General history of Shelby County, Missouri

The invasion and conquest of a wilderness ; the wresting of a vast domain of hill and valley, forest and prairie, from its nomadic and unproductive savage denizens; its transformation into an empire rich in all the elements of modern civilization, — basking in the smiles of pastoral abundance, resounding with the noise of fruitful industry, busy with a mighty volume of multiform and far-reaching commerce, and bright with the luster of high mental, moral and spiritual life — the home of an enterprising, progressive, all-daring people, as they founded and have built it, is the theme of this volume.

Its pages teem with biographies of many of the progressive men of Shelby county — 'those who laid the foundations of its greatness and those who have built and are building on the superstructure — and is adorned with portraits of numbers of them.

It also gives a comprehensive survey of the numerous industries and lines of productive energy which distinguish the people of the county at the present time and those in which they were engaged in all past periods since the settlement of the region began. And so far as past history and present conditions disclose it, the work indicates the trend of the county's activities and the goal which they aim to reach.

How trite, oft-told and well-worn seems the story herein briefly chronicled! And yet how full of suggestiveness, interest and incitement is it all! It opens impressively to view the mighty field for earnest endeavor and successful striving there is in the boundless realm of opportunity that is called "The Great American Republic," and has been aptly pronounced "The last great charity of God to the human race." It emphasizes anew the value of courage, self-reliance, industry, devotion to duty and firm and sturdy manhood and womanhood.

The story might well be taken as that of Man himself in his contest with Nature on a gigantic theater of action. Poetry sparkles. Heroism glows. Comedy gambols. Tragedy darkens in its texture, and the golden thread of sentiment runs brightly through its woof. It is, in all essentials, an epitome of American history, too. Wide gulfs of time and space are compassed in its range and made as naught. Since the morning hymn and the evening anthem first rose in hope from its primeval solitudes, distant countries have become near neighbors, the Atlantic has been reduced to a narrow frith across which the Old World and the New shake hands; the Pacific has been bound to it with hoops of steel, and our own East and West have been brought so close together that they look into each other's windows.

The life herein sketched began with the goose quill ; it continues with the typewriter; it came in under the tallow dip; it goes forward under the electric light; it dwelt at first by well and springhouse; it now abides with cold storage, artificial ice and liquid air; it has quit the stage coach for the palace car, the sail boat for the ocean greyhound, the post rider for the telegraph and telephone, the saddle horse and the gig for the automobile. And now, condemning all more solid and substantial elements of intercommunication, it even dares make the atmosphere its medium in wireless telegraphy and aerial navigation. In all this vast development and progress Shelby county has borne no childish, but a soldier's, part, and it is the aim of this work to preserve in a permanent form the record which proves that fact.

The special thanks of the publishers are due and are warmly tendered to Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Simmons, of Clarence, for their masterful preparation of the general history of the county which enriches the volume; to Mr. Vernon L. Drain, of Shelbyville, for his excellent chapter on the "Bethel Colony" and his sketch of the Shelby County Railroad; to Mr. W.O.L. Jewett for the chapter on "Shelbina; to Rev. John H. Wood for assistance on the history of the churches in the county; to Gen. J. William Towson for help in reviewing portions of the work, and to many other persons whose aid is highly appreciated but who are too numerous to be mentioned specifically by name. Without the valuable and judicious assistance of all these persons, those who are named and those who are not, it would have been impossible to compile a history of the completeness and high character this one is believed to have. The book is now submitted to the judgment of the public with no other voice to proclaim its worth save that of its own inherent merits, whatever they may be.


Table of Contents

Discovery and Early Settlements — Log Cabin Days — Settlers of 1833 — A Surveying Party — Cholera Epidemics — The First Election — A Postoffice and Store Installed — Shelby County Formed and Organized and Some Events Which Followed — Indians — Wild Animals and Game — The Pioneer Wed- dings — Pioneer Ministers — First Settlements Made in Timber — Pioneers, Pioneer Homes and Comforts — Agricultural Implements — Fishing 1

Early History — The Name — Important Dates of Public Notices — Important Proceedings 1836 County Court — First Circuit Court — The First Attorney Fisticuff in County Court — Miscellaneous News from Early Court Dockets — The First Shelby County Election — August Election, 1836 — August Election, 1838— August Election, 1839 21

List of 1835 Settlers — Naming of the Streams — First Coroner's Inquest — A Lost Man — "New York" Shelby County — The New Courthouse — Pioneer Mills— The First Roads— "Bee Trails" — Settlers in Shelby, 1837— The First Bridge — The First Homicide 29

