AHGP Transcription Project

Benton County

Benton County, in the west-central part of the State, is bounded north by Pettis County, east by Morgan and Camden, south by Hickory, and west by St. Clair and Henry Counties, and contains 468,432 acres.

Population in 1840, 4,205; in 1850, 5,015; in 1860, 9,072; in 1870, 11,322; of whom 11,002 were white, and 320 colored; 5,850 male, and 5,472 female; 10,198 native (6,166 born in Missouri) and 1,124 foreign.

The county was settled mainly by emigrants from Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. Among the earliest were Bledsoe, Kinkead and others, in 1834. Bledsoe's Ferry, on the Osage, was in early days a noted crossing on the road from Palmyra, through Boonville, to Fort Smith and the Cherokee Nation.

The county was organized Jan. 3rd, 1835, the courts being held in a dwelling near Bledsoe's Ferry. Stephen Houser and others settled Osage, and a post-office was established there in 1836. The name was changed to Warsaw and the county seat located there in 1838.

There originated in this county, about 1841, the Turk or Slicker War,* a feud between Hiram K. Turk, a slicker, and Howard Sutleff and others, anti-slickers, which was kept up by midnight thrashings and road-side assassinations, until the sympathies of nearly all in the vicinity were enlisted on one side or the other. Many bloody tragedies occurred, and the history of the "Turk War" has always possessed much romantic interest for the people of this part of the State. Little anxiety however was felt for the safety of person or property, outside of the leaders and their immediate partisans, as few others took any active part in the affair. It was terminated by the death or flight to Texas of those most prominent in it.

During the late Civil War the whole community was thrilled with horror by the bloody affair at "Cole Camp". The German residents of the vicinity organized under Capt. Cook as friends of the Federal cause, and were encamped in and around barns about 2 miles east of Cole Camp. They were surprised about daylight, June 19th, 1861, by two companies from Warsaw, who, knowing of the encampment, had marched all night for the purpose of attacking them. Over 100 of the Germans are said to have been killed-the remainder fleeing in every direction. The attacking party lost 6 or 7, among whom were some prominent citizens of Warsaw. No other event of the war produced such sorrow and dismay among the people of Benton County, and the animosity of the Germans towards all who were engaged in the attack has scarcely yet died out. No other battle occurred in the county. The peace of the inhabitants, however, was so disturbed by bands of marauders and bushwhackers, that large numbers of them fled, mostly to other States, not returning to their homes until peace was established. In 1867-68 and '69 large numbers immigrated to the county, and since then the influx has been moderate but steady.

Physical Features
The general character of the county is broken, about one-third being undulating prairie, the remainder, rough timber land. The northern portion is principally prairie, and the central, along the Osage River, is broken and hilly, with excellent timber and extensive bottoms, some of which are under a good state of cultivation.

The Osage River flows centrally through this county from west to east. The large streams of Pomme de Terre and Grand River, Big Tebo and Cole Camp Creeks, flow into the Osage through the county; Big Tebo entering Grand River 4 miles above its junction with the Osage. Little Tebo, Brush and Bear Creeks flow through the county from the north, and Hogle's Creek, Little Pomme de Terre, Turkey and Deer Creeks from the south. These creeks are good-sized streams. All the water courses of the county are filled with beautiful clear water, except Grand River and Big Tebo, which are generally muddy. The head-waters of Flat, Lake and Haw Creeks, tributaries of the La Mine, are also in Benton.

The bottom lands along the streams are alluvial deposits, and well adapted to agriculture.

The Clark Sulphur Springs, 4 miles, and the White Sulphur Springs, 10 miles from Warsaw, are favorite summer resorts, although as yet no commodious buildings have been erected. The waters are highly esteemed for their medicinal properties, and every summer, parties from a distance in large numbers come to derive benefit from the waters, and enjoy the novelty of camp life.

The Agricultural Productions are corn, wheat, oats and stock. Fruit-culture is receiving more attention, the small fruits succeeding admirably. There are about 50,000 acres of Government land and some Agricultural College lands still for sale in the county.

Mineral Resources
This county is situated in the midst of one of the great iron-bearing districts into which the State is divided by Prof. Pumpelly's Report on the Geology of Missouri. The existence of iron was not generally known to the people of the county until 1872. Since then many valuable beds have been found. Scattering particles of ore are found in many places where digging does not develop any masses. There are probably as many as 200 ore-beds in the county, many of these of great richness. The ore is mainly brown hematite, but red hematite and blue specular ores are also found, the former in considerable quantities. Capitalists are now prospecting for new banks and developing those known, and Benton will undoubtedly soon take rank as one of the great iron-producing counties of the State.

