= A Directory of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets of Missouri

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

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser

Iron County


Iron County was formed of sections of St. Francois, Madison, Washington, Dent, Reynolds and Wayne Counties by Legislative act February 17, 1857. Difficulty was found in securing territory sufficient for the county without reducing other counties below the constitutional limit, thus accounting for its peculiar shape. The first members of the county court were John W. Miller, J. V. Logan and Moses E. Edmonds, who were chosen by special election held in June, 1857. At the same time John F. T. Edwards was elected clerk and John Cole, sheriff. At Arcadia, on August 4th of the same year, the first meeting of the court was held, and the county divided into two townships.

At the genera1 elections on the 7th of the following September a site for a permanent county seat was decided by popular vote. The villages of Arcadia and Middlebrook were competing points. H. N. Tong and David Carson purchased a tract of land, laid out a town, which they called Ironton, and entered the competition for the seat of justice. Every alternate lot they donated to the county, and the election resulted in its being chosen for the favored place. The lots donated were sold at public auction and enriched the county treasury $10,600, prized at the time, as the county upon its organization was made liable for its proportion of stock subscribed to the Fredericktown & Pilot Knob Railroad Company, incorporated in February, 1855.(--Encyclopedia of The History of Mo., 1901, Conard, Vol.3, pp. 386, 387.)

The first settlers within the limits of what is now Iron County were doubtless in the Bellview Valley. The first person to take up his home in the Arcadia Valley was Ephraim Stout, a Tennessean, who, in 1805, built a little log house. . .He went to Illinois in 1826 having sold his land to Josiah Berryman. Other early settlers were Looney Sharp and his sons Ellison and John, and John Brown. . .John Sharp lived where the village of Pilot Knob now is. (--History of Southeast Missouri, 1888, Goodspeed, p. 255.)

There are in this county several natural curiosities--the Granite Quarry, about 6 miles northwest of Ironton; the Shut-In about 2 miles southeast, and the Cascade about 10 miles west of
the same place. The Granite Quarry is a solid bed of granite 60 or 70 feet high, covering from 100 to 200 acres...

The Shut-In is a cleft-like mountain-pass, at its narrowest point about 100 yards wide, a mile in length, and its sides of rock from 30 to 50 feet high...

The Cascade runs over the top of Cascade Mountain falling down to its perpendicular rocky side about 200 feet to the bottom of a narrow gorge. Opposite and almost within a stone's throw, rises another mountain 300 feet high, and nearly perpendicular...

Stony Battery is a gorge or canyon about 3/4 of a mile log between the mountains in the southern part of the county. The stones, which in past ages had fallen into it from the mountain above, have been removed, and it now serves for the bed of a stream and for a road. It opens at the south into a fertile valley of considerable extent.(--Campell's Gazetteer Of Mo., 1874, p. 260.)


Iron County lies west of Madison County. Its area is about 550 square miles. Its surface is mountainous. The highest elevations are Pilot Knob, 581 feet; Shepherd Mountain, 660 feet, Cedar Hill; Buzzard Mountain; Anderson Mountain, and Pack Mountain, all within a radius of three miles of Pilot Knob...

The first iron made west of the Mississippi River was manufactured in this county. The precise date is not known, but it was sometime prior to 1820. Paul De Guire and a man named Orb. Ashabran or Ashabranner, built a furnace on Fredricktown road, near the "Shut In", and on the creek a few hundred yards below, constructed a forge or bloomery...

These works were discontinued in a few years, and nothing more was done in the iron industry until 1847, when Conard C. Ziegler and Bernard and E. E. Pratte organized the "Madison Iron Mining Company" afterwards the "Pilot Knob Iron Company." Two smelting furnaces, each of about twenty tons capacity, were erected at the north base of the mountain, as was also a forge for making blooms and other wrought iron. The latter was operated for six or eight years, when it was discontinued. Up to the completion of the Iron Mountain Railroad, in 1858, the iron manufactured was hauled in wagons to Ste. Genevieve After the opening of the railroad, the shipment of ore was begun, and at times as many as forty car loads were shipped daily. It was taken to the Mississippi River at Sulphur Springs (Jefferson Co.), and reshipped on barges on the Mississippi River. In September, 1864, during the battle of Pilot Knob, the furnaces were burned but one furnace was rebuilt and resumed operations in 1865...(--Hist. Of Southeast Mo., 1888, Goodspeed, pp. 216-217.)

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