A Directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets
Past and Present
of Caldwell County, Missouri

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser


Caldwell County

Up to December 26, 1836, what is now Caldwell County comprised a portion of Ray. The latter was organized November 16, 1820, out of Howard, and named for Hon. John Ray, one of the delegates from that county to the first constitutional convention of the State. The legislative act establishing Ray County defined its territory to be, "all that part of Howard County west of Grand River to the boundary line of the State," and further declared that, "all that portion of territory lying north of the county of Ray, and west of the range line dividing ranges 21 and 22, to the northern and western boundaries of the State, shall be attached to said county of Ray for all purposes, civil and military and judicial." The western boundary of the State at that time was a line running due north from the mouth of the Kansas River (where Kansas City now stands) to the northern boundary, the Platte Purchase not having been acquired.

It was provided in the organizing act that, when a division of Ray County should become necessary its northern boundary line should be the line dividing Congressional Townships 55 and 56; and in 1825, it was provided that the said northern line should run between Townships 53 and 54; but in time the line was established as at present--between 54 and 55. In January, 1822, Clay County was formed out of the western part of Ray. The first county seat of Ray was Bluffton, on the Missouri River (now extinct), but in 1828 Richmond became the capital. The first townships into which Ray County was divided, and which included the present area of Caldwell, may be mentioned. At the first session of the Ray County Court, in April, 1821, the county was divided by lines running north and south into 3 municipal townships, viz: Bluffton, which included all the territory between Range 30 and Grand River; Fishing River, including the territory west of the range line between 29 and 30 to the sectional line running a little east of where Liberty, in Clay County stands; and Gallatin, comprising the remainder of the county west of the State boundary line. All townships ran from the Missouri River to the northern line of the State. What is now Caldwell County was first a part of Bluffton Township.

In 1822, after Clay had been organized, Ray County was composed of but two municipal townships: Missouriton, including all the tract of county east of the main fork of Crooked River, or the Chariton County line; and Bluffton, including the remainder of the county west, to the Clay County line.

In February, 1823, Bluffton and Missouriton Townships were divided, and Crooked River Township formed. What is now Caldwell County was then embraced in Bluffton Township, Ray County.

In November, 1826, Fishing River Township was formed out of Bluffton...In 1829, the name of Bluffton Township was changed to Richmond...The territory of Caldwell was bounded then as follows: Range 29 in Fishing River Township, and the remainder of the county in Richmond Township, Ray County.

In May, 1832, the Ray County Court created a new township out of Richmond and named it Marion...Marion Township, Ray County, comprised among other territory what is now the west four miles of Lincoln and New York, and all of Grant and Kingston Township, Caldwell County.

[2]

In May, 1832, the authorities of Ray created a new municipal township, called Grand River. It included the present township of Davis, Fairview, and Breckenridge, the east two miles of Lincoln, New York and Gomer in Caldwell County, and a considerable portion of Livingston and Daviess.

In June, 1835, Shoal Creek Township was established...At this time there were no settlements worth mentioning in the county of Caldwell outside of Shoal Creek Township...

In December, 1836, just prior to the organization of Caldwell, its territory was included in the municipal townships of Shoal Creek and Grand River, in Ray County. Grand River Township, among other territory, in what is now Livingston and Daviess Counties embraced what are now the municipal townships of Davis, Fairview and Breckenridge, or the east six miles (Range 26) of Caldwell County.

When the Mormon leaders had determined upon the occupation of this portion of Missouri...the statement was made: "Let us fix up a county expressly for the Mormons. Let us send all the Mormons in the State to that county and induce the Gentiles to leave."

That new county was to be organized out of the first 24 square miles north of Ray and with its southern boundary between the said townships 53 and 54. But this proposal was met with strong objection, and the county was never organized.

(For a fuller account of the Mormon settlement in Missouri, it is suggested that Chapter II of the History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties be read, also pages 105ff).

The headquarters of the Mormons were now located in Caldwell County, at a new city called Far West.

The county seat was removed to Kingston in 1843. A small road passed east and west a little south of the public square leading from Far West to Salem, two miles east of Salem.

