St. Charles County, Men in Pioneer Days

St. Charles had three delegates, the largest number of any county. They were Major Benjamin Emmons, Colonel Nathan Boone, and Hiram H. Barber. Colonel Boone was a son of the pioneer. He was an educated man, and an able representative in the convention. Mr. Barber was an early settler in the county and one of its leading citizens. He was sheriff of the county for some years and a man of great influence and popularity.

About this time the lines between the two political parties was drawn. St. Charles, as a rule went Democratic, when strict party lines were adhered to, but it sometimes elected a Whig ticket. The early German settlers, almost to a man, were Democrats, up to the time of the Civil war, when most of them became Republicans.

Felix Scott was one of the early politicians of the county and somewhat of a character. Though a man of culture, he fell in with the manners and customs of the country and the spirit of the times, and was not averse to a fist fight. Being challenged to fight a duel, such was his courage and contempt for his antagonist that he quietly stood with his gun in his hand presented without offering to fire, and after his opponent had fired at him, coolly laid his gun aside and gave the fellow a most unmerciful beating with his fists. He served a number of terms in the lower house and also in the senate, and was made president pro tem of that body in the absence of a lieutenant-governor. He came from Monongahela County. West Virginia. He moved to Oregon in the early 40's.

John D. Coalter was a man of fine mental culture and a lawyer of ability. He was a logical and effective speaker. His speeches were models' of diction and literary elegance and were eloquently delivered. While they read better than those of Wm. A. Campbell, they did not equal Campbell's fine and eluent delivery.

Campbell, while somewhat eccentric, was a finished orator. He was indifferent to his personal appearance, and an anecdote to this effect is told on him. He stayed much of his time with his sister, Mrs. Dr. McCluer. When starting to the legislature of which he was a member, Mrs. McCluer packed his trunk, and placed in it a dozen laundried shirts, and strictly charged him that he should put on two clean shirts a week, which he promised to do. Six weeks afterwards on his return to Dardenne, his sister examined his trunk for the soiled linen, but to her great consternation, found none. She at once said to him, "Brother Billy, where are your soiled shirts? I find none in your trunk." He replied, "Did I not promise' to put on one twice a week?" and he had strictly followed orders, but had forgotten to take off the soiled ones. Both men were of temperate habits and strictly honorable and upright in their lives. Neither was ever defeated in an election when before the people. Campbell distinguished himself as a leader in the senate and Coalter was the acknowledged leader of the house.

Major Overall, who came to the county in 1795, was a wealthy farmer of the Point Prairie. He represented the county as one of its law makers. He was a man of high character and intelligence. He took no part in political stump speaking, but was an earnest Whig and well posted in politics and current events.

The first session of the legislature of the new state was held in the town of St. Charles in a house on Main Street, which had been built for a hotel. The building has long since been removed and replaced by another. St. Charles has been remiss in preserving historical landmarks. A new people has come in who seem to have cared nothing for the old heroes. There is but one relic of the past in the county. That is the old log house on the Major Heald place, built in 1797, and now occupied as a chapter-house by the Rebecca Heald Chapter, D. A. R.

William Allen, a son of an early settler of the county, who came from Virginia, was a man of such ability and represented the county in the lower house in the early '40's. He was also a member of the state senate. He was a Whig and contributed to the election of Henry S. Geyer to the United States senate. The Whigs were in the minority in the state, but the Democrats were divided into two factions, the Hards and the Softs, or Benton and Anti-Benton. Through Mr. Allen's persuasion and the hatred existing between these two the Anti-Bentons were won over to Geyer and the first and only Whig was elected to the United States senate. During this memorable contest there were two county men candidates for the senate: Joseph Wells, Anti-Benton, and Phineas H. Shelton, Benton Democrat. Benton had been accused of being an abolitionist, and all Benton men were held to be of that persuasion. Shelton, a slave owner and a strong southern man, had been called an abolitionist. Being a Virginian, his accent was the broadest Virginia dialect. In a debate at Naylor's store between himself and Wells, Shelton, who had heard of the heinous charge, exclaimed, "Whar is the man that dares say that I am an abolitionist?" There was no one in the audience bold enough to reply. Wells beat Shelton for senator. This was the beginning of Benton's decline in political power, and he never regained the ascendency. Mr. Shelton had never before been defeated, and he was so disgusted that in a few years he moved with his family to Texas. Long years afterward when the late "unpleasantness" between the states took place, he, though an old man, commanded a regiment of "rebels" and fought for Dixie, helping Dick Taylor rout General Banks on the upper Red River. His father, Colonel Shelton, died at Norfolk, Virginia, in 1814, while in command of that post.

