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

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser

Upon the acquisition by the United States, in 1803 of the Territory of Louisiana, including what is now the State of Missouri, the area now embraced within the metes and bounds of Lewis County formed a part of the District of St. Charles, of which Charles Dehault Delassus was the governor. October 12, 1812, St. Charles County was organized by the proclamation of Gov. William Clark, extending from the Missouri River nothward to the northern boundary. On December 14, 1810, upon the organization of Pike, what is now Lewis was a part of that county. On November 16, 1820, when Ralls was created, it was included in that county.

The first step taken by the Legislature to form the county of Marion was on February 16, 1825, when an act defining the boundaries of the several counties of the State was passed. Section 29 of this act deals with the creation of Marion County.

"But," said the act, "until the said county is organized and established by law, the territory included within the boundaries aforesaid, and all other territory lying north of the northern boundary of the county of Ralls, and east of the county of Chariton (including what is now Lewis, Clark, Knox, Scotland and others), shall be atttached to and form part of the county of Ralls, for all purposes, civil and military.

Upon the next session of the Legislature, the demand for the complete organization of the county, with all the powers and privileges of the several counties, became so imperative that the act was passed on December 23, 1826, from which period Marion dates its existence proper as a county.

...Section 8 of this act provided: All that part of the territory lying west and north of the county of Marion, formerly included in the county of Ralls, shall be and the same is hereby attached to said county of Marion for all military, civil and judicial purposes.

So that the county of Lewis was never an integral part of Marion, but the territory was only attached for certain purposes. In effect, however, it was practically a part of the county.

This county was made out of territory north of and formerly attached to Marion County. The remainder of this territory north, and between Lewis and the Des Moines River, was in the stage of organization of a new county to be called Clark. This new county of Clark is happily situated, having the Mississippi and the Des Moines Rivers on the east and northeast, and being likewise watered in the interior with the head branches of the Wyaconda and a large stream called by the abominable name of "Stinking Creek". The next general assembly will certainly have good taste to change the name of this fine stream to accord with that given by the compiler, and accordingly inserted in his map -- "Aromatic River". (Fox River -- compiler). The first town above the Marion line is La Grange, situated on a beautiful shore of the Mississippi...The first stream above this town is Fox River*, a small stream....

* The author evidently did not know that Fox River and "Stinking Creek" are practically one and the same stream -- compiler.

The first session of the Marion County Court was held at Palmyra, beginning March 26, 1827...There must have been a considerable settlement in the county at the time, for the records show that one of the first acts of the court was the establishment of a road beginning at a point running through the Wyaconda Prairie...The road running through the Wyaconda Prairie was probably established by the Ralls County Court. Marion was at first divided into three townships called Liberty, Mason and Fabius. The northern boundary of the latter was fixed at the present northern boundary of Marion, but the township was declared to "include all that portion of territory lying north by which law remains attached to Marion County." By the latter clause Fabius Township practically extended to the north boundary of the State, including the counties of Lewis and Clark, and portions of Knox and Scotland.

Lewis remained a part of Fabius Township, Marion County, until 1830. In May of this year -- 1830 -- Canton Township was formed. (The boundaries are given on page 35.)...all that vast area of 675,000 acres of land, had but seventy-two taxable inhabitants.

In December, 1832, a bill was introduced into the Legislature, by Hon. Charles H.Allen ("Old Horse"), the representative from Marion County, for the organization of Lewis County. It passed without opposition, and was approved by Gov. Dunklin, January 2, 1833.

Among other provisions it was to be known and called by the name of Lewis County, in honor of Gov. Merriweather Lewis. (5) The courts to be holden at the house of John Bozarth, Senior, in said county, until the tribunal transacting business shall fix on a temporary seat of justice for said county.

(6) All that portion of county lying north and west of said county of Lewis, which has heretofore been a part of Marion, shall be and the same is hereby attached to the county of Lewis, for all civil, judicial and military purposes...

(8) This act shall take effect from and after its passage.

Approved January 2, 1833...

See act VII General Assembly, also Territorial Laws of Missouri, Vol. II, p. 307.

The first term of the Lewis County Court was held at the house of John Bozarth, below La Grange, the then temporary seat of justice. The court convened on Wednesday, June 5, 1833...But little business was done at this term...The first session lasted three days, during which period the county was divided into two townships, Union and Canton...

