AHGP Transcription Project

Johnson County

Johnson County, in the western part of the State, is bounded north by Lafayette County, east by Pettis, south by Henry, and west by Cass and Jackson Counties, and contains 516,797 acres.

Population in 1840, 4,471; in 1850, 7,464; in 1860, 14,644; in 1870, 24,648, of whom 23,189 were white, and 1,458 colored; 12,662 male, and 11,986 female; 23,665 native, (11,165 born in Missouri) and 983 foreign.

The first settlement was made near the present town of Columbus in 1833, and among those who drove down their tent pins on the hunting ground of the Indians of that neighborhood was Nicholas Houx, who afterward built the first house in the county. The same year Dr. Robert Rankin, (his son, Mr. Eads Rankin, is now a prominent stock-raiser near Columbus,) Rev. Robert King, John Whitsitt, Robert Craig, Uriel Murray, Morgan Cockrell, Noland Brewer and Mr. Andruss settled in the same vicinity. Later in 1833, Richard Huntsman settled near Fayetteville, planting a large number of fruit-tree cuttings, brought from Tennessee. One of the products of this orchard afterward became widely known among fruit-growers as "Huntsman's Favorite." Christopher and James Mulkey, Jacob Pearman, Edward Corder, and Wm. Frapp, came also in 1833, the two last named settling 6 miles west of the present site of Dunksburg. These were followed by Harvey Harrison (afterward county judge), Gideon Harrison, John and Thomas Evans, Wm. Hooten, Joseph Hobson, Samuel Evans, William Bigham, Robert Graham, James Cockrell, Jos. Harrison, (a soldier in the war of 1812,) and John, Wm., Daniel and David Marr. These brothers settled near the head-waters of Post Oak Creek, and north of them, Abner, James and John Stewart, Jacob Eppright and Abel Gilliland; Wm. T. Conway in 1832, Wm. C. Baker in 1833. Solomon and Jesse Cox, Fountain Page, Robert, Samuel and John Graham, Rufus Hornbuckle, Simpson Brown, John Thornton, James and Wm. Carmichael, Henry Colburn, Edward and Charles Collins, James Simpson, James Borthick, and Joel Walker settled in what was known as the Graham neighborhood, near Fayetteville; Samuel and Guy Graham and Phillip Houx near Center View. Among the early settlers in the south-eastern part of the county were James Patrick, J. N. Ousley, Dr. Ousley, Nathan Janes, Henry Forbian, Maj. Neil, Squire Cooper, Adam Fickus and James Marshall. Many of these pioneers still live to recount their tales of early peril and hardship. These were famous Indian hunting grounds, and wonderful stories are told of the buffalo, antelope, elk and deer that roamed in vast herds over the hills and prairies, besides smaller game found in the forests that skirted the streams.

The county was organized Dec. 13th, 1834, and named in honor of Richard M. Johnson, of Kentucky. The first court was held in a grove near Columbus. The first county justices were Amos Horn, Dr. Robert Rankin, and Uriel Murray. Among the first papers acted upon was a petition from Harvey Harrison, for the sale of Sec. 16, T. 47, R. 26, for school purposes, this being the first section sold in the county for the benefit of that fund. It was offered in 8o-acre tracts, and brought from $1.25 to $3.50 per acre. The first circuit court was held at the residence of Nicholas Houx in Columbus, Judge John Ryland (afterward judge of the supreme court of the State,) presiding. Martin D. Warren, father of James Warren, (from whom the county seat was subsquently named,) was the first circuit and ex-officio county clerk, and Joseph Cockrell, sheriff. He was succeeded by Dr. Wm. Calhoun, afterward State senator. The first representative was Macklin White. The county seat was located about 3 miles east of the present site of Columbus on the farm of Mrs. Fanny Cockrell, but the selection meeting with much opposition from other parts of the county, the commissioners reconsidered their decision and selected the present location, then owned by Martin D. Warren. With the exception of a few years during the Civil War, Johnson County has enjoyed uninterrupted prosperity, growing steadily in wealth and importance.

