|WHERE IN CHRISTIAN COUNTY IS THAT?|
Our ancestors remembered the places they lived by the names on the land, the features manmade and natural. Communities and schools, caves and springs, mines and mills, or hills and valleys bore the names which residents took with them and spoke of afterward. The recording of history requires us to use those names in describing what happened in the past and to locate the places those names represent to better understand the times and events.
The Christian County Library has for several years developed databases to record names of places in Christian County and hints at their locations. Inevitably, the lists are incomplete and some mistakes exist in the location. However, the lists are as accurate and complete as we are currently able to make them with the resources used.
The location of some natural features, such as streams, caves, springs, ridges and hollows are relatively permanent, though their names may have changed from time to time. Readers are urged, however, to remember that the same is not true of communities, schools, and to a lesser extent bridges, mills and even an occasional cemetery which may be moved. We welcome additional information, particularly names, locations, dates and sources of that information.
As maps showing coordinates by township, range and section are more easily obtained than those with longitude and latitude, that is the location method used on these lists. However, name of the United States Geological Survey 7.5° maps on which the feature is located is also given on several lists.
According to H Dwight Johnson in Missouri: The Cave State, by 1978, 145 caves had been verified and recorded in Christian County, up from 65 in 1968 and a mere seven in 1952. Predictably, with such recent scientific verification, relatively few have names. Fewer still are located on maps. The earliest recorded and still one of the best known is northeast of Ozark. Called Winoca by 1819 explorer Henry Schoolcraft and Civil War by a developer in 1962, it is now and for well over a century has been known by the name of the family on whose land it was located, Smallin. It is especially noted for a high, broad arching entrance.
At exactly one mile in explored length, Rantz is well over double Smallin's explored length. In fact, when Johnson's book was published in 1980, only thirty-seven of Missouri's more than four thousand explored caves were known to be longer. Because of vandalism, safety and trespassing concerns, the location of most caves is expressed very generally. That information is included here chiefly to give a taste of the topography in an area and to help place former residents who may have mentioned or remembered caves near their homes.
The perceived permanence of the American grave as a marked resting place is sometimes an illusion. Tombstones may erode and become unreadable as they age. Some small cemeteries may be reclaimed by the wilderness after the population moves on after a mining, tie-hacking or spa boom fades and dies. Others may be absorbed into developments or markers or graves moved as the population increases. Vandals may destroy individual markers or natural events from falling trees to sinking soil damage or hide them. Cemeteries which remain may accumulate several names over the decades.
Cemeteries which have been identified and located are listed, by all known names, in this list. The number of legible tombstones or verified burials are noted as well as published readings which list those known burials for each cemetery.
Post office lists from Missouri Blue Books, United States Geologic Survey maps, the 1912 platbook and other maps of Christian County were used to compile names by which communities, with or without post offices, have been known. Changes in roads, post offices and even business locations move communities somewhat. As far as research has indicated, these are the apparent locations of known communities. Corrections, additions and especially locations of still unfound towns are appreciated.
Public school districts were first designated by the county court in 1866. New districts were added and names of existing districts changed frequently. As with post offices, churches and other features not physically tied to the land, the location may have been at one point in one county and with a slight move in another county. Additionally, current districts bear little relationship to county lines. Districts outside of Christian County which now serve some Christian County areas are listed here. Chief sources include the 1866 county court minutes, an August 1901 newspaper listing of all Christian County districts, a 1912 Christian County plat book, a 1915 map of school district boundaries (giving only district numbers), newspaper stories in 1922 and 1923 listing districts voting to be consolidated into new districts, a 1939 maps of then operating schools, and United States Geologic Survey maps.
With water a basic necessity of life and larger streams providing mills, fish and even a means of transportation, settlements in the Ozarks grew up around streams. This list provides an understanding of how the network of streams in Christian County fits together and hints to the location of creeks and rivers here. Although townships, ranges, and 7.5° USGS maps are listed, most streams extend beyond the boundaries of that area.
