Incidents in the History of Jefferson Missouri

The first census of Jefferson township of record is that taken by the government for the decade ending in 1860. At that time Jefferson township included the territory of Colfax, Liberty and Marion and was given at 2,084, (of whom 114 were blacks), a number just five greater than Grand River township, the next in size in the county. In 1870 Jefferson was shorn of her territory, the townships above named, and the census of that year gave her 1,059 of whom forty-one were colored-a little over half of the population of ten years before, but three-fourths of her area had been taken from her. The census of 1880 shows a population of 1,372 a gain of thirty per cent in the past -decade, which is four per cent greater than the average of the State. The assessed valuation of the township in 1877, the last year taken, was as follows:

Real estate $154,153
Personal property 76,629
Total $230,782

An Incident

An incident transpired in the early pioneer days of Anderson Smith, which came near being an accident and a serious one. Like all the pioneers of those days, Mr. Smith located on timbered land, and his cabin was, of course, on the bank of a creek, so that water would be handy. A rainy season had already swollen the streams and they were all nearly bank-full, when another storm set in and Mr. Smith was rudely awakened by the-rushing water and the drift-wood striking his cabin as it passed swiftly by. It soon became evident that the cabin must go, and there was no time to lose. The water was rising rapidly. Mrs. Smith was in bad health and very feeble, and Mr. Smith took her and his infant child upon his back and, wading in water in places waist-deep and keeping the drift-wood from striking him, with his hands, succeeded in reaching high ground. It was not altogether a pleasant night thus to pass, but they stood it. Such was only one of the very many perils and experiences of a pioneer life. Mr. Smith lived to a good old age and died, in the winter of 1877, on the farm where he first settled. There he had lived, rearing a family of four sturdy sons and three daughters, and there he died beloved by his family, respected by all. His wife still survives him and his children are all married and settled and well provided with this world’s goods.

Slightly Taken In

Impudence and cheek have been supposed by many to be peculiar institutions of these latter days of wickedness and sin, but the following incident will disabuse the mind of many as to the truthfulness of this impression. In 1838 and about the time the Mormons were getting in a good deal of nefarious work, stealing and pilfering, a party of three men mounted on fine horses rode up to the residence of Wiley Cope and enquired if there were any suspicious characters around, or if he bad seen any of those thieving Mormons. They, the horsemen, belonged to a band of vigilantes and were out on a hunt for some of the rascally crew of Mormons who had been committing a series of depredations through that country. Mr. Cope had not seen them, but gave the riders all the information he had on the subject and then invited the men into dinner, which offer was thankfully accepted after their long ride in search of the offenders. Mr. Cope and his wife gave them the best the cabin afforded and all the encouragement possible and a hearty wish that they might capture the Mormon scoundrels they were after, Mr. Cope giving energetic expression of his hate of the whole Mormon crew. They became quite at home, and after dinner one of the three took Mr. Cope aside and privately entertained him with the way they proposed to deal with the Mormon rascals when they had caught then. In less than a half hour they were gone. Perhaps an hour or two had passed when Anderson Smith came up and enquired of Mr. Cope if he had seen any Mormons around that day. Mr. Cope replied that he had not, but that a party of three Mormon-hunters had been at his house and took dinner, leaving soon after. On Mr. Cope describing the men, Mr. Smith replied that they were the very Mormons he was looking out for. Mr. Cope thought not, that in fact it could not be possible. These men were gentlemen and earnest in their desire to capture these very men Mr. Smith was after and that it wasn’t possible he could be so unmercifully duped. Smith suggested an examination of Mr. Cope’s premises to see if they had not left their marks, and sure enough there was an overcoat and several blankets missing and a few other articles, that made Mr. Cope almost swear he could see the biggest fool in Daviess county by just looking in a glass, and that in fact his hospitality had been lavished upon Mormons and not Mormon-hunters. While one had taken Mr. Cope confidentially to one side, a second had conveyed to his wife some important information of the Mormon’s doings while the third improved the opportunity by getting away with the articles aforesaid, and as soon as secured, had given the signal and all hastily left. The duped man admitted that he was angry enough to “Cope” with all three of the strangers, but admitted that Wiley was not “wily ” enough that time to save his property.


The only barbecue ever held in Daviess county, that any record is known of, was held way back in the year 1858, and it was on the 4th of July of that year. It was held at Alto Vista, the citizens of that little town exerting themselves to make it a success. It proved one in every particular, the people coming from miles around to take part in the celebration. The crowd present was estimated at two thousand, and was the largest gathering ever seen in the county, up to that time. Alto Vista crowned herself all over with glory on that natal day of national independence, and her patriotism became known far and wide. The leading spirits were M. M. McPhetridge, George A. Smith, T. B. Crowder, W. F. Richardson, and a few others whose names are forgotten. It was an immense boom for Alto Vista, and Victoria bowed her head and wept. Her rival was one ahead.

Ten Thousand Dollars Worth

Jefferson township was anxious that the iron-horse should have his steel laid track run through her territory, and on the 31st of August, 1871, proposed by a vote of her people to give $10,000 for the much coveted boon, but the road was surveyed through only a corner of the township, and so all her work came to naught. The amount of railroad track within the township is about two and one-fourth miles, in the southeastern corner, gunning principally through sections number thirty-six and thirty-five, and just barely touching sections twenty-five and thirty-four. But Winston is so near that it is only about seven miles to the station from the farthest portion of her territory, while nearly half of the township can reach freighting facilities by a travel of only three miles.

Back to: Daviess County

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top