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

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser


Clark County

[I]

Clark County, Missouri, lies in the extreme northeast corner of the State, and is bounded on the north by the State of Iowa, on the northeast by the Des Moines River, which separates it from a portion of Iowa, on the east by the Mississippi River, which separates it from Illinois, on the south by Lewis County, and on the west by Knox and Scotland Counties; and it contained 500 square miles...

That prehistoric race of people, known as the "Mound Builders," left but few specimens of their work in Clark County...

The first permanent settlers were Jacob Weaver, his wife, Elizabeth, and their five children, who came from Kentucky, and settled, in September, 1829, on the Des Moines River, near the present site of St. Francisville.

The first white children born within the present limits of Clark County were John Weaver, Elizabeth Bartlett and Martha Heywood...In 1831 Dr. John E. Trabue settled on the south side of Honey Creek...in Clay Township. He afterward built a horse mill at the same place, which was a great convenience to the early settlers, who had formerly been compelled to go to Palmyra, a distance of forty miles to get their grinding done...The winter of 1831-32 was still remembered at the season of deep snows, by reason of which it was impossible for the pioneers to reach the nearest grist-mill, then located at Palmyra, and in consequence of which they were compelled to live on hominy and pounded corn, venison and such other meat as they could procure...

In 1836 two post-offices existed in the territory of Clark County; one at St. Francisville, George Heywood, postmaster, and the other at Sweet Home, M. Couchman, postmaster. These were the first post-offices and postmasters within the limits of the county.

County Organization

Prior to the organization of Clark County, the territory now comprising it consisted of the civil townships of Jefferson, Des Moines and Jackson, all of which were attached to and formed a part of Lewis County.

Jefferson Township comprised all the territory within the present county limits, lying north of the line dividing Townships 65 and 66 north. Des Moines Township adjoined the former on the south, and contained all of Township 65 north. It also embraced all that portion of Township 64 north, which lies north of Sugar Creek.

Jackson Township embraced all the balance of the territory of the county, as it is now composed, lying south of Des Moines Township.

The county was organized in accordance with an act of the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, entitled "an act to organize the County of Clark," approved December 16, 1836. (The boundaries are given on page 267, Hist. of Clark County.) The county was named Clark, in honor of Governor William Clark... (--233, 236, 237, 242m, 243, 252, 253, 266, 267, 268.)

[II]

The temporary seat of justice was at the house of John Hill. 268.

The County Seat

Two of the commissioners appointed by the second section of the act creating the county, James Armstrong and Walter Briscoe, of the County of Lewis met...and proceeded to the selection of a site for the seat of justice; but being misinformed as to date, they met one week before the time specified. (After due deliberation, they made their selection, but when it was learned that they were ahead of their specified date, their selection was rejected on the grounds their report was not accompanied by any evidence that they were duly qualified, and therefore their report was rejected.)

In response to a petition of citizens, the court, at the June term, 1837, established Washington Township...

The commissioners appointed by the county court to locate the permanent seat of justice, met, and selected the village of Waterloo, as such seat of justice... (--269, 270, 271.)

Some of the descriptions of early established highways were indefinite, and the story was told of the traveler who rode up to a farm house, and asked the mistress thereof to tell him the way to the next town, when he was thus directed: "You go down by the fence corner thar, then round by that black stump, then down the hill to the old black hen's nest, then keep on that thar direction, and you'll be on the right road." 278.

On the 7th day of July, 1847, a petition was presented to the county court, praying for the removal of the county seat from Waterloo to Alexandria, and on the 5th day of the following month, a remonstrance against the petition, and also a motion to dismiss it was filed. The motion to dismiss was overruled, and the names of certain petitioners, upon their request, were stricken from the petition, and the court, after examination of the matter "found that three-fifths of the taxable inhabitants of Clark County," were all praying for the removal of the county seat, and thereupon appointed five commissioners to select the most suitable place in Clark County, within one mile of the town of Alexandria, on which to erect the public buildings of the county, and to report their proceedings, accompanied by a deed to the land so selected, to the judge of the circuit court at the next term thereof...

A site at Alexandria was selected...and thereupon the court ordered "that the said town of Alexandria should be the permanent seat of justice of Clark County"... (--279, 280.)

[III]

Townships

In the formation of the civil townships as heretofore noted it seems that the county court had recognized the Indian boundary line as the northern boundary of the State and county. (See A Directory of Mercer Co. for an account of the Indian boundary dispute.) But a strip of land a few miles in width lying north of the line being then claimed by both the State of Missouri and the Iowa Territory, the county court created a new township of all this disputed strip of land lying north of said Indian boundary line which is now the State line. This township was created at the June term, 1840, of said court, and was described as follows: "All that part of Clark County bounded on the west by the range line between Ranges 9 and 10 west; on the south by the old Indian boundary line which passes through Township 67, north; on the northeast by the Des Moines River, and on the north by the true boundary of the State of Missouri." It was named by the court Jessamine Township. (--278, 279.)

New Civil Townships

At the March term, 1868, of the county court, the county was re-distributed into civil townships as follows:

Vernon Township was made to contain all the land within the county lying in Range 5, west of the fifth principal meridian, (sic) and Alexandria was designated as the place for holding elections.

Clay Township was made to contain all of Township 64 north, and the north half of Township 63 north, Range 6, with the voting place at the Pleasant Hill school-house.

Des Moines Township was made to contain all of Township 65 north, Range 6 west, with the voting place at St. Francisville.

Jackson Township was made to contain all of Township 64 north, Range 7 west, with the voting place at Winchester.

Madison Township was made to contain all of Township 65 north, Range 7 west, with the voting place at Waterloo.

Sweet Home Township was made to contain all of Township 66 north, Range 7 west, and all lands east thereof situated in Clark County, with the voting place at Peaksville.

Union Township was made to contain all of Township 63 north, Range 8 west, with the voting place at the village of Union.

Lincoln Township was made to contain all of Township 65 north, Range 8 west, with the voting place at Ashton.

Jefferson Township was made to contain all of Township 66 north, Range 8 west, with the voting place at the Jordan schoolhouse. (--Clark County, 288, 289.)

[IV]

Grant Township was made to contain all of Township 67 north, Ranges 7 and 8 west, with the voting place at Athens.

Washington Township was composed of all of Township 64 north, and the north half of Township 63, Range 9 west, with the voting place at Fairmount.

Wyaconda Township was made to contain all of Township 65 north, Range 9 west, with the voting place at Luray.

Folker Township was composed of all of Townships 66 and 67 north, Range 7 west, with the voting place at Bethlehem Church.

All these civil townships remain (1887) the same, except that since the county seat was located at Kahoka, the west tier of sections in Madison Township has been cut off and attached to Lincoln and the small territory lying in Township 66 north, Range 6 west has been attached to Des Moines Township.

Other minor changes were made... (--289.)

Page numbers refer to Hist. of Clark Co., 1887, Goodspeed.


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