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Contributed to this site by Charles McClure

This manuscript was given to my late older brother Glenn McClure
by: George Loughaid (deceased) date unknown.
George gave the Butler County History to Glenn in 1961
when Glenn was president of the Chamber of Commerce.
George and Glenn met frequently to discuss the Civil War,
this is why he gave the manuscript to Glenn.

Retyped for this site by: Josette Medlin
there are a few lines that may not make sense
as this is a manuscript with editing marks and notes.
It has been re-typed as is.

This manuascipt is property of the McClure family
Jamie McClure plans to donate the Butler County book
to the new Poplar Bluff Museum
located in the old Mark Twain elementary School House
in Poplar Bluff on Main Street. (Open Sundays 2:00-4:00)

If you enjoyed this manuscript,
take time to send Charles McClure a 'Thank You' note.
He supplies a great deal of material
to the Butler County Site. - Mary Hudson web master





               CHAPTER I

               Butler County was established in the year 1849 by a division of Wayne County.

               Probably there is an interesting story  concerning  the  reasons  and  the
               political maneuvering back of the formation of the new county.

               With the passage of over 100 years the arguments have been forgotten and we can
               only guess at the answers. After much thought and study we believe the
               isolation  of  the settlements in the southern part of Wayne County from the
               county seat  at  Greenville created most of the dissatisfactions leading to a
               division of the county.

               The main settlements in the  north  part  of  the  county  were  separated  from
               the settlements in the south part of the county by a rather wide belt of hilly,
               rocky and heavily forested country, not suitable for agriculture and
               consequently having only a few settlers.

               Furthermore there was very little contact or acquaintances between  the
               settlers  in the two areas. Most of the people who settled in the Butler County
               area prior to  the Civil War came from or through Kentucky or Tennessee.

               They crossed the Mississippi River by ferry at Cape Girardeau, then went  around
               the "Big Swamp," crossed the St. Francis River at the Indian Ford, continued
               west to  Big Black River, crossing that stream in the vicinity of Hendrickson.

               A few of them settled along Big Black River but more of them continued west  to
               Cane and Ten Mile creeks and Little Black  River.  They  then  fanned  out  to
               the  south occupying the valleys of those three streams and the gently rolling
               table  lands  in the central part of the present Butler County. Also some of the
               immigrants went  into the range of low sandy hills just west of the St. Francis
               River  and  named  the  Ash Hills.

               It was a long and wearing journey from  the  settlements  along  Cane  and  Ten
               Mile creeks, along Little Black River and in the Ash Hills, to Greenville. But
               no  matter how difficult and inconvenient or how long he  tried  to  put  it
               off  nearly  every citizen would sometime have to make a trip to the county

               From Brannum's Mill on Little Black River to Greenville must have been a  round
               trip of 80 or more miles. The so-called roads were  little  more  than  trails
               along  the hollows and ridges with ruts, chuck holes, rocks and stumps ever a

               In the summer there was dust and in winter mud. All of the streams had to  be
               forded as there were no bridges. When the settler just had to go to Greenville
               he had  three choices of transportation. He could go in  a  wagon  drawn  by
               horses  or  oxen,  by horseback or afoot. In good weather the trip must have
               taken two or three days and in bad weather with rain, mud and swollen streams,
               nearly a week. We cannot blame  these pioneers for agitating for a county seat
               near home.

               We have no information as to when the settlers in the  south  part  of  Wayne
               County commenced to urge a new a new county. Probably it was several years
               before 1849.  Did the citizens prepare a petition and  present  it  to  the
               General  Assembly?  Did  a committee go to Jefferson City and make a personal
               plea to the General Assembly?  Was there much opposition from the citizens of
               the  north  part  of  the  county  to  the division?

               It would be of Great interest to have the answers to these questions and also to
               know the names of the men who pressed for the new county.

               Chapter II                 THE FORMATION OF BUTLER COUNTY

               February 27, 1849, the General Assembly of the State  of  Missouri  approved  an
               Act creating a new county by dividing Wayne County. The Act went into affect
               immediately so the birth-date of butler County is February 27. The Act
               described  the  territory involved as follows, "All that portion of Wayne County
               now  lying  south  of  a  line beginning at the mouth of Black Mingo, on the
               line dividing the counties of Wayne and Stoddard, and running from thence due
               west till it strikes the line between Wayne and Ripley," was to form a new
               county. The north boundary was the only line which  needed to be described as
               the remainder of the boundary was determined by the  seat  by  the St. Francis
               River. At a later date some changes were made in the Butler-Ripley county line
               which established the Butler County boundaries as they are today.

               The General Assembly gave specific instructions to aid  the  new  county  in
               getting underway as a governmental unit in the State. The county was named
               "Butler" in  honor of William O. Butler, of Kentucky. John Stevens of  Cape
               Girardeau  County,  William Henly of  Stoddard  County  and  Martin  Sandlin  of
               Ripley  County  were  appointed commissioners, to select a permanent seat of
               government for the new residents of  the county as judges of the county court to
               serve until the general election in 1850  and until their successors were
               elected and qualified and he was  to  appoint  a  sheriff under the same terms.
               We quote directly the language concerning the meeting place  of the courts: "The
               circuit and county courts to be holden in said county, shall be held at the
               house  of  Thomas  Scott  until  the  permanent  seat  of  justice  shall  be
               established, or the county court shall otherwise  direct."  Instructions  were
               given concerning the cooperation of Wayne and Butler Counties in  existing  tax
               lists  and assessments and in the work of administrators, executors and
               guardians in cases which could now be transferred to Butler County.

               Justice of the peace who had been appointed by Wayne County were to continue to
               serve in their respective townships in Butler County. For the purpose of
               representation  in the General Assembly Butler County was attached to Wayne
               County. The county court and the circuit court were to appoint their own clerks.
               The next  item  contains  one  of those expressions over which we can smile a
               little. The county court was  to  appoint as assessor and "some competent
               person" as county surveyor. No emphasis was placed on the court clerks or the
               assessor being "competent."

               Reference: "Laws of Missouri, 15th General Assembly, 1848-49."

               We assume that "Black Mingo" was a tributary of the St. Francis River. Was it on
               the east side or the west side of that river? Does anyone know the source  of
               the  name, "Black Mingo"?

               Note: In 1849 Carter County had not been separated from Ripley County  so  the
               north line of Butler County extended in Ripley County.

               CHAPTER III               WILLIAM O. BUTLER, OF KENTUCKY

               To appreciate the rich history of our  county  we  need  to  know  something  of
               the biography of the man whose name our county bears. William Orlando Butler was
               one  of the most distinguished of the many distinguished sons of Kentucky. He
               was  of  Irish descent and of a family of great military prominence. In the
               Revolutionary  War  the five sons of Thomas Butler were so outstanding that
               General Washington gave a  toast: "To the Butler's and their five sons," and
               Lafayette  supplemented  with  :  "When  I wanted a thing well done I had a
               Butler do it." In 1748, Percival Butler, one of  the five sons of Thomas Butler,
               moved to Kentucky. There he married Mildred  Hawkins  and settled in Jessamine
               County where William O. Butler was born April 19, 1791.

               In 1796 Percival Butler moved to the mouth of Kentucky River,  establishing  a
               large estate near the town of Carrollton, once called Port William. On a  knoll
               above  the valley of the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers he built a large two room  log
               house  with  a runway between the two rooms. Here  young  William  grew  up.
               Later  as  the  family fortunes prospered a red brick house of eight rooms was
               built on a plateau higher  up on the knoll. The approach to the  brick  house
               is  by  a  long  tree  shaded  drive beginning near the south edge of Carrollton
               and continued south up the  gently  slope of the knoll. At the rear of the big
               house was a large kitchen  built  of  stone  and connected to the house by a
               covered passageway open at the  sides.  The  cooking  was done in a huge
               fireplace at the south end of the kitchen. The well was by the side of the
               kitched but has been filled as a safety measure. The house is  now  open  to
               the public during the day as a museum. It is furnished  in  authentic  furniture
               of  its period of his father, Percival Butler.

               William O. Butler graduated from Transylvania University in 1812 and  then
               commenced the study of law in Lexington, Kentucky, under the celebrated  Robert
               Wickliffe  but this was soon interrupted by the War of 1812. He  enlisted  as  a
               private,  went  to Michigan and was taken prisoner in the Battle of the River
               Raisin.  He  escaped  the massacre following this disaster to American arms.
               After much privation and suffering in prison camp in fort Niagara he was
               exchanged, made his way back  to  Kentucky  and was commissioned a captain. He
               recruited a  company  of  volunteers  and  joined  the forces of General Andrew
               Jackson. The troops under Captain Butler's command performed valiantly and
               successfully in the battles of Pensacola and New Orleans. From June 17, 1816 to
               May 31, 1817, he was aid de camp to General Jackson and  was  then  a  brevet
               major in military rank. The military genius of Major Butler was so  outstanding
               that General Jackson urged him to make the army his career and was very
               disappointed  when he resigned his commission May 31, 1817, to resume the study
               of law. Upon  completion of his law courses he returned to Carrollton where he
               established a  very  successful law practice.

               After the outbreak of the war against Mexico President Polk appointed  Mr.
               Butler  a major- general  or  volunteers  with  assignment  to  General
               Taylor's  command.  He campaigned vigorously, was second in command at the
               battle of Monterey and  was  with General Scott at the capture of Mexico City.
               On February 18, 1848, General Butler was appointed commander of all the American
               armies in Mexico which position he held until the treaty of peace was ratified
               May 28, 1848.

               During the Civil War period General Butler was a Union Democrat and worked  hard
               for the preservation of the Union, though now too old for military service. He
               was one of Kentucky's delegates to the  Washington  Peace  Congress  in
               February,  1861,  which conference was an attempt to avoid civil war.

               The military record of Butler gave him outstanding political  opportunities.  He
               was very active and very influential in the Democratic Party in his own state
               and in  the nation. In 1848 he was the nominee of the Democrats for vice
               president on the  ticket headed by Lewis Cass.

               We have considerable curiosity to why a new county in Missouri should  be  named
               for General Butler. We must guess at the reasons we do not have the arguments
               used in the General Assembly. First, General Butler, in 1849, was at the peak of
               his  popularity for his services in the war against Mexico. Second, many of the
               citizens of  Missouri had migrated from Kentucky and some of them were great
               political leaders in Missouri. We feel it was very natural for these
               Kentuckians, now Missourians, to wish to  honor a famous man of their former
               park near  Carrollton,  titled,  "General  Butler  State Park." The part
               includes land once a part of the famous  Butler  estate,  the  Butler home and
               the Butler family cemetery.

               August 6, 1880, General William O. Butler died, then in his ninetieth year,
               great  in service to his country as soldier, lawyer,  public  leader  and
               farmer.  The  Butler family cemetery, enclosed by a low wall of stone, is tucked
               away  in  a  tree  shaded glen not a far from the house. Here a modest headstone
               of  white  marble  bears  this inscription, "Maj. Gen. Wm. O. Butler, Born Apr.
               19, 1791. Died Aug. 6, 1880." By his side is a similar white stone inscribed,
               "Eliza A. Todd, Dau of Gen'1 Rob't  and  Ann Todd, Wife of Gen'l Wm. O. Butler.
               Born Jan. 22, 1796. Died Apr.  16,  1863."  A  few feet away is a marker for
               "Gen. Percival Butler, Son of  Thomas  butler  and  Eleanor Parker, His Wife, of
               Kilkenny Ireland. Born Apr. 4176. Died Sept. 9, 1821. He  was  a Captain of the
               Revolutionary Army and the last of the five gallant Butler's of the PA Line."*
               By his side is a stone for, " Mildred Hawkins, Wife of Gen'l P.  Butler,  Dau of
               John Hawkins and Mary Langford. His wife, of Virginia."  Nearby  is  a  stone
               for Major Thomas B. butler, a brother of William O. Butler.

               In this tiny cemetery fifteen headstones of white marble mark the resting
               places  of the Butlers and their kin by marriage, two of them generals and one a
               major. Quite  a historic place.

               We close our story of a great Kentuckian and a great American, William O.
               Butler,  in whose honor our county was named Butler. As citizens, all of us, we
               have every right to be proud of the heritage of patriotism and public  service
               bequeathed to us in the name of "Butler."

               *Percival Butler came to Kentucky from Pennsylvania.

               References: "Dictionary  of  American  Biography,"  and  a  leaflet  on  the
               Butlers distributed by the Kentucky State Park Board.


               Governor Austin A.  King  appointed  Solomon  Kittrell,  Jonathan  Sandlin  and
               John Stevenson as a members of the first county court. These  men  had,  of
               course,  been recommended to the Governor and we would assumer were among the
               most  successful  and influential men in the county. We have been unable to
               secure  any  information  about Sandlin and Stevenson but considerable
               information has been preserved on Kittrell. He was probably the wealthiest man
               in the county, owned and operated a  large  tract  of land on Cane Creek,
               operated a general store, a distillery and a  tanyard.  His  home was near Goose
               Creek just northeast of the crossing of  that  creek  by  Highway  60, about
               eleven miles west of Poplar Bluff. The Old Military Road was in  front  of  his

               Local government begins in Butler County with the first meeting of the County
               Court, June 18, 1849. Since this first session is a very important event in  our
               county  we quote in full the first paragraph of the  Court  Record,  as
               follows:  “Records  and proceedings of the County Court of Butler County in the
               State of  Missouri,  at  its, adjourned term begun and held at the house of
               Thomas Scott in  said  County,  on  the 18th day of June, in the year of our
               Lord one thousand eight hundred  and  forty-nine –present the Hon’l John
               Stevenson, Hon’l  Solomon  Kittrell  and  Hon’l  Jonathan  R. Sandlin, Justices
               of said Court.”  The  reference  to  the  session,  why  is  it  an “adjourned
               term” puzzles us. Since it is the first session, why is it  an  “adjourned
               term”? We believe the answer is in the first payment  allowed  to  the  Justices
               for their services. In the Act creating Butler County the General Assembly
               directed  that the first meeting of the court was to be the second Monday in
               May, 1849. On June  19, 181849, the second and last day of the term, the Court
               allowed Kittrell and Stevenson six dollars each for three days service and
               allowed Sandlin four dollars for two days services. From this payment we
               conclude that Kittrell and Stevenson met at the  house of Thomas Scott on the
               second Monday in May as directed by the General  Assembly  but in the absence of
               Samndlin refused to transact any business. They adjourned  to  June 18th but no
               minutes were kept, or if kept, were  never  transcribed  into  the  Court

               Jacob C. Blount was appointed Clerk of the Court. Evidently this was
               prearranged  as Blount was present and offered securities which were accepted.
               Blount  was  clerk  of the County Court and of the Circuit Court for a ten or
               more years and Also  performed other public duties when requested by the  County
               Court.  About  the  only  personal information we have about him is that he was
               a good joker and  was  “excellent  at  a social game of poker”.* John Stevenson
               was chosen President of the Court.

               The Court  then  recognized  that  Martin  Sandlin  of  Ripley  County,  one  of
               the Commissioners to select a site for the permanent seat of  government,  had
               “departed this life,” and appointed John F. Martin of Ripley County to fill the

               The next order of business was  the  appointment  of  officers  we  now  term
               school enumerators. Thomas R. Davis was appointed “to take the number of school
               children  in Black River Township”, and Gabriel Davis was appointed to  the
               same  duty  in  Otter Creek Township. These townships have been organized by
               Wayne County. The  enumeration was important as the permanent school funds of
               the  State  were  apportioned  to  the counties on the basis of the number of
               children enumerated. The  County  Court  could then loan the school monies to
               citizens of the county. Money was very scarce  so  any opportunity to secure
               money for use in the development  of  the  county  was  eagerly sought. The
               interest on the school loans could be used in support of  public  schools but
               there is no evidence that any public  schools  were  operated  in  Butler
               County before about 1870.

               The Court then  adjourned  with  the  following  statement,  “Where  upon  the
               Court adjourned to nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”

               The second day of the term, June 19th, the Court licensed Gabriel Davis to
               operate  a ferry to cross Big Black River on the road, “Leading from Brannum’s
               old mill  to  the Indian Ford on the St. Francis River.” We will give further
               discussion to this  ferry in a later article on early day ferries.

               We quote in full the next order of the Court. “John N. Yarber a justice of the
               peace in Otter Creek township is hereby appointed Road Justice in said township
               whose  duty it shall be to lay off into proper divisions all the roads in the
               said  township  and make report thereof to the next regular term of this
               Court.”  Thomas  R.  Davis  was appointed Road Justice in Black River township
               with the same duties as described  for Yarber.

               The Court then ordered that hereafter and until  otherwise  directed  the
               courts  of Butler County were to be held at Daniel Epps’ house. The sheriff was
               to advertise the change by putting up handbills at six of the most public places
               of  the  County.  The handbills and the typewriter had not been invented. No
               reason was given for show that Solomon Kittrell had married Lucy Epps, a
               daughter of Daniel Epps.

               The first account ordered paid by the Court was for $5.48 to Zenas Smith,  a
               pioneer merchant in Greenville, Missouri. The Court Record  does  not  name  the
               service  or merchandise covered in this account but we have a  strong  feeling
               it  was  for  the merchant’s account book used by the Court for its record  and
               possibly  some  office supplies. We have previously mentioned  the  fees
               allowed  the  Justices  for  their services. Newton Wallace was allowed three
               dollars for two days services as  sheriff. Wallace was the first sheriff of
               Butler County and had  been  appointed  by  Governor King.

               “Whereupon Court adjourned to Court in course to meet at Daniel Epps.

               *Quoted from “A View of a Growing Town” by Richard L. Metcalfe.

               CHAPTER V                   THE CIRCUIT COURT

               In the development of the United States the English tradition of rule by law
               closely followed the frontier. In Missouri the County was the unit  of  law
               enforcement  but since most counties did not have enough legal business to
               occupy the full time  of  a judge several counties were grouped together  by
               the  General  Assembly  to  form  a judicial circuit. Each circuit was presided
               over by a judge who “rode  the  circuit,” holding court in each county each term
               for as many days as the number of cases on the court docket required. It is not
               a mere figure of speech to say, “The judge rode  the circuit”. Sometimes he
               could use a carriage but usually he had to rid horseback  from county seat to
               county seat carrying with him whatever papers and  extra  clothing  he just had
               to have. The roads were poor, some of the larger streams could be crossed by
               ferry but she smaller streams had to be forded as there  were  only  a  few
               bridges. Eating and sleeping accommodations were almost nil, especially in the
               newer and  more remote counties. Carl Sandburg, in his great work on Abraham
               Lincoln,  “The  Prairie Years,” gives this description of “riding the circuit”,
               was a hard and  arduous  life for the judge and for the lawyers who also had to
               follow the circuit.

               Butler County was born into the Tenth Judicial Circuit as the parent county of
               Wayne belonged to that circuit when Butler County was organized in 1849. With
               the formation of Butler County the Tenth circuit included the following
               counties: New Madrid,  Cape Girardeau, Scott, Madison, Stoddard, Wayne, Ripley,
               Dunklin, Mississippi, and Butler. The circuit was larger in square  miles  than
               the  same  counties  now,  as  Carter, Pemiscot, Bollinger and Iron Counties
               were organized, all or part, from some  of  the counties once in the Tenth
               Circuit. The Judge of the circuit was, Harrison Hough, who lived in Wolf Island
               Township in Mississippi  County.  He  was  a  native  of  Hardin County,
               Kentucky, an able and successful lawyer, and very popular with  the  var  and
               with the people. In the Civil War struggle he was a Union man and was a member
               of the Peace Conference which met in Washington, D. C., February, 1861,  in  an
               attempt  to prevent civil war.

               In 1849 the General Assembly directed that the Courts of Butler County should
               meet at the house of Thomas Scott. We do not know the exact location of this
               house but it was near the present Cane Creek School, about ten miles west of
               Poplar Bluff, and was  on or near the Military Road, which made it accessible to
               most  people  having  business with the Courts. The first and only session of
               the Circuit  Court  at  the  house  of Thomas Scott was the September Term,
               September 15, 1849, with  Judge  Harrison  Hough presiding. Only two items of
               business were transacted by the Court during this  term. In the first item,
               Newton Wallace, the first sheriff of Butler County, presented  his bond which
               was approved.  His  bondsmen  were  John  Macom,  Samuel  Morrison,  Isaac
               Shipman, John Stevenson, Ephriam B. Keener and B. F. Hill.

               The second item of business resulted in the most  important  decision  ever
               made  in Butler County. John F. Martin and John Stevens, two of the
               Commissioners appointed by the General Assembly to select a site for the
               permanent seat of government,  appeared before the court, reported their
               selection of a site and gave its legal  description. The site chosen was about
               150 acres of uninhabited  wilderness  land  in  the  public domain on the banks
               of Big Black River  and  near  the  geographical  center  of  the county. The
               Court approved the report and ordered that so soon as title to the  tract could
               be secured from the United States it was to be the site of the  permanent  seat
               of government of Butler County.

               The court then adjourned with the following order: “Ordered that  the  Court  do
               now adjourn till Court in course.” (signed, H. Hough).

               Thus the brief and direct court order of September 15, 1849, approved a site for
               the county seat of Butler County by the drama, the romance, the human  interest
               and  the pioneer setting which surrounded the  Court  that  day  are  unrecorded
               and  can  be reconstructed only in the imagination. The house of Thomas Scott
               was probably  a  one room log cabin with the furnishings common to the
               frontier:  loom,  spinning  wheel, fireplace and handmade tables, chairs and
               beds. Here in this clearing  in  the  woods Judge Hough held Court one hundred
               and fifteen years ago. If the weather was fair, as is often the case in
               September, perhaps Court was held outside  the  cabin.  Was  the Judge provided
               with a chair or did he sit on a split log bench or possibly on  a  log or stump?
               Did he have a table, perhaps of split logs with legs cut from saplings?

               “Court Day” was always an excitement on the frontier. The trials and hearings
               were of great interest to the people as they concerned neighbors, friends and
               relatives. Also it was considered a great honor for the Judge to come into the
               community. When not on the bench the Judge shook hands, visited, made friends
               and brought news to  a  people starved for news. He was a man of stature from
               the outside world. What would he  give for an eye-witness account of this Court
               session on the banks  of  Cane  Creek?  What would be our thrills if we could
               see and hear  Sheriff  Wallace  calling  Court  into Session in this clearing in
               the forest, see the  Judge  taking  his  place,  see  the settlers standing or
               sitting wherever they could and then witness John F.  Martin  of Ripley County
               and John Stevens of Cape Girardeau County face  the  Court  and  report their
               decision for a site for the permanent seat of Government of Butler County? High
               drama, of course it was. It was the greatest decision ever to be made for the
               County. The citizens wanted a county seat, a place to go to transact their
               business with  the county government. Of course the site was  miles  from  the
               homes  of  most  of  the settlers, a place in the wilderness where Big Black
               River broke away from  the  hills and meanders southward through the vast and
               fertile delta lands  of  the  Mississippi River, a site still a part of the
               public  domain  because  it  was  so  isolated  and unattractive that a settler
               had never thought it worth claiming. On this day  destiny rode with Judge Hough,
               John F. Martin and John Stevens for on the site selected would one day be built
               a fine Court House for the business of the  County  and  beyond  the Court House
               in all directions would rise one of the fine cities of Missouri, by name, Poplar


               The first trials and the first juries in Circuit Court in Butler County were  in
               the second term of the Court, September 13, and 14, 1850, [“at the house of
               Thomas Scott”]. This second term was in the town of Poplar Bluff which had been
               born in the spring of 1950, and was the first termoof Circuit court to be held
               in the county seat of Butler County. The location of the house or building in
               which Court was held is not known to us but it had to be in a privately owned
               building as the first Court  House  was  not built until 1852. On the first day
               of this term, Judge  Hough  presiding,  the  court heard its first case in
               Butler County, an appeal from the justice of the Peace Court. The cause of
               dispute is not recorded.  The  case  was  dismissed  with  defendant  to recover
               his coats of the suit from the plaintiff.

               The first grand jury of Butler County reported its  findings  to  the  Court  on
               the second day of the term. The jury members were: W.R. Griffith, foreman;
               William  Hill, R.L. Brown, David Ellison, William Whittington,  Shelby  R.
               Rutherford,  Christopher Right, Lemuel L. Burgen, Exum C. Scott, Charles
               Applebay, James Craft,  and  John  L. Davis. The jury returned  nine
               indictments,  three  for  selling  liquor  without  a license, three for failing
               to work road, one for forgery. A  very  interesting  side-light on this grand
               jury is that it indicted one  of  its  own  members  for  selling liquor with
               out a license.