The third term was convened at the house of Morton Bourne, in Canton, Monday, September 2, 1833...Canton was designated as the temporary seat of justice...The county seat was named Monticello.

The fifth term was begun March 3, 1834, and was held at the house of Joseph Trotter in Canton...


The sixth term was held at Monticello, "at the courthouse in said county," says the record, and was begun June 2, 1834...The courthouse was completed, but the contractor had not been paid, and the court was forced to borrow $100 to pay him. It was a small log structure and was never commodious nor comfortable...(--pp. 33, 34, 35, 59, 60, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40. History of Lewis County, 1887, Goodspeed.)

Some Firsts

Probably the first merchant in Lewis County was Mr. Everett, who had a small store at Smoot's Landing, on the Mississippi, two miles below Canton, in about 1830. Who was next cannot be stated. Stores were not abundant in early days. In July, 1833, soon after the organization of the county, there were but three, each paying a license of $5 per annum, but in the fall of 1835 the number had increased to eight...

Judge Anderson asserted that the first miller was John McKinney. In about 1830, certainly before 1833 he built a mill on the Wyaconda, near its mouth, and immediately north of La Grange (Section 26-61-6). In a few years the back waters from the Mississippi carried away both mill and dam. John Bozarth erected a mill on the Wyaconda, a mile above the site of McKinney's, perhaps in 1832; his mill and that of J.E. Trabue were in existence in June, 1833, as shown by the county records.

The same evidence proves that John B. Carnegy's mill was in operation in the fall of 1833; it was on the Wyaconda (Section 28-62-6), immediately below the bridge on the North road, between Canton and Monticello. Carnegy's mill was not put up until 1833; Judge Anderson said in 1824, but he was misinformed. It was a "water, saw and grist mill."

John G. Nunn built on the Middle Fabius (Section 19-60-6) in the fall of 1832. Mr. Nunn...said that his buhr-stones were made from a "lost rock" (granite rock) which he found near Canton.

John McPheeter's mill, on the Middle Fabius, was running in June, 1834, and may have been built the previous year.

Benjamin P. Curd built a mill two miles southeast of Tolona, on the South Fork of the North River (southwest of the northwest quarter of Section 5-60-7) in the fall of 1834...George Staples began the erection of his mill on the North Fabius (east half of the northeast 1-61-8) one mile northwest of Monticello in the fall of 1834...The latter was afterwards known Caldwell's mill, and afterwards succeeded by Hollis mill.

Lewis Tracey built a mill on the Middle Fabius (then called the South Fork of the North Fabius) six miles northwest of Monticello (southwest of the northeast 25-62-9) in July, 1831. Isaac D. Daniels erected the mill on the Wyaconda (east half lot 2 of the northwest quarter 1-62-7) five miles northwest of Canton which soon after passed into the hands of the Green family and was known as Green's mill. It was operated for a number of years by Senator James S. Green and his brother, Martin E.


The first steam mill was built at Tully in 1841 or 1842 by John Nelson, of Ketucky. It was a large flouring-mill with powerful engines, expensive machinery, and the capacity for work was large. It was too big, for the county. There wasn't grain enough taken to all the mills in the county to keep this one in operation; it could not wait for the country to grow up, and in a few years went down, entailing great loss on the proprietor.

The first county seal was adopted in September, 1835; device, a steamboat...

The first brick house in the county was built by John La Fon, near La Grange, in 1836...

The post-offices of the county were, Monticello, with J. H. McBride as postmaster; La Grande, C.S. Skinner; Tully, Thomas Gray; Barresview, G.A.Barnes; St. Francisville (in Clark) George Haywood; Sweet Home (in Clark) M. Couchman. Rates of postage varied. From the beginning of the Postal System until 1845 they were from 6 to 25 cents on a letter weighing a half ounce or less, dependent on the distance it was carried; for each additional half ounce additional postage was carried. (From July, 1845, to July, 1851, the rates were 5 cents for a half mile if carried less than 300 miles, and ten cents if carried 300 miles or over. From July, 1851 to October, 1883, the rate was uniformly 3 cents for any distance within the United States less than 3,000 miles; for a time letters to Oregon and California were charged double postage. Since October, 1883, the rates had been 2 cents, (the standard rate).

