We are told that this township took its name in honor of a distinguished citizen of this nation who was "First in peace, first in war and first in the heart of his countrymen." It has been further said of him that "Providence left him childless that the country might call him its father." His tomb at Mt. Vernon, Virginia is the nation's shrine.
This is among the townships organized at the second arrangement of townships in 1844. Up to that year it was a part of Elk Fork and Flat Creek townships. In 1844, a petition of the settlers then in the southwestern part of the county, these two townships were divided, and the township of Washington created, embracing what is now Green Ridge and Washington townships. In this arrangement it stood until 1873, when the county adopted township organization and Washington township was made the western half. As it now stands it is bordered on the north by Prairie township, on the east by Flat Creek township and Benton County and on the west by Green Ridge township and on the south by Benton County. It contains 30,720 acres. The surface of the township is considerable broken. Flat Creek runs almost diagonally through it. The other small streams are South Fork and Basin Fork. The surface of the land is beautiful, rolling prairies on the upland and timber along the bottoms.
Among the earliest settlers of the township was I Elliott, who came from Woodford County Kentucky in 1836. When he settled in the township there was but one family between him and the headwaters of Flat Creek, that of William Miller. W Anderson, of Flat Creek township came at the same time as Mr. Elliott. William Brown came in 1834. There was also living in the surrounding country William Davis, who resided on Bason Fork; Pittman on Camp Branch, and one or two others. John Elliott came with his father in 1836.
The first voting place in the township was at the house of Ira Durrell. He died in 1852, and is buried in Flat Creek township.
There was but one church in the township that of the Flat Creek Protestant Methodist denomination, situated in the southwest part of the township, on section 4, township 43, range 22. It was a frame structure, erected by the members of the congregation in 1882, at a cost of $850. It was dedicated in the fall of 1882, by Rev. J T Shepherd. Early pastors were T J Shepherd, J W Baldwin, assisted by Mrs. Baldwin, D T Forduy, A T Johnson, M W Wells and John D Cruse. The original members of the congregation were James M Purcell, Lucinda J Purcell, A McNett, Lewis Tompkins and wife, Cyrus Furguson, John Martin and wife and others.
The first school in Washington township was a subscription one, in 1852 or ‘53. The district school system was organized in 1854, and the first one taught by B T Mathey. The first school building used was the same that John Elliott first went to housekeeping in.
Spring Fork was the first post office in the township.
Antioch Baptist Church situated in the southern part of Washington township, was organized in 1868. The church building is frame and is valued at about $1,200. Membership is about 35, with a Sunday school attendance of 294.
Prairie Chapel, a Southern Methodist Church, has a membership of 83, with Sunday school attendance of 95. The church building is a good frame, 36' by 50'. Rev. L Hickman is the present minister and has the organization in splendid condition and is building it up.
The principal industries in this township are farming and stock raising. The staple crops of wheat, corn, and oats thrive in this soil and clover is grown successfully together with some flax and some broom corn. Cattle, hogs and mules are raised successfully and with profit to their owners. The township has many beautiful homes.
Washington township has six public schools which compare favorably with any other schools in Pettis County. Old Ilona school enrolled fifteen pupils this fall and Luella Eubank is teaching them. Pleasant View School enrolled 18 and Fay Van Valkenburg is the teacher. Bennett school has an enrollment of 23 pupils and J T Pittman is their teacher. Manilla school has an enrollment of 40 and John Palmer is the teacher. Cottage school enrolled 35 this winter and Ida Peithman is the teacher. Mountain View has an enrollment of 39 pupils and Alva Deardorf is teaching them.
(Transcribed by Laura Paxton)