« ForrigeFortsett »
the travel-worn immigrant in all its pristine beauty, nature's handiwork, presented a scene too inviting to pass. The opposite was the more attractive shore, but the stream was swollen, and how to cross was a problem to solve. It was quickly done. Trees were felled, a raft made, and the party swimming their horses, passed safe to the other shore, and went into camp. Thus, though its privations continued for a time, a long and toilsome journey, all the way from the sterile hills of East Tennessee, was brought to a welcome ending; and the first white families, who paused to remain, west of Grand river from the Missouri to the Iowa line, passed the first night within what afterwards became the limits of Ray county.
Their tents and canvased wagons afforded them sufficient shelter for the summer and early fall, but not from the rigors of winter. Quarters more substantial and capacious had to be built of logs, and ere this work could be completed, autumn's golden glamour was fading in the "sear and yellow leaf." Winter was coming on apace, and soon "The embattled forests, erewhile armed with gold,
Their banners bright with every martial hue,
Withdrawn afar in Time's remotest blue."
But their hovels were finished in time to shield them from the severity of winter, and that season was doubtless passed with little suffering and in comparative comfort, considering the proximity of savages and ferocious wild animals.
The place of the first settlements was called Buffalo, probably because frequented by that animal, and was not far from the present site of Hardin, in what is now Crooked River township, in the southeastern part of the county.
The settlement at Buffalo, or the Buffalo settlement, more properly, perhaps, was made by immigrants from Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia. The very first settler was John Vanderpool, a Tennessean. He located, as above stated, on the west side of Crooked river; in August, 1815. With him was his wife, Ellen Vanderpool, and the following children: Winant, Meaddors, Kinman, Mary, Delilah, Holland, and John. Lydia and James were born in Ray county. The latter, at the age of seven years, was drowned in the Missouri river. Winant, Kinman and Delilah, are dead; the rest still living. Meaddors is living in Oregon, and although ninety years of age, continues to survey land. He, in 1819, taught the first school ever taught in Ray county. He also surveyed this county, and afterwards Chariton, Clay, Carroll, and Caldwell. His life has been one of many hardships, of continued labor, yet he is still active and energetic. Mary and John also reside in Oregon. Holland, to whom the writer is indebted for much interesting information concerning the early history of the county, is still a resident of Ray, making his home with a friend near Richmond. Ray county has been his home from early childhood, and he is now in his seventy-sixth year. No man knows any harm of Holland Vanderpool; he is a true Christian, innocent, emotional and warm-hearted. The entire family is remarkable for longevity. John Vanderpool lived to be quite old, and his father died at the advanced age of one hundred and nine.
Isaac Martin, who came from Kentucky, Lewis Richards, and Stephen and Joseph Field, from Tennessee, settled in the Buffalo neighborhood the same year. Isaac Martin became prominent as a local politician; was among the first representatives of the county in the general assembly, and held other county offices. He was unlettered, but of strong natural sense, and was a good neighbor, and a true gentleman. In one of his races for the legislature, Martin's competitor was Dr. W. P. Thompson, a Virginian, an educated, as well as a most worthy gentleman. A public meeting was held at old Bluffton. Dr. Thompson made a speech of some length, in which he mentioned with an air of pride, that he was from Virginia, and modestly referred to his scholarship and the school from which he graduated. Martin replied in the following words:
"Gentlemen and fellow-citizens: I was born in Kentucky. I never went to school but three days in my life; the third day I whipped the teacher and left. What little I got was in the field, and it's right in here;" (pointing to his head).
Martin was a democrat, and was elected. Living in the county at that time was a poor old man, named Wallace, a revolutionary soldier, who had never received a pension. Approaching Martin, he told him of this neglect, whereupon Martin replied: "Old man, I appreciate your services in the cause of independence; rest assured that Pll see that you get the pension you justly deserve." The pension was secured through Martin's efforts, and the old soldier lived to the end of his few remaining years in comparative comfort.
The following year, 1816, Abraham Linville, Aaron Linville, John Proffitt, and a man named Wood, with their families, joined the first settlers. They were all from Tennessee.
From this first settlement are derived, of course, the first incidents of early history. We mention some of them, as follows:
The first marriage solemnized between persons living within the present boundaries of Ray county, was that of Winant Vanderpool to Miss Nancy Linville, about Christmas, 1815. There being no minister in the neighborhood, they were compelled to go many miles eastward to find one to perform the ceremony.
A son born to Katie, wife of John Proffitt, in the year 1816, was the first white male child born in the county; but it died in infancy.
Missouri, daughter of Winant and Nancy Vanderpool, born in 1816,
was the first female child born in what subsequently became Ray county The father, an Old School Baptist preacher, is now dead. The mother as well as the daughter, are still living, the former in Mercer county.
The first death was that of an infant son, mentioned above, of John Proffitt and wife, occurring in 1816, followed soon after by the death of Peggy, daughter of W. and Nancy Vanderpool. Both decedents were buried on Crooked river, in the Buffalo settlement.
Dr. William P. Thompson, from Virginia, an educated, genial, and obliging gentleman, was the first practicing physician. He died in Grundy county, Missouri.
Reverend Finis Clark, of the Baptist denomination, Old School, was the first preacher. He was a good man; one among many others, who wore and wears .religion not as a cloak to conceal the designs of a wicked heart. The first religious services were held at the house of Isaac Martin. In the winter season preaching was held in the neighbors dwellings. In the summer time
* * * "In the darkling wood,
Amidst the cool and silence, they knelt down,
And offered to the Mightiest solemn thanks
And supplication." * * *
Men carried their guns to church, not to shoot their fellow-man, but to defend themselves against the attacks of wild animals. They also wore leather breeches, hunting-shirts, moccasins, and coon-skin caps. The ladies were attired in dresses of cloth, made from nettles, gathered from the bottoms, after partially decaying, and "broken," as flax. They also wore leathern aprons.
