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A Rural Survey of Morgan County, Missouri (1916) <Previous 
[p.48, continued]

Morgan County.

(By Harlan A. Young, president of the Versailles Commercial Club.)

Morgan county has an area of 638 square miles—408,320 acres, of which 175,000 acres are in cultivation.

Population—White, about 14,000; colored, about 600; total families, about 3,000. Farm homes owned, 3,000; rented, 500. Foreign population mostly German, mainly in west and north west part of the county.

Topography—Following line crossing the county from east to west, and gradually dipping to the south four or five miles on either side, is the watershed of the county. To the north of this watershed lies about three-fifths of the county; mostly undulating, rich prairie, well drained by small creeks. In this section one will find as good improvements as can be found any western state of the Union. Here are found commodious houses and barns, windmills, silos without number, woven-wire fences, blooded stock of all kinds, and many other evidences of prosperity. To the south of the watershed lies the "hill country," sloping southward to the Osage river. No prettier country lies out of doors than this broken country, drained by numerous streams, and with hundreds of springs of the purest water (one spring at Gravois Mills flows 45 cubic feet of water per second, and has a fall of 83 feet).

Location—Morgan county is located in nearly the centre of the state, 120 miles east of Kansas City and 177 miles west of St. Louis, on the Rock Island and Missouri Pacific railroads, and is 44 miles south of the Missouri river.

Resources—The resources of the county are varied, ranging from farm products to coal and minerals. (a) Farm products form a large part of the resources of the County. Morgan county is a great wheat county, the yield being as high as forty bushels per acre. Corn is another important crop, but the drouth of [p.49]
A creditable display. Much of Morgan county is well adapted to fruit growing.
A creditable display. Much of Morgan 
county is well adapted to fruit growing.
[p.50] the last three years has very materially decreased the acreage planted. Blue grass, clover, timothy and alfalfa are all important, and grow luxuriantly in their proper localities. (b) The fire clays of Morgan county are nothing short of wonderful. The white flint fire clay contains 42.45 per cent alumina, and has the highest alumina content of any clay in the United States. In combination with the white plastic clays found here in abundance, these flint clays make the finest fire brick to be found, brick which will stand 3,200 degrees of heat. In addition to the manufacture of fire brick, a high grade of pottery is made from the plastic clays. (c) Morgan county stands second in the production of crude barytes, which is largely used in the manufacture of paints. (d) The grazing section of the county, i.e., that portion lying south of the Rock Island railroad, is coming into prominence as a stock country. Watered by hundreds of springs and abounding in luxuriant native grass, it is more and more attracting the attention of stockmen from all sections of the country. This hill land can yet be bought for from $7 to $15 per acre, depending on location and improvements. (e) Morgan county produces many other articles of commerce, such as railroad ties, mine props, ax handles, telephone pins and brackets, lead, zinc, and cannel coal.

Transportation—The county is traversed from east to west by the St. Louis-Kansas City line of the Rock Island, and a branch of the Missouri Pacific runs from Tipton to Versailles. There is also a "plug" road, five miles in length, running from Versailles to one of the big fire clay plants.

Roads—Morgan county has 79 miles of county-seat to county-seat road. There are about 35 miles of graveled road, mostly leading out from Versailles. There is no doubt about the public spirit of Morgan county people when it comes to good roads. In April, 1914, a company of 70 men was formed for the purchase of an up-to-date road-building machine. A gasoline tractor of 80-horsepower drawing capacity, a "scarifier," and three large graders were purchased. This outfit cost $5,000 cash, and with it a road 20 miles long was graded "toward the hill country of Judea," opening up a large section between Versailles and Linn Creek. In addition to grading this 20 miles, other roads were graded and put in first-class shape and much more work is to be done. During the dry season automobiles can easily go from Versailles to Linn Creek and along the Osage River. Many people have availed themselves of this fine trip.


"The South Country"—Leaving Versailles one enters almost immediately into the timbered section. This is the rough part of the country, and is the sport section—the beginning of the Ozark uplift. Here are found wonderful caves, magnificent springs, clear streams—streams where the wily black bass sports in the indigo-blue water, all of which is a sportman's paradise. Here one sees those magnificent hills which inspired Harold Bell Wright, whose stories of the Ozarks have become classics. Here one finds the descendants of the earliest pioneers of America—a people undefiled by later immigration—the purest Anglo-Saxon in the western continent. The most wonderful sensation of music the writer ever experienced was on being awakened in the early morning by a bird concert; nothing can describe the babel of voices and the sweet strains of these beautiful singers of the hills.

General Remarks—Among the most prosperous farmers of the county are the Mennonites, who have a large settlement northeast of the county. There are many prosperous stock-raisers and feeders in this part of the county. Hundreds of cattle, sheep and hogs are annually brought out of the hills and fed for market. There are three live newspapers in the county, The Statesman, Leader and Stover News, the last named being published in the progressive little village of Stover. The banking interests are well represented by safe and conservative banks, well managed, and with ample resources to care for the needs of the different communities where they are located. We have not mentioned the excellent school system of the county for the reason that this subject is fully taken care of by our progressive Superintendent of Schools.


Missouri State Board of Agriculture Monthly Bulletin Vol. XIV, No. 2 (February, 1916): A Rural Survey of Morgan County Missouri. Digital version © 2001 Peter Binkley; permission to reproduce for non-commercial purposes is granted.