Compendium of history and biography of Linn County, Missouri

Every age, every race and every part of every new country inscribes itself with greater or less distinctness on History's dial. Linn county, Missouri, has written and is writing its record on the immortal page; and while this is neither a loud-sounding nor a sentimental inscription, it is one engraved in large and enduring phrase, creditable to the people who have made and are making it, and altogether interesting and valuable in the chronicles of our common country.

Tragedy has shown its dark and heavy hand in this story. Poetry has sparkled, heroism has glowed, stern endurance has presented an invulnerable front to hardships and the golden thread of sentiment has run brightly through the woof in its pages. The many-handed arm of industry has been at work among the people here for more than half a century. Rude, rugged labor has poured out its sweat like rain in their behalf. The bounties of nature have been taken at the price she put on them — ingenuity, hard work, a study of conditions and the means to meet their requirements — and a large part of the wealth she had stored up in this region has been developed and put into the proper channels for the service of mankind.

It is the purpose of this volume to preserve, in some measure, the record of what the first settlers did in this region in sowing the seeds of civilization when they came hither from their former homes, and what their followers have done to care for and reap the harvest for which the pioneers prepared the way. The book is made up largely of personal biographies, and there has been no attempt to give undue tone or a spectacular trend to the course of events in it. Essential history insists on writing itself, and will not be anticipated, controlled or turned from its destined way. What the men and women of Linn county have done and are doing for its advancement and development embodies the real essence of the county's growth and progress, and points out, with unmistakable significance, the ends at which the people of the county aim and toward which they are moving.


Table of Contents

General Description of Linn County— Climate and Character of Soil — Grain, Grasses and Vegetables — Tobacco Raising — Once an Extensive Industry — How the Crop Was Cared For— Heavy Shipments to Europe — Sudden Drop in the Liverpool Market — Blow to Industry — Demand for Country Produce Comes in Time to Relieve Situation — Growth of Coal Mining in Linn County — Report of Mine Inspector — Tonnage, 86,774; Value of Product, $187,913 — General Review of County's Resources — Good Roads 1

Senator Lewis P. Linn. Missouri's Admission as a State — Hazards of the Early Settlers — The Fertile "Locust Creek Country" — The First Settlement — Indians' Queer Barter for a Slave Girl— A Papoose for a White Boy — Why the Deal Failed — "Jack" Holland, the Founder of Linneus — Trouble With Wolves — The Old Mill at Keytesville — Organization of Linn County — First Mill on Locust Creek — Some of the Pioneers — The First Wedding — Early Ministers and Physicians 12

The Settlers' Markets — Story of a Famous State Highway — Route of the Gold Seekers — Troublous Times in High Water — Thrilling Rescue at a Mill Dam — Freighting to Hannibal — The Brawny Stage Driver — Low Prices for Country Produce — "Wild Cat" Currency — Curious Legal Tender — Origin of the "Bit" — Lax Methods of Banking — A Cattleman's Bible — Deer Hams, 25 Cents Each — The Pioneer's Wife 21

The Era of Prosperity — Development of Schools and Churches — Death of Senator Linn — Presidential' Election of 1844 — Shadow of the Mexican War — Call for Volunteers — Quick Response from Linn County — Incidents of the Campaign in New Mexico — A Veteran's Interesting Narrative — The Enemy Burned American Soldiers — Grim Retaliation by the United States Forces Under Sterling Price — List of Linn County Veterans in War of 1846 — The Rush to the Gold Lands — More Wealth in Missouri than was Found in California 26

The Great Drought of 1834 — Development Between 1840-60 — Increase in Tax Levy — Plan to Create Grant County Abandoned — Disastrous Prairie Fires — Census of Leading Towns — Severe Wind and Hail Storm — The "Locust Plague" — Governor Hardin's Proclamation for Prayers — Linn County Overrun by Hordes of Rats — Story of the "Rat Law" by Its Originator — A Humorous Poem by Gene Field — The "Biggest Thing" About the "Rat Law." 32

First Linn County Fair — List of Officers — Articles of Association- A Remarkable Meteor — The Killing of Willie McKinley — Efforts to get Slayer Pardoned — Governor Crittenden's Reply to Petition — A Vigorous Condemnation of Drinking and Pistol Carrying — Organization of Linn County — John Riley, Ransom Price and Levi Blankenship Named as Commissioners to Select County Seat — The Act Designating Boundary Line — Metes and Bounds — The Original County Court — Deed to County Seat 41

How Liuneus Was Named — First Sale of Town Lots — Original Court House — A Smoky Cabin and a Scrap — "Where's the Fight?" — Jesse Bowyer's Ferry — Sale of Slave Property — "Highland County" — Division of Townships — Appropriation for New Court House — Built Inside Amount Appropriated — First Talk of Railroads — Jail Building to be "Proof Against Breaking Out" — Colonel Robert M. Stewart — Sketch of His Career - His Work for the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad — A Hot Campaign for Governor 51

The Nations Wars — The Men of 1812 - The Last Reunion in 1871 — Presidential Election of 1860 — Civil Strife — Linn County's Prompt and Loyal Action — Early Organization and Movements — Capture of Two Confederate Cannon — Recruiting by Confederates of Linn and Sullivan Counties — Attempts to Capture Them by Federal Forces — Why They Failed — The Missouri Guerrilla — Raid on Linneus — Killing of Judge Jacob Smith — A Woman Spy — Laclede Raided by Bushwhackers — Bounty Jumpers — When the Draft Came — Record of Engagements by Linn County Military Organizations — The Spanish American War — The Soldiers' Monument at Brookfield 66

