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

Sullivan County, Missouri
By R. A. Dodge, Milan


The First Settlers

The first settlement in Sullivan County was made by Dr. Jacob Holland and his son, Robert W. Holland, near the site of the present village of Scottville. They came to the County in 1836 or 1837, the exact date being unknown. Dr. Holland was not a graduate of any medical school, but had learned what he knew about the profession from the Indians and from his personal observations. He left the county in a few years to serve in the Black Hawk war, after which he settled in Putnam County. From there he went to the Mexican war and later to California to mine gold.

The next settler was a farmer, John Hatcher. Other settlers who came soon afterward were Hawkins and Hazael Harrelson, Mrs. Charles Read and Henry Dell. John Dennis, with his wife and four children, moved into the settlement in 1838. These people, with B. T. Dennison and the Rev. John Curl, who lived about twelve miles north of where Milan is now, and Matthew Kidd, who lived near the present site of Kiddville, composed the entire population of the county at this time.

The Reverend Mr. Curl was a Baptist preacher, the first minister of the gospel to come into the county. Dennis was later a county officer, being sheriff and assessor of the county for terms of four years each. Reuben Wilhite, Jesse Goins, William Daly, Hugh C. Warren and Robert Bums settled in the county soon afterward. In 1839 William W. Sevier settled about six miles south of the present town of Milan with his wife and five children. Jeremiah G. Smith came into the county from Boston, Massachusetts, in the same year, and in 1841 married one of the daughters of Mr. Sevier.

Early Settlers

George Baker
John Baldridge Jr.
Hayden Brown
John Constant
Benjamin Couch
Joseph Couch
John Crumpacker
Daniel Doyle Sr
Daniel Doyle Jr
Samuel Darr
Levi Dennis
Francis Drake
William Eaton
Harrison Elmore
Hiram T. Elmore
Jefferson Elmore
Stephen R. Fields
Solomon Grim
Peter Groves
Martha Hale
Esom Hannon
Armstead C. Hill
Elias Hudnall
Branson Jackson
Gabriel Jones
Thomas Lane
C. H. Levin
John McCullough
John Montgomery
Robinson Morris
James Murphy
Oliver P. Phillips
Samuel Read
Samuel Rogers
Ira Sears
Daniel Shatto
Elisha Smith
George W. Smith
Thomas Spencer
William Tally
Griffin Taylor
Lewis Todhunter
William Walker
Jacob Weaver
John Weaver
Daniel Wilhite
Barnett Yates
Jesse Yates

The large majority of the early settlers brought with them their wives and children. They settled in all parts of the county, the largest number being in what were known as the Hill settlement and the West Locust Creek settlement, around the present site of Milan or on the Yellow creek.

First Land Entry

The first entry of land in Sullivan County was made March 22, 1839, by John Snell, the west half of the northwest quarter of section 24, township 61, range 21. The next entries were made on May 6th of the same year by Meshack Smith, Lewis Tyre and Elisha T. Dennison. Many entries were made by persons who never settled in the county.

By the close of the year 1842 settlements had been made along all the streams of the county. The settlers grouped themselves together, to some extent, according to the state or locality from which they had emigrated. Medicine Creek was settled mainly by people from Illinois and Main Locust Creek by Virginians, Tennesseans and Ohioans, except that part later called "Hell's Kitchen," where the people were mainly Canadians. The Canadians were nearly all related to each other but were almost always in some kind of quarrel among themselves. They later moved away, but the name "Hell's Kitchen" has clung to the locality.

There had never been many Indians in Sullivan County and when the first settlers came they were not annoyed by them. They had, however, many other hardships to encounter and difficulties to overcome. They were usually poor and made slow progress in opening up their farms. As a result they raised little more than was needed to supply themselves.

The Food of the Pioneer

A mill was established in Linn County in 1840 or 1841 on Main Locust creek. It was kept running only about six months in the year, but was a great convenience to the settlers in Sullivan County. When the mill was not running the settlers either ground the corn by hand or did without bread. During the latter part of the summer potatoes and squashes were used as substitute; and these, with fat venison, beef or pork, enabled the pioneers to get along comfortably. Deer and wild turkey were abundant, but such necessary articles as coffee, sugar, tea and salt could not be obtained nearer than Glasgow or Brunswick, both about seventy-five miles to the southward.

