LEESVILLE, SPRINGFIELD, DEER CREEK
AND BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIPS
This is one of the largest townships in the county, lying on the eastern border, joining Benton County. It is very irregular in its southern boundary, being separated from Osage Township by Grand River.
No. 11 - Leesville
"Composed of all of congressional township No. 41, of range No. 24, and all of congressional township No. 40, of range No. 24, lying north of Grand River."
This boundary was established when the new township organization law went into effect in 1873. This gives it an area of a little over forty-six and a half sections of land or 29,773 41-100 acres of land. The central and southern portion is a splendid prairie, while the north and along the west side is hilly and wooded. Tebo Creek waters the northern portion of the township from west to east and has four small branches, which are not large enough to be named. Grand River, as above mentioned, is its southern line, well wooded and rather rough with Cedar Creek as its principal tributary, running several miles from northwest to southeast and flowing into Grand River. According to population it is one of the wealthiest townships in the county and one of the oldest settled. It belongs to the era of 1835 and many of its citizens are known in the official record of the county. While its agricultural resources are the equal of any so far as its lands have been improved, it has other means of wealth in its extended coal fields and stone quarries. In the northeast part of the township coal underlies nearly all of it, and veins of excellent coal are known to exist in sections 8, 17 and 18, but it is probably not too much to say that one-third of the township is thus favored. Stone quarries of an excellent building stone crop out all over the township. A saw and grist mill is found on section 4 and a saw mill on section 1. Its principal resources are now corn and stock. Cattle and hogs are staple articles of production along with corn.
In the southern part of the township was the Parks' Settlement, which might be said to have been the first, but was so soon followed by Labon Pigg and others, that they, too, claim to be among the first. B. D. Parks settled on section 33, Labon Pigg on section 32, John A. Pigg, on section 21, but removed to section 20. Then John Parks, Reuben Parks, William Parks, Benjamin Putnam and Pattison Gordon, who settled on section 15, all came in 1835, and all settled in the south central and western portions of the township. For awhile Chesley Jones, who came in 1831 or 1832, Joseph Potter in 1833, but Chesley Jones lived in Springfield. Thomas Jones also lived in the township in 1836, and settled on section 26, but removed in 1837 to Springfield Township. John Anderson, in the fall of 1835, and that fall and winter came J. P. Turner, James Y. Parks, David Logan, William Witherspoon and Jesse Bunch. The last named, while given as coming that year, must have come in 1833 or 1834, but did not find just where he settled. There were quite a number came in 1837. John Potter settled on section 3. John Anderson on section 2, David Collins on section 10. Cornelius East, Thomas Stewart, F. and Drury Reavis and Andrew Sisk, were among the arrivals. When the year 1838 is reached, that old pioneer preacher, Rev. Daniel Briggs, came and settled on section 10, and organized the Tebo Church and was a man of mark, who left the impress of his strong, rugged nature upon the social and religious character of the people. Richard James, Sr., S. Peeler, James and John Carleton, are among those who located; Henry L. Pigg and James W. Pigg, who afterwards removed to the township, were born on section 25, in Tebo Township. David Collins also came in 1838. Thomas and Robert Briggs came with their father, Daniel W. R. Radford, James H. Renfro, and Talbert Kelsey completing the list.
Centennial Celebration, Leesville, July 4, 1876
The following is taken from the address read at the centennial celebration at Leesville, July 4, 1876, giving an account of the early settlement of that township, and the quaint dresses worn and tools used in pioneer days. The address was prepared by a committee, the following constituting its members, viz: James D. Acock, James Carleton and Thomas Briggs, and from it has been selected such extracts as would bear upon the early history of the township.
In those days the wearing apparel of the old pioneer was similar to that worn by our first parents in the Garden. Pants, hunting shirts and moccasins, made of well dressed buckskin, the border of which was always adorned with a beautiful fringe of the same material, a cap made of a fox or coon skin, with a tail suspended as an ornament, and thus in his native garb would those hardy and industrious pioneers go forth to earn an honest livelihood by the sweat of his brow. The females, wives and mothers, likewise prided themselves in their skill in manufacturing their own dresses, from the cotton or flax spun and wove by their own hands.
On the farm was the old Cary plow, with its famous wooden mould board, as our main dependence, with paddle attached to remove the dirt which would accumulate on the mould board. The old bar shear was commonly used in breaking the prairie sod, to which would be five or six yoke of oxen. The single shovel plow was also used, but especially the weeding hoe, which was thought indispensable for every plowing of the corn, and was called the "Old Standby."
