Original Occupants

Morgan County was at one time in the possession and occupancy of the Osage Indians. Upon ceding this part of their territory to the Government they retained the right to hunt in expeditions over the ground for a term of years. These expeditions every spring and fall made the people nervous, and Indian scares, often serious and widespread, were common. Not unfrequently families would sleep concealed near their houses during the night, and again the entire settlement would gather in order to be ready for defense against night attacks. Then for some years after they ceased to hunt in the county they passed through on the old "Harmony Mission Trace," on their way to and from St. Louis to get Government supplies. This "trace," the first great east and west route through the county, was followed from St. Louis to this place by the pioneers. The Boone and fur traders sometimes passed on the trail going to St. Louis.

The Indians never attacked the whites of Morgan County, and no serious depredations can now be recalled. Practically the last seen of them in the county, except passing as delegations on their way to Washington, was in 1835.

First Settlers

Following closely upon the footsteps of the trappers, hunters and Indian traders came the first pioneers to what is now Morgan County -- a daring and hardy race of men full of self-reliance, and possessing those self-contained resources admirably fitting them to lead civilization in its marvelous rise and progress across our continent.

In the year 1825 Hugh Kelsay and the younger Alexander, James, Samuel and William Kelsay settled on Moreau Creek, about six miles east of Versailles. Soon after William Donegan, Thomas Kennedy, John Thompson, Furniss Adair and a man named Pushong settled in the Kelsay neighborhood. In 1829 came Willis Brown and family, among whom was Cyrus C. Brown, still living within a miles of Hugh Kelsey's place.

North of the Kelsay settlement about six miles were located, among the next earliest settlers, Buford and William Allee, William Fulks, James Stinson, Elisha Taylor and Mordecai Bell. Most of these were in what is the southeast angle of Mill Creek Township. Further north and northwest of this were Philip Barger, James Enlow, Nathan Smith, Jesse Hallford, William Kirkpatrick, Absalom Wood, Benjamin Gist, William G. Porter, William Monroe, Ward Howard, James Birdsong, James Stinson, Elisha Taylor, H. Vivion, Orville Beatty, James Donaldson, Hickman Estes, Hay Hogue, Hardin Hix, Richard Larimore, Martin Parks, William C. Porter, Amos Richardson, James Rucker, Nathan Smith and Green Scott.

In the northwest part of the county, now Richland Township, Hugh Morrison, Absalom Wood, Isham Hatfield, John B. Morrison, John Taylor, William K. Anthony, Shannon Aiken, James Y. Cooper, J. W. Fridley, J. Gibney, John T. Harman, Thomas Hackney, Joseph Jamison, Francis Nixon, George Nixon, P. S. Owenby, E. S. Rollston, Joshua Self and R. B. Harris settled.

West and northwest of Versailles in Haw Creek Township were Hugh Morrison, Samuel Kelsay, Woodson Scoggins, James G. Wooten, Joseph Smith, William S. Barnett, David McFarland, William M. McCarroll, Samuel Thruston and Robert Wilson.

In the southwest part of the county, probably all within what is now Buffalo Township, were John R. Huff, William C. Scott, William James, James Lamm, Hugh Brown, Thomas J. Morris, James Bushow, John Dobbins, Alexander Findley, John Farris, Joseph Modders, J. A. Paul, William Powell and P. Webber.

In the southeast part of the county were Warner Houser, William Poor, William Rhea, Elvin Caldwell, Thomas J. Morris, Morton and John Jones, Solomon Kemp, Seth Moore, Enoch Taylor, William Dorrell, E. S. Drake, Tyre H. Bell, Joseph Sidebottom, T. J. Bond and James Farris.

East of the Kelsay settlement, in Moreau Township, were William French, Sterling Gunn, Walter Hines, Francis Laher and Preston R. Taylor. G. W. Stewart settled two miles south of Versailles, and George Campbell and William T. Cole, four miles north (latter was killed by John Ruthven in 1853). Josiah S. Walton, among the early settlers, located southeast of Versailles, on Gravois Creek. He put up a saw and grist-mill in 1835, and other settlers located at that point, it being the temporary county seat, called and known for a time as Milltown. John B. Fisher, father of Trusten F., made a settlement in the north part of the county, and it is sometimes claimed that his was the first settlement in the county.

John Tracy was located ten miles east of Versailles as early as 1831, and James Scoggins and Aaron Allord, about the same time, were eight miles west. Seth Howard settled at the mouth of Gravois Creek, and John Crenshaw at the mouth of Buffalo, very early. Howard started the once promising place, Miningport. James McFarland and sons settled about five miles south of Versailles, about 1831. Zacheus German was a prominent early settler, and came about the same time as McFarland. He first located twelve miles east of Versailles. Street Thruston and son, Dr. J. B. Thruston, were also among the early settlers.