Cattle and hogs were raised by the early settlers and some kept sheep. Wolves were numerous, however, and were a serious obstacle to successful sheep husbandry. Wild honey was plentiful and beeswax, peltries and tallow furnished the staple articles of export and trade. Money was so scarce that for many years these articles were used to pay even the state and county taxes.

The first crop of wheat in the county was raised by James Shipley, When the grain was ripe he could find no implements with which, to cut it, so he went on foot to Glasgow, where he bought two old fashioned sickles. With these he returned home and harvested his crop.

A mill was built in Sullivan County in 1842. It was on Main Locust creek and was owned by Peter Groves. It was equipped for grinding corn and wheat and for sawing logs. Soon afterward a mill was built on the same creek by Samuel R. Fields. A third mill was built on Medicine Creek by Charles Haley. These three were the only mills in the county in 1845.

Among the crops of the early settlers were some raised as experiments. The Prather brothers, N. M. Hamrick and other settlers on Medicine creek cultivated hemp on a small scale, but had to abandon it as the remoteness of the market compelled them to sell their product at too low a price to yield them a profit. Tobacco was also raised by some of the early settlers, J. W. Thomas, a former Virginian, built a small tobacco factory on West Locust creek about the year 1844. Mr. Thomas went to California during the gold fever of 1849 and afterward the manufacture of tobacco was carried on in the elm woods north of Milan by Daniel Baldridge, Robert Baldridge, Branson Jackson, William Jackson and William J. Talley. They met with considerable success until the imposition of the internal revenue tax made the business unprofitable.

Corn, rye, wheat and oats soon became staple crops in the county and peas, beans, Irish potatoes, cabbage, beets, parsley, turnips, squash and pumpkins also were profitable. Little attention was paid to the tame grasses such as timothy, red top and clover because of the great amount of native grass. Later blue grass became plentiful and timothy and both white and red clover came to be cultivated. In earlier days the creek bottoms were of little use except for pasture. The creek banks were higher than the bottom lands and the latter over-flowed in the spring. The land is now better drained, making the county much more healthful in which to live.

The First Birth

The first known marriage in the county was that of John Shipley and Mary Polson, in August, 1840. The second was that of Jeremiah G. Smith and Mary Ann Sevier, February 11, 1841. The first child born in the county was that of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Toalson, born about January 1, 1840. It died four months afterward.

The County Organized

Sullivan County was organized in 1845. It was formed with its present boundaries in 1843, when it was organized as a county, except that it was attached to Linn County for all civil and military purposes. It was then known as Highland County. In 1844, by a state census, Highland County was found to have enough people to permit a full organization. The representative in the state legislature from Linn and Highland counties, E. M. C. Morelock, succeeded in having the act organizing the county under the name of Sullivan passed by the legislature.

The county was divided into six townships, Liberty, Pleasant Hill, Duncan, Polk, Morris and Vrooman. Voting precincts were established in each township and the county organization was completed. The present townships are: Buchanan, Bowman, Clay, Duncan, Jackson, Liberty, Morris, Pleasant Hill, Polk, Penn, Taylor and Union.

The county court of Linn County was ordered by the legislature to pay over to Sullivan County all the revenues which had been collected within the limits of Sullivan County since February 17, 1843, after deducting the expenses of assessing and collecting the taxes and all money spent for improvements in Sullivan County. Under the provisions of this statute, Sullivan County was paid $156.55.

First County Offices

County clerk, H. T. Elmore, 1845 to 1849
Sheriff, E. B. Morelock, 1845 to 1848
Treasurer, George Irvine, 1845 to 1846
Prosecuting attorney, R. D. Morrison, 1872 to 1876
Collector, James Morris, 1872 to 1874
Public administrator, James Beatty, 1868 to 1870
Judges of the county court, William Doyle, 1845 to 1846, Samuel Lewis, 1845 to 1849, Patrick McQuown, 1845 to 1850
Surveyor, Jephthah Wood, 1845 to 1846
Judge of the probate court, Stephen G. Watkins, 1850 to 1857; Pierson Tyer, 1845 to 1846
Coroner, William Orr, 1868 to 1876
Circuit clerk, Allen Gillespie, 1858 to 1862.
The first representative was E. M, C. Morelock, who served from 1844 to 1850.

