AHGP Transcription Project

Lafayette County

Lafayette County, in the western part of the State, is bounded north by the Missouri River, which separates it from Ray and Carroll Counties, east by Saline, south by Johnson and west by Jackson, and contains 403,671 acres.

Population in 1830, 2,912; in 1840, 6,815; in 1850, 13,690; in 1860, 20,098; in 1870, 22,623, of whom 18,584 were white, and 4,039 colored; 1;689 male, and 10,934 female; 20,692 native, (12,518 born in Missouri) and 1,931 foreign.

During the war of 1812, the site of the pleasant village of Mayview-long known as Heth Hills-was the scene of a bloody conflict between a detachment of U. S. troops, Capt. Heth commanding, and a large body of Indians. There was no further trouble with the savages, and Gilead Rupe, who located, in 1815, on the farm now occupied by Mr. Erskine, 2 1/2 miles south of Lexington, lived unmolested, although his nearest neighbor was Jesse Cox, who settled about the same time in the bottom above Arrow Rock, distant about 65 miles. In 1816, Thos. Hopper, of North Carolina, settled 8 miles southwest of the present site of Lexington, and was followed by Solomon Cox, who located near what is now the village of Dover. Albert and Wilson Owens came the same year, and located where Lexington now stands. In 1818 the immigration was quite large, and among those who came were G. Tryham, Rad. Cole, John Lovelady, Wm. and John Dickson, James Lillard, C. Turnage and James Hicklin. The last named, now an aged and wealthy citizen residing 3 miles east of Lexington, split the first rails ever made in the county. The venerable John Nelson, still living in the vicinity of Lexington, and others now dead, came about 1820. Indeed the immigration was so great about this time-15 or 20 families coming in-that much dissatisfaction was felt among the older settlers. The nearest corn mill was in the Big Bottom in Saline County, 6o miles distant; and the nearest flouring-mill was at Old Franklin.

Lillard County was organized Nov. 16th, 1820, from Cooper, and the county seat was located at Mt. Vernon, 10 miles below the present site of Lexington, where the first court was held in 1820. The first judge, Hon. David Todd, was succeeded by Hon. John F. Ryland, who continued to preside until appointed to the supreme bench by Gov. Austin A. King. Dec. 3rd, 1822, the county seat was removed to Lexington, and soon after, court was held in Dr. Buck's house, the first one built in the place, and which still stands. Mr. Geo. Houx, who traveled through the county in 1822, states that there was only one church at that time within its limits. This was a Baptist church, located about 2 miles southwest of Lexington, where Mr. Wright's lime-kiln now stands. In 1826, a brick church building was erected by the Cumberland Presbyterians at Lexington, and at this place in 1822, Mr. John Aull, elder brother of Mr. Robert Aull, of St. Louis, and of Mrs. Pomeroy, of Lexington, built the first stone-house. In 1834, the name of the county was changed to Lafayette, and its present boundaries established. This county suffered less than many other portions of the State during the late Civil War; one sharp conflict, however, occurred at the old Masonic College in Lexington, between the Federals under Col. Mulligan, and the Confederates commanded by Gen. Price.

Physical Features
The northern boundary is washed by the Missouri River, which receives numerous small tributaries from this county, chief of which are Big Sniabar, East Fork of Sniabar, Little Sniabar, Big Tabo and Salt Creeks. The southern portion is watered by Davis and Black Jack Creeks. All of these streams are bordered by a fine growth of the various kinds of oak, also hickory, elm, ash, etc. The face of the county is generally undulating, and the soil is of a deep rich loam, underlaid with limestone. A ridge passes south of the central part of the country from northeast to southwest, which separates the affluents of the Missouri from the sub-tributaries of LaMine, and in the southwestern part there are some elevations-chief of which are Buck and Wagon Knobs-from which fine views of the surrounding country may be had.

The Agricultural Productions are wheat, corn, tobacco, hemp, oats, barley, rye, the grasses, fruits and vegetables. The yield of wheat for 1873 is estimated at 1,000,000 bushels; corn, 2,000,000; tobacco, 500,000 pounds; and hemp, 1,500 tons. Blue grass succeeds well, and its acreage is yearly increasing. Great attention is given to blooded stock, specially cattle and hogs; large numbers are imported and raised annually. The fruits are grown in large quantities, and are of fine size and flavor.

Mineral Resources
Coal crops out near the base of the Missouri River Bluffs, and along some of the smaller water courses. The average thickness of the vein is about 22 inches. Drift mining was exclusively practiced until lately, but several shafts have been sunk with satisfactory results.

The Manufacturing Interests consist of foundry and machine shops, flouring, planing and saw-mills, woolen-mills, breweries, carriage, wagon, hemp and furniture factories.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $20,000,000.*

The Lexington Branch of the Missouri Pacific Rail Road extends from Lexington, 27 1/2 miles, diagonally through the county and passes out near the southeastern corner. The Burlington & Southwestern Rail Road is graded 26 miles in a south-westerly direction from Lexington, which place is also the terminus of the St. Louis & St. Joseph Rail Road.

The Exports are wheat, coal, hemp, cattle, hogs, corn, flour, etc.

