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Carroll County

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History & Townships

Carroll County, Missouri, is located in the northwestern portion of the State, being forty-five miles east of the east line of Kansas and sixty-six miles from the south line of the State of Iowa...It is bounded on the north by Livingston County; on the east by Grand River which separates it from Chariton County; on the south by the Missouri River, which separates it from Saline and Lafayette Counties; and on the west by Ray and Caldwell Counties...
The territory now embraced in Carroll County formed a part successively of St. Charles, Howard and Ray Counties. The territory of Louisiana originally embraced five districts, viz: St. Louis, St. Charles, Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau and New Madrid. In 1816 Howard County was formed out of the western parts of St. Louis and St. Charles districts, and included all the country on both sides of the Missouri River, between the mouth of the Osage River and the mouth of the Kansas River. Ray County was organized in 1820, and the present Carroll County, formed a part of it. On the organization of Carroll County in 1833 its boundaries extended north to the Iowa State Line, and out of its territory the counties of Livingston, Grundy and
Mercer have been formed. The organization of Livingston County, in 1837, reduced Carroll County to its present limits...
Carroll County was organized and the bill was signed January 3, 1833. It was originally intended to call the new county "Wakenda," for the stream of that name which flows through its territory. The bill forming the new county under this name had already passed its first and second readings; but when it came up for final passage the news of the death of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence was received at Jefferson City. The proposition was made to call the new county "Charles Carroll, of Carrollton," but it was sensibly shortened to "Carroll," when the bills passed without a dissenting vote.
The survey of Carroll County was begun by government surveyors in 1816 and completed the following year. There were no white settlements at that time within the limits of the county...While surveyors were in the neighborhood of White Rock a barrel of whiskey was obtained, over which the surveyors made merry around the evening campfire. Whether too much was imbibed for their own good or not will, perhaps, never be known, but it is an undeniable fact that subsequent surveyors have had great difficulty in tracing out the old lines of that survey in that locality; and in fact some disturbing cause seems to have operated to the disadvantage of the surveys throughout the whole of range 21...
The first session of the county court of Carroll County was held at the residence of Nathaniel Cary (or Carey), as was provided by the act under which the county was organized...on February 4, 1833. This house stood in Section 13, Township 52, Range 22, near what is now known as the Chinn Bridge on Waknenda Creek.
At the time of the organization of the county the territory within the bounds of the county proper was divided (February 5, 1833) into three townships by an order of the court which read as follows: Grand River Township; Sugar Tree Township and Wakenda Township. (The boundaries are given on page 82 Vol. 1, of History of Carroll County.)
Later Shoal Creek Township was formed. This gave Carroll County four townships. Shoal Creek Township was afterwards divided into smaller townships or districts.
At the July term 1834, Medicine Creek Township was formed, also Indian Creek.
February 1, 1841, Hurricane Township was formed from Grand River.
Wakenda Township was divided on February 7, 1842, to form Morris Township...
December 7, 1870, Bogard Township was formed from Morris Township.
Beatty Township was formed June 6, 1871.
Hills Landing Township was formed at the same time.
In 1872, the following townships were in existence:
53-20, Smith
53-22, DeWitt
55-21, Compton
53-22, Combs
55-22, Hurricane
53-23, Carrollton
55-23, Stokes Mound
52-24, Moss Creek
55-24, Hill
55-25, Egypt
54-25, Fairfield
52-21, Miami
54-21, Rockford
51 & 52-22, Eugene
54-22, Ridge
51 & 52-23, Wakenda
54-23, Van Horn
51-23 & 24, Sugar Tree
54-24, Leslie
51-25, Cherry Valley
53-25, Prairie
55-25, Washington
On March 5, 1877, the General Assembly abolished township organization, and on August 7, the county was divided into municipal townships as follows:
Grand River Township to include Congressional Townships 52-21, 53-20, and 53-21.
Rea Township to include Congressional Township 51-22, 52-22 and 53-22.
Carrollton Township to include Congressional Township 51-23, 52-23 and 53-23.
Beaty Township to include Congressional Township 51-24, 52-24, and 53-24.
Norborne Township to include Congressional Township 51-25, 52-25 and 53-25.
Bates Township to include Congressional Township 54-25, 55-25.
Morris Township to include Congressional Township 54-24 and 55-24.
Bogart Township to include Congressional Township 54-23 and 55-23.
Wood Township to include Congressional Township 54-22 and 55-22, 54-21 and 55-21.