William Allen was first elected to the legislature in 1846 and afterward served in the state senate. He was a fluent stump speaker and an able representative. He was a Whig till the Know-nothings killed that old party. He then became a Jeffersonian Democrat. The Whigs advocated internal improvements by the general government, a national bank and a protective tariff. These measures were all opposed by the Democrats. These were the main principles upon which the two divided.

Pioneer Citizens

William Massilon Campbell was born in 1805 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He came to Missouri in 1829, in company with Dr. Robert McCluer. Mr. Campbell was prominent as a lawyer and an editor, and took an active interest in political matters. He was most highly esteemed by his friends and acquaintances, and served several years in the state legislature. Mr. Campbell was exceedingly modest and retiring, but possessed a brilliant mind which won him applause and honor, even though unsought. His untimely death at the early age of forty-five years caused deep regret and sorrow.

Dr. Robert McCluer and family moved from Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia, in 1829. They settled southeast of Dardenne Prairie, on a farm which is still in the possession of some of their descendants.

In company with him when coming to Missouri were William M. Campbell, a brother-in-law, James H. Alexander and family, Messrs. McNutt and Cummings, and Jacob Icenhouer and family. Dr. McCluer lived but a few years after coming to Missouri, falling a victim to the bilious fever, which was the scourge of this new territory. Four of his children grew to maturity and settled in homes in the same locality. These were Samuel Campbell McCluer, Mrs. Dr. John Baptist Muschaney, Mrs. Thomas Watson and Robert Alexander McCluer, who is still living.

The Reverend Thomas Watson was of Irish-English descent, his father, Thos. Watson, being a native of Londonderry, Ireland, and his mother, Sarah Hannis, an English woman. The family crossed the seas to our country, settling at New Berne, North Carolina. There, in 1820, the young Thomas was born and continued to reside until 1836, when his father moved to St. Louis. He received his theological training at Princeton, New Jersey, and became pastor of the Dardenne Presbyterian church in the autumn of 1844, six months after he was licensed to preach. He continued pastor of this church till shortly before his death, a period of nearly forty-four years. Mr. Watson was genial and affable in manner, a close reasoner, a delightful conversationalist, and brimming over with sentiment.

He loved nature in all her aspects and was the very soul of music and poetry. He loved his people, and they returned that love with a devotion rare and beautiful. His sermons were characterized by earnestness and logical argument. He was a "gentleman of the old school," adhering strictly to the old time Calvinistic doctrines of his church. Throughout his long, useful career he was aided and comforted by his loving wife, formerly Nancy Calhoun McCluer, whom he married five years after taking the pastorate of the Dardenne church. There, together, in the quiet church yard so dear to them, they sleep in the midst of that community where the largest part of their lives was spent. On the pastor's tombstone are these words, taken from one of his own poems, "He never cared for earthly fame, His record is on high."

Nelson L. Overall came from Tennessee and settled in St. Charles in 1797. His wife was Mary Griffith. He had seven sons and two daughters by this marriage. By his second wife he had one son, and by his third wife, who was the Widow Patten, he had three children. His oldest son, Ezra, never married. He gave St. Charles College its present location on Kings Highway, and about ten thousand dollars. Samuel was a prominent physician of St. Charles, a man of ability and enterprise. Asa was a lawyer, and also John H., his youngest son, became a noted lawyer of St. Charles. Nelson Overall built a house in the Point Prairie of red cedar logs that had been cut in the Alleghany Mountains, rafted down the Alleghany and Ohio rivers, and brought up from Cairo on boats. There were two of these houses built and they were known as "The Red Houses of the Point." Major Nelson Overall represented the county in the state legislature and was a useful and able member of that body.