In the list given above those without the date of coming attached to their names were known to be here in the early part of 1833.

The first marriage license in Morgan County was issued March 28, 1833, to Layton Adair and Edith Summers. They were married by Philip Barger, justice of the peace.

Land Entries

The earliest purchase of the Government of land in what is now Morgan County was made by George McFarland, Sr., February 13, 1824, the east half of northeast Section 8, Township 44 north, Range 18 west. Subsequently, other tracts were settled, mention of which is here made; the settlement by townships is observed:

Township 41, Range 16

September 24, 1826, Hiram M. Madole, north half southwest Section 8; October 1, 1832, Walker Moore, southeast southeast Section 1; October 5, 1832, David P. Taylor, northeast Section 1; August, 1834, E. B. Dooley, Section 11; April 12, 1835, H. B. Kelsay, Sr., east half northeast Section 5; May 5, 1836, Daniel Merry, northwest Section 19; May 29, 1837, William Bunker, southwest northwest Section 19; November 28, 1836, H. B. Kelsay, southeast northwest Section 5; February 13, 1837, Jeremiah Johnson, south half southwest Section 9.

Township 42, Range 16

October 27, 1831, Andrew McCasland in Section 36; February 27, 1832, Edmund Wilkes, west half southeast Section 23; November 20, 1833, Andrew J. French, east half northwest Section 5; January 31, 1834, George W. Claybrook, in Section 2; January 29, 1829, John H. Howard, in Section 36; June 9, 1829, Zacheus German, northeast Section 23; November 16, 1829, Andrew Phillips, west half northeast Section 13; July 10, 1836, Marquis Calmes, southeast southeast Section 21; June 23, 1840, David Dutcher, east half southwest Section 21; October 31, 1836, H. San Ira southeast Section 18; February 2, 1836, William Monroe, east half southeast Section 13; November 16, 1839, Andrew Phillips, west half northeast Section 13; February 16, 1836, Edward S. Ellis, west half Section 4; September 4, 1836, Simeon Ratcliff, east half northeast Section 8; February 2, 1837, A. J. French, in Sections 5, 6 and 7.

Township 43, Range 16

November 16, 1832, Willis Brown, southwest southwest Section 10; November 10, 1835, William Killison, Jr., south half northwest Section 19; January 12, 1836, William Cooper, northeast Section 19; November 30, 1832, Thomas Kennedy, northwest southwest Section 33; May 28, 1835, Hugh Kelsay, southwest northwest Section 30; June 25, 1835, James Kelsay, west half southwest Section 30; June 10, 1836, Hugh Brown, east half northwest Section 30; June 12, 1836, Willis Brown, west half southeast Section 30; October 25, 1836, John Glover, east half northeast Section 30; January 12, 1836, John Larkin, southeast Section 19; August 6, 1836, Henry Holman, east half southeast Section 33; October 16, 1838, Mordecai Bell, northeast northeast Section 33; July 7, 1836, L. W. Beanland, east half southwest Section 33; May 30, 1839, Margaret Ann Townley, southeast southeast Section 29; November 9, 1836, Jacob Ogelsby, southeast southwest Section 17; same date and section, John Ogelsby, southeast southeast, January 14, 1837, David W. Johnson, west half southwest Section 17.

Township 40, Range 17

April 1, 1836, Solomon Poor, southeast southeast Section 2.

Township 41, Range 17

October 15, 1832, James Lemon, southeast and northeast Section 27; February 24, 1835, John May, northeast southeast Section 7; September 16, 1836, Nancy Huff, northeast northwest Section 7; January 25, 1836, Charles Newkirk, northwest southwest Section 36; October 14, 1836, Joseph Sidebottom, southeast northwest Section 35; April 10, 1839, E. Caldwell, southwest northwest Section 7; December 4, 1834, Tyre H. Berry, southwest northwest Section 27; August 12, 1836, C. F. Holzwart, southeast northeast Section 28.

Township 42, Range 17

In 1836 Fleming Meadows, Joel Meadows, William Mitchell, James Huff and Peter Link each made entries in Section 21; November 27, 1837, John Lindley, southwest northeast Section 17; December 3, 1834, Fredrick How, southwest southwest Section 6; December 20, 1834, Jacob Chism, southeast northwest Section 6; December 21, 1835, Street Thruston, northwest southwest Section 6; April 25, 1835, William S. Barnett, southwest northwest Section 6; November 1836, N. W. Crook, William Pennebaker and C. A. Campbell each made entries in Section 7; April 30, 1833, Wyan and Galbraith, west half southeast Section 6; November 8, 1834, same, east half southwest Section 6; October 16, 1834, W. H. French, north half northeast Section 14; July 18, 1836, John McClannahan made entry in Section 6; October 31, 1836, Thomas Miller, southeast northeast Section 6.

