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Traveling the Highways
of Missouri

The Western Watchman
July 1858

The following is a humorous account given by a pioneer preacher  traveling the highways of Missouri in the summer of 1858.  The area of which he speaks is believed to be in the area of Antioch Church on Wild Horsecreek Road in Chesterfield.

Dear Brother:

I thought some little account of our County Association might not be without interest to your readers.  In company with two other ministering brethren we started Thursday morning for a drive to Antioch.  The Olive street plank road was to mark our way.   There are plenty of planks but we were doomed to learn by experience that there are horrible roads in Missouri.  After enjoying the hospitality of our Baptist friends in Chesterfield, we proceeded on again for the evening drive to Antioch.  But such was the obtuseness of our understanding about keeping a certain "ridge road," which we are hardly sure we could find now, we found ourselves away off on a high bluff, in the woods, to all appearances lost.  There were plenty of ups and downs.

The solemn shades of evening gathered round and added to our anxiety.  We guessed and guessed, but after all, we realized we were off track.  a single wagon track lay ahead and others crossed at every few steps in bewildering number.  'That's a long road that has no end' we remembered and pushed on.  In a little while we stopped by a cornfield.  That was cheering, it revealed one sign of man's presence. Down went the fence, and around the corn we went, rough and tumble all the way.  Here we received a direction (and such a direction) about keeping round and over, and then turning there and at some other place, and started on about as wise as before.

In keeping 'the ridge road' we had evidently gone on an old road on the wrong ridge.   Before long, we had found ourselves down in a huge ravine, bluffs on each side, woods all around, a creek straight in our way and beyond, another cornfield.  To our bewildered heads there was no way out.  Night had come; our horse was tired out with the tugs up and tumbles down the hills. . . we must confess that we had some strong thoughts of camping out.

The welcome shouts of men in the distance told us we were near a human habitation. . . but how to get out?  After waiting for awhile and calling out our best, we were led out by some boys who came to our assistance on muleback.  Such a lead!  May we be kept from such another.  Surely, we thought, if our horse could make out to follow, there would be only a few pieces of our rockway get through the thicket, and over the creek, gullies and stumps.

But 'All's well that ends well'. . . we found our way to the hospitable mansion of Captain Tyler, whose attentions and courtesy we gratefully enjoyed.  But alas, for the poor German pastor and your correspondent, if the fates were not against us!  We were all on fire and felt something on us.  Our scratching by the brush and brambles was not the end of scratching!  Travelers! unsophisticated like ourselves. . . beware of ridge roads. . . the perspicuous directions and numerous hangers on that may meet you in the woods.

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