Major Nathan Heald was an early settler in the county. He was the son of Colonel Thomas Heald, who was an officer in the Revolutionary war; whose wife was Sybil Adams. He was born in Ipswich, New Hampshire, September 29, 1775. He was married to Rebecca Wells, daughter of Colonel Samuel Wells, in Louisville, Kentucky, May 23, 1811. He was in command of Port Dearborn, the present site of Chicago, when it was captured by the English and Indians on August 15, 1812, and the garrison massacred. Major Heald was severely wounded at the time and the wounds eventually caused his death. He came on horseback with his wife in 1815 and purchased a farm of 360 acres from Adam Zumwalt on Ballou Creek, one mile south of where 'Fallon is located. His son, Darius, was born here in 1822. Major Heald died in 1832, and his widow in 1857. Darius Heald was married twice. First to Miss Virginia Campbell, who died in a few years. In 1861 he married Miss Hunter. He left two sons and five daughters. He represented the county in the state legislature in 1854. He was a painstaking law maker, and had enacted the first game law ever enacted in the state. He was fond of the sport of hunting and fishing.

St. Charles County, up to 1860, had been noted for the ability of her representatives in both branches of the legislature, but after what was known as the Drake Constitution came in force, a large element were disfranchised by a test oath and for ten years, until that constitution was set aside, misrule prevailed and mediocre men were selected for law makers. Very few counties in the state elected the best men for representatives. The result was a bonded debt of about twenty-five or thirty millions of dollars was fixed on the state. After the infamous Drake Constitution had been set aside, and the southern element had been again made citizens of the United States, abler men were sent to the state capital.

Henry Abbington, an old settler and a Virginian by birth was elected to the legislature. He was not an orator, but he was a man endowed with more than ordinary sense, and at once restored his county to her original prestige. After several terms in the assembly, he was succeeded by Albert H. Edwards, a young lawyer, son of the late Henry Edwards, and a man of great ability. While not an orator, he commanded the entire confidence of the house, and was instrumental in shaping the actions of the lawmaking body. He served several times in both branches of the assembly, and died while a member of the senate.

Henry C. Lackland, a man of irreproachable character and great ability, served his county and his state and maintained the high record of his county in the legislative assembly.

For the first sixty years of the county's history the two old parties alternated in the selection of representatives. Party lines were not so strictly drawn as to induce the party voters to elect an inferior man. Both parties were forced to put forward their ablest men, and it made little difference which party triumphed. In politics the county has been overwhelmingly Republican for the past twenty-five years. Her primaries name her officers, the final election only confirming them.

Henry C. Lackland, son of James C. Lackland, an early settler of the county, was educated at St. Charles College, graduating in 1849. He studied law. In 1856, he was elected a professor in St. Charles College, and taught mathematics and also Greek and Latin. In 1860 he resumed the practice of law. He was one of the ablest men of the hour. In 1875 he was elected to the state convention that had been called to repeal the iniquitous Drake Constitution. He had no opposition, and received every vote cast in the county except five. The Drake oath had become a dead letter, and the franchise had been restored to the better class of citizens who had been disfranchised for ten years. Mr. Lackland was a leading figure in that convention and the county came into her own once more. He afterwards represented the county in the legislature where he at once became a leading spirit and conferred much honor on his county and constituents. He died two years ago (in 1910) honored and lamented by his fellow citizens.