The old style wagon, with its wooden spindle and its heavy iron and woodwork, were the only wagons in use. The mills used were horse mills, one being in Springfield Township, and one in Benton County. These were both draft mills, and we can testify from personal experience that with two good horses they would grind a grist of one and a half bushels of corn in two and one-half hours. Going to mill mill was considered a day's work. The pioneers denied that they ever balanced their sack on their horses back with a stone in one end and corn in the other. We could write many pleasing incidents with regard to the old relics of the past, but we forbear. "Peace to their memory." Roads they had none, and schools were few and of a primitive grade. In 1840 there was not a church in the township. But times have changed and a better day has dawned. The old log school house with its puncheon floor and seats have given way to our modern school houses, with all the comforts and paraphernalia of advanced progress, with competent teachers and tuition free to all.
Old Time Implements
The old Cary and bar shear plow has given way to the improved plow of the present day; the old single shovel to the sulky riding and walking cultivators; the reaping hook, scythe and cradle to the harvester and the combined reapers and mowers.
The improvements for the household is no less wonderful. Our mother, wife and daughter have given up the old hand loom, flax and cotton spinning wheels for more modern manufacture, and the needle and thimble for the marvelous sewing machine. The wash board, which has broken so many constitutions is fast giving way to labor saving machines. The old style cooking by the open fire place, in bake ovens, skillets and frying pans is past, and the beautiful and handy cooking stove now graces our kitchens. To look back to the primitive style of living of the old pioneer, the labor which had to be performed, and this era of mechanical invention that assists the laboring men and women of the present day, we can well express our feelings in words of love and praise of our lot, while our thoughts revert to our fathers and mothers and the labor of their hands which was so well and nobly performed.
This township, while known as Grand River Township, was the first in the county to ask the county court not to grant a dramshop license in the township. The petition was presented to the county court May 26, 1853, and granted by the court.
In the early days Warsaw, Benton County, was their principal trading point until Leesville started in 1854. When they first went to the latter place Warsaw itself could boast of but one store. This was especially the case of those settlers who lived south and east, even to the to the north line of the township. A few settlers who lived on the west side patronized Hall & Ketcham, on Tebo Creek, and also James Fields' at Goff's, and the Goff post office was one of the institutions they also patronized, although correspondence was not brisk at twenty-five cents for each letter. Still, a post office was a great convenience, if they did not use it often; when they did want it they wanted it as bad as anybody.
The First Church
The first church in the township was the Tebo Baptist Church, located on section 10. It was the work of Daniel Briggs and a few earnest men and women, to whom the solitude of the vast wilderness and their own preservation from danger caused them to look to Him as their preserver, and were anxious to rear a temple, even if only a primitive one, that they might worship him in spirit and in truth. Among the original members were Daniel Briggs and wife, Caroline Butler, William Butler, John Anderson, Mary Putnam, Robert Briggs and Zachariah Fewell. The building was of logs and erected in 1841, and this was their only church building.
In 1855 they put up a neat frame church, 26x40 feet, at a cost of some $600. Mr. Daniel Briggs was its first pastor and remained so until his death, which took place December 24, 1863. Its second pastor was another pioneer, the Rev. William A. Gray, and he was followed by the Rev. J. L. Briggs. The present pastor is Rev. Thomas Briggs who has served since 1871. The present membership is 112, and the church is progressive.
Schools and Population
Leesville Township has six school districts and each have a good frame school house with such necessary fixtures as to give a thorough education so far as the grade extends. In fact Leesville is fully up in her educational facilities with her sister townships.
In population she is only exceeded by four townships in her agricultural population, having 1,253, with about seventy of that in the town of Leesville. Her soil is rich enough to attract immigration, and she should make an effort to increase it. More settlers means less taxation and greater prosperity.
Town of Leesville
The town was laid out by A. J. Lee and John French, in the year 1854. It was stated that French built the first store and Lee the first house for a residence, but while French helped Lee it was Lee's building and he occupied it as the first merchant. He also became first postmaster and for want of a better name called it Tebo, after the township of a few years back. At the organization of the county it was Springfield. The next residence was built by Dr. Hill, who thus claims to have been the first physician; the second or near the same time was Dr. Lansdown.
The same year A. Dempsey built a residence and a blacksmith shop and opened business, much to the gratification of the farmers around. There was but little to increase the growth of the town for several years, the population growing only as the country around demanded it. D. B. Reavis was the first family in town, and the second building, the Lee store being first. Reavis had a horse power saw mill, and after sawing enough for his own dwelling sawed the lumber for A. J. Lee's house. These two buildings are still standing, old landmarks of pioneer times and primitive style of architecture.
