The First Settlers of Grand River Missouri

The first known white settler of Grand River township was Solomon Tetherow and he came in the spring of 1831. It was believed that John Splawn built the first cabin within the limits of Daviess county and in Union township before he occupied what is known as Splawn’s Ridge, still while he may have done so, Mr. Tetherow was not long behind him. Solomon Tetherow settled on section thirty-three, very near the line of section twenty-eight, and for sometime it was not known whether the section line would run north or south of him. After the survey it was found to be on. thirty-three. He was followed, a few weeks afterward, by William Bowman, who became the first sheriff of Daviess county, and the recipient of personal attention from a Gallatin mob, when it was learned the Mormon leaders had escaped. John Tarwater and his family, including Nancy, his wife, and young Nancy his daughter, came in 1833. This latter party came earlier to the county and claimed to have settled in the country near the Grand River, February 25, 1830, but their residence in Grand River township was early in 1833, and they settled on section fourteen. John Tarwater came from Tennessee. A son of Solomon Tetherow settled in Grundy county in 1834; John Martin and his wife came also in 1833. Adam Black came in 1834 and settled on the northeast corner of section thirty. Mr. Black was a prominent citizen in the early history of the county. He was county judge in 1838, and protested against the building of a courthouse at Gallatin on the ground that the county-seat question was not settled. Be was one of the signers to the petition for its removal, which was drawn up and circulated and presented to the County Court for action in 1840. The Lick Fork and Grindstone settlements were too much for those north of the river. John Roland came in the spring of 1835, and settled on section twenty-four. He was soon followed by Alfred Coots, who settled on section twenty-three; James Odell followed and also settled on section twenty-four, the same year. All of these settlers came from Tennessee.

There were some pretty hard times experienced by these early settlers. Communication with the outside world was not often. Their nearest post-office was in Richmond, Ray county, and it was sometimes two or three months before any one would go, or chance opportunity be given them, to get their scanty mail. If one man went he was generally mail carrier for the whole country round about, sometimes including a circuit of ten or fifteen miles. Then again the mill was at Richmond and another at Liberty, in Clay county, and both were patronized to a liberal extent considering the population. Pestle and mortars were used, and when a horse-mill sprang up a few years later at Millport, the joy of the settlers was unbounded.

The coonskin cap was the fashion, with buckskin breeches, vest and coat of the same material. There was one excellent thing to be recorded of the fashions in those early days. Each one could start a fashion of his or her own, and it would hold in style for ten, fifteen or twenty years. It did not make any difference to the young blood of those days whether he had a seam down the legs of his pants and spring bottoms, or whether he had a hip pocket. With the girls there was no goring or cutting bias and flounces running around and up and down; what they wanted was a dress, and if they got eight yards of goods they had it, and would not give a dime for lace trimmings or ribbons plaited all down the back and front; a neat ribbon-bow for the hair, and a lively vigorous beau for Sunday nights was about as much happiness as they cared for. Thus, there was no fretting about the latest styles or worrying over the texture of the goods. Buckskin, corduroy and jeans were for men’s wear; homespun, calico and gingham answered for the women; so each with their own idea of fashion settled the question of style.

It was as early as 1833 that Mrs. John Martin and Mrs. John Tarwater did weaving and spinning in Grand. River township, and it is not much a matter of doubt that these pioneer women of Daviess county, were the first to hear the whirr of the spinning-wheel and the click of the shuttle, in the county.

From the best information at hand or that can be found, it was Mrs. John Martin who taught the first school in the township. This was probably in 1835. First at her own home, and second in a deserted log cabin.

Nicholas Netherton settled in Grand River township in 1835 or 1836. John J. Netherton arrived September 30, 1836. Moses Netherton came in 1837 and settled, with Morgan Smith, on section twenty-one. The latter came direct from Tennessee. John Roland and James Odell sold their lands to the Mormons. Roland moved away from the county soon afterwards.

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2 thoughts on “The First Settlers of Grand River Missouri”

  1. This is great! I’m so enjoying reading the many pages of history on this site. Thanks for sharing Missouri history, and yes, I’ve subscribed.

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