Township 43, Range 17

February 8, 1833, John Pulley, northwest northeast Section 18; August 17, 1833, Jackson Johnson, southwest southeast Section 7; July 29, 1833, Obadiah Summers, southwest southwest Section 7; February 3, 1831, Elijah Anderson, east half northwest Section 7; November 2, 1832, Willis Brown, southeast southeast Section 25; February 14, 1833, Henry Fisher, southwest northwest Section 7; January 8, 1836, Jesse Jopling, northwest Section 33; January 29, 1836, Henry Fisher, southwest northwest Section 7.

Township 44, Range 17

March 7, 1829, Robert Rogers, west half northeast Section 28; July 11, 1831, Furniss Adair, east half southeast Section 7; November 20, 1833, Calvin Williams, northwest northwest Section 17; January 28, 1833, Elijah McFarland, northwest southeast Section 29; December 12, 1836, Thomas G. Thompson, west half northwest Section 27; May 21, 1836, Charles Newkirk west half northwest Section 28; January 22, 1837, James B. Huff, east half northwest Section 32.

Township 41, Range 18

September 3, 1833, Morton James, southeast southeast Section 1; September 3, 1833, W. K. Anthony, southwest northeast Section 2; January 13, 1836, Stewart Barnes, southwest southeast Section 1.

Township 42, Range 18

May 1, 1833, Jacob Chism, east half southeast and west half southwest Section 10; December 20, 1833, John Chism, west half southwest Section 11; December 20, 1834, Hardin Chism, northwest southwest Section 12; December 3, 1834, John McClannahan, east half Section 5, November 19, 1834, Noah Gordon, northeast Section 12; September 19, 1835, Street Thruston, east half southeast Section 4.

Township 43, Range 18

October 29, 1832, John Boyar, southwest southeast Section 12; same date, Robert Wilson, southeast southeast Section 12; February 15, 1833, John G. Estes, southeast southeast Section 13; June 12, 1833, Thomas Blakely, southeast southeast Section 24; December 12, 1833, Littleton Seat, east half northeast Section 25; December 10, 1833, Martin Boyar, northwest southeast Section 25.

Township 44, Range 18

November 4, 1836, J. C. Todd, southwest southeast Section 15; September 1, 1838, Harry Mayfield, northwest northwest Section 23.

Township 45, Range 18

December 20, 1830, Samuel Smith, west half northwest Section 9; December 21, 1831, W. H. Shanklin, northeast Section 9; December 21, 1831, John Carpenter, west half southwest Section 9; January 28, 1831, Elijah Shanklin, northeast southeast Section 9; February 4, 1828, William Steele, west half northwest Section 8; April 27, 1827, William Steele, west half northeast Section 8; November 20, 1832, John Carpenter, northeast southwest Section 9; January 7, 1833, Nathaniel Garten, southwest northwest Section 9; November 4, 1834, Elizabeth Findley, northwest northwest Section 10; December 4, 1833, William Hix, southeast southwest Section 11.

Township 41, Range 19

April 4, 1835, Joseph Byles, southwest southwest Section 6.

Township 42, Range 19

November 26, 1833, Aaron Allen, southeast southwest Section 6; January 24, 1836, Enoch Taylor, southeast northeast Section 14.

Township 43, Range 19

November 18, 1833, Almer Weaver, northwest southeast Section 30; December 12, 1836, Charles H. Stevens, northwest Section 29.

Township 44, Range 19

November 30, 1833, W. C. Reed, southwest northwest Section 15; September 30, 1835, William Neal, southwest northeast Section 10; November 6, 1835, Hugh M. Blackburn, northwest southwest Section 29; July 6, 1836, A. C. Sloan, northeast northwest Section 28.


The abundance of game and fish on every hand in pioneer days left only the question of bread and building material a necessity to provide for. For some years the nearest post-office was six miles north of Tipton. The arrival of a letter, twenty-five cents postage, was a county episode, as it would be read and reread to nearly everyone in the county. Fear of the Indians made the people collect in settlements, and all were on the lookout for a new settler, ready to extend to him every hospitality and aid in making a home and locating as a neighbor. They built their cabins of logs, and their first sawed lumber was from the whipsaw. Walton's saw-mill opened an era in the new county's progress. The people could haul their bread-stuff hundreds of miles over the trackless waste, but the heavy lumber they could not. A constant dread of danger from Indian raids, and wild animals, made the people not only watchful. but inclined to gather at night at each other's cabins. Social and hospitable, simple and honest, they needed neither officers nor courts.

History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries and Osage Counties, Missouri, Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1889.