Present County Officers

William H. W. Dewitt, presiding judge of the county court 
Thomas Jefferson Briggs, judge of the county court from the first district;
Jesse H. Franklin, judge of the county court from the second district
Clarence F. Eubanks, judge of probate
Andrew D. Morrison, clerk of the circuit court
Mark II. Mairs, clerk of the county court
Edward E. Shoop, recorder of deeds
Jacob M. Wattenbarger, prosecuting attorney
J. S. Shaw, sheriff
Charles Van Wye, coroner
L. E. Harris, public administrator
Roy Glidewell, surveyor
Roxana Jones, superintendent of schools

At the County Seat

The county seat was located at Milan and the first meeting of the county court was held there, at the home of A. C. Hill, on May 5, 1845. The first saloon license was granted November 3, 1846, to George W. Smith, who asked permission to open a dram shop at Milan.

The first courthouse was built in 1847. It was of hewn logs, one and one-half stories in height, and 20x24 feet in size. The lower story was all one room. Above there were two rooms, one for a grand jury and the other for the petit jury. The building was erected by William Putnam of Linn County, and was occupied as a courthouse until 1858, when it was removed to the southwest corner of Main and Third streets and was destroyed by fire in 1892. A substantial brick courthouse with offices below and court and jury rooms below was erected in 1858. This building burned June 26, 1908. The county court then bought an office building, which is now used for a courthouse.

The first jail was erected in 1849 and 1850 at a cost of $700. It stood until 1859, when it was burned down by a runaway slave, who was being kept in it until his master should come to claim him. The new jail stands on the northeast corner of the square.

From a population of about two hundred in 1840, Sullivan County has grown until it has at the present time a population of about 18,600. The population, according to the census, has been: 1850, 2,983; 1860, 9,108; 1870, 11,907; 1880, 16,569; 1890, 19,000; 1900, 20,282; 1910, 18,598.

The increase in population has been accompanied by an even more rapid increase in wealth. The taxable property of the county in 1912 was assessed at $7,680,114.48.

The Negro and foreign-born population of the county has always been small. At no time have there been more than 125 Negroes in the county. The foreign element is larger, but there have been few undesirable immigrants.

The county is very close politically. The Democrats hold all the offices except probate judge and presiding judge of the county court.

In 1844 the county, voting together with Linn, which then included Sullivan, gave Henry Clay 269 votes for president and James K. Polk 494. The first presidential contest after the organization of the county separately from Linn, resulted in a vote of 250 for Lewis Cass and 154 for Zachary Taylor. In 1908 Taft carried the county over Bryan by a vote of 2,389 to 2,269. A majority of the present county officers are Republicans.

In the Civil War

The first event in Sullivan County connected with the Civil War was the mass meeting at Milan on February 4, 1861. The secessionists called the meeting, but the Union men made plans to turn it from a secession into a Union meeting. The leaders of the Union men were H. T. McClanahan, O. P. Phillips, Thomas Lane, S. H. B. Cochrane, James Beatty, James T. Dunlap, Ichabod Comstock, John McCullough, Joel De Witt, Gabriel Jones and P. W. Martin.

On the following Monday a meeting was held in the courthouse to discuss the questions of the day. Oliver H. Bennett, then the county's representative in the legislature, who had come home to arouse enthusiasm among the people in favor of secession, was elected chairman of the meeting. After speeches had been made by K. S. Strahan, Dr. E. P. Perkins and John C. Hutchinson, all advocating secession, H. T. McClanahan obtained recognition from the chairman and said that a majority of the people of Sullivan County were in favor of sustaining the Union. He called for a division of the house, saying "All those in favor of standing by the Union come to my side of the room; those in favor of secession rally round Strahan." About two-thirds of those present sided with McClanahan. The secessionists, having found themselves in the minority, retired from the courtroom. The Unionists organized and selected Col. Gabriel Jones, Benjamin Smith, O. P. Phillips and Philip W. Martin delegates to the senatorial district convention to be held at Chillicothe, which selected delegates to the state convention.

