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  Morgan County MO-AHGP
Genealogy & History


History of Morgan County


Towns, Villages, Etc.

Versailles, the county seat of Morgan county, has a population of 2,000. It is situated in the northwest corner of Township 42, Range 17, Section 6 -- it's elevation giving it a commanding view in every direction, especially over the prairies west and northwest. While it is not the highest elevation in the county, yet the waters part, to run south and north to the Osage and Missouri rivers, at the north and south sides of the public square.

LOCATION AND SURROUNDINGS -- The original town plat, made in 1835, was a donation to the county by Wyan & (Hugh) Galbraith. They gave thirty-six blocks, each 170 feet square, one of which, next to the north tier of blocks, was made a public square. The town was long and narrow, being three blocks wide and twelve blocks in length. North and south there were but two streets, while there were ten running east and west. The highest point was selected as a public square. The vast and unbroken view to be seen at that time from this point, nearly overlooking the county, was evidently the determining point in the mind of the locator of the county seat, and which was approved and universally by the people. To the southwest, west and north are the beautiful, rich, gentle rolling prairies and to the east and south are seen the deep wooded pastures in gentle swells passing away to the distant blue ridges. For beauty and health there are few spots anywhere that surpasses Versailles. To these may be added a climate without extremes, and then one can gain some idea of the capital town of Morgan county. Mr. Street Thruston was commissioner to locate the county seat and this point was selected and named Versailles in February, 1835. The lots of the county seat were sold at public venue.

MANUFACTORIES AND BUSINESS -- Hugh Galbraith built the first house, in which he opened the first store. The next merchant was Levi Blakewell. In 1836 William Hicks opened a three room log tavern. Zebulon Moore built a log house on the northeast corner of the public square, and the same year (1836) Joseph Steel built on the south side of the square. Daniel Williams opened a blacksmith shop in residence and John T. Harmon erected a dwelling in which he kept a boarding house in 1836. T. & P. Miller opened a store on the northwest corner of the square in the winter of 1836-37. Dr. J.B. Thruston settled in Versailles and commenced the practice of medicine in 1836. It seemed he was alone in the medical line until keeping a store. In 1840 the population was a little more than sixty or seventy, and there were about twenty buildings in the place.

The first bricks ever made in the county were by a man named Jones, and of these were built Hugh Galbraith's store. The first steam merchants mill was built in 1872. It now has the roller process, and is a first-class mill. (J.F.) Taylor & Goddard (William H.) carried on merchandising from 1852 to 1856. Henry C. Dunn and Cook & Tooley were also merchants at one time, about 1850.

INCORPORATION -- By a vote of the people Versailles was made and incorporated village February 13th 1866, and B.S. Walker, A.J. Hart, W.C. Reed, E. Lindley and R. Boyd Williams were the trustees, W.C. Reeed, chairman. J. Tyler Campbell, clerk. The other adjuncts in the way of necessary legal and official machinery were put in operation. There was not, it seems, very much government meddling needed, and the different officials appear to have run the town smoothly and economically.

May 1, 1881, an election was called on the question of incorporating the town under the general law as a fourth-class city. The total vote cast was seventy-two, and the result was a majority of eight voted in the affirmative. Then July 9th following was held the first election for mayor and aldermen. Two wards, east and west had been created. B.R. Richardson was elected mayor and James McNair, James L. Townley, George W. Petty and John D. Neilson aldermen.

At the April election 1881, Max Joachimi, Sr. was elected mayor and J.L. Townley and Wm. Lewis aldermen. 1882 L.S. Wright, mayor and John T. Beale and D. A. Fairley aldermen. 1883, Samuel Livingston, mayor and in 1884, S.R. Woods, mayor. 1887 B.R. Richardson, mayor. Following are the mayors up to the present time: W.L. Stephens, John Lumpee, Geo. P. Clark, E.A. Crewson, William Forman, Dave Kidwell, Lewis Lumpee, William Forman. Samuel Daniels is the present mayor, he having been elected at the April election in 1905.

BANKS -- The first attempt at banking in Versailles was by J B. Kelsay, in 1895. He put a small capital, and ran along five years and closed. The losses to patrons were trifling.

The Bank of Versailles was founded November 22, 1882, with these officers: P.G. Woods, president and W.L. Stephens, cashier. The bank organized with the smallest capital the law allowed, because of the uncertainty as to the prospects caused by the failure of a bank a short time previously. Therefore the capital was placed at $10,000, but the actual capital issued by the bank soon exceeded $25,000. The bank is a successful and prosperous institution. It is in the Wood's Block, north side of the public square. A.L. Ross is president and W.L. Stephens, cashier.

