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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
In 1831 Jesse have and his wife, Isabella, left Tennessee, to explore the wild lands of Missouri. They paddled up the Missouri River to the place where Grand River empties into it. Enchanted with the surroundings, they left the Missouri River to follow the Grand river. They found a small settlement called Utica, and after a short stay here they decided to move on up the river. They discovered that the river forked into two branches, east and west. They took the east fork which came to he known as the Thompson River. They followed north and east until they came to a bend which turned the river east. "This is the place." Jesse told Isabella, "We'll land here." They began clearing a spot to build a log cabin and to look for food. There was wild game everywhere and trees of every kind. Three years later, Levi Goben and his wife Catherine were the first settlers to come to the Nave's settlement. Hunters passing through called Nave town and soon other settlers came, built one-room cabins, and hunted for fur bearing animals.
A fur trader John Stewart, who was buying furs for the American Fur Company found the North village on Grand River and decided that it could become a great trade center. Accordingly he went to St. Louis and brought back a stock of merchandise. One day while Jesse and others of a hunting party were hunting, they came across fresh, cool water bubbling out of the ground. They returned to Nave town on the river to tell the settlers about the springs. By 1840 most of Nave town had moved to the place of the springs.
A United States surveyor, J. W. Robinson, began the survey of the village and laid it out in blocks, lots, and streets. He failed to lay the town out straight with the world. Main Street runs from northwest to southeast. The town lies at a 30 degree angle. NE 174 Sec 6 twp 58 range 24.
Jesse and Isabella chose a place up the hill from the springs to build a two room log house, one room to be used for a store room, the other a home. All of that area between the forks of the river was Indian Creek. Later it became Jackson Township. By 1837, traders and settlers had settled out and around the village. Jesse Nave called a meeting at his house to have an election. Two Justices of the Peace were elected, Jesse Nave and Levi Gobin, In 1849 the village officially became Springhill. Different areas surrounding Springhill came to be known by names descriptive of the place. A tributary to the Thompson River began at the southeast corner of Springhill to become a creek. Early settlers noted the number of hoot owls there and when asked where their cabins were they would say, "we live on Owl Creek." That area became known as Owl Creek, north and east of Springhill, hills and hollers were covered with dense growth of Oak and Maple treas. Just before the first frost, the leaves change to a gorgeous array of coloring of red and yellow. The settlers called that area, Red Brush.
Northwest of Springhill was an area of more hills and hollers, inhabited by every kind of wildlife including panthers and rattlesnakes. The people who settled there came from Kentucky. They brought the name "Poosey" with them. They called their new location "Poosey" from the place they had lived in Kentucky. The people who settled Poosey and Red Brush did not come by river, They were hunters and explorers of a new land and came foot or on horses. They came to hunt not to till the soil. They learned that by the Homestead Act, the government would give 40 acres and live there one year. Accordingly the hunters went back to Kentucky and brought their families into the wild country. The frontier woman was full of adventure, could shoot straight, wield an axe, share her man's dream, and look forward to their future. They had very little money; they shared whatever they could get, and helped each other when help was needed. Many came to live in Poosey. The older generation died, the young live elsewhere; and now in the year of 1980
Daughtery, owner of that part of Poosey, that lies within Jackson Township, has sold it to the state. It is now Poosey State Park, set aside for the habitation of wildlife.
West of Springhill was Indian Creek whose bottom lands afforded rich roll,
and south lay Grand River bottom lands. Into this area, German people, who had
left Germany to find better living conditions in America, had first settled in
Pennsylvania, and then in Ohio, came with their families. They were thrifty and
industrious; they were not hunters and traders; they came to make homes and to
till the soil. These people secured the land, had it surveyed and cleared. They
brought their logs to the Springhill saw mills.
Pioneer families basic needs were--a house to live in, a team of horses, shelter for their cow (usually a straw shed), a horse barn, hen house, and a pig pen. Every family had a truck patch, orchards of apples, plums, peaches, and pears. A cave for storage of fruit and vegetables for the winter was a must. Bins were built in the cave for potatoes and apples. Boxes of sand to cover carrots, parsnips, and turnips to seal them from air. These vegetables would keep crisp until spring. Corn, peaches, and apples were dried in trays on the top of the porch roof.
