of the present building. The contract price for this structure was $18,595.00. The work was completed during the year 1871 and the first terra of the county court was held therein on the 15th day of January 1872.

Bonded Indebtedness

In 1864 the county court subscribed $200,000 to the capital stock of the Alexandria and Bloomfield Railroad Company. In 1865 Justices Harvey Seymore, B. P. Hannan and Edward Anderson were upon the county bench. This court caused an order to be entered upon the records recognizing the liability of the county to prosecution by reason of the bond issue above mentioned. The clerk was ordered to issue $50,000 of seven per cent bonds, payable twenty years from date, stipulating that the issue was to be received by the railroad company in full satisfaction for the larger issue of $200,000. The $50,000 bonds were issued, delivered to and accepted by the company. Later the bonds were repudiated by the people upon the ground that the court had authorized the issue without submitting the matter to the voters, at an election. The Supreme Court held with the holders of the bonds. In 1884 the court ordered an election upon the proposition of refunding the bonds and in conformity with the decision of the voters, and at the November, 1884, term of the court, bonds of the denomination of $500 to the amount of $50,000 were issued, to bear date January 1, 1885, to run thirty years, payable after twenty years, interest six per cent. Later these bonds were again refunded and the interest rate lowered.

In July, 1868, the county court ordered an election upon the proposition to issue bonds in the sum of $75,000 in aid of the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad Company. The proposition was accepted by the voters and on the 7th day of August of the same year, bonds to the sum mentioned were duly executed. They were dated August 10, 1869, interest seven per cent, twenty years. These were refunded at a lower rate of interest in 1888.

At the same election at which the Alexandria and Nebraska City Railroad bonds were voted there was a vote ordered upon the proposition to issue $75,000 of bonds in aid of the Missouri and Mississippi Railroad Company. The result was favorable also to the latter company. The records of the court fail to disclose the issuance or acceptance of these bonds. But afterwards and in January, 1870, the same company moved the court to subscribe an additional $125,000 to the capital stock of the M. and M. This the court refused to do; but an election was ordered for July to determine the proposition of issuing to the sum and for the purpose, as above, and to ascertain further, the public will with reference to the issuance of the sum of $75,000 in aid of the Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska Railroad Company. Both propositions were overwhelmingly defeated.

In May, 1871, the M. & M. R. R. Co., again asked the court for money, $200,000 the line to extend from within one mile of Fairmont thence in a northeasterly direction to the town of St. Francisville. The motion of the railroad company was sustained by a majority of the court composed of S. W. Moorehouse, Peter S. Washburn and Thomas H. Roseberry. The former dissented from the decision of the majority; but the court, without submitting the question to the voters, subscribed $200,000 to the capital stock of the company; the issue to include the $75,000 previously subscribed and covered the $125,000 asked for and refused, as just previously related. A petition, numerously signed, prayed the court to set aside its order of a $200,000 subscription, but the court refused. The protesting citizens authorized a committee to wait upon the officers of the railroad, at Macon, Missouri. This committee was composed of George Rensley, E. R. McKee, A. C. Walsworth and David McKee, and was not successful in procuring concessions from the company, and in June, 1871, the bonds were issued. In May, 1872, the court held that the contract between the county and the railroad company had been violated by the latter, hence entered an order demanding that the financial agent of the company deliver possession of the bonds. This was not done. In 1872 the county court was succeeded by a board of supervisors, under township organization, and Judge John N. Boulware was authorized to employ N. F. Given to institute proceedings against the road to the end that the bonds might be recovered. The effort was unsuccessful. In November, 1880, a proposition to compromise this debt, at thirty cents on the dollar, was defeated. Later, and in March, 1881, by a vote of 964 to 665 a compromise of thirty cents on the dollar was accepted. In November following, $112,000 of bonds were issued to cover the sum of the compromise and accrued interest. These were signed by Judge W. M. Boulward and bore date April 1, 1881. Against this sum there was a sinking fund of $5,000 in the treasury and this reduced the sum total to $107,000. Later these were refunded at a lower rate of interest.

