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A History of Livingston County, Missouri
Published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee
Most of Mooresville Township, crossed by Highway No. 36 and the Burlington Railway, lies south of the west branch of Grand River. Part of this tract of land is timbered and hilly, other sections boast of as fine farming land as is found in the county. Settlers came here as early as 1833, and by 1840, it is said that at least fifty families were living here, among them the Hudginses, the McCroskies, the Tomlins, the Bryans, and others. In 1860, Mooresville was platted. It was named for W. B. Moore, who located there in 1844. Mr. Moore was the father of Mrs. Cora Hitt, who lives in Chillicothe. He lived in a little cabin just north of the townsite. In the town itself he built a log house where, with a small stock of goods, he kept store till the following year. In 1860, a postoffice was established, with S. A. Brock the first postmaster. For several years trains did not stop at Mooresville, but threw off mail. Then, in 1864, the superintendent of the railroad came up and made arrangements with Mr. Moore to build a regular depot. When the Civil War broke out there were in the town, Brock's store, the postoffice and a blacksmith shop. In 1863, a detachment of militia was stationed here to guard the place. The citizens complied with a request to provide corn for the use of the government troops. After the corn was nearly all paid for and stacked in one large heap, it caught fire and in four days was completely burned. This community, like the most of our county, suffered from bushwhacking and guerrilla warfare. Four men were murdered; people were robbed, and in many cases the culprits went unpunished.
Now, all the Civil War soldiers are gone. Of the number of slaves who continued to live there after their emancipation, none are left. When the War of 1898 came along, two or three soldiers from the township enlisted. C. D. Comstock, now dead, was one, and Clay Lydick of an old settler's family, was another.
Since the war the town has grown slowly. A number of neat, newly painted dwelling houses, some near the Springs and others "up town," mark the place where in 1860 only one home stood. By 1870, the present cemetery was laid out.
In 1874, the town of Mooresville was incorporated. It may be interesting to note the reason as given by "The History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties," published in 1886. "The inhabitants, headed by Solomon Mix, represented to the court that they were compelled to work on the public roads outside the town; that their own streets were mere highways, along which men might and did drive furiously and recklessly 'to the great danger of our children'; That they had no power to punish certain offenses, and so their prayer for incorporation was granted."
Mooresville once had a lawyer, Mr. W. Y. (Bill) Slack. Like many of the lawyers of the older generation, he taught school during his youth. Mr. Gill Hudgins, the postmaster since 1914, was once a pupil of Mr. Slack's. There is no longer a doctor in the community since the death of Doctor Neemen several years ago.
The peaceful little town of Mooresville has street lights, two garages, and one general store, run by Mr. Edson. Sometimes, as often as once or twice a week, there is a picture show. Nearly every home has a radio and a car. Mr. Hudgins recalls four early cars in the township. The first was a Reo, owned by Mr. Mayhugh in 1901. Soon Bill Benson bought a Reo, too, and Mr. Chapman bought a car. Mr. L. F. (Lark) Hudgins owned the fourth car, a Ford touring, probably the first Ford in the township. The Mooresville private telephone exchange, established thirty-five years ago by C. D. Mayhugh, is now operated by Herman Mathis.
It is interesting that the town clings to the old town well, though it lost its pump some twenty years ago. A bucket and a pulley still serve to capture the sweet, clear water from its depths.
Six years ago the Mooresville Bank closed its doors, but every depositor was paid in full; not one lost a cent.
In Mooresville in 1871, the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized; in 1879, the Christian Church; and in 1867, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. At the present time the Reverend S. A. Bennett of Chillicothe, presides over the Methodist Church. Reverend Rudolph, now of Chillicothe, was formerly pastor of the Christian Church.
Mooresville Township has, from its earliest history, been famous for its bluegrass, much of which is threshed for seed. Until the years of drought, 1934 and 1936, large herds of livestock and poultry were raised. Then the large herds and droves were sold and have not been replenished, since the feed for them, once so plentiful that a great surplus found its way to the market, now has to be purchased at an almost prohibitive price.
Coal is one of the township’s earliest mentioned products, and until recent years mining was an important industry of the neighborhood. The rock quarries of the township have always been of the best. At the present time the WPA on the old Walter Clark place, about one mile west of Mooresville, is preparing rock for the roads of the township. Already the north road to the river is graveled. The old river bridge on this road went out a few years ago, but the township is looking forward to a new bridge which will give Sampsel an outlet to Highway No. 36 and will permit more children to attend high school in Mooresville. The road from Rattle Snake bridge east to the township line is being graveled now.
One of the earliest establishments of the township was the old steam mill, a good one, fired by wood which was both plentiful and cheap. Another early source of income was from the orchards. Many yet remember when every farmer in the township had a sizable grove of fruit trees. Four were very large: the orchards of John F. Hudgins, O. G. Wright, Ami Lawson, and the one on what is now the Joe Clark place. Now, nothing is left of the orchards but a few scattered trees; cultivated fields have taken their places.
MOORESVILLE SPRINGS – In the year 1842, Mr. James Lawson came here from Kentucky. Needing a rest, he stopped at one of the several clear flowing springs. Disturbed by the thick coating left on the cooking utensils by the spring water, he moved on to a fresh spring. Later, Mr. Moore, who located here in 1844, decided that the "sulphur" water might cure the dreaded disease of hog cholera. Here he allowed his hogs to drink and lost not a single head. Then Mr. Moore had this spring water analyzed and found it contained minerals valuable in combating diseases of the stomach and liver. Time passed and fame came to the waters of this spring. A large hotel was built, where Doctor T. Fiske managed a big and profitable business. Nearby a pop factory manufactured a health-giving drink from the spring mineral water, and until 30 years ago, all about the country the product was peddled by wagons. But business flagged, and after period of less activity, the hotel burned. This was fifteen ears ago. M. H. Gibault, now station agent at Callao, Missouri, bought the site and built his home there. Only a few come now to drink of the curative spring water where the pump and the little shelter house still stand.
For the last twenty years, and until only lately, the spot has been a favorite picnic ground where the Fourth of July has been joyously celebrated, and families have been happy in their reunions. People came from all over the country to enjoy this native wooded spot north of the springs. The last big family reunion was by a part of the Hudgins people; families, kinfolk, and friends attended. There were Reynolds, Stampers, Hudgins, Gates, Woolseys, and Matsons - large gathering it was.