               The first jury trial in Circuit Court in the County was on the  second  day  of
               this term. The charge was “Failing to keep roads  in  repair.”  The  defendant
               was  found guilty and fined ten dollars. The jurors were: David Gower, Jacob
               Jones, G.W.  Young, Francis Whittington, Thomas Honeycutt, Eli Hillis, Robert
               Hillis,  Wm.  Sutton,  S.B. Kittrell, Wm. Crunk, T.C. Hasten and William
               Bledsoe, “twelve good and lawful men.”

               On the morning of the second day Court convened at  seven-thirty  o’clock.
               Evidently Judge Hough believed in early rising.

               *--Goodspeed’s History of Southeast Missouri gives the name of this juror  as
               Chris Wright.

               Note: Harrison Hough, first Circuit Court Judge in Butler County, died in 1864
               on his farm in Wolf Island Township, Mississippi County, Missouri.

               CHAPTER VII                SOME PROBLEMS OF THE NEW COUNTY

               On a June day in 1849 local government in Butler County started under the
               leadership of John Stevenson, Soloman Kittrell and Jonathan Sandlin, the  first
               judges  of  the County Court. June is usually an almost perfect month in Butler
               County but  that  was about the only really pleasant thing to encourage these
               officials on this opening day of Court. Problems beset them on every hand the
               population  was  small,  about  1500 people; men, women and children, about two
               persons per square mile, and this  slender population, true to the American
               pioneer tradition, was scattered  over  the  county, each family on its own
               farm. There was not a collection of houses any  place  in  the county which
               could be termed a village or town. There was not a bridge in the  county and the
               few roads were little more than trails through the wilderness. There  were  a
               few grist mills but not a saw mill. The treasury of the County was  absolutely
               empty and would remain so until some taxes were paid. County revenue for 1849
               was  $164.56. The county did not own a county seat site, hence could not build
               a  court  house  or found a county seat town.

               There was not a printing press in the county and it was to be twenty years
               before one was hauled in by ox team from Cape  Girardeau  and  newspaper
               started.  Twenty-three years would go by before a railroad would be built
               through  the  county  and  thirty-seven years before there was a bank the
               financial report of the county treasurer  was in this fashion: amount collected,
               amount expanded and balance “in  hand”.  And  that was exactly what the
               treasurer meant. The balance was “in his hand” for the Court  to see and count.
               Education was limited to subscription schools and as could be given in the home.
               A system of public schools was started about 1874.

               The economic life of the county was stern and hard. Of course the soil of  the
               newly cleared lands produced enough food for everyone and this was richly
               supplemented  by nature with a wide variety of games and fish but the settlers
               had very  little  money to buy things to ease the burden of the backbreaking
               labor necessary to provide food, clothing and shelter for the family. Surplus
               farm products were almost  worthless  as there was no way to get them to market.
               In the forests were millions of board feet of the finest hardwood timber in the
               world but money-wise it was  almost  worthless  and would remain so until
               adequate transportation could be developed. Actually it was  to be the year
               1880, more than thirty years after the founding  of  the  county,  before well
               financed companies came in to harvest the timber.  Tremendous  potential  wealth
               was almost seventy-five  years  before  drainage  and  flood  control  programs
               were developed enough to permit the profitable cultivation of these rich lands.

               [Insert:  A bank was organized. Before]

               The citizens wanted a county seat, a place to go to transact their business with
               the county government. Of course the site was  miles  from  the  homes  of  most
               of  the settlers a place in the wilderness where Big Black River broke away
               from  the  hills and meandered southward through the vast  and  fertile  delta
               lands  of  Mississippi River, a site still a part of the public  domain  because
               it  was  so  isolated  and unattractive that a settler had never thought it
               worth claiming.

               The pioneer settler was subjected to the chronic aches and pains of malaria
               fever. It was most prevalent in the swamp and overflow lands and along the
               streams but no  part of Butler County was entirely free from its ravages. In the
               year  1834  a  traveler, G.W. Featherstonhaugh, came through what is now Butler
               County. Fortunately for us  he published a book about his experiences. In early
               November, he  visited  Fredericktown and then continued to the south. We quote
               his comments on malaria fever in our  area; “From this mount in at the foot of
               which fragments of  galena  have  been  found,  we descended three miles to
               Greenville, a collection of  four  or  five  wooden  cabins, where the
               inhabitants die by inches of chills and fevers. It is  a  most  distressing
               thing to arrive at these settlements on the water-courses at this  season;  the
               poor people, feeble, emaciated, beginning to recover from the malaria  of  the
               county  to many of the persons whom I saw life seemed to be a burthen.”*

               The late Dr. J. Lee Harwell, in his delightful little book, “them Harwell’s,”
               relates the following incident: “My Grandfather, Edwin S. Harwell had been in
               Missouri  about a year when he got one of our Missouri chills.  Not  being
               familiar  with  them,  he decided to take exorcize to get warm. They say he ram
               about a mile, or until  he  got up a sweat, then went to bed and never got up.”
               (Edwin s. Harwell settled  in  Butler County in 1859.)

               It was to be well into the twentieth  century  before  the  scourge  of  malaria
               was removed from Butler County.

               Though the citizens of the new county faced many problems  they  had  a  trait
               which would cope with any problem. They had unlimited courage. With courage and
               bare  hands they went to work to work to found a county seat town, build  a
               court  house,  build bridges, cut roads through the wilderness, plan for a
               railroad, promote navigation on Black River, promote drainage and flood control
               and to  meet  and  solve  many  other problems, even to surviving civil war. The
               story of the work of such men  as  Solomen Kittrell, John Eudaley,  James  S.
               Ferguson,  James  W.  Morrow,  William  Vandover, Nathaniel W. Hendrickson,
               Phillip L. Varner, John N. Yarber and many  others,  is  an epic of public
               spirited self-sacrifice. For their long hours of  work  and  often  of great
               physical hardship in public duties they received very little  reward  in  money
               but they left the heritage of a solid foundation for the thriving  Butler
               County  of today. *--Journey Through The Slave States, by G.W. Featherstonhaugh,
               published  in London, England, in 1844.


               The locating of the county seat in a new county in Missouri was closely
               regulated  by law. In 1845 the General Assembly directed that the General
               Assembly  itself  should name three non-resident commissioners to select the
               site of  the  permanent  seat  of government of new counties as they were
               organized. The commissioners  could  not  own land in the new county. The site
               selected had to be approved by the Circuit Judge  of the judicial circuit in
               which the new county was located. Thus the citizens of a  new county were
               protected against selfish interests of people  who  might  seek  personal profit
               or advantage in the location of the county seat.

               The commissioners were required to hold a public hearing in the county, the date
               and place to be advertised in a newspaper published, or of general  circulation,
               in  the county and by notices posted in ten public places in the county. At this
               hearing  the citizens could express their views as to the best location of  the
               county  seat.  In selecting the site the law directed that due regard should  be
               given  to  situation, quality of the land, extent  of  population  and
               convenience  and  interest  of  the inhabitants. The Commissioners were to
               purchase the sit selected or accept a sit as a gift, secure a deed to the site
               and have the same recorded in the name of the county. If the site was purchased
               it must contain at least 50 acres and not over 150 acres.

               The Commissioners named for Butler County were John Stevens of Cape Girardeau
               County, William Henly of Stoddard County and Martin Sandlin  of  Ripley  County
               but  Sandlin died, so far as the records show, before the Commissioners met.
               June 18, 1849 he  was in Cape Girardeau County in the area to become a part  of
               Bollinger  County  on  its organization in 1851. He was the first post-master
               and a member of the  first  County Court in that County. John F. Martin too was
               a prominent farmer  and  landowner  near Oxly in Ripley county. He is buried in
               the Martin Cemetery south of  Oxly  and  about 200 feet west of the Military
               Roadd. His name is legible on the  gravestone  but  the dates of birth and death
               are indistinct.  We  have  no  biographical  information  on William Henley.

               The Act creating butler County directed the Commissioners to meet the first
               Monday in April, 1849, at the house of Thomas Scott. We have not found a record
               of the meetings of the Commissioners but we assume they met at Thomas  Scott’s
               house  and  sometime, someplace held a public hearing, as required by law. Since
               the County did not have  a newspaper we suppose the hearing was advertised  by
               notices  posted  in  ten  public places, though it may have had a notice in a
               St. Louis or  Cape  Girardeau  newspaper but this would have had every little
               circulation  in  Butler  County.  We  feel  the hearing was well advertised by
               word-of-mouth as the citizens must  have  been  keenly interested in the site of
               the county seat. We feel the hearing was well  attended  by the citizens,
               including the members of the County Court. We believe the Commissioners advised
               fully with the County Court on the best site.

               Whatever the deliberations, whatever the conflicts about where the county seat
               should be, the Commissioners were ready with a decision to report to  Judge
               Harrison  Hough when he convened the first  term  of  Circuit  Court  ever  held
               in  Butler  County, September 15, 1849, at the house of Thomas Scott. The site
               selected was the southeast fractional quarter of Section Three, Township Twenty-
               four North, Range  Six  East,  a little less than 150 acres and Government land
               or as many settlers  said,  “Congress” land. Judge Hough approved the report and
               ordered  that  the  site  was  to  be  the permanent seat of government for
               Butler County as soon as title was  secured  in  the name of the County.

               How well did the site meet the criteria stressed by the General Assembly in
               1845?  In “situation” and “quality” of the land”, the site was satisfactory. The
               situation  was near the geographical center of the County and the land was
               suitable for a town site. As for the third criterion, “extent of population,”
               the site simply did not  fit.  It was surrounded in all directions by an  almost
               uninhabited  wilderness  many  square miles in extent. Nearly all of the
               settlers lived to the  west  and  northwest,  from four or five miles to fifteen
               or more miles  from  the  proposed  county  seat  site. Evidently the fourth and
               last  criterion,  “the  convenience  and  interest  of  the inhabitants,” was
               the deciding factor in the selection. Why was a site chosen so  far from the
               homes of most of the settlers and so difficult of access to them?

               After careful study of the minutes of the Butler County Court we believe the
               decision was based on the fact  that  this  site  was  at  the  head  of
               possible  commercial navigation on Black River. This was the factor, “the
               convenience and interest of  the inhabitants,” that determined the site of
               present day Poplar Bluff. The civic leaders of the County realized it would be
               many years before they could secure a railroad  or a good wagon road to link the
               County  with  good  markets  but  they  knew  economic progress was impossible
               unless some kind of transportation could be  developed.  They hoped and believed
               that Black  River  could  be  opened  to  navigation  thus  giving commercial
               access to towns down river in Arkansas. We now have no way of  identifying by
               names the courageous and clear thinking pioneer settlers  who,  laying  aside
               the immediate convenience, looked ahead for a better future and insisted that
               the  county seat be located where Black River broke away from the hills, entered
               the lowlands  of the Mississippi River delta and might be developed into a
               navigable  stream.  Whoever they were, every citizen of Butler County today owes
               to them a deep debt of gratitude for their foresight and courage. We  cannot
               over  emphasize  that  passaged  a  city instead of a small town.

               Goddspeed’s History of Southeast Missouri, 850. We are indebted to Mr. C. A.
               “Check” Doherty, Doniphan, Mo. for research on John F. Martin.


               After the county seat site had been selected the next step was to secure title
               to it. Since it was government land there was one problem, money, or rather, the
               lack of it. The united States owned many millions of acres of land and was
               willing to see  it  to settlers many millions of acres of land and was willing
               to see it  to  settlers  very reasonably, one dollar and twenty-five cents per
               acre, but it had one firm  idea,  it wanted its money before title was given.
               Judge Hough had decreed that the County must have the title before the site was
               officially the county seat. The County  Court  did not have enough money to pay
               for the land, however, as was  characteristic  of  these pioneers, they
               resolutely went ahead with the resources  they  had,  including  large measures
               of faith and courage.

               Today Butler County is part of a “money” civilization. True, money often will
               not buy much but a person who considers himself poor will handle more dollars in
               a year  than many pioneers would have in a lifetime. Trade was carried on mostly
               by barter. A  man would give so many days of work for a fat pig, a horse  or  a
               cow  or  exchange  one article for another article. If he had a few furs he
               would trade them to  a  merchant for sugar, salt, coffee, cloth or other items
               he could not grow or make. It is almost impossible for us today to realize the
               full implication of the expression, “There was very little money,” or “Money was
               scarce.” A debt of one hundred dollars incurred  in the purchase of a parcel of
               land could be a burden on a man’s back for many years.

               Since the United States Government would not accept fat pigs, horses, cows or
               furs in payment for its land the Court had to enter into a series of  maneuvers
               to  get  the $180.65 needed. The first step was an action of desperation. We
               quote  the  order  of the Court, Nov. 13, 1849, “On Motion the court ordered
               that Obadiah Epps be appointed to receive the sum of ten dollars or more from
               any person who will advance  that  sum for the purpose of raising funds to pay
               for the lands selected for the permanent seat of Justice of the County of
               Butler—and that he obtain what shall be convenient by the fourth Monday of
               December next.” (Dec. 24, 1849)  The  Court  hoped  Mr.  Epps  could obtain up
               to $150.00. The loans were to bear ten percent  interest  and  were  to  be
               repaid out of the proceeds of the first lots sold in the town site.

               Mr. Epps had a difficult time in his task and was unable to borrow as much
               money  as was needed. From the Court  orders  authorizing  the  payment  of
               county  monies  we identify seven loans totaling $100.00 as follows: T.C.
               Cattron,  $10.00;  Simmons  R. Haviell, $20.00; John Casinger, $18.00; Allen
               McElmurry,  $10.00;  Johathan  Sandlin, $10.00; Kittrell & Ferguson, $22.00 and
               Dan Griffith, $10.00..

               On February 11, 1850, James S. Ferguson, County Treasurer, made his financial
               report to the Court as  follows:  Amounts  received,  $145.35;  Warrants
               issued,  $104..72; Balance, cash in his hands $40.63. The court then ordered
               that forty dollars of  this balance be used to help pay for the county seat
               site. This left a  balance  of  sixty three cents in the County Fund “in the
               hands” of James s. Ferguson.

               In the third and last action the Court entered  into  a  little  slight-of-hand.
               The State of Missouri had a “Road and Canal Fund,” which was annually
               distributed to  the counties as aid in the development of roads and canals.
               Butler  County  had  received its share for 1849. On May 14, 1850, the Court
               borrowed $45.00 from  this  fun,  “For the purpose of entering the County Seat
               and for laying out the  County  Seat.”  After five frustrating months the Court
               had $185.00, enough to pay for the site.

               The County Court records do not show the date the purchase money  was  given  to
               the Commissioner but we suppose it was soon after May 14, 1850, the  date  the
               fund  was completed. On October 24,  1850,  John  Stevens  and  John  F.
               Martin,  two  of  the Commissioners, executed a deed to Butler County to the
               site  which  we  have  already described, 144.52 acres for $180.65, which was
               one dollar and twenty-five  cents  per acre. The deed was recorded December 7,
               1850, by Jacob C. Blount, Recorder of  Butler County.

               The United States District Land Office  was  in  Jackson,  Missouri.  We  assume
               the Commissioners filed an entry in this office on the  land  selected  as  soon
               as  the decision was made by them. Otherwise the site would still have  been  in
               the  public domain and subject to entry by anyone wanting it. The transfer of
               the tract from  the United States of America to John Stevens and John F. Martin
               was completed December 1, 1851, the patent being signed by Millard fillmore,
               President. Finally  Butler  County had a legal home for its government.

               As time goes on we lose the memory of people who made history by doing their bit
               when needed. Obadiah Epps found only eight men who could or would advance money
               to buy the county seat sit. We wish to kindle anew some memories of these men
               so  that  we  may better appreciate their public spirit. Three of them were very
               young, three  were  in the prime of life, one well past the prime of life and
               one  was  not  a  resident  of Butler County so we have no information on his
               age or place of birth. The  seven  men who were residents of Butler County all
               lived in the Cane Creek and  Ten  Mile  Creek areas from ten to fifteen or more
               miles distant from the  proposed  count  residents, Jams S. Ferguson, was born
               in Missouri.

               T.C. Cattron we believe to have been Thomas C. Cattron, Clerk  of  the  Wayne
               County Court, and a resident of that County.

               Simmons R. Harviell was a young farmer, 23 years old, born in Illinois, with a
               young wife, Nancy, 20 years old, born in Missouri and a daughter, Elizabeth,
               eleven  months of age. In his household was Merit Haviell, 75 years old, born in
               North Carolina, and by trade, a cooper. Sim Haviell was to have  a  very
               substantial  career  in  Butler County. He was probate judge and a member of the
               county court. He entered business in Poplar Bluff and was very successful. He
               helped promote  the  building  of  the  Iron Mountain Railroad (now the Missouri
               Pacific) by agreeing  to  ship  timber  over  the railroad. Also he entered into
               a contract to keep a  supply  of  wood  ready  at  the railroad stations from
               DeSoto to the Arkansas  line  for  use  of  the  wood  burning locomotives used
               by the railroad. For his  unstinted  support  of  the  railroad  the Company
               named a station, “Harviell,” in his honor. He moved to Poplar Bluff and lived on
               Main Street at the present location of the Bank of Poplar Bluff.

               John Casinger was a young farmer who could not read or write. He was  22  years
               old, born in Kentucky and his young wife, Masse, 20 years old, was born in
               Missouri.  They had a son, William, one year of age. In  1849  he  was  one  of
               three  Commissioners appointed to mark out a road from Solomon Kittrell’s to
               Joseph Wilson’s on the County line. (Butler-Ripley line). This is all we know
               about John Casinger.

               Allen McElmurry was a farmer, 36 years old, born in Kentucky. In this house hold
               were Mary McElmurry, 54  years  old,  born  in  South  Carolina  and  Charlotte
               and  John McElmurry, ages 22 and 20 years respectively, born in Kentucky.  This
               completes  our information on Allen McElmurry.old, his wife Elizabeth, was 18
               years old and they had a son, Thomas, one year of age. In  addition  to  his
               mercantile  business  he  also operated a farm as at that time in Butler County
               it was almost impossible to  make  a living in a trade, business and public
               life. He was county treasure,  probate  judge, clerk of the county and circuit
               courts and performed many other  public  services  in his comparatively short
               life of aobut forty-four years. In 1858 he  moved  to  Poplar Bluff and the
               following years built the first frame house in Poplar Bluff. This house stands
               on the lot just south of the present Dunn  Hotel.  It  was  destroyed  by  the
               tornado of 1927.

               Finally we come to Obadiah Epps who, by horseback and by foot, sought out people
               who might be coaxed into advancing money to buy the county seat site.  Mr.  Epps
               was  38 years old, a native of Tennessee and a son of pioneer settler, Daniel
               Epps. His wife, Delila, was 34 years old and born in Tennessee. Six children
               were at  home,  Tabitha, Matilda, Newton, Absalom, Mary and Nancy, aged twelve
               to one year. Mr. Epps  was  the first Commissioner of the Town of Poplar Bluff
               but resigned March 18,  1850.  He  had heard the call of the plains of Texas
               where there  were  no  rocks  or  stumps.  Near McKinney, Texas, he purchased
               2,500 acres of land.


               The third and final chapter in the founding of  Poplar  Bluff  is  the  platting
               and naming of the town. The new town had to be under direct control of the
               County  Court as there was nothing in a wilderness site to incorporate.

               As soon as the County Court had assurance that a site had been selected it went
               ahead with plans for a town, even though the deed had not been received. The
               Act  of  1845 regulating the formation of new counties directed  the  County
               Court  to  appoint  a County Seat Commissioner in case a new town had  to  be
               organized.  Usually  he  was referred to as the “Town Commissioner.” The
               Commissioner was to direct  the  platting of the town, advertise the sale of
               lots, give title to lots sold and look  after  the business of the new town as
               directed by the Court.  He  was  to  furnish  a  bond  of $1500.00 for faithful
               performance of his duties.

               On December 24, 1849, Obadiah Epps was appointed  the  first  town
               Commissioner.  He resigned March 18, 1850, and migrated to Texas. On the same
               day the  Court  appointed John Eudaley to the position.  Mr.  Eudaley  was  to
               have  great  influence  in  the development of Butler County. Other positions
               and duties held  or  performed  by  him were, county assessor, township  school
               commissioner,  school  enumerator,  election judge, road overseer, agent to
               bring money from Jefferson  City  and  member  of  the County Court. His name
               appears as “Party of the first Part” in the transfer of  title to town lots from
               Butler County to private ownership during  the  time  he  was  Town
               Commissioner. He was then 39 years of age and was born in Virginia.

               In 1850 there were six children at home ranging in age from three to  fifteen
               years. Three of the children had been born in Tennessee and three  in  Missouri,
               indicating that the family had migrated to Missouri about 1840. By occupation he
               was  a  farmer and lived in the northwest part of the County near Cane  Creek
               about  fifteen  miles from Poplar Bluff.

               The Meeting of the County Court March 18, 1850, is very important  in  Butler
               County History as on this day the Court took official action to start a  County
               Seat  town. Since the flavor of our American English has changed after the
               passing of  more  than one hundred years we quote directly some of these early
               orders of the Court.

               First, the Court arranged for a survey of the town site  as  follows,  “Ordered
               that John Eudaley employ some competent persons to survey  and  lay  out  County
               Seat  of Butler according to a plat presented to the Court by John Stevenson.”
               John  Stevenson was President of the Court. This original plat has been lost. We
               cannot find the name of the surveyor in the records so cannot recognize him for
               his  part  in  our  local history. The second sstep was to order a sale of town
               lots as follows, “Ordered  that the Town Commissioner advertise the town  lots
               for  sale  at  Poplar  Bluff  on  the seventeenth day of May, 1850, and that he
               advertise said sale  as  extensive  as  his means will admit of by post bills,
               and it is further ordered that no lots be sold for less than five dollars, and
               it is further ordered that the said lots  be  sold  on  a credit of twelve
               months.” When the above orders were made the Court was in session at the house
               of Daniel Epps on the west side of Ten Mile Creek on the Old Military Road.

               The town site was not platted “square with the world”. The north-south  streets
               then as today, slant northeast and southwest such that they are parallel to
               Black  River. This brings adds emphasis to the thesis that the early civic
               leaders valued the  town lots near it to have especial value. The cross streets
               are at  right  angles  to  the river and to the north-south streets.

               Evidently an error was made in the survey of the northeast corner of the plat
               for  on Nov. 13, 1850, the Court made a correction order as follows, “Ordered
               that so much of the order of the Court heretofore respecting laying off the
               County  seat  of  Butler County upon the northeast fraction be rescinded and the
               Commissioner  refund  to  the purchasers their notes and money for the same.”
               The original  order  is  not  in  the minutes. The lots involved would be in
               Davidson’s Subdivision and  probably  explains why the lot numbers in the
               “Original Town” begin with Lot 7. Only fractional parts of Lots 7, 8, and 9 are
               in the “Original Town,” and no lots  are  numbered  one  through six. The tenor
               of the correction order indicates the Court may have tried to purchase part of
               the northeast quarter for part of the town site but failed to do so.

               The original site did not front on Black River. Consequently the County Court on
               Aug. 11, 1852, purchased from Jesse A. Gilley the fraction of  the  southwest
               quarter  of section two on the west side of the river and adjoining Poplar
               Bluff,  11.93  acres, for $50.00. Part of this was platted with the rest of the
               site and is a part  of  the “Original Town.” This purchase gave the county Court
               control of the entire right bank of Black River form the north boundary to the
               south boundary. Personally  we  believe the Court sometime in 1849 or early in
               1850 entered into an agreement with Mr. Gilley whereby he was to enter this
               tract from the public lands and then transfer it to  the County. The fact that
               portions of the tract were platted as  part  of  the  “Original Town” prior to
               the sale of lots May 17, 1850, supports this view. The court could not make the
               entry directly as the total site would then have exceeded the legal limit of 150
               acres for a purchased site.

               The “Original Town” is bounded on the west by Eight  Street  on  the  east  by
               Black River, on the south by Henderson Avenue and on the north by the  north
               line  of  the southeast quarter extended to Black River. About two blocks of Elm
               Street are in  the “Original Town”. The portion of the County Seat site south of
               Henderson Avenue is not a part of the “Original Town.” On May 13, 1851, the
               Court ordered the Commissioner to sell at public auction on the second Monday of
               August next, all the land of the  site lying east of Black River, 4.34 acres.
               This is overflow land in the bend of the river south of the “Original Town.”

