AHGP Transcription Project

Lewis County

Lewis County, in the north-eastern part of the State, is bounded north by Clark County, east by the Mississippi River, which separates it from Illinois, south by Marion and Shelby, and west by Knox County, and contains 320,560 acres.

Population in 1840, 6,040; in 1850, 6,578; in 1860, 12,286; in 1870, 15,114, of whom 13,933 were white and 1,181 colored; 7,849 male and 7,265 female; 14,146 native (8,020 born in Missouri,) and 968 foreign.

It is probable that the first white settler of this county was a Frenchman, named Lesseur, who built a hut on the banks of the Mississippi, at the present site of La Grange, which he occupied during the summer and fall months, while he trafficked with the Indians; but the first permanent settlement was made by John Bozarth, who came from Kentucky in the spring of 1819, and planted 20 acres of corn. In November of the same year, he brought his family of 18 persons, including his slaves. Mr. R. Bozarth, (a son of John Bozarth,) now living in the county, gives the subjoined description:
"We came to this county-then a part of Marion-in the fall of 1819, and put up a log cabin, which having no chimney, only a hearth in the middle of the room, required an open roof for the egress of the smoke. When the day's work was over, we laid down to sleep around the family hearth-stone-the entire family of 18 occupying the only room. Our food was boiled corn and honey, the latter procured from 'bee trees,' which we made a business of hunting, and when found we carried off the spoils in a sassafras log, which we had dug out like a canoe; hitching our horse to this awkward contrivance, we drew our honey home. Our bread was made from meal obtained by pounding corn in a mortar, and our clothes were of buckskin which we tanned ourselves. On Sunday we donned our best suits and went to call on our nearest neighbors, who lived 20 miles away, a comfortable distance for visiting in those days. I remember that we all had chills, but nobody died, until a doctor came to the country."

The early settlers of this county, as well as those adjacent, took an active part in the Black Hawk War, and there are several persons still living who can give many interesting incidents of those trying times. R. Bozarth, Jeremiah Taylor, G. Blackwell and the Durkee family yet living in this county, remember when the red men made annual visits to the Wyaconda Bottoms, where they encamped in the "sugar season," utilizing the sap of the maple trees, even now so plentiful there. The county was organized in 1832, and was named for Meriwether Lewis, of the famous Clarke and Lewis expedition, these two adventurous explorers being the first white men to cross the western part of the continent. The first sheriff appointed was C. B. Tate; he was not of the required age, but as no one "told on him," he kept the office. Gov. Dunklin was a Democrat and Mr. Tate, a Whig; such things occasionally happen among politicians. During the Civil War, although no battle was fought in Lewis County, several atrocious deeds were committed by marauding parties, which thrilled the community with horror, and left lasting sorrow in many homes. The murder of Mallory and Flannigan by the militia of this county, was deplored and denounced by the reasonable and good men of both parties.

Physical Features
This county has a river front of 25 miles, along which is a rich alluvial bottom, varying in width from a few feet to several miles. Nearly all the river bluffs, composed of disintegrated limestone, and facing east and south, are peculiarly adapted to the culture of the grape, and many fine and profitable vineyards are now to be seen upon them. The surface is undulating and diversified, about half of the county being well timbered with forests or groves, distributed along the water courses and separated by beautiful upland prairies. The principal streams are the Wyaconda and its largest branch, Sugar Creek, which, with their tributaries, drain the north-eastern part, while North Fabius and Middle Fabius traverse the center of the county; Grassy, Troublesome and South Fabius Creeks in the south-west, and Durgen's Creek in the south-east, all flow from the north-west toward the south-east, debouching into the Mississippi River. The bottom lands along these streams are very rich, and yield immense returns to the husbandman. After leaving the immediate vicinity of the streams, the country breaks into a beautiful rolling prairie, excellent for pasturage. The timber of the bottom lands is chiefly maple, ash, hickory, elm and sassafras, while on the uplands grow oak, hickory, ash, walnut and cherry. Fruits adapted to the climate grow well, both on the uplands and the river bluffs. Nearly all the timber land produces fine tobacco. The bottoms and prairies are well adapted to all the vegetables and cereals common to this climate.

The Agricultural Productions are wheat, corn, oats, buckwheat, rye, hemp and the grasses. Apples, peaches, grapes, apricots, plums, cherries, and the smaller fruits, bear abundantly, especially the three first mentioned. Much attention is given to the culture of the vine, and in 1873 100,000 pounds of grapes were raised in Union Township, most of which were shipped. About 10,000 gallons of wine were manufactured in the county the same year.

Mineral Resources
There are indications of coal in the central part of the county, and the coal measures probably underlie the latest limestone formations. An abundance of limestone, of excellent quality, exists, which is largely used in building, and stands well the frosts of winter. Much of the stone used in the piers of the Quincy bridge was taken from the quarries of La Grange.

The Manufacturing Interests are principally centered at La Grange and Canton, under which heads they are noticed.

Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $13,206,000.*

The Mississippi Valley & Western Rail Road has 23 miles, and the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Rail Road, 27 miles of track in the county.

The Exports are corn, wheat, hay, fruits, wine and live stock.

The Educational Interests are as thriving as are those of any county of the same population in the State. In addition to a thorough public school system, with ample school-houses and efficient teachers, there are 3 colleges in the county: the Christian University, at Canton; La Grange College, at the city of that name, and Monticello Seminary, at the county seat. All of these institutions have a full corps of professors, and annually graduate large classes of well-trained scholars.

Lewis County Places in 1875

Benjamin, a post-office 7 miles north east of Monticello.

Bunker Hill, a post-office 8 miles north north west of Monticello.

Canton, 13 miles east of Monticello, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, 175 miles above St. Louis, and on the Mississippi Valley & Western Rail Road 18 miles north of Quincy, was settled in 1827 by Messrs. Sinclair, Hawkins, Pritchard, Bozarth and Myers. It contains 1 newspaper-the Canton Press, J. W. Barrett & Son, editors; 7 mills-2 of these being planing-mills and 1 a merchant flouring-mill; 4 lumber yards, 1 pork-packing house, 2 cigar and tobacco factories, 1 tobacco warehouse, 3 wagon makers, 1 cabinet maker, 2 furniture and 2 saddle and harness shops, 1 carriage manufactory, 2 banks, 15 stores, 1 commission house, 2 hotels, and other establishments usual to towns of its size. Besides the public schools, the Christian church has a college at Canton, the building valued at $50,000. There are 7 churches-1 Baptist, 1 Christian, 2 Methodist, 1 Catholic, 1 Lutheran, 1 Congregational. Population, about 2,400.

Deer Ridge, a post-office 13 miles north west of Monticello.

Durgen's Creek, on Mississippi Valley & Western Rail Road, 3 miles north of La Grange.

Durham, on the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Rail Road, 15 miles from Quincy, and 13 miles south south east of Monticello, has 1 general store.

Gilead, situated on the west bank of North Fabius, 12 miles west south west of La Grange, has 1 general store.

Hardin, on Mississippi Valley & Western Rail Road, 5 miles north of Canton.

La Belle, 14 miles west of Monticello, and 32 miles from Quincy, on the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Rail Road, is a thriving little town, containing 5 stores.

La Grange, 10 miles from Quincy, on the Mississippi Valley & Western Rail Road, and 14 miles south east of the county seat, is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, about 6 miles from the southern boundary line of the county. The town is both beautifully and healthfully located on the bluffs, which rise at this point from 60 to 80 feet above the river. The first settlement in the county was made here. The Lewis County Agricultural Society own 30 acres of handsomely improved ground near La Grange. The Association offers liberal premiums, and the fairs are largely attended from adjoining counties. This town has many natural advantages as a manufacturing place, its means of transportation by river and railroad opening a market for all its productions. A rolling-mill, for the manufacture of railroad iron, is in course of construction, which, when completed, will have a capacity of 25,000 tons per annum, and will give employment to between 400 and 500 hands. The buildings are brick covered with slate, and with machinery, will cost over $300,000. There are 2 tobacco factories, which employ 550 hands; 5 cooper and 2 plow and wagon shops, 2 pork-packing houses, 1 planing-mill, 1 merchant flouring-mill, 2 banks, 2 hotels, 16 stores, 12 churches-1 Baptist, 2 Methodist, 2 Presbyterian, Lutheran, Christian, German Methodist, Congregational, Catholic, colored Baptist and Methodist, aggregate value, $30,000. The Baptists have a college at this place, which, with the public schools, affords good educational facilities. Population, about 2,000.

Lewiston, on the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Rail Road, 26 miles from Quincy and 6 miles south west of Monticello, is a growing place. Population, about 100.

Maywood, on the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Rail Road, 11 miles west of Quincy, contains 1 store.

MONTICELLO, the county seat, located on the north bank of North Fabius River, 13 miles west of Canton and 6 miles north east of Lewiston, its nearest railroad station, has 1 bank, 4 churches-Episcopal, Baptist, Methodist and Christian; 8 stores, 1 saddle and 1 harness shop, and 3 hotels.

Steffersville, a post-office 18 miles south west of Monticello.

Tolona, a station on the Quincy, Missouri & Pacific Rail Road, 22 miles north west of Quincy.

Williamstown, 12 mile north north west of Monticello, has 1 hotel, 5 stores, and 1 wagon shop.

*Assessed valuation in 1873, $4,225,879. Taxation, $1.00 per $100. Bonded debt, $60,000.

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

Be sure to add us to your favorites list and check back often.

This page was last updated Saturday, 22-Aug-2015 00:28:12 EDT.

Webspace for this site is generously provided by

Information contained on this website may be used for personal genealogical research only and not to be given to pay to view sites or used on any other web site without the express consent of the contributor.

Copyright © 2014~2023 by Paula Franklin & Judy White