Each season of the year had its own special work. The father and his boys would get up the winter's wood before school started. With the first cold days of winter came butchering time. Each neighbor had his own butchering day so that they could help each other. On that day water for the scalding began to be heated before daybreak. A large 15 gallon kettle was placed over an open fire with plenty of wood around it. A 50 gallon barrel was placed slantingly against a wooden shed. Wood ashes were thrown into the bottom of the scalding barrel to cause the dirt and the scales to come off easily. It required two strong men to souse a hog head first into the barrel, then to turn it tail down. Sometimes the hog was pulled but for air, and if the hair was not loose soused again. The woman of that home had to prepare for the butchering day dinner. Women and children always came along to help and to eat. They cut lard, cleaned entrails for stuffing and got sausage meat ready to be ground.
An ash box or barrel was placed near the house for emptying ashes during the winter. The barrel had a hole in the bottom to let the lye drain into a wooden bucket. Wood was used instead of metal because lye would eat the metal. As soon as spring came and the temperature below freezing, pouring water into the ash barrel became a chore. The lye was used to make soap, soak the grains or white corn until the husk came off, and to remove paint and grease. Ashes had many uses. Thrown into an open wound on a horse it would cause the wound to heal from the inside first. Applied daily, the wound would heal and leave no scar. Ashes sprinkled over a garden in the spring, and around the base of fruit trees will destroy insects and add fertility to the soil. Pioneer women had a flock of geese. In the spring the geese were plucked of their soft feathers to make pillows and featherbeds. To pick a goose, a sock was first put over the goose's head to keep it from billing, the head and neck was tucked under the left arm and the goose held breast up in the woman's lap while she plucked the breast of feathers.
For the fall cleaning women would fill their straw ticks with fresh straw. Straw ticks were used for mattresses. A fluffy feather bed placed over the straw tick made a comfortable bed.
Fields under cultivation were small because the land had to be cleared of trees, brush, and stumps. A cross cut saw, an axe, and grubbing hoe, were the only tools available. A double shovel pulled by a horse was used to plow the truck garden. A scythe was used to cut weeds, and a walk plow pulled by two horses plowed the field. While settlers were coming into areas in and around Springhill, the village itself was building up to become a great trade center. It was hedged in by almost impenetrable forest, principally white oak, massive and grand. There was nothing but Indian trails, and before a wagon pulled by a team of oxen could get through the driver would need to cut brush away. Later paths from every direction led to Springhill. By 1848 the village had become a town. The settlers began to feel the need for a school house. One of the settlers had built a log house for himself and his family. His name was William F. Miller. The people thought that Mr. Miller had enough education to teach reading, writing, and spelling, and could do figuring. They built a brick school house on the southeast corner of the Mass place. It became the first schoolhouse and William F. Miller was the first school teacher in Jackson Township. The first death in the village was Isabella Nave, wife of Jesse Nave. She was buried in the Springhill Cemetery. Probably the first, because there is a record of many of the first settlers being buried there.
Within the next ten years, places of business were established. John Stewart built a log house with one room for receiving furs, the other for general merchandise. He was the first merchant in Springhill to pay cash for furs, and for products from the farm. Levi Gobin realizing the need of hunters passing through, built a hotel on the corner of main and a by street. By 1860 Main Street was busy with wagons coming and going, carrying supplies and making exchanges. Hunters brought their fur cash or trade. Springhill had become a trade center. People came from every direction to buy, tell, or trade Even yet people bartered because money was scarce. The farm women traded butter and eggs for flour and sugar. Men would say. "I'll trade you my horse for yours, if you'll throw in two coonskins to boot."
