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An Historical Sketch
Franklin County

by C. F. Jeffries

A letter by C. F. Jeffries to Dr. G. O. Hardemann, of Gray’s Summit, MO, who read an historical sketch of Franklin County at the centennial anniversary, at Pacific, MO,  July 4, 1876. Part of Mr. Jeffries letter was as follows:

My recollections of the history of Franklin County, when we immigrated to Missouri, now about fifty-six years ago, and being then a boy, must necessarily be very imperfect. In 1819, about the first of December, of that year, our party crossed the Mississippi River at St. Louis, then a small French village. The party consisted of my father’s (Achilles Jeffries) family. Henry Brown and family, Charles Williamson and family, Zachariah Hale and family, Ambrose Ranson (single), Cuthbert Williamson, Daniel Moore, E Kinnon and Miss Martha Pankey, with a number of American citizens of African descent. On the 6th of December, of that year, we pitched our tents east of Labaddie Creek, near the house of James North, who had preceded us one or two years. The party then set about hunting winter quarters, some one place, some another. Williamson procured shelter in log cabins, near the point of the bluff where Labaddie Creek enters the Missouri bottom. My father wintered in a log cabin on the Crowe farm near by. The cabin was 12x14 feet, with a sort of smoke house adjoining, which we used as a parlor. With the cabin arrangements, and putting double covers on the wagons, we passed the winter admirably. Occasionally, when we had visitors, the boys would resort to a fodder pen with their buffalo robes, lying on one and covering with the other, where we would pass the night very quietly. Being winter, there was no danger from snakes, but it would no have been so safe in summer, owing to the great number of rattlesnakes, copperheads, spreadheads and other reptiles equally poisonous. At that time the county of Franklin was in a great measure a wilderness, covered over with peavine, brush, rushes, buffalo grass, and every variety of growth and flowers. Stock kept in fine order winter and summer, with but little attention. There was but one road in the direction of our travel leading west from St. Louis, running near the Shaw mill-trace, crossing the Bourbeuse River, below where Goode’s mill now stands. The settlements were mostly confined along the Missouri River. The public lands were all vacant. What was tilled was held by virtue of improvements, and woe be unto him who dared to enter an improvement over a neighbor’s head.

The old settlers of the county, so far as I can now recollect names, were the Rinenhours, Calvins, Reeds, Robersons, Steeles, Zum(w)alts, Bells, Deckers, Pursleys, Groffs, Coles, Henrys, Boles, Fullertons, Crowes, Duncans, Edwards, Farrars, Andersons, Caldwells, Sappingtons, McDonalds, Baileys, Maupins, Sullins, Heatherlys, Browns, Greenstreets, Heasleys and many others, not necessary to mention. And here let me bear testimony to the truth that a more honest, hospitable people was not to be found anywhere. One would be ashamed to have a lock on his door among such people. They had neither locks nor bars. They had their hunting and bear dogs - - no bull and watch dogs to guard off the thief.

At that day our farming operations were limited. Corn, wheat, tobacco, cotton and flax were the principal crops raised, and for home consumption only. Farm rigging, bark collars, rawhide (tug-trace) harness, and single-trees of wood without iron; sleds and truck-wheel wagons, all wood. Milling was done at different places, according to distance. We had the rawhide band wheel and the cog wheel mill. The most of the Labaddie settlers had their milling done at or near Glencoe, on Hamilton’s Creek, at a mill owned by Ninian Hamilton, one of the best men that God ever made. Our trading was done at St. Louis. Peltries, venison, hams, wild turkeys and furs, with cut money, nine "bits" to the dollar, were exchanged for such articles as were absolutely necessary for the family; no imaginary wants were gratified. Out of the cotton, flax and wool, most of the clothing was manufactured by the wives and daughters. Not much calico was worn then, only five yards to the dress, now twenty-five. Subsequently we did our trading at Newport, with Pres. G. Rule, when we began to use a little more calico.

Each neighborhood manufactured its corn into the straight, the pure juice. All you had to do was to call and fill your canteen with the "agility," and report from time to time as the heavy dew or snake bite required. Doctors were few and far between, so were lawyers. Occasionally we would have a judge and an attorney or two along the river route, who held court at some barn or private shelter, dispatched business in a day or two, went their way, and nobody hurt.

Our spiritual wants were supplied by the Methodists and Baptists. There was no peddling or merchandising the gospel. The preachers went forth without purse or scrip, declaring the unsearchable riches of Christ. Those were the days of Ignorance, when, I suppose, God winked at us. But, now a new light has sprung up, we only repent of not having obtained the highest seat in the synagogue, thereby obtaining a policy against fire.

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