               No report on the sale of lots May 17, 1850, is recorded. The honor of being the
               first recorded purchaser of a town lot belongs to C.B. Arnold for Lot 11, for
               $9.75,  cash. The transfer is dated May 18, 1850, the day after the public sale
               so  we  assume  the lot was purchased in the auction. The next deeds were made
               Aug. 12, 1850, Lot 19  for $35.00 to Solomon Kittrell and James S. Ferguson and
               Lots 13, 18, 23, and 28 to David Humphreys for $35.00. The next transfer is Nov.
               13  1851,  Lots  39  to  Charles  S. Henderson for $20.50. the sale of lots
               moved very slowly. The above  lots  are  about one-fourth acre in size.

               We assume the County Court selected or approved the Name, Poplar Bluff, for  the
               new town but a formal order to that affect was never entered in the records.
               Consequently we do not have the date on which the town was named nor do we have
               any information on other names, if any, were suggested. The first written record
               of the town’s  name  is in the County Court minutes March  18,  1850,  as
               follow,  “Ordered  that  the  Town Commissioner advertises the town lots for
               sale at Poplar Bluff.” The  origin  of  the name “Poplar Bluff” is well
               established and gives our town a unique  and  distinctive personality.

               The first hunters, trades and settlers to see our present town site cam upon a
               stand of huge tulip poplar trees growing along the east face of the Bluff  along
               the  west side of Black River. The tulip poplar is one of the largest, one of
               the  tallest  and one of the most inspiringly magnificent trees of the American
               eastern  forest.  When growing in forest conditions it reaches great heights.
               There are claims that  in  the Alleghenies there were poplar trees 150 to 190
               feet tall and ten  feet  in  diameter. Our Missouri specimens were probably not
               that large but they  did  reach  magnificent proportions. The trunk of this tree
               in a forest is free of limbs to  a  great  height giving it the appearance of a
               tall, straight column. Its leaves are large, dark green and in spring the tulip
               shaped  flowers  are  orange  yellow  and  very  striking  in appearance. The
               tree is not a poplar but botanically  a  magnolia,  the  Liriodendron

               The appearance of these tell columnar trees along this stretch of Black River
               was  so impressive that the early visitors used it as a descriptive reference or
               place  name, calling it “The Poplar Bluff.” Before the county seat site was
               selected  the  County Court heard a petition for a road toward Greenville,
               “commencing on the east bank  of Black River at opposite the Poplar Bluff.
               “Unfortunately the  extent  of  the  poplar grove is not now known. We believe
               it commenced near Municipal Light and Water  Plant and extended down to near the
               present Missouri Pacific Passenger

               Station. With such a natural phenomenon at hand and already named there probably
               was very little opposition to naming the town “Poplar Bluff”.

               Note: We are indebted to Mr. Frank Hearne, Poplar Bluff, for  bontanical
               inform-ation on the tulip poplar.

               CHAPTER XI                A SUCCESSFUL PIONEER SETTLER

               There is recorded on page 2, Book A, deed Record of  Butler  County,  a
               contract  in which Thomas R. Davis sold his improvement and most of his
               possessions to be a  James Kelley of Arkansas. Mr. Davis sold out, “Lock, stock,
               and barrel,” or “Hair, hide and tallow,” take your pick of two long-age
               expressions meaning  a  complete  break  with things as they were.

               Thomas R. Davis was a successful man, By hard work, thrift and good management
               he and his family were living well. Today we would speak of such a man as “well
               to do,”  but in the light of his times we like the term, “Well heeled,” now in
               disrepute, implying “loaded with money,” but a hundred or so years ago it
               complimented a man. In the fall of the year the provident farmer “heeled-in”
               apples,  potatoes,  turnips  and  other vegetables by covering them with straw
               or hay. It was a form of storage and, if  well done, protected the fruits and
               vegetables against freezing throughout the  winter  or until used. Hence the
               “well healed” citizen accumulated, stored or gathered  together enough useful
               things that he and his family lived in the comfort  of  the  times.  He always
               had something on hand for his family to eat, meal in the  barrel,  apples  and
               vegetables “heeled-in” or stored  in  a  cave  or  cellar,  hams  and  bacon  in
               the smokehouse, a cow giving milk, or dried fruits and vegetables and other
               items to make life more livable. We humbly tip our hat to the “well heeled”
               settler for he  was  of the stuff that made civilization.

               This document is now 115 years old and has a personality of its own. Any
               attempt  on our part to discuss it piece by piece would detract from its
               interest. It is  a  fine example of the simplicity of English language by people
               who did not use big words and long phrases. We quote it in full, taking liberty
               only to add  some  punctuation  for greater clarity. The early scribes used
               commas and periods sparingly.  We  leave  the spelling as is. Sometimes it may
               be a trifle original but  it  may  also  be  in  the accepted custom of its

               “State of Missouri, County of Butler. Know all men by these presents that  I,
               Thomas R. Davis, of the County of Butler and State of Missouri,  have  this  day
               bargained, sold and delivered unto James Kelley of Randolph, State of Arkansas,
               for the  sum  of three hundred fifty dollars, to him in hand paid, the  receipt
               of  which  is  hereby acknowledged, the following described property, to wit:
               one improvement on which  the said Davis now resides, lying and being in Butler
               County and State of Missouri on Ten Mile Creek, containing something like twenty
               five acres of cleared land, four head of horses (to wit) Kit, Fly, Pedlar and
               Jerry, ten head of cattle, eleven head of sheep, six hundred pounds of bacon,
               twelve head of geese, three ploughs and clevises,  three pare of geers, two
               axes, 1 smooth board gun,  one  cupboard  with  all  the  cupboard furniture,
               four beds with their bedding and bedsteads, one falling  leaf  table,  one
               square table, one side saddle, one more saddle,  one  loom,  two  wheels,  one
               reel, twelve chairs, one clock, twenty head of  hogs,  fifteen  bushels  of
               corn  at  Levi Carpenter, what corn is at this time in the crib, six  bushels
               of  wheat,  with  all other house hold and kitchen furniture which he, the said
               Davis,  may  at  this  time possess. Also a debt, nine dollars and forty eight
               cents, due by James Frank to  said Davis to be paid in work when called for. In
               witness whereof I, the above named Thos. R. Davis, have hereunto set my hand and
               affixed my  seal  this  16th  day  of  March, 1850.” (singed, Thos. R. Davis),
               Attest: Newton Wallace, Obadiah  Epps,  E.C.  Scott. Filed for record March 18,

               A considerable number of the pioneer settlers did not take title to the land on
               which they lived. If they decided to leave they sold their “improvements”,
               which  included fences, buildings and whatever land had been cleared for
               cultivation.  This  practice seems strange to us now but it was based on the
               realities of pioneer life. The United States District Land Office was at
               Jackson, Missouri, a hard and  wearisome  trip  of 200 or more miles to file
               claim on a tract of land. The set price  of  the  land  was one-dollar and
               twenty-five cents per acre, fifty dollars per forty acres. Many of the settlers
               might take several years to save that much money to complete  title  to  the
               land. Some of the settlers arrived before the land  was  surveyed  so  had  no
               legal description to  the  land  on  which  they  lived.  Also  land  was
               plentiful.  Most prospective settlers respected an “improvement” and kept going
               till  they  found  an unoccupied tract to their liking. In fact we feel that
               anyone tired of  living  could quickly end it all by attempting to run a settler
               away from his “improvement.”

               We note the clevises were specifically mentioned as belonging with the plows.
               Without them the plows would not have been of much use. Also we have to
               meditate  about  the “six bushels of Wheat.” A modern combine would  thresh
               that  much  wheat  in  a  few minutes. In 1850 it represented many hours of hand
               labor. After the wheat  was  grown it was cut by a cradle or scythe or possibly
               a hand hook, as in Biblical times.  Then the grains were broken loose from the
               heads by beating them with a flail. Finally the grain was separated from the
               straw and chaff by tossing it into  the  air  until  the wind had blown the
               trash away.

               Yes, Mr. Davis and his family had bacon and hams, milk and butter goose feathers
               for bedding, wool for clothing and wheat for wheat bread to relieve  the
               monotony  of  a steady diet of corn bread. He had livestock, farming  tools,
               household  and  kitchen furniture beyond the ordinary in a pioneer home.

               Where did Mr. Davis go? We wish we knew more about him and his  family.  On
               November 13, 1849, the County Court appointed him assessor for the county. On
               March 18,  1850, the same day his property sale was filed for record, he
               resigned from office. In  the 1850 census a “Thomas Davis” is enumerated,
               possibly the same as Thomas R. Davis  but of this we cannot be certain. Thomas
               Davis was then 42 years old, born  in  Virginia, his wife, Ruth, was 32 years
               old and born in Missouri.  There  were  three  children, James 13, Sarah 10 and
               John 7, all born in  Missouri.  In  his  household  also  were Samuel Howe, age
               50, born in Pennsylvania, a tanner by trade, and Mary Wills, age  18 and born in

               Anyway, Thomas R. Davis vanished from Butler County. It is interesting to  note
               that zero wagons are listed in the items sold to James Kelley. Possibly Mr.
               Davis kept his wagons and enough horses to move westward, maybe to Texas or even
               to the call of gold in California. Wherever he again settled we are sure a
               community gained a  worthwhile citizen.

               Also we have searched forty years of the deed records of Butler County but
               failed  to find a transfer of land from James Kelley so do not know the location
               of that twenty-five acres of cleared land on Ten Mile Creek. From  the  position
               of  names  in  the census we believe Mr. Davis was a neighbor of Simmons R.
               Harviell  and  Martin  Epps, near the crossing of Ten Mile Creek by present
               Highway TT.


               Butler County has had only one county seat site, the Town of Poplar  Bluff.
               Although the Courts met for several months in the private homes of  Thomas
               Scott  and  Daniel Epps it is incorrect to refer to these homes as the “County
               Seat” of  Butler  County. There were only temporary meeting places for the
               Courts until  a  permanent  seat  of Government could be established. Until this
               was done the  county  officials  did  not have any place which could be
               considered “home for the business of county government.

               The first step toward a government home was made August 13, 1850,  by  the
               following Court order, “Ordered that the sum of two hundred dollars  be
               appropriated  for  the purpose of building a court house in Town of Poplar
               Bluff”. This was the last meeting of the Court at the house of Daniel Epps as on
               the same day the Court ordered,  “that the Courts of Butler County hereafter be
               held at Poplar Bluff”, and “That the Sheriff advertise the removal of the Court
               by three hand bills”. The transfer  of  the  Court sessions to the County Seat
               was probably made as soon as a building had been  erected in the new Town of
               Poplar Bluff in which the Courts could be  housed.  It  should  be remembered
               that  the  site  selected  for  the  County  Seat  was  uninhabited  and,
               presumably, did not have any buildings until after the initial sale of lots, May
               17, 1850.

               The minutes of the County Court do not mention the meeting places of  the
               Courts  in Poplar Bluff before the Court House was completed. The  earliest
               printed  record  we have found on the subject is a booklet titled “A view of a
               Growing town”, written  by Richard L. Metcalfe and published in 1884. Here is
               Mr. Metcalfe’s description of  the first County Court meeting  in  Poplar
               Bluff,,  “Accordingly  on  the  11th  day  of November,1850, Sheriff Newton
               Wallace mounted a stump on the river bank, near the old bridge, and with
               customary “Oh yea, Oh yea”, ushered  the  few  spectators  into  the presence of
               the first County Court held in Poplar  Bluff,  the  bench  of  which  was
               occupied by Abraham Romine, presiding justice, John N Yarber  and  William
               Vandover, associate justices. Jacob C. Blount was Clerk of the Court.  Judges
               Yarber,  Romine, and Vandover had been elected to office in the month of August,
               1850.  On  this  day Court was held in a rail pen or shed on the bank of black
               River near the foot of what is now known as Vine Street.” The utter
               primitiveness of the  situation  in  1850  is made clearer by quoting Mr.
               MetCalfe’s description  of  the  site  at  the  time,  as follows, “The county
               had been organized but a short time, and at the date we write of “the place
               known and designated as Poplar Bluff” was but “a lodge in the wilderness,” where
               the pioneer hand had laid low a tree here and there and  erected  a  cabin.  At
               that time Poplar Bluff was simply the name of a  certain  section  of
               wilderness  so named by virtue of the large growth of poplar timber on  the
               place  which  presented then as it does now, the appearance of bluff from a
               river view.” In  another  section of his narrative Metcalfe makes this statement
               about Poplar Bluff  during  the  Civil War, “There can be nothing told of the
               place at that time more than it was a  perfect forest with only a few tees
               cleared here and there.”

               Judge D.B. Deem in his History of Butler County states that the County Court met
               for a time in a small log building on the northeast corner of the public square.
               Metcalfe give the following picture of the first grand jury system in Poplar
               Bluff was made in the year 1850,when twelve men “all loyal and true,” assembled
               here, and  being  sworn in by Judge Hough, were marshaled by Sheriff Wallace to
               pen made of joists  from  the house in which,*- on a spot of woods, which would
               now be designated as the  northeast corner of the public square. Into this pen
               the grand jurors climbed and  when  seated in the interior on boxes and
               miscellaneous logs, presented a  more  intelligent  then dignified appearance.”
               Probably Deem and Metcalfe refer to  the  same  building.  Mr. Deem was more
               charitable in describing a crude building that  was  Mr.  Metcalfe.  In regard
               to the Circuit Court in Poplar bluff Metcalfe states that  “Judge  Hough  held
               Court in a house opposite ‘opposite the Courthouse square which stands  today
               (1884) and is conspicuous for its large rock chimney.” Which  direction  was
               ‘opposite  the Courthouse square’? Also, was the building on the  northeast
               corner  of  the  Public Square a “squatter’s building” or had it been built by
               order of the County Court? The Court minutes do not mention this building.

               Apparently the Courts met in more than one building and the County Court and
               Circuit Court did not necessarily use the same building. Only one clue is in the
               County Court minutes as to the ownership of at least one of the buildings used
               by the

               Courts. On November 13, 1850, Charles S.  Henderson  was  allowed  five  dollars
               for “house rent”.

               The County Court appointed Jesse A. Gilley to plan the Courthouse and to
               superintend its construction. November 12, 1850, Mr. Gilley presented a plan
               which was  accepted. The next day the Court ordered him to “let out the Court
               House  on  the  1st  day  of December adjourned term, to the lowest bidder,” and
               “advertise the  letting  in  each Township in the County.” December 16, 1850, he
               Court  appointed  Phillip  L.  Varner, “superintendent for building the Court
               House.” He was to give bond  for  $500.00  for the faithful performance of his
               duties. No explanation is given for the  displacement of Mr. Gilley but it was
               probably due to his appointment as County Treasurer. He  was to turn over to
               Varner all the books and moneys pertaining to the office.

               To date we have not found a photograph of description of the  first  Courthouse.
               But Judge Deem and Metcalfe state that it was a small frame  building  on  the
               southeast corner of the Public Square. Metcalfe states that it was a one room
               building  but  on February 10, 1852, the Court appropriated six dollars to build
               a  “petition”  in  the south room, indicating at least two rooms in the
               building. In the original  plan  the intent may have been is use wide boards for
               siding and to cover  the  cracks  between boards with wood strips and to finish
               the interior with unmatched  lumber.  Thus  the building would have had to
               appearance of a shed or granary as used on farms. Whatever the original plan had
               been the Court made a change on May 16, 1851, providing for the building to
               weather-boarded on the outside and finished on  the  inside  as  follows,
               “Ordered that there be an appropriation made of fifty four and a half dollars
               for the purpose of weatherboarding court house with plank and sealing same with
               plank with is to be dressed and put on in workman style and said weatherboarding
               is to be 6  inches wide, ¾ of an inch thick, show five inches to the weather,
               and dressed.  The  sealing is to be of plank ¾ of an inch thick, tongued and
               grooved  and  put  on  in  workman style. Petition is to be made out of inch
               plank when dressed and tongued and  grooved and all of said plank is to be of
               good sound cypress and is to be sealed over head in same way and out of same

               Thus the new County was coming up in the  work,  was  acquiring  status.  A
               building constructed of dressed weatherboarding and sealed on the interior  with
               dressed  and match lumber made a much better appearance than if made of
               unmatched  and  undressed boards. The pioneer citizens of Butler County  could
               now  be  proud  of  their  neat appearing little Courthouse.

               Seemingly there was no beating of drums, no speeches of dedication when the
               building was finished. The County Court simply moved in and did not think it
               necessary to note the date in the Court minutes. From such information as  we
               can  piece  together  we believe the building was occupied during  the  summer
               of  1852.  To  the  interested citizen of today we suggest that he go to the
               Public Square, look  at  the  southeast corner, the close his eyes and see in
               imagination a  small  weatherboarded  building, the Courthouse of more than one
               hundred years ago.

               *--Here a phrase seems to have been omitted in printing Metcalfe’s narrative.

               Note: References to Deem and to Metcalfe refer respectively  to  “History  of
               Butler County” by D.B. Deem and to “A view of a Growing town” by Richard L.


               The total cost of the framed Courthouse  is  unknown  to  us.  The  only
               information available is the original appropriation of two hundred dollars when
               it was decided to weatherboard the building and to finish the interior with
               matched and dressed lumber, a total of $254.50. The Court minutes do not contain
               a record  of  the  expenditures. Since there was not a bank in the community all
               money had to be carried “in hand”  or “in pocket.” Apparently the money
               appropriated for a specific purpose was given  into the “hands” of the person
               appointed by the Court to supervise the project. Bills were paid directly in
               cash. Any money left over after the completion of  the  project  was returned to
               the County Treasurer who reported it as money charged  to  him.  Probably the
               supervisor of the project made a verbal or written report of expenditures to
               the Court but such reports  were  not  entered  in  the  minutes.  After  all,
               life  and conditions were simple and uncomplicated. Everyone concerned knew that
               was  going  on so why enter into the records information which already was
               known. When a scribe  was written with a quill he was inclined to be sparing
               with words.

               The name of the contractor who built the building is not in the minutes so we
               cannot give him credit for his part in the history of  our  County.  Neither  is
               there  any record that the building ever was painted.

               The furnishings of the new Courthouse were few and simple. The Court appointed
               Jesse A. Gilley “to procure for the County twelve chairs and a table twelve feet
               long and a desk, to have at least twelve pigeon holes in it, and the said Jesse
               A. Gilley is  to be paid for the above articles out of the County treasury of
               Butler  County.  Phillip L. Varner was appointed to supervise the construction
               of a judges bench and  bar  and tables in the Courthouse. The cost of the
               furniture secured by Mr. Gilley and

               Mr. Varner is not recorded. The Court appropriated forty dollars for the
               purchase  of two stoves, and appointed Daniel L. Jennings, a young attorney who
               had recently  come to Poplar Bluff, to supervise this purchase. (The purchase of
               two stoves  is  another indication that the Courthouse had two rooms). Finally
               on December 4, 1855, the Court ordered Mr. H. H. Bedford, an attorney of
               Bloomfield, Missouri, to contract  for  the making of a “bookcase suitable for
               preserving the books and records belonging to this County.” The cost of this
               book case cannot be identified in the Court records.

               The frame Courthouse remained on the Public Square  until  1867.  By  that  date
               the second Courthouse, a brick structure, had been completed. On January  24,
               1867,  the Court made the following order, “Sheriff sell for cash the old Court
               House,  February 1, 1867, advertise same by five written hand bills, cash in
               hand, house to be removed from Public Square in 20 days from date of sale.” On
               May 6, 1867, the Sheriff,  James F. Tubb, reported receipt of $56.00 for sale of
               old Court  House  for  which  he  was allowed a fee of three dollars. Apparently
               Benjamin R. Moore was the purchaser for on May 8, 1867, the Court, in
               considerable annoyance because the building had  not  been removed, ordered as
               follows, “Benjamin R. Moore, failing  to  move  old  Court  House ordered to do
               so within 30 days, and  if  not  Sheriff  to  remove  same  at  Moore’s

               Richard L. Metcalfe, in “A View of A Growing Town” states that the  old  Court
               House was torn down and the lumber was used in building a frame residence on the
               corner  of Sixth and Vine Streets, owned in 1884 by Mrs. E. C. Biggers purchased
               the  west  one-half of the above lot. We conclude that Mr. Moore used  the  old
               Courthouse  in  the construction of a residence building on  the  southeast
               corner  of  Sixth  and  Vine Streets.

               Note: The Butler County Historical Society desires  more  information  on  the
               first Courthouse. If anyone remembers seeing a photograph of the  building  or
               hearing  an “old-timer” describe it, please tell us about it.


               The ferry was a great boon and convenience to the settler and  traveler  in
               crossing the larger streams. Without a ferry the larger streams had to be
               crossed  at  a  ford where the water was shallow enough for horses and oxen to
               wade across. In dry weather this could be done readily enough but if the streams
               were swollen by heavy rains  the crossing was hazardous and  sometimes
               impossible,  entailing  a  delay,  perhaps  of several days, until the flood
               waters receded. Under the  tediousness  of  waiting  in camp there always was a
               temptation to attempt a crossing while the water was too deep and too swift for
               safety. The attempt could end in disaster, the wagon

               being swept downstream with  the  loss  of  precious  food,  supplies  and
               equipment destined for the new home in the wilderness.

               In the new communities enterprising men were quick to  establish  ferries  where
               the immigrants were moving westward. Sometimes the location of a  suitable
               place  for  a ferry determined the course of the trail or road. The tolls
               charged for  crossing  on the ferry were a source of “cash” money to the ferry
               owner in a time when  money  was very scarce.

               In Missouri the establishment and operation of ferries  was  regulated  by  law.
               The County Court had power to issue a license to a ferry operator and fix  the
               tolls  he could charge. Thus the County Court could and did protect the settlers
               and  travelers against unreasonably high charges by an avaricious ferry owner.
               It  is  probably  now impossible to determine the location of the first ferry in
               the present Butler  County and the name of the first ferryman. Prior to 1849,
               the ferries in  our  County  would have been licensed by the County Court of
               Wayne County.  Unfortunately  Wayne  County lost all of its early records when
               the Court House burned many years ago. Since there had been settlements in
               Butler County thirty years before the County was organized we believe it very
               probable that the Wayne County Court  had  licensed  ferries  in  the area.

               The first record of a ferry in Butler County is in a County Court order on  June
               19, 1849, the second day of the first session of the County Court, at the house
               of Thomas Scott. The Court licensed Gabriel Davis to operate a ferry across
               Black  River.  The Court order tells the story better than we can retell it so
               we quote it  in  full  as follows, “On the application of Gabriel Davis to keep
               a ferry at the crossing of  the Big Black River leading from Brannums old mill
               to the Indian Ford on the St.  Francis River and the Court being satisfied he is
               a competent person to keep such a ferry and that it is not probably that much
               profit will arise from  such  a  ferry,  the  Court therefore order that a
               license be granted him to keep such a ferry ffor one year  and that no tax be
               levied upon him as such ferryman and that he be allowed to  charge  at the
               following rates to wit:

               For a 6 horse mule or ox team and wagon……………   .75

               For a 4 horse mule or ox team and wagon……………   .65

               For a 2 horse mule of ox team and wagon……………   .50

               For a man and horse…………………………………..   .10

               For a single man or horse or cow beast……………….   .05

               Whereupon the said Gabriel Davis presents his bond as such ferryman  with
               securities which bond the Court approves of and order to be filed.”

               Brannum’s Mill was on Little Black River, now a place named, Ball’s Mill, The
               Indian Ford was near the present crossing of the St. Francis River by the
               Frisco  Railroad. Gabriel Davis owned a tract of land on Black River about one
               mile  northeast  of  the present crossing of Palmer Slough by Highway 60. We
               believe this land was the site of his ferry.

               The tract is in an almost direct line between Brannum’s Mill and the Indian
               Ford. The road between these points is referred to in the County Court  records
               as  the  “Road from Brannums old mill to the Indian ford on the St. Francis
               River.” The last renewal of a ferry license to Gabriel Davis was March 6, 1856.

               On November 13, 1849, the Court licensed Joseph Lawhorn  “to  keep  a  ferry  at
               the crossing of the State road on Black River leading from Jackson, Mo.,  to
               Statesville Arkansas.” We do not know where this road crossed Black River but it
               must  have  been in north Butler  County,  perhaps  near  Keener  or
               Hendrickson.  In  August,  1851, Lawwhorn’s license was renewed to keep a ferry
               about one mile below the  State  road. This is the last mention of Lawhorn as a
               ferry keeper.

               Two ferries crossed Black River at or near Poplar Bluff. Carol B. Arnold lived
               on the river near the head of Palmer Slough, May 15, 1851, he  was  licensed  to
               operate  a ferry near his house. The license was renewed 1852, and is the last
               mention  of  his ferry. On November 11, 1852, William Henley was approved to
               operate a ferry  but  the definite location is unknown to us. Such information
               as w3e  have  indicated  it  was south of the Original Town about one mile
               downriver from  Arnold’s  Ferry.  The  last renewal of Henley’s license was
               January 28, 1854.