After the issuance of the bonds in aid of these railroads the Alexandria and Nebraska City and the Alexandria and Bloomfield roads were consolidated and the one road constructed under the name of the Missouri, Iowa & Nebraska Railroad Company, now under the Burlington ownership, known as the Keokuk & Western.

For years the county was engaged in litigation as affecting the refusal to pay some $40,000 of the detached coupons of the old M. & M, bonds. This suit was compromised by the court for the sum of $4,000. The court at this date was composed of D. N. Lapsley, John Martin, and C. C. Calvert. The former two are now living. This same court prosecuted and won, on a compromise, a suit instituted against the M. I. & N. R. R., for back taxes, alleged to be due, getting in payment for the claim of the county a check for $26,000. This suit was instituted and won by T. L. Montgomery, then prosecuting attorney. This was in the early '90s and some $14,000 of this compromise money was used to reduce the railroad bonded debt of the county.

In the year 1906, Judges J. H. Hardy, J. D. Rebo and S. J. Dare procured an order under which they authorized a levy of fifty cents on the $100.00 valuation for the purpose of creating a sinking fund to discharge this railroad bonded debt, then amounting to the sum of $218,500. The tax of 1912 will liquidate the last of this great mortgage upon the property of the county, for a large proportion of which the people got nothing in return.

Negro Bondage

The early settlers of this county brought with them their slaves. In 1860 there were 129 slave owners residing in Clark County. The number of slaves is given at 405; their value for purposes of taxation, $171,300.

Circuit Court

It was on the 6th day of April, 1836, at the house of John Hill, in the territory of what is now Des Moines Township that Hon. Priestly H. McBride appeared with a commission from the governor to hold the first term of the Clark county circuit court. The names of the first grand jurors were:

David Hay
Thomas Sawyers
Franklin Levering
Jeremiah Wayland
Robert Wainscott
Joseph McCoy
Jeremiah Lewis
O. F. D. Hampton
Joseph G. Scott
Jesse McDaniel
Richard Lewellyn
Amery Wheeler
George K. Biggs
Burrel Gregory
Joseph Higbee
John Riney
Rice Overstreet
Frederick Johnson

One other, eighteen in all. These pioneers and first county inquisitors were duly charged and ordered to retire for their .deliberation. Their ''jury room'' was the comfortable shade of a friendly tree. No bills were reported. This was the Fourth Judicial Circuit and John Head, Esq., appeared as the circuit attorney.

The second term of this court was held at the home of Joseph McCoy, in what is now Clay Township, beginning on the 3rd of August, of the same year. It was at this term when the first cause of action was made and the style of this case was: William L. McPherson versus William Mercer, for debt. The third term of this court was held in December, when was presented the first criminal cause. John Taylor and Simeon Conway, justices of the peace, presented a prisoner, charged with breaking into the store of Daniel McMullen, of Sweet Home township. A change of venue to Marion County was granted and ultimately the prisoner was freed, Uriah Wright defending.

The first petit jury case coming to trial was that of the State vs. T. I. White, who was found guilty and fined fifteen dollars.

Clark Countians in Politics

The only state office ever held by a resident of this county was attorney-general, held by John M. Wood, who was elected in 1898 and served with honor for four years. He did not seek re-nomination. On January 1, 1913, John M. Dawson will have filled a four years' period as assistant to Attorney-General Elliott W. Major, lately elected governor. The county has furnished two state senators, George K. Biggs and C. F. Carter, the present incumbent of the office. In 1904, J. W. McDermott, of this county, was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, held in St. Louis. Joseph S. Tall was chief of the engrossing force of the 40th and chief clerk of the 41st and 42nd general assemblies.

