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

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser

[I]

Lafayette County is bounded on the north by the Missouri River, opposite Ray and Carroll Counties; on the south by Johnson County, on the east by Saline County, and on the west by Jackson Co...On November 16, 1820, the county of Lillard was established from a portion of Cooper County. John Dustin, James Bounds, Sr., David McClelland, James Lillard and David Ward were appointed commissioners and the act by which they were named provided that Mr. Vernon should be the county seat. The county took its name from Commissioner Lillard, who was its first member of the Legislature and who framed the county bill. He was also one of the earliest settlers of that territory. Lillard resided in Missouri a few years and then returned to Tennessee on account of his health. By act of the Legislature in 1825 the name of the county was changed to that of the honored and patriotic Lafayette, which change was brought about by the visit of the French patriot to this country in that year.

Gilead Rupe was, from all accounts, the first settler in Lafayette County, he having located, according to some statements as early as 1815, according to others in 1819...George Houx, who fixes the date of Rupe’s location at 1819, settled at Old Frankin in 1817. In the spring of 1818, Houx stated, he passed through Lafayette County, and there was not a white settler in it...

Mr. Houx fixed 1819 as the year when Thomas settled in Lafayette County, and 1820 when Abel Owens, Wilson Owens, Markham, Thomas and Richard Fristoe, Thomas Hopper and Solomon Cox settled there...

It is impossible to ascertain who founded the first county seat of Lafayette County. It was situated within the present limits of the county upon the Missouri River bluffs between the present (1901) site of Berlin* and the mouth of Tabo Creek. The first county court of what was Lillard County met in the house of Samuel Weston January 22, 1821.** The court was composed of Judges John Stapp, John Whitsett, and James Lillard...

The first term of the Lillard Circuit Court was held in 1821. On February 2d of that year, Judge David Todd...opened court at the house of Adam Lightner, in Mt. Vernon...Owing to the limited amount of room at the command of the court, it is said that this jury, with many others, subsequently held its sessions in the hazel brush until better accommodations were furnished...The transfer of the county seat to its present location, Lexington, was made in 1823, and on February 3d of that year the county court held its first session in Lexington.

* Berlin is no longer listed in Lafayette County.

(** The first county court was held at the house of Samuel Weston a justice of the peace (within the limits of Cooper County at that time.) --Lafayette County Missouri, Hon. William Young, 1910, Vol. 1, p. 42.)

[II]

No public buildings of any kind had been prepared. March 17, 1823, the first term of the circuit court was opened at the house of Dr. Buck in Lexington...In a log room adjoining Dr. Buck’s residence, the room being used as a temporary jail, was confined at one time the notorious Kentucky outlaw, John A. Murrell. (--Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri, 1901, Conard, Vol. 3, pp. 572, 573, 574.)

In passing, it may be said of Lafayette’s first seat of justice that “Mt. Vernon”, the spot designated, was never a platted place and is now gone from memory. It was a mere irregular shaped group of log cabins on the southwest quarter of Section 23, Township51 N, Range 26 West, on the high bluff a mile east of Tabo Creek, three-fourths of a mile from the Missouri River. It was a place where three or four tribes of Indians used to congregate to smoke the Pipe of Peace and barter with the French traders. Terre Bonne, "good land", or "good place", or "no fight place", was what the French had taught the Indians to say. But the American settlement called it Mt. Vernon, as a token of respect for General Washington, whose home was at Mt. Vernon, Virginia. The county court held its first session at Mt.Vernon, in November, 1822. Its next term was at Lexington, February 5, 1823, in Doctor Buck's house, the first house erected in the place.

As a majority of the first settlers came from Kentucky, the new county seat was called Lexington in honor of the city of that state. (--Lafayette County Missouri, Hon. William Young, 1910, Vol. 1, p. 42.)

[III]

COAL MINES OF LAFAYETTE COUNTY

Percy Brothers Mines two and a half miles south of Higginsville.

Plattenburg Coal Company, three-fourths of a mile out of Lexington.

Sipe Mine, south from Lexington.

Stoll Mine, two and a half miles east of Higginsville.

Davidson Mine, near Higginsville.

Macey Mine, near Myric Station.

Hamilton & Bennett Mine, near Higginsville.

Old Glory Mine, location not given.

Independence Mine, near Napoleon.

Kierstead Coal Company, one mile east of Corder.

Cary Mine, at Mayfield.

Ridd Mine, near Lexington.

Wright Mine, not given.

Waterloo Cooperative Coal Company a half mile east of Waterloo.

Geisendorfer Mine, two miles southeast of Corder.

Steamboat Coal & Mining Company, operates a mine on the bank of the Missouri River - (where?)

Western Coal & Mining Company operate the following ines: Glen Oak; Valley; Midway; Summit; Seawall and South Mines. (where?)

Waverly Brick & Coal Company, where the old Backbone Mines used to be. (where?)

Labor Exchange Mine, a mile and a half east of Wellington.

Daisy Mine (where?)