On April 16, 1889, the Bank of Morgan County began business at Versailles, with W.E. Maynard, president; John Lumpee, Jr., vice-president; W.H. Moore, cashier and J.S. Thruston, assistant cashier. In addition to those mentioned (except Mr. Moore), J.T. Williams, Hon. Conway Jones, James McNair, Geo. W. Petty and David Hardy were directors. The capital stock was $15,000. The bank has made some changes in its management since its organization. In the year 1903, Dr. J.D. Hubbard was chosen president and served in this capacity till the summer of 1904 when he resigned and moved to Sedalia for the practice of medicine. Just before he retired the bank was made a National bank and is now called The First National Bank. This was done in 1904. The capital stock fully paid is $30,000, and the shareholder's liability is the same. The officers of the bank are: W.W. Moore, president; G.W. Petty, vice-president; J.W. Mills, second vice-president; W.T. Petty, cashier. The directors are: John Moore, G.W. Petty, J.T. Williams, W.T. Petty, E.W. Curtis, Alf Heineman, W.W. Moore, J.W. Mills, G.B. Bohling, Conway Jones, E.A. Crewson and C.H. Mason.

PRESENT BUSINESS -- The enumeration given below of the enterprises and business carried on in Versailles, while they make a respectable showing for a town of its size, may not give the reader a sufficient idea of the many inviting advantages the city possesses. The leading stores are large concerns, carrying complete stocks of goods, and doing an extensive business, and even the smallest establishments are usually crowded with customers. There is a wide, rich range of country that contributes to the trade of Versailles -- east, south and west, especially, there being no competing point for many miles. The following are the principal concerns and proprietors: Merchants steam mill (roller process): H. Moser; Versailles brick plant: Murphy and Barnett; Versailles handle factory, Stock Company; agricultural implements, Kidwell, Etter & Wingett; lumber yards, Antweiler & Hardy and J.F. Abell; blacksmiths, Jacobs, Padgett Bros. and Potter & Allee; butchers, D.C. Hardy and Mason & Price; hardware, Thorpe Bros., E.M. Duff and Curtis & Gray; general merchandise, Knoop & Long, C.W. Biersach, M. Joachimi, Sr., A. Popper; dentists, J. Denzil Bowles, H.K. Enloe and E.P. Yarnell; saloons J.W. Livingston and Alf Heineman; cigar manufacturers, J.M. Bolton and C.V.N. Hudson; restaurants, B.F. Dunn, C.E. Padgett and J.W. Roberts; shoemakers, Joseph Tuckley and Otto Kuhn; barber shops, Claude F. Kidwell, Bond & Collins and Jones & Petty; saddlery and harness, John Wassung, and A. Klahn; marble yard. H.C. Inglehart; livery stables, Potter & Allee, W. H. Kavanaugh & Son and Williams Bros.; flour and feed, James Muir, Pleas Padgett also wagon yard, John Thomas Marriott, also wagon yard; grocers, M.L. Joachimi, D.C. Hardy, Sr., Gilson & Buck and E.A. Williams groceries flour and feed; tobacco and confectioneries, J. B. Lumpee and M. Spidel; furniture stores, D. Kidwell, Harmony & Son and J.W. Kirk; bakery and boarding, Mrs. T.L. Sparks; hotels, Samuel Martin and D.A. Fairley; novelty store, Miller & Marriott; pool hall, Lumpee & Williams; drug stores, J.W. Boles, A. Muntzel, C.D. Hunter and R. Q. Kelly & Co.; gents furnishing goods, J.A. Petty, Lewis Lumpee and Geo. A. Krauss; tailoring goods, J. A. Petty, Lewis Lumpee and Geo. A. Krauss; tailoring, Geo. H. Scholle; jewelry, Geo. B. Bohling and John Stigler; millinery, Mrs. J.W. Boles and Mrs. Olive A. Child; photographer, E.A. Clodfelter; carpenters and builders, A.W. Offineer, Hulet, Hamlin, Sherman, Kidwell and J.T. Shore; painters, Duff & Cugler, Baldwin & Ephland and Askew; repair tin shop, G. R. Prowell; hoopole factory, Irvin Kinion; ten pin alley, Wm. Ducey; gunsmith and repair shop, M.J. West; soda factory, H. Schafer.

