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Pettis County, Missouri


1919 ELK FORK Township by Mark McGruder



Elk Fork township derives its name from the creek of that name which flows through it. The creek was named "Elk Fork" by the early trappers and hunters because of the abundance of elk, deer and other game along its banks. It is bounded on the on the south by Green Ridge township on the east by Prairie township. On the north by La Monte township and on the west by Johnson County. It was organized as a municipal township and on reorganization in the year 1872, it was given its old name. The township has thirty six sections and 23,040 acres of land.

The first brick house built in this township was the home of Dr. T B Pemberton in 1862. The next one was the home of A E Mentzer, who made the brick himself, from his own land. Elk Fork has no railroads.

The physical features of the township are the rolling prairie, with timber along the streams. It is drained by the creek from which it takes its name. Crooked Creek, Long Branch, Walnut Branch and Muddy Creek are tributaries to the Muddy. The products of the township are such as are common to those of the county and the central part of Missouri, and its easy access to shipping points is one of its advantages which can not be overlooked.

Among the first settlers of the township were Seth Botts, Arthur Patrick, William Embry, Martellus Embry, Mason Pemberton, Jesse Pemberton, George Pemberton, Capt. George Glass, Reuben Harrell, Fielding Wolf and Samuel Powell. They came in 1832. It is difficult to determine who was the earliest settler, as there was so much changing among them at that early day.

The first church of which any record is found is the Walnut Branch of the Baptist Church, it being one of the old style churches in belief and practice. Of this association, whose first meeting was held 78 years ago this church was organized, on the first Saturday in June 1834, by Rev. Fielding Wolf and Rev. Martellus Embry, who was invited to assist in the organization of the church. Athel Wolf was elected clerk and C Kidd was made deacon at a regular meeting in December, 1848; a difference of opinion occurred on a doctrinal point and this difference grew to a division of the society into two parties, each claiming to be the regular church.

Walnut Branch Baptist Church was organized in 1834. Rev. Martellus Embree and Rev. Fielding Wolf were invited to organize a church and Martellus Embree was pastor. Athel Wolf was clerk and O. Kidd deacon. The church was prosperous and grew in numbers. It was served from time to time by Rev. J Baker, J D Mercer, Daniel Raives, J M West and James Teague. The doctrines of the church were zealously proclaimed by these spiritual advisors, and in course of time a difference of opinion occurred on a doctrinal question. The difference of opinion caused division of the society and at a meeting of the Lamine River Association the difference was reported to them, and the association decided that the minority was holding the true doctrines of the church, and recognized them as the Walnut Branch Church. Rev. M Embree was pastor for several years and Rev. James Teague served the church for 25 years.

Old Hickory Point Church House was built by the Baptist, Methodist and Christian denominations about 1853. There was cemetery attached, which was the only one in this part of the township. This church was used for union services until 1870, when the Methodists and Christians built a new church house. The church was built on land formerly owned by Miss Kendricks, on the northeast quarter of northwest quarter of section thirty one. The house was dedicated by Rev. Wm Brown, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Rev. Randall, of the Christian Church. Each church held services by themselves, one occupying the house in the forenoon and the other in the afternoon. New Hickory Point Baptist Church congregation built for themselves a church one half mile distant and had a new cemetery attached. The first postmaster in this section of the township was the first person buried in the Old Hickory Point Cemetery. His name was Hawkins Bard. This was before the post office moved to Green Ridge.

In the spring of 1870 Mrs. Mentzer, A P Britt, Dr. Franklin, Mr and Mrs. Magley, of Elk Fork township; Mr & Mrs George Anderson, James Anderson, MR & Mrs G B Koyle of Green Ridge, met in an unfinished building in the village of Green Ridge and organized a society under the discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, assisted by the Rev. George McKee and W W Powell. This became a part of the Windsor Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, holding meetings in halls and school houses until 1878, when the membership decided to build a church building, and through the efforts of the members and friends of the church it was erected in the village of Green Ridge in 1880 and was dedicated by Rev. J N Pierce, assisted by J H Gilispie.

Churches of the present day are kept up by these people with pride. Walnut Branch, a "old School," or "Hardshell" Baptist, ten miles west of Sedalia on the 16th Street Road, is the second church organized in the county. It was organized in 1837 and its first pastor was Rev. Martelles Embree. The church building used at present was built in 1890. It is a 30 by 40 frame and is well equipped. The cemetery in connection is known as "The Botts Cemetery," and is located at the old church site, one mile northeast of the present church. Church membership is fifteen. Present minister is J A Teague.

Prairie View is a southern Methodist Church. It is located twelve miles west of Sedalia. The church building is a good, substantial frame. This is an active church. The present minister is Rev. Brooks. Membership of the church is 75 with a growing Sunday school with an average attendance of 35.

Bethel Church is west of Sedalia about 14 miles on the 16th Street Road. The church building is frame, in good condition and is valued at about $2000. This is a Union Church, being used by the congregations of the Missionary Baptist and the Methodist. Rev. Bess is the Methodist minister and the membership of this church is about 50. Rev. J D Briggs is the Baptist minister, and the membership is about 30. These denominations work in perfect harmony and have a union Sunday school with an attendance of 30. There is a cemetery in the church yard, Bethel Cemetery.

Hickory Point is a Missionary Baptist Church and is located 17 miles south and west of Sedalia. The Church building is a good frame structure and is valued at about $1800. Hickory Point Cemetery is in the church yard. Rev. Kennedy is the present minister.

Elk Fork has five public schools, as good as can be found in the county. Kendrick has an enrollment of five this year and Gayle Kendrick is in charge as teacher. Prairie View, enrolled 43 this September and Opal O'Daniels is teaching. Hickory Point has 30 pupils and Mary E Craig as teacher. Lone Elm has enrolled for school year 18 pupils and Elizabeth Glenn is teaching. Bethel has an enrollment of 34 and Bessie Powell is teacher.

[Transcribed by Laura Paxton.]