               A succession of owners operated a ferry  at  the  crossing  of  Black  River  by
               the Military Road, near Keener. The first license of record was July 24, 1854,
               the Albert Hayms. Following him were John A. Hayms, William R. Hodge and Ephriam
               B. Keener.  Mr. Keener had the ferry long enough that it was called Keener’s

               We have only a little information on ferries across the St. Francis  River.
               Some  of this information would be in the Court records of Stoddard and Dunklin
               counties.  In 1855, Henry Miller was licensed to keep a ferry across the St.
               Francis River near the Indian Ford. In later years this ferry was kept by Darius
               Hodge  of  Stoddard  County and became a well known place name, Hodge’s ferry.
               There was a ferry across  the  St. Francis River above the Highway 53 crossing
               called Deken’s Ferry. Also it  was  known as Davis’s Ferry and as Haper’s Ferry.

               The ferries in Butler County have been gone for many years. Their passing marked
               the end of a romantic and picturesque part of pioneer life. It was a great
               thrill and  an adventure to approach a ferry, signal the ferryman, board the
               ferry  boat  and  then slowly and cumbrously cross the other side of the river.
               By the year 1855,  a  bridge had been build over Black River at Poplar Bluff.
               This bridge took Gabriel  Davis  out of the ferry business, for people who
               wished to travel the “Road  from  Brannums  old mill to the Indian Ford on the
               St. Francis river” now  crossed  Black  River  by  the bridge in Poplar Bluff.
               Likewise no one had any further use for the ferries of Carrol B. Arnold and
               William Henley so they  too  quietly  passed  out  of  existence.  Only memories
               of the ferries remain and they are so  faded  that  the  exact  location  of
               ferries remain and they are so faded the the exact location of most  of  the
               ferries cannot be determined.


               For many years governments have used some type of seal  to  validate  or  prove
               that orders and pronouncements of the government were authentic and would be
               enforced  by the power and authority of the government issuing them.  The  new
               County  of  Butler needed and had to have seals for its courts. Today most of us
               accept the seal of  the County Court or the Circuit Court on a document as a
               matter of course and so not give any thought to the design  in  the  seal  of
               either  of  our  courts.  There  is  an interesting bit of local history in the
               selection of the designs for our court  seals and in their procurement.

               According to the records of the County the Circuit Court was first to initiate
               action to have a seal made. On the morning of September 14, 1850, the Circuit
               Court  was  in the second day of its first session in the new Town of Poplar
               Bluff. On that  morning Judge Harrison Hough ordered that “The following device
               be procured to be used as the seal of the Circuit Court of Butler County, to
               wit; a devise which will make circular impression one inch and a half in
               diameter with the words Seal of the  Circuit  Court of Butler County, Mo. On its
               face with the  sign  of  a  Virgin  holding  balance  at equipoise in the center

               On November 13, 1850, the County Court made an order which Mr. R. S. Douglas, in
               his History of Southeast Missouri, terms.  “One  of  the  most  remarkable
               records  ever entered by a court. ” Here is the order in full, “ordered  that
               the  sheriff  borrow from any individuals who will lend  the  same  twenty
               dollars  bearing  ten  percent interest from the date until paid for the purpose
               of purchasing two seals one for the County Court and the other for the Circuit
               Court of said County”. The design  of  the County Court seal was then directed
               as follows. “Ordered  that  the  County  Seal  of Butler County Court be one
               inch and a half in diameter in a circular form bearing the likeness of Wm. O.
               Butler in the middle and also his name at the bottom of  the  said likeness and
               the words Seal of County Court of Butler County, Mo.” As has been  noted above
               the design for the seal of the Circuit Court was selected by the Circuit Judge.

               The court records make no further mention of the purchases of the seals  but  on
               May 16, 1851, the Court allowed William R. Griffith two dollars, “for making a
               press  for the County Seal.” From this order we assume the Sheriff was
               successful  in  borrowing the money and that the seals were purchased. We assume
               also that  original  seal  for the County Court did not have a lever attachment
               where by the impression of the  seal could be pressed into the official
               documents of the Court.  Hence  Mr.  Griffith  was employed to make a press,
               probably of wood, with a handle so that leverage  could  be applied to make an
               impression of seal on a document.

               After years of usage a seal becomes so worn that it doesn’t make a  clear
               impression and it must be replaced by a new seal. New seals have been purchased
               in Butler County as needed but an examination of the seals currently in use by
               the Circuit  Court  and in the County Court of Butler County shows the same
               designs as selected  one  hundred fifteen years ago in an almost wilderness
               frontier county. The central design of  the Circuit Court Seal is a Virgin
               bearing a balance at equipoise and the central  design of the County Court Seal
               is a likeness of Wm. O. Butler home in Carrollton, Kentucky, we have seen a
               small portrait of General William O. Butler, in whose honor our County was
               named. The portrait of General Butler shows him to have had a rather  round
               full face, as appears on the Seal of the Butler County Court.


               Very little information has been preserved concerning the  first  jail  or
               jails  in Butler County. The need for a jail is evidenced in a County Court
               order  of  December 16, 1850, in which John Walton was allowed two dollars  “for
               guarding  prisoner  two days.” Neither the name of the prisoner nor the nature
               of his crime is recorded. This is probably just as well for what honor would
               accrue to a man in being remembered  as the first to be jailed in his county?
               The place of custody is not recorded. Was it in Poplar Bluff, at the home of Mr.
               Walton or in some other place? If the  prisoner  was held in Poplar Bluff, Mr.
               Walton made a round trip of nearly forty miles, probably on horseback, to do his
               guarding. His two dollars were well earned.

               John Walton was born in Virginia, lived for several years in Tennessee, then
               migrated to Missouri with his family and settled in the upper Cone Creek Valley
               soon after the year 1840. He was part of that migration which brought to the
               coming  Butler  County, in addition to his own name of Walton, such other names
               as  Boxx,  Eudaley,  Appleby, Wisecarver and provably others of which we are not
               aware the names which  have  added luster to the history of our county.

               The first record of an endeavor to build a jail is on  October  27,  1854,  when
               the County Court appointed D. L. Jennings, G. L. Waugh and P.L. Varner,
               commissioners, to select a suitable place to build a jail, make a plan for the
               same  and  estimate  its probable cost. Apparently this order was never executed
               as on April  15,  1857,  P.L. Varner was appointed superintendent to draft plan
               of a jail and estimate its cost.

               Two days later, April 17, 1857, Mr. Varner presented a plan which was accepted,
               five hundred  dollars  was  appropriated  for  building  jail  and  Varner  was
               appointed Superintendent of same. On July 17, 1857, Jesse C. Walker was
               appointed “Commissioner to superintend building jail house.” The appropriation
               of $500.00 for a jail presents quite a contrast when compared to $254.50
               appropriated for the first courthouse.

               The jail was built on the Public Square, probably on the  northeast  corner,  as
               the first Courthouse was on the southeast corner  and  the  second  Courthouse,
               a  brick structure, was in the center of Public Square lot. No records  are
               available  as  to size, total cost or type of building material used. In a
               Court  order  of  July  15, 1861, there is an interesting sidelight  in
               connection  with  the  jail.  The  Court allowed $108.50 to John Ferguson,
               George W. Farmer and Kiah Burchett  as  “guards  to the jail.” In 1861 this was
               a considerable amount of money. Possibly  the  jail  held some prisoners of
               great importance in the eyes of the law or it may have been  a  war m3easure for
               public safety. The Civil War  was  then  on.  The  citizens  were  under
               constant fear that partisan bands of either side might attack and ransack the

               The only reference we have found on a “first jail” is in  the  “Encyclopedia  of
               the History of Missouri,” published in 1901, in the section devoted to Butler
               County  is this statement. “The first jail was a small log building.”  This  may
               refer  to  the small log building on the northeast corner of the Public Square
               which both Judge Deem and Richard L. Metcalfe mention as a meeting place for the
               Courts in  1850.  We  find some evidence that a prospective settler had made “an
               improvement,”  on  the  County Seat site prior to its purchase by the County.

               This may have been true and roughly build cabin had been left behind by a
               pioneer who moved on to a location more to his liking. We  probably  never  will
               find  authentic information on that “log jail.” Though we have not found direct
               statements to support our view we believe the jail authorized in 1857 was a
               frame structure. If the  County could build a frame Courthouse in 1852 we think
               it could and did build a  frame  jail in 1857.

               How many people in Butler County today know that in 1870 the jail  was  removed
               from the Public Square to a site on the north side  of  Vine  Street,  just
               east  of  the building familiarly known as the “Barron” building? This was done
               by Court  order  on April 5, 1870, as follows: “Ordered by the Court that  the
               common  jail  and  prison house of the County be moved off the Public Square and
               rebuilt on the same plan,  use the same material, if sound, and that Daniel
               Kitchen purchase a lot, contract to move and rebuild, 2 p.m. Monday, East front
               door of Court House, May 2, 1870”. The  County owned Town Lot No. 84 which is
               bounded on the north, east and south  by  Vine,  Fifth and Poplar streets.
               Benjamin F. Turner owned the west one-half of Town Lot No. 36, in the block just
               east of the Square. Mr. Kitchen made a trade with Mr.  Turner  whereby Mr.
               Turner deeded to the County the west one-half of Lot 36 in exchange for Lot 84.

               Benjamin R. Moore secured the Contract to remove and rebuild the jail. The work
               must have progressed rapidly for one June 7, 1870, Mr. Kitchen reported to the
               Court  that the work was two-thirds completed. The Court then allowed the
               contractor $100.00  for the work done. It would appear the contract was for

               During the period the  jail  was  being  rebuilt  the  prisoners  were  kept  in
               the Washington county jail at Potosi. We quote two Court orders concerning this.
               June  7, 1870, “It is ordered by the Court that Benjamin  F.  Turner  have  the
               sum  of  five hundred and sixty one dollars and 77 cents for transporting
               prisoners  to  Washington County Jail at Potosi. June 10,  1870,  “John  C.
               Breckenridge  allowed  $33.57  for quartering and transporting prisoners to and
               from  Washington  County  Jail.”  (Three Prisoners).

               Finally we close our review of Early Day Jails and Prisoners in butler County
               with  a reference of a type of security which most of us have never seen used –
               the  use  of “leg irons”. The Court records on May 5, 1870, tell the incident
               briefly and  clearly as follows: “It is ordered by the Court Tooms and  Dickens
               be  and  they  are  herby allowed the sum of Twelve dollars for the four foot
               shackles  and  putting  same  on prisoners.” We assume there were two prisoners
               and that the “irons” were  riveted  to the ankles and connected by a short
               length chain, making it impossible for a prisoner to run. As in the case of the
               prisoner guarded  by  John  Walton  the  names  of  the shackled prisoners are
               not recorded. Again we say that is  just  as  well.  (We  feel “tooms” is
               probably a phonetic spelling of “Tombs”)


               In presenting information on the lives and works of the men who served on the
               Butler County Court we are reminded of a line from the writings of Father Abram
               Joseph Ryan, “The Poet of the Confederacy.” Father Ryan had a deep understanding
               of the  need  for men to remember the proud moments of the past. He expressed
               it  this  way,  “A  land without memories is a land without history.” We believe
               this sentiment. If we  forget or refuse to keep alive memories of the men  who
               worked  unfalteringly  to  build  a civilization in a wilderness County we lose
               our history. The yesterdays become a vast emptiness.

               Of course our County progressed through the work of all citizens but the
               organization and direction of County policy had to come from the County Court.
               We now pay  tribute to them and their work. In early Butler  County  the
               members  of  the  County  Court referred to themselves as “Justices.”

               The First set of County Court members was appointed by the Governor of The
               State  as directed in the “Act” organizing Butler County. They were  John
               Stevenson,  Jonathan Banlin and Solomon Kittrell, with Stevenson as the first
               president. All more able and successful men. In our article of March 6,  1965
               we  gave  biographical  information concerning Sandlin and Kittrell so will not
               repeat it here. The Census of 1850  lists a John Stevenson, 43 years old and
               born in North  Carolina.  In  his  household  were Nathan Hendrickson, 24 years
               old, born in Iowa, and Samuel Stevenson, 21  years  old, born in Arkansas. Then
               on December 31, 1856, a John Stevenson sold to Michael Higgins of Humphrey
               County. Tennessee, all the farms upon which I now reside”. This farm  was eighty
               acres on Black River near the former station of Wilby on the Missouri  Pacific
               Railroad. We believe the above was the John Stevenson who was a member of  the
               first Butler County Court. Seemingly he moved from our County soon after he sold
               his  farm. We wish we knew more about him.

               Before reviewing the accomplishments of the County Court we wish to  pay
               tribute  to the energy and spirit with which the Justices approached the task of
               establishing  a government in a new county. In spite of the prodigious amount of
               labor  necessary  to support a family in pioneer Butler County the Court members
               immediately went to  work and gave their time and energy to the civic problems
               at hand. Frequently they met  at eight o’clock in the morning and seldom later
               than nine o’clock.. Some of the members lived fifteen or more miles from Poplar
               Bluff. The roads were but little more than  a trails and the rivers and creeks
               had to be forded.  In  bad  weather  some  of  these Justices must have left
               home at four or five o’clock in  the  morning  to  arrive  in Poplar Bluff on
               time. The pay was two dollars per day served in court. There was  not an
               allowance for travel or horse feed.

               The first set of Court members met for the first time June 18, 1849, and closed
               their work on August 13, 1850. In this period of fourteen months the Court
               attended  to  a large amount of routine business and had eight major
               accomplishments to  its  credit, as follows: (1) Purchased a County Seat site,
               (2)Founded a County Seat – The Town  of Poplar Bluff, (3) Opened five new roads
               through the forests, (4) Divided  the  county roads into districts and appointed
               road overseers for the  same,  (5)  Organized  the county into fur townships,
               Beaver Dam, Eppss, Butler and Mud Creek; (6) Adopted seals for the County and
               Circuit Court, (7) Established voting places and appointed  judges for the first
               election to be held in Butler County, and  (8)  appropriated  money  to build a
               courthouse in Poplar Bluff. We believe this is a very worthy record.


               The first election in Butler County was in the late summer or early fall of
               1850.  In this election, Abraham Romine, John N.  Yarber  and  William  Vandover
               were  elected members of the County Court, succeeding Solomon Kittrell, Jonathan
               Sandlin  and  John Stevenson. They first met November 11, 1850, in Poplar Bluff,
               which  was  the  first meeting of the Court in the County seat. Mr. Romine was
               elected  President.  He  died early in 1853. The Governor appointed Barnabas
               Bledsoe to the  vacancy.  Mr.  Bledsoe first met with the Court May 9, 1853. At
               this meeting  John  N.  Yarber  was  elected President. For some reason not
               explained I the records Mr. Vandover did not  complete his term on the Court his
               last attendance being January 28, 1854. Beginning April 24, 1854, John B. Lawson
               served eleven days on the Court as Justice. The records  mention only his
               attendance at Court and mention is made of the retirement of  Mr.  Vandover. His
               name is simply omitted from the attendance record of the Justice.

               We have very little information on Abraham Romine. According to the  1850
               Census  he was a native of Ohio and 54 years old. His wife, Linda was 55 and
               born  in  Kentucky. At home were Mary, age 22, and Ruth, age 16, both born in
               Illinois,  indicating  that to Missouri. In the household also was Nancy Pedigo,
               age 12, born  in  Kentucky.  Mr. Romaine’s farm was probably near the present
               rombauer. In 1851 he was  elected  judge in Black River Township which was the
               former Mud Creek Township. Two place  names  in the County, Romine Springs and
               the Lost Cave of the Romines, perhaps  are  named  for him or his family. The
               legends of lost treasure, of silver and gold, in the cave  are now almost
               forgotten due  to  indifference  and  neglect.  Romine  Springs  are  near
               Rombauer. We would welcome additional information in Abraham Romine and “Lost

               John Newell Yarber was born in Orange County, North Carolina, in  1815.  In
               1838  he came to Mississippi County, Missouri and in 1844 settled in the future
               Butler County. The farm he selected lay astride the trail from the hills to the
               north down to  where Black River entered the lowlands, the trail which would
               become  Main  Street,  Poplar Bluff. The present site of the First Christian
               Church,, Main and Davis  Streets,  was once a part of the Yarber farm. Mr.
               Yarber built his log house on the  east  side  of the trail which would become a
               road and then a city street. After  the  lumber  mills came to Poplar Bluff the
               cabin was given a  new  suit  by  inclosing  the  logs  with weatherboarding.
               Many people still living in Poplar Bluff remember the small  cottage on North
               Main street where lived Mrs. Dorcas Ann Yarber, the widow of John N. Yarber.
               Mrs. Yarber lived to be more than one hundred years of age, Mr. yarber died in

               Mr. Yarber was married more than once but we have definite information  only  on
               his last marriage. This was to  Miss  Dorcas  Ann  Freer  who  was  born  in
               Louisville, Kentucky, September 30, 1848. Her father was  Daniel  Freer  who
               settled  in  Butler County when Dorcas Ann was about ten years old. She and Mr.
               Yarber  were  married  in 1866. The Census of 1880 lists children of John N.
               Yarber  as  follows:  Ada,  Etta, Amanda and George. One or more children were
               born to Mr. and Mrs. Yarber after  1860, but we do not have their names. Adda
               was a child born to Mr.  yarber  by  an  earlier marriage. In the Yarber home in
               1880 were Joseph M. Freer, age 12, born  in  Missouri and Emma G. Freer, age 5,
               born in Arkansas.

               Only a few men in early Butler County were more active in public affairs than
               John N. Yarber. Besides his service on the County Court he was Justice of the
               Peace,  Public Administrator, Coroner, Collector and  Deputy  Sheriff.  His
               friends  and  neighbors referred to him as “Judge Yarber.”

               William Vandover was of Dutch descent, a grandson of Thomas Vancover who had
               come  to America from Holland sometime in the latter half of the  seventeen
               hundreds.  Thomas Vandover had a son, James, who settled in southeast  Missouri
               but  the  location  is unknown to us. Three sons of James Vandover settled along
               or near Little Black  River near the mouth of Beaver Dam Creek. Their names were
               William,  Theodorick  and  John. William was born in Virginia in  1815.  His
               wife  was  Patsy  Harris,  a  native  of Missouri. At the time of 1850 Census
               William  and  Patsy  had  children  as  follows: Micajah 12, Martha 10, Minerva
               8, John 6, Lafayetta 4  and  Elvira  2,  all  born  in Missouri. In the
               household also was John Cochran, age 21, born in Tennessee.  At  the time of the
               census Mrs. Vandover was 32 years old. The family home was west of Little Black
               River about seventeen miles from Poplar Bluff. To get to Poplar Bluff he had to
               ford Little Black River and Cane Creek. In addition to his services as  County
               Court Justice he was school enumerator, election Judge  and  road  overseer.
               His  farm  is designated as a point  on  the  road  from  Cape  Girardeau  and
               his  long  line  of descendants who have helped build the Butler County of

               We know very little about Barnabas Bledsoe, “Barney”,  to  his  neighbors.  The
               1850 Census states that he was then 36 years old  and  born  in  South
               Carolina.  In  the household were Rachel, age 29,  born  in  Illinois  and
               William,  age  29,  born  in Tennessee. He lived in Butler Township which at
               that time was the township  in  which Poplar Bluff was located but we do not
               know the site of his farm. In addition to  his Court service he was election
               judge road overseer, juryman, helped lay out new  roads and for several months
               kept an orphan child, Haston, under contract with  the  County Court.

               We do not have any personal date on John B. Lawson who was the last  member  of
               this second set of County Court Justices. In 1856 he was election judge in
               Butler Township and in 1858 was assessor for the same township.

               This set of Justices attacked with vigor the problems of the new  County.  The
               frame Courthouse commenced by the first Court was completed about 1852. Many new
               roads were laid out and opened to transportation. This was plain hard work  with
               ax,  saw,  pry poles, and ox team, opening a road twenty feet wide through the
               forest.  This  Court build the first bridges in the County, across the St.
               Francis  River  at  the  Indian Ford, across Black River and Little Raft Slough
               at Poplar Bluff, across Cane Creek at “the leadings from Brannum’s Old Mill to
               Poplar Bluff” and across Pike  Slough  Lake, location not named. Judges were
               appointed for  the  first  Presidential  election  in Butler County, the first
               Monday in November, 1852. Daniel L. Jennings  was  appointed Commissioner to
               locate the swamp lands in the County. A proposal was  made  to  levee Black
               River opposite Poplar Bluff but the project proved to expensive and had  to  be
               abandoned. This Court completed its work July 27, 1854.

               We thank Mr. Earl Cochran for information on William Vandover and  Mrs.  Jack
               Yarber for information on John N. Yarber.

               In our article of November 6, 1965, we asked for more information on John
               Stevenson. Mr. Eli Martin tells us that Mr. Stevenson was a member of  a
               caravan  organized  in Butler County in 1858 to go to California. We hope we can
               find enough information  on this journey for a story.


               In the 1854 election John N. Yarber, Samuel B. Kittrell and John Eudaley were
               elected members of the County Court. Mr. Yarber was the first man elected to a
               second term on the Court. Mr. yarber was the first man elected to a second term
               on the  Court.  This Court was to have a short life as the General Assembly
               abolished  the  County  Court substituting instead a District County Court for
               the counties  of  Stoddard,  Butler, and Ripley with one judge for the district.
               The story of the District Court  must  be told in a future article.

               This County court first met October 23, 1854, and appointed John N. Yarber
               Presiding Justice. Mr. Kittrell died early in his term of office meeting with
               the Court for the last time December 18, 1854. On January 23,  1855  the  Court
               passed  the  following resolution, “Ordered that James W. Morrowbe recommended
               to the  Governor  for  County Court Justice to fill the vacancy occasioned by
               the death of Samuel B. Kittrell.” Mr. Morrow first sat with the Court April 23,
               1855. The last day of this term, April  28, 1155, proved to be the final meeting
               of this Court. The Court minutes show  that  the Court adjourned on that day to
               the second Monday in June next but  the  June  meeting was not held as the
               District County Court  took  over  in  September  of  that  year. Evidently the
               County Court members did not  anticipate  the  action  of  the  General Assembly
               which would abolish the County Court.

               Samuel B. Kittrell, sometimes known as S.B. Kittrell, was a son  of  Samuel
               Kittrell who had brought his family from Kentucky to the future Butler County in
               1819 and  had settled on Goose Creek a short distance north of its confluence
               with Cane Creek. S.B. Kittrell was a brother of Solomon Kittrell, member of the
               first Butler County  Court. The Census of 1850 states that he was then 29 years
               old and  born  in  Missouri.  His wife was Amelia, age 31, born in Tennessee.
               The children were William 11, Lucinda 10, Elenor 6, Emilissa 4, and Daniel one
               year, all born in Missouri. In the  family  also was Lemuel Sandlin, age 6, born
               in Missouri. Other public services  of  Mr.  Kittrell were as road viewer,
               election judge in Beaver Dam Township, school inspector and road overseer. In
               1852 the County Court awarded him a contract to finish a bridge on  Cane Creek.
               The Court records show that Samuel B. Kittrell lived in Beaver Dam Township on
               Can Creek In January1853 he purchased forty acres of land from  his  brother
               Solomon Kittrell. This land is in Cane Creek Valley about one and one-half miles
               north of the present Harviell. Perhaps this was his place of residence.

               John Eudaley was very active in public affairs in Butler County. As Town
               Commissioner he granted title in the name of the County to the purchasers of the
               first  lots  sold in the Town of Poplar  Bluff.  He  was  county  assessor,
               electi9on  judge  in  Epps Township, school enumerator, agent to  bring  money
               from  Jefferson  City  and  road allotting justice. The Census of 1850 shows
               that he was then 35 years old and born in Virginia. His wife, Ortena, was 34,
               born in Tennessee. The children  were  Polly  15, Reed 14, and Elizabeth 12,
               born in Tennessee: Dicy 9, Sally 5 and  Lucy  3,  born  in Missouri. In the
               household also was William King, age  23,  born  in  Tennessee.  Mr. Eudaley
               lived in upper Cane Creek Valley fifteen or more miles from Poplar Bluff. His
               many trips to the County Seat meant many  weary  hours  and  many  miles  of
               travel, probably mostly by horseback.