John Simpson built a tanning yard across the brook southeast of Main Street. At the lower end of the town, John N. Sidner was running a mill, sawing lumber and grinding grain. Across from the mill, James Nave had "a rope works," George Wingo kept a blacksmith shop, Robert Stewart war a stone mason, John T. Wilson ran a saloon, Sam Baxter had a shoe shop, Mr. Duncan manufactured wagons and ABD Martin had a packing house (slaughter house).
By 1862 all of Jackson Township was in a state of war. People took sides, families were divided, father against son, brother against brother. For an example the Wilson family was divided. James, the older brother, enlisted in the Union Army. Bob, a younger brother, enlisted in the Confederate Army. They met one day and James tried to tell Bob that he was on the wrong side. Bob said, "I'm not trying to tell you what to do and you can't tell me what to do," There was a skirmish the next day and Bob was killed.
Joe Kirk became a leader of the Confederates. Some of his men were; John
Blackburn, Jim Ridar, Bill Darr, Jim Nave, David Martin, Tom Crews, Henderson
Wilburn. Lieut. Lemeuel Hargrave lead the Union men. Among his men was James M.
Wilson, Marion Hicks, W. C. Wood, and Newton Hicks. Later James M. Wilson fought
in the Shiloh Battle and was in General Sherman's march across Georgia.
In 1863 Capt. Barnes' Company of Militia was stationed in Springhill. It was called Fort Lumpkin. Lieuts. Gibbs and Hargrave were in command. Lieut. Hargrave was wounded in a skirmish, losing his right arm. John Stewart, the leading merchant and trader of Springhill was shot and killed by a woman, Mrs. Barlow, who had been paid to kill him.
Around Springhill were people who were in sympathy with the Confederates
called bushwhackers. They thought the Union soldiers were quartering in the
church house. One night the church house burned. It was thought that the
bushwhackers did it. They kept people who favored the Union in constant fear
because the bushwhackers hid in the bushes.
Several of Jackson Township were wounded, a few were killed. When it was over, both sides tried "to bury the hatchet" and to live together in peace. A few years later, Joe Kirk, leader of the Confederates, became a candidate for a county office on the Republican ticket, and got the support of the union men.
People did not lose their peace, loving characters, for after two decades they were the same loving people.
Among the first things most necessary to rebuild, after the war ended, was a new bridge across the Thompson River. The first bridge had been burned by the Confederate Army to retard progress of the pursuing enemy. By the close of the year 1866, a new covered bridge had been built to connect the Springhill area to Chillicothe, the new trade center. In the same year John H. and James Graham erected a mill and had a dam built by the bridge. The bridge, ever since has been known as the Graham's Mill Bridge and was condemned to traffic in 1940.
Three years after the Springhill church was burned by the "Bushwhackers," the members of the Methodist Church wanted a new house. The people in, and around Springhill made donations of labor and material. Bill Moss, a non-member, had quarried rock for his new barn. Instead of using it for his barn, he gave the rock for laying the church foundation. Marion Hughes was the main carpenter and architect. Uncle Johnny Simpson loaned the money to the trustees to buy lumber and other building materials. He was rated as the wealthiest man in Springhill. When the note, the trustees of the church had given him, came due, the stewards went to him and asked him if he wanted his money. He replied "Well, if you haven't got the money, I want it. But if you have it, I don't want it. Just keep it and use it where it is needed. One day Uncle Johnny Simpson asked Albert Meservey how much he was going to give to the Church. Meservey told Simpson that he would give as much as he did according to what he was worth. Simpson gave $50.00 and Meservey gave $5.00.
Dr. John D. Vincil was the first pastor and circuit rider. From 1872 to1892 the Springhill Methodist Church belonged to the Chillicothe Conference. Its members were from Red Brush, Poosey, Owl Creek, and Indian Creek, until those areas built Churches of their own.
Some of these churches were Zion, Bethel, Central Chapel, Mt. Pleasant, Mt.
Olive, Pleasant Ridge and Lilly Grove.