The Missouri-Iowa War

Comparatively little can here be related of this unique, interesting and bloodless "war." The dispute out of which came this near war without a fight, originated in an act of congress, authorizing the territory of Missouri to form a state government, provided the boundaries of the proposed new state should be within certain limitations, described in the law passed March 6, 1820. An act of April 12, 1838, authorized the establishment of the territory of Iowa, prescribing ''that the southern boundary line should be the northern boundary of the state of Missouri.'' The Missouri legislature in 1836 directed the governor to appoint a commission to ascertain and establish the northern boundary line of the state. Iowa was then in Wisconsin territory. This territory was requested to appoint commissioners and the United States government a civil engineer all to meet with the Missouri commission. This was not done; hence in 1837 the survey was made by" the Missourians, alone, and their report rendered to the legislature of 1838-9. In the interval between the Missouri survey and the report of same to the legislature of the state, the congress directed a survey of the boundary line, in connection with "commissions from the state of Missouri and the territory of Iowa.'' Neither the state nor the territory acted and the government's agent was alone to make the survey and report, January 19, 1839. The report of the government's agent, Major Lea, determined nothing, excepting a failure to confirm either the Missouri or Iowa contention. The history of this remarkable and interesting warfare cannot be traced in its fullness, replete as it is in incidents bordering perilously near to open hostilities upon the part of the officers and the militia of the contending states.

The line, as finally determined, was, at the Des Moines River, on the east, eight miles, sixty three chains and twenty-three links south; and at the west end exactly eleven miles south of that point claimed by the state of Missouri. The Missourians contended the line was exactly opposite where Bentonsport, Iowa, now stands. The disputed strip along the entire northern line dividing the two states was about nine miles in width. Many Clark Countians are today of the opinion that the disputed strip extended eastward to and terminated at the ''Des Moines Rapids'' of the Mississippi River, below which the power dam at Keokuk is now being constructed; but this belief is not developed as a fact by the available history of the case.

In 1839 the sheriff, Uriah Gregory, of Clark County, went into the disputed territory to collect taxes from the few residents and was repulsed and ordered back to his own state. On November 20th of the same year, he again went into the hostile camp, under instruction from Governor Boggs, and this time was arrested by the sheriff of Van Buren county, Iowa, upon the charge of ''usurpation of authority," taken to Farmington; thence to Burlington, the capital; thence to Muscatine, where for a time he was confined to jail, but afterwards released on his own recognizance. This incident caused great excitement on both sides of the line. The county court of Clark County convened at the tavern of John S. Lapsley, in Waterloo. The court ordered that the militia be mustered to sustain the civil authorities. Public indignation meetings were held in the counties of Clark, Lewis and Marion. Maj.-Gen. David Willcock called 2,200 men from his division. The men of the territory of Iowa also had mustered and had upon the line a force of men, declaring they, too, were ready for war. On the 4th of December of the same year, the Clark county court moved to prevent actual hostilities and appointed a peace commission to confer with the Iowa territorial solons. The court also sent a peace message to the Iowa legislature. A spirit of conciliation dominated the Iowa law-makers and the end of the ''war" was in sight. On the 12th of December ''peace" was declared, a commission from Iowa having met with the county court of Clark County, and others, including Thomas L. Anderson, of Marion. The commission from Iowa presented a preamble and resolution, which were spread upon the records of the court. The resolutions requested the governors of the two states to suspend hostilities, pending an amicable adjustment of the difficulties. This order was communicated to the governors of the contending states. In 1840 congress settled the contention by legislation, making the ''Indian Boundary Line" run by Colonel Sullivan, the true northern boundary of Clark County, and the state. A few years later this line was again run by commissioners from both states and some corrections made. Judge D. N. Lapsley of Kahoka, Mrs. B. F. Martin, of Keokuk, and Judge O. S. Callihan, of Kahoka, have distinct recollections of the unpleasantness mentioned.

The Battle of Athens

This was the one battle fought in Clark County, during the War Between the States, known to history as the Civil war. Col. Martin E. Green commanded the Southern forces; Col. David Moore those of the North. The clash of arms occurred on the morning of August 5, 1861, in and about the town of Athens and along the Des Moines River. The issues of the day were favorable to the Northern forces. Neither of the warring generals commanded to exceed five hundred men. Five Confederates were killed and about twenty wounded. John Thompson was the only Clark County Confederate killed. The Union loss was William C. Sullivan and Harrison killed and several wounded. A brick house in Athens now shows the effect of the cannon shot.

School History

There are ninety-two school districts in Clark County and 112 teachers are employed, all are white. The 1911 report gives the expenditures for teachers' wages at $33,952.55; the total expenditures, $41,798.76; permanent county fund, $32,359.92 permanent township fund $20,096.73; average levy, fifty-nine cents; enumeration 3,371; amount received from state, $6,258.28; amount of interest on county funds $1,504.19. Miss Helen M. McKee is county superintendent.