By the organization of Clark County, in 1838; of Scotland in 1841, and of Knox, in 1845, the county of Lewis was reduced to its present boundaries, and it is only from the latter date that it can be written distinctly and without confusion. Prior to 1845 to speak of Lewis County was to include Knox, and often much other territory... (--pp. 47, 48, 49, 55, 60, 62. History of Lewis County.)

Early Townships               
Canton Allen (partly in Knox)
Union Central (now in Knox)
Dickerson Benton (Scotland and Knox)
Highland Mount Pleasant (Scotland)

Later Townships                   
Canton Dickerson
Lyon Union
Reddish Highland 
La Belle Salem

(--History of Lewis County, p. 67.)



At the August elections in 1834, there were five municipal townships in Lewis County: Canton, Union, Dickerson, Jefferson, and Des Moines, the last two forming what is now Clark County....(--44.)

At the first term of the county court June 6, 1833, Lewis County was divided into two municipal townships -- Union and Canton. This was practically a continuation of the political division which existed while the county was attached to Marion, with the same names applied to the divisions. The limits and bounds of the two townships were then fixed:

Union -- Beginning where the south line of the county strikes the Mississippi; then up the main channel to the mouth of the Waconda; then up the main channel to Kinney's old ford; thence west with the road leading from the ford to William Hagood's so as to leave Mr. Hagood in Union Township; then up the main divide between Durgen's Creek and the Wyaconda, passing the head of Durgen's Creek; thence with the main divide between North and Fabius River and the said Wyaconda, continuing the said divide until it strikes the range line between Ranges 9 and 10, (the present -- 1887 -- county line) thence south to Marion County, then east to the beginning.

Canton -- All the territory belonging to or attached to Lewis County lying north and west of Union Township.

Dickerson Township (spelled "Dickason") was organized December 2, 1833, and included all that part of Union lying west or Range 6.

Allen Township, which comprised a portion of the present territory of Lewis, and was named for Samuel Allen, was organized in March, 1836. It included all the southwest portion of the county lying west of Troublesome Creek, and the greater part of Knox County. (See History of Knox.)

Highland Township was organized in March, 1838. Its original boundaries were declared to be a line "Commencing where the Marion County line crosses the Fabius Range; then up to the mouth of the South Fork of the North Fabius; then up said South Fork to the Dickerson and Union Township line on said river; then north on the Dickerson and Union line to Township 61; then west to the South Fork of said Fabius, then up said river until it comes opposite Nelson Johnson's; then west to the road from Monticello to Fresh's mill; then up said road to the Allen Township line, and east to the beginning.

Salem Township was organized in June, 1841. Its original boundaries began at the southwest corner of the county, and ran east with the county line to Troublesome Creek; then up Troublesome Creek to the line between Ranges 8 and 9; then north to the northeast corner of Township 61, Range 9; then west along the line between Townships 61 and 62 to the line between Lewis and Scotland Counties; then south to the beginning.


Reddish Township was organized in August, 1846. Its boundary line began at the northwest corner of the county and ran south on the line between Lewis and Scotland, to the middle of the west side of Section 7, Township 61, Range 9, thence east to the line between Ranges 8 and 9; thence north to the county line. It was named for Silas Reddish. The first school house was Watkins; which was in existence as early as August, 1845.

In March 1866, frequent previous changes having been made the county court revised the municipal townships as they exist at present (1887), and which are as follows:

Canton -- Beginning at the northwest corner of the county; thence west on the county line between Lewis and Clark to the range line between Ranges 6 and 7; thence south on the range line to the half mile corner on the west side of Section 27, Township 61, Range 6; thence east to the beginning.

Lyon Township -- Commencing at the northeast corner of Section 24, Township 65, Range 7; thence west on the line between Lewis and Clark to the northeast corner of Section 19, Township 63, Range 7; thence west to the northwest corner of Section 22, Township 63, Range 8; thence east to the range line between Ranges 6 and 7; thence north to the beginning.

Reddish -- Commencing at the northeast corner of Section 21, Township 63, Range 8; thence west on the northern boundary line of the county to the northwest corner of Section 19, Township 63, Range 9; thence south to the northwest corner of Township 62, Range 9; thence east to the line between Ranges 8 and 9, thence north to the beginning.