Some of the earliest pastors were:
Rev. Dockery, father of Gov. Dockery
Harry Graham, of Chillicothe
Rev. Rice - 1891
Rev. Wade 1885
D. R. Davis
G. G. Seforth
W. M. Rutherford
J. W. Nelson
A. P. Mathas
F. S. Stonger
Names of families who have been active in the work of the church since 1900 are:
Oran and Edna Anderson
Sherman Baxter family
George and Trudy England
Ola and Alice Constant
James and Cora Griffith
Horace and Chloe Gibbs
Daisy and Ed Hicklin
Roy and Betsy Hicklin
William and Florena Hock
Roy and Emma Lewis
Lena and Henry Linhart
Wesley and Gladys Lucas
Anna and Penn Lewis
Eugene and Donna Lucas
William and Lewis McCarthy
Lena and Alva Mast
Chester and Blanche McCarthy
Fannie Miller family
Mabel and Howard McCarthy
George and Mary Nothnagel
Henry and Nora Prager
Walter and Eva Rench
Faye and Lester Rose
Jimmy and Eve Stith
Mr. and Mrs. Albert Seaman
Fred and Katherine Williams
Dora and Fred Wrightman
Arthur and Lillian Young
Forrest and Marjorie Young
Charles and Mary Emna Zullig
Johnny and Opal Zullig
By the year 1966 the membership had dwindled away the last pastor was George Borgeson. Dr. Galatis, Dist. Superintendent met with the following members to close the doors of the Church: Johnny and Opal Zullig, Florence and Bill Hock, Mabel and Howard McCarthy, Ola Young. He talked to us. He said, "Sell the building and pay conference the annual pledge." Four years the house was torn down by a young Mennonite who used the lumber to build a house, a barn and other buildings needed. In the year 1986, grass grows where the Church house once stood.
The Masons of the Blue Lodge built a two story building in Springhill, right on Main Street in 1870. Mose Cole was the first Worthy Master. Other members were:
Mark White, Goodlow Grouse, James M. Wilson, Charley Hughes, Bill Nothnagel, Ben
Young, Harry Young, Buzz Cole, John Christison, Bill McCarthy, Howard McCarthy,
Chester McCarthy, Willis Cole, Ray Barnes, Alva Mast, Eddie Lily, Everett
Stith, Bob Venable, and Rev. E. R. Dowell.
The Masonic Temple was and is the tallest building in Springhill. A stairway was built on the outside leading to a door at the top. The Masons and the Woodmen Lodge used the upstairs as their regular lodge hall. The downstairs was leased to persons who wanted to keep a store. Horace Ramsey and his brother kept a store there at the beginning of the 20th century. Penn and Annie Lewis and Vernon and Maggie Nothnagel were the last. The Springhill Lodge lost membership to Lock Springs and Chillicothe, and a few by death. By 1927 it was no longer active in Springhill,
In the year 1899, the people of Springhill had a larger building to be built
for their children. No longer need the building be built of logs, for there was
plenty of native lumber being sawed right there by Springhill saw mills. This
building had a hallway built in its front, blackboards across the front wall, a
wood stove in the comer, and a row of windows on the light side. The school
house became asocial center and the community looked forward to the annual
school program and pie and box supper. Sometimes the most popular young lady's
box would bring as much as $40. The Wednesday night Literary Society was a well
attended event. Local Debaters would try their oratory. One question debated,
"Did man and monkey have a common ancestor?" And "Which is more
important to the farmer the horse or the tractor?" Usually the teacher
would give an afternoon tea during the first of the school year for the mothers,
who could express their likes and dislikes about the school program. The climax
for the school year would be a basket dinner followed by a closing program by
the teacher and her pupils. Teachers salaries then were $50.00 a month. Rural
schools of the Springhill area were closed by 1954. By that time teachers
salaries had become $324.00 monthly.
