JAILS - ELECTION - FINANCES - TOWNSHIPS
A Needed Institution
Henry County had been pretty free from criminally inclined people, but a jail at last became a necessity and one was accordingly ordered. It took no less than three persons to oversee this job to the satisfaction of the court. In November 1855, a committee was appointed to draw up a plan and specifications and let the contract for a jail building for the county of Henry. The commissioners named were Joseph Davis, Daniel Ashby and William M. Bogarth. They were ordered to advertise the job so as to get the best and lowest bid for the work. Three thousand dollars were appropriated for the building. It was finally let to Messrs. William Johnson and Joel C. Bridges, who entered into a bond of $6,000 for the faithful performance of their contract. The contractors pushed things, and in April got $1,000, and by November 1856, had received $2,100 in all.
By the middle of December the committee reported that the jail was completed, but not according to contract. The county court then ordered the commissioners to retain $359 in their hands until the contract was fully and honestly carried out, and for the sheriff to take the keys. The jail was finally completed, and its total cost $3,044, the $44 being for extra work. This without the commissioners' salaries. The first jailer put in charge was William D. Street.
Financial and Otherwise
The next statement of the finances of the County was in 1856, when it was shown that the receipts for the fiscal year ending May 1857, exceeded the expenses to the amount of $241.71. There was a floating debt outstanding in warrants of $183.22. The intention was to keep out of debt, and although considerable expense had been gone into in building and improvements, the taxes had been levied to meet the increased expenditures, and it bad done so despite of the delinquent lists, which, though not large, seem to grow in proportion to increased taxation.
The election for governor in 1856, was the first and nearly the last vote entered upon the record until 1880. That year James S. Rollins received 441 votes, and Robert M. Stewart 291. The latter, however, carried the state and became its governor.
Resolution of Thanks
It was in ante bellum days when congressional and governmental literature was being wafted to every congressional district in the land, and such literary gems as the patent office reports, the Congressional Globe and Agricultural Reports, were the staple and most interesting reading furnished a confiding people by the public servants, and that too, without money and without price, that the judges of the Henry County Court became the proud and grateful recipients of favors from their ever thoughtful servant, the Hon. Thomas P. Akers, congressman for this district, then known as the Fifth. That they should feel it their duty to offer him a "resolution of thanks," and have the same spread upon the minutes for a liberal supply of these valuable works, is not to be wondered at. To receive this light and instructive reading for their amusement during the long winter evenings to come, was indeed a boon. Therefore, for this unexpected supply of mental pabulum, and the exquisite pleasure of its perusal to be experienced in the near future, they caused to be written out the following resolution, and the same entered upon the record, at the August term, August 12, 1857:
Ordered, That the thanks of this court are hereby tendered to the Hon. Thomas P. Akers, member of congress from this district, for presenting each member of this court with a copy of the Agricultural Reports from the patent office for the year 1855."
This was all right and proper, but for some unexplained reason, the genial and faithful Akers failed to materialize, or, in other words his congressional duties came to an end, when the unexpired term which he had been called to fill came to a close.
Election August 1858
The election returns of Henry County was the first county election returns made for county officers of record. The following was placed upon the records for the August election of 1858:
The new township of Bogard was organized August 1857. It lies in the northwest corner of the county.
The town of Clinton was incorporated February 1858.
Osage Township, in the southeast corner of the county, was Organized in May 1858, and the voting precinct was established at the house of George W. Bowles.
The Clinton Hay Scales Company was organized in August 1857, and the county court granted "twenty feet square of ground, and more if necessary," to accomplish their purpose of erecting a large platform scale. The county subscribed $95 to the stock.
The Receipts of Henry County
There was a deficit for 1861 of $382.94
Twenty dollars were paid for wolf scalps at the February term of the County court 1860.
The nine (9) voting precincts in Henry County, January 1st, 1860, were Calhoun, Bellemont, Leesville, Clinton, Goldsmith's Store, N.J. Dunn's, Bogard, at Asa Hendrick's house; Big Creek, Kimsey's School House; Osage Township, the house of George W. Bowles.
The second fence around the public square was erected in the summer of 1860, arid the courthouse yard was enlarged some twelve feet, it being extended that number of feet on each side, and William R. Taylor was placed in charge of construction. The old fence was sold for $14.15.
The bonds for treasurers and collectors was not very high, being from $20,000 to $30,000, until 1860. That year they were raised and Royal L. Burge $50,000, and William R. Taylor, $40,000 bonds were given. The former as treasurer and the latter sheriff and collector. Another election for a probate court was had in 1860, but nothing resulted.
The county court ordered in 1861 the publication of the boundaries of the seven municipal divisions of which it was composed, in the Clinton Journal.
$3 a day was now the pay of the county court judges.
The military roll of the County, as returned August 1861, numbered 1,640 names.
The receipts in the war year 1862, were 287.98, and expenditures, $2,113.11.
The valuation of slaves was placed at $150 each, and assessment at that figure.
The deficit for the fiscal year ending May 1863 amounted to $871.10.