After the Union meeting had adjourned the Southerners reassembled and nominated their delegates to the state convention. At the election which took place soon afterward, the Union men carried the county by a large majority.

A mass meeting was held at Milan on June 29, 1861, to express the sentiment of the county concerning the condition of affairs in the state at that time. About 1,500 persons were present. Col. Gabriel Jones was made chairman of the meeting and B. F. Smith secretary. Resolutions were passed fixing the blame for the "evil times and the unprecedented distress of the American people" upon the secessionists.

Sullivan County furnished its share of troops to the Union army. The Sixty-sixth Regiment of Enrolled Missouri Volunteer; Company C and a part of Company K of the First Regiment and Company G of the Second Regiment of Missouri State Militia; a large part of the Twenty-third Infantry, especially Companies A and G; and Company B and a part of Company F of the Eighteenth Regiment and Company E of the Forty-second Regiment of Missouri Volunteers, all these were raised in Sullivan County.

There were no important engagements in Sullivan County during the Civil War and most of the fighting was confined to pursuits of bushwhackers. About fifty men were on duty at Milan to guard property there. These men were chosen from the Sixty-sixth Regiment, each company furnishing a few. The post was in charge, at different times, of Capt. J. W. Jewett, Capt. Dennis Adams, Capt. E. L. Webb and Lieut. James Sterling. While the post was in charge of Captain Webb, a party of bushwhackers made a raid through the southern part of the county and a portion of the guard at Milan gave pursuit. Failing to come up with the intruders, they returned, arresting two men, Joseph and Thomas Stephens, on their way home. They intended to take them to Milan, but the guard over the prisoners shot them in a reported attempt to escape.

When O. P. Phillips was sheriff and ex-officio collector of the county revenues, he was robbed of about $800 by bushwhackers in the neighborhood of Lindley. They made him get down on his knees and hurrah for Jefferson Davis. Jerome Payne was arrested soon afterward, charged with complicity in the robbery. Nothing was proved against him, but he was taken to a place about a mile north of Milan and hanged to a tree.

During the war, a farmer, William Calhoun, was killed by Union men, whom he was guiding through his farm to a road on the other side. No one was ever found guilty of the crime, although James Head was indicted for it. Before the day set for Head's trial, he accidentally broke his leg and died soon afterward. It is believed that he was not guilty of the murder.

During the war another atrocious murder was committed. This was the killing of Daniel Mummy by a Mr. White. John Ellers, one of whose daughters White is said to have been courting, is accused of having instigated the crime. Both Ellers and White left the country after the crime, but Ellers was captured in Iowa by Judge William Beatty, Solomon Poole and James McClaskey. They were to bring him back to Sullivan County, but on reaching a point south of Unionville, in Putnam County, their prisoner was taken away from them by a posse of citizens and hanged.

Although the number was small in comparison with the number of Union men, Sullivan County furnished some troops to the Southern army. A company of men encamped at Field's mill, in the southern part of the county, in September, 1861, with the ultimate object of joining the Confederate troops to the southward. There were between fifty and seventy-five men, under Capt. Thomas H. Flood. With a company under Capt. George W. Sandusky, of Linn County, they went southward, crossing the Missouri River at Brunswick and joining General Price's forces at Lexington. They were mustered into service there and were attached to the Third Regiment of the Third Division of the Missouri State Guards. Col. E. W. Price was in charge of the regiment and Gen. John B. Clark of the division. They participated in the battle of Lexington and went south with General Price on his retreat. Captain Flood, on account of sickness, resigned his position in the company, and the command devolved on Lieut. Samuel Baker. When their term of enlistment, expired in the spring of 1862, quite a number of the men enlisted in the Confederate service, under Capt. P. C. Flourney, and surrendered with him at Fort Blakely.

The Twenty-third Regiment of Union troops, which was raised in Sullivan County, went south in 1862 and took part in the battle of Pittsburg Landing, or, as it was called by the Union troops, the battle of Shiloh. This engagement was a severe one for the Twenty-third Regiment. Captain Dunlap, Captain Brown, Captain Robinson, Adjutant Martin, Lieutenant Munn and Lieutenant Simms were wounded, 30 private soldiers were killed, about 170 wounded and 375 taken prisoners. The regiment later participated in the battle of Murphreesboro, most of the engagements in the Atlanta campaign, Sherman's march to the sea and the march through the Carolinas. Part of the troops were mustered out of service in January, 1865, and the rest July 18, 1865.

