AHGP Transcription Project

Iron County

Iron County, in the south-eastern part of the State, and bounded north by Crawford, Washington and St. Francois Counties, east by St. Francois, Madison and Wayne, south by Wayne and Reynolds, and west by Reynolds, Dent and Crawford Counties, contains 353,804 acres.

Population in 1860, 5,842; in 1870, 6,278, of whom 5,926 were white, and 352 colored; 3,148 male, and 3,130 female; 5,756 native (3,561 born in Missouri) and 522 foreign.

In 1810 Ephraim Stout settled in what the Delaware Indians called "The Lost Cove," a name suggested by the fact that it is hemmed in, lost, apparently, among the surrounding mountains. He was soon joined by the Sharps, Browns, Suttons and Russells, and the locality came to be known as Stout's Settlement, and the stream that drains the valley is still known as Stout's Creek. A New England lady, who came with the first mining company that visited the county, gave it the very appropriate name which it now bears, Arcadia Valley. At a very early day John Sutton settled on Marble Creek, and others followed soon after.

The county was organized February 17th, 1857, from parts of Madison, St. Francois, Washington, Reynolds and Wayne Counties, and Arcadia was made the county seat. The first officers of the county were:
J. V. Logan, John W. Miller and Moses Edmonds, judges;
John F. T. Edwards, county and circuit clerk;
Daniel Q. Gale, circuit attorney;
John Cole, sheriff;
John Stone, circuit judge.
In August, 1857, Ironton, then a town on paper, was, by a vote of the people, made the county seat, and an elegant brick court-house was soon erected.

During the late Civil War the central part of the county was made a military post by the Federal authorities. A fort was built in the valley at the western slope of Pilot Knob, and commanded the gap between that and Shepherd's Mountain. Another held an eminence between Ironton and Arcadia, but was evacuated at the time of Gen. Price's raid. It is now called "Fort Hill," and is the site of a modest church.

Physical Features
The surface is hilly, broken and mountainous, and some parts of it are heavily timbered with pine, oak, hickory, maple, etc. A large portion of the county is rocky and not susceptible of cultivation, though some of the uplands are available for grazing and for grape and fruit culture. The county is well watered by numerous small creeks and mountain streams, affluents of the Big Black and St. Francis Rivers, and springs of pure water are abundant. The creek bottoms afford very rich agricultural lands, and in the Arcadia and Belleview, the principal valleys, are beautiful farms, well cultivated, productive and profitable. The principal mountain spurs of the Ozark range are Pilot Knob, Shepherd and Cedar Mountains. The first is 581 feet high, 1,118 feet above the level of the Mississippi River at St. Louis, and covers an area of 360 acres. Shepherd's Mountain is 79 feet higher, and covers an area of 800 acres.

There are in this county several natural curiosities:
The Granite Quarry, about 6 miles northwest from Ironton; the Shut In, about 2 miles southeast; and the Cascade, about 10 miles west of the same place. The Granite Quarry is a solid bed of granite 60 or 70 feet high, covering from 100 to 200 acres. Scattered over the top of this mountain of stone are huge boulders rounded and worn smooth, some of them 25 feet high, and weighing hundreds of tons. Some of them have but a small base resting upon the solid ledge, and it seems as if a man could set his shoulder against them and send them thundering to the mountain's base. A trial, however, will prove to the contrary. The granite is of a superior quality, and has been extensively used by the Government in the erection of public buildings, and 300 men are now employed in the quarry.

The Shut In is a cleft-like mountain-pass, at its narrowest point about 100 yards wide, a mile in length, and its sides of rock from 30 to 50 feet high. Through this chasm runs a bright and sparkling stream that empties into the St. Francis River.

The Cascade runs over the top of Cascade Mountain, falling down its perpendicular rocky sides about 200 feet to the bottom of a narrow mountain gorge. Opposite and almost within stone's throw, rises another mountain 300 feet high, and nearly perpendicular. In summer, one standing at the top of this cascade and looking into the abyss, sees the foliage and vegetation at the bottom wear a funereal blackness; higher up, the color changes to a dark green, and grows paler as it nears the top, where it is of the hue of summer. The continual rush of water in the spring floods over this precipice, and the continued dropping of the summer stream, have worn in the rock large tanks or cisterns holding from 10 to 200 hogsheads of water. These reservoirs seem to be always full. In Dent Township there is a cavern of wonderful beauty and great extent, that has never been fully explored.

Stony Battery is a gorge or canon about 3/4 of a mile long between the mountains in the southern part of the county. The stones, which in past ages had fallen into it from the mountain above, have been removed, and it now serves for the bed of a stream and for a road. It opens at the south into a fertile valley of considerable extent.

Agricultural Resources
The productions are corn, wheat, tobacco, small quantities of cotton, fruits and vegetables, all of which grow luxuriantly in the valleys and creek bottoms, and find a home market.

Mineral Resources
Iron is thought to be inexhaustible. The principal mines are on Pilot Knob and Shepherd Mountain, which were brought into notice in 1836 by Messrs. Pease and Van Doren. In 1837 a Boston company offered them $500,000 for a half interest in this property, which offer they declined. Pease and Van Doren failed in the crisis of 1837, and nothing further was done towards the development of the mines until 1847, when a St. Louis company was formed, and in 1848 they erected furnaces, stores and other buildings. They continued operations until 1864, when Gen. Price, in his raid through south-eastern Missouri, totally destroyed the works. They were rebuilt in 1866, and operations successfully resumed.