The Springhill Fair Association was an annual event sponsored by John Davis (Red), Mike Cusick, Ben Young, Bill McCarthy and John Tout. The fairgrounds were a half mile west of Springhill on the Dan Williams farm. There was an entrance on both the north and the south side. Red Davis had his merry-go-round there, which was delight to all children. I was eight years old when I rode a merry-go-round for the first time. It cost a nickel a ride and I had only one. Mr. Davis came to collect for the next ride. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and said, "Mr. Davis, I don't have another nickel, I'm an orphan. Do I have to get off?" "Little girl," he said "ride as much as you like, all your rides are paid for." One year the sponsors had the Chillicothe Band there. Some local folks with natural talent would furnish entertainment. Col. William Mast showed his saddle horse and did stunts on and off his horse. Harry Young borrowed Frank Jordan's horse and won first prize on horsemanship. The race of the big wagons made quite a noise and raised quite a dust. Mark White, the constable rode a white horse. Hub Haynes was winner of the potato races. The contestant rode a horse, picked one potato at a time from a half bushel basket and rode to the other end to deposit it in a basket there until the first basket was empty. Prizes were given quilts; There were booths for shooting galleries and tossing the balls in fruit jars at l0¢ a throw. The last fair was in 1912, after that the grounds were used for a ball diamond.
The Royal Neighbor Camp No. 6611 received its charter in 1910. It is based on the 10th chapter of St. Luke. The Royal Neighbor Society began with a small group of men in Davenport, Iowa, who organized it in 1880 to be a social institution. In 1895 it became both a social and beneficial institution, and in 1980 had become one of the leading Fraternal Life Insurance Organizations. Springhill Camp 6611 has 38 adult members and 13 Junior members, The camp first used Mast hall to meet there and to practice their drills until the building was sold, then they moved to the upstairs of the Masonic Temple. The outside stairway had to be torn away and the upstairs sealed off. The floor of the downstairs had to be repaired, a new roof put on, some windows taken out, and the whole outside refinished. The members decided to buy the building and make the repairs. They borrowed the money from Ernie Sneden. The note was paid off by serving lunch at sales and by quilting quilts.
Charter members of Oakleaf Camp No. 6611 RNA were: Anna Anderson, Josie Anderson, Margaret Anderson, Kathryn Davis, Maggie Grouse, Jane Hutchison, Ida Hilt, Mary Mast, Ruby McCarthy, Amanda Nothnagel, Mary Nothnagel, Rose Nothnagel, Ollie Prager, Mary E. Smith, Nanny White, Dr. W. L. White, Lizzie Young, Cirelda Young, Mrs. E. Wood, Leona Garman. This camp has bee a strong camp through its 70 years.
A whole page should be dedicated to the memory of our old country doctor, Dr. W. L. White, who served this area for more than three decades, he would come on call anytime of day or night, bad weather or fair. He would say to his wife, "Nance, get my bags ready, I must go." He rode many miles on horseback, later he drove a top buggy pulled by one horse. He made his patients feel that he had a special interest in them, which of course supplemented the medication prescribed.
In the year 1912 Alva Mast and Charley Mast built a two story building with a
stairway on the backside, it was not so tall as the Masonic Temple but quite a
bit wider. There was a small shed like building between the two buildings that
Charley Mast used as a grain mill. The upstairs of the Mast building was used
for dances. The square dance was the most popular. Bill Raulie with his fiddle
and Bob Moss with his guitar furnished the music. In later years Faye Strait and
Archie Crumpacker played for the dances. Lawrence B. Saale was one of their
callers. The writer of this used the hall to give plays that she had written for
her pupils. One that I remember well was from the storybook "Mrs Wiggs of
the Cabbage Patch." Hazel Miller played the part of Mrs. Wiggs and Marie
Grouse was her little girl. The entire school had a part to play. The Royal
Neighbors also gave plays in Mast Hall. Mrs. Mont Dowell then in her early
fifties played the part of a sixteen year old girl. Other amateur actresses were
Lena Mast, Eve Rench, Scottie Mast, Florence Williams, Ella Dowell, Ola Young.
The downstairs was Mast's store. It afforded a place for men to loaf and spin
yarns. No newspaper could print so much gossip, or would have dared. Mast store
closed its doors in 1937. The building was sold to a St. Joseph Construction
Company who tore it down and hauled it away.