In August, 1884, the preliminary steps were taken for the establishment of a college in Kahoka. T. L. Montgomery, Colonel Hiller, Judge O. S. Callihan, Jacob Trump, Adam Lang, Dr. R. S. McKee, George W. Bostic, G. S. and John Stafford and others were the prime movers in this successful campaign. Prof. J. D. Blanton was the head of the school. In the succeeding years several different men were called to the head of the institution, which flourished measurably for a time and then was discontinued. Then for two years a commercial school was conducted in Kahoka, in the building now the property of the school district, accommodating the high school of which Prof. S. L. Mapes is superintendent.

At St. Patrick, in Jackson township, is conducted a splendid parochial school. The building is modern, constructed of cement and cost about $11,000. It is located by the Catholic Church and the home of the priest. The Rev. Father E. A. Bolger was actively in charge of the church and the work, during the construction of the college building.

In the early history of the county colleges of broad note were conducted the Alexandria and St. Francisville.


The Baptist and the Methodist were the pioneer churches. The Rev. Jeremiah Taylor, Baptist, of Marion County, preached the first sermon in Clark County, at the home of Dr. Trabue, in what is now Clay Township. The Methodists established the first church at St. Francisville. The Rev. Mr. Allen preached there and at the homes of George Haywood and George K. Biggs. The second church was organized in 1834, at the home of Jeremiah Wayland, in St. Francisville; but soon after removed to Fox River, south of Wayland, with the Rev. Mr. Broaddus in charge. The Rev. J. J. Martin arrived in the county in 1837 and became a noted circuit rider of his day, one who, if necessary, descended from the pulpit to enforce order.

The religious denominations now represented are: Baptist, Methodist Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal South, Methodist Protestant, German Evangelical, Presbyterian, Christian, and the African Methodist Episcopal; and at Kahoka, Wayland and St. Patrick there are Catholic churches.


Four newspapers are published in the county:

The Free Press, semi-weekly, Republican, established in 1910, J. H. Talbot, editor
Clark County Courier, weekly, Republican, established in 1890, F. E. Greenlee, editor
Gazette-Herald, weekly, Democratic, established in 1880, S. S. Ball, editor
Clark County News, weekly, independent, established in 1888, R. B. Rodgers & Son, editors.
The News is published at Wyaconda, the others at Kahoka, the county seat.

County Officers

The representatives in the general assembly from Clark County have been:

Samuel D. South
Dr. J. W. S. Mitchell
Maj. A. W. Dagget
John P. Lowry
I. N. Lewis
Charles O. Sanford
N. F. Givens.
Isaac N. Lewis
Frank Smith
James Cowgill
John N. Boulware
Erastus Sacket
Dr. O. B. Payne
Asa P. Healy
James M. Asher
George K. Biggs
John M. Wood
James Pore
Col. N. T. Cherry
J. J. Stafford
James M. Sourgeon
P. A. S. Rebo
James Mackey
S. S. Ball
E. P. Spangler
Charles P. Carter
McD. Turner
Dr. A. W. Teel

Limited space will not permit the publication here of the names of the other county officers, except the present incumbents, as follows:

Circuit clerk, N. T. Cherry
County clerk, James P. Scott
Probate judge, M. L. Clay
Collector, P. I, Wilsey
Sheriff, L. J. Howell
Treasurer, Thomas J. Doggs
Court reporter, Thomas Raleigh
Judge of County Court, David S. Rider
Judge of County Court, Jacob Reese
Judge of County Court, John Grimes
Prosecuting attorney, J. H. Talbott

Courts and Lawyers


H. McBride, 1837-45
Addison Reese, 1845-60
Thomas S. Richardson, 1860-62
James Ellison, 1862-64
David Wagner, 1864-66
E. V. Wilson, 1866-74
John C. Anderson, 1874-1878
Benjamin E. Turner,* 1880-1896
Edwin R. McKee, 1896-1904
* (Died in office, 1896)

Charles D. Stewart, the present judge, was elected in 1904 and re-elected in 1910, for a period of six years. At the date of his election Judge Turner was the youngest circuit judge on the bench in the state. He was the only resident judge. Judge E. R. McKee at one time resided in this county.