Francis Howell married Susan Stone in South Carolina and came to St. Charles in 1797. He settled on and gave name to Howell's Prairie fifteen miles west of St. Charles. He built a mill, the third one in the county. His home became a central point for the meet and drill of the militia, and rendezvous for public functions. He died in 1834, aged seventy-three, and his wife died eight years after. They had ten children. Thomas married Susanna Callaway, grand-daughter of Daniel Boone. He died in his eighty-fifth year, and his wife lived to be ninety years of age. They had fourteen children. He was a colonel in the war of 1812, and commanded the militia. Newton married and raised ten children. Benjamin married Mahala Costlio and they raised twelve children. These men all served in the Indian wars and the war of 1812. They certainly lived up to the Bible command, "Multiply and replenish the earth." Lewis Howell, the youngest child, was born on Howell's Prairie and grew to manhood in the piping times of the earliest settlement of the county. By his fondness for study and his boyish energy, he succeeded even in that early day in acquiring a fine classical education, and became an able teacher. By his energy and scholarly influence, he aided materially in advancing an active interest in education in the county, and assisted in the education of a number of young men, who afterwards became eminent and useful citizens. He lived to be nearly ninety years of age, retaining full control of his bright intellect to the last. He was an educated Christian gentleman, eminently useful to his fellow man, in his day and generation, and the world was better for his having lived in it. He left one son, John William Howell, who served through the Civil war, a brave Confederate soldier under the banner of Sterling Price. He is still living on Howell's Prairie, an active farmer.

Colonel John Pitman, a part of whose life has already been noted, came to the county in 1804, and was an active part and participant in all the leading events of that period, as soldier, lawmaker, and class leader in his chosen church, an ideal citizen to open to civilization a new world. He had one son by his first wife, the late David Kile Pitman, who was born about the time he moved west. The young man grew up amid the stirring scenes of frontier life, improving the scant opportunities for an education that were offered in a frontier life. He inherited from his father, many broad acres of fertile land, and had been trained by this careful and competent father to a farmer's life. He soon became the leading planter of his section and led an ideal rural life. He was fond of all innocent sports, hunting, fishing and social pastimes. He married Caroline L. Hickman of Kentucky, about 1827. She bore him one son, Richard Hickman Pitman. She died in 1833. In a few years he was again married to Miss Eliza H. Baker, of Virginia. Thuy had two children, Anna, who married William Glanvil in 1854; and Dr. John Pitman, of Kirkwood, Missouri. David K. Pitman was a polished Christian gentleman, affable and entertaining in conversation, and lived an exemplary Christian life, read and known of all men. In him was no guile. He exerted a wide Christian influence in the county.

Professor R. H. Pitman, of Woodlawn Female Seminary, was an educator of the highest order. No man who ever lived in the county rendered a greater service to it and to society than he did. For forty years he educated and trained the girls of Northeast Missouri. His pupils, many of them now gone to their reward, have made Christian homes and reared sons and daughters who are now some of the brightest ornaments and fill the highest places in our broad and happy land. Dr. John Pitman, now of Kirkwood, has been an active and able physician, an ornament to his profession and a factor in the progress of the county.

Military Record

All of the early settlers who came to the county in pioneer day" were endowed with the military spirit. Making a home in the wilderness, surrounded by savage tribes, whose every instinct impelled to cruelty and bloodshed, inspired the art of defense and aroused courage in the hearts of the inhabitants. But a few years passed after the county came under the government before it became necessary to form military organizations and erect forts for the protection of the people; and such organizations were formed and officered by brave and competent men. From 1805 to 1812 many of the settlers were killed by the treacherous red man. Among the murdered were Joseph Price, Lewis, Mike Baldrage, Abram Keithly, Hutchins and a number of others. These murders were perpetrated by desultory bands of marauding Indians; and not infrequently the savages met the same fate they had meted out to the whites.

A courageous settler, William Van Burkleo, returning to his cabin opposite Grafton on the Mississippi, after being out a number of days with the Rangers, was attacked by eight Indians. He, with a friend and his wife, were sitting in the door when they were fired on. He was shot in the leg and his wife slightly wounded. He returned the fire and killed the chief. The others retreated, but carried off the body of their dead chieftain. The bullet that killed the Indian, severed the buckskin cord that fastened to the red man's neck a peculiar talismanic stone, which Van Burkleo found the next morning. The stone is of white quartz, highly polished. In shape, a perfect prism, with a smooth round hole piercing it longitudinally. It is about an inch and a half long. No such quartz is found in this section. The writer has the stone from the old man, who died in 1864, in his ninetieth year. He was a noted character, an Indian fighter of note, and fond of horse-racing. His descendants are scattered over the West.

