ST. CLAIR COUNTY
Missouri History Encyclopedia, 1901:
The Valleys of the Ozarks – The features which characterizes the valleys of the Ozarks, and which is almost totally absent from those of the
prairies, is their winding courses. This features in every noticeable on any good map and much more so on the ground. The degree of winding, or “meandering” as it is usually termed, varies widely in different streams, yet it exists in all of the streams of moderate size. This gives a peculiar picturesqueness and variety of scenery to these valleys which are wholly absent from those of the prairies. In many cases the meandering is so extreme that the length of the river is increased three to five times the length of the direct course from head to mouth. On the map the courses are much like that of the Mississippi, between Cairo and New Orleans, but s a matter of fact the streams are in quite different stages of development. In the case of the Mississippi, it is the channel of the river which winds through a wide, flat, but nearly straight, bottom. In the case of the Ozark rivers, the valleys wind through a high plateau. The plateau is traversed in all directions by these deep, narrow, winding valleys. The valley bluffs have characteristic shapes. On the outside or convex side of the stream the bluffs are always very steep, usually nearly perpendicular, and the horizontal beds of limestone of which the plateau is built are abundantly exposed. On the inside or concave side of the river, directly opposite the steep high bluff is a long gradual rise. There is, therefore, a combination of gentle slope and precipitious cliff which lends to these valleys a peculiar attractiveness. This is heightened also by the fact that the long gradual slopes are usually covered with well cultivated farms, giving the contrast of cultural and natural features brought into close relation. The Osage valley is the largest in the Ozarks. From its head to Taberville, in St. Clair County, it is a characteristic prairie valley. It is from three to five miles wide and has sloping bluffs. Immediately between Taberville it assumes the character of a typical Ozark valley. It becomes much narrower, averaging much less than a mile in width, and assumes a meandering course. On the map there does not seem to be any difference beteen its course above and below Taberville, yet the difference is exactly the same as that between the lower Mississippi and the Ozark Rivers. Above Taberville the channel winds through a flat, nearly straight, bottom belt; below, the valley itself winds and the river channel winds with it. In this part of the river the channel as such, does not meander through the bottom, because the latter is not wide enough to permit it. The depth of the valleys through the Ozarks is about three hundred feet, sometimes less, but rarely more. It is not one of the deepest of the Ozark alleys.
History of St. Clair County, 1883:
Hickory County Wanted It - The people in St. Clair County got considerably excited in December 1872, by an attempt on the part of Hickory County to despoil her of two and a half congressional townships of land. The legislature was asked to take off from St. Clair County one half of the township of Collins and all of Dallas and Polk, as now found, making range line 25 to township line 38 the boundary between Hickory and St. Clair, and then kindly consenting to allow St. Clair to retain Jackson Township by making range line 24 the dividing line.
This proposition, which the St. Clairites thought was equal to an iceberg in coolness, with something of the nature of a cast iron dog for cheek, was promptly, and as it proved, successfully resisted, and St. Clair held her own, and still holds it. It is evident that the
boundary of St. Clair County and the permanency of the county seat at Osceola are settled questions among the people. The future is not likely to develop anything to alter this fiat of her citizens.
St. Clair County, Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service:
St. Clair County is in the west central part of the State. It is bounded on the north by Henry County; east by Benton and Hickory Counties; south by Polk and Cedar Counties; and on the west by Bates and Vernon Counties. It has a land area of 447,000 acres.
The first person of whom there is record was Jacob Coonce, a hunter, who arrived in 1827. In 1831 he built a cabin, the first in the region, near the Sac River, about three miles northeast of the present site of Roscoe. This he soon abandoned to make his home on Brush Creek.
St. Clair County was named for General Arthur St. Clair, of Revolutionary War fame. Its boundaries were defined by act of the General Assembly, January 16, 1833. The County of St. Clair was organized by act of the General Assembly February 15, 1841, and then included portions of the present counties of Benton, Hickory and Cedar. Its present boundaries were established in 1845.
From 1854 to 1858, 21,813 acres of so-called swamp lands were disposed of at prices ranging from seventy-five cents to two dollars and sixty-seven cents per acre. The prices were considered good for the times, but most of the lands went into the hands of speculators, and the advancement of the county was slow. On September 23, 1861, during the Civil War, General "Jim" Lane with a party of Kansans entered the county and burned a portion of Osceola. After peace was restored the county was repopulated and the work of reconstruction began.