Local Bar

The local bar has the reputation of being one of the strongest in Northeast Missouri. At this day the older members engaged in the practice hark back in memory to their early experiences, when N. F. Givens was at once the ''father" and, in the language of Judge Turner in accepting his portrait, the "Nestor of the Bar of Northeast Missouri." Judge McKee, son-in-law of Mr. Givens, had caused to be painted a life-size bust portrait of the latter, and on the 1st day of October, 1883, this was placed in the court room. When the old gentleman, to whom all affections bent, came leisurely and un-suspiciously into the room, C. B. Matlock, in a fervent and notable speech, presented the portrait to the court. Judge Turner accepted the offering for the court and ordered the portrait placed upon the walls of the court room, where it now hangs. To this have been added portraits of Judge Anderson and Judge Turner, both deceased. Additional to those named and most prominent in the practice of that day were: Col. H. M. Hiller and W. L. Berkheimer. Then Messrs. Montgomery, Whiteside and J. W. Howard, the latter deceased, were in their infancy, legally speaking. Ex-Congressman James G. Blair died while a member of this bar, the firm name being Blair, Marchand & Tall.

Bar Members

W. L. Berkheimer
C. W. Yant
O. S. Callihan
G. M. Callihan
Fred P. Lang
James Talbott
C. T. Llewellyn
J. S. Tall
Charles Hiller
J. A. Whiteside
T. J. Easton
W. H. Robinson
L. J. Montgomery
M. L. Clay
J. M. Dawson
T. L. Montgomery
E. Hitt Stewart
B. L. Gridley
W. T. Rutherford.
Thomas Raleigh*
official stenographer

Anti-Horse-Thief Association

Clark County is the home of this useful organization primarily made for the prevention of crime and secondarily for the apprehension of criminals. The date of its birth 1863; place Luray. This was effected in the upper story of what in late years is known as the J. W. Ponds store building. Those who met there to organize were:

David Shuler
David Mauck
John Wilson
H. A. Stewart
James Day
H. L. McKee
Maj. David McKee
Wm. Everhart
Jonathan Longfellow
S. Grant
William Beach
W. Matlock, Scotland Cty
James McGowan, Iowa

The second meeting was at Millport Knox County. The organization sprung from a public necessity peculiar to those times. At this day it is still in a flourishing condition and has spread too many states with a membership of nearly 35000. There are seven lodges in Clark County.

Fraternal Societies

Of these there are: The A. P. & A. M.; the I. O. P.; A. O. U. W.; G. A. R.; K. of P.; M. W. A.; P.O. E.; and Mystic Workers; A. H. T. A. and several sister organizations.

Wealth and Taxation

The earliest records now available are those of the year 1858. Then the real estate of the county was valued for the purpose of taxation at $2917740. The personal property at $549980 slaves $187800. Total assessed value of taxable property $2775520; total taxes $17709.

The earliest assessment against the properties of the railroads and telegraph lines of the county appears to have been in the year 1879. In this year the property of the Western Union Telegraph Company the only one was valued at $2217 the taxes charged thereon amounting to $39.94.

This year 1912 the real estate of the county is valued at $3586370; tax $77704.71. The personal property is valued at $1327245; tax $28571.96. The Western Union Telegraph Company is valued at $16306.01 tax $347.01; the American Telegraph and Telephone Company and the Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company together are valued at 32001.75; taxes $492.86. Traversing this county are three railroads: The Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe; The St. Louis Keokuk & Northwestern and the Keokuk & Western. For 1912 these are valued at $1177042; taxes $25126.33.

The total for 1912 taxes is $106276.67 as against the sum of less than $18000 for 1858 while values have mounted up to $6113658.75. The taxes for 1912 include a levy of fifty per cent for sinking fund and fifteen cents for interest on account of the railroad bonded indebtedness.

Additional to this there is a local tax upon the lands within the limits of the Des Moines and Mississippi Levee District No. 1. Merchants' and local telephone companies are not included in the foregoing valuations and taxes.  

  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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