The first school was taught by Robert Briggs in 1851. It was not in Leesville, but near the Tebo church. There was no school in Leesville until a few years later.
The post office remained at Tebo until 1857, when the name of the town having been settled, the name was changed to Leesville, and, Mr. Lee remained postmaster until he closed out his business in 1860, and was followed by William L. Pigg.
From the centennial address, 1876, we give an amusing account of the effort to give the town a name, and some of the names offered seem to relate to the pioneer's hard lot. The following is the article:
Centennial Address 1876
In the year 1854 D. B. Reavis put up a circular saw mill near where the old carding machine now stands, and shortly afterwards sold to Andrew Jackson Lee one acre of land, and he erected the building now occupied by J. R. Baugh as a drug store for a store, and for many years sold goods in the same. Not long after he also erected the house now occupied by Mr. Sweitzer for a residence, and the following year the place was laid off into town lots and sold to the highest bidder. The town improved rapidly and gained considerable notoriety and importance.
As the village was nameless the citizens got together and decided to give it a name. One proposed "Centerville," another "Starvation Point," (this man had gone without his dinner), another "Pinch-him-slyly," still another "Hardscrabble," and again "Nigger Head," but at last we settled unanimously on the name of "Leesville," after its illustrious founder. Before the coming of the late war, it was thought by some if we could secure a railroad, and have people and houses enough, Leesville would soon compete with St. Louis and other large cities. But alas, the cruel war and other essential matters, prevented Leesville from becoming a great city.
In 1870, the town had two dry goods stores, one drug store, two blacksmiths and wagon makers, and a few other business houses. They have a large school house, built in 1860, which will seat some 300 people. The first teacher was Dr. Raum Travis. They have no church building, but the school building above mentioned is used for church purposes. They have four denominations, viz: Campbellite, Methodist, Baptist and New Light. The school of Leesville is in a flourishing condition at this time, and has an enrollment of 130 pupils. Leesville is only about one and a half miles from the Benton County line, and she has considerable trade from that section of country. Notwithstanding we still have left two full dry goods stores, whose shelves are well filled with seasonable goods, a flourishing drug store, two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, a boot and shoe shop, and last, though not least, two physicians, that can easily cure all the aches and pains that flesh is heir to. A statistical table of the town would show about the following facts:
From this it can be easily seen there is yet some room for growth and improvement.
Its Business and Lodges
In 1868 F. G. Reavis built two stores and did business in Leesville for two years and then sold out.
Anderson & Scully keep a heavy stock of merchandise of all kinds, being known as a general store, and have been at it for the past ten years.
Winchel Sheek keeps dry goods and groceries, and has been there two years.
J. H. Baugh & Brother, drugs, one year, and now postmaster. They have two blacksmith shops, with a wagon and repair shop connected with one of them.
In 1880 Leesville was given a population of seventy, and that won't vary much from the present number. The town boasts of one lodge of which the following is given as its position at this time:
A. F. & A. M. - Leesville Lodge No. 406
was established October 16, 1872, on which day its charter was dated. Its charter members were Bird D. Parks, William Collins, Richard Hudson, C. A. James, Robert O. Ragan, Paton B. Logan, John Venlemans, Jesse R. Halford, James W. Harvey, H. H. Hamberger, William Parks, and R. D. Lawler.
Its first officers were: Bird D. Parks, W. M.; John Venlemans, S. W.; William Collins, J. W.; H. H. Hamberger, Treasurer; William P. Baker, Secretary; Robert O. Ragan, S. D.; S. B. Parks, J. D.; Peter B. Logan, Tyler.
The present officers are: John Venlemans, W. M.; William Parks, S. W.; S. B. Parks, J. W.; C. Anderson, Treasurer; W. T. Hill, Secretary; W. D. Banks, S. D.; S. H. Randall, J. D.; John Hall, Tyler.
This little village was first settled in 1859, and went for sometime by the name of Cole's store. He closed his business in 1861, and J. D. Galbreath occupied the same building until 1867. Jesse Halford was the first postmaster and the postoffice was called Galbreath. This did not happen until 1867. The next building was a drug store, and was kept by Dr. J. H. Bronaugh, now of Calhoun, who was the first physician as well as druggist. George Nyrup opened the first blacksmith shop in 1859. The town has not grown much of late years but it holds the trade of the country around.