At this time there were but three water mills in the county, all on Shoal Creek--two in the eastern part of the county (Haun's and Whites') and one north of Far West (Fugitt's). There was a good horse mill north of Far West. It was owned by a Mormon named Gardner, who stayed there after the Mormons left.

In December, 1836, the county of Caldwell was organized, a means of much importance to the Mormons. The county seat was located at Far West, and courts held in the school house. Justices of the Peace were appointed in the different townships and all the political machinery of the county was controlled by the Mormons...(--Hist. of Livingston and Caldwell Counties, 1886, St. Louis National Historical Society, pp. 101, 102, 103, 104, 116, 120, 163.)

[3]

Kingston Township comprises Township 56, Range 28 and occupies a central position in the county...The first settlements made in Caldwell County were made within what are now the boundaries of Kingston Township by Jesse Mann, John Raglan, Ben Lovell, and Jesse Mann, Jr., in the spring and summer of 1831.

Formerly Kingston Township formed a portion of Blythe Township which was organized long before the Civil War, and at one time took in what are now Grant, Kingston and Hamilton Townships, and other territory. The township was named for Riley Blythe, an old pioneer...November 16, 1867, Blythe was broken up and Kingston and Hamilton Townships organized out of its territory...(--p. 255.)

Mirabile Township comprises Congressional Township 56, Range 29.

Perhaps the first settler in what is now Mirabile Township was David Gwynn (the name is also spelled Guinn), who came in the fall of 1834 to the southeastern part, and January 10, 1835, entered land two miles northeast of Mirabile town now is (west 1/2 Sec. 25) and lived there for some years...

It was in this township where the Mormon settlement was made, and the Mormons are the next white settlers to come in after Gwynn and Clevenger (Clevenger came in the spring of 1835).

The town or city of Far West, the first county seat of Caldwell County, and the headquarters of Mormonism for more than two years was in the northeastern portion of this township.

What is now Mirabile Township formed a portion of Rockford which composed the western tier of Congressional Township from 1860 to May 1867. (--pp. 315, 316.)

Hamilton Township comprises Congressional Township 57, Range 28...

Perhaps the first settler in what is now Hamilton Township was Nathaniel Marsh, a Yankee, who located three miles northwest of Hamilton (on Section 4) near the Daviess County line, in the spring or autumn of 1839...

As stated in the organization of Kingston Township the first organization of the municipal township of Hamilton was in November, 1867, when it ran from the county line on the north to Shoal Creek on the south, but its present boundaries were defined in the general township reorganization in May, 1870. Of course it was named for the city of Hamilton...(--pp. 341, 343, 344.)

[4]

Gomer Township comprises Congressional Township 57, Range 27.

What is now Gomer Township was perhaps the last settled in Caldwell County, owing to its scarcity of timber and want of attractiveness to the immigrants of early days, who uniformly preferred a "timber country."

Gomer was organized as a civil township November 4, 1869. It was named for the village now (1886) called Nettleton...(--pp. 426, 427.)

New York Township comprises Congressional Township 56, Range 27.

The township has two noted mineral springs, Bonanga and Ponce De Leon. Ponce De Leon is situated on Shoal Creek, in Section 14, and six miles south of Nettleton and ten miles southeast of Hamilton...

Just who were the first settlers in what is now New York Township cannot be stated, but they were Mormons, and came in 1837, settling for the most part on Shoal Creek...

May 5, 1837, Robt. Culbertson entered a number of tracts of land in this township, viz: the southwest southwest Section 15, the southwest southwest and northwest northwest Section 22, the northwest northwest west 1/2 southwest; northeast southwest and west 1/2 northeast southeast 27...

This township was first organized as a municipal township November 4, 1869, and called Grand River; but on December 20, following, a little more than a month afterward, the name was changed to New York, because of the number of citizens within its borders from the Empire State. Certain communities had been known as the New York settlements for years before...(--pp. 444, 445, 447.)

Fairview Township comprises Congressional Township 56, Range 25.

The first permanent settler in this township was Robertson White, who came in 1834 or as he states, the next year "after the stars fell"...

The Mormons poured into the township in 1836-37, and made settlements up and down Shoal Creek in considerable numbers. By October, 1836, there were as many as 75 families of Mormons living in this township, although some of them were newcomers and were living in tents and wagons, and in the houses of their brothers who had come before them...