               According to the 1860 Census James William Morrow was then 42 years old and
               born  in Alabama. His wife, Naoma, was 38, born in North Carolina. The  children
               were  Elvira 17, Louisa 15, Emily G. 7, Nancy A. 4 and Asalee 1, all born in
               Missouri. Mr.  Morrow is not enumerated in the Butler County Census for 1850. We
               do not have information as to where he lived in Missouri before coming to Butler
               County. His home was in  Beaver Dam Township about one and one-half miles
               southwest of the present Harviell.  Besides serving on the County Court Mr.
               Morrow was election judge allotting  justice,  school inspector and road viewer.
               His estate was settled in Probate Court in 1868 with Elias Brannum as
               administrator. Hiss farm of 160 acres was purchased at administrators sale by
               James Brannum for $571.00. the law sale price of the farm is shapr  commentary
               on the hard and bitter economic conditions in the County  following  the  close
               of  the Civil War.

               Progress continued in the County even though this Court had an active life of
               only  a little more than six months. Jackson Lacewell and Lewis buis were
               allowed $180.00  as one half payment for a bridge across Soss slough. Pleasant
               Majors was allowed $99.83, balance due Horton for bridge on St. Francis River.
               In the 1854 election  the  voters approved a plan to subscribe $50,000.00 in
               stock to the Cairo and Fulton Railroad. On October 24, 1854  the  County  Court
               noted  this  approval  and  ordered  the  stock subscription to be paid out of
               proceeds of sales of swamp lands. This marks the first official action we have
               found for building a railroad through the  County  though  it was to be another
               eighteen years before a railroad was built. Settlement in the swamp lands was
               encouraged by selling “script” which could be used in payment on the  land. This
               plan gave the purchaser opportunity to examine thee land and provided the County
               with much needed capital funds. Apparently many  settlers  in  the  swamp  areas
               had neglected to file a claim to the land on which they were living.  The  Court
               ordered all such settlers to file a description of their holdings up to 160
               acres  with  the County Clerk. Probably there were many bitter disputes over
               land  ownership  because the original settler did not take the time and trouble
               to enter a claim to  the  land on which he was living.

               This article completes a study of the three member County Court in Butler County
               from June 18, 1849, to April 28, 1855 or until the District  County  Court  took
               over  in September, 1855.


               Probably there are no first hand  eye-witness  accounts  of  the  appearance  of
               the present Butler County when the first settlers arrived about 150 years ago.
               One of the early travelers through the western country, G. W. Featherstonhaugh,
               accompanied  by his son, came through this area in 1834. The population was
               still so sparse that  the face of the land had changed very little, the forests
               were almost intact and none  of the original wildlife had been exterminated. He
               published his observation in 1844  in a book titled “Excursion through the Slave
               States.”  We  believed  portions  of  his narrative about the people, the living
               conditions, the birds and  animals  and  other items from the time he entered
               Missouri, at St. Louis, including a brief part of  his journey which lead him in
               to the Territory of Arkansas after he left  Missouri,  will be interesting and
               helpful in giving us a picture of our entire area in pioneer days. Mr.
               Featherstonhaugh had a knack for noting the  little  personal  and  human
               events which give the reader a smile, a chuckle and an understanding of the
               things seen.

               Mr. Featherstonhaugh was a  geologist  in  the  service  of  the  United  States
               War Department. He carried with him a set of hammers used  by  geologists  in
               collecting samples of minerals. His “Excursion” was  from  Washington  to  the
               Potomac  to  the frontiers of Mexico and required a portion of the years 1834
               and 1835. In the opening paragraph of his book is an example of his ability to
               give  a  human  touch  to  his writing. He notes that they started from
               Washington “on a wretched dirty omnibus”  to railroad station at five o’clock a.
               m. 1st of August (1834). After traveling  as  far as they could by a railroad
               they continued to St. Louis by stagecoach.

               We will quote directly from the “Excursion” on  my  items  of  interest,
               largely  in succession, as mentioned by Mr. Featherstonhaugh as he proceeded  to
               the  south  and west. At St. Louis he had come to the end of any type of  public
               transportation.  To continue the journey to the borders of Mexico he purchased a
               horse and wagon.  Quote: “Befoe we left St. Louis I purchased a nice little
               wagon called  a  Dearborn,  and  a young horse that had been sired by one of the
               wild prairie  horses:  he  was  a  very elegant animal, good-tempered, appeared
               sound, and I named him  “Missouri.”  We  were now at the end of all stage-coach
               traavelling with it (the wagon) we could carry  out luggage, our specimens, and
               some provisions. When one of us was  walking,  the  other could drive, and we
               could sleep under it at night into the  bargain.  It  gave  us  a great pleasure
               to think that we should  be  quite  independent,  with  the  equipage, should
               have no smoking and splitting passengers, no cursing and swearing drivers, and
               nobody to care about but ourselves and Missouri whose  beautiful  arched  neck,
               full eye, and ample tail attracted great attention.”

               In connection with the purchase of a horse the  author  records  an  example  of
               the exaggerated and flamboyant talk of the American frontiersman as  follows:
               “Paid  for the horse, owner said ‘Stranger, if that are horse don’t act like  a
               screamer,  I’ll give you leave to exflunctify me into no time of day  at  all;
               if  I  don’t  I’m  no account I reckon, by no manner of means.’”

               As Mr. Featherstonhaugh was geologist  he  was  especially  interested  in  the
               load deposits in Southeast Missouri. On November 8, 1934, he was in Farmington
               and on  the next day left for Mine La Motte, South of Farmington he made this
               notation, “there is a good deal of fertile alluvial soil  in  this
               neighborhood,  where  emigrants  from Tennessee and Kentucky have settled
               themselves.” Continuing southward he  came  to  a table land where the trees had
               been cut down and concluded he was near the mine. Upon reaching the settlement
               at Mine La Motte he noted  the  squalor  of  the  miners,  of advancing culture
               as he sees in a few of the huts “tea things  neatly  arranged,  bed curtains,
               looking glasses, etc.” “Speculators from all quarters seem to have resorted to
               this place; the French are not very numerous,  and  those  mining  in  the
               native country follow a regular system of work, less of their labor  is
               wasted.”  The  trip from St. Louis to Mine La Motte with a brief stop at
               Jefferson  Barracks  and  taken nine days, about 100 miles, an average of ten to
               eleven miles per day. From  Mine  La Motte the travelers went to Fredericktown
               and noted that the  brick  buildings  there were the last brick buildings see
               until they reached the borders of Mexico.


               The Featherstonehaugh’s come through what is now  Butler  County  in  early
               November third and then had gone to Fredericktown. After leaving Fredericktown
               he  considered that he had entered into the wilderness. To give his point of
               view at  this  part  of his journey we quote as follows. “Our horse, Missouri,
               has  shown  symptoms  of  not being equal to the task of drawing his load over
               roads that would probably  not  grow better as we advanced, putting our horse by
               walking the whole way  if  necessary,  we took leave of this, the last village
               (Fredericktown) on our route  to  the  Arkansas, and with my rifle on my
               shoulder and my hammers in my belt, and my  son  holding  the reins, and walking
               by my side, we now entered the endless forest. In  the  course  of the morning
               we got upon hilly land and found it less woody,  having  made  about  six miles,
               we passed some heads of the St. Francis the water  of  which  was  beautifully
               transparent, as are all those of this siliceous region."

               Continuing southward the travelers came to Twelve Mile Creek and then to the
               foot  of a mountain where there were fragments of galens (lead ore) and
               descending three  more miles came to Greenville  with  four  or  five  wooden
               cabins,  quote,  “beautifully situated on a rich bottom of land on the east bank
               of the St. Francis, a  fine  clear stream about eighty yards broad, running
               thirty feet lower than  the  banks  at  this time, but often during the floods
               overflows them”. It was in this visit to Greenville
               that Mr. Featherstonehaugh noted the misery which malaria fever brought  to
               many  of the settlers. Most of the inhabitants of Greenville, he said “die by
               inches of chills and fevers,” and of the entire region he commented, “It is a
               most  distressing  thing to arrive at these settlements on the water-course at
               this session, the poor  people, feeble, emaciated, beginning to recover from the
               malaria of the country: to  many  of the persons when I saw life seemed to be a

               During this same day of Featherstonehaugh’s entered what is now Butler County.
               Quote, “After feeding our horse (at or near Greenville) and endeavoring in vain
               to  purchase a little milk for ourselves to eke out some gingerbread we had, we
               proceeded  fifteen miles farther through mountains and fertile bottoms
               resembling those of the  morning, until at night we reached a settlers of the
               name of Stevenson, half  a  mile  distant from Big Black River, a tributary of
               White River, in the territory of Arkansas, which it joins a little south of 36
               degree of N. lat. Here we were obligingly received  and having taken care of our
               horse, sat down with the family  to  their  humble  evenings repast.”

               The given name of Mr. Stevenson is not mentioned. Naturally a sense of pride  in
               our early history makes us wish to identify him with John Stevenson, first
               President  of Butler County Court. In a previous article we have established
               that  John  Stevenson lived near Wilby but  we  do  not  know  that  he  had
               settled  there  by  1834.  By Featherstonehaugh’s calculations he had came about
               twenty miles  from  Greenville  to reach this habitation. By the trails he had
               to follow this would certainly place  him in the vicinity of John Stevenson’s
               house. A search of the deed records does not show that any other Stevenson owned
               land in this area. In the business  of  searching  for facts of our pioneer days
               we find that guess work  frequently  leads  us  into  false conclusions so we
               will not get out  on  a  limb  and  say  that  “Featherstonehaugh’s Stevenson
               was John Stevenson of our first county Court  but  we  will  say  that  the
               available facts point in that  direction.  Anyway  the  Stevenson  mentioned  in
               the “excursion” was a successful and well to do settler as evidenced by  this
               quotation, “These people (the Stevenson’s) occupied 160 acres of fertile bottom
               land,  had  1000 bushels of Indian corn already harvested, two or  three
               hundred  bushels  of  wheat, numerous cows, with boundless range for them on the
               adjacent hills and  bottoms  that afforded excellent grass, great numbers of
               barn door fowls.”

               Early the next morning Featherstonehaugh left the Stevenson’s  and  soon
               arrived  at Black River quote, “Came to Black River a broad limpid stream, with
               a rapid current,” and then states that he misjudged the strength of the current
               and almost swamped  his wagon in fording the stream.

               Forest fires were problem in 1834 much as  they  are  today.  Quote,  “Some
               distance through a forest, we got upon an extensive bottom, where we again found
               the  country on fire, the leaves and twigs all burnt up, and  everything  black
               as  soot.”  After passing through the burned area the travelers came to a small
               creek on the west  side of Black River and stopped there for breakfast with this
               sketchy comment. “Where  the fire had not passed, clear running stream breakfast
               parlor, built  fire.  Milk  which Mrs. Stevenson put up that morning, black tea,
               nice loaf sugar and buffalo tongue  in capital spirits. During breakfast four
               beautiful created wood ducks alighted  on  the stream not far from us.” Here
               also is a comment on one of the causes  of  the  forest fires. “Hunters fire the
               country to drive game particular direction. It is in vain to remonstrate with
               these men, they live by getting deer, and  as  they  look  upon  the farmer as
               an intruder have little or no sympathy for him.”

               We should mention that in St. Louis Mr. Featherstonehaugh had purchased some
               food  as tea,  sugar  gingerbread,  buffalo  tongue  etc.,  as  a   protection
               against   the uncertainties of a food supply in the wilderness. The gingerbread
               evidently was a dry cake or cookie which would keep almost indefinitely but
               needed to be eaten  with  tea or milk. Also here is a reminder of the time when
               the  buffalo  in  untold  millions grazed the prairies and their cured tongues
               were a common article of commerce.

               The plateaus and gently rolling hills of central Butler County as  near  the
               present Green Forest Church, south of Poplar Bluff on Highway 67 and west toward
               Little Black River, with open woods, wild grasses in profusion, deer quail and
               other  wild  life, must have presented vistas of unsurpassed beauty in pioneer
               days.  Featherstonehaugh says itt this way. “Descending to the south we came to
               some very beautiful situations of fine dry undulating land, easy of access,  the
               slopes  exceedingly  fertile,  and beautiful woodland trees scattered about as
               they  are  seen  in  the  charming  park scenery of England.”


               We concluded our last previous article with Featherstonehaugh’s  description  of
               the beautiful rolling plateaus somewhere west of the present Poplar  Bluff  in
               which  he compared the scenery to the parks in England. Again we quote directly
               from  his  text as follows. “Having made about fourteen miles we stopped to feed
               our horse at  a  Mr. Eppes, who had a plantation on a very fertile bottom,  and
               here  we  saw  the  first appearance of a cane break, this plant is always
               indicative of good soil, and in some portions of the southern states pushes up
               its jointed stem amidst the forest trees so thickly that a chicken would find it
               difficult to creep between the plants.”

               “Small flocks of pirouettes were wheeling and screaming about in the bright sun,
               and showing their brilliant colors to the greatest advantage.”

               “upon the wall of the cabin where the family lived was a frame upon which the
               skin of an elk was stretched that Mr. Epps had killed the day before. Learning
               that he was in a corn field about a half mile distant,  I  walked  there  and
               found  him,  when  he confirmed to me what I had before heard, that in the “Big
               Swamp”, which bordered  his plantation on the east and which  extended  about
               twenty  miles  to  the  river  St. Francis, there were still a great many elk
               and buffalo, the only situation  in  which these animals are to be east of the
               most advanced settlements of the whites, it being favorable to them from the
               great extent of the swamp,  the  luxuriance  of  the  wild grass and the absence
               of man.

               Mr. Eppes related to e that two or three days ago he and his son had entered the
               Big Swamp to hunt up some young horses they had turned into it in the  spring
               to  thrive upon the leaves of the miegia (cane), which gramivors animals are
               very fond of,  that wondering about in the mazes of the swamp, and tearing their
               clothes to rags  amongst the green briars, the supple Jacks, saw briar and all
               sorts of pests of  their  kind, they had lost themselves, and knowing of no
               method to find out where they  were,  but going to the river to observe the
               direction of  the  current  they  crossed  a  broad “sign” or track of buffalo,
               where at least forty of them had  recently  passed.  Soon after they crossed a
               “sign” of numerous elk, and whilst they were  deliberating  what to do, three
               large ones came trotting up and stood still at no  great  distance  from them.
               Mr. Eppes fired and one of the elks dropped, the other stood some time by their
               fallen companion but made off before he had time to reload again. He said  they
               were about the size of a large Spanish mule and that they looked extremely well
               with their branching antlers when they first came boldly up. Having skinned the
               animal they left the carcass behind, and soon after coming on their own trail
               proceeded home.”

               “From hence we proceeded through some pleasant open woods consisting
               principally  of oak trees growing on a very  fertile  soil  and  some  time
               after  night  heard  the murmuring sound of Little Black River before us. I
               hesitated a moment whether or  not to stop and bivouac here, our experience of
               the last for we had passed did not afford much encouragement for a similar
               adventure in the dark, but Mr. Eppes had assured  us the ford was an easy one,
               Missouri seemed very willing, and I thought I would proceed a few miles farther
               through the thick woods, where we  would  have  seen  nothing  by daylight. So
               whipping on our horse, away we went, literally, for, in making a sort of turn to
               go down the bank the nigh wheels, which we could not see, got on a hummock of
               land, and the whole concern, including the unsuspecting  Missouri,  made  a
               complete turn over, luggage and all, leaving the wagon bottom upwards. Our fine
               tempered horse behaved extremely well, instead of kicking up a rumpus in the
               dark, and making things worse. He laid still and permitted us to take the wagon
               to pieces as well as we could and to unbuckle and un-strap him before he
               stirred, he seemed almost to comprehend us as we patted and comforted him, and
               it was not until he could neither hurt the  wagon nor himself that, a little
               aided by us, he made an effort, and with  a  plunge  arose from the very awkward
               position in which he lay with his back down hill.  Tie  up  the horse,
               everything scattered on the  beach,  regain  the  bank,  build  a  fire,  gave
               Missouri his corn in a pail, a long rope for limited grazing range. A cold
               night, cut trees, hands sore, buffalo hides on the ground, put on our large
               blanket  coats,  lie with our feet to the fire, son taking the first watch,
               whooping of the owls,  howling of the wolves, barking of the foxes, a cow had
               chewed  up  my  towel,  these  animals sometimes stray great distances from the

               “We soon arose again to the tableland, a fine open country, very extensive,  and
               the trees were so far asunder from each other that we could imagine  ourselves
               traveling through some park. Here we saw the first ivory billed woodpeckers, a
               beautiful  bird not found farther north than this part of the Country.”

               “About 10 A.M. we came u0p with a sorry looking horse with  a  saddle  on  his
               back, grazing without a rider, and two miles farther found a man, with a gun by
               his  side, bleeding and lying apparently senseless on the ground, beastly drunk,
               probably fallen from his horse, left him to get sober.”

               “Toward noon, a part of the country on  fire,  enveloped  in  dense  and
               distressing smoke. Eyes became sore, difficult to drive, many of the dead trees
               had  been  burned so near the ground, they had fallen across the path, winding
               abou5t  as  well  as  we could among the tall trees, almost insupportable
               nervous headache.  Smoke  was  black and dense and filled our eyes and nostrils.

               “In the afternoon reached a Mrs. Harris’s remained rest of dayk, though had made
               only fifteen miles. Widow with sons and daughters, kindly received, all they had
               to  offer us was bad fried bits of pork with worse bread and no milk.”

               “Fire gained, all hands out to “fight fire”. At night we could see  a  fiery
               horizon through the forest in every direction and  hear  the  crackling  of  the
               approaching conflagration. Elevated tableland, dry autumnal leaves, grass and
               sticks,  dead  and dry trees killed by previous fires. About 1/4th mile away a
               narrow  edge  of  bright crackling flame, wider than lots to burn, consuming
               everything  before  it.  Flaming tree comes to the ground; trees  like  neither
               description  nor  painting  could  do justice to. Measured progress of fire
               about a foot a minute. Small settlers  have  no fields, no hay, leaves no corn.”

               (Day after the fire) “About 3 miles to  Current  River,  beautiful  pellucid
               stream, Territory of Arkansas, Salmon 25-30 lbs., large red  horse  suckers,
               buffalo,  drum, perch, large cat fish, crossed on ferry boat. Decent house here
               to stop at.”

               “14 miles from Current crossed Fourche de Thomas.” The travelers  then
               proceeded  to “Eleven Mile Point River.” Again quote, “6 miles to Jackson
               Spring  River.  Shoot  a wild goose, went to house to try to get some meal to
               cook with goose,, people  seemed in poverty and broken down by fever and ague.”

               The buffalo and the elk long ago disappeared from Missouri. The  beautiful
               parakeet, usually called the Carolina parakeet, the only parrot like bird native
               to continental United States, is now extinct, gone from the face of  the  earth,
               a  victim  to  the rapacity and indifference of man. The ivory billed woodpecker
               probably  is  extinct, not from the shotgun, but by the ax and the saw. For a
               woodpecker,  he  was  a  large bird about the size of the common crow, and
               needed a  broad  range  of  large  forest trees to provide enough wood boring
               insects to keep him going. With  the  destruction of the forests he no longer
               could find enough food for a living. He was  of  striking appearance, glossy
               blue black with whit wing markings, a white stripe along each side of the neck,
               a bright red crest and an ivory white bill. It is  a  great  tragedy  to have
               lost so distinctive a bird.

               Mr. Featherstonhaugh does not mention the first name of Mr. Eppes. We believe he
               was Daniel Eppes who lived on the west side of Ten Mile Creek on the Old
               Military  Road. Featherstonhaugh probably crossed Little Black river at the
               point now know as  Powers Mill. The big forest fire and the home of Mrs. Harris
               were probably  in  the  present Ripley County. Current River was probably
               crossed at Pitman’s Ferry.


               The history of Shiloh Church must be  told  in  connection  with  the  story  of
               the original settlement in the upper Cane Creek Valley where the church was
               established. Fortunately for local history the Rev. Roy F. LeGrand wrote a short
               history  of  the settlement and the church established there and had it
               published in a booklet titled, “Shiloh, The Mother of Preachers.” This  was
               probably  the  first  Methodist  church organized in territory to become the
               present Butler County.

               On January 8, 1841, a group a families left Jefferson County, Tennessee, to find
               new homes farther west. The heads of these families were John Eudaley, Dudley
               Cox,  Reed Cox, Elliott Cox, Nathan Davis, James Eudaley, James D.  Franklin,
               Waitman  Summers, John Shell, John Wisecarver and John A. Walton. At Louisville,
               Tennessee  they  were joined by Shield King and family. It was early  spring
               when  they  reached  Jackson, Missouri. Realizing they could not find new lands
               in time to grow a crop they  rented land near Jackson and “made a crop.”

               On July 27, 1841, after the crops were “laid by,” Reed Cox, John A. Walton  and
               John Eudaley, as a committee to  “spy  out”  the  land  and  find  a  place
               suitable  for settlement, left Jackson with wagon and team and one extra “nag.”
               For  the  trip  of exploration we use Rev. LeGrand’s words. “They explored the
               country  southward  into Arkansas, crossing Current River at the Indian Ford,
               and  passing  through  Jackson, Arkansas, they followed the Old Fort Smith Road
               to North Fork of  White  River.  From here to Reed Cox turned north into
               Missouri on horseback, following the Eleven Points River to a point where
               Thomasville is now located.  Being  favorably  impressed  with this location he
               rejoined his company, expecting later to return  to  this  site  for permanent
               settlement unless some more suitable place should be found.  After  touring on
               through Carrolton, Arkansas, and on through Taney County, Missouri passing
               through Springfield, Bolivar, Boonville, Caledonia and Fredericktown  the  trio
               returned  to Jackson about the first of September, 1841.”

               The explorers had traveled in a triangle, each leg of the triangle  being  about
               200 miles, a total of some 600 miles, perhaps a little more, depending on the
               crooks  in the road, side trips to examine promising creek valleys and how far
               south  they  went into Arkansas. They were gone about thirty-five days so
               averaged about 18 to 20 miles per day, about the same ass averaged by
               Featherstonhaugh when he went over  the  same route in 1834. Featherstonhaugh
               mentions  passing  through  Jackson,  Arkansas.  Both parties probably crossed
               Current River at the same place.

               Again we pick up the story as told by Rev. LeGrand. Quote, “Thrilled with  the
               story of the fertile soil and cool spring water of the Eleven  Points  valley,
               as  it  was related by Reed Cox, the little colony immediately gathered  and
               disposed  of  their crops and set out for the present site of Thomasville.”

               Now occurred one of those chance happenings wh8ich was to bring to Butler
               County  as settlers this group of God-fearing, able and industrious men and
               women including  the great natual leader, Virginia born, John Eudaley. The
               little band reached Logan Creek where the possibilities of settlement along Ten
               Mile Creek  and  Cane  Creek  valleys that they hired a pilot to guide them to
               this new site. We now quote the story as  it was related by John Eudaley, as
               follows. “When report came, we all  decided  to  turn our course and come to
               Cane Creek, and on the 11th of December,  1841,  we  stretched camp on Cane
               Creek about eight miles above where I now live.  That  was  on  Saturday night.
               On Sunday morning we left camp, came down Cane Creek,  Monday  looked  at  Ten
               Mile, and all decided to take Cane Creek. Tuesday we hitched up and made our way
               down through the brush, as at that time there was no road. Each man began  to
               select  his home, as there was no person then here to say yea or nay.”

               So the upper Cane Creek valley, empty of people at the beginning  of  December
               1841, received its first settlers, strong and sturdy people who meant much  to
               the  coming Butler County and  whose  descendants  still  bring  honor  to  the
               names  of  their forbearers.

               If meeting a stranger on Logan Creek who directed them to  a  wonderful
               location  on Cane Creek seemed to these settlers to be an act of providence they
               really felt  that God was with them when the first visitor to their  camp
               proved  to  be  a  Methodist minister. Again we quote from Rev. LeGrand’s
               narrative. “The Methodist circuit  rider of the Greenville Circuit, the
               Reverend  John  H.  Headlee,  lost  his  way  in  the wilderness, on the night
               of January 1, 1842, only a few days after the cam p was  set up, and half
               frozen, guided by the dim light of the camp, staggered into camp to find a happy
               meeting. Not only for the physical  comforts  of  the  cold,  hungry  circuit
               rider, but also for the spiritual hunger of this little company  of  men  and
               women, most of whom had early become established in the Methodist Church, and at
               least  one other, John Eudaley, had been married and baptized by the Rev. Thomas
               Wilkerson,  who had labored with and received appointments by Bishop  Asbury  in
               his  younger  days. Before leaving the friendly atmosphere of this camp, the
               younger  minister  preached and arranged for an appointment for this next round,
               which was in  May  of  the  same year.”