Crops in Early Forties — Chinch Bug Year — The Sixteenth Section — German Settlement — Change of County Line — Mail Facilities Improved — A Few Things that Interested the Settlers — Civilization's Sure Advance — Second Homicide in the County — The First County Conviction — Jefferson Shelton — Jonathan Michael — George Liggett — Miss Aleina Upton — Stock Raising and Shipping — First Jail — California Emigrants — Elections, 1840 — Presidential Election — August Election, 1844 39

Heterogeneous — Election of 1852 — Political Campaign of 1856 — Presidential Election, 1856 — The "Know Nothings" — Election of 1858 — Slavery Days— 1860 Presidential Campaign — The Situation in 1860 — Stirring Times After the Election — Incendiary Talk 52

The County's War Record — The Mormon War — The Iowa War — The War of 1861 — Governor Jackson Refuses to Respond — The Hunnewell Meeting — The Flag Raising Period — The First Federal Troops — First Union Company Organized — Salt River Bridge Burned — Join Green's Company — Green Takes Shelbina — Report of Colonel N.G. Williams, Third Iowa Infantry — What the Kansas Officers Said — Second Burning of Salt River Bridge — Shelby County Confederate Troops — Movement of Union Forces — General Grant in Shelby — Secession of Missouri — County Court Meeting — Changes in County Officials 64

Missouri State Militia Organize — Bushwhacking in the County — The Bushwhacking Near Walkersville — Stockade Built Around Courthouse — "Special Order No. 30" — Several Changes in Positions — John L. Owen Killed — Shelby County Men Executed — The 1862 Election 84

Many Join Porter's Command — Federals Hold the County — Bill Anderson Visits Shelby — Fifty-one Killed at Centralia, Missouri — The 1864 Election 92

Ousting the Officers — Murders and Homicides — Murder of George Queary — "The Dale-Phelps Tragedy" — Bruce Green Kills Calvin Warren — A Negro Murder Case — The Robber Johnson- — The Great Benjamin Will Case — The Will — Indicting Rebel Preachers — Registration of Voters — News From Headquarters — The War is Over — The Drake Constitution — After the War — Robbery of the County Treasury — Politics and Election of 1870 — Registration in 1870 — Census" of 1880 — Flood of 1876 102

The Agricultural Society of Shelby County — The Shelby County Agricultural and Mechanical Association — The Shelbina Fair Association — Local Option and Temperance — Transportation Facilities — The Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad— The Building of the Shelby County Railway — The First Electric Railroad — Chief Pursuits and Surplus Products 119

Government Surveys — Original Townships — County and Township Systems — Organization of Townships — Municipal Townships of Shelby County — Tiger Fork Township — Salt River Township — Clay Township — Taylor Township — Bethel Township — Jefferson Township — Black Creek Township — North River Township — Lentner Township 136

Newspapers of Shelby County — The Shelbyville Spectator — The Shelby County Weekly — The Shelby County Herald — The Shelby County Times — The Shelbyville Guard — The Shelbina Gazette— The Shelbina Index and Torchlight — The Shelbina Democrat — First Paper in Clarence — The Clarence Courier — The Clarence Republican — The Hunnewell Enterprise — The Hunnewell Echo — The Enterprise Resumes Publication — The Hunnewell Bee — The Bethel Sun — The Missouri Sun 148

Some Shelby County Murders and Suicides — William Switzer Murdered in 1864 — Pat McCarty Assassinated — The Buford Tragedy — Murder of Nicholas Brandt — Judge Joseph Hunolt Assassinated — A Leonard Tragedy — Shelbina Mayor Dies Suddenly - M. Lloyd Cheuvront Shot — Suicide at Clarence — The Stacy Murder and Suicide 155

Shelby County — Census of Shelby County — Clarence — Shelbyville — Shelbina — Hunnewell — The Temple of Justice — Courthouse Burned — Three Clarence Fires — Shelby County Congressman 162

Page Schools, Colleges and Churches — Shelbina Collegiate Institute — Shelbina Public School — The Macon District Academy at Clarence — College at Leonard — The Independent Holiness School at Clarence 178


Read the Book - Free

Download the Book ( 45.6 MB ) - Free

There is a difference of opinion among former history writers of Shelby county as to whether or not the county was ever a part of Marion county. In this connection Judge James C. Hale, in writing the historical sketch contained in the atlas published by Edwards Brothers in 1878