Ed. Aull Mine, two miles east of Lexington.

[IV]

Bell & Greer Mine a half mile south of Lexington.

Bonanza Coal Company, two miles east of Higginsville.

Canterberry & Griffity Mine, near Higginsville.

Diamond Coal Company, the Wilson Mine is three-fourths of a mile from Corder.

Salt Fork Mine is a half mile east of Corder.

Dover Coal Company, at Dover.
         (--History of Lafayette County, 1910, Young, Bowen & Company, pp. 36, 37.)
         Note: IS refers to the date of the history: 1910.

Duncan Mine is in the vicinity of Higginsville.

Farmer's Coal Company has several mines in the county, one at Higginsville; No. 7 of the company's mines is ten miles west of Higginsville.

Kratz Mine near Higginsville.

J. S. Looney Mine near Higginsville (one mile west).

McGraw Coal Company has several mines in the vicinity of Higginsville.
        (--History of Lafayette County, 1910, Young, Bowen & Company, p. 38.)

[V]

TOWNSHIPS

Clay Township

Lina Helm built the first water-mill in Clay Township... at the foot of the hill, a short distance east of Waterloo, in 1822. This was followed in 1857 by a steam-mill on the west bank of Helms Lake about a half-mile west of the mill already mentioned. James Martin was the proprietor of this saw-mill.

In 1852 a saw and grist-mill was erected by Turner Williamson, a mill-wright, for Messrs. Richard Carr, Beal and Joseph Tidball. This stood on the Missouri River on what is now Lot 34 of the Suburban addition to Wellington.

In 1857 Gideon Mayne and John C. Hurn built and operated a steam saw-mill two hundred yards down stream from the Carr mill, and in 1867 they added flouring mill machinery, or rather it was added by James T. Dorton.

Thomas Cobb built a water-mill that in later years was known as the Moot mill, on the Big Sniabar Creek on Section 12, Township 49 N, Range 49 West. Soon after the Civil War this property passed into the hands of Messrs. Moot and Putney, who added steam power, and when water was too low steam was used.

In Section 32, Township 50 N, Range 28 West, there still remains (1910) traces of the old mill-race dug by David Folks, constructed between two sharp bends in the Big Sniabar Creek. The first portable engine used in Clay Township was employed by a Mr. Sourwine, and it was used in sawing lumber and threshing wheat in different parts of the township. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, p. 328.)

It seems that the first settlement in Clay Township was in the year 1819, and at some place near the present site of Wellington. It was effected by Ruth Remick, Samuel Remick, William Remick, Young Ewing and Col. Henry C. Remick. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, p. 326.)

Davis Township

The honor of becoming one of the very early settlers in Davis Township belonged to Joseph Collins, who located at a place since called "Bear's Grove", situated near Section 13, Township 49 N, Range 26 West. The exact date is not now known, but it was certainly between the years 1825 and 1830, as he had to do with organization of this sub-division of the county.

The first school held in Davis Township was held at the Beatty school-house near Bear's Grove, built in 1838. George Woods and Judge Ludian Cary were among the first teachers to teach there...It is also claimed that Mrs. Elizabeth Gladdish wove the first cloth in the neighborhood, bringing her wool from Kenticly. The trading point was then Lexington as was also the post-office until about 1846, when Hempland post-office was established with Major Neal as postmaster. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, pp. 344, 347.)

[VI]

Dover Township

Dover Township is the north-central sudivision of Lafayette County... The first mention of this township was in February, 1836, when it was ordered by the county court that "Tabo Township be hereafter known and designated by the name of Dover Township." It then constituted most of the territory now embraced within Dover and Middleton Townships, and the same was all a part of Tabo Township.

Early French traders had called several places Terre Bonne, or good land. As the American settlers came in new names were given and the old ones localized and spelled by the sound, rather than according to the original French meaning, and also shortened in sound, thus, Ta Beau. It was next Anglicized into Tabbo, and finally Tabo, and limited to a small creek, instead of naming and describing a region of country. At least that is thought to be the evolution of the name Tabo Creek, which now forms the boundary between Lexington and Dover Townships.

The first attempt at settling this portion of Lafayette County was made in 1817 by John Lovelady and Solomon Cox, at a point one half mile west of the present village of Dover.

The nearest flouring mills were at "Browns", in Saline County, and Webb's horse-mill. At many of these mills, so-called, the sifters were made of horse hairs and deer skins. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, pp. 336, 337.)

Freedom Township

Freedom Township is in the southeast corner of Lafayette County... It dates its organization from June 11, 1832. The county court, after defining its boundary and naming it, ordered an election held at the house of James Wilkinson, but for some unknown reason said election was never held. May 27, 1833, the court appointed Livingston Wilkinson as constable of Freedom Township until the next general election...

The first white man came to what is Freedom Township in 1825. His name was Patrick Henry, who settled in the eastern portion of the township... James and Chris Mulkey located in what became known as Mulkey's Grove about two and a half miles southeast of the present site of Aullville. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, p. 351.)