               In the preaching service in May 1842, the Reverend  Headlee4  organized  a
               Methodist class and appointed John Eudaley as a class leader. The charter
               members  were  Dudley Cox, Parenelitha Cox, John Eudaley, Orlena Eudaley, Reed
               Cox, Jacob  Cox,  Dicy  Cox, Nancy Eudaley, Washington Eudaley, Sarah Eudaley,
               James D.  Franklin,  Nathan  Davis, William Johnson, Lydia Johnson, Elizabeth
               Johnson, John A.Walton and Pamela Walton.


               The Methodist Class organized by Rev. Headlee in May,  1842,  with  John
               Eudaley  as class leader, met for several years in the homes of the members.
               Concerning the  date and location of the first church building we quote Rev.
               LeGrand. “There is no  record available to the writer that even suggests the
               time and location of the first  church building to house the Shiloh Class.
               However, according to information  gathered  from local sources, the first
               building, a log structure, was erected probably within a few years after the
               class was organized, near the base of the hill and just east  of  the Shiloh
               cemetery. This building served their purposes until after the Civil War,”  but
               Rev. LeGrand states “There might have been a building near the Old King place.”

               In 1867 John Eudaley gave two and one half acres of land  for  a  permanent
               building site and deeded the same to Methodist Church, south. Later, date not
               known, a  church house w3as erected on this site and the site continued  to  be
               the  home  of  Shiloh Church until its final dissolution a few years ago.

               Besides the services held in the homes of church members  and  in  the  church
               house after one was built the congregation held a revival each summer at some
               camp  ground. This “Camp Meeting” was a great religious experience. Entire
               families came  for  many miles around and “camped out,” for the period of the
               meeting, usually several  weeks. Several camp sites were used, some of which
               cannot now be  identified.  Rev.  LeGrand describes one camp ground as follows,
               “The  Shiloh  Camp  Ground  was  equipped  with necessary buildings to house and
               feed a very large  group  of  families  for  several weeks. The cabins, made of
               logs, were arranged in an orderly “L” shaped  fashion,  so that each cabin would
               be facing the large community kitchen and storehouse, to  which all had equal

               According to the journal of John Eudaley, in  the  year1843,  the  Scotts,
               Kearbeys, Kittrells and others started a camp ground on Ten Mile Creek on land
               owned  by  Jesse Scott. This camp was occupied for four years when the land was
               sold. In 1847, a  date was set for a meeting on Ten Mile Creek to select a new
               site. In the  words  of  John Eudaley, “The Cane Creek people found out that the
               principal part of the wo4rk  would be done by the Cane Creek boys, so it was
               decided if we had to do the work  we  would build some2where on Cane Creek and
               the Old Camp Ground was agreed upon.” The  meeting started August 6, 1847, with
               J.M. Kelly, presiding elder, and J.M. Proctor,  preacher in charger. The campers
               were John Eudaley, John A. Walton, Heardy  Box,  Elijah  Mays and some others,
               about eight in all. Considering family size there could easily  have been 50 or
               60 people camped.

               Again we quote from Eudaley’s journal, “The War commenced in1861, and by the
               close of the war the campes were about all rotted down.” (We interpret “camps”
               to  mean  that each family had a cabin on the camp ground and that each cabin
               was called a “camp”.)

               In 1865 the “Brush Camp Meeting” was  held.  We  suppose  this  was  a  camp
               meeting hurriedly arranged after the close of the war and used a  brush  covered
               arbore  and shelters of brush for the campers. Mr. Eudaley mentions that in the
               fall  of  1866  a camp meeting was held at Three Springs on Black River because
               some  good  camps  were there. Soon after this Mr. Eudaley gave the land for a
               permanent  location  and  the camp meeting were held there. We do not know how
               many camp  meetings  were  held  but John Eudaley helped plan and participated
               in forty such meetings.

               The preaching services in a Camp Meeting were  usually  under  an  arbor,  the
               arbor covering supported by posts. If the covering was of brush  it  was  called
               a  “brush arbor”. At a camp ground which was used for several years the arbor
               covering seems to have been more permanent that brush, probably boards or
               shakes.  Here  we  quote  the statement of Mr. Eudaley regarding the first arbor
               on the site which  he  had  givene the Church. “We put up a frame for an arbor
               the next fall, 1868,  and  Green  Copland was hired to cover the arbor and paid
               $50.00”. Surely $50.00 would buy a  substantial arbor covering in 1868. the
               Church services in a “Camp  Meeting”  were  explained  by Rev. LeGrand, quote,
               “The services were more or less informal, giving opportunity for personal
               expression a warmed heart,  from  the  least  of  them  unto  the  greatest.
               Ministers came from afar and stayed throughout a part of all of the assembly. No
               one minister had a monopoly on the services. All were given an opportunity to

               The Shiloh Church lived and served its community for well over one hund4ed
               years.  In 1942 it celebrated its centennial anniversary, a distinction attained
               by only  a  few churches in the meddle west. The occasion was observed by a
               revival meeting beginning Wednesday,  July  29,  and  continuing  through
               Sunday,  August  9.   The   District Superintendent, Dr. E.H. Orear, District
               Superintendent and Rev.  Albert  Northdurft, pastor in charge. Dinner was served
               on the grounds in the old-fashioned way. The Rev. George Walker, pastor at
               Ellington, was the speaker for the second week. He  was  the English boy who had
               worked for John Eudaley as a farm hand, untied  with  the  Shiloh Church and was
               there licensed to preach.

               In the life-time of the Shiloh Church twenty-three of its young  men  graduated
               into the ministry of the Methodist Church, a truly remarkable record,  and  a
               record  not attained by many much larger churches to this day. This church  has
               every  right  to proudly call itself, “Mother of Preachers”. Spacer will not
               permit us to  mention  by name all these ministers but it  included  Roy  F.
               LeGrand,  author  of  the  little booklet, “Shiloh, the Mother of Preachers,”
               Jonathan D. King, who died in  the  armed forces  in  the  Civil  War,  William
               J.  Wisecarver,  killed  in  the   battle   of Fredericktown, George walker, the
               English boy who had come  under  the  influence  of John Eudaley. In the group
               John Eudaley also had  a  brother-in-law,  Jacob  H.  Cox, three grandsons, Reed
               Steward, John L. Steward, James D. Eudaley  and  a  son-in-law, Reuben A.
               Walton. Then there was Dudley C. O’Howell who rose to be  Presiding  Eleder in
               the Missouri Conference.

               The Shiloh Church has now ceased to exist except in the hearts and minds of  the
               men and women who came under it influence. The church building  was  torn  down
               in  late January1962. The only remaining evidence of this great pioneer
               institution is  Shiloh Cemetery, the earthly resting place of many of the fine
               and rugged people who  helped the Butler County of today. This church died not
               through neglect and indifference but through changed conditions of living. As
               cities grew the people moved away from  Cane Creek Valley until it was
               impossible to maintain a church.

               For information on Shiloh Church we are indebted to Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Moore who
               made available to us the journal of John Eudaley and a copy of the booklet,
               “Shiloh,  The Mother of Preachers”.


               The recent purchase of the Frisco bridge across the St. Francis River  near
               Rombauer by Stoddard and Cutler Counties is a reminder 6f a much earlier
               cooperation  between these two coun­ties for a bridge across this river at about
               the same location. At the time of its organization in 1849 Butler County did not
               have any bridges.  Soon  after the county seat site had been selec­ted and a
               county seat town had been laid out  the County Court (Abraham  Romine,  William
               Vandover  and  John  N.  Yarber)  gave  some attention to roads and bridges. On
               February 13, 1851, the  Court  appropriated  three hundred dollars, quote, "For
               the purpose of Building a Bridge across  the  River  St. Francis at or near
               where the Public road crosses said river leading  from  Bloomfield Stod­dard
               County Missouri to the Town of Poplar Bluff in Butler County and state  the
               place where said bridge is to be built is better known by  the  name  of  the
               Indian ford." This "Public road" was the early day road frequently referred to
               in the County Court minutes as the "Road from Brannum's Old Mill to the  Indian
               Ford  on  the  St. Francois." The Court appointed Richard Wall, an  attor­ney
               of  Stoddard  County,  as Commissioner to superintend the build­ing of the
               bridge. Mr. Wall was  to  report  to the Court at its next term the probable
               cost of said bridge..  The  County  Court  of Stoddard County was "respectfully
               requested" to concur in the plan for a  bridge  and to make a "similar
               appropriation". On May, 15, 1851,  the:  Court  ordered  that  the bridge on the
               St. Francis be built at or near the mouth of Mud  Creek  and  that  the plan
               pre­sented by the Commissioner be received by the Court.

               The Indian Ford crossing of the St. Francis River was very im­portant  to  the
               early settlers in Butler County and to areas farther west and south. It  was
               the  shortest way around the swamps of south­east Missouri and northeast
               Arkansas. It was the route of trade and commerce to the Mississippi River port
               of Cape Girardeau.  The  settlers sold furs, hides and other products in  Cape
               Girardeau  and  there  purchased  salt, sugar, gun powder, cloth and other much
               need­ed merchandise which  had  been  brought there by boats plying up and  down
               the  Mississippi  River.  Solomon  Kittrell,  who operated a gen­eral store near
               Cane Creek northwest of Poplar Bluff, freighted  goods by ox teams and wagons
               from Cape Girardeau. The round trip took about  two  weeks.  A bridge across the
               St. Francis would great­ly facilitate this commerce. Caps Girardeau would
               continue to be the chief trading post for Butler County until the coming of the
               railroad in 1872. Stoddard County would profit from the travel through  its
               borders. Also this road was followed by many immigrants  from  Kentucky,
               Tennessee,  southern Indiana and southern Illinois as they moved to the west and
               south.  This  travel  was valuable to both counties.

               For reasons not disclosed in the County Court minutes progress in building the
               bridge was very slow. It was not until January 24, 1854 that the  Court
               received  a  report that the bridge had been completed. Richard Wall was allowed
               $20.50 for his services. This bridge disappeared many years ago. Only a few
               people now  living  know  that  it once existed, but its purpose well. At later
               dates bridges were built across the  St. Francis at Wappapello and at Fisk.
               These  later  bridges  were  more  accessible  and speeded the death of the old
               bridge, “at or near the Indian Ford.”


               No figures or estimates are available  on  the  number  of  men  from  Butler
               County enlisting in the Union and Confederate armies. The number could not have
               been  large as there were only 2891 papas in the county in 1860. Statewide
               Missouri sent about 10 per cant of its people into the armies of the North and
               South.  On  that  basis  the county could have recruited about 300 men into the
               two armies but we  doubt  if  that many enlisted as we do not find that very
               many  men  were  very  enthusiastic  about joining either army. Since most of
               the  settlers  in  Butler  County  were  from  the southern states the majority
               opinion sympathized with the Solaria  but  the  sympathy was mostly personal, a
               tender regard for relatives and former nei­ghbors but  only  a lukewarm interest
               in the cause for which the South was fighting. There seems to  have been very
               little recruiting in the county. Most of the  men  enlisting  joined  units
               organized in nearby Missouri counties and some enlisted in Arkansas. So far as
               we can find only one Confederate unit was organized in Butler Cou­nty,  the
               Ninth  Missouri Infantry, organized at Little Black River bridge in September
               1862. It  was  composed mostly of southeast Missouri men and saw active service.
               Its leaders  were  James  B. White, Colonel; and William S. Ponder, Lieutenant-
               Colonel.  Early  in  the  war  four companies of State Guards were organized in
               Butler County, Daniel L. Jennings, Major; and Captains, James M. Jennings, John
               C. Smart, William Gregory and N.C.  Dodson.  We do .not find that a Union
               company  was  organized  in  the  county  but  Godspeeds’s" History of Southeast
               Missouri state that the Sixth Missouri Cavalry  (Union)  had  26 Butler County
               men. The State Guards mentioned above were  for  local  protection  and were in
               sympathy with the South.

               At the beginning of the Civil War Poplar Bluff was only a small village of some
               ID to a dozen families, perhaps 40 to 60 people. It would be of much interest to
               know  the names and places of residence of these few families but it is doubtful
               if  the  list can be reconstructed with any degree of accuracy. We have found
               evidence  that  James S. Ferguson, Daniel L. Jennings, John S. Varner and Dr.
               James T. Adams were in Poplar Bluff at that time. We be­lieve Charles S.
               Henderson and Jesse A. Gilley were in town but lack definite

               Proof. Most of the houses were of logs. James S. Fergu­son had built a frame
               house in 1859 on the lot just south of present Dunn Hotel. We believe Charles S.
               Henderson and John S. Varner lived just south of the courthouse and Dr. Adams
               lived about where the Public Library is now located. Mr. Giley was the first
               postmaster  in  Poplar  Bluff with the office in a.’ log house on the east bank
               of Black River. He  probably  lived in this house or near it. Dr. Adams was the
               first surgeon to locate in Butler County. Charles S. Henderson was the first
               merchant in Poplar Bluff and  Daniel  L.  Jennings was the first lawyer to
               settle in the county.

               Butler County was not the scene of a major battle or even a major  scrimmage  in
               the Civil War. There was some movement of troops through the county by both
               sides in  the conflict and a few minor military actions in the county. On
               February 10, 1862, Major-General Halleck reported from St. Louis to  Major-
               General  McClellan  in  Washington, quote, "We have just taken Poplar Bluff and
               Doni-phan, capturing Major  Jennings  and 29 men of the rebel army." Major
               Jennings must have been Daniel L. Jennings of Poplar Bluff^ with a portion of
               the State Guards he had helped  to  organize.  February  27, 1864, there
               occurred an action termed "Affair Near Poplar Bluff, Mo." Captain AbiEjah Johns,
               Third Missouri State Militia Cavalry  |Union),  reported  the  next  day  from
               Patterson, Missouri, to Colonel Richard G. Woodson, Pilot Knob, as follows,
               "Colonel: My scout in from below Poplar Bluff. Captured and burned relief train,
               destroying  a great many shotguns and rifles and corn. Killed two jayhawkers;
               had one man  slightly wounded in finger." To date we have been unable to locate
               the scene of this  "Affair" but believe it must have been southwest of Poplar

               The most extensive scouting expedition through Butler County which we have
               found  in the records occurred August 9-18, 1863, which is officially titled
               "Scout  from  Cape Girardeau to the Ash Hills and Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and
               skirmish (13th) at the Ash Hills". The report on this expedition, in addition to
               military af­fairs,  also  gives interesting comments on conditions in the swamps
               east of Poplar Bluff 100 years ago.-At the time of this exped­ition the Union
               had forces stationed in southeast  Missouri at Pat­terson, Bloomfield and Cape
               Girardeau. By  August  1863  reports  had  reached Bloomfield and Cape Girardeau
               of a scouting expedition from Pocahontas, Arkansas,  to Patterson,  Missouri,
               by  Colonel  William  J.  Preston,  Fourth  Missouri   Cavalry (Confederate).
               Major Montgomery,  Union  commander  in  Bloomfield,  alarmed  by  the reports,
               appealed to  Colonel  J.B.  Rogers,  Cape  Girardeau,  for  reinforce­ments.
               Colonel Rogers ordered Major Frederick R. Pools to proceed to Bloomfield with
               the 1st Battalion, Second Missouri State Militia and  one  company  of  the
               Second  Arkansas Cavalry, led by Lieut. W.F. Orr. On August 20, 1863, Major
               Poole made his  report  to Col. Rogers. We quote extensively from this report.

               Quote: "Sir: In compliance with your instructions of the 9th instant, I marched
               with my battalion and one company  of  the  Second  Arkansas  Cavalry,  under
               command  of Lieutenant (W.F.) Orr, at 9:30 p.m. same  evening,  to  reinforce
               Major  Montgomery, commanding, Post Bloomfield, whom you had informed me you
               supposed to be in immin­ent danger. I  marched  all  night,  though  with  some
               difficulty,  having  in  several instances,owing to the darkness and the thickly
               u/wooded glades, to light  the  port-fires (belonging to the mountain howitzer
               which I brought  with  me)  to  enable  the drivers to keep the road and arrived
               next day at Bloomfield."

               "I telegraphed you from Bloomfield that, from  all  information  and
               indications,  I thought Major Montgomery need have no fears of an attack; and on
               the  12th  received orders from you to move my com­mand through  the  Ash
               Hills,  in  the  direction  of Pocahontas, to ob­tain ail the information
               possible  touching  rebel  forces  in  the southern tier of counties; and,
               should I find no body of rebels, was  to  proceed  no farther south than the Ash
               Hills, and to return via Greenville, or in that direction, to the Cape."

               "In obedience to the above instructions, I moved in the dir­ection indicated the
               same evening. Marched all night, to avoid the intense heat, resisting a few
               hours at  Camp Pools, near St. Francis, to rest and feed. Then,  moving
               forward,  we  cross­ed  the Saint Francis River at Indian Ford, and proceeded
               down the Ash Hill  road  10  miles, along the west bank of the St. Francis, and
               entered the Ash  Hills  country  about  5 p.m. on the evening of the 13th. At
               that point, hearing of no enemy^ and my  men  and ani­mals being very much
               fatigued, I took Captain"(P.O.) McClanahan and  two  men  in advance to select
               and lay out our camp, when,- coming to a short angle of  the  road, we met face
               to face, about 80 arm­ed guerrillas. The column being about 200 yards  in year,
               we char­ged them with saber and pistol,  killing  six  on  the.  South  wounded
               several horses, also a large lot of ammunition and rifles; when they broke like
               sheep to the swamp. In the melee, I received a shot through the  right  leg,
               which  proved very painful. Having no doc­tor or ambulance, I had to ride on
               horseback  five  days after being wounded. I also had my horse shot  nearly  at
               the  same  instant  I  was wounded myself, and he fell heavily upon me* injuring
               me con­siderably."

               "The casualty incurring to myself and horse was the only one Deceived by my
               command' during the entire scout. About two miles "from the scene of the
               skirmish we went into Camp, and '8»t9cLfor  the  night;  distant
               from  Bloomfield  about  40 miles,"

               "On the morning of the 14th, continued our course through  the  ash  Hills
               until  we arrived at their base, striking Black River; hen moved north on the
               east bank of  the river, and arrived and camped at Poplar Bluff, 25 miles from
               Camp  McClanahan.  Camp with three more guerrillas during the day, who were all

               "On the .morning of the 15th, we marched up six miles on the west ids of Black
               Rive*, crossed the ford, and -proceeded in the direction of  Greenville,
               encamped  at  Camp Law, on Otter Creek, 25 miles from Poplar Bluff.

               We believe the ford on Black River was Shipman's Ford which as in the vicinity
               of the present Hilliard. On August 16th, the column passed through Greenville
               and on  August 18th reached Cape Girardeau Poplar Bluff to Cape Girardeau the
               column averaged  about 25 miles per day.


               We continue with the report of Major Pools on "Scout from Cape Girardeau to  the
               Ash Hills and Poplar Bluff."

               Quote: "From Bloomfield to St. Francis, the road leads  across  a  high  and
               rolling country, but from St. Francis to Ash Hills there is little or nothing
               but glances and swamps, which, at any other season of the year, would be
               utterly  impracticable  for artillery. The roads through Ash Hills are
               indistinct and wret­chedly bad, and again, upon striking the river, there are
               about 10 miles of glades to  pass  through  before reaching Poplar Bluff. The
               little howitzer that I had with me was the first thing  in the shape of
               artillery that ever passed over that road. I  think  the  distance  from
               Bloomfield to Poplar Bluff, via Ash Hills, is about  50  miles.  Forage  out  of
               the question, the men in that country pre­ferring bushwhacking to hones labor.
               The  roads from Poplar Bluff to Dallas mostly pass  through  rolling,  barren,
               and  uninhabited sec­tions, but are good, and must be  at  all  times
               practicable  for  the  heaviest artillery. I found great difficulty in procuring
               forage enough for my command between Poplar Bluff and Dallas, Marmaduke's and
               General Davidson's commands having  consumed everything within reach. New hay is
               plenty between  Dallas  and  the  Cape,  and  the farmers at these points are
               assiduously at work raising good crops of corn."  (Dallas is the present Marble

               "From all the information that I could collect, I have good reason  to  believe
               that there are no considerable armed bodies of  rebels,  in  the  state,  as  I
               had  good information that they were all ordered south toward the line of Texas,
               and those that now remain are merely mutineers or guerrillas, who have refused
               to obey  the  orders, taking it as a subterfuge that they belong to the old
               State Guard and cannot be taken out of the State. I should have no hes­itancy to
               take one squadron and  move  in  any direction through this portion of the

               "To the officers and men under my command I tender my sincere thanks for  their
               good conduct and cheerfulness throughout the trip. During the march of 200 miles
               I  never heard a murmur, althou­gh we frequently marched twenty-four hours
               without  eating.  I espe­cially recommend to your notice Captain McClanahan and
               Buglers (E. Z.')  Shannon and (W.C.) Thatcher for their unflinching courage 1
               and bravery in following me where none but the brave and true could have fought
               and lived. To them I owe my life and  a never-ending debt of gratitude."

               "I am, Colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant," ^signed)  Fred  R.
               Poole, Major, Comdg. First Batt. Second Missouri State Militia Cavalry.

               During January, 1865, Col. John B. Rogers, Union commander at Cape Girardeau,
               ordered an operation against Confederate forces at Cherokee Bay, Arkansan,
               titled "Expedition from Bloomfield to Poplar Bluff,  Mo.,  and  vicinity."  Lt.
               William  Rinne,  Second Mis­souri Artillery, led the expedition. Through none of
               the  fighting  was  done  in Butler County the movement of troops throught the
               swamps and the suffering of men and animals in mid-winter is an in­teresting

               At Bloomfield, January 4, 1865, Lt. Rinne took command of the troops assigned to
               him, 45 men from Companies A. I and M. Second Cavalry Missouri State Militia,
               25  men  of the Second Missouri /VrM... llery and 20 men of the Seventy-ninth
               Enrolled  Missouri Militia, totaling 90 men. At Poplar Bluff Lfc. Rinne waited
               36 hours in Poplar  Bluff and then marched on to Cherokee Bay. Finding that  the
               swamps  were  impassable  for teams. He lift his team and am­bulance in Poplar
               Bluff with a guard to project  until Captain Cochran arrived. (We do not know
               where Captain Cochran was stationed when  he was ordered to Pop}.ar Bluff)
               Captain  Cochran  wouT  A  go  to  Cherokee  Bay  by  a different and better
               road nnd could bring the team and ambulance.

               We now quote from Lt. Rinne's report to Col. Rogora, Jan. 18, 1865.  "The
               command  I took with me riambei-ed 70 men. (Evidently 20 men were left  in
               Poplar  Bluff  as  a guard.) I crossed the swamp between Cane Creek and Currant
               River and then divided  my small forcre1 into two parties. I directed one party
               to strike the bay near the lower end at tha rebel Colonel Reves: while I with
               the other par­ty struck it at.athe upper end, directing the party I sent in the
               lower end of the bay to join me at Patterson's on the bay. By these directions I
               succeeded in surprising  the  rebels,  killing  19, wounding 3 severely, and
               capturing 5. I had one man killed, and no other casualty  to any of the men of
               my command during the ex­pedition. Among  the  rebels  killed  were three
               officers—Lieutenant Copeland,  Lieutenant  Sooter,  and  Lieutenant  Moore.—The
               killed and prisoners all belonged to Reves' command. We found no con­siderable
               force together. They  were  scattered  over  the  country  in  small  bands
               from  five  to ten.—Captain Cochran joined me on the bay, bringing  up  my  team
               and  ambulance.  I reported to him for or­ders, u/hen he instructed, after
               having done all  I  could  at the bay, to return with my command to the Cape by
               the  same  route  in  which  I  had entered the bay, while he would take a
               different  route,  this  being  necessary,  as forage could not be procured for
               the whole command at any one place. In crossing  the bay to Poplar Bluff I lost
               my wagon and ambulance, drowned two mules and five horses. It was "impassable 	o
               get the wagon or ambulance out of the  swamp.  CarleCreel ^ It was very high,
               over f lowing" the banks and covering  the  whole  country  for  eight miles
               with water two to three feet deep, through which the command had to  march  and
               break their road through ice from one and a  half  to  two  inches  thick.  Our
               next trouble was in crossing the Saint Francis River, which we had to swim, but
               which  was affected without loss or accident. From there to Cape we had an
               uninterrupted  march, where I arrived with command on the 16th instant,  having
               marched  about  300  miles through swamps, ice, and water. The command suffered
               much from cold  by  often  being compelled to swim their horses and to assist
               when mired out of  mud  and  water.  The result of the expedition was 19 rebels
               killed, 3 severely wounded, and 5 captured; 50 horses and mules were captured,
               35 of which have been turned  over  to  the  provost-mar­shal at Cape Girardeau,
               Mo., 5 head  drowned  in  the  nwamp,  4head  claimed  by citizens and given up,
               and 6 head stolen  from  the  cor­ral  at  Bloomfield,  mo."In January and
               February, 1865, Col J.B. Roger, Union command­er at Cape  Girardeau,  led an
               expedition titled "Expedition from Cape Girardeau, Wo., to Eleven Points River
               in Ark." Col Rogers with 300 men proceeded to Indian Ford on the St. Francis
               River where he was joined by Captain McClanahan with 200 men. None of the
               fighting  occurred  in Butler County but the passage through the county of 500
               men with horses, wagons'  and other paraphernalia of war very likely caused much
               excitement and  perhaps  an  equal de­gree of terror and apprehension among the
               inhabitants along the line of march. The expedition crossed Butler County
               probably by the "Road from Brannum's Old Mill to the Indian Ford on the St.
               Francis" or a combination of this road with a portion  of  the "Old Military
               Road." Col. Rogers reported the men had to wade for miles through water one to
               three feet deep in the Arkansas swamps. The wagon train had to be left  behind
               as it could not be taken across the swamps. The men making  the  march  carried
               five days rations. The area around Pocahontas,  Arkansas,  was  searched  for
               Confederate forces. On the return trip one column, went through Doniphan on  the
               road  to  Pilot Knob. This column probably used the Old Military Road. The other
               column,  we  assume, returned to Cape Girardeau, though the report does not  so
               state.  If  so,  it  also returned through Butler County, probably through or
               near Poplar Bluff.