The boundaries of the several municipal townships of Henry County was more clearly defined by action of the court at its session, August 10,1860. They were as follows:
Beginning at the northeast corner of the county, thence moving west on the county line to the northwest corner of section 36, in township number 44, of range 26; thence south on section line to the line between townships 42 and 43; thence east on said township line to the northwest corner of section 5, in township 42, of range 25; thence south on section line to the southwest corner of section 17, in township 42, of range 25; thence east on section line to the eastern boundary of the county; thence north on county line to the beginning.
Big Creek Township
Beginning at the northeast corner of section 35, in township 44, of range 26; thence west on section line to the middle of the main channel of Big Creek to its Confluence with Honey Creek; thence up the middle of the main channel of Honey Creek to the line between townships 43 and 42; thence east on said township line to the southeast corner of section 35, township 43, of range 26; thence north on section line to the beginning.
Beginning at the northwest corner of the county; thence running east on the county line to the middle of the main channel of Big Creek on the north line of section 36, in township 44, of range 28; thence down the main channel of Big Creek to the middle of the main channel of Grand River; thence up the middle of the main channel of Grand River to the western boundary of the county; thence north on county line to the beginning.
Beginning at the southwest corner of the county; thence north on county line to the middle of the main channel of Grand River; thence down the middle of the main channel of Grand River to the line between ranges 26 and 27; thence south on said range line to the southern line of the county; thence west on the county line to the beginning.
Beginning at the southwest corner of township 40, of range 26; thence north on said range line to the middle of Deepwater; thence down the middle of the main channel of Deepwater to its confluence with Grand River; thence down the middle of the channel of Grand River to the Benton County line; thence south on county line to the middle of the channel of Osage River; thence up the middle of the main channel of Osage River to the south line of township 40, of range 24; thence west on township line to the beginning.
Beginning at the northeast corner of section 24, in township 42, of range 24: thence south on county line to the middle of the main channel of Grand River; thence up the middle of the main channel of Grand River to the line between sections 14 and 15, in township 40, of range 25; thence north on section line to the northwest corner of section 23, in township 42, of range 25; thence east on section line to the beginning.
Grand River Township
Beginning at the northeast corner of section 22, township 42, of range 25; thence south on section line to the middle of the main channel of Grand River; thence up the middle of the channel of Grand River to the mouth of Deepwater; thence up the middle of the main channel of Deepwater to the line between ranges 26 and 27; thence north on said range line to the middle of the main channel of Grand River; thence up the middle of the channel of Grand River to the mouth of Big Creek; thence up the middle of the main channel of Big Creek to the mouth of Honey Creek; thence up the middle of the main channel of Honey Creek to the line between townships 42 and.43; thence east on said township line to the northeast corner of section 6, in township 42, of range 25; thence south on section line to the southwest corner of section 17, township 42, of range 25; thence east on section line to the beginning.
These boundaries remained intact until May 8, 1868. Two of the townships had been given two voting precincts each, Tebo and Grand River, and some changes had been made in the voting places, but no new townships had been formed. At the above date two new townships appeared, one designated "White Oak," and the other "Windsor," and the following boundaries and changes appeared:
White Oak Township
Commencing at the southwest corner of section 18, township 41, of range 28, running thence north on county line between Henry and Bates to the center of the channel of Grand River; thence down the center of the channel of Grand River to the section line between 2 and 3, in township 41, of range 27; thence south on said section line to the southeast corner of section 15, township 41, of range 27; thence running west on section line to place of beginning, and it is ordered that that part of Henry County enclosed in said boundaries be, and the same shall be known as' White Oak Township.
This caused some other changes in Deepwater and Grand River Townships. The changes made were of:
Commencing at the southwest corner of Henry County, thence running north on county line between Bates and Henry, to section line between sections 18 and 19; thence east on section line to the northeast corner of section 22, township 41, range 27; running thence south on section line to the center of the channel of Deepwater Creek; thence down the center of the channel of Deepwater to the range line between ranges 26 and 27; thence south to county line between St. Clair and Henry; thence west on said line to the place of beginning.
Grand River Township came in for an increase of territory, the following being added to her bounds: Sections 1, 2 and 12, and that part that lies south of Grand River in township 41, range 27; and sections 13, 14, 23, 24, 25, 26, 35 and 36, in township 41, range 27, and that part of sections 1 and 2 in township 40, range 27, lying on north side of Deepwater Creek, is hereby added to Grand River Township.
Two voting precincts and townships were made out of Tebo Township, by dividing the same east and west of the Warsaw and Warrensburg road. That portion lying west of said road was Tebo Township, and WINDSOR TOWNSHIP was all that portion of Tebo Township lying east of said road, and shall be known and designated as Windsor Township or election district.
The Great Change
From May 8, 1868, until March 6, 1873, the county of Henry was divided into nine municipal townships, whose metes and bounds are described in the preceding pages.
At the session of the general assembly of Missouri, held at Jefferson City in the winter of 1872-3, a new township organization law was passed, leaving it, however, optional with the several counties of the state to accept or reject the law by a vote of the people. Henry County accepted the new law, and in accordance with the provisions of the same, the county court met on March 6, 1873, to divide the county into municipal districts.