The name of the post office was changed in 1880, from Galbreath to Colesburg, and is thus known. The business of the little village is carried on by
Duden Brothers, general merchants
Mock & Owens, drugs and medicines
Jesse Halford, blacksmith
Duden Brothers, blacksmiths
John Davis, wagon maker and repairer
Its present physician is Dr. W. C. Brumfield. The country around is pretty well settled, and while it is not likely to become a large village, will always be a convenience, and will therefore be sustained, and grow as the county is more heavily settled.
A lightning cure was said to have taken place at Leesville Town, September 11, 1880. An old man by the name of J. D. Alcott, who had been unable to walk for a long time, was struck by an electric current during the storm of that day and completely restored. This is vouched for.
This is one of the original townships, having been first named in the year 1834, in May of that year, and it then covered considerable more territory than that which is allotted to her at this day. It then extended to Johnson County on the north, and the Osage River on the south. When Rives County was organized, the county court, at its first session, made Springfield one of the four townships in the county, and it covered one-fourth of the territory of the county, the southeast quarter, but congressional township line No. 42, was its north boundary, which only gave her half of her present territory, although extending south to the county line. The other half of her present territory was in Tebo Township. Her western boundary was range line No. 26, which separated her from Grand River Township. This remained until May 2, 1836, one year lacking three days, when the boundary between Grand River and Springfield Townships was altered as follows:
"Instead of running to the center of range 26, that the same run on the dividing ridge between the waters of Grand River and Tebo."
Just where that line ran was never put on a map.
The first election in Springfield
Township was in August, 1836, and the voting place was the house of Abraham
"Ordered, that the following territory be added to Springfield Township in this county; commencing at Bennett Harralson's; thence to the head of Cedar Creek; thence down said creek to its mouth; thence south to the county line between Henry and St. Clair Counties."
In 1860, August 10, another change took place, Osage Township being organized that date. The southern portion of what was then Springfield Township was given to the new division thus formed.
Metes and Bounds of 1860
Quite a number of changes were made in the township lines, two more townships being made out of the existing territory. Springfield Township was then cut down to the following:
"Beginning at the northeast corner of section 24, township 42, of range 24; thence channel of Grand River; thence up the middle of the main channel of said river to south on the county line between Henry and Benton Counties to the middle of the the section line dividing sections 14 and 15, in township 40, of range 25; thence north on said section line to the northwest corner of section 23, in township 42, range 25; thence east on said section line to the beginning."
This included half of the present Springfield Township, all of Leesville Township, two miles wide off the east side of Bethlehem or twelve sections, and six sections off of the present township of Deer Creek. This was the last change until the grand transfiguration scene of 1873, caused by the great upheaval of the new township organization law, when the county court made nineteen municipal divisions out Of the previous nine, and all the boundaries were changed. The new township of Springfield under the change was easily described. It ran thus:
NO. 10 - Springfield
"Composed of congressional township No. 42 of range No. 24." This is the Springfield Township of today; has an area of thirty-three sections of land, or 21,120 acres, and is six miles east and west by five and one-half north and south, having the fractional sections on her northern border. Its southwestern and western portion is watered by Tebo Creek, which flows from north to south, and causes this portion of the township to be well wooded, and is also rolling, or even hilly. Barker's Creek, which rises in the northeast, runs diagonally across the county in a southwestern direction, and empties into Tebo Creek about two and a quarter miles of its western border. It waters the central part of the township, and has numerous branches fed by springs.
Nearly, if not quite, one-third of the township is wooded and the other two-thirds prairie. After getting out of the bottom lands, the hills are light in soil and a good deal of stone is found. Stone is also found on the prairies. These latter are rich generally, and with the bottom lands it can be said that about three-quarters of the township is rich arable land.
Early Settlers, Etc.
Springfield was one of the early settled townships, for quite a number coming in from the north selected their homes as far south as the waters Of Tebo. That stream and Barker's Creek were among the first settled. Among the first settlers and the first was Philip Cecil, who came from Virginia and settled on section 34 in the year 1835. Bennett Harrelson and Cyrus V. Robinson came the same year. William A. Gray settled on section 15 in 1836. Abraham and Henry Banta settled on section 33 the same year. Joseph Gray, father of W. A., came in 1836. That year also showed the loss of its pioneer settler, Philip Cecil, who died that year. The first election in the township was held at the house of Abraham Banta. W. J. Collins was also a settler of 1835, but he first located in what is now Leesville Township, and in 1837 removed to Springfield Township. The Trollingers, who settled on section 34, were a large family, as well as the Guyes, who preempted nearly all of section 28. Elberton Guye and the rest settled in the years 1837 and 1838. Hamilton and Madison Fewell came in 1838; the latter settled on section 36. William Chandler came the same year. There were a few others who came between 1835 and 1838, but not many, probably not over a score of families, had settled in the township up to 1840.