Many citizens identified their homes by the hills that rose above the streams and the valleys that cradled and fed those streams. As with the streams, a township range and section as well as the name of a 7.5° USGS map tells where parts of the ridges and hollows were located. Frequently, they extended well into adjoining areas.
Two types of townships - geographic and political - exist in Christian County, Missouri.
The geographic township is a land measurement unrelated to political boundaries like states, counties or cities. Land is noted as being a certain distance from a surveying starting point. Locating the land involves listing a township, range, section and sometimes a fractional part of a section.
Geographic townships are expressed in multiples of six miles north or south of the starting point. Geographic ranges are measured in multiples of six miles east or west of a starting point.Christian County lies between townships 25 and 28 north.
The north border of Christian County includes just the southernmost section of T28 N - sections 31-36. Thus any Christian County land listed as being in T28N will be within a mile of the Greene or Webster County lines, depending on how far west or east that land is. East of the Christian County panhandle, all of T27N, T26N and T25N from the western half of R18W through R22W are in Christian County. That is, if traveling straight were an option, it would be 19 miles from Greene and Webster County on the north to Taney County on the south border of Christian County. However, within the panhandle of R23W and R24W, only T27N and that southernmost layer of T28N is within Christian County. That is, the straight measurement from Greene County on the north to Stone County south of the panhandle is seven miles. Christian County, at T25N to part of T28N lies between 144 and 163 miles north of the starting point.
Ranges mark distance east and west, much as townships mark distance north and south. The county's borders are between range 18 and 24 west. All of Range 24, 23, 22, 21, 20, and 19 are in Christian County, while only the three most western sections of Range 18 are in Christian County. Land in the western half or sections 4-9, 16-21 and 28-33 of Range 18 in T28N, T27N, T26N or T25N would be in Christian County. Corresponding eastern sections 1-3, 10-15, 22-27, and 34-36 in Range 18 of T28N, T27N, T26N or T25N would be in Douglas County. That is, Christian County is 39 miles from the Lawrence County to Douglas County line. With all of R19W through R24W and half of R18W, we are between 105 and 144 miles west of the starting point.
Within each 36 square miles of territory represented by a combined description of range and township are sections measuring one mile square. These sections are numbered beginning with section 1 on the northeast corner and going westward to section 6; then south to section 7, then eastward until section 12 is directly south of section 1. This pattern is repeated until the 36 sections are all numbered as below:
6 5 4 3 2 1
7 8 9 10 11 12
18 17 16 15 14 13
19 20 21 22 23 24
30 29 28 27 26 25
31 32 33 34 35 36
Each section consists of 640 acres. Description of the land's location will be given as parts of certain quarter. With the land description, you can locate very easily exactly where the farm or home was and see what is there now. These descriptions will be on all land tax bills, deeds and abstracts.
To accomodate the earth’s curvature and other factors, some geographic townships vary from this model. No such variation occurs in Christian County, Missouri.
The second type of township is the political township. A political township is a county subdivision by voting district. Typically, a young county or one with a small population will have need for and actually have fewer townships than a larger, older or more populous county. These territories are defined, named and redefined and renamed by county court action, as the government sees a need to re-set boundaries to accomodate voting and population needs. Unlike geographic townships and ranges, it will be common and usual to need to find the political township boundaries at the time a census or personal property tax record or election record was made to compare to the current location in order to discover the area in which the individual lived. At its founding in 1859, Christian County was divided into seven voting districts, or political townships. In 2004, there are twenty- six political townships. Only Linden Township retains an original name, though it covers far less territory than originally. Parts of Linden have been taken for McCracken, Sparta, and Oldfield Townships. Several townships - Finley, Marion, Benton, Linn and Polk - named while the county was less than five years old later were divided into North and South or East and West sections. Galloway, which was renamed from Breckenridge during the Civil War, has been similarly divided. Other early township names such as Breckenridge, Porter, and Logan are not used at all now. This chart allows you to follow some of the “genealogy” of Christian County’s political townships. Several maps of Christian County are available on-line.