Early History of Washington Township Missouri

The first wedding which was celebrated in Washington township was that of William Hardin and Miss Betsy Munn, in the spring of 1842. It was about the same time Joseph Gillespie was married, near the north line of the county, but who the bride was is not remembered. This marriage was performed by the Rev. Jonathan Smith. ‘Squire Lowe performed the interesting ceremony that united William Hardin and Miss Betsy Munn, at the residence of the bride’s father, Mr. James Munn.

The first child born in Washington township was undoubtedly Miss. Rachel Foster in 1840. She was the daughter of D. Nelson Foster and Naoni, his wife. Miss Rachel Foster that was, is now Mrs. James Williams and is still a resident of the county of her nativity. The next birth occurred November 26, 1841, and was a daughter born to Jonathan and Catharine Smith; she was baptized with the name of Sarah J. Smith. The first death was that of Leonard Munn, son of James Munn. He was about five years old, and was burned to death, his clothes catching fire while playing in front of the fire-place. He lived but a short time and suffered terrible agony. He was buried on the farm of his parents. His grave is now obliterated and the field is now in corn. The next death was the infant son of Wilson and Juda Poe. It was buried in Union Grove Cemetery. The first physician was Dr. Joel Dowell, who came in 1842 or 1843 and is still a resident of the township. He came from Iowa. About the same year Dr. John Oatnan, a regular practicing physician, settled in the township, but afterward moved to Harrison county.

The first school was taught in a log school-house built on the banks of Hickory Creek in the year 1840. It had the usual supply of puncheon seats and desks made up against the log wall. The fire place covered about half of one end, and was made of sticks and mud from the bank of Hickory Creek. The school-house was erected by the joint labor of the neighbors interested in having a school in the neighborhood. The first teacher was John D. Enlow (or Inlow), and his school was a flourishing one for those-times, having about twenty scholars for which he received $1.50 per pupil for a term of three months. The school-house had the same fate as a good’ many of the county bridges, and in the latter part of the winter of 1841-42′ a heavy rain set in and Hickory Creek raising in its wrath, reached forth and clasping this building, dedicated to teaching the young idea how to shoot, to its bosom started on a voyage to the gulf. The Hickory Creek school-house was but a vanishing dream, and the spot that knew it once, knew it no more forever. Financially, the loss was not severely felt, but otherwise it was. Since that time three other school-houses have been erected and some like the first are known no more. They have now six school districts and school-houses in the township.

Mrs. John Williams not only had the first deerskin carpet, but wove the first cloth, in 1837. Mr. Williams used the first bull-tongue plow in the township and only had one horse to hitch to it. The other horse had not been purchased at that time.

The first preacher seems to have been Rev. Absalom Hardin, who preached occasionally at the cabins of the settlers as early as 1839. Regular preaching was held near where the Union Grove Church now stands, in the fall of 1840. The Disciples Church was the first church organized in the township, of which Elder Martin Scott was the pastor. The history of these churches is more particularly given in the following pages.

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