Source: Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri
Osceola Herald, 17 July1871:
St. Clair County - We find the following interesting correspondence about our town and county, in the Cincinnati Times. We republish the
letter entire, knowing it will be read with interest:
St. Clair County.
I have been over two-thirds of Missouri, and in a dozen counties of the Southwest, and in no part do I see that combination of attractions in the way of water, timber, prairie & such, that I find in this county. A glance at the map will indicate how well watered we are by the Osage running almost centrally through from west to east, and by the Sac from the south to the centre of the county; besides which we have abundance of small streams and living springs. The great drawback to increase of population (for we have as yet but 8,000) has been the lack of railroads. This now, however, we shall not have to complain of long, as the Clinton, Springfield and Memphis Railroad is fast being finished through the county, and it is confidently expected that the rolling stock will be on as far as Osceola this winter.
Farms can still be had in abundance at the prices I have heretofore announced, namely, from $5 to $10 for unimproved, and from $8 to $25 improved.
Missouri Watershed Information Network:
Sac River Basin - St. Clair County History
In February 1841, St. Clair County was formed from Rives County (which later became Henry County). St. Clair County was named for a Revolutionary War veteran, General Arthur St. Clair.
The first settler of European descent in St. Clair County was a hunter, Jacob Coonce. Coonce built a cabin near the current town of Roscoe near the Sac River in 1831. He moved in 1832 to an area near Brush Creek in what is present-day Washington Township.
In 2000, there were 9,652 people living in St. Clair County, 23.0% under the age of 18. In 2000, there were 4,040 households and 14.3 people per square. Osceola is the county seat.
Missouri History Encyclopedia, 1901:
St. Clair County – A county in the southwestern part of the State, ninety miles southeast of Kansas City, bounded on the north by Henry County, on the east by Benton and Hickory Counties, and on the west by Bates and Vernon Counties. Its southern line is irregular and touches the counties of Cedar, Polk and Hickory. Its area is 690 square miles; nearly three-fourths of the land is under cultivation and pasture. July 1, 1899, 3,325 acres of public land were open to entry. The surface is undulating prairie, and broken wood lands. The county is abundantly watered. The Osage River enters the central west and flows eastwardly to Osceola and thence to the northeast. Its principal tributary is Sac River, which enters the county near the central south and discharges into the Osage near Osceola. The Osage receives Big Monegaw Creek from the northwest, the Peshaw, or Big Clear Creek from the south west, and Little Weaubleau Creek from the southeast. Coon and Brush Creeks flow into Sac River from the southeast. There are numerous fine springs, the most noted of which are the Monegaw Springs. The soil is a black loam, with excellent subsoil, and is exceedingly fertile. Timber is abundant and includes walnut, cherry and cedar, as well as the more common woods. Underlying the county are coal, lead, zinc and iron, which remain undeveloped; and excellent limestone and sandstone, which are quarried in some localities. In 1898 the principal surplus products were: corn, 87,791 bushels; oats, 10,318 bushels; flax, 20,368 bushels; corn meal, 54,000 pounds; ship-stuff, 97,900 pounds; timothy seed, 12,050 pounds; poultry, 513,247 pounds; eggs, 190,622 dozen; cheese, 172,990 pounds; vegetables, 60,095 pounds; cattle, 7,362 head; hogs, 33,172 head; sheep, 5,015 head; wool, 4,500 pounds; hides, 31,663 pounds; lumber and logs, 46,300 feet; cross ties, 19,976.
There were 111 public schools, 162 teachers, and 6,420 pupils; the permanent school fund was $44,184.79. Railways are the Springfield-Kansas City branches of the St. Louis & San Francisco, and the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis, passing southwardly through the eastern part of the county, and the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway, touching the extreme northwest. The county seat is Osceola. Other important towns are Appleton City, Lowry City and Collins.