La Belle -- Commencing at the northeast corner of Section 28, Township 62, Range 8; thence west to the northwest corner of Section 30, Township 62, Range 9; thence east to the beginning.

Dickerson -- Commencing at the northeast corner of Section 25, Township 62, Range 7; thence west to the northwest corner of Section 27, Township 8; thence east to the southwest corner of Section 25, Township 61, Range 7; thence north on the range line to the beginning.

Union Township -- Commencing on the Marion County line, at the southwest corner of Township 66, Range 6; thence north to the half mile corner on the west side of Section 7, Township 61, Range 6; thence east to the Mississippi; thence down the river to the southeast corner of the county; thence west to the beginning.

Highland Township -- Commencing at the southeast corner of Township 60, Range 7; thence north to the northeast corner of Section 36, Township 61, Range 7; thence west to the northwest corner of Section 34, Township 61, Range 8; thence south to the southern boundary line of the county; thence east to the beginning.


A township called Canton was first organized by the county court of Marion, while this territory yet formed a part of that county. It extended north to the Iowa line. Subsequently, from time to time other townships, and even counties were formed out of it and its limits very much reduced, but the name is still retained...(--156.)

Dickinson Township was named for Maj. Obadiah Dickerson, who made a settlement on the prairie bearing his name...He was one of the founders of Palmyra, and the first bona fide settler of Shelby County, where he died... (--159.)

Highland Township, one of the oldest in the county, lies in the central, south central portion, lying along the Marion line. It was organized in 1838, and was named for the general situation. (--160, 161.)

Lyon Township was organized after the Civil War, and named for Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, of the Union Army, who fell at the battle of Wilson's Creek. (--169.)

The southwestern corner township of Lewis, is Salem...There were no towns or villages worthy of the name. The little hamlet of Steffensville was the nearest approach to a town. (--164.)

Samuel Allen was the first settler in the township, and the first township created out of this territory was named for him. The original territory embraced, however, in its entirety the greater portion of Knox County, and the voting place was at Newark. Upon the organized of the township it was named Salem, for a prominent church then in existence. (--164.)

Reddish Township comprises the northwestern part of the county. The long and elevated ridge in the township, called Deer Ridge, was so named by the pioneers from the number of deer found by them. In 1846, or perhaps a year earlier, a post-office was established in this township and called Deer Ridge. A store was established here about the same time by Arnold & Smith. This was the origin of the hamlet of Deer Ridge.

The township was first called Deer Ridge, but the name was afterwards changed to Reddish, in honor of Silas Reddish, the first settler within its borders... (--167.)


La Belle Township is situated in the western part of the county... Among the earliest settlers were Silas Reddish, John B. Perkins and James Fisher...(--165, 166.)

Troublesome Creek, which passes through the northeastern part of Salem Township... was so named by the early settlers because it was so troublesome to cross. (--164.)

Durgen's Creek, in the western part of Union Township, was named for a very trifling circumstance. John Bozarth, the first American settler in the county, had an old horse called "Durgen". The animal wandered off and was drowned in the stream, which ever since has borne his name. (--182.)

The stream now written Wyaconda, and pronounced usually as written, empties into the Mississippi a mile below La Grange. The name is properly pronounced Wy-aw-kan-dah -- with the accent on the second syllable. Beck, in his Gazetteer of 1823, writes it Waconda, and describes it thus:

Waconda, a considerable stream of Ralls County, runs a southeast course and falls into the Mississippi in the southern part of Township 61 (Union Township), north of Range 5 west of the fifth principal meridian. It is about 100 yards wide at the mouth. According to a tradition which existed among the Indians, two of the Sioux died on the banks of the stream at night. As they had no marks of violence upon them, their death was at once attributed to a supernatural agence. It was at once called by this tribe Waconda, from their supposing it to be the residence of Master of Life or Great Spirit. A short distance below the mouth of the stream are the ruins of an ancient village. Several walls are to be seen.

Other early writers spell the name Wakenda, the form in which the name of another stream in the State, which empties into the Missouri in Carroll county, is still written. Both words, Wakenda and Waconda, have the same signification -- the Great Spirit River -- and a similar tradition is ascribed to each. A very common pronunciation of the name of the Lewis county stream is Wah-kan-daw, which is more nearly correct than Wy a con da. (--152.)

Page numbers refer to History of Lewis County, 1887, Goodspeed.

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