The Forty-fourth Regiment saw service at Franklin, Tennessee, in Louisiana, around New Orleans, and at Montgomery, Alabama.

Other Sullivan County troops saw service elsewhere, partly in Missouri and partly in the South.

A reunion of old soldiers, both Union and Confederate, was held at Milan July 3, 4 and 5, 1884. People from all over the county, as well as the veterans themselves, attended the reunion. A sham battle took place between the Union and Confederate forces.

Railroad History

There are three railroads in Sullivan County, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, and the Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City. The first named has 18.40 miles of roadbed in the county, the second 26.30 miles and the last mentioned 33.74 miles. The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul passes through the extreme western part of the county, running north and south. The Burlington runs north and south through the central part of the county, passing through Milan. The Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City runs through the county from east to west.

The first movement to assist a railroad company to build a road through the county was made in June, 1869. The county court ordered that the county subscribe $125,000 to the capital stock of the North Missouri Central Railroad Company, for which bonds were to be issued by the company and given to the railroad as needed to build the road through Sullivan County. When submitted to the voters, the proposition was not sustained. At an election held soon afterward, a similar proposition ordering a subscription of $100,000 was defeated also.

At the December term of the county court in 1869, a special election was ordered to be held in the county February 22, 1870, to ascertain whether two-thirds of the qualified voters of the county would consent to a $200,000 subscription to the capital stock of the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Railway Company, on condition that the company build a railroad across the county from east to west, as nearly as practicable through the center of the county. The company was also to maintain stations at Milan, Greencastle and Wintersville. At the election 1,049 votes were cast in favor of the subscription and 257 against it. The company started work on the road soon afterward. It was forced to suspend work during the panic of 1873, but graded twelve miles of road and built bridges and laid ties along it by the end of June, 1879. The company then offered the county $80,000 of its capital stock and asked in return for $80,000 in bonds. The county court refused to comply with their request and the railway company brought suit to compel the issuance of the bonds. The road was later completed through the county.

In 1871 the county court subscribed $200,000 to the capital stock of the St. Joseph & Iowa Railroad Company for use in building the North Missouri branch of the road. The company agreed to build the road through the county within twenty-one months. Although they managed to get $160,000 out of the $200,000 worth of bonds from the county, they did not build more than one-fourth of the road they had promised to build. The Burlington & Southwestern Railway Company had bought the property of the St. Joseph & Iowa Railroad Company and they maintained that they were entitled to all the bonds except $40,000 worth. The county compromised a suit they brought against the railroad to recover the bonds by agreeing to take over the capital stock of the railroad. This was worth very little and was later sold by the county court for $100.

Milan now has the Burlington and the Q. O. & K. C. railroads running through it, four mail and passenger trains stopping there each day. The Q. O. & K. C. shops are located at Milan, where about 200 men are employed with an average payroll of $600 per day.

The history of the Quincy, Omaha & Kansas City Railroad is given in the historical sketches of Knox and other counties and need not be duplicated.

History of the Schools

The first definite steps toward organizing Sullivan County for permanent educational purposes were made in 1847. The qualified voters of township 62 of range 20 petitioned the county court about this time to organize a school district of this territory and name it School Township No. 1. Their request was granted and R. D. Morrison was appointed commissioner and Samuel Maggart and Esom Hannan, directors. Town-ship 64 of range 21 was organized into a school township at the same time and numbered township No. 2. John Wood was appointed commissioner for the School Township and Thomas Wood and Robert Allen, directors.

The early schools had few conveniences. The blackboard and crayon, even, were absent. The schoolhouses were built to be as convenient and as comfortable as possible, but were poor compared with many of the country schoolhouses today. It was considered extravagant in the earlier days of Sullivan County to buy fuel for the schools. The patrons of each school took turns in furnishing fuel. To hire it cut, it was thought, would make the larger boys lazy and the task of cutting the wood for the fireplace or stove was imposed on them.