Physical Features
The general face of the country is undulating. In the extreme south east is the High Point of Tebo, which forms the water-shed between the streams running to the Missouri, and those emptying in the Osage; north of this is Bristle Ridge, a low range of hills terminating at Mountserrat, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road. Basin Knob Ridge skirts the western border of the county and forms the water-shed for the tributaries of the Missouri River, and those of the Black Water, the latter finding its source in living springs which flow from the base of Basin Knob Ridge. This ridge terminates in a high bluff near Kingsville, and affords an extensive view of the county, which is level or slightly undulating, interspersed with an abundance of timber, consisting of walnut, elm, maple, ash, several varieties of oak, etc., which grow especially along the valleys of Black Water, Clear Fork, Bear, Honey, Walnut, Brush, Scaly Bark and Big Creeks; and on the crests of the ridges referred to, which also afford a choice variety of burr-oak, walnut and hickory for manufacturing purposes.

In the early settlement of this county, its vast prairies were considered of little value by persons from densely timbered countries; but since the prairie fires are kept out, groves are growing up rapidly. The soil of the prairie is a dark loam mixed with the debris of limestone rock, and is very fertile; that of the woodland is a reddish brown, and is well adapted to wheat and corn. The saline springs which abound are highly prized by stock-growers, and the numerous streams traversing the prairies peculiarly fit them for pasturage. Of these, the largest is Black Water, which has its source in the north-western part of the county, and flowing south, east, and then north-east, is swollen to quite a river by Brush, Post Oak, Bear and Clear Fork from the south, and Honey, North Walnut, Cracker, Davis and some smaller creeks from the north. Clear Fork, its largest tributary, flows from the south nearly due north, through the eastern part of the county, and is joined from the west by Mineral Creek. The south-western part is well watered by numerous small streams; among them, Big Creek with its tributaries of Lost, Panther and South Walnut Creeks from the west, and Butcher, Scaly Bark, and Doe Creeks from the east. A large proportion of the soil is rich and well adapted to agriculture, producing a large yield of all kinds of grains, grasses, fruits and vegetables.

Agricultural Resources
The productions are wheat, corn, tobacco, hemp, rye, barley, flax, buckwheat, castor beans, and potatoes of both kinds. Corn and wheat are the staples, this ranking among the leading wheat-growing counties of the State. Blue grass is extensively grown, and is rapidly taking the place of the wild grasses. This is decidedly a fruit-growing county, apples, especially, being abundant and of excellent quality. Grape-growing is attracting much attention, and there are some fine vineyards. There are a few small tracts of lands owned by the M. P. R. R. for sale in the county.*

Mineral Resources
Large quantities of excellent coal are found in various parts, the strata being from 18 to 30 inches in thickness. In the vicinity of Warrensburg, Montserratt and Carbon Hill, mining has been carried on quite extensively. In the south-eastern part of the county are found veins of ochre, choice clays, and a stratum of plumbago and black oxyde of manganese, which is susceptible of a fine polish and makes a clear, black mark. The limestone through the county embraces several varieties, some of which contain numerous fossils. Several specimens of petrifaction-principally of wood-have been found in the south-east corner of the county. The best quality of white and blue sandstone exists in great abundance in the vicinity of Warrensburg. The beds are deep, and the stone clear of veins and other imperfections, so that pieces of any desired size may be obtained.

The Manufacturing Interests
There are 10 flouring-mills, with a capacity of 1,000 barrels a day, beside some other gristmills, a foundry and machine shop at Warrensburg, a cement-mill and kiln at the same place, which makes a fine article of hydraulic cement, and 3 agricultural implement manufactories.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $18,000,000.†

There are 41 miles of track in this county, of which the Missouri Pacific Rail Road has 31 miles and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Rail Road 10 miles.

The Exports are chiefly wheat, flour, corn, oats, apples, potatoes, live stock, coal and stone.

Educational Interests
These are well attended to, every sub-district being provided with schools and comfortable buildings. The Second District State Normal School, located at Warrensburg, is in successful operation, employing, in 1873, 11 teachers, and having an attendance of 300 scholars. The State pays $10,000 annually toward sustaining this institution, which is a source of pride to the citizens.

Warrensburg Normal School

Johnson County Places in 1875

Benton, See McClurg.

Burnett's Station, (Wall's Store,) a post office 16 miles south south east of Warrensburg.

Carbon Hill, (Clear Fork,) a station on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 7 miles east of Warrensburg.

Centre View, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 6 miles west of Warrensburg, is well laid out, and surrounded by a rich prairie. It contains 2 flouring mills-one with three sets of buhrs and a capacity of 100 barrels of flour daily, 8 stores, 1 saddle and harness, 1 wagon and 1 carpenter shop, and 1 tannery, besides some other small business houses. Population about 200.