Pilot Knob is an almost isolated, nearly conical hill, connected at its eastern base with a range of lower hills that gradually slope off to the east. At the height of 440 feet on the south side of the mountain is exposed a stratum of specular iron ore, about 275 feet in length, and 19 to 24 feet in thickness. Considering the upper 141 feet composed entirely of iron ore, and as a cone with a base of fifty acres, it would make 108,507,960 cubic feet of iron ore. It might be said to be almost a solid mountain of iron, rising cone-like with an almost perpendicular peak. It served as a land-mark and guide to the Indian and pioneer, hence its name. Shepherd Mountain, one-eighth of a mile west of Pilot Knob, has been mined sufficiently to show that it is rich in deposits of magnetic ore. Cedar Mountain which is one-quarter of a mile north-west of Pilot Knob, contains a large vein of specular ore, discovered by Tunica.

There are 15 or 20 other deposits of rich iron ore in the county, which for want of capital have been only partially developed or slightly worked, and new banks are being discovered.

Lead, bismuth and asbestos have been found. A very excellent quality of marble, pure white and variegated, is found on Marble Creek. The red variety of granite exists in abundance. Vast quantities are being shipped for building purposes. Kaolin is found and thought to be unlimited in quantity.

The Manufacturing Interests
There are 2 tobacco factories, 1 carding machine and cotton gin, 1 wagon factory, several flouring and saw-mills, and several smelting furnaces, operated by the Pilot Knob Iron Company.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $12,406,100.†

The Arkansas Branch of the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Rail Road has 34 miles of track running north and south through the county.

The Exports are iron, lumber, tobacco and cigars.

Educational Interests
Arcadia College, owned by the M. E. Church South, and nearly completed, is a fine building beautifully situated, and will cost about $40,000. The public schools are improving very rapidly, and new and commodious buildings are being erected. In 1873, $25,000 were expended for educational purposes.

Iron County Places in 1875

Annapolis, pleasantly located on the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Rail Road, 20 miles south of Ironton, laid out in 1871, is a thriving village with 1 hotel, 2 stores, 1 church, and 1 public school. Population, about 60.

Arcadia, very beautifully located in Arcadia Valley, and on the line of the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Rail Road, 1 mile south of Ironton, was laid out in 1849, and incorporated in 1870, and is becoming well known as a popular place of summer resort. It has 3 stores, 2 cigar and tobacco manufactories, 1 tannery, 1 cotton carding-mill, 1 church-Methodist, and 1 public school. Population, about 250. Arcadia College, founded by Rev. J. C. Berryman in 1846, is located here.

Belleview, a post-office, 6 miles west of Iron Mountain.

Cross Roads, 10 miles from Ironton, in the valley of Arcadia, has 4 stores, 2 public schools, and a population of about 75.

Des Arc, on the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Rail Road, 28 miles south of Ironton, was settled in 1871, and has 3 stores, 1 hotel, and a public school. Population, about 100.

Ghermanville, near the Granite Quarry, 4 miles north west of Ironton, was settled in 1873, and has 1 store, and a population of about 75.

Good Water, a post office 25 miles west of Iron Mountain.

Hogan Mountain, on the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & S. Rail Road, 8 miles south of Ironton.

IRONTON, the county seat, situated in the beautiful valley of Arcadia, south and east of Shepherd Mountain, on the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Rail Road, and 88 miles from St. Louis, is a thriving place of about 700 inhabitants. The first house was built in 1853, it became the county seat in 1857, and was incorporated in 1859. It suffered greatly during the Civil War, especially from the raid of Gen. Price, in 1864. It contains a large and commodious brick court-house, costing $14,000, a brick jail costing $8,000, 3 churches-Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopal-aggregate cost, $11,000; a Masonic and Odd Fellows hall, 1 public school, 1 school for colored children, 1 iron foundry, 1 flouring and 2 saw and planing-mills, 2 wagon factories, 1 saddler's shop, 2 hotels, 1 bank and 1 newspaper-the Register, published by Eli D. Ake. The U. S. Land Office for south-eastern Missouri is located here. The altitude of Ironton above the surrounding country gives it a fresh, bracing atmosphere, and it is fast becoming a very popular and delightful place of summer resort.

Kaolin, a post-office 12 miles west of Iron Mountain.

Middlebrook, on the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Rail Road, 4 miles north from Ironton and on the St. Francois County Line, is the shipping point for the granite quarries.

Ozark Mills, a post-office 4 miles east of Reynolds.

Pilot Knob, in the valley between Pilot Knob, Shepherd Mountain, and Cedar Mountain, and on the St. Louis & Iron Mountain Rail Road, was laid out in 1858, and incorporated in 1867. It has 2 churches, 1 public school and several stores and shops and the Pilot Knob Iron Works. Population, about 600.

Reynolds, a post-office on the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & S. Rail Road, 16 miles south of Ironton.

Russell's Mills, a post-office on the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & S. Rail Road, 11 miles south of Ironton.

†Assessed valuation in 1873 $2,019,490. Taxation, $2.00 per $100. Bonded debt $18,000.

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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