Its First Hundred Years
A quarter century before Christian County was created by the Missouri Legislature in 1859, the Western movement, then in its infancy, had brought settlers to the region that is now the Billings community.
As early as 1835 Western migrants were in the region, and in 1836 the first settler whose name can now be recalled-Samuel Garoutte-located his home four miles north of where Billings now stands.
Following closely came other settlers-J. M. Laney in 1837, Henry Reynolds in 1839, among others. From 1845 until 1860 the community filled rapidly with families whose names are still familiar ones in the area-Blades, Smart, Batson, French, Jones, Parks, to name a few.
Pioneers in the Billings community had no fewer hardships than did trail breakers in other sections of the newly opened West. Farming methods and machinery, as well as transportation and communication, were primitive. In their favor was the fertility of the region which caused Billings and its environs to soon blossom into a highly productive agricultural community.
In the Spring of 1860-barely a year after Christian County was formed-the community had grown to the point that it needed a post office. One was established and formally named Elba, Missouri. S. P. Barras was the first postmaster, and his daughter, Miss Mary Ann, was his assistant. Mail was brought from Springfield as the occasion demanded.
The name Elba was to be short lived. Although it was not until 1871 that the name of the community was to be changed to Billings, Elba appears to have served merely as the designation of the post office site. In 1865, land comprising the