Firsts of Jackson Township Missouri

It was in 1833 that the first white settler made his home in Jackson township. Robert J. Peniston, who first settled Millport, built a cabin within its limits. Daniel Girdner, who, like Peniston, came from Kentucky, John Oxford and Robert McHaney, all from the same State, were the oldest of these settlers who staked out claims in the township. Theodore Peniston, son of Robert, is at present the oldest settler now living. There was but little difference in the settlement of this township from the others. They had their trials and hardships to contend with, and they had to find a market for their peltry at the far-off town of Brunswick, on the Missouri River. Game was abundant and the marksmanship of the old settlers was proverbial. They wasted very little powder and lead, and when the bead was drawn and the sharp crack of the rifle heard, it was pretty certain death had claimed a victim. Wild meat was not only the provision of the family in that time, but it went a long way towards providing other necessaries. Deer-skins, venison-hams, wolf-skins and scalps, turkeys, etc., were cash articles, although pretty cheap, while wild honey was sold at ten cents per gallon. But this last was utilized in another way than “sweetening.” It was capable of being made into a very highly prized drink, and “Metheglin” was the mint julep of those early times, and proved a most delicious beverage.

So it will be seen that while the pioneer’s life was at times one of hardship and peril, at others he could discount the present day in the solid and liquid luxuries of life. All was not dark, but there shows forth many bright spots to cheer the way, and the silver lining to the clouds was often seen a rainbow of promise that while in youth they struggled, their old age should be blessed with plenty and serenity.

Among the early settlers came Dr. R. B. Ellis, a native of Vermont. He was the first practicing physician who settled in the township, and lived there several years. He finally moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

The Rev. Edgar French, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. was among the early preachers and held services at several of the settlers’ cabins, and at the old log school-house, near where is now Lock Springs.

So far as could be learned the first school was taught by a Mr. Puffer, on Peniston’s Ridge. He received the usual price of $1 per month, or $3 per term of three months, and 11 boarded “round.” It was on this same ridge that the first school-house was built of round logs and at a cost of some $15 to $20. It was rudely constructed, but served its purpose for many years, and there are quite a number now grown to manhood, and living within the township, whose boyhood days were closely intertwined with the memory of that log school-house, whose education was all received within its, to them, hallowed precincts.

Mrs. John Oxford did the early spinning and weaving, and was the owner of the first loom in the township.

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