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

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser


Ray County

[I]

In 1816 Isaac Martin, Holland Vanderpool, Abraham Linville, Isaac Wilson, John Turner and others, from Virginia and Kentucky, settled on Crooked River near the present (1874) site of Buffalo City ... This same year the first steamboat navigated the Missouri River as far as Camden, and was a great curiosity to the Indians, who, for a time, could not be induced to approach it.

The county was organized November 16th, 1820, and named in honor of John Ray, a member of the Constitutional Convention from Howard County. It then embraced all that part of the State west of Grand River and north of the Missouri. From this magnificent expanse of territory 12 other counties were erected -- Ray has been called the Mother of counties -- but its boundaries have not been altered since December 29, 1836.

The first county court was held in April, 1821, at Bluffton -- John Thornton, Isaac Martin and Elisha Conner, justices; Wm. L. Smith, clerk and John Harris sheriff ... (--Campbell's Gazetteer of Mo., 1874, p. 471.)

During the year 1821 settlers had poured into the western part of Ray County in considerable numbers. The pioneers evinced a disposition to go out upon the frontiers of the State to the "jumping off place," or to the extreme Western boundary of the State as far as they could go. So that it was that Clay County was well settled before Carroll, the eastern part of Ray, and a large portion of Chariton were.

Fishing River and Gallatin Townships of Ray County were so well populated that it was determined to create a new county, to be called Clay in honor of the then brilliant orator and coming statesman of Kentucky, Henry Clay. January 22, 1822, the Legislature passed an act forming the new county of Clay. (--Hist. of Clay and Platte Counties, St. Louis, 1885, National Historic Society, p. 98.)

The first post-office was not at Bluffton, on the river, as one would suppose, but at Tinney's Point in the northeast corner of what is now Ray County. This was on May 29, 1821. Nathaniel Harlow, postmaster.

The Tinney post-office lasted until June 22, 1821. It was reestablished in 1842 some 21 years after the first was established ...

What is generally considered as the first post-office of any consequence was at Bluffton, with Jonathan T. Burch, postmaster appointed October 17, 1821.

In 1835, a second post-office was established at Elkhorn. Next in succession were Fredericksburg, 1837, Knoxville, Camden, Grape Grove in 1838 and Hardin in 1858. (--Ray County Missouri History, 1973, Ray County Historical Society, Copyright, used by permission. Note: All excerpts from this history are copyrighted and are used by permission of the Ray County Historical Society.)

[II]

Counties originating from Ray County

Caldwell ....................................December 26, 1836..................1

Carroll........................................January 3, 1833......................2

Clay...........................................January 22, 1822....................3

Daviess.......................................December 29, 1836.................4

From Clay County

Clinton.........................................January 15, 1833...................5

From Clinton County

Dekalb..........................................February 25, 1845.................6

Gentry..........................................February 12, 1841.................7

From Daviess

Harrison.........................................February 14, 1845................8

From Gentry

Worth............................................February 8, 1861.................9

From Carroll

Livingston.......................................January 6, 1837.................10

Grundy...........................................January 2, 1841.................11

From Grundy

Mercer............................................February 14, 1845..............12

(1, Campbell's Gaz. of Mo., 87; 2, Ency. of Hist. of Mo., Conard, Vol. 1, pp 499, 500; 3, Hist. of Clay Co., p. 98; 4, Conard, Vol. 2, p. 235; 5, Conard, Vol. 2, p. 33; 6, Conard, Vol. 2, p. 253; 7, Conard, Vol. 3, p. 27; 8, Conard, Vol. 3, p. 197; 9, Campbell, p. 645; 10, Hist. of Livingston Co., p. 694; 11, Conard, Vol. 3, p. 73; 12, Conard, Vol. 4, p. 527. These dates have been verified by the office of Secretary of State, Jefferson City, Mo.)

[III]

Caldwell County was organized December 26, 1837, from a part of Ray County, and was named for Matthew Caldwell, Commissioner of Indian Scouts, War of 1812 and Indian Wars. (--p. 22.)

Carroll County. Prior to 1833 and subsequent to 1820, Carroll County was a part of Ray County ... January 2, 1822, the Legislature passed an act organizing the county of Carroll ... (--Ency. of the Hist. of Mo., 1901, Conard, Vol. 1, pp. 499, 500.)

Wakenda was the name proposed in 1833 for the name of the county which later became Carroll County, in honor of Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, Maryland, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. (--pp. 22, 6.)

Clay County was created January 2, 1822, by detachment from Ray County and was named for Henry Clay of Kentucky. It extended to the northern boundary of the State and included the territory now constituting the counties of Clinton, DeKalb and Gentry and the larger portion of Worth. (--Conard, Vol. 2, p. 19.)

Clinton County. The act of the State Legislature creating Clinton County was passed January 2, 1833. (--Ibid: p. 33.)

It was named for DeWitt Clinton, later Governor of New York, and prime mover in the construction of the Erie Canal. (--pp. 50, 51.)

Daviess County was organized from a part of Ray, by legislative act approved December 29, 1836 ... (--Conard, Vol. 2, p. 235.)

It was named for Col. Joseph Hamilton Daviess, who fell at Camden, 1780. (--p. 58.)

Gentry County. On February 12, 1841, Gentry County was preliminarily organized and its boundaries defined: "All that portion of territory now attached to Clinton County, and lying north of Townships 60 and 61, shall be included in a new county, hereafter organized and known by the name of Gentry ... Gentry County shall be attached to the county of Clinton for all civil and military purposes, until otherwise provided by law ... (--Conard, Vol. 3, p. 27.)

It was named for Col. Richard Gentry, of Boone County, who fell in the Florida War. (--p. 60.)


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