Dresden township takes its name from the little town of Dresden, which, former historians tell us, was named after the City of Dresden, the capital of the Kingdom of Saxony. This township contains thirty-six sections and 23,400 acres of land. It is bounded on the north by Hughesville township, on the south by Prairie township, on the west by La Monte township and on the east by Cedar and Sedalia townships. Its lands are most all fit for cultivation and excellently improved. Dresden township is one of the organizations of 1873. Until 1844 it had been part of Blackwater township, but in that year when the lines were changed its territory was divided between Elk Fork and Mount Sterling. In the organization of 1873 it was laid out and given the name of Dresden.
This township is drained by Big and Little Muddy Creeks, flowing across the norther and southern parts of the township. Along this divide are found some of the best and most beautiful farms in Pettis County. It is high rolling prairie with the main line of the Missouri Pacific railway running almost through the township's center. The southern portion of the township is crossed by Muddy Creek and is in consequence, more or less broken. The Little Muddy finds its headwaters in the northwestern part of the township and joins its larger branch in Cedar township. In no place is it low or flat, but everywhere the prairie presents that beautiful rolling aspect, indicating the choice land and desirable position so much sought after by the thrifty farmers of today.
At the present township was one of the latest formed in the county, and as it was part of three of four other townships before its own bounds were given, it is almost impossible to arrive at a correct list of its early settlers. Some of those given as settlers of Blackwater, Cedar and Houstonia were in the borders of the township and the amalgamation which the townships went through from 1844 to 1873 render the outlining of a detailed and correct list of early settlers almost impossible.
One of the early settlers was Benton Rees, who was a native-born Missourian. He came to this township in 1840. James H. Combs came in 1845, from Kentucky; Jefferson DeJarnett perhaps the oldest settler in the township was a native-born Missourian and came in 1832. Peter Courtney, who still lives in Sedalia, came to Dresden township and settled on a farm with his father. The Courtneys came here from Kentucky and engaged in farming and stock raising. In the early forties they had a herd of 300 thoroughbred Merino sheep. Henry Elliott, J a persinger, Mentor Thompson and Joel B Gentry came to the township later. Joel B Gentry was one of the sons of Major William Gentry, one of the pioneer farmers and thoroughbred stock raisers of Pettis County.
The first school house was built in the township, before the town of Dresden was laid out, by John W. Agee, in the year 1860. William Warren, James W Bagby, a Mr. Summers and his wife were among the early teachers of this school. In 1881 there were five schools in the township.
The Christian Church of Dresden was the first organized in the township. Its organization was due to the efforts of the Elder John DeJarnett in 1849. The church was built about three miles southeast of where the town of Dresden now stands. After the Civil War the church was moved to Dresden.
The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized by William R McKee in 1866 and in 1869 the congregation, in conjunction with the Cumberland Presbyterians, erected a church. Rev. L B Vernon dedicated this church. In 1879 the building was destroyed by a windstorm, and in that year the Methodists bought a lot in Dresden and rebuilt their church.
The Baptist church of Dresden was built in 1872. The building was dedicated by Rev. G J Johnson.
Prairie Chapel Church was organized by Rev. W W Brawnin in 1876. IN 1877 a church was built four miles northwest of Dresden and dedicated the following year by Rev. J Logan. This church was of the Cumberland Presbyterian denomination. This church is closed now, but has a large, well-kept, cemetery in the church yard.
The present-day churches are the Methodist Episcopal, of Dresden. It was organized there in 1873. The building is substantial frame thirty by forty feet and is valued at $2,600. Ministers since 1882 have been Revs. W T Gill, Elliotte, P H Trone, B H Gragg, E G Frazier, Preston Phillips, C P Brewer, W J Snow, R F Campbell, F M Burton, W H Suddath, J R Strong, T C Puckett, W B Cobb, J F Caskey, E Y Ginn, S G Welbron, S R Payne, L S Nightwine, J R Brown, J R Hedges, W W Garrett, E D Hicks, S P Cayton. The Sunday school was organized in 1886 with O A Stine superintendent, and has an enrollment ranging from fifty to seventy five.
The Dresden Baptist Church has about twenty five members. The present minister is Rev. Bryant. The church building is a substantial frame valued at $2,500.
The Dresden Methodist Episcopal Church, in the town of Dresden, is a frame building, in good condition, well equipped and cared for. Its ministers have been, Revs. B F Crissman, James W Cool, George T Smith, Frank P Reno, A M Crippen, E Turntine, Toban Anderson, George T Beard, F M Glumphy, R O Williams, E D Robb, H A Reid, O W Freeman. The present minister is Rev. J Clifton Lee. Membership is eighty with a Sunday school attendance of sixty.
Dresden Christian Church located in the town of Dresden is one of the leading churches in this part of the county. The church has regular services and Rev. Stevens of Kansas City is the present minister. Present membership is seventy five with a Sunday school attendance of eighty. This Sunday school won the banner in the contest this summer. Principal church officers are, Harry McCune, D Bentley, John Shull, D Barrow and William Hough.
Dresden is second to no other township in the county in it public schools. Each district has a good substantial frame building, which is well kept. The schools are well taught and disciplined. The Oak Grove school enrolled forty three this year and Mary Ellis has charge as teacher. Brown school has an enrollment of twenty five and Gladys Smith is the teacher. Buckeye or Jackson school enrolled twenty this year and Leah O'Daniels is teaching. Dresden school has forty eight pupils this fall and Jewel Davis is the teacher. Walnut Grove school has an enrollment of thirty seven and Anna B Taylor is teaching. Prairie Hill has forty pupils and Nora Taylor is the teacher.
[Transcribed by Laura Paxton.]