The first school house was built by the settlers on Ogg's branch, in section four, township fifty-one, range twenty-eight. The thing built was but a rude, unsightly hut. The logs were unhewn; the roof was of rough boards, weighted to the rafters with heavy poles; the chimney was made of sticks, and the floor was the naked ground. The seats were puncheons, set on pegs, inserted into holes near either end. The writing desk was of the same material, but larger, and placed on longer pegs. A log, taken from either side of the house, and the apertures closed with greased paper, formed the windows. A hobby-horse stood in the corner, for the accommodation of refractory pupils.
In this house, in the spring and summer of 1819, was taught the first school ever taught in the county, and Meaddors Vanderpool was the teacher. It was a subscription school, and the master was paid in calves, buck-skins, and wild honey.
All the first settlers did their own domestic labor. The weaving of cloth was done at home by mothers and daughters, and, in many cases, as already stated, the cloth was the product of nettles or thistles, with which, at that day, the country abounded.
Corn meal was made by putting the grain into a mortar, and pulverizing it by pounding with a pestle. The meal was sifted through homemade sieves, formed of buckskin and wire.
In 1817 the settlers, anticipating an attack from the Indians, and for their general safety and protection, built, on the Missouri, southeast of where Camden now stands, what they called a fort. A circular enclosure, made by setting cottonwood posts in the earth, formed the stockade. In the center of this was a block-house, made of heavy timber, and provided with loop-holes. The fort was called North Bluffton, and was the first village founded in Missouri territory west of Grand, and north of the Missouri river. It stood close to the river bank, but the stream has long since changed its channel, and the site of North Bluffton is overgrown with trees and herbage.
All the settlers entered the fort and lived therein for some time, but really to no purpose, as it was never necessary to use it as a barrier of defense. The Indians were friendly, and seemed influenced more by a desire to pilfer, than by motives of hostility.
The first settlement was a nucleus around which others were rapidly formed. In March, 1818, John, Richard, Samuel, Zachariah, William, and Jesse Cleavenger, Isaac Allen, John Hutchings, Lewis, Samuel, and Jacob Tarwater, James Wells, and William R. Blythe (a trapper), settled in Fishing river bottom, in the southwestern part of the county. They, too, were all from middle and east Tennessee.
The next year R. Lewis McCoskrie, a native of Bourbon county, Ken- • rucky, settled in the same locality; Captain Jacob Rifle, from Casey county, Kentucky, a little further to the east, in township fifty-one, range twenty-eight, and Dorcdle Rowland and David Fletcher, on sections three and ten, township fifty-one, range twenty-nine, respectively. They came from Indiana directly; originally from North Carolina.
The above settlers all came to stay, and were sober, industrious, honest men. Several of them held county and township offices at different times.
John Cleavenger was the first settler between his house and the Iowa line. He afterwards became a justice o fthe peace; served two years as sheriff, and from 1856 to 1858, represented the county in the state general assembly. He was a worthy and useful citizen, and many of his descendants are yet living in the county.
Jesse Cleavenger lost his life by falling from a second story window of a farm house, in which religious services were being held when the accident occurred.
R. Lewis McCoskrie still lives where he settled sixty-two years ago. . His name is untarnished.
Jas. Wells was appointed, by the first state legislature, one of the commissioners to locate the permanent seat of justice of Ray county.
Capt. Jacob Riffe was widely known and esteemed. His name is yet familiar in every part of the county. His marriage to Miss Rutha Martin, February 15, 1821, by B. D. Bowmer, a justice of the peace, was among the first solemnized in the county; arid his son, William C, was the first white child born in what is now Richmond township.
Samuel Cleavenger served several terms as justice of the county court.
William R. Blythe was twice elected to represent Ray in the general assembly, and was her first state senator.
Isaac Allen became a judge of the county court. The settlement was called " the Tarwater settlement," in honor of Jacob Tarwater.
The physicians who practiced in the neighborhood in 1818, and thereafter, were: Dr. W. P. Thompson, Dr. A. B. Ralph, who is now (April, 1881,) living at Albany, this county, and Dr. John Sappington, an eminent physician, who died at his home, near Arrow Rock, in Saline county, September 7,1856. (Dr. Sappington was the originator and proprietor of "Sappington's Anti Fever Pills" which attained immense popularity and were extensively sold—in some places passing as a medium of exchange—throughout the eastern, middle, western, and southern states.)
The first ministers were Rev. William Turnage and Rev. Finis Clark, Baptists. Services were held at the house of Jacob Tarwater, a pious, pure-minded man, in section 10, township 51, 29.
The school house was a mean little cabin, similar to the one already described, situated near the Tarwater place. The teacher was one Munholland; the number of pupils twenty, and the tuition $2.50 per quarter per pupil, a slight improvement, surely, on the Vanderpool school in the matter of compensation. If, in point of fact, less remunerative, it showed progression in method, at least.
The early settlers were, of course, compelled to endure many hardships and privations. To detail all these would require greater space than the plan of this work will allow. Suffice it to say that mills, markets, etc., were from forty to seventy miles distant, and, as there were no roads, or at best very inferior ones, the mills and markets were accessable only with difficulty.
For a long time the nearest horse-mill was forty miles distant, and sugar and coffee (tea being a luxury in pioneer life rarely indulged in.) were to be obtained only at Fort Osage, on the south bank of the Missouri, in Jackson county.
In 1818 Isaac Martin built a horse-mill near his residence on Crooked