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A History of Livingston County, Missouri
Published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee
From Material Collected by Mrs. A. T. Weatherby
In the south central part of the county, and south of Shoal Creek, lies Blue Mound Township, one of the best farming communities of the county. This section, settled by people of Welsh descent and people from the northern and eastern states, came into the county as a township in 1843. It is still occupied by prosperous farmers who raise a variety of crops, including much grain. The name of the township came from the blue veil constantly hovering over the hills as they are seen from a distance. On the high ground east of Shoal Creek lies Dawn, laid out by William Hixon in 1853, and which ungrounded tradition says, was named by Mr. Hixon or some other hunter as he looked toward the dawn in a moment of exhilaration after the kill of a deer.
The first settler was Joshua Whitney from Massachusetts, who built a house and a mill and called the spot Whitney's Mill. In 1841, there was built a bridge, believed to be the first north of the Missouri River and west of Chariton County. Washed out in 1867, the bridge was replaced in 1874 by a poorly constructed one which, two years later fell, carrying with it three children of James Bench, and injuring
one child quite seriously. The strong iron, two-span bridge, put up after the tragedy, stood until 1933 when a substantial one of iron and concrete was erected by the State Highway Department.
At Dawn, in a little log building above the creek, Mr. Hixon began to sell goods. Soon he built of native lumber the first house within the town limits. This was later occupied as a hotel, then as a dwelling for more than fifty years, when it was destroyed by fire. When George Dancingburg bought the store in 1867, the medium of exchange for the small but valuable stock of goods was principally beeswax and coon skins.
The Civil War left no marked effect upon the fortunes of the citizens. One classic story grew out of it, however. A substantial farmer, whose sympathies were "with the other side," was seized by the enemy, taken to a ravine and told to say his prayers, but as he spoke, the leader of the band, seized with apoplexy, fell dead. The farmer, who was released, looked upon the enemy's fate as an example of divine intervention.
Names connected with the early history of Dawn are G. H. Clark, a merchant from New Hampshire; and Henry Bushnell, who later joined Mr. Clark in business. Other names to be remembered are Hugh Jones, merchant and postmaster; John Reed; R. L. Patrick; J. K. Mosher; John H. Williams; George W. Fiske; John H. Price; M. V. B. Culver; W. A. Fisher.
About 1880, Mattingly Brothers from Virginia erected a large steam flour mill, with full roller patents, called the "Dawn Roller Mills," of one hundred barrel capacity. Spontaneous combustion in the dust room set fire to the mill and it was completely destroyed in May, 1884. The mill was rebuilt about as before, and burned about 1902. A creamery, built in 1884, enjoyed a prosperous business for many years.
The Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, built about 1887, came to within two miles of Dawn. The first station master was John Brough. A Star mail route and bus service for passengers and freight was established between the depot and town. Bridge Graham for many years was the driver.
A non-partisan weekly newspaper, "The Dawn Clipper," was published in Dawn for many years, beginning as early as 1882. It suspended publication about 1900, A G. A. R. Post, Number 60, comprising seventy-five members, was said to be the strongest post in the county, if not in the state. The Dawn Concert Band was organized in 1879, with J. Drake as leader. This band was in existence over a period of years, and was an organization that would have done credit to a much larger community.
For many years the only church in Dawn was the Presbyterian, organized in 1865, built about 1872. During this period the different denominations represented in the village worshipped together as they do now, for in 1927, a federation of the different denominations, Welsh, Congregational, Baptist and Methodist was effected under the name "Dawn Federated Church," where the members all worship together in the one-time Methodist building.
In June, 1883, a tornado swept across a closely settled farm community, four miles south of Dawn. Four people were killed outright, others seriously injured, and thousands of dollars worth of property destroyed. The beautiful home and a large barn belonging to Henry Glick, one of the neighborhood's most prosperous farmers, were blown into kindling wood, and members of his family were killed or injured. The effects of the storm were felt as far away as Utica. A resident of Dawn said the storm sounded like a mammoth threshing machine grinding boards.
Dawn has had three banks, now merged as the Community Bank of Dawn, which, organized in 1919, continues to serve the community. There is a resident minister in Dawn, the Reverend Ira D. McClyrnonds; a lawyer, M. F. Pollard, is also station master. The first telephone switchboard in Dawn was set up in about 1902 by a Mr. Iglehart, in his residence. Electric current was first furnished the town by J. M. Decker, about 1918, by means of a Delco system. A few years later the community made a hook-up with the Excelsior Springs line, which affords abundant current for power and light. The first automobile owned in Blue Mound Township was a Model T Ford touring car with acetylene lights, and was purchased in 1912 by A. T. Weatherby. The second was a Model F Buick and was owned by William Bowen.
Automobiles and excellent highways have eliminated distance and brought the village and the city into closer relation, in this way changing the economic, and therefore, the historical aspect of the community.