The conclusion was to number them from one to nineteen, giving each number a name. This gave the county NINETEEN TOWNSHIPS, and their boundaries will be found under the head of their respective townships.
The financial depression which was brought upon the state by the fierce strife of our civil war was one of the most serious drawbacks which the people during those evil times had to contend with. Where all had been peace and prosperity was felt the blight of distrust, the ruination of all business, the gradual destruction of property and all hope of prosperity. Who was to blame for this terrible state of affairs, of the loss of life, the sundering of social ties, and all the concomitant horrors of a fierce and deadly internecine strife, it is not the province of this history to give. We have only to record the general facts, of which Henry County, as a part of this great country, contributed to her own weal or woe.
Nothing can so plainly show the deplorable depth to which the county suffered than to give her financial statements for that period. How demoralization covered the whole people as a pall, and strife-bitter and unrelenting-crowned these horrors, these figures will show with appalling exactness and tell with what fearful weight of sorrow and woe the people struggled. It was not only during the heart-rending strife that these figures tell their terrible tale, but for years after the struggle was kept up, and now, while nearly two decades have passed since peace came with its wings of love and rested upon all, even now the effects are visible here and there of the sanguinary struggle which darkened our fair land, wrought misery and sadness to her people and destruction to their homes and firesides.
The Financial Exhibits
The tax delinquent lists of Henry County up to May 1861, the ending of the fiscal year, were few, and the total amount in dollars and cents seldom, if ever, exceeded $100. Up to that date the entire back taxes had nearly all been collected, excepting the last years' returns.
(This also included militia tax delinquent of $81.04)
The county's financial statement showed that it was in debt on the first day of August 1864, $1,662.62, and that increased to, in August 1865, $3,503.66. A bounty of $50 was offered in the spring of 1865 for and the treasurer was ordered to sell $5,000 Union Military bonds at 85 cents on the dollar, but the war closing it does not show that the bonds were sold on the record. In July 1865, there was $350 charged as paid on the bounty fund.
The tax receipts for the fiscal year, August 1866, as then reported, amounted to $6,863.56, and the expenditures showed an excess over the above of $1,778.06, adding that much to the County debt. Warrants were signed to meet the difference, and the floating debt now exceeded $5,000.
Notwithstanding the war had ceased, the demoralization had been so great, and the destruction of values so complete that it seemed almost impossible for the people to recuperate. The delinquent lists for 1867 and 1868 proved nearly the equal of preceding years.
Here is the collector's returns made January 1, 1868 for the year 1867:
Levy of 1868
The total tax levy for 1868 was, by items, as follows:
The delinquent was reported as follows:
No bridge tax was returned delinquent.
The delinquent list for 1869 was returned on state, County and railroad, at $11,591.62.
From this statement of taxation and delinquencies something can be told of the utter wreck of property, and the prostration of a people into poverty and almost despair. Numbers of those who passed through this fiery furnace of want and destitution are living today, and yet remember the fearful ordeal through which they lived. Others have crossed the mystic river, and the great beyond is their final homeplace and rest are theirs. The boys of that period, those from six to ten years of age, can remember but little of the struggle that poverty brought on all, and these pages of facts and figures may be of interest to them and to their children. With the total receipts and expenditures of the county for the year ending February 1st, 1870, we close this exhibit, giving as it does the five years following peace. There was collected of the:
It will be seen that the year 1869 was the first that showed a recuperation, over $25,000 having been collected of the delinquent list of other years.
Mr. James R. Connor, the new assessor for 1871, having by close work and vigilance, increased the assessment of real and personal property, was allowed an extra compensation of $200. He was well paid but he earned it, and the county could afford it. He added 1,800 new tracts to the tax roll, many living in the county having forgot to make any returns, and increased the assessment of personal property $250,000, which showed considerable forgetfulness on the part of sundry persons heretofore, on what personals they owned. But these little matters were not alone indigenous to Henry County. Man is proverbially known for his forgetfulness when taxation is to be considered. At this day it has become chronic.
A census was taken in 1868 and the cost was $325.25, and again in 1876 at a cost of $638.75, but the number of the population was not recorded in either case.
The recorder's office was established January 1, 1871.
The poor farm was purchased in April 1871. It cost $7,200, to be paid in three equal annual installments.
The treasurer reported, January 1872, that he had up to date redeemed railroad coupons amounting to $55,895, and county warrants of the sum of $15,942.56, less $50 for interest on warrants. The warrants and coupons were burned in the presence of the treasurer and County court.
The first poor farm bond for $2,400 was renewed and also a portion of the interest, February 1, 1872, and new bond was given for $2,583.30.
Township organization carried at the November election 1872.
Missouri, Kansas & Texas first assessment of property in Henry County was at a valuation of $592,739. This was in 1873. The company has 37 4-100 miles of road within Henry County.
The county court justices received a salary of $5 each, per day, from 1864 to 1873.
The tax rates for horses was $40; mules, $50; and cattle $15, for the year 1874, Springfield Township alone excepted. Cattle were there rated at $12.
Swamp land fund in 1878 amounted to $9,648.99; fines and penalties fund amounted to $5,736.75. It is loaned for the benefit of the schools, being added to the school fund.