               We are indebted to Mr. C.W. Knuckles for the research on "Scout from  Cape
               Girardeau to the Ash Hills and Poplar Bluff."


               The story of battles and marching men is glamorous but our  heart  strings  are
               most touched by incidents that happened to people. We will devote this article
               to  Butler County people as the war touched their lives.

               To represent Butler County men in the army we have chosen Carroll Epps. This is
               very appropriate as he represents one of the great pioneer families of this
               county and  he enlisted in the only regiment, so far as we know, organized in
               Butler County. He  was a grandson of Daniel Epps who lived on Ten Mile Creek
               along­side  the  Old  Military Road and at whose cabin tbe County Court met for
               a few times before a county seat was founded. His father was Joshua Epps who had
               a mill on Cane Creek  at  the  place  now called Roxie.

               Carroll Epps enlisted in the Confederate army August  3,1862,  in  the  9th
               Missouri Infantry. He was then 23 years old, married and had  a  son,  Thomas
               Anderson  Epps. Whether or not he enlisted at the Little Black River bridge
               where  the  regiment  was organized we do not know. We are not sure of the
               location  of  this  bridge  but  we believe it was at Brannum's Old Mill,
               snowball’s Mill but only a place  name  as  the mill disappeared many years ago.
               Ha was enlisted.  By  T.  H.  'Turner..'  -The  9th-Missouri was successfully
               designated as 3rd (also known as whites0 Regiment  Missouri Infantry, 9th (also
               known as Ponders) Regiment Missouri Infantry  and  12th  Regiment Missouri

               On August 27, 1862, after serving 24 days as a private, he  was  elected
               Lieutenant, Company I, and on March 2, 1863 was pro­moted Captain. Mr, R.S.
               Douglass, in  History of Southeast Mis­souri, states that after the 9th Missouri
               was organized  it  marched to Pocahontas, Arkansas, then went to Fort Smith,
               Arkansas, where it participated  in the battle 6f Prairie Grave, then was
               station­ed at Shreveport, Louisiana,  and  took part in the battles of Ple­asant
               Hill and Mansfield, Louisiana. The battle at Prairie Grove was December 7, 1862,
               and the battles of  Pleasant  Hill  and  Mans­field  were April 8 and 9, 1864.
               We do not have any information on  the  activities  of  the  9th Regiment in
               these engagements. On November 24, 1863, the name of Carroll Fppes is  on the
               roster of "Commissioned Officers 6"f the 4th (Parsons') Brigade  Missouri
               Vols., Price's Division, Camp Bragg, Arkansas." On December 6,

               1863, Captain Epps was absent on recruiting duty by order of Gen­eral Parsons.

               On December 25, 1863, Captain Epps was taken prisoner  in  Ripley  County,
               Missouri. What a way to spend Christmas? He was then taken to Pilot Knob,
               Missouri.  At  Pilot Knob he signed a roster of prisoners transferred to St.
               Louis, Missouri, December  31,' 1863. Captain Epps must have been exchanged or
               escaped for at the close of the war in 1865 his name is in the roll of men
               belong­ing  to  Army  of  the  Northern  Sub-District of Arkansas,  which  army
               was  surrendered  by  Brigadier-General  M.  Jeff Thompson on May 11, 1865. On
               June 5, 1865, he was paroled at Jackson port,  Arkansas, and was free to return
               to the activities of civilian life. In the Muster Roll of  the paroled prisoners
               he is described as  25  years  old,  gray  eyes,  dark  hair,  dark complexion
               and 5 feet 6 in­ches in height.

               The officers and men under the command  of  General  Thompson  were  paroled  in
               two groups, one group at Wittsburg, Arkansas, May  25,  1865,  and  the  other
               group  at Jackson port, June 5, 1865, a total  of  7,454  parolees.  The  men
               must  have  been suffering from hunger and from the lack of almost every
               convenience,  even  for  Army life. We quote from the report of Lt. Col. C.W.
               Davis, Union  Officer  in  charge  of paroling, as follows: "General Thompson
               had no  transportation,  except  300  or  400 dugout canors, and no public
               animals or property of any  other  description,  ex­cept $4,821, C.S. money,
               which I received and gave receipt for most of the men we  paroled were without
               food, and I issued to them about  28,000  rations.  They  seemed  highly pleased
               at the surrender, and said all they wanted now was to be allowed to  live  at
               home." While General Thompson did not have any public animals it is implied that
               some of the men had horses and mules as per­sonal property except arms and
               ammunition  but commissioned of­ficers could retain their side arms. The
               Confederate  money  was,  of course, worthless.

               We suppose most of the paroled men had to walk home. Now the issuing of 28,000
               ration assumes more significance than mere­ly relieving the hunger of the
               moment.  This  was enough food for each man for three or dour days, a ration
               being a supply of food  for one man for one day. We estimate that Jackson port
               was about 125 miles from the  home of Carroll Epps in Butler County. Food for
               three days would enable him  to  get  home without begging or scrounging for
               food. If he had a horse he  could  travel  in  more comfort but would make but
               little better time than if he walked.

               Even though the war was over the trip  home  for  the  return­ing  soldier
               could  be dangerous. He had to travel in border country where most of the people
               had  suffered terrible hardships from marching armies and marauding bands of men
               who  had  no  real allegiance to either side but lived by plundering the
               country.  Hence  the  returning soldier had to be very careful in meeting
               strangers. He  might  be  roughly  handled, robbed or even killed.

               Mr. Epps got safely home, rejoined his family and entered again into the life of
               his community. By occupation he was a farmer but also took an active part in
               public life. In 1866 he was commissioned by the County Court to build a bridge
               across Cane  Creek. In 1876 he was elected assessor for Butler County. This was
               about as soon as he could hold public office for under the much hated
               Constitution  of  1865  anyone  who  had adhered to the Confederate cause was
               prohibited  to  hold  public  office.  In  1875 Missouri adopted a new
               constitution which abolished  the  "test  oath"  of  the  1865 Constitution. On
               January 22, 1877, the bond of Mr. Epps for Si,000.00 was approved by the County
               Court. His securities were Peter Wacom and John Epps.

               Note: The Federal officers who paroled the men were met at Memphis by a staff
               officer and a St. Francis River pilot sent by General Thompson. The party then
               proceeded  to Wittsburg on the St. Francis River by steamboat. After paroling
               the men as­sembled at Wittsburg the party went 60 Jackson port on White  River
               near  the  mouth  of  Black River. We assume the trip from Wittsburg to  Jackson
               port  was  overlain,  about  50 miles. A boat trip would have required a return
               to the Mississippi River and then  up the White River, hardly possible in the
               ten days between the two paroling dates.

               We wish to thank Mr. Fred Epps for use of copies of the Muster Roll papers of
               Carroll Epps. Me. Fred Epps is a grandson of Carroll Epps.


               In any war there are always interesting stories, some of the fortunes or
               misfortunes of war, some of wanton cruelty and some with a touch of  humor  or
               comedy.  In  this article we will retell some Civil War incidents of Butler

               The Hanging of Squire Duffy, who in fact was a  Union  man  in  sen-  —  torment
               but apparently  was  not  offensive  in  his  actions.  How­ever  a  group  of
               southern sympathizers took Squire Duffy and hang­ed him to a dogwood tree  using
               a  strip  of hickory bark as a hang­man's rope. The news of the hanging spread
               rapidly. A group of Union sympathizers from Stoddard County came into Butler
               County  rounded  up  several suspects and determined that the Squire had been
               "turned in" by a man  named  Johnson who operated the ferry near the Indian Ford
               on the St.  Francis  River,  Johnson  was taken to the vicinity of Duffy's
               hanging and, in the  eyes  of  his  ac­cusers,  with appropriate justice, hanged
               by a strip of hickory bark. It is said that the  skeleton of Johnson was left
               swing­ing until after th close of the war, a grim reminder of the awful-mess of
               civil war.

               The Beaming of Green Sparkman. The Sparkman house was on the Military Road  near
               the present Cane Creek school The Spark-man's owned a Brown mare which they  had
               brought from Tennessee. On the day of this episode the Sparkman boys had worked
               the mare  and decided to keep her at the house that night. Ordinarily they hid
               her in the woods  at night. During the night a band of bushwhackers came along
               the Military Road,  stopped at the Spark-man's place and took whatever they
               wanted, including  the  little  brown mare and the furs belonging to the boys.
               One  of  the  boys,  Green,  protested  the thievery so vehemently that one of
               the gang drew an iron ramrod  and  beat  him  into insensibility.

               The Murder of Robert Stewart, Robert Stewart lived east of the  present
               Hendrickson. The same gang of brigands that had beat­en Croon Sparkman went to
               the  Stewart  home, captured Mr. Ste­wart, took across Black River  and  there
               fatally  shot  him.  Mrs. Stewart went to look for her husband and found his
               body where it had been left by hi^ attackers.

               The Murder of Drury L. Spurlock. Unfortunately the close of the war did not end
               acts – of violence growing our of bitterness over the war years. Mr. Bpurlock
               had  been  a Confederate soldier. He had grown up in Butler County, a  son  of
               pioneer  settlers, John Spurlock. At the time of this incident he was living
               near Moark,  Arkansas  with his wife and three children and a third child
               expected in a few days. On the night of March 7th 1871, ruffians came to the
               house  and  shot  Mr.  Spurlock  to  death,  own doorway, with his terrified
               wife and children inside the house. During the  attack  a Negro man who worked
               for Mr. Spnrlock was severely wounded and was a cripple for  the rest of his
               life. The members  of  the  family  felt  the  brutal  attack  game  from
               bitterness over some happening in the war.

               The silk dress. Some of the incidents had a humorous turn. Daniel Jennings, the
               first lawyer to settle in Poplar Bluff, lived in a log house near the corner  of
               Vine  and Seconds streets. In the family was Beatrice Jennings, a young woman
               about  16  or  13 year of age. She was the proud possessor of a silk dress. One
               day  while  the  family was rendering lard in a kettle  in  the  fireplace  a
               detachment  of  regular  Union soldiers occupied the town and some them
               commenced to forage for food. Three or  four of the men entered the Jennings
               home. One of the men found the  silk  dress  and  was carrying it away. Beatrice
               tried to take it a-way from him but could  not.  She  then threw a ladleful of
               hot lard on the soldier and recovered her dress amid  the  cheers of the others
               soldiers. Meanwhile the offending  soldier  was  rolling  in  the  snow outside
               to ease the terrible pain from the burns of the hot lard,

               The Poker Game. This was the most amusing and probably  the  least  harmful
               incident occurring in Butler County during the war. Before the war the Butler
               County Court had under construction a brick courthouse on the Public Square.
               With the outbreak of  the war all work on the building ceased. The walls and
               roof had been completed but  there were no windows or interior partitions. The
               story is that a company pf Union  soldier approached the town from the south
               and,  fearing  it  was  occupied  by  a  force  of Confed­erates, directed
               artillery fire on the town from about the  pre­sent  location of the Porter-
               DeWitt Construction Company's concrete plant on Ashcroft  Road.  It  is «aid
               that four of the male citizens of the town were  in  the  unfinished  courthouse
               playing poker at the time the bombardment commenced. We will quote the story in
               full as told by Richard L.Metcalfe in "A View of a  Growing  Town,"  pub­lished
               in  1884, Quote: "In the year 1863 the brick court house consisted only of walls
               and roof.  The entire interior was one big space with no rooms or stories
               divided up. In the  spring of that year when Poplar Bluff was resting quietly in
               its seclusion one-half  of  the population of the place (consisting of four
               persons) sat  inside  the  walls  of  the court house and engaged in a game of
               poker. While these gentlemen  were  each  deeply engaged in the plea­sures of
               that American game, and it is said just as  one  of  the num­ber, who is today a
               resident of this place, was preparing  to  rake  in  a  "jack pot," a terrible
               crash was heard and a cannon ball came crashing through the southern wall of the
               structure, and within seven feet of the poker party. On good authority it is
               stated that one of the party rushed up and withdrew the fuse before  it  could
               do its intended work. At all events the "jack pot"  was  not  taken  and  three
               of  the players jumped out of the windows and went Cushing  pell-mell  in  the
               direction  of "home sweet home," only to be followed in  a  short  time  by  the
               fourth  and  more courageous one of the party who had remained to tear the  fuse
               out.  This  ball  was fired by a Federal company under Captain Poole, which was
               Stationed at  the  bend  of the river about one fourth mile below town. Captain
               Poole was  under  the  impression that the town was filled with Confederates,
               and accordingly opened fire upon it,  and hearing no response, ordered his
               company to charge upon and take the town.  This  was done and the soldiers
               valiantly took charge of the place only to find that the figure eight would be
               sufficient to number the inhabitants. However, these persons were  all placed in
               jail for the night but ware released in the morning when Poole left town."

               For source material on this article we are indebted to " "History of Butler
               County," by D.B. Deem; 'W View of a Growing Town," by Richard L.  Metcalfe;  and
               to  personal interviews with Mrs. Roy Caldwell and Mrs, Lois Scott, both of
               Poplar Bluff.


               The largest movement of troops through Butler County during  the  Civil  War
               was  in September 1864, Major-General Sterling Price, a Missourian by adoption,
               had assembled in northeast Ar­kansas a force of about 12,000 men, some
               artillery, and equip­age  to loaf 300 wagons. He proposed to invade Missouri*
               Gen­eral Price organized his army in three divisions, the division commanders
               being Major-General James F.  Fagan,  Major-General John S. Marmaduke and
               Brigadier-General Joseph 0. Shelby.

               The three division were  to  assemble  at  or  near  Pocahontas,  Arkansas,  for
               the invasion. Reports from the division command­ers show that on Sept. 14, 1864,
               General Shelby was at Powhatan on Black River and on  Sept.  15,  Fagan  and
               Marmaduke  were camped on the Strawberry River but in different locations. Fagan
               ex­pected  to  reach Pocahontas on the 16th and Marmaduke promised to be  there
               on  the  17th.  Marmaduke reported that his command had been without breadstuffs
               for three days.  The  plan  of the invasion was for the army to leave the
               Pocahontas  area  in  three  columns,  by different routes, and to converge  at
               or  near  Fredericktown,  Missouri.  From  the general headquarters at
               Pocahontas on Sept. 18, 1864, General Price  issued  marching orders to the
               division commanders as  follows:  Fagan  division  was  to  proceed  to
               Fredericktown via Martinsburg, Reeves' Station and Greenville; Marmaduke was to
               march to the right of Fagan and Shelby to Fagan’s left. The  Major-General
               commanding  the army (Price) was to Marci with the center division. The center
               division was  ordered, as near as practicable, to march eighteen miles per day.

               The marching orders took two of the divisions, Fagans and Marmaduke's through
               Butler County. As General Price was with  Fagan's  division  he  also  came
               through  Butler County. Since Reeves' Station was at or near  the  present
               Hendrickson  we  believe. Fagan's division moved along the "Old Military Road"
               and that the general  course  of Marmaduke's division was along! the "Road from
               Brannum's Old Mill to the Indian  Ford on the St. Francis River."

               On September 20 Marmaduke  reported  that  he  was  "encamped  forty-two  miles
               form Pocahontas on the direct Poplar Bluff road passing through Cherokee Bay."
               We  do  not know the location of this camp. It could have been in Butler Countyt
               The  next  night Marmaduke was in Poplar Bluff. Since his  message  from  Poplar
               Bluff  is  the  only dispatch of the war we have found with a Poplar Bluff date
               line we quote it in full.

               Headquarters., Marmaduke's Division,

               Poplar Bluff, Sept. 21, 1864 Lieutenant-Colonel MacLean, Assistant Adjutant-

               Colonel: My command is encamped this  evening  at  this  point.  The  column
               marched without difficulty. Everything quiet. No news. I dispatched to you  last
               evening.  I send by this courier a dispatch to Major Surridge, of Greene's
               regiment. He  is  with either General Fagan or General  Shelby.  Please  direct
               the  courier  that  he  may de­liver the communication.

               Very respectfully,

               J. S. Marmaduke, Major-General

               The next day Marmaduke moved out of Butler County. We quote in full his dispatch
               that night as it is quite interesting.'

               Headquarters. Marmaduke's Division,

               Four Miles Northwest of Indian

               Ford on St. Francis River,

               Sept.£2, 1864 - 8 p.m. Lieutenant-Colonel MacLean, Assistant Adjutant-General:

               Colonel: I am encamped at the point mentioned above with my command.  Will
               march  to and encamp on the Castor, six miles below Buchanan and thirty-one
               miles from this and thirty miles from Fredericktown, tomorrow night. Forage
               plenty upon  the  route.  The Federal force evacuated Bloomfield night before
               last. Were closely pursued by Colonel Jeffers1 regiment, but escaped with the
               loss  of  their  wagon  train,  captured  or burned. The Federals went in the
               direction of New Madrid.

               Very respectfully,

               J. S. Marmaduke, Major-General

               It was not necessary for General Fagan to report  daily  to  the  commanding
               general (General Price) as he was with  Fagan's  command.  Hence  we  do  not
               have  definite information on camp sites used by Fagan in Butler County. The
               late Earl Houts,  whose house is on the "Old Military Road" on the west side of
               Ten Mile Creek, once told  us that Price's army marched by his farm and camped
               there, spread up and down the  creek for three or four miles. Mr. Houts said a
               few soldiers died there and were buried  in nearby Houts1 Cemetery. Their graves
               were not permanently marked  so  cannot  now  be located. This must have been
               Fagan's camp as his division was scheduled to follow the "Old Military Road."

               A detachment of General Shelly's soldiers took part in an ac­tion in  Butler
               County. On September 19th Shelby reported that he had reached Doniphan at 3:30
               a.m.  and  was encamped in and around the place. He  also  reported  that  about
               ten  o'clock  that morning .a Fed­eral scout about 100 strong had burned the
               place, except the mill  one mile below town, and left repidly.  Shelby  believed
               the  Federal  would  encamp  at Ponders Mill so dispatched Lt. Col. Rector
               Johnson with 150  men  to  apprehend  them there. Johnson caught up with the
               Federals the next day and routed them with  a  loss of six men killed or
               wounded. We have  not  found  a  Union  dispatch  covering  this en­gagement so
               have no report on the Union losses. In the index volume  of  "Official Records"
               this action is listed as "Little Black River  Skirmish"  and  "Ponders  Will

               Richard L. Metcalfe, in "A View of a Growing  Town,"  mentions  another
               incident  of Price's invasion. We quote directly from his narrative. Quote. "In
               September  (1864) and during the famous  Price  raid,  Doniphan  (Ripley
               County)  was  burned  by  the Federals, and Gen. Joe Shelby sent Col. Reeves to
               pick up any straggling companies of Federals who might be found in the
               neighborhood. About eight miles from Poplar  Bluff Colonel Reeves' regiment
               discovered a  company  wearing  the  blue,  and  a  skirmish followed in which
               four persons were killed and several captured by Reeves."  We  have not found
               any other record of this skirmish. General Shelby did not mention it in his
               reports. Where did it occur and where were the dead soldiers buried? We  would
               guess the action occurred west or southwest of Poplar Bluff.

               This brings to a close our story of this movement of troops through Butler
               County. If the columns of Price's army were about equal in size some eight or
               nine thousand  men could have marched through the county. Some four thousand men
               could have been  camped in and around Poplar Bluff. Unfortunately there is
               scarcely even  a  memory  left  in local history about the occasion. Mostly it
               is for­gotten beyond recovery. A camp for that many men would require many
               acres. Where were the tents set up,  if  any?  Where was mess cooked and served?
               Where was Marmaduke's headquarters for  the  night?  Just imagine the foraging
               around for food, the search for chickens, pigs and cattle. Where did the column
               cross Black River? The bridge at  Poplar  Bluff  had  been  destroyed. Fancy all
               the excitement, the hurry, the shouting, the swearing, in moving  4000  men with
               wagons, horses, mules and artillery across the  river  and  the  column  getting
               underway for Indian Ford on the St. Francis River. Did Fagan  camp  in  north
               Butler County after he left Ten Mile Creek? On September 21st Gen­eral  Shelby
               reported  he was encamped twelve miles from Patterson. In moving from Doniphan
               to that  point  did his column cross the north­west corner of Butler County?

               Notes: Ponders Mill is the present place name, Powers' Mill, on Little  Black
               River, near the western edge of Butler County.«and on the "Old Military Road."

               Colonel Reeves was Timothy Reeves, a resident of Butler County the "Official
               Record" uses the spelling "Reves."

               Sources of information for this article: History of Butler County, by  D.B.
               Deem;  A View of a Growing Town, by Richard Metcalfe; War of the Rebellion
               Official  Records, published by United States Government; A History of
               Missouri,  by  E.M.Violette  and personal in­terview with the late Earl Houts.


               Many scouting parties from Union garrisons  in  southeast  Missouri  came  in
               to  or through Butler County looking for  bands  of  armed  men  which  were
               harassing  the citizens throughout southeast Missouri and  north­east  Arkansas.
               These  bands  were mounted, ranged widely, had  many  opprobrious  names  as
               jayhawkers,  bushwhackers, guerrillas, brigands, horse—thieves and murderers and
               usually numbered from  four  or five to ten or twelve men. Large bands attracted
               too much  attention,  lost  mobility and would quickly bring in a large force of
               Union ca­valry to run them down. Also  it was difficult to obtain forage to
               sustain a large band. These bands lived off of  the country. One report states
               that horses stolen  in  Missouri  were  taken  across  the Mississippi River to
               Chester, Illinois, and from there to St. Louis where  they  were sold.

               At the time of the Civil War much of south Missouri and north Arkansas was
               unsettled. If Union troops came into an area the bands treaded into the wooded
               hills and  swamps where it was almost im­possible for the armed forces to find
               them. The Ash Hills area of Butler County was one of the favored regions of
               these bands. The higher ground  of these low-lying hills provided a way in or
               out at either end of the chain.  If  Union troops appeared the men vanished
               into  the  adjacent  swamps,  sometimes  by  dugout canoes, and could stay
               almost indefinitely on the higher ridges in the swamps.

               We now quote excerpts from the "Official Reports"  on  a  few  of  the  scouts
               which concerned Butler County, (See explanation at end of article for  meaning
               of  numbers each scout).

               Jan. 8, 1864. "I have sent a small squad to Reves' house, if  possible  to  find
               him there this bad weather." (l) (Snow 6 inches dsep. Reves lived in Butler

               Jan. 18, 1864. "My scouts in this evening from near  Doniphan.  They  could
               hear  of nothing. All  quiet  in  that  quarter.  I  have  scouts  between
               Poplar  Bluff  and Bloomfield." (l)

               Jan, 26, 1864. "My scouts returned from Ash Hill; found no force; killed 2
               guerrillas as they returned, near Greenville." (l)

               Mar. 24, 1864. "All is quiet here. I have 50 men on Black River a good distance
               below Poplar Bluff......Our expeditions were all doing well the last heard from.
               They have killed a  good  many  this  week."  (1)

               (Apparently "search and kill" was not invented in Vietnam).

               Oct. 24, 1864. "I send scout to  Ponders  Will,  Cook's  settle­ment  and
               Farmington tomorrow," (2).