20th Century History of Carroll To., 1911, Turner, Vol. 1, pp. 89 and 90. (See page 90 for a discussion of the townships.)
Miami Township
In 1839, Benjamin Kendrick located eighty acres in Section 8, embracing what were known as the White Rock Quarries...The quarries were opened in 1840. The stones from these quarries were used in the building of the Iowa State Capitol at Des Moines as well as the building of the Carrollton Court House... p. 92.
Desitt Township
Martin Palmer, the first settler, was a transient one only and settled in 1837...In 1831 Bery W. Jones, from Alabama, located. The Maris family came in 1830... p. 94.
(For a fuller account of Palmer see A Directory of Towns, Villages and Hamlets, Past and Present of Livingston County, Moser.)
Numerous mounds are found in DeWitt Township, mostly near the town of DeWitt, whether the work of Indians, or a race antedating the Red Men is a question yet undetermined...
In the early days of this township Saturday was law day and every one went to DeWitt either as a principal or witness...
On one particular day, the parties in a case got into a quarrel and finally got into blows...The lawyers finally got mixed up in the melee and like the others came to blows. The justice commanded peace, but there was no peace. The fight became a general; knock downs were the order of the day and excitement ran high. The judge, taking advantage of the confusion hurriedly gathered up his books, leaped out of the window and turning to the crowd, shouted out, "Fight and be d________; this court is adjourned until nine o'clock tomorrow morning"... pp. 94, 95.
Smith Township
About 1882 the Missouri River changed its channel leaving Brunswick, which had formerly been a Missouri River town, about three miles away with the Grand River occupying the old Missouri River bed, thus throwing into Carroll County an immense sand bar, about which there has been considerable controversy...
From time to time this sand bar would be enlarged until by 1888 or 1890 these lands had received a deposit of loam or silt brought down from above until they became recognized as valuable farm land.
Controversies arose over the ownership of the land led to quarrels and murder...This township was named in honor of John Smith, one of the pioneer settlers who was a resident of the township at the time of township organization. pp. 90, 91.

Rockford Township
Rockford Township, being one of the eastern townships of the county, borders upon Grand River...
This township was named from the ford across Grand River, within its bounds, which has been from the earliest times designated as "Rockford" and which has at all times been an important crossing of the river...
Among the earliest settlers were William Jenkins, John B.Winfrey, and Nathaniel and William Bamks... p. 97.
Eugene Township
Eugene Township embraces fractional Townships 51 and 52 of Range 22, with 32 full and 11 fractional sections...Eugene Township was one of the first townships to be settled. Nathaniel Cary, Sachel Woods and others came and located in this township near the forks of Wakenda Creek as early as 1818...A man named Harper taught the first school at the house of John Crockett...
Sophia Cary, wife of Nathaniel Cary, was one of the first if not the first woman to weave cloth in Carroll County... pp. 99, 100.
Combs Township
Combs Township embraces thirty-six full sections of six hundred and forty acres...It was named in honor of Col. Howard T. Combs, who was clerk of county court at the time the county first adopted township organization.
Stephen Parker was the first permanent settler in this township, locating in 1824. He held a warrant from the government for the southeast quarter of Section 20...Parkers Grove was named in honor of Stephen Parker...
Turpin Thomas erected the first mill in the township about 1836, which he afterwards sold to James Lucal, formerly of Hurricane Township. Lucas immediately improved the property by building a new mill on the site, which was for many years known as Baum Mill... p. 102.
Ridge Township
Ridge Township embraces thirty-six full sections of high, rolling prairie...
The settlement of Ridge was somewhat slow. Daniel Hill was supposed to have been the first to locate in the township, he coming in 1835, and locating on the banks of Big Creek, about 1839. Jack Phillips, who had located in Van Horn in 1834 came to Ridge Township and located at the ford of the Little Hurricane... p. 104.
Hurricane Township
Hurricane Township received its name from Big Hurricane Creek, which flows through it. This township, in turn, received its name from the fact that in the early days a very large destructive hurricane passed through this township and along the Grand River bottom. The effects of this storm could be seen for many years after the arrival of the early settlers.
Probably the earliest settler of the township was Col. William W. Compton, who came from Tazewell County, Virginia, and located in Section 11, in 1835, the land having been patented to Colonel Compton for serving in the War of 1812. p. 107.