In 1919 a brick building was built on Main Street for a bank building to be established in Springhill. It was divided into two rooms. One for a bank, the other for a store. A burglar proof vault was built inside the bank room. Bill McCarthy was the first president, Fred Williams the last president. The directors were Mike Cusick, Ben Young, John Toat, and Fred Williams. Ray Barnes was the last cashier, Glade Ware the first. The bank did well until 1930 when farmers were hurt by what was called "grasshopper year," along with chinch bugs and dry weather and political maneuvering which caused the year 1934 to become the worst in history. The Springhill Bank closed its doors. The Citizens Bank in Chillicothe accepted notes due and other papers.
A cooperative store occupied the other part of the bank building. Olin and
Dorothy Stevens were the first managers employed for the new store. Other
managers were Jesse Lay, Rude Grouse, Francis and Fern Boyle. L. B. Saale bought
the store from the Coops and appointed Joe Saale as manager. He later sold the
building and store to Ray and Eilene Miller who closed the store. In 1980 Ernie
Akers bought the building which is now being used by Springhill Enterprises. It
is a storage place for Insulation material.
Orchards are a part of the history of Springhill. Marsh Moss had a large peach orchard on the northern hillside above the springs. It was noted for the fine flavor of the peaches. People came from the distance to buy peaches on the Moss place. A large apple orchard grew, on what war the Griffith farm, to your right as you entered Springhill. It covered 20 acres. To the southwest, 3 miles from Springhill. Old Uncle Jim Wilson had 3 orchards. apples, pears, peaches plums, berries and vegetables of all kinds. In the fall of the year buyers would come and bid on the entire orchard.
World War II
The young men around Springhill responded to the call of duty, and enlisted in the Army and Navy when their country needed them. Harold Lamp was the first to enlist. Others to follow were Ed. J. Lamp, Jerry B. Gillilan, Hubert Thomas, Billy Joe Venable, Virgil Long, Lloyd McCracken, Francis Strait, Kenneth Walker, Forrest Young, Donald Young, Cecil Ashlock, Ross Hicklin, Clifford Lamp, Stacy Long, Arthur Long, Louis McNally, Roger C. Reeter, Ogan Long, Virgil Boule, Charles R. Yutley, John R. Smith, Robert F. Grouse, and Ray Miller.
World War I Veterans are: Opal Stith. Eddie Lay, Robert Venable, Joseph
McCollum, and Albert Stoffregan. Two gold stars - Alfred Edward McCollum, son of
Joseph and Ann McCollum, was killed in World War II and Duane Lucas, son of
Wesley and Gladys Lucas killed in action in the Korean War. Eddie Nichols,
grandson of Frank and Eva Kerns served in Viet Nam.
In 1974 Linnie Sneden deeded the vacant school house in Springhill to the Community. It is now the Springhill Community Hall, The house had been purchased by Fred McVey, who sold it to Ernie Sneden, It was Ernie's intention to give it to the Springhill community to be used by all those of the community to have their family dinners there, Linnie named Johnny Zullig, Lem Simmer, and Carson Steele trustees their lifetime.
In 1946 the 4-H Club of Springhill was organized by Ola Young. She was 4-H community leader for five years. The parents were slow to cooperate for they did not yet know about the valuable training the 4-H club could give. It was difficult to find leaders for each project. Gradually the club grew under several different leaders and now after 34 years of progress the 4-H has become a very strong organization. The Go Getters 4-H Club, The RNA Camp No 6611, and Springhill Enterprises are all active organizations in Springhill.
Now, In the year 1980, Lawrence B. Saale is living in a house built 100 years
ago by Martin Van Buren Piper. Lloyd McCracken and family are living in the old
Simpson house, built by the first generation of the well known Simpson family.
The old home of Jimmy and Eva Stith has been made entirely modern by Opal and
Johnny Zullig. Mari and Larry Joe Zullig have chosen to begin their young
married life in the Marsh Moss beautiful home. Ralph, Roberta, Robyn, Randy and
Daniel Summers have made a modern home of the old John