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A History of Livingston County, Missouri
Published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee
Green Township, lying between Shoal Creek and Grand River, contains much land usually covered by water during overflow. Bluffs and hills are found along the river. The prairie land of the township is rich soil, adapted to diversified crops. Fruit is grown here extensively. Brick shale, found in abundance, has proved of great value to the community. There is sand stone, suitable to building, along the west fork of the river.
It was the western part of this township that Samuel E. Todd, in 1831, made the first settlement in Livingston County. By 1840, there were a goodly number of settlers, The township was named "in honor of Jineral Green of the Revolution War," so wrote William E. Pearl. Nathaniel Greene always spelled his name with the final "e," but the township has retained the spelling given it by Mr. Pearl.
Utica, just north of United States Highway No. 36, was laid out April 27, 1837. Because Todd's Mill was operating here, the location was considered a good one. Mr. Roderick Matson gave the town the name of Utica in honor of his native city in New York. Next to "Jimtown," Utica is the oldest town in the county.
In 1837, from boards split by hand and the finishing lumber sawed at Todd's Mill, Mr. Henry Stover put up a little frame store, kept first by a man named Taylor.
The Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad, in 1857, brought a boom to the town. Merchants came to buy their goods in Utica. Shippers journeyed with their stock from Carrollton and other towns south. The displeasure of the citizens over the first location of the depot resulted in track-soapings, and finally a fire; afterward, the depot site was changed.
In the election of 1860, so an old legend runs, Lincoln received one vote in Green Township. A few quarrelsome investigators learned that a Methodist preacher was the "offending" voter. In revenge, they started to ride the poor fellow on a rail, but as they were passing the home of Annie Fletcher, they attempted to remove a picket from the fence surrounding the yard. Annie was drawn to the door by the commotion, and, sympathizing with the poor victim, she produced a pistol with which she ran away the disturbers and freed the unfortunate preacher.
Mr. Hoy, who built a beautiful brick home in Utica, had a most unpleasant experience during the war. One version of the story goes that a friend of the family, a lady from the South, was visiting in the Hoy home when Federal soldiers approached the house one afternoon. In fury the visiting lady stepped to the porch and waved a rebel flag. No sooner had she done so than the Federalists started shooting. To this day it is said the marks made by the musket balls are visible in the brick of the old house.
The township was about equally divided during the Civil War; a company for each side was formed. It is said that one day the stars and stripes, waving over one of the stores, was replaced by a rebel banner, but the man who hauled down the American flag became the next year a prominent officer in the Federal militia.
As early as July 19, 1856, the Masonic Lodge organized a chapter in the town. The early churches were Utica Methodist Church, organized in 1868; and the Second Advent in 1878. In 1877, a petition was granted by the Bishop and the Catholics built their church. In 1873, the "Utica Herald" was established, then stopped completely in 1876, and re established in January, 1877.
Mr. Billy McCloughan, who now lives in Chillicothe, remembers that Utica, during these years, was so busy, so filled with people that when his father with Billy and the rest of the family arrived in Utica in 1864, there was no room at all in any hotel, so the McCloughan family found it necessary to sleep on the floor of the lobby. Mr. McClougban remembers, too, that the family bought tickets in Indiana for Chillicothe, but so small and insignificant was the town in those days, the train did not stop. Thus it was the railroad gave the family a free ride on into Utica where they stayed.
Utica at one time boasted a fine five-story mill, built by the Braden brothers from Iowa. It ran profitably for several years, when circumstances resulted in its sale. It was owned by Rudolph and Redwine, and at another time by "Water House" Johnson. It was the latter person of whom people whispered he had much money buried somewhere, but the somewhere remains a mystery. When this old mill was built, the dam was on the river; but later years brought the drainage ditch to straighten the river and now it flows a mile and a half north of the old dam, which has disappeared underneath the sand and mud. The mill itself had disappeared before. A former mill at this site caught fire in 1874, (no one knows how), on the top story and literally burned down. With a river of water at hand, the citizens were forced to watch the old mill burn.
The brick plant, now built at this site, has always done well. Since March 1, 1935, it has been owned and operated by The Midland Brick and Tile Company. Here building brick is prepared on a large scale. At one time there came to Utica a man by the name of Adam Schmidt, from Quincy, Illinois. He established a large furniture factory, a grist mill, and a saw mill, all as one business. The industry, which was doing well in 1864, ran profitably for many years. A native of Switzerland, Flavian Bonderer, born in 1827, came early to Utica where he established the business of burning lime, making brick, and contracting rock. In Utica, the late Judge James M. Davis, for eleven years Judge of the 36th Judicial District, spent several years as a young lawyer. Among the old settlers still living in the township is Herman Deitrich, who for ten years was Consul General to Equador. He was born in Utica in 1866, and though he still claims it as his "home," as does everyone who has lived there, he now resides in Chillicothe.
Mrs. George Rice came to Utica in 1865, when she was eleven years of age. Here she has lived since. For sixty-six years she has been a faithful member and worker in the Baptist Church. Mr. and Mrs. Rice, who were married by the Reverend Wadley sixty-three years ago the 2nd of July, now live a mile west of Utica on the site of the old home built by the father of Elisha Wells. Mrs. Rice tells us that when they came to Utica by train, they stopped on the other side of the river because the bridge was not safe. Although they were not far from Utica, they were from five o'clock in the afternoon until the next day noon finishing the trip.
Other well remembered names in Utica are: Mike Ludwig, who came from Germany in 1880; Mack Williams; Roderick Matson, and Doctor Mitchell. George Walz is now the oldest citizen born in Green Township who is still living there. Fred Bloom claims the honor of being second oldest.
Utica's Bank, of which G. W. Kent was cashier, closed a few years ago with every depositor paid in full. There is no doctor in the town at present, but Dr. Carpenter, who now practices in Chillicothe, came from Utica, and among its citizens he has a large practice.
Fruit growing is still an important industry in Green Township. Years ago there were two large nurseries, the one owned by Stone and Harper, and another owned by George Weatherby. The Central Orchards and the Moore Brothers' orchards, near Utica, are the largest in the county.
It is said that no finer people exist than those who settled in this neighborhood. The many old settler names still found in Utica makes a long and interesting list; for this community, one of the oldest in the county, is also one of the most loved and respected.