VERSAILLES ATTRACTIVE FEATURES --The north side of the public square is built up solidly, all two story bricks, in modern style and plate glass fronts. The business blocks new two story bricks, on the west side of the square, require but a few more houses to occupy them solidly. On the east and south sides are mostly frame buildings, though on the southeast corner is a two story brick block. On the streets immediately from the square on the north and west sides, are new and elegant brick structures. In the residence part of town are in every direction new and modern style houses, and several in course of construction. From the new, neat cottage to the spacious and elegant mansion to be seen on every hand, are evidence of prosperity that impress the visitor strongly. On adjoining lots are frequently to be seen the ancient southern architecture, with two-storied porticos or verandas, and great outside chimneys, and the most modern swell fronts and plate glass. In the early planting of shade trees the people made the mistake of using the black locust. These are rapidly being taken away, and their places will be taken by the elm and the maple.

The supply of water is abundant and is inexhaustible for all future manufacturing purposes. In the center of town are some wells 165 feet in depth, and then in the corporate limits are strong flowing wells with considerable pressure. At one time in digging for coal in the north part of town, the water, within a few feet of the surface, flowed in such quantities as to force the men from the shaft. Adjacent to town are strong springs, one of which has an eight inch flow. The sole thing necessary to render this place one of the best in the country for manufactories of all kinds in cheap transportation. The proper energy and vigilance of the people in behalf of their own interests will surely soon bring this about.

FIRES -- No serious destruction by fire occurred until March 23rd, 1886, when one commenced in Fairley & Freebairn's livery stable, west of the public square spreading from there to P.H. Damph's agricultural implement house, and then destroying a two story frame building, in which was a butcher's shop, the second containing the post-office, and then the three story frame building containing the I.O.O.F. and G.A.R. hall. It then crossed the street, and burned the two story frame in which was the Masonic hall, and traveled south, destroyed the City Hotel, a two story frame building. This was quite a public calamity, as there was but little insurance on the property. But the people went to work and cleared away the debris, and for the burned inferior buildings put up good, substantial modern business houses.

March 12th, 1887, the second and greater fire visitation was inflicted upon the people. This commenced in Lumpee's block, on the northwest corner of the public square, burning out that corner down to the Metropolitan Barber shop and then extended east on the public square, destroying everything to the Versailles Bank building. A high northwest wind prevailing carried the burning fragments to the court house and to the old house on the southeast corner of the square, and destroyed it. The whole community was fairly prostrated for some time by this calamity, coming as it did so soon upon the heels of the previous one. So quickly, however, did they rally and again put up new and better buildings, that all are now enabled to see that in the end it was but a part of the town's good fortune.

SOCIETIES --The A.O.U.W. Lodge, No. 150 was organized August 16, 1879. Versailles Lodge No. 231, I.O.O.F. was organized in 1883. Versailles Lodge No. 117, A.F.&A.M. was organized May 10th organized of late.

NEWSPAPERS --Morgan county has been creditably represented in the press fraternity since spirit of progress in the country.

THE MORGAN COUNTY FORUM was the first newspaper enterprise started Morgan county; a six-column folio, established and run by John Hendrson and brother. Its first number was in 1858. The paper was continued until the breaking out of the war, when the boys went off on a jolly soldiering, and the paper ceased, and has never been revived.

THE MORGAN COUNTY BANNER was the second newspaper venture in the county, and the first that was republican in politics. Its first issue was in 1865, started by William J. Jackson, a six-column folio. After running it about one year Mr. Jackson sold to B.S. Walker, W.A. Mills and J.H. Stover, a publishing company. In this manner it was published about one year. In the spring of 1867, by purchase of the others' interest, W.A. Mills became the proprietor. In the fall of the same year Mills sold out to W.H. McCarty, who conducted it until 1870, when again it passed into the possession of Mr. Mills. He conducted it until January, 1871, when he sold the concern to John A. Hannay. The Banner was then furled.

MORGAN COUNTY GAZETTE . Immediately after purchasing the Banner office in 1871, John A. Hannay started the Gazette, a six-column, democratic paper. In 1874 the name was changed to the Versailles Gazette. Under this name it had a prosperous life until 1885, when the office and good-will were sold to J.K. Gwynn.

THE MORGAN COUNTY MESSENGER was started by J.K. Gwynn October 9th 1884, an eight column, democratic paper. He published it successfully until March, 1885, when it was destroyed by fire. He then purchased the Gazette office of John A. Hannay, and consolidating the two papers started the Messenger-Gazette, first issued in November, 1884, as an eight-column, democratic paper. It prospered, and was regularly issued until the fire, in March 1887, when the office was totally destroyed, and the paper was never revived.

