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A History of Livingston County, Missouri
Published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee
The first land entered in Jackson Township was in 1836, although Levi Goben, with two or three others, settled there as early as 1833. The township lies between the east and west branches of Grand River. This district, with Sampsel Township, was formerly a part of Indian Creek Township. The name Indian Creek was changed in 1839 to Jackson. Because of the timber land, springs and game, this was a favorite spot of the pioneers. The unpleasant number of panthers, wildcats and huge timber wolves left them undaunted. In 1836 Jesse Naves opened a little store in Navestown (Springhill). He was the first settler and promoter of trade in all this part of North Missouri. This township, which settled rapidly, was known as it is now, as one of the friendliest and most loved of all the community. At first there were few schools or churches. The house of Isham Ware, in what is now Sampsel Township, was the meeting place for the Methodists. Until the Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad was built in 1859, flat boats carried market produce down the river to Brunswick. Some of the settlers in the southern part of the township took their grain to Todd's Mill at Utica; some went to Millport, in Daviess County. Then John Gillaspy's Mill was built on Grand River. Because a Mr. Henderson, a United States surveyor, who laid off Sampsel Township, died before he turned in his reports and his papers were lost, Sampsel Township, although settled as early as 1834. was not declared entered until 1846. This region was known for a decade as the lost township. - . -
For the Mormon War, the Mexican War, the California emigration, and the Kansas troubles, Jackson Township furnished her part in men and money. During the Civil War her sympathies were largely for the South. Probably more thrilling activity took place there than any place in the county. Among the early and respected citizens was Sam Thompson, whose funny stories are still rehearsed in "the forks" of the river.
Uncle Jesse Naves, early postmaster of Navestown, objected to the too frequent "Knaves Town," with its unpleasant suggestion, so he sought to change the name to Springhill (1848), so called for the number of springs at its base. From 1850 to 1859, Springhill was a mercantile center, and it once had a tannery, the only one in the county. It was more prosperous than Chillicothe, but the Hannibal & St. Joe Railroad, which proved a boom to Chillicothe and Utica, drew from Springhill its business activities.
The Methodist Episcopal Church South at Springhill was organized in April, 1843. Two early churches of the neighborhood were Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church, and Lily Grove Christian Church, both of them are still active.
In July, 1874, the township of Sampsel was created out of Jackson. It was named for the town of Sampsel, laid out in July, 1871, when the old Chillicothe and Omaha Railroad built a station there. The town took its name from one of the men prominent in railroad affairs.
Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, perhaps the oldest in the community, was organized in July, 1852. In 1873, Pleasant Ridge Church was organized. J. A. Boucher, father of our present County Superintendent of Schools, furnished the hardwood of white oak trees to build it. This type of generous
donation was current throughout our county in the early days. Besides giving material, these early settlers gave of their time to fell the trees they gave; not one would have thought of stopping until the building was ready for use.
A few of the well known names from Jackson and Sampsel Townships are: Richard Hargrave, Emma Sterling Lewis, Ray Lewis, Ross Cooper, Edward McCollum, E. P. Dowell, Mima Volk, J. C. Stith, Fred W. Williams, Mary Noah, May Stith, Homer Kessler, W. C. Hutchison, D. F. Girdner, Lester Rose, J. W. Bills, John Kessler, Thomas Lytton, Jim Cooper, Jim Forester, and Ed Raulie.