               Feb. 14,1865. "The Freer guerrillas band is in Butler County killing and
               robbing, and I think it best to send twenty men after th-m." (3).

               Mar. 3, 1865. "I have the honor to inform you ,.. of  the  existence  of  a
               band  of guerrillas two miles below Poplar Bluff .....

               under Jennings; also that Cache Swamp  is  the  chief  resort  of  guerril­las
               under Hilderbrand and Neighbors. There bands  rob  and  murder  the  people,
               scouring  the country in small squads, and have even attacked the pickets at
               Ironton." (4)

               Mar. 10, 1865. "Numerous reports  come  in  of  guerrilla  bands  plundering
               through Ripley, Butler and other counties below." (5)

               Mar. 11,  1865.  "Captain  Leeper  has  returned*  He  was  within  twelve
               miles  of Doniphan...... They killed two noted guerrillas on

               Little Black River, viz, Dick Graham and Green Meadows. The cap­tain has twelve
               men." (3) (This incident may not have been in But­ler County.)

               Within a few months after the beginning of the Civil War local government
               ceased  in Butler County. The courts did  not  meet.  Taxes  were  uncollected.
               Laws  were  not enforced. Each man had to protect himself and family as best he
               could. Bands of armed men roved throughout the county stealing, killing,
               destroying. Many citizens moved to areas having more protection. Some of the
               cit­izens who stayed were  reduced  to  the verge of starvation. Crops could not
               be grown because work animals had been stolen or had strayed away after the
               fences had been torn down or burned. Even  if  some  crops were grown the armed
               bandits would steal the harvest if they could find it.

               The last war meeting of the County Court was January 231, 1862,  the  justices
               being John N. Yarber, John S. Warner and N. W. Hendrickson, The court heard  the
               financial report of Thomas 8. Price, Treasurer. Here the record ends, about the
               center of  page 160, Book B, Butler County Court Record, without a motion or
               order of adjournment and without the signatures of the justices. The record
               ceases so abruptly  we  wonder  if the justices had received warning of
               ap­proaching soldiers. The County Court did  not meet again until October 9,
               1865. The last war meeting of the Butler  Bounty  Circuit Court was May 9, 1861,
               Judge Albert Jackson  pre­siding.  The  next  session  of  the Circuit Court was
               October 30, 1865, Judge John W. Emerson presiding.

               Richard L. Metcalfe in "A View of a Growing  Town"  records  how  the  Butler
               County records were protected during the war. Quote, (in 1862) "James S.
               Ferguson, successor to Blount, as circuit and county clerk delivered to County
               Judge,  J.N.  Yarber,  the keys to his office with a request that the records be
               taken charge of and  concealed, knowing the demolishment of the records was
               certain if they fell into  the  hands  of either army. Judge Yarber con­sulted
               with JohnG. Kelly, P.L. Warner and J.G. Baldwin, and it was decided that the
               records should be secreted the next day. Instead  of  the intended arrangement,
               however, Judge Yarber and P.L. Warner met that  night,  secured all the records
               of the county, and taking them to Warner's home, which was located on what is
               now known as Wine Street, near Second, placed them in a coffin and buried the
               coffin. In this position the records  remained  until  the  close  of  the  war,
               the whereabouts of them being known only by Yarber and Warner."

               (P.L. Varner was a carpenter and builder and made many of the coffins  used  in
               that  period.)

               At the close of the Civil War Butler County was in  economic  soc­ial  and
               political ruin. Industry and commerce were almost nil. In agriculture, the
               fields were  largely untended and overgrown with weeds and brush, fences
               destroyed, many buildings burned, livestock herds small and poor in quality due
               to lack of care. The County  Court  was again without money, having to start
               "from scratch" as in 1849 when  the  county  was born.

               Many people had moved away. At the beginning of the war Poplar Bluff had some
               ten  or twelve families but at the end only five families remained. Many of  the
               men,  sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, had been killed. School and church life
               had mostly  been abandoned. Dif­ferences of opinion over the causes and issues
               of  the  war  had  set neighbor against neighbor. Bitterness and hatred over
               acts of war by armies  of  both sides and by depredations of the brigand bands
               that  roamed  throughout  the  border lands persisted for seventy-five or more
               years after war's end.

               County government had ceased  to  exist.  After  the  war  closed  Governor
               Fletcher appointed Simmons R. Harviell, Exum C. Scott and Albert G. Bates as
               members  of  the County Court to reconstitute local government. Bates  refused
               the  appointment.  For some time the court was Harviell and Scott, Harviell
               president. This court first  met October 3, 1865.

               Taxes were uncollected in Butler County during the war. July  17,  1867,  the
               County Court entered judgment against lands delinquent in taxes for 1861
               through  1866  and ordered the Clerk to sell such lands according to law. The
               lands  ordered  sold  are listed in the records in 392 tracts totaling 87,237.5
               acres. This must  have  been  a large percentage of the privately owned lands in
               the county as  in  1867  many;  many thousands of acres were yet in the public

               Reference to scouts in Butler County. (1)  Reports  from  Patter­son  by
               William  T. Leeper, Captain, Commanding Post. (2) Report from Pilot Knob by
               Henry  H.  Williams, Major, Commanding, (3) Reports from Patterson  by  James
               Smith,  Captain  Commanding Post. (4) Reports from St. Louis by Edmund B.
               Alexander,  Acting  Assist­ant  Provest Marshal. (5) Report from Pilot Knob by
               John L. 3eve-ridge, Colonel, Commanding.

               Sources of information for this article:  War  of  the  Rebellion  Official
               Reports. Deem's History of Butler County. Douglass His­tory of Southeast
               Missouri. Mletcalfe's "A View of a Growing Town." County Court and Circuit Court
               Records, Butler County.

               Chapter XXXII    PLACE NAMES OF BULTER COUNTY

               An interesting phase of  local  history  is  a  study  of  the  origin,  meaning
               and development of place names. Some names originated out of  the  conversations
               of  the early settlers, were not recorded  in  writing  so  cannot  now  be
               identified  with certainty. Some places have had a succession of names.
               Fortunately  for  the  history stu­dent of Butler County the  late  Miss  Cora
               Ann  Pottenger  made  an  ex­tensive research into the place names of five
               Missouri counties, in­cluding Butler. Her  work is compiled in thesis form in
               the lihrot/ of the University of Missouri at  Columbia. In our references to her
               work we will use only her name.

               Black River - If we were  asked  to  choose  a  symbol  which  most  appeals  to
               the sentiments and heartstrings of native and adopted sons and daughters of
               Butler County we would select Black River. It has been more than two hundred
               years since the  first Europeans, the French, first saw this beautiful stream.
               They referred to it as "noir" which translates into English as "black."

               Several years ago we read a little volume, "Three Ozark  Streams,"  by  Ward
               Allison Dorrance, a story of float trips on the Jack's Fork, Current  and  Black
               rivers.  We suppose Mr. Dorrance was native to the Black  River  region  for  he
               writes,  "Since childhood, when I first forded the Black River in a wagon, I
               have wondered whence Its name .... Therefore, though I know now (having had my
               hands on a  document  of  1773) that the colonials said 'la Riviera a 1'Eau
               Noire or 'la Riviera Noire", From  a  few pages later we quote, "I find in the
               Colonial Archives proof of the French origin  of this stream. In the papers
               dealing  with  estates  there  is  a  document  (dated  22 October, 1773) in
               which two men, Colon and Joliet, state that  one  Jeanot  Francoeur left after
               his death on L'eau Noire (Black-water) a cache of 500 pots of bear oil,  a gun,
               a powder horn, etc. The two, having descended to the Post aux Arkansas with  the
               friend's property, request a part of  the  oil  for  their  trouble.  In  the
               second document (30 October, 1773) one Louis Chamard, merchant of Ste,
               Genevieve, represents that he also has a claim against the aforesaid Francoeur,
               hunter on the Riviere Noire (Black River)."

               Mr. Dorrance does not venture an opinion as to why the French referred to the
               stream as "Black-water" or "Black River." Miss Pottenger states that the name
               "Le  Noir"  is found on a map dated 1765 and suggests the  French  had  named
               the  river  for  some characterization the Indians had given it. In English the
               stream has  variously  been referred to as Big Black, Big Black River,
               Blackwater,  Big  Black-water  River  and Black River which is now the usual
               name. The French probably discovered  Black  River at or near its confluence
               with the White River.

               Butler County, Named by the Missouri General Assembly for Gen­eral William 0.
               Butler of Kentucky, a famous and popular general in the Mexican War.  At  the
               time  of  the organization of Butler County, Missouri had many immigrants from
               Kentucky and several of them mere very active in public life.

               Poplar Bluff - The town of Poplar Bluff derives its name from a magnificent
               stand  of tulip poplar trees along Black River just east of the original town.
               This  stand  of Poplar trees was so outstanding in appearance that the early
               travelers to the  region gave it a descrip­tive place name, "The Poplar Bluff."
               This was many years before the founding of a town at the site. To date we have
               not found a record of any  discussion for naming the county seat town. The
               county seat site was selected during the  summer of 1849. We suppose the County
               Court approved the name for the town but an  order  to that effect was not
               entered in the records. The first written record we have found on the name is a
               County Court order, March 18, 1850, "Ordered that the Town Commissioner
               advertise the town lots for sale at Poplar Rluff." The  grove  or  forest  of
               poplar trees was more extensive than just a narrow strip along Black River.
               Miss  Pottenger mentions an early area place name, "Poplar Grove," extending
               several miles south  and east of the foothills with poplar trees three to four
               feet in dia­meter. Our research leads us to believe that opposite Poplar Bluff
               the  grove  extended  eastward  to  at least Palmer Slough, early name, Little
               Raft Slough.

               Broseley- This town has had a succession of names,  Bailey,  Bailey's,  Bailey's
               End and, finally, Broseley. Miss Pottenger states it was originally  a  sawmill
               village, established about 1890 and named for William Bailey, mill  manager  for
               one  of  the large companies that had come into the area to harvest the timber.
               At one time it was the southern terminus of the Butler County Rail­road and, as
               such, popularly referred to as "Bailey's End." After a post office  was
               established  there  the  Post  Office Department refused to accept the name,
               "Bailey's End," for the post office. The  late William N. Barren, then manager
               of the railroad, suggest­ed the name  "Broseley,"  in honor of his home
               community in Shropshire, England, which was accepted.

               Harviell, The town of Harviell was named for Simmons R. Harviell, prominent
               early day landowner, business man and county of-fical. He was one of  the  men
               who,  in  1849, loaned money to the County Court for the purchase of the county
               seat site, being then only twenty-two years of age. To his friends and neighbors
               he was *$&»" Harviell.

               Several years ago we talked with Mr. Jesse A. Harviell, a grandson of S. R.
               Harviell. Mr. Harviell told us that at the time  of  the  construction  of  the
               Iron  Mountain Railroad, now the Missouri Pacific  Railroad,  his  grandfather
               was  in  the  timber busi­ness and guaranteed to the new railroad a certain
               tonnage  of  timb­er  products for transportation on the railroad  to  help
               assure  its  success.  Also  the  elder Harviell entered into a contract with
               the railroad to keep a supply of  mood  at  the fuel stops from Desoto south to
               the Arkansas line. Also  me  have  found  one  report indicat­ing that Mr.
               Harviell had a contract to clear a portion of  the  right-of-way of trees before
               grading could begin. In recognition of these  services  the  railroad company
               named the last fuel stop in Missouri "Harviell."


               Butler County has had four courthouses,  the  first  being  a  small  two-room
               frame building sided with matched weather-hoarding and lo­cated on the southeast
               corner  of the Public Square. Evidently this building was inadequate to the
               needs of the  county as on April 13, 1858, the County Court ordered that Daniel
               L.  Jennings  select  ten thousand acres of swamp land, sell same on most
               advantageous terms possible  and  use the proceeds, quote: "In building of a
               commodious courthouse on  the  Square  in  the Town of Poplar Bluff." Jennings
               was appointed commissioner to supervise the  building of the court­house and was
               to advertise for  construction  bids  in  the  "St.  Louis Republican" and the
               "South East Democrat" in the City of Cape Girardeau. Bids were to be received
               until the second Monday in July next. The Justices of the Court  at  this time
               were John N. Yarber, James W. Morrow and Nathan Ul. Hendrickson.

               On Thursday, two days later, the Court rescinded the  above  order  and,  before
               the day's session was over, passed another res­olution appropriating the same
               amount  of swamp land but stipulating that none of the swamp land be  sold  for
               less  than  one dollar  per  acre.  Instead  of  one  commissioner  the  Court
               now  appointed  three commissioners, Jesse C. Walker, Daniel L. Jennings and
               James D.  Dennis,  to  furnish plans and superintend the  building  of  the
               court­house.  In  August  1859,  Walker resigned as a commissioner and was
               replaced by John L. Fitts. The Commissioners  were to advertise for bids "as
               they may deem fit." In addition to selling the  swamp  land the commissioners
               also had power to trade land to  the  contractor  as  part  of  his compensation
               for constructing the build­ing.  The  minimum  price  set  on  the  land
               indicates the Court ex­pected the courthouse to cost about $10,000.00.

               The barter plan in swamp land was about the only way the Court could pay for the
               new courthouse. The settlers in Butler County had so little cash income that a
               bond issue was out of the question. On April 15, 1858, Phillip L. Warner, county
               treasurer, made his annual report to the Court, showing  a  year's  income  in
               the  County  Fund  of $786.80, an amount totally inadequate to the growing needs
               of the new Butler County.

               Though the "swamp land" of Butler County is a story in itself it should be told
               here that in 1850 the United States Congress gave to the states  the  swamp
               lands  within their boundaries. In 1852 - the Missouri swamp lands to the
               counties  in  which  they were situated. Briefly, this explains how Butler
               County had swamp land to trade for a new courthouse.

               The records are not clear as to the name of the contractor for  the  new
               courthouse. Richard L. Metcalfe in "A View of a Growing Town" states that,
               quote: "In  1859  Col. S. G. Kitchen and D. 8. Wilier secured the contract to
               build a brick  courthouse  and these gentlemen  engaged  the  services  of  Wm.
               Ringer,  of  Stoddard  County,  who supervised the work, and before the war the
               walls were finish­ed and the roof on. For this job the contractors received the
               sum of$10,000.00 in cash  and  lands  together* all of which came out of the
               Swamp Land Fund of the county." However the County Court records do not mention
               D. B. Wilier in connection with the courthouse,  either  in  a transfer of land
               or in payment of money for services  rendered.  Nor  is  Mr.  Wilier mentioned
               later when the court brought suit be­cause  the  courthouse  had  not  been

               On July 14, 1858, Daniel L. Jennings was appointed commissioner for Butler
               County  by the County Court and ordered to convey 10,027.83 acres of land to
               Charles  T.  Arthur and Solomon G. Kitchen. One thousand acres of these lands
               were in Township 24 Range 6 East, the remainder in Township 22, Range 6 East.
               All believe this transfer  of  land was in payment for building the courthouse.
               Solomon G. Kit­chen was  an  attorney  in Stoddard County, Missouri, and in the
               Civil War was  a  Colonel  in  the  Confederate army. We do not have any
               in­formation on Arthur or Wilier. On  August  7,  1860,  the Court order­ed that
               William Ringer be paid $700.00 out of the County Seat Fund and on August 29,
               1860, he was allowed 140.00 out of the Swamp Land Fund. These payments may
               support  Metcalfe's  statement  that  William  Ringer  supervised  the  work  of
               the courthouse.

               Progress of work on the courthouse was  exasperatingly  slow,  possibly  because
               the contractor found it very difficult to turn the swamp lands into money,  even
               at  one dollar per acre. On Oct­ober 15, 1859, the Court ordered the foundation
               plans of  the build­ing changed from a four foot wall to a three foot wall.  The
               next  mention  we find on the progress, or lack of progress, on the build­ing is
               October 20, 1860.  The order made that day indicates the Court was out of
               patience with the whole matter. We quote the order in full, quote; "Ordered by
               the Court that the Contractors  or  their Assignees are hereby notified that the
               time specified in  the  Contract  between  the Commissioners and Said
               Contractors for the Building and Completion of the Court House in the Town of^
               Poplar Bluff in Butler County  in  the  State  of  Missouri  has  no, expired
               and it is further ordered that the Said Contractors be not­ified that  unless
               the obstructions and other damages be repaired  and  the  rubbish  removed  from
               the Public Square in the said Town of Poplar Bluff in the County and State
               aforesaid Suit will be commenced against them by said Court for to recover
               damages thereon." This is the last order of the Court concerning the courthouse
               until after the  close  of  the Civil War, Soon after the opening of the Civil
               War local government ceased in  Butler County, and, of course, work ceased on
               the courthouse. The  Justices  of  the  County Court at the beginning of the war
               were John N, Yarber, Nathan A. Hendrickson and John S. Varner.

               After the close of the war a new County Court, Simmons R. Harviell, Exum C.
               Scott and John J. Gilliam, reestablished local gov­ernment and on January 18,
               1866, turned  its attention to the un­finished courthouse in the following
               order,  quote;  "Ordered  by the Court that Solomon G. Kitchen be notified to
               commence work on the Court House  in Town of Poplar Bluff, Butler County,
               Missouri, immediately  and  continue  said  work with due diligence and Wilmot-.
               Unnecessary delay until said Court House is completed according to contract and
               that unless said work be commenced against the next regular term of this court
               the said contract will be let to some other person."

               On July 17, 1866, the Court employed John Emerson to prosecute a suit against
               Charles T. Arthur and Solomon G. Kitchen, quote.; "on their bond for  contract
               for  building Court House in Poplar Bluff or to recover the Ten Thousand acres
               of land conveyed  to them by Butler County, for the building thereof, as he  may
               deem  best."  The  Court appointed John N. Yarber to contract with Mr. Emerson
               in the above matter.

               At this point in the story several pages of writing in the Court record are so
               faded as to be illegible. We cannot deter­mine the date of a new contract  but
               on  October 11, 1866, W. H. Mitchell and Park H. Peters presented their bond for
               $8500.00  to  do certain work on the court house. The bondsmen u/ere John W.
               Emerson,  Robert  Bryant and J. G. Whitworth, This bond was accepted. On
               December 17, 1866, the Court  ordered the substitution of poplar lumber wherever
               pine lumber was specified in the contract.

               To finance the completion of the building the  Court  appropriat­ed  an”
               additional" $3,000.00. We assume "additional" to mean in addition to the
               original  allocation  of 10,000 acres of swamp land. On December 22, 1866, the
               Court  found  it  still  needed $100.00, quote: "for the purpose of finishing
               the rooms  in  the  court  house."  Not having this amount of money in the
               proper funds the Court ordered  that  one  hundred dollars be borrowed from the
               State School Fund  and  bond  be  given  for  the  same. Finally, January 24,
               1867, the Court ordered the Sheriff to sell the  old  courthouse for cash and
               that it be removed from ths Public Square within twenty days  from  date of

               By the above order we assume the building was now completed  or  at  least
               could  be occupied. After eight years and nine months of time, after four years
               of  civil  war, after the lifetime of three county courts and with a lawsuit
               still pending  for  non-fulfillment of contract, Butler County had a brick
               courthouse. A new mark  of  status had been attained, for just as a carriage was
               a symbol of status above a wagon, as  a frame house was status above a brick
               house,  so  a  brick  courthouse  was  increased status, a mark of pride, for a
               pioneer county.

               This was the courthouse shelled by artillery fire in the Civil War.  In  it
               occurred the famous "Poker Game" recorded in Article 29 of this series. This
               courthouse burned December 14, 1886. A picture of the  building  appears  on
               the  frontispiece  of  "A History of Butler County", by Judge D. 8. Deem.

               Notes: John HI. Emerson was an attorney in Ironton, Missouri, and was once
               Judge  of the Judicial Circuit in which Butler County was located. We do not
               have  information on Ul. H. Mitchell and Park H. Peters. We may not have the
               correct spelling  for  the surname of Charles T. Arthur. In the records it is
               spelled Author, Arther, as well as Arthur.


               Broseley. Mrs. R. C. Opperman and Mr. Sylvester Bagwell,  have  given  us
               additional information on Broseley. Mrs. Opperman is a granddaughter of William
               Bailey from whom was derived the early name of Bailey, Bailey's End  for  the
               present  Broseley.  Mr. Bailey was born in 1863 near Mayfield, Kentucky.
               Sometime, somewhere  he  be­came  an employee of Mr. H. 0. Williams, owner and
               operator of the H.  0.  Williams  Cooperage Company, one of the large cooperage
               com­panies of the United States. Mr.  Bailey  was mill manager for the mill this
               company had at the present town of Broseley. He  lived in the house which later
               was the home of Dr. Crump,  a  physician  of  Broseley.  Mr. Bailey died in 1924
               in Leslie, Arkansas, where he was operating a mill and is  buried in City
               Cemetery, Poplar Bluff.

               Mr. Bagwell tells us the post office at Brosely was once named Hunt.  Miss
               Pottenger in her work on place names states the post office at Bailey's  End
               was  once  called Hunt and was kept by Richard Hunt in John Funk's store. She
               also states  that  Alfred Hunt kept the office in his home for a time.

               Hendrickson. Miss Pottenger states the Town of Hendrickson was established in
               1873 as a station on the Iron Mountain Rail­road. It was named for Nathan W.
               Hendrickson  who owned a large tract of land in that area and who was a firm
               supporter of  efforts  to secure a railroad through Butler County. The town is
               near the former Reeves'  Station on the Old Military Road. Mr. Hendrickson was a
               very active leader in public  affairs in pioneer Butler County. His full name
               was Nathaniel Wells Hendrickson.  He  usually signed the County Court record as
               N.  W.  Hendrickson.  Miss  Pottenger  quotes  one reference stating that he was
               of Dan­ish descent.

               Hilliard . This name has an interesting development. Miss Pottenger states that*
               1869 George W. Hill, from Washington County , Arkansas, purchased a large tract
               of  timber land in Butler County. After the building of the Iron  Mountain
               Rail­road  Mr.  Hill established a timber business dealing in ties, cordwood and
               other  timber  products. His storage yard near the railroad tracks was  known
               as  "Hill's  Yard".  Godspeed’s History of Southeast Missouri, page 1090, uses
               the spelling "Hillyard". Judge Deem in History of Butler County states the
               railroad station was founded in  1872.  Mr.  Hill sold wood to the railroad
               company for use in the wood burning locomotives un­til wood was displaced by
               coal. When  the  place  merited  a  post  office,  the  Post  Office Department
               shortened the name to Hillard but the railroad company called the  station
               Hilliard, earlier Hilliard Switch. The post office and the railroad station have
               been closed for several years. The Missouri  State  Highway  De­partment  and
               the  United States Corps of Engineers use the spelling "Milliard" as a place
               name on  Highway  W. Milliard is near the old Shipman Ford crossing  of  Black
               River  on  the  road  from Greenville to Poplar Bluff.

               Baskey School. The origin of this name is one of the most in­triguing stories we
               have found concerning place names in Butler Coun­ty. Several years ago we talked
               with Mrs. Anna Brown, a daughter of Peter Baskey. Mrs. Brown told the story of
               her  father.  He was born Pierre Basquet in Alsace-Lorraine, France, about 1843.
               Alhen  he  was  about four years old his family came to the United States and
               settled in Ohio. As  a  young man Pierre Basquet traveled widely in the United
               States. In his wanderings he came to Butler County where he homesteaded a tract
               of land east of Black  River  near  Little Raft Slough, now Palmer Slough* The
               French pronunciation of Basquet  rhymed  it  with croquet and bouquet but the
               Anglo-Saxon neighbors of Mr. Basquet insisted on  calling him Mr. Basket. This
               grieved him very much. He did  not  wish  to  be  a  basket.  He decided to
               preserve the French pronunciation as best he could by changing his name to
               Baskey and at the same time changed Pierre to its English counterpart of Peter.
               Thus Pierre Basquet of Al­sace-Lorraine, Franoft became Peter  Baskey  of
               Butler  County, Mis­souri.

               When it was necessary to establish a school in the community Mr. Baskey gave
               land for the school house site and was honored by having the school and school
               district  named for him. The school house stood just north of Highway 60 and
               just east of  the  levee guarding the farm land east of Black River. The  school
               patrons  had  to  board  the teacher around on circuit the first winter to get
               the  school  started.  The  Baskey School District has now been absorbed by the
               Reorganized School  District  of  Poplar Bluff, the school has been closed to
               make way for larger school units and  in  a  few years the names will be lost
               except as found on old maps and in school records.

               By occupation Mr. Baskey was a farmer and carpenter. He died  in  1897  in  Doe
               Run, Missouri, and is there buried.


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