Railroads of Linn County — The First Campaign Inspired by Exorbitant Steamboat Rates — Railroad Convention at Chillicothe in 1847 — Linn County's Delegates — First Great Disaster on Hannibal and St. Joe Road — The Bushwhacker — General Grant as a Protector of the Road — W. C. Brown — S. E. Crance — J. W. Mulhern — Tom Beeler, Pioneer Operator — P. H. Houlahan — I. N. Wilber on War-Time Railroading — How the Engines Were Named — The Burlington and Southwestern — John McCartney — 30 Years an Engineer — When Thayer was the Division Town — Bishop Hogan — George H. Davis — The Pony Express — First Officials of the "Toe" — First Run of the "Eli" — Marceline and the Santa Fe — First Double Track in Missouri — General Notes 99

The Brunswick, Linneus and Milan Plank Road — First Publication of Receipts and Expenditures — County Court Decides War Tax Levy Unconstitutional - The Town of Thayer Vacated — Some New Townships — New County Jail — Linn County Agricultural and Mechanical Society — Common Pleas Court — Fight Over County Printing — Awarded to Paper That Paid One Dollar for It — Attempt to Remove County Seat Defeated 126

Assessed Valuation of Linn County in 1881 — Some Comparative Statistics — Last Census Bulletin Values Linn County Farm Land at $54.80 per Acre — Thirteen Farms of 1,000 Acres and Over — Rapid Rise in Missouri Land Values — Linn County's Total Taxable Wealth, $10,217,242.0.5 — Report on Live Stock — Some Important Figures on Missouri — Corn Crop of State Valued at $107.347,000 — Wheat Crop, $29,926,000 — Tenant Farmers Thrive — General Farming Conditions Satisfactory 134

Educational — The Civil War Depression — Peace Brings Advancement — Better Provisions for Schools — State Normals and Colleges — The Boy and Farm Life — New Methods of Rural Schools — Early Missouri School History — Origin of Public Schools System in 1839 — Law as Applied to Schools — Boards and Their Powers — Taxation — Length of Terms — School Funds and Appropriations — First Appropriation for Linn County — School Statistics of the County — Review of Some of the Town and City Schools— County Spelling Match at Laclede — "Jack" Rummel, the Champion Speller — Wins Two Good Suits of Clothes — Ruth Benson, Second 140

The Press of Linn County — In 1875 There Were But Two Papers— In 1912 There Are Eleven — High Character of Publications — H. J. Wigginton on "Journalism" — Bishop Marvin's Terse Description of a Friend — Faults of Some Newspaper Men — Sketch of Linn County's First Publisher — A Pioneer Editor and Printer — Worked Alongside of "Mark Twain" — Went on a "Frolic" That Lasted Four Years — Original Country Correspondent Lives in Linn County — Reported Sensational Murder Case — The Brookfield Gazette — The Linneus Bulletin — The Linn County News — The Linn County Budget — The Brookfield Argus- — Marceline Papers [See History of Marceline] 155

Human Interest Chapter — A Red-Hot "Hoss" Race — Mr. Alexander's Game Ride — A "Hair Finish" — Famous Statesmen — Benton and Linn — Mrs. Linn's Presentiment Saves Husband 's Life — Sketch of Benton — His Visit to Linneus — He Answers a Question — "Give the Boys a Chance!" — The Duel With Lucas — Thirty Years in Congress — Humor of the Court — A Wise Janitor — Argued With a Juryman — First Execution in Linn County — End of "Tennessee Tom" — A Haunted Locality — The Howell Case — The" Tay1or Case [See History of Browning] 172

An Official Chapter — The County Representatives — Line of Circuit Judges — Intrepidity of Judge Smith at a Perilous Time — Senatorial and Congressional — Democratic Congressional Committee — Republican Congressional Committee — Democratic County Committee — Republican County Committee — Linn County's Population by Townships — Vote on State Officers — Incorporated Town and Villages — Post- offices — Linn County Newspapers 182

Brookfield, By Charles Willis Green — Marceline, By Clarence M. Kendriek — Bucklin, Bv Georire L. Joyce — Linneus, Since 1882, By D. B. Ormiston — Browning, By Senator E. B. Fields — Laclede, Bv Oscar F. Libby — Purdin, St. Catharine, Meadville and Other Towns of the County 195

Locust Creek Drainage System — Enterprise to Reclaim 25,000 Acres — Estimated Rise in Land Values — An Interesting Landmark — The Woodland Mills — Indian Mounds — Descendant of a Noted Warrior — Boy Lost in the Wilderness — Sheltered by a Deer - A Mother's Joy — The Trail of "the 49ers" — The Hannibal and St. Joseph Cross-State Highway — Automobile Men and Farmers Working for an Important Improvement — List of Towns on Route — Statement by State Highway Engineer — Importance of Good Roads 249


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The growth of small cities has not been checked; quite the contrary. If there is a drift at all, it is toward the country and the small cities. At least, the country districts are keeping a fair ratio of advancement with the big municipalities. Country merchants who use modern methods are more generally successful than ever before. As for manufacturing concerns, they are finding that for many reasons the small cities are better locations than the large ones. In the East, where manufacturing is the principal occupation, most of the largest concerns have their factories outside the big cities, while only their offices and a corps of clerks are kept in New York, Philadelphia or Boston. The same condition will eventually obtain in north Missouri, where manufacturing is growing at a rapid rate.

We believe it is no far cry to the time when Linn county — its excellent natural resources in the way of fuel, timber, etc., and its railroad facilities furnished by the two Burlington lines, the Santa Fe system and the Wabash — shall have extensive factories employing thousands of men, located in the various towns.