THE VERSAILLES VINDICATOR, a seven column folio, was started by P.R. Crisp in 1868. It was democratic in politics. After running one year it stopped, and the office was removed to Kansas.

THE VERSAILLES ARGUS existed as a democratic paper in 1871, by Monroe Brothers. It had a brief existence only of a few months, and expired. It was a six-column, democratic paper, and from the fact that it issued a semi-weekly for a short time it is supposed the paper overreached itself, and was discontinued.

The newspapers published in the county this year (1905) are: The Versailles Leader, a five column quarto, democratic. Its publishers are Hanny & Daniels. The Versailles Statesman, a five column quarto, republican. Its publisher is A.G. Baker. The Statesman was founded in 1887 by John F. Mounts, who edited it till 1894 when he died. From that time till May 1st, 1897, when it was bought by Baker, the paper was published by the widow of Mr. Monts. The Morgan County Democrat, a five column quarto, democratic. Its present publishers are Tillman & Duff. These papers are all published in Versailles, there being no other papers published in the county.


This town was platted on February 3rd. 1868. by John C. Ratcliff. It is situated on Sections 18 & two stores, blacksmith shop, flour mill and church.


The first settlers of Florence were Dr. Sherman, who settled at this point and started a store, and William Baughman, blacksmith, who opened a shop. It was laid out and platted June 3rd, 1832, and now has a population of sixty. There are three good stores. One of these are kept by H.A. Bramer, one by Rasa & Lemke, and one by Milton Lewis. These stores are all prosperous and doing a big business the year round. There is a good blacksmith shop kept by Frank Casdorph who also does a wagon making business.

Churches of the Lutheran and Baptist faith and a Reformed Church (St. John's) exist. Before railroad times the town was an important business center. It suffered from fires during the war, and since has never recovered its prosperity fully.


Syracuse was originally called Pacific City. The first settlers were J.H. Sand, E.S. Ralston, John Finley and T.J. Shanklin. A part of the land on which the town is built was entered by Ralston. He and George Shackleford's farms composed the original plat, as laid out January 25th, 1859, by Kendall, Houk & Co., and George Shackleford. The first store was by W.E. Tomson & Son in 1859; the second by Charles Pringer, started the same year. For nearly two years this was the terminus of the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The population is 250.

There are now several stores, a new bank just opened this year (1905), a new lumber yard and various other improvements have been made during the last two or three years. More improvement has taken place in the 1st two or three years. More improvement has taken place in Syracuse during the last two years than had been accomplished during the twenty years prior. Syracuse is one of the very best trading places in the county and is growing in importance every day. N.F. Carpenter is the chief grain buyer while he and H.M. Keevil and H.C. Thomas are leading stock buyers. Syracuse is taking a new life mainly because new and younger blood is taking hold of affairs there.


Proctor is situated one mile north of the Osage river. It was settled at an early day by Samuel Willson, and in time became a small trading point, and was made a postoffice. General stores are kept by H.T. Ralbott & Son; and a drug store by Dr. J.T. Gibbs; also a tavern and blacksmith shop. It has about seventy-five inhabitants and a church and school house. Rich coal and mineral lands lie all about it, and the location is dry, healthy and picturesque.


Gravois Mills was plated and made a village January 22nd, 1884, by Humes Bros. It has a population of about thirty; containing one general store, by Frank Washburn, one grocery and drug store and a blacksmith shop and school house. Near the village is the Gravois Grist Mills, water power. Josiah S. Walton originally built the mill.


Akinsville is a station on the branch railroad between Versailles and Tipton. It is an old town but has made very little progress. It has one store, kept by J.F. Johnson, it has a blacksmith shop and a church. The present population is about two dozen. The town conducts its business on the old style, does not advertise and lets good things pass by for want of encouragement.


Glensted is on the branch road and is six miles north of Versailles. It was founded by Joe Milburn, in about the year 1880 and he has been a good father to the place. Glensted has enjoyed a steady growth especially during the last ten years. It first started with Mr. Milburn's store, then came a blacksmith shot. Soon there came a mill, then a lumber yard. Houses were built. A Methodist church was established and various establishments have grown up. The town now has three stores, two churches and many dwellings. It is a good business town.