Chalybeate, a post office 8 miles south south west of Warrensburg.

Chilhowee, 14 miles south south west of Warrensburg, has 2 stores, 1 carpenter shop, 1 church and a school house. Population sbout 100.

Clear Fork, See Carbon Hill.

Columbus, 13 miles north west of Warrensburg, is the oldest town in the county, having been settled in 1833. It is pleasantly located in the edge of the timber near a valuable mineral spring, is surrounded by a fine country, and contains 3 churches-Cumberland Presbyterian, M. E. Church South and Christian, 1 good flouring-mill-3 run of buhrs--100 barrels a day, 1 wheelwright and 2 wagon shops, and 4 stores. Population about 150.

Cornelia, a post office 10 miles south of Warrensburg.

Fayetteville, (Hazel Hill,) 10 miles north of Warrensburg, on the Lexington turnpike, is situated on a prairie in a wealthy farming community. It contains 1 church-Christian, and 7 stores. Population about 200.

Gallagher, See Montserratt.

Hazel Hill, See Fayetteville.

Holden, at the junction of the Missouri Pacific Rail Road with M. K. & T. R. R., 232 miles from St. Louis, is the second town of importance in the county. It contains 5 churches-Presbyterian, Cumberland Presbyterian, M. E. Church, Christian and Catholic, good public schools, with an attendance of 550 scholars, 2 hotels, 1 large flouring-mill, 1 newspaper-The Enterprise, published by G. N. Richards, about 20 stores, 3 lumber yards, 1 livery stable, 1 gunsmith, 1 saddle and harness and 2 carpenter shops, 1 broom factory, 2 grain depots and 1 nurseryman. Population about 2,500.

Kingsville, See Ramey.

Knobnoster, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 10 miles east of Warrensburg, derives its name from a prominent mound or knob that stands near to it, isolated, on the prairie. The surrounding country is pleasantly diversified by timber and streams, and there is in the neighborhood an abundance of good coal, and a bed of ochre. The town was laid off in 1845, incorporated in 1852, and contains 5 churches-M. E. Church, Cumberland Presbyterian, Presbyterian, Christian and Catholic, 1 school, 1 bank, 1 newspaper-the Missouri Farme, published by J. R. Cordell, 2 hotels, 2 livery stables, 20 stores, 1 wagon and 1 saddler's shop, 2 lumber yards, 1 nursery and 1 grain depot. Population, about 2,000.

McClurg, (Benton.) a station on the M. K. & T. Rail Road, 8 miles south west of Holden.

Montserratt, (Gallagher,) on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 6 miles east of Warrensburg, contains 2 churches, a public school, a grain elevator and a few business houses. Population, about 100.

Pittsville, 10 miles north of Holden, is in the midst of a fine farming country, and has 1 church-Baptist, a good public swchool and 2 stores. Population, about 100.

Ramey, (Kingsville,) on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 19 miles west of Warrensburg, has 1 hotel, 6 stores, a flouring-mill and a carpenter shop. Population, about 300.

Rose Hill, 7 miles south south wet of Holden, has 3 stores and a public school.

Wall's Store, See Burnett's Station.

WARRENSBURG, the county seat, on the Missouri Pacific Rail Road, 218 miles west of St. Louis, is pleasantly located on a high, timbered ridge, commanding an extensive view of well cultivated prairies, dotted with farm houses, stretching away from the town in all directions. The location is healthy, and in the vicinity are a number of fine springs. The town was laid off in 1835 by John and Martin D. Warren, for whom it was named. The first term of the county court was held there in 1836; it was incorporated as a town in 1846, and as a city in 1855. It contains 3 newspapers-The Democrat, published by Julian & Conklin, The Standard, by Baldwin & Klain, and The Journal, by S. P. Cutler; 13 churches-M. E. Church, M. E. Church South, 2 Presbyterian, United Presbyterian, Cumberland Presbyterian, German Lutheran, Christian, Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic, colored Methodist and colored Baptist, 2 flouring-mills, about 30 stores, a good city hall, 1 carriage and 1 agricultural implement manufactory, 2 hotels, 1 carding and spinning machine, 3 lumber yards and various other establishments, 1 nurseryman. Population, about 5000. Besides other public schools the Second District State Normal School is located here.

†Assessed valuation in 1873 $8,107,870. Taxation, $4.00 per $100. Bonded debt $10,000. Warrensburg and Madison Townships each have a bonded debt of $100,000; both Rail Road debts.

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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