Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser
In the winter of 1836-37, at the session of the General Assembly, an act was passed which gave to the county now comprising Daviess County the bounds of a distinct and separate municipality, with all the rights appertaining to any county in the State of Missouri.
The name was chosen in honor of...Joseph Hamilton Daviess, who was killed on the bloody field of Tippecanoe...
This county and Caldwell were jointly organized by one act of the General Assembly. The first section described the boundary of Caldwell County, and
Section 2. All that portion of territory included in the following limits is hereby declared to be erected into a separate and distinct county, to be called the county of Daviess, in honor of Colonel Joseph H. Daviess, who fell at the battle of Tippecanoe, to-wit; Beginning at the northeast corner of the county of Caldwell, as fixed by this act; thence north twenty-four miles; thence west twenty-four miles; thence south to the northwest corner of Caldwell County; thence east along the north boundary of said county to the place of beginning.
Section 2. Joseph Baxter, of the county of Clay; Cornelius Gilliam, of the county of Clinton; and William W. Manzee, of the county of Ray, are hereby appointed commissioners to select a seat of justice of each of the said counties...
Section 9. All that territory lying north of the county of Daviess shall be and is hereby annexed to the county of Daviess, for civil and military purposes...
This act approved December 29, 1836.
The first county court was held near the present site of the City of Gallatin, at the house of Philip Covington...
The first duty that devolved upon the court was to look after its municipal divisions. The court took a moderate view of the situation, and as Daviess County had been before its organization only one township, the court...decided that there would be enough to start with. The county was large, in fact it extended to the Iowa line, although its own proper lines were defined, yet the territory beyond was under its civil and military jurisdiction, and an election in Daviess County meant all the territory above named... (--History of Daviess County, pp. 235, 236, 237, 238.)
Daviess County was organized from a part of Ray, by legislative act approved December 29, 1836... (--Ency. of the Hist. of Mo., 1901, Conard, Vol. 2, p. 235.)
Ray County was organized out of the territory of Howard County, November 16, 1820...(--Ency. of the Hist. of Missouri, 1901, Conard, Vol. 5, p. 304.)
The County Seat
There did not seem to be much strife in the location of the county seat, although something of a town had been made at Cravenville and Millport...
Gallatin, the seat of justice for Daviess County, is laid out on the northwest quarter of Section 29, in Township No. 59, Range No. 27, platted by a scale of one hundred feet to thirty-seven one hundredths of an inch...
Although the county seat was located in 1837, it was not reported or placed upon the records until September 3, 1839.
An effort was made in 1840 to remove the county seat to Cravensville, but as there was an insufficient number of names on the petition, the movement failed... (--Hist. of Daviess County, 1882, Birdsall & Dean, pp. 241, 249, 250.)
Township lines and ranges, or even section lines had neither a part or parcel in the boundaries, but a convenient creek, a divide, or a gully, was taken to show the metes and bounds and corner stones, as it were of the three municipal districts which soon bore the names of Honey Creek, Grindstone and Grand River. (The boundaries are given on pp. 238, 239, Hist. of Daviess County.)
Later, Clear Creek Township was established. p. 241.
More townships were established: Sugar Creek and Big Creek. p. 248.
The last of the original townships, Honey Creek, was to be divided to keep up with Grand River and Grindstone...Harrison Township was erected out of Honey Creek...
The change of names of several townships was next in order and the court proceeded to put on more style...
After the June term of court, 1840, the following changes were in order:
Honey Creek was changed to Gallatin, after Albert Gallatin, the great financier and Secretary of Treasury under Jefferson and Madison.
Grindstone was changed to Jefferson.
Clear Creek was changed to Jackson.
Big Creek was changed to Benton.
Grand River was allowed to retain its original name.
A new township was ordered to be cut out of Benton and Grand River...to be called Hickory Township. (--History of Daviess County, pp. 251, 252, 255.)
At the March term of the county court, 1842, a petition was received to make a new county (sic) out of the north part of Benton and favorably considered. The township as organized, was wholly in the territory known now as Harrison County, and reached to the Iowa State Line. Clinton County at that time also extended to the Iowa line, DeKalb, Gentry and Worth not then being organized.
This township was to be called North. (--pp. 255, 256.)
On the 4th day of June, 1844, at the session of the county court, a new township was ordered to be organized out of the territory of Sugar Creek and North Township...to be known and called by the name of Madison Township... (--pp. 258, 261.)
In 1845, the boundary of Benton Township was changed and Harrison County was organized... (--p. 262.)
(Harrison County was included within the limits of Ray when that county was organized, and later was a part of Daviess County, from which Harrison was organized by Legislative act approved February 14, 1845.) (--Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, 1901, Conard, Vol. 3, p. 197.)
For some unexplained reason the municpal township lines in Daviess County never seemed to satisfy the people more than a few months or years at a time in the early days of the county. Making new townships and changing lines was the regular amusement of the courts and people, but when Harrison County was cut off, and the townships which occupied a portion of its territory were brought within the limits of Daviess County proper, an impression prevailed that Daviess had six townships whose metes and bounds would stand the test of time, or the fickle idea of some of the people. But fourteen years without change proved to be rather too monotonous, so at the June term, 1859, the County Court took hold of the question of changing the boundary lines of the entire number of townships with renewed vigor...Not only that but they took several pieces and made an extra township, making seven where heretofore there had been six. (--p. 279.)