Ebenezer Ayres came from Pennsylvania about 1795, and settled on the borders of the Mere Cranch Lake. His house was built of logs cut on the Alleghany Mountains, rafted down that stream and the Ohio to its mouth, thence on keel boats up the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and two hewed log houses were built of them in the Point Prairie by Ayres and a neighbor in 1800. He built the first horse-mill in that part of the county. He planted an orchard and made cheese for the market. His house was of red cedar, and it was called the "Red House," and in it was preached the first Protestant sermon ever delivered in the "Point." He had one son who married Louisiana Overall. His daughter married Anthony C. Palmer, who taught the first school in the "Point." He served as a soldier in the Indian wars under Captain Callaway.

Samuel Griffith settled in the Point in 1795. He was one of the first American settlers in the territory. 'Mr. Griffith was married in North Carolina and raised four children: Daniel A., Asa, Mary and Sarah. Daniel married Matilda McKnight and had five children. Asa married Elizabeth Johnson and they had five children. Mary married Wilson Overall and Sarah married Forster McKnight.

Alexander Garvin of Pennsylvania, married Amy Mallerson and settled in the county in an early day. His house was built in a day. It was 16x18 feet in dimensions and was covered with linden bark weighted down with poles. The chimney was of sticks and mud. They moved into it the next day. The son, Alexander Garvin, married Elizabeth Boyd. Their children live in St. Louis. One son is a lawyer of fine reputation.

The Edwards family were pioneers of the county. The progenitors of the family came to the colony of Virginia in an early day. In the early part of the eighteenth century, a Welsh gentleman fitted out a vessel called the ''Brice'' and sent his young son, John Edwards, with a number of Welsh families to the colony of Virginia. They settled in what is now Caroline and Albemarle counties. John Edwards was married to Susanna Chiles, an English girl, about 1740. To this marriage were born eight children. The oldest son was John. One of the girls married William Bibb. Her son, William A. Bibb, lived and died in Charlottesville, Virginia. The third son, Ambrose, was born in November, 1747, at Shadwell, on the Rivanna River, in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was married to Miss Olive Martin, daughter of Joseph Martin, on the 14th of February, 1774. They had ten children: Susanna, Brice, James, John, Martha, Henry, Chiles, Joseph, Booker and Carr. Four of them died in Virginia. The other six came to Missouri between 1833 and 1840 and settled in St. Charles County. In 1811, John Edwards married Martha Johnston. They had seven children, five sons and two daughters. Of these children, only one is living. Dr. J. C. Edwards. Judge Samuel Edwards died at his home in Mexico, Missouri, in 1910. Captain John Edwards, served in the Fourteenth Virginia regiment in the War of 1812. So did his brothers, Brice, James and Henry. Their father served in the Revolutionary War under General Gates at the surrender of Burgoyne, and also in 1780, under General Lafayette in Virginia. Henry Edwards married Sarah Waller in Henry County, Virginia, in 1811. His sons were W. W. Edwards, a lawyer who served his state faithfully. He was district attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, appointed by Judge Edward Bates when he was United States attorney-general in 1841. He also served as a circuit judge for many years. His youngest son, Colonel James T. Edwards, born 1836, was a gallant Confederate soldier. He entered the southern army under General Price. He was soon selected by General Parsons as his chief of staff, and was promoted to the rank of colonel. He was badly wounded at Wilson's creek where General Lyons was killed. He served with honor until the close of the war. In 1876, he was appointed assistant door-keeper of the United States senate, and is still serving in that capacity. He has filled that honorable position for thirty-two years, through all the political changes, notwithstanding the fact that he is a Jeffersonian Democrat.


© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

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