February 8, 1877, on the petition of more than one-fourth of the voters of Hurricane and Compton Townships, an election was held to ascertain the sense of the township upon the proposition of annexing of Compton to Hurricane Township. At the election, more than two-thirds of the voters favored the proposition and the townships were united under the name of Hurricane Township, thus adding to Hurricane Township an area equal to about one-half of ordinary Congressional Township... p. 110.
Wakenda Township
Wakenda Township derives its name from the Wakenda Creek, which runs through the northern part of the township. The name of the creek is also spelled Wakanda and was formerly known as Wyconda Creek...
The earliest settlement of this township was by Nathaniel Cary in 1818, who settled on Section 13, on the banks of the Wakenda Creek. In the same year John Maberry and John Riffe settled in Section 1...
Bartlett H. Pitts located in Sections 32 and 33...In the spring of 1833 Noah Caton established a landing on the Missouri River south of Carrollton. Capt. William Hill, in a short time afterward, obtained Caton's interest in the landing, and thereafter it was known as Hill's Landing. pp. 112, 113.
Carrollton Township
Carrollton Township derives its name from Carrollton, the county seat which was named in honor of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last signer of the Declaration of Independence...
The first settlement was made November 13, 1819, by John Standley and his seven sons who located in what is now Tummon's Addition to the town of Carrollton.
It is related of Uncle Jimmy Standley that in 1818 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, the first in the county. (An early law suite was resolved by Judge Standley who brought the parties to settle the matter without litigation, and at last was successful in making a compromise.)
In reckoning up the costs, none of the parties had any charge except the constable, a man by the name of Woolworth, he representing that he had ridden eighteen or twenty miles through the woods and grass in the heat, threshing flies and he ought to have twenty cents for his labor; an inventory of the available cash of the whole party revealed the fact that Larkin Standley, a son of the Justice, had a silver dollar, the only money in the crowd.
"Uncle Jimmy" proposed to make the change by making four quarters with an axe. In cutting the dollar it was somehow divided into five instead of four pieces. The constable took one of the pieces for his fee, and Lark Standley his money (four quarters) back again...
"Uncle Jimmy's law library consisted of an old Farmer's Almanac, which had a constitution in it, but whether of the United States or of some single state was never known. It made no provision for appeal... pp. 115, 116.
Van Horn Township
Van Horn Township was named for Col. R. T. Van Horn, who was a member of Congress at one time and who was later an editor of the Kansas City Journal...
About 1834, John, otherwise known as Jack, Phillips, located in Section 28...Asa McClaim came from Cooper County, Kentucky, in 1848, settling in Section 1, where the first school house was erected by Mr. McClaim, Burley Godsey and John and James Phillips. Mr. McClaim first taught this school, having about twenty pupils and receiving twenty dollars a month for his salary.
Doctor Taylor was the first resident physician. He also taught school in the township and later moved away to unknown parts... p. 124.
Stokes Mound Township
Stokes Mound Township is one of the border townships on the north line of the county.
Among the first settlers about 1832, were Elijah and William Compton, Solon and Axley Lewis and James Bunch, of Tennessee.
Hiram McCall settled on Section 29 in 1840. Dr. John Wolfscale and Dr. T. J. Brown were two of the regular practicing physicians of the township. pp. 127, 128.
Sugar Creek Township
Sugar Creek Township is one of the fractional townships in the county, and embraces Ranges 23 and 24 of Township 51, its southern and eastern boundary being the Missouri River, which at times has caused the inhabitants of the rich bottom lands adjacent much trouble by the cutting of its banks and by the overflowing of the low lands.
Nehemiah and Noah Woolsey were among the first settlers and, although the date of settlement is not positively known, it is supposed to have been about 1823, and even a few years earlier than this.
Doctors Folger and Walling, of Carrollton were the pioneer practicing physicians of the township...The first death occurred in 1835 when Nicholas Pitts died in March of that year. The body was interred close to the Missouri River and the cemetery has since washed away. pp. 132, 133.
Moss Creek Township
Moss Creek Township derives its name from Moss Creek, a stream ordinarily clear and beautiful, fed by springs along its course.
Among the pioneer settlers of Moss Creek Township were Stephen Woolsey, from Tennessee; John A. Austin, from Virginia; Col. W. W. Austin, also of Virginia; these all settling in the southwestern part of the township, forming quite a settlement, to which a Mr. Blackwell came in 1839 and was made the postmaster of Round Grove, the first postmaster of the township. Mr. Blackwell was also the first Justice of the Peace of the township. p. 134.