The new townships were: Grand River, Salem, Benton, Jefferson, Gallatin, Harrison and Jackson. (--pp. 279, 280, 281.)
(But) At the term on the county court held on the 8th day of May, 1866...the court goes into the business of re-districting the county into municpal townships and the forming of election districts as follows: (The new boundaries of the several townships are given on pages 292, 295, 296, 297, 298.) The names were: Benton, Salem, Lincoln, Grand River, Jackson, Harrison, Gallatin, Jefferson, Civil Bend.
The county had remained at rest for several months, but the ever-restless desire for change once more and again, took possession of the people, and it was manifested through the county court. Just how many times the boundary lines of the municipal townships have been changed, or new ones formed, then revoked, is very hard to say...
The new townships are: Benton, Marion, Jefferson, Colfax, Sheridan, Liberty, Freedom, Salem, Washington, Grand River, Lincoln, Union, Monroe, Harrison, Jackson and Grant. (--pp. 303, 304, 305, 306, 307.) (Page numbers refer to Hist. of Daviess County.)
See Township map.
Union Township was the first settled in the county. The first man to build a cabin in Union Township was John Splawn, and he built it near the bluff, near the Rock Island Depot. The cabin was soon afterward removed to what was known as Splawn's Ridge, about three miles east of Gallatin, and near what afterward became the town of Millport, and just south of the site of that old, but now plowed up town...The first man to raise his cabin within Daviess County was John Splawn...
It was part of Honey Creek, one of the first named, as it was also a part of Jackson, another one of the original townships...
Its first change of name from Honey Creek was to that of Gallatin, but this was only that portion west and south of Grand River. The portion north and east of this river still retaining the name of Jackson Township. In 1869 it was made a municipal township...Number fifty-nine of range twenty-seven... (--pp. 144, 155, 439.)
Jamesport Township was not organized until 1870, and was then called Grant. The territory was taken from a portion of Grand River Township, and also of Jackson...As a part of Grand River it was settled as early as 1834. Thomas N. Auberry was the first settler...
It is bounded on the north by Lincoln Township, on the east by the Grundy County line, south by Jackson and west by Grand River Township... (--p. 564.)
Benton Township lies in the northwest corner of the county...and is bounded on the north by Harrison County, on the east by Salem Township, on the south by Marion, and on the west by Gentry County. It was originally a part of Grindstone Township, one of the three original townships organized when the county was formed in 1837, and remained a part of that township until September, 1839, when the present township of Benton became Big Creek Township as did also about three-fourths of Salem.
Benton Township was first settled in 1833. In the spring of that year Benjamin Sampson proved to be the first white settler to make his home within its limits...
The first horse-mill was built by Benjamin Sampson...The first water-mill was put up by Matthew Patton, on Big Creek, just north of the site of the old town of Pattonsburg, and from whom the old town took its name...It stood for many years...The town of Pattonsburg was first known as such in 1845, although but one or two buildings were standing in the early winter of 1844 or 1845. A few years after this Mr. Patton removed to Oregon and took up his permanent residence... (--pp. 609, 611, 614.)
Grand River Township
Grand River Township... is bounded on the north by Salem and Washington; east by Jamesport; south by Union; and west by Grand River, which separates it from Marion and a small portion of Benton Township...On March 10th, 1870, the County Court organized the county into sixteen municipal townships, each six miles square, the county being twenty-four miles square. The township of Freedom being made out of the east triangle of Mission and the west of Grand River, being township sixty, of range twenty-eight. The Grand River cut this township into two parts, and running from northwest to southeast through its limits. This division, however, remained in that shape but a few months, when Freedom Township was blotted from the map, and the western portion, west of the Grand River was added to Union and the eastern portion, north and east of the river, was given to Grand River Township...
The first white settler of Grand River Township was Solomon Tetherow and he came in the spring of 1831...
In 1869 Union Township was made from Gallatin and Grand River Townships. In the same year, Grant or Jamesport was taken from Grand River and Jackson, and in 1870 Lincoln and Washington were taken from Grand River... (--pp. 647, 648, 664, 665.)
This township is bounded on the north by Jefferson, and east by Sheridan Township, on the south by Caldwell and DeKalb Counties...The highest point of land in the county of Daviess County is said to be the mound upon which the town of Winston stands...On a clear day can be seen Gallatin, eleven miles distant, Kidder, Hamilton and Breckenridge...
This township was first settled by the Mormons in 1836 and Colfax was surveyed somewhat earlier than its more northern sisters.
As near as can be ascertained, James Wood, Joseph Wood and Edward Wood were the first settlers after the Mormons...The principal trading point was at Camden...The first saw mill in the township was put up by Andrew Bauchman and David Crall on Section 23... (--pp. 688, 689, 690, 692.)