Boyler's Mill is situated in the southwest part of Morgan county, sixteen miles southwest of Versailles. The Frisch Brothers, who have operated a water flour mill there, are the principal residents and business men. G.B. Fisch also has a large general store. Mr. Parker has a store. There is a blacksmith shop and several other industries.


There was a Barnett in the east part of the county, about a mile from where the new town now is. The place was a very small village but did a fairly good business. When the Rock Island was completed through the county in 1903 the old town moved over to the railroad. The town has grown remarkably fast. The merchants have put in much larger stocks of goods and the town has expanded in every way. A new bank has opened at Barnett in 1905 and is doing a good business for the first year of its existence. The place has a hotel, livery stable and many other accommodations. Several stores and restaurants are found and all to be doing a prosporous business.


Pyrmont lies in the northwest part of the county, twelve miles from Versailles. Its leading claim to a town is the big general store owned and operated by George Warnke, a splendid business man. There is a blacksmith shop there and much trading is done at the store.


Berba lies further northwest in this county than Pyrmont does, and is six miles northwest of Pyrmont. There is only one store there. This is the one owned by Monsees & Bauer. Mr. Monsees has owned and operated the store about seven years and this year (1905) he sold a half interest in the store to Fritz Bauer.


There was a Stover on the Versailles and Cole Camp public road for many YEARS but when the Rock Island railroad was built through the county a new town sprung up on the railroad not far through the county a new town sprung up on the railroad not far from Stover. This new town was called Newstover till the spring of 1905 when the last business firm, Coester & Son, who were the only merchants of Stover and were also postmasters, moved over to the new town. Thus the old town was done away with and the new town assumed the name and is now called Stover and not Newstover. Stover is less than two years old but it has grown so rapidly that it is the second best town in the county to-day. Among the business places there now are: A.A. Fisher, dealer in hardware. Keeps blacksmith and wagon maker's supplies. He has a new building and carries a large stock of goods. Coester & Son are proprietors of a large new mercantile establishment. They carry a large stock of goods and enjoy a large trade. Welpman Brothers are proprietors of a large new store and do a general mercantile business. This firm is very business like and are good advertisers as, in fact all of the business men of Stover are. W.H. Fajen owns a large lumber yard and keeps all kinds of building materials. He keeps a large stock of lumber and has done much to help build the new town. Bohling & Wiest is the name of a new drug firm at this town. Dr. Cord Bohling, who once lived at Pyrmont, but who now lives at Sedalia, and Dr. Wiest, of Stover, are the founders and owners of this drug store which enjoys a large business. W.J. Koch is the blacksmith of that place and does a wagon making business too. He is a good workman. No man in the new town has done more for the building up of the place than Mr. Koch has done. He is thoroughly alive to the town's interest and has spent much time and money to make the town what it is. The people there are rewarding him by giving him a good patronage and making him the first justice of the peace. There is one saloon in the place. This is kept by Tambke Brothers. A new hotel was opened there this year by Newton Todd. It is called the City Hotel and the building is a large new structure. William O'Neal runs a barbers hop and M.P. Hughes and J.G. Kraxberger runs a feed and wagon yard. Miss Mary Hunter, of Riverview, moved to that town this spring and opened a millinery store, the first to be opened there. She did a good business from the start. A new bank is in course of construction and a mill is to built this fall. The Rock Island built a substantial depot there and everything looks good for the future of Stover. It is one of the best trading points in the county and ships much local freight. A farmer's telephone system from Riverview enters Stover and has offices there.

POSTOFFICES--The postoffices in Morgan county are: Versailles, Glensted, Akinsville, Syracuse, Florence, Bebra, Pyrmont, Stover, Lodema, Todd, Boyler's Mill, Riverview, Proctor, Gravois Mil, Barnett, Marvin, Enid and Excelsior. There are three rural routes out of Versailles and the fourth one is more than likely to be established this summer. Several routes enter at different points of the county from distributing places out of the county.

TELEPHONE--Versailles has a telephone system owned by John Brockmeyer. It has been in operation about four years and at the present time there are about 225 phones in use. Versailles is connected with the outside world with the Kinlock system and by one independent line. The farmers in the northeast part of the county have a system which benefits many homes, and is rapidly extending the service. This is the largest system in the county, in rural precincts. It has been in operation less than three years and is giving general satisfaction. A system was put in this spring from Riverview to Stover and is busy extending its lines. Several other neighborhoods are talking of putting in telephone systems. The largest system northeast of town has an office in Versailles and this is a means of great convenience to both the farmer and the business men of Versailles.

Section 7

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