Lead has long been known to exist in many places in the county, and has to some extent been mined for market. New discoveries are constantly being made, but seldom in sufficient quantities to warrant mining. There is also in Benton an abundance of building stone and sand, also clay for brick.

The Manufacturing Interests of Benton County are yet in abeyance, though there are rich natural deposits and fine water power-plenty of fuel and excellent timber. There are 4 flouring and 7 saw-mills, also a mill recently erected on Grand River for cutting out timber for wagons, plows, etc. These, with those noted under the different towns and the usual complement of wagon, blacksmith and other shops, constitute the present manufactories of Benton.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $4,000,000.†

24 miles of the Osage Valley & Southern Kansas Rail Road are graded from Warsaw to a point east of Cole Camp. This railroad is projected to Versailles in Morgan County, from which point it is graded to Tipton on the Mo. P. Rail Road. The debt of $165,000 is part of $200,000 of bonds issued for this road.

The Exports are wheat, stock, and prospectively iron.

The public school system has been fully organized, good houses built, competent teachers employed, and the schools are in a prosperous condition. According to the returns of 1872, there were in the county 5,014 children of school age, 85 teachers, and 71 school-houses.

Benton County Places in 1875

Cloverdale, a post-office 14 miles north west of Warsaw.

Cole Camp, 20 miles north east of Warsaw, on the 0. V. & S. K. Rail Road, laid out by Blakey & Brother in 1857, has 1 church, 1 hotel, 5 stores, and 1 flouring and 1 saw-mill. The country south is timbered; on the north, east and west it is a fine undulating prairie.

Dell Delight, a post-office 7 miles south east of Warsaw.

Duroc, a post-office 17 miles east of Warsaw.

Fairfield, on the Pomme de Terre River, 8 miles south of Warsaw, contains 2 stores, and 2 saw and grist-mills. Population about 75.

Fort Lyon, a post office, 19 miles north west of Warsaw and 8 miles south of Windsor.

Garrett's Mill, on Grand River, 3½ miles north east of Warsaw, does a large business in sawing, planing, hub and spoke manufacturing, etc.

Haw Creek, 22 miles north east of Warsaw, contains 1 general store.

Heimsath's Store.-See Lake Creek.

Kreizel's Mill, a post-office 15 miles north east of Warsaw.

Lake Creek (Heimsath's Store), a post-office 24 miles north east of Warsaw.

Lincoln, 13 miles north of Warsaw and 15 miles south east of Windsor, has 3 stores, 1 saddle-tree manufactory, and 1 grist-mill. Population about 100.

Mount View, 13 miles south east of Warsaw, has 1 general store.

WARSAW, the county seat, on the left bank of the Osage River, is 38 miles from Sedalia and 24 miles from Windsor (on the M. K. & T. Rail Road). It has a population of about 500, contains 2 churches, valued at $1,200 each, 1 hotel, 1 public school-house, 1 bank, 15 stores, 1 carding machine, i flouring and 1 saw-mill and 2 newspapers-The Times, S. W. Smith, publisher, and The Benton County Democrat, Ben. R. Lingle, editor and publisher.

*Parties of desperate character, such as sometimes flee from justice in better organised communities, established themselves among the hills in the vicinity of the new settlements and sallied forth to steal the horses from the settled portions of the State, as well as to prey upon the cattle, hogs and other property of the backwoodsmen. The latter organized a vigilance committee known as "The Slickers" from their peculiar mode of administering punishment. Deciding that some one deserved chastisement, a committee was appointed to capture him. The offender was tied to a suitable tree, usually a black-jack, and "slicked" or whipped with hickory wither. He was then usually ordered to leave the county within a given time. Personal spite often actuated the slickers beyond, and sometimes contrary to, the demands of justice, and there was organised the "Anti-Slickers." These two powers made war against each other with savage cruelty, for there were honest but misguided men in both organizations, and each professed to be actuated by a desire to put down rascality and maintain the right.
†Assessed valuation for 1873, $2,820,813. Bonded debt $165,000. Floating debt, a few warrants. Taxation $1.79 per $100.

Source: Campbell's Gazetteer of Missouri, Revised Edition, by R. A. Campbell, Published by R. A. Campbell,
St. Louis, Missouri, 1875

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