The number of children of school age in the county in 1860 was 3,242 and the amount of money appropriated by the state for school purposes in the county was $1,426.48. During the Civil War the schools were neglected and it was not until 1877 that education was again put on a systematic basis. In this year there were in the county the following number of school children: White males, 2,697; Negro males, 8; white females, 2,584 ; Negro females, 9; total whites, 5,281; total Negroes, 17; grand total, 5,298.

There were 95 schoolhouses in the county. There were 103 teachers, of which number 70 were men and 33 women. The average salary paid to the teachers was $32.01 a month for the men and $21.76 for the women. The marked difference in the salaries of the men and women teachers seems to indicate that men were held in much higher esteem as teachers. The total valuation of school property in 1877 was $28,366.

The total enumeration of children of school age in Sullivan County in 1912 was 5,678. There were 2,914 white males, 2,763 white females, 11 Negro males and 10 Negro females. The total number of whites was 5,657 and Negroes 21. There were 115 schoolhouses in the county, with 139 teachers. Of these, 56 are men and 83 women. The school property of the county is valued at $121,850.

The first county institute in the county was held in 1884. It was called by D. M. Wilson, county school commissioner, to meet at the public school building in Milan. It was conducted by W. P. Nason of the faculty of the Kirksville State Normal School. Institutes have been held every year since that time, after 1890 under the new Institute law. The institutes have usually been held at Milan, although one meeting has been held at Humphreys, another at Green City and a third at Harris. Humphrey's College at Humphrey and Green City College at Green City, private institutions, went out of existence several years ago.

The schools at Milan are especially good. The grammar school is well equipped and the high school is accredited by the University of Missouri, 18 units work being taught. The new laws in regard to teachers' certificates will make this four-years high school a valuable asset to the county.

Church History

The churches represented in Sullivan County include the Northern Methodist, Southern Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Christian, Free United Brethren, Catholic and Adventist. There are probably individuals here and there who prefer some other church, but these are the only ones that have exercised much religious influence.

The first preacher to come into the county was the Rev. John Curl, a Baptist. He lived in the northern part of the county, either in or not far from the Dennison settlement. He preached the first sermon at the home of John Hatcher, in the southern part of the county.

The first camp meeting was held by the Methodist's in 1842 about three miles west of Milan. The division of the Methodist church over the slavery question had not then occurred and all the Methodists who could reach the place attended the meeting. Three preachers were present, the Rev. George Land, the Rev. James McClaskey and the Rev. George Conway. The meeting lasted about thirteen days and about 300 persons attended.

The Rev. Jesse Goins was another of the early ministers. After the division in the Methodist church, the Rev. John Martin was probably the first minister belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church South to preach in the county. The entire body of Methodists in Sullivan County united with the southern wing of the church. The Methodist Episcopal Church was re-established in Sullivan County in 1859 under the name of the Wintersville Mission. The pastor was the Rev. P. W. Duree. Both the northern and southern branches of the church are now well represented in the county. There are at present sixteen Northern and six Southern Methodist churches.

The Presbyterian Church was organized in Sullivan County in 1865 by the Rev. William Reed. The first church was in the country and a Presbyterian church was not organized at Milan until 1881. There are now five Presbyterian churches in the county.

The Presbyterians were preceded ten years by the Cumberland Presbyterians, who organized their first church in 1855 at the home of Christopher Cooper, in Bowman Township. The next year a Cumberland camp meeting was held. Meetings were also held on the same ground, Christopher Cooper's farm, for the two following years. The Pleasant Hill congregation of the Cumberland Presbyterian church was organized in 1868 by the Rev. James M. Ragan. There are now five churches of this denomination in Sullivan County.

The Christian church was organized in the county in 1883. The first church was at Humphreys, where there were thirty-three original members. There are now eleven Christian churches.

The Baptists were early in the field in Sullivan County. Besides the Rev. John Curl and the Rev. Jesse Goins, pioneer Baptists, were the Rev. A. J. Williford, the Rev. John McAlester, the Reverend Mr. Green, the Rev. A. W. Cole, the Rev. Alton F. Martin and the Rev. J. W. Wadleigh. In 1856 a Missionary Baptist church was organized at Yellow Creek. The first services were held at the home of Matthew Kidd. The Rev. Henry Gibson became the first pastor.