The celebrated Wild Moss Mills were located in the northeast corner of this township. ibid.
Trotter Township
Trotter Township was named in honor of Judge James Trotter, who was for a number of years presiding judge of the county court, and was also one of the earliest settlers of the township.
The first settlers came to this township in 1829, among whom John and William Trotter...One of the stories of the township which may be worthy of preservation is that related by John Stamm, one of the pioneer settlers of the township, in which he relates that in the early days there was across McCroskie's Creek, a footbridge. It was supposed by all who used the bridge that it was a log until an examination it proved to be an enormous bone some twenty-five feet in length and large enough in diameter to be used as a foot bridge. Its scientific value was appreciated by some individuals and the valuable relic was removed to the East...
There was never a platted town in the township, although in the early days there was a store in the southwest portion of the township and in the more recent years a post-office was established at Bingham, in the center of Section 8. This town, however, like many another country cross roads store, was killed by the establishment of the rural free delivery and even now -- 1910 -- is scarcely more than a memory. p. 137.
Leslie Township
Leslie Township is a portion of what was originally called Morris Township, which was so called in honor of James Morris, one of the earliest settlers who was proprietor of what in the early days was known as "Buckhorn Tavern."...
Leslie Township was named in honor of Gen. Leslie Combs, in Kentucky, whose son Col. Howard T. Combs, was county clerk at the time the townships were named.
After Morris came to the county in 1832, he soon was joined by James Runyon, his son-in-law from Clay County, Kentucky...
The first school teacher was James Mopham, who taught school in an old house in Section 17. The first physician to practice in Morris and Leslie Townships was Dr. George W. Folger, of Howard County, who lived in Carrollton. pp. 137, 138.
Hill Township
Hill Township was named in honor of Richard, George W. and Nathan Hill, who were the first settlers in the township, having come from Tennessee about 1836. John Cole was the first school teacher of the township, teaching at the home of Aaron Braden, with an enrollment of fifteen pupils, and receiving a minimal salary.
There is not -- 1910 -- and has never been an incorporated or platted town in Hill Township. pp. 141, 142.
Cherry Valley Township
Cherry Valley is the extreme southwest township of the county...Some of the earliest settlements of the county were made along the Missouri River. The pioneer settler is supposed to have been David McWilliams, of Tennessee, who located in Section 15, about 1819...In 1844 Samuel Cole located in Section 10 and John Freeman located near the Ray County Line about 1847. pp. 142, 143.
Egypt Township
John Hall is supposed to have been the first settler in this part of Carroll County. He came from Kentucky...
Dr. Thomas Dobbins was the first physician who permanently located in this township. He came in 1857...The first school house was built of logs, by George Cloudis in 1845...As late as 1843, John Dietrich, in order to get a little flour for Christmas cakes, sent his two boys, aged respectively twelve and sixteen, thirty-five miles up on Grand River. They were gone nearly two weeks, but got back in time to have the cakes. p. 146.
Prairie Township
Prairie Township is one of the border townships on the west line of the county...
The township was not settled as early as some of the other townships because of the idea of the early settlers that the prairie lands were not as strong as the timbered regions.
Jacob Goff was one of the first permanent settlers, he locating in the southeast corner of the township about 1846...
Dr. Charles Heidel, of Carrollton, was the first practicing physician in the township. There has never been any attempt to found a town in this township, the nearest town being Norborne. p. 150.
Fairfield Township
The first settler was possibly Henry Brewer...who came in 1843 from Ray County, settling on Section 32. Dr. George W. Folger, of Carrollton, was the first practicing physician in the township. John Shirley, a Christian minister, held the first religious services in the township in 1842 on Section 20.
Fairfield Township has never had a town of any size in its limits, although the town of Rhoads (or Roads), named in honor of the pioneer settler, has long been a good trading point... pp. 150, 151.
Washington Township
Washington Township is the northwest township of the county...James Runion was probably the first comer to the township, locating on Section 12. He was soon followed by Andrew Howerton, who located on Section 2, about 1839. Doctor Coon, of Michigan, practiced medicine in this township from 1867 to 1870, when he left for California.
The first school was taught and the first school house built on Section 2. H. Anderson was the teacher, receiving five cents a day for each pupil. p. 152.
Page numbers refer to 20th Century History of Carroll County, Vol. 1, Turner.
Links for Other Pages about Carroll County
Carroll County Genealogical Association
History of Carroll County
Places in Carroll County