Educational Interests
Number of sub-districts, 91; of school-houses, 95; of schools, 102; of children of school age, 8,931; teachers, 130; value of public school property, $71,185. In addition to the public schools, which are of a high order, there are three seminaries for young ladies, and several smaller private schools. Value of private school property, about $60,000.

Lafayette County Places in 1875

Aullville, on the L. &. St. Louis Rail Road, 17 miles from Lexington, in a good agricultural district, was incorporated July 1871. Population about 500. It is a prosperous town, with several stores and 2 churches.

Berlin, on the Missouri River, 8 miles east north east of Lexington, and 2 miles north of Dover, for which place, and the surrounding rich country, it is the shipping point by river, was incorporated March 1854. The exports during the year 1873 were as follows : wheat, 40,000 bushels ; hemp, 600 tons ; hogs, 1,490 ; cattle, too ; corn, 30,000 bushels; and sundries valued at $15,000.

Chapel Hill, 26 miles south south west of Lexington, and a designated station on the B. & S. W. Rail Road, was incorporated in September 1857.

Concordia, on the L. & St. Louis Rail Road, 24 miles south east of Lexington, incorporated August 1869, is a thrifty and prosperous village in the center of a densely populated German settlement. Population about 600.

Dick, a post-office 14 miles east of Page City.

Dover, 10 miles east of Lexington, incorporated March 1835, is a beautiful village in a rich farming country, and contains 3 churches and several business houses. Population about 150.

Freedom, a post-office 3 miles south of Aullville.

Greenton, a post-office 12 miles south south west of Lexington, is surrounded by a country of great beauty and fertility.

Higginsville, on the L. & St. Louis Rail Road, 13 miles south east of Lexington, in a fertile section, containing a flouring mill, several stores, and two churches, was incorporated August 1869. Population about 300.

LEXINGTON, the county seat, situated on the high and healthful bluffs of the Missouri River, and on the L. & St. Louis Rail Road, 55 miles from Sedalia, and 244 miles from St. Louis, was settled by A. and W. Owens from North Carolina, in the year 1817, and was laid off by Commissioners James Bounds, John Dustan and James Lillard; the city charter was obtained March 5th, 1855. This is one of the most beautiful cities of the State; the streets are broad and adorned with shade trees, chiefly maple, and the residences are built with taste, and usually surrounded with beautiful flowers and shrubbery, while the business houses are substantial and commodious. Lexington was long the commercial center of the western portion of the State, until the construction of the M. P. Rail Road so cut off the trade as to render it now dependent upon the country contiguous to it, but its healthy location, its great educational advantages and its inexhaustible coal fields must always make it an important place. It contains 3 public schools, to one of which a high school is attached; 10 teachers are employed who have the care of 605 pupils. There is also a public school for colored children, employing 4 teachers and having an attendance of 240 scholars. There are 3 seminaries for young ladies, also 1 private high school for boys and 1 private school. There are 12 churches-Catholic, M. E. Church South Presbyterian, Presbyterian (O. S.), Cumberland Presbyterian, Baptist, Christian, Episcopal, German Methodist, 2 colored Methodist and 1 colored Baptist, also 3 newspapers-The Caucasian, edited and published by Ethan Allen, Hon. J. T. Child and W. G. Musgrove, The Intelligencer, published by the Intelligencer Pub. Co., M. A. Steele, editor, and The Register, published by H. W. Turner; Col. Mark L. DeMotte and C. B. Wilson, editors; 4 banks and about 70 stores. Population, about 6,000.

It may not be uninteresting to mention that in Lafayette County there has existed for many years past, what is known as the "Old Men's Association;" the only qualification for membership is that the applicant shall have attained the age of three score and ten. Semi-annually (spring and fall) they dine at the house of some member. At a meeting recently held at the hospitable residence of Mr. John R. Ford-one of the association-in addition to the members, 16 in number, there were present three venerable ladies, two of whom were over 95, and one over 85 years of age. The aggregate ages of the company assembled that day was over 1,600 years.

Lisbon-See Napoleon.

Mayview, 12 miles south south east of Lexington, on the line of the proposed Kansas City & Arrow Rock Rail Road, is about 8 miles north west of Aullville, and was incorporated December, 1867. This town is near the center of the county, and is built upon a succession of mounds, which gives it a fine view.

Mt. Hope, a post-office 20 miles south west of Lexington has 6 stores, 2 blacksmith and wagon shops, and 2 churches.

Napoleon, (formerly Lisbon,) on the Missouri River, and 13 miles west south west of Lexington, was incorporated November 1836.

Page City, a post-office on the L. & St. Louis Rail Road 9 miles south east of Lexington.

Pleasant Prairie, a post-office 17 miles south west of Lexington.

Sniabar, a post-office 20 miles south south west of Lexington.

Tabo, a post-office 18 miles south south east of Lexington.

Waverly, on the Missouri River, 22 miles east of Lexington, situated on land that was entered by Wm. Carroll in 1818, was incorporated in 1848. It has 2 banks, several churches and schools, and is an important shipping point. Population, about 900.

Wellington, on the Missouri River, 8 miles south west of Lexington, was incorporated in 1837. Population, about 150.

*Assessed valuation in 1873, $7,448,920. Taxation, $3.65 per $100. Bonded debt, $1,044,921. Floating debt, $24,470. Debt of townships, $312,000.

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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