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

Compiled by Arthur Paul Moser

Worth County


Worth County was organized February 28, 1861, and was named for General William Jenkins Worth (born Hudson, N. Y. March 1, 1774 and died San Antonio, Texas, May 7, 1841.) General Worth, in 1840, was sent to Florida, and in 1841, took the chief command against the Seminole Indians. Later he fought in the war with Mexico, being in the battles of Monterrey, Vera Cruz ... and in the storming of Mexico City ... He is buried beneath the memorial monument in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Fifth Avenue ...

It is bounded on the north by the State of Iowa: on the east by Harrison County; on the south by Gentry County, and on the west by Nodaway County. At the time of the organization of Worth County, it had been a part of Gentry County. Gentry County was an unorganized territory, being attached "for civil and Military purposes" to Clinton County. All of northwestern Missouri, excepting the counties of Platte, Buchanan, Andrew, Holt, Atchison and Nodaway, was once a portion of Howard County ...

Among the early pioneers of Worth County was one Henry Lot, who emigrated from Southern Missouri (but formerly from Clark County, Kentucky to the west) and located west of the present site of Albany, in 1837. He remained until 1840, when he had become obnoxious to his neighbors, and removed to what was known as Lot's Grove, in Smith Township, Worth County ... He remained until 1844 or 1845 when he again became obnoxious to his neighbors and departed suddenly with a wandering, vagrant tribe of Indians ...

In accordance with the act defining and organizing the county of Worth, David Brubaker, of Gentry County, John D. Williams, of Daviess County, and Nathaniel Mothershead, of Gentry County, were to meet at Smithton, to select and locate a permanent seat of justice.

"It was ordered by the court the county seat commissioners proceed to lay out three rows of lots on the west end of Smithton ... with the streets running east and west to correspond with the streets of Smithton."

We are given to understand from the above order that the county seat was located just west of and adjoining the old town of Smithton, and that the name which was given to it was Worthville. Worthville or Smithton continued to be the county seat until July, 1864, when the records were moved to Grant City ...

On the 9th day of May, 1866, a number of petitions were submitted to the county court, asking that the county seat be removed to Smithton again ... However, the court ... found the petitions formerly (sic) presented to this court were not signed by a majority of the taxable inhabitants of said county ...

Thus the petitions were withdrawn, and no further efforts were made to change the county seat from Grant City to Smithton ...


The United States census report for 1880, shows that the county of Worth grew more corn per acre, than any county in any State of the Union, the famous corn growing districts of Illinois not excepted ... The average was fifty bushels per acre ... (--Hist. of Worth County, 1882, pp. 513, 514, 520, 592, 598, 599.)

After 1810 for many years later, what is now Worth County was part of Ray. When Clinton County was organized it included all of what is now Worth, and later it was made a part of Gentry, in which county it remained until February 8, 1861, when it was organized in a separate county, and was named in honor of General William J. Worth, prominent as a commander of the United States Troops in the Mexican War ... (--Encyl. of the Hist. of Mo., 1901, Conard, Vol. 6, p. 526.)

Ray County was organized out of the territory of Howard County, November 16, 1820 ... (--Conard, Vol. 5, p. 304.)



Allen Township

Among the earliest settlers of Allen Township was Joseph Robertson, who came from Virginia to Ray County, Mo., in the fall of 1837, and to Worth County in the spring of 1842 and located one and a half miles east of Denver, near Rock Creek ...

O. Swaim was also among the pioneers settling in Allen Township as early as 1843. He built the first water mill that was erected in the county, the site of the same being where Denver now stands on the east bank of the East Fork of Grand River ... Swaim was from Ohio.

At a baptizing service held in Allen Township, one of the candidates had worn shoes. He had no blacking with which to polish them so he used a salty piece of bacon ... A large number of dogs had accompanied their owners to the ritual of baptism. The keen scented and hungry dogs gathered around the unfortunate man and began to lick his shoes. They were so persistent in their efforts to remove the grease that the candidate for baptism beat a hasty retreat for home ... (--pp. 523, 524, 525.)

Fletchall Township

Fletchall Township was named in honor of John Fletchall, who settled in Fletchall's Grove in 1846 ... The grove was situated five miles northeast of Grant City ... A man named Sandford taught the first school in this township, in a small log cabin which was located about three quarters of a mile northwest of Fletchall ...

Nathan Fletcher was the blacksmith for the grove ... Dr. Jacob Holland was the first physician in this township ...

About the close of the Civil War Tun Allen and James Allen erected a distillery three miles northeast of Grant City, on the Middle Fork of Grand River. They ran it two or three years, and sold it to George Fletchall, who operated it only a short time. It was the first and last distillery ever run in the county ... (--pp. 535, 536, 537, 538.)

Greene Township

Among the earliest settlers of this township was Judge William Milligan, who entered land near the center of the same, and about one mile northeast of the old town of Oxford, in the timber ... Among other early settlers were Levi Yates, John Roten, Sr., James Hooper ... (--pp. 559, 560.)


Middle Fork Township

One of the earliest settlers in Middle Fork Township was Joseph Campbell, who emigrated from Indiana and settled in Worth County in 1842 ... About the same time -- perhaps a little later -- David Dailey became a citizen of the township. He came from Jackson County, Missouri ... (--p. 564.)

Smith Township

In the northeast part of this township stood a large grove of timber, which was from one to three miles in width and about twelve miles in length. The name of the first settler in the grove or township was Henry Lot, after whom the grove was named ... Later he sold his claim to a man named Wolfe. The grove was then called Wolfe's Grove* ... Peter Vasser and his son were also early settlers in Lot's Grove ...

*However, the name was more often called Lot's Grove.

One of the earliest attempts to establish a school was that of Major Calvin Hartwell, who taught in the northeast part of the township ... The first school house (and church building) was erected in 1855, and was a frame building) twenty-eight feet in dimensions ... (--pp. 570, 571, 572.)

Union Township

John M. Hagans, familiarly called "Uncle Mace," was among the early pioneers of Union Township. He was born in Clark County, November 24, 1822. He came to Clay County, Missouri, in 1829, where he remained until the fall of 1843, when he emigrated to Platte County, Missouri. Later, in the fall of 1848, he came to Worth County and settled in Union Township, four miles west of Grant City ...

In the summer of 1849, Mr. Hagans carried on his back at one load three pecks of meal, ten pounds of coffee, ten yards of domestic and eight yards of calico, a distance of sixty miles. These supplies were obtained at Whiteville, Andrew County, Missouri. He walked this distance in about fifteen hours ... (--pp. 583, 584.)

(Page numbers refer to History of Worth - Gentry Counties, 1882.)


Early Mills

Allen Township

O. Swaim was also among the pioneers settling in Allen Township as early as 1843. He built the first water mill that was erected in the county, the site of the same being where Denver now stands -- on the bank of the East Fork of Grand River. The mill had one pair of stones and was operated about ten years by Swaim ...

Ransom Coger erected a horse mill in the east part of the township about 1852.

The earliest and most primitive structure in the way of mills, was a horse mill, brought to the county in 1841 by John Hunt, from Gentryville, Gentry County, Mo. This mill was used at Denver. It was made of steel and operated altogether by hand. (--Ibid, p. 523.)

Smith Township
Douglas Mill

Ebenezer Douglass emigrated from Pennsylvania after 1845 and erected a water mill -- grist and saw -- on Wolf Creek, about four miles north of Allenville, in the edge of Lot's Grove ... Aurelius Richardson built the first steam-mill that was erected in the township, a half mile northwest of Allenville, at a place now (1882) called Mineral Spring, some time prior to 1860 ... (--Ibid, p. 574.)

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