Fairview Township was organized November 4, 1869, and named for Fairview School house, a large, two-story building on Section 29, built in 1869, at the cost of $2,100. This school house and the M. E. Church nearby formed a noted locality, and were the origin of the village or hamlet of Catawba...(--pp. 476, 477, 480.)

[5]

Rockford Township is the southwest township of Caldwell County, bounded by Ray County on the south, Clinton on the west, and comprising Congressional Township No. 55, Range 29...The famous Flat Rock ford over Crooked River in Section 33, about one mile north of Lisbonville (Ray County) is an interesting locality and from it the township took its name.

The early history of Rockford Township is identical with that of the northwestern part of Ray County. As early as 1825 John Fields, from Kentucky, settled two miles southeast of where Lisbonville now stands and in what is Polk Township, Ray County (Section 11, Township 54, Range 24), and in 1830 Samuel K. McGee, an Tennessean, came to the same neighborhood...

In 1836-37, nearly all of the tillable land was entered by the Mormons, and much of it settled upon...

There are (1886) no villages or towns in Rockford Township, but Lisbonville, Ray County, is on the southern line about midway from east to west. Lawson, Ray County, is the nearest railroad station for the people of the southern part of the township, and Kidder is generally resorted to by the people of the northern part. (--pp. 512, 513, 514.)

Lincoln Township comprises Congressional Township 55, Range 27...

It is difficult to determine who were the first actual settlers in the township, but as early as 1834 James Frazier entered land in the southwestern part, on the East Fork of Crooked River.

The Mormons made no effort at settling this township--too much prarie, probably...

Lincoln Township was organized as municipal township November 4, 1869, and named for Abraham Lincoln...(--pp. 525, 526.)

Kidder Township was first organized as a municipal township in May, 1867, and then comprised all the territory in Range 29 north of Shoal Creek; but in May, 1870, it was reduced to its present limits. Up to 1867 it comprised a part of Rockford. It was named for the town of Kidder. (--p. 552.)

[6]

Davis Township comprises Congressional Township Range 26, and is the southeastern township of Caldwell County, being bounded on the east by Carroll County and on the south by Ray...

This township was first settled by Mormons in the spring of 1837. The first settlements were made along North Mud Creek, in the northwestern portion of the township. Some of the first inhabitants in that quarter were John Reynolds, David Norton and Martin Plumb...

After the Mormon explosion perhaps the first settlers in what is now David Township were John T. Davis and his brother, Samuel D. Davis, who came from Adams County, Illinois in the summer of 1839, settling a little east of the present (1886) village of Black Jack (east half southwest quarter Section 29), and his brother first located a quarter of a mile east...It was for them, and especially for Judge S. D. Davis that the township was named.

Davis was organized as a municipal township November 4, 1869...It had formerly been a part of Grand River Township...(--588, 589.)

Grant Township comprises Congressional Township 53, Range 28, and is bounded by Rockford Township on the west, Kingston on the north, Lincoln on the east, and Ray County on the south...

It is said that the first white settler in what is now Grant Township was James Crowley, who came up from Ray County in the fall of 1833 to the southern part of Section 18, south of the Cottonwood Church, and in December following entered the land...

The Mormons were very largely the first settlers in this township...

Grant Township was organized May 4, 1870, and named in honor of General Grant. It had formerly formed a part of Blythe Township. (--pp. 616, 617.)

Breckenridge Township comprises Congressional Township 57, Range 26, and is the northeastern township of Caldwell County, being bounded on the north by Daviess and on the east by Livingston County...

Stephen and Thos. Wooley, John Conner, and Stephen W. Reynolds entered land in the northeastern part of this township in the summer of 1835...

In 1837 and 1838 the Mormons came into the southern part of the township, along Shoal Creek and Panther Creek, and made settlements to the number of a dozen families or more...

The northeastern part of the township, a little south and east of Breckenridge was known as "New Kentucky," from its fancied or real resemblance to certain portions of the blue grass region of "Old Kentucky."

The township was organized November 4, 1869, and named for the town of Breckenridge...(--pp. 635, 636.)

Page numbers refer to Hist. of Caldwell Co.


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