Lincoln, the northeast township of Daviess County is locted mostly in township sixty-one of range twenty-six. One mile wide, however, running across the north part of the township its entire width is in Congressional Township No. 62...It is bounded on the north by Harrison County, on the east by Grundy County, on the south by Jamesport and on the west by Washington Township...
In 1837 came John Williams, a Kentuckian, who settled on Section 31 in the southwest corner of the township.
An early corn mill was pretty slow and it was actually reported that meal failing to come through, it was discovered that three turkey gobblers had perched themselves by the feed, and were eating the corn as fast as it fell into the hopper. This story was never seriously contradicted.
Lincoln Township was first organized in 1870, and was taken from the territory of Grand River, being one of the three original townships in the county and the largest of the three... (--pp. 707, 708, 709, 713.)
This township...is bounded on the north by Benton and Grand River; on the east by Grand River; on the south by Jefferson and Liberty and Union; and on the west by DeKalb County...
The first settlers in Marion Township were David James and James Brown, who came in 1832. It is claimed that James Brown was the first settler in the township, coming in the fall of 1832.
The first practicing physicians in Marion Township were Doctors J. W. Hightree and Whitely Miller...
Marion Township was first organized in 1869... (--pp. 725, 726.)
Jackson Township was formed in 1859...It is bounded on the north by Jamesport Township, east by Livingston County, south by Grand River, and west by Union Township and the southwest corner touches Monroe.
It was in 1833 that the first white settler made his home in Jackson Township. Robert J. Peniston, who first settled Millport, built a cabin within its limits.
Among the early settlers came Dr. R. B. Ellis, a native of Vermont. He was the first practicing physician who settled in the township... (--pp. 744, 745.)
The township is a Congressional Township in size and is bounded on the north by Marion, east by Union, south by Sheridan and west by Jefferson.
The township was organized in 1869 and was taken from Jefferson and Gallatin. William M. Prewett and John Smith were in Liberty Township in 1834...There was no great rush of settlers in those early days. Liberty was originally a part of Grindstone, one of the three original townships. The settlement on Grindstone Creek was only a few miles distant and that was one of the largest in the county, unless Lock Fork, in the southeast, might have been a little larger... (--pp. 765, 766.)
Monroe Township is one of the oldest settled portions of the county, although it was first a portion of Honey Creek, then of Gallatin and Harrison Townships. It was organized in 1869 and its territory was taken from the last two named...It is bounded on the north by Union, east by Harrison and a corner of Jackson Township, south by the Caldwell County line and west by Sheridan Township...
Among those who located in what is now Monroe Township was Hardin Stone...who came in 1831...
The horse-mill of "Uncle" Jerry Lenhart was the one most patronized and persons who went there with their corn sometimes had to wait days before their turn came to have it ground. In the meantime they worked for their board... (--pp. 799, 803.)
What is now Harrison Township was one of the first settled portions of Daviess County, the first settler finding his home on Lick Fork in 1831. Eli Wilson and Benedict Weldon were the first two settlers. Wilson staked his claim on Section 28, while Weldon chose Section 21.
In 1859 Harrison Township took in one-third of Monroe...In 1870 Harrison's present boundaries were defined, Monroe Township having been taken from Harrison and Gallatin...Harrison Township is in the southeast corner of the county, and is bounded on the east by Grand River, on the south by Caldwell County, on the west by Monroe Township, and on the north by Jackson Township. The first school was taught in 1836 in an old log cabin. (--pp. 811, 812.)
Jefferson Township was originally a part of Grindstone Township, one of the first three townships of which Daviess County was formed.
The township lies on the west side of the county...and is bounded on the north by Marion, east by Liberty, south by Colfax Township, west is the dividing line between Daviess and DeKalb Counties.
Jefferson Township came into life in 1859...from then until 1870 Jefferson was the largest township in the county...Its primitive name was Grindstone...
Anderson Smith was the first permanent white settler who located in the township. He came originally from Tennessee and settled in Clay County, Missouri, in 1833. In 1834 he removed to Jefferson Township, Daviess County, and settled on Section 17...
In 1860, Jefferson Township included the territory of Colfax, Liberty and Marion Townships... (--pp. 826, 827.)
Salem Township is bounded on the north by Harrison County; on the east by Washington Township; on the south by Marion Township; on the west by Benton Township.
The first settlers in Salem Township were Jonathan and Alexander Liggett, who came about the year 1837, and were from Tennessee. Jonathan Liggett staked his claim on Section 20 and Alexander located on Section 18, Township 61, Range 28. Old John Steers settled on Section 20 in 1841 and built a water-mill at the Rocky Ford on Cypress Creek. This was the first mill in the township and in this section of the county...The mill stood until 1845 when it was washed away by a flood and was never rebuilt...Salem Township was organized in June, 1859. (--pp. 842, 843.)
Washington Township is bounded on the north by Harrison County, on the east by Lincoln Township, on the south by Grand River and on the west by Salem Township.
Until 1870 it was a part of Grand River Township. That year it was organized and the territory of which it was composed was taken from Grand River Township as above stated...
The first white men who located in this township for a permanent home were John Williams and James Munn...They settled in the north part of the township on Section 23. (--p. 852.)
Page numbers refer to Hist. of Daviess County.
Springfield-Greene County Library