Lexington Township

Lexington Township was established May 24, 1824... Gilead Rupe, the first settler of this county was a Virginian by birth, and his wife was a German lady. They had twelve children. He emigrated west and settled first in Howard County, Missouri, and operated a ferry boat at Boonville. Eventually he settled about two and a half miles to the southwest of where the City of Lexington now stands -- the date being the year 1815 (probably in the summer of that year).

[VII]

The first steamboat landing in Lexington Township was at Lexington or at the mouth of Rupe's Creek, or as sometimes called "Rupe's branch". It was known as "Rupe's Landing". The only cities or towns within Lexington Township (1910) are the City of Lexington, and Northrop Station, on the River division of the Missouri Railway. The latter is a mere stopping place, and a small hamlet. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, pp. 45, 363.)

Middleton Township

Middleton is the extreme northeastern sub division of Lafayette County, and the first place the public record speaks of is dated July 7, 1845, when James Pearman petitioned to keep a saloon in the town of Middleton, in Lafayette County...

The next mention of this township is in September, 1847, when a road petition was presented the county court in which the name Middleton appears. But this seems to have reference to the village of Middleton, which was changed to Waverly about July 1, 1850...The boundary lines of Middleton Township were defined and recorded July 4, 1848... and these boundaries have never been changed. The first settlement in this township was made by pioneers including Col. John Dennis Thomas, of Kentucky, (who) settled where Waverly now stands in 1822, and was the founder of St. Thomas, which was later called Waverly, the two plats having been merged into one corporation. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, pp. 365, 366.)

Sniabar Township

The first history of Sniabar Township with its present boundaries, all the territory west of Lexington and Washington Townships was called Sniabar, extending west to Jackson County, on the south to Johnson County. November 7, 1825, Clay Township was organized and its boundaries as then defined embraced all there was left of Sniabar Township. The name "Sniabar" dropped out of record until February 5, 1838. The county court ordered that a new township be made and called Sniabar...It appears from the records, that Sniabar settlement was first mentioned as being in Cooper County. Cooper at that date included all the territory to the Kansas line. We next find Sniabar Township as being in Lillard County...

(There have been so many and such fanciful accounts of the origin and meaning of the word Sni-a-bar that the editor (of this history) feels constrained to give the true account. Just below the town of Wellington in Lafayette County, is Wolf's Island, which is made by an arm of the river circling and through the bottom on the south side of the river. This arm is called in the neighborhood the "Slough", but it has none of the characteristics of a slough. It is thirty or forty yards wide and the water flows through it from one end to the other swift and deep. This is the "Sni", so named by the French voyageurs in their early explorations of the river. There is another one in Illinois in the Mississippi bottom opposite Hannibal, Missouri, about thirty miles long, and it is known by no other name than the "Sni". The upper end of the "Sni" in question is peculiarly situated so as to catch the drift wood. In earlier times during the spring freshets great quantities of drift wood were brought down the Missouri River and thrown into the "Sni", effectually stopping all egress or ingress to or from it by water. I have seen piles of logs therein hundreds of yards long and twenty feet high, making an effectual bar to all navigation. This bar remained the year around, and so the voyageurs found it and named it the "Barred Sni", or "Sni-a-bar". Into this "Sni" two creeks empty, one much larger than the other. These are called Big Sni-a-bar Creek and Little Sni-a-bar Creek. Big Sni-a-bar Creek has its source in the southwest corner of Lafayette and the southeast corner of Jackson Counties. The adjoining townships in these counties have both been named Sni-a-bar Township for the stream which heads therein. --Editor of History.)

[VIII]

Sniabar Township Wagon Knob

Wagon Knob took its name from the following incident: Dr. Robert Rankin and some of his friends who lived close to Lexington went on a bee hunt on Big Creek in Cass County. They succeeded in securing a large amount of honey and loaded it onto an old wagon they had along and started for home. When they got upon the top of the knob the old vehicle broke under its great load and some of the party had to go for another wagon, while the others remained and stood guard over their sweet treasures. When they got back with another wagon they loaded the honey and went home and left the old wagon to rot down on the knob -- hence the name "Wagon Knob". (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, p. 372.)

Washington Township

Washington Township is the central township, or civil subdivision in the southern part of Lafayette County. It was taken from Lexington Township August 2, 1836...The place of holding the first election in the newly created township was at the house of William Robinett, the date being fixed as October 29, 1836, the object to elect two justices of the peace. Washington is the largest township in Lafayette County... with one hundred and two sections...

From the best record obtainable, Richard Powell was the first man to locate in this township, he coming as early as 1820...

The first school house was built in Section 29, Township 49 N, Range 27 West of logs by the neighbors. The first cloth was woven by Mrs. Charles Smith. In February, 1835, a Negro woman belonging to Nimrod Scott, lost her way and was frozen to death, and was buried on the roadside by the neighbors. (--Lafayette County Missouri, 1910, Vol. 1, pp. 382, 383.)


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