A congregation was organized in Milan in 1871 by the Rev. Peter. Setters. There were at first only seven members, but the number rapidly increased.

The Free United Brethren have had numerous congregations, or classes, in Sullivan County. The denomination was organized by members of the old United Brethren church, who withdrew from that church. The first congregation in the county was organized at the Dudley school-house.

The first priest to administer to the spiritual wants of the Catholics of Milan and Sullivan County was the Rev. John J. Hogan, of Chillicothe, who visited them the first time in the summer of 1867. Father Hogan was consecrated bishop of the newly erected diocese of St. Joseph the following year, and was succeeded by Father J. J. Kennedy, who established his residence at Unionville. At that time the congregation was small, Dennis Ryan, who came to Milan in 1854, being the pioneer member. But Father Kennedy thoroughly organized the few and scattered members and started the young parish on a career of progress, which continued under the succeeding pastors, until today it is a well-established, prosperous organization. St. Mary's church, Milan, is the only sacred edifice that the Catholics of Sullivan County have. When services are held elsewhere in the- county they are con-ducted in private residences or when convenient in places for public gatherings. The present pastor of the Catholic church of Milan is the Rev. J. J. Jermain, who received his appointment in November, 1902. The Right Rev. J. J. Hogan, the first pastor, who during the course of his episcopate was transferred to Kansas City, is still living and is the oldest bishop in the American hierarchy.

Cities, Towns and Villages

Boynton | Cora | Greencastle | Green City | Harris | Humphreys | Milan
Newtown | Osgood | Pollock | Reger | Sorrell

Close Political Contest

Sullivan County has had some of the bitterest political fights in the history of the state. In 1902 J. M. Dormer, Republican, received 2,252 votes and Ed L. Montgomery, Democrat, 2,251 votes for the office of circuit clerk. J. W. Yardley, Republican, received 2,250 votes and Estra E. Frazier, 2,245, Democrat, for the office of presiding judge of the county court. The election of these two Republicans was contested on the grounds of alleged fraudulent voting. The case was tried at the May term of the circuit court in Milan before E. M. Harber, special judge. Montgomery was given twenty-one and Frazier seventeen votes that the Republican judges had thrown out and would not count. The case was appealed to the supreme court of Missouri and was affirmed by that court. To show how close the political lines are drawn in this county, we reproduced an item taken from the Milan Standard under date of Nov. 13, 1902:

"Democrats Disfranchised"

"More than two years ago the county court divided Buchanan Township into two voting precincts; the eastern precinct was called Pennville and the western was called Brown. The lines between the precincts were designated by the court and a plat was made in the county clerk's office and sent to the officers therein. Peter Lunsford and his son, J. M., were in the Pennville precinct and voted at the general election in 1900, and at the township election in 1901 at Pennville. This year, without any change made by the county court (and made in the same hand-writing), another plat was made for the use of the Pennville precinct, whereby it was made to appear that the Lunsfords resided in the Brown precinct. They voted as they had formerly done, and where they regularly belonged, at Pennville. When it came to counting the votes, the judges got into a wrangle about it, the Republican judges insisting on them being thrown out and the Democratic judges that they be counted, and the matter stood until nearly noon Wednesday, when the Democratic judges yielded and the two votes, that had previously been voted and counted, were thrown out and the returns signed. Thus two Democratic votes were lost and Dormer, Republican, elected circuit clerk by one vote, when had they been counted, as they should have been, Montgomery, Democrat, would have been elected instead of Dormer. The Lunsfords could not vote at Brown because the plat used by those judges showed they resided in the Pennville precinct, and they would not let them vote at Pennville because the plat showed them to reside in the Brown precinct. Both plats were made in the county clerk's office and in the same handwriting. The Democrats were disfranchised and the office of circuit clerk stolen from Ed Montgomery by the manipulation of the county clerk's office and the aid of the Republican judges, but the end is not yet."

When Dormer was notified to vacate the office, he refused and the United States marshal was compelled to send a deputy to Milan to oust him.

  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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