The Rev. W. A. Gray and Philip W. Cecil, son of Philip, who died in 1836, are still living, Dr. Gray on his own homestead, and Cecil on that of his father's, to which he fell heir.
The first school was taught in the township in the winter of 1838-39, and W. A. Gray was the teacher. Of course it was a subscription school.
Mt. Olivet Church
This church was first organized in 1844, and its founder might be said to be the Rev. William A. Gray. Mr. Gray had taught school several years, but he had desired to take an active part in church affairs. He was ordained a minister either in 1843 or 1844, and soon commenced to have a church organization. To accomplish this a church was needed, and he soon had the neighbors interested. Philip Cecil and other neighbors took hold, and they had a log church, and with a whip saw sawed out the lumber for the inside finish. Before the year 1844 ended, the church was completed and organization effected by the Rev. P. C. Caldwell, of Johnson County, and the Rev. William A. Gray, the latter being installed as its first pastor.
The original members were Rev. William A. Gray and wife, Mary, Joseph Gray, father of William A.; George Rank and his wife, Mary; Henry Banta and his wife, Mary, making the seven constituent members of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. From this small beginning, Mt. Olivet has grown to be one of the largest and most influential churches for good in the entire county. It has now a membership of 168, and has been under the continued pastorate Of the Rev. William A. Gray for nearly forty years. Here is indeed a record of "Well done good and faithful servant Of the Lord." The old log church also served as a school house for a number of years. In 1852 another church was erected, 30x36 feet, which remained as such until the year 1874, when the present frame church was commenced, and finished the following year. This is a plain, substantial building 36x54 feet in size, neatly furnished, all costing $2,000. In connection with the church they have a flourishing Sunday School, under the superintendency of John J. Slapper, with an average attendance Of thirty-six scholars. This church, like most others, felt the evils arising from the civil war, and found itself at the end of that unfortunate struggle badly rendered and broken. It was then that earnest work was demanded, and that the spirit of Christian brotherhood should be revived. To accomplish this the eloquent pastor called a series Of meetings to reunite the scattered fragments, and bring unity and peace, where all was chaos. This was accomplished and a new era inaugurated that has proven the value of the work then performed. The church became again thoroughly united, harmony existed, and some fifty candidates came forward at the close of these meetings, and presented themselves for baptism. Since then the church has grown and prospered, and may its aged pastor live still many more years to enjoy the fruits of his good work. The church is today strong in its good work, and its future is as bright and promising as even its aged servant could wish.
Schools and Population
There are five public schools in the township and all well attended. The school Year runs from five to six months with a full average attendance. In the school history Of Henry County, chapter twelve, will be found the financial condition of the township school fund and the amount expended each year since its districts have been formed.
The population of Springfield Township was, in 1880, 941. This, was under its
present territory. It is exclusively an agricultural township and does not have even a post office within its border.
Stone and Coal
It does not, however, rely upon agriculture for its future prosperity. The township is bountifully supplied with coal but at present is not mined. It has, also, a splendid article of building stone, and a quarry of white marble, which is capable of a high finish.
Coal is found on sections 8, 15, 18, 21 and 25, where it has cropped out, but the north, middle and west portions are underlaid with coal, the veins running from twenty-two inches to four feet in thickness.
The stone quarry is on section 20, and the marble quarry on section 8. They have a saw and grist mill on section 12.
Springfield won't turn out as much arable land as some townships, but when its full resources are developed, it will be found that her material wealth is not behind her more pretentious sisters. Still, to develop their resources, require work and energy and of these qualities the people are blest with and the future is not uncertain. Calhoun, Leesville, and Fort Lyons, in Benton County, are the principal post offices used by the people.
Deer Creek Township
This township is one of the central townships of the county, and in the second tier of townships from the Benton County line. As early as 1833 there was here and there a settler. Howell Lewis, an old, respected and prominent citizen of the county settled there in 1836. William Goff, who settled on fractional section one, was the first settler in the township in 1833, and the first postmaster in the county, in 1835, and until the spring of 1837. John and E. Goff, his sons, came with him. C. C. Bronaugh also settled in this township a few years later and was, like Mr. Goff, a county judge for a number of years. Deer Creek has a history in the fact that one of her citizens was first county judge; that the first circuit court was held within her limits; the first post office as well as postmaster located there, is credited also with the first county treasurer, and that her later county judge, Judge Bronaugh, was one of the ablest and best judges that Henry County could boast of. The Wileys also settled in this township and their progressive spirit has marked an era of enterprise in the township. Another prominent settler, who came in 1836, was John S. Lingle; he settled on section 9, and is the father Of the Lingle Brothers, of the Democrat. Deer Creek was formerly a portion of Tebo and of Springfield Townships, and was organized under its present name and boundary, under the new township organization law of 1872. It was not organized however, until 1873, and the following was the order under which it became one of the municipal divisions of the county.
NO. 9 - Deer Creek
"Composed of congressional township No. 42, of range No. 25."
The township is six miles east and west by five and a half miles north and south, a fraction less Of this distance on the west side, it having on its north border a portion of the fractional section which crosses the county. This gives it about thirty-two and three-quarters sections of land, or an acreage of 20,960 acres. It is mostly prairies with considerable wood land along the Little Tebo Creek, and its branches, which water the eastern and northern part of the township, with Nelson Creek on the southeast and Deer Creek in the west and southwest. These streams give it an abundance of water for farm and stock purposes, and wood is plenty.
Its Coal Fields
Deer Creek Township or the north central part of it is an immense coal field, and the "black diamond" is being mined by several companies, three of which are located at Lewis Station, and names found in the business directory of that town. Besides these the railroad company have been mining for years, and have made Lewis a coaling station on their road. The coal fields are an important element of her prosperity. For awhile the railroad company were the only persons engaged at this point in mining, but a few years ago, say three or four, another party took hold, and now the coal shipments will probably reach 200 cars per month, from Lewis Station. December, 1882, there were shipped, 139 cars of 500 bushels each, of bituminous coal, and in January, 1883, will exceed 145 car loads. Coal veins ranging from two feet to four feet and six inches in thickness, are found on sections 4, 9, 10, 11, 16, 22, and 23. Shafts have been sunk and mining operations are going on principally on sections 9, 10, and 16.
The sections which have been mentioned is where the coal has cropped out and veins exposed, but coal underlies fully one-half of the township and will prove a source of unceasing wealth, for it may be said to be inexhaustible.
As a cereal growing township Deer Creek will hold its own, and as a corn raising district it steps lively to the front. At the village of about 200 souls, all told, there has been 10,000 bushels of corn delivered, and this in the face of the fact that cars could not be had for shipment. A large part of the crop finds a market at Clinton, probably fully three fourths.
It is, of course, a good stock district, and grasses are all of very healthy and heavy growth. Taking it all together, Deer Creek with its grand expanse of prairies, its abundance of wood and water, the richness of its soil and its vast mineral wealth, those who have made it their home need not envy any other people for the wealth of their surroundings.
In 1880 Deer Creek Township had a population of 1,121 souls. This was the first census taken since its organization. It has probably now many more.
The township is divided into four school districts, in each of which is a good frame school building, and all are furnished with the educational facilities demanded for the advancement of the scholars.
There is a fine stone quarry on section 26, and probably others in the township, but there is very little demand.
The Bronaugh Church is located on section 26, and there is a union church at Lewis Station, and one also at Calhoun, which lies within a half a mile of its northeast border. Clinton, which lies only two miles from its southern and southwestern borders, receives many of her people at its churches.
Deer Creek has but one town or village within its border, Lewis Station, a description of which is here given.
At this time, January, 1883, Lewis Station, still largely resembles what its name implies, a railroad station. It has reached a population of probably 200, all told, but: this is no criterion of the business of the place, for, notwithstanding its size, it is a healthy, progressive infant, verging into boyhood, with manhood easily discernible in the not far distant future.
The town was laid out on the land of Howell Lewis, who platted forty acres for a town to be known as "Lewis." The word "station" has been added, but does not belong to the name of the village. The forty acres was the northeast quarter of the northwest quarter of section 16, township 42, of range 25. The town sits in a small valley, the hills, with the exception of an opening in the southwest, completely surrounding it. A branch of the Little Tebo touches its southern limits and flows eastwardly, while Little Tebo itself comes down from the north and passes it on the east side nearly a mile distant, its fringes of trees hiding the high and rolling prairies beyond.
As laid out there were eighty-four lots. Near the center, east and west, is the depot of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad.
First Building - Business, Etc.
The first building erected was a granary, by J. A. Good and Son.
The first dry goods store was that of A. B. Griffith & Co.
The first postmaster was John T. Middelcoff in 1871.
The first school was taught by Miss Theo. Miller.
Their first minister was the Rev. J. F. Robb, of the M. E. Church South.
This is the starting point, with only a half dozen dwellings in the village in 1872.
There was very little increase for a number of years. The railroad company doing a mining business, and the stopping of the trains at the station, became a convenience to the farmers around. The past five years has made a decided change, and the year 1882 showed more improvements than any time since it was founded. It is now composed of some as live and energetic men as can be found in the county, and they propose to make Lewis one of the best business towns in the county, and they are very likely to succeed.
The following are the prominent business firms of the town:
R. S. Cramer, dry goods, etc.
J. A. Good & Sons, grain dealers
Foote Bros., grain dealers
Dr. William Young, physician
Miss Mary Oliver, school teacher
J. C. Fleming, station agent
Lewis Co-operation Coal Company, L. W. Good, president
American Coal Company, Thompson Bros., managers
R. S. Cramer & Co. Coal Mine, Hugh Reid, manager
All these mines are being heavily worked, and are but a short distance from the station, the latter company but a quarter of a mile. The price of coal throughout the county, on the line of the road, is eight cents per bushel at the mines, or ten cents delivered at the town or station.
1871 - John T. Middelcoff
1873 - William M. Davidson
1875 - H. P. Good
1875 - William H. Lewis
1876 - David Justice
1877 - D. T. Terry
1878 - R. S. Cramer, still postmaster 1883
At the depot awaiting shipment there are 8,000 bushels of corn.
The history of this township is closed with the following extract from the Windsor Review of December, 1882:
It may be of interest to the general public to know that the nearest living relative of George Washington is a resident of Henry County. This is Uncle Howell Lewis, of Lewis Station, whose grandmother was an own sister to the immortal George.
This township is one of the nineteen evolved from the law of 1873, but in its primitive days it was a part of Grand River Township, which took in the southeast quarter of Henry County as its metes and bounds. It's a pretty name, and it has a pretty good quality, as well as quantity, of land within its border, having in round numbers about forty-two sections of land, with an acreage of 26,880 acres, the larger portion of which is prairie. It is bounded on the north by Deer Creek, on the east by Leesville, south by Grand River, which separates it from Osage Township, and west by Clinton. There is a fine body of timber on the banks of Grand River, and there is more or less on the branches of Grand River, Dillon, Dumpling and Sparrowfoot Creeks, which waters the eastern portion of the township. There are some of the finest prairie farms in the state in this township, and is strictly speaking, the home of a thoroughly agricultural people.
James Anderson settled on section 35 in 1836, and Mr. Anderson put up the first horse mill in the township in the fall of 1836. Thomas Keeney came in 1836; then came Major M. S. Peeler, in 1837, and he settled on section 1, of township 40, range 25. Bird D. Parks came in 1838, but he properly belongs to Leesville Township, where he located, but he taught a school the winter of 1838-39, in an old log cabin belonging to Mr. Palm and known as Palm Grove, which had been vacated. There was quite a large attendance and among the children and youths who attended were: Samuel and Peyton Parks, Nancy and Reuben Wade, Man C. Parks, Elizabeth A. Jones afterwards Major Peeler's wife, Thomas Metcalf, Isabella Metcalf, David and Benjamin Wilson, William, Eliza, Polly and Peyton Logan. The parents of all these children lived in the neighborhood in both townships, that is Bethlehem and Leesville. The Parks all in the latter township, with Peeler, Wilson and Logan in Bethlehem. Irvin Sisk was another who came among the first settlers.
In 1840 James Anderson removed from the township and took his horse mill with him, but the same year, or early in 1841, Major Peeler started another, and the old pioneer fairly smiled at his good fortune. The capacity of the mill was fifteen bushels of corn a day. Their nearest trading point was Warsaw, or rather a good many went there to trade the first two years, during 1837 and 1838. When Clinton got fairly started the county seat became their place of business. From 1840 to 1850 the section of what is now Bethlehem Township received its full share of the increase of population, and since then it has steadily increased. While not the largest township in the county, it has the largest agricultural population. Taking out the population of the towns, there is no other township that can show its population of 1,380, which was given in the census of 1889.
Its people are moral and they have an abiding faith in religious teachings. The Baptist denomination leads all others in the township, and they have two churches, one called the Mount Hope Baptist Church, situated on the west half of the northeast quarter of section 25, and the Bethlehem Baptist Church, on the west side on section 30 and on the east half of northeast quarter. These churches are largely attended the latter church just completed in December, 1882, a new church edifice at a cost of $1,000. It is plainly but neatly finished and furnished, and what is better, it is all paid for. It was dedicated December 31, 1882, and the following account of the interesting event, taken from the Clinton Advocate, is here appended:
"Elder W. S. Weir conducted the service of song. A brief history of Bethlehem Church was prepared by Deacon A. Vickers, and read by the pastor. The dedicatory sermon was preached by the pastor, S. M. Victor, from the text found in Heb. viii 5. The subject was, "The Jewish Tabernacle, a type of the Gospel church." The attendance was very good for an inclement day, and the service pleasant and profitable. We subjoin a brief:
History of Bethlehem Church
This church was organized on the 6th of September, 1854, at the residence of Mr. James Lee, in Bethlehem Township, Henry County, Missouri. Elder Peter Brown and W. P. Wright organized the church with eight members. In March, 1855, the Lord's Supper was observed for the first time by this church, J. James and A. Vickers serving as deacons. In 1856 the first church house was erected and used by this church until the present new house of worship was built in 1880. Eld. Peter Brown was the first pastor. Since that timed the church has had the services of the following pastors: C. J. Teas, W. A. Gray, A. D. Landrum, B. F. Lawler, Thomas Briggs, R. D. Lawler and S. M. Victor. The first Sunday School was organized in this church in 1859, and Dr. P. S. Jennings was superintendent. The war interrupted the meetings, and there was a period of about two years in which no meeting was held. After the war, the church was revived, and held its meetings on down to the present time. During the history of twenty-eight years the church has received into its membership by baptism 172, by letter, 57; total 229. Greatest number received by baptism in any one year was in 1879, which was 51; next greatest number received by baptism in any one year was 33, in 1882, the present membership is 133. As far as can be ascertained this body has contributed to the mission work of Tebo Baptist Association, before the war $19; since the war, $176; total $195. The history of the finances of this church is not given here, but only the contribution to one object. The Lord has greatly prospered the people at Bethlehem, and they feel that the "Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad."
The names of the original members were James Lee, John Lee, Jacob Shanks, Mrs. Shanks, Joseph Shanks, Neoma Lee and V. Hancock. It was not long before quite a number joined the above list and their names were John James and wife, George French and wife, A. Vickers, wife and daughter. Mr. Vickers became the first clerk and served for two years. The present deacons are W. Crews and A. Vickers.
The Sunday School, which is in a healthy condition, numbers sixty five pupils. P. S. Jennings was its first superintendent, and D. Majors is the present superintendent.
Mr. A. Vickers donated four acres of ground for the church and cemetery. During the war services were discontinued for twenty-five months.
Surprise Cumberland Presbyterian Church
The Surprise Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized November, 1854, in Bethlehem Township, on section 2, being located in the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of the section, in township 40, of range 25. The original members were Lucinda Gilliam, Elizabeth Parks, James Smith, Mary Smith, Hugh B. Witherspoon and Sarah A. Quick.
The church has steadily progressed and is today strong in the faith. Its present membership is 44. In the year 1881 they raised the funds to build a church, and they had the same completed the following year. It is a comfortable frame building and cost the sum of $800.
The following ministers have been successively in charge in the order mentioned. Revs. J. H. Houk, W. W. Suddeth, B. F. Thomas, H. R. Smith, Y. W. Whitset, P. McCluney, and the present pastor, the Rev. C. J. Bowers.
Items of Interest
A Sunday School with an enrollment of fifty scholars and under the superintendency of Mr. Hugh B. Witherspoon, is conducted is connected with the church and is conducted in a manner worthy of all praise. The land, one acre, upon which the church is located, was the gift of Mr. H. B. Witherspoon. From 1862 to 1865 church services were suspended.
There has been little to change the current of the people's thoughts. They are still primitive in their views and feelings; the fashions of the day, or the rush and josting of neighbor or friend to get rich, have little impression upon them. So far as wealth is concerned, they are mostly in a good financial condition, and improving their store for a rainy day from year to year. They, having plenty of this world's goods, and being of prudential habits, there is little to trouble them.
The schools of the township are six in number, with an average of each school year of six months teaching. These schools are located on sections 5, 11, 17, 26 and 29, in township 41, of range 25, and on section 11, of township 40, of same range. The school houses are all frame buildings, and are arranged for the best possible comfort of the pupil and his educational progress.
The official boundary of the township, as organized in 1873, and which continues to be its true metes and bounds, reads as follows:
No. 12, Bethlehem
Composed of all of congressional township number 41, of range number 25, except the west half of the southeast quarter of section number 31, and the west half of section number 31, of township number 41, of range number 25. Also, all of township number 40, of range 25, which lies on the left bank of Grand River.
END of History of Henry County Missouri 1883