The first white man of whom there is record was Jacob Coonce, a hunter who came in 1827. In 1831 he built a cabin, the first in the region, near the Sac River, about three miles northeast of the present site of Roscoe. This he soon abandoned to make his home on Brush Creek, in the southern part of what is now St. Clair County. In 1833 Ebenezer and William Gash located on Coon Creek. The Culbertson brothers, Isaac, Joseph and Ira, settled nearby in 1835, and later the same year James and Robert Gardner settled farther southeast in the Coon Creek neighborhood. Other early settlers were Daniel, Joseph and Calvin Waldo, on the Sac River, south of the present site of Osceola. Calvin made his home in the big bend, where he opened a store, the second in what is now the county. In 1834 Joseph Montgomery located in the Osage River, south of the Monegaw Springs. He was one of the first county justices and became a State Senator and surveyor for Cedar and Dade Counties. The same year came to the same neighborhood Jesse, Charles and Lindsey Applegate. Charles and Lindsey put up a small watermill. Jesse was a surveyor, and did much surveying for the United States. The first settlers on or near the present site of Osceola were Daniel Perrin, Jonas Musgrove, Philip Crow, Reuben S. Nance and Ashby Peebly in 1835, and Dr. Pleasant M. Cox, with his brothers William and Joseph in 1836; Richard P. Crutchfield later the same year. All were from Kentucky or Tennessee. Nance was county surveyor from 1841 to 1861. Among the settlers of that day was Littleton Lunsford, a “hard shell” Baptist preacher, noted for his wonderful command of language and fervid oratory, though an uneducated man.
St. Clair County was named for General Arthur St. Clair, of Revolutionary War fame. Its boundaries were defined by act of the General Assembly, January 16, 1833. February 11, 1835 it was attached to Rives (now Henry) County for civil and military purposes, and May 5, 1835 it was designated as St. Clair Township in that county. November 4th following, it was divided into two townships, named Weaubleau and Monegaw, and at an election held December 10th, James Gardner and Jesse Applegate were chosen justices of the peace for these townships respectively. The County of St. Clair was organized by act of the General Assembly February 15, 1841, and then included portions of the present Counties of Benton, Hickory and Cedar. Its present boundaries were established in 1845. Joseph Montgomery, Calvin Waldo and Thomas F. Wright were named commissioners to hold an election for location of a county seat. Osceola was chosen after a bitter contest, in which Jesse Applegate endeavored to secure the location at Wyatt’s Grove, about one mile east of the present village of Roscoe. The majority in favor of Osceola is variously stated at “seven and seventeen”. The Wyatt’s Grove party sought to overturn the election through court process, but their motion was overruled by Judge Foster P. Wright. In 1880 an attempt was made to remove the county seat to Appleton City, but it was defeated at the polls. Under the organic act the first county court sat at the house of William Gash, the judges being Joseph Montgomery, William Gash, and Hugh Barnett, Sr. The next session was held at the same place and two succeeding sessions were held at Wyatt’s Grove. In November 1841 the seat was established at Osceola. The first circuit court was also held at Gash’s house March 29, 1841, Judge Foster P. Wright presiding. Charles P. Bullock was clerk and John Smarr was Sheriff. A succeeding session was also held there, and the third court term was held at the house of Pleasant M. Cox, in Osceola, November 29, 1841.
Nathaniel Bell was the first representative in the Legislature, elected in 1841. From 1854 to 1858, 21,813 acres of so-called swamp lands, which had been patented to the county, were disposed of at prices ranging from 75 cents to $2.67 per acre. The prices were considered good for the times, but most of the lands went into the hands of speculators, and the advancement of the county was slow, due in some degree to the disturbed border conditions. During the Civil War nearly a thousand men entered the Confederate service. A small number joined the Union army. Captain Cook organized a company for the Sixteenth Regiment of Enrolled Missouri Militia. September 23, 1861, General Jim Lane with a party of Kansans entered the county and burned a portion of Osceola. After peace was restored the county was repopulated and the work of reconstruction began, but led to extravegance, and in some quarters to criminality in use of public moneys. In 1870 the county adopted township organization, but abandoned it the following year, returning to the system of county justices.
St. Clair County is in the 6th Congressional District, in the 16th Senatorial District and in the 29th Judicial Circuit. The population in 1900 was 17,997.
St. Clair Co., MO History 1883:
The first resident physician in the county was Dr. Pleasant M. Cox, in 1836.
The first white child born in the county was a girl, in 1837, the daughter of William Cox.
The first white male born in the county was George M. Cox, a few months later, in 1837.
The first justice of the peace was James Gardner in 1835
The first colored child born in the county was called Willie Cox, his mother being owned by Mr. William Cox. This child was born in 1837.
The first blacksmith shop in the county was started by John W. Bridges in 1836 or 1837.
The first store in the county was Crow & Crutchfield's in March 1836.
The first attorney was Charles P. Bullock.
The first resident minister was Littleton Lunsford.
The first election held in Osceola Township was at Crow & Crutchfield's in August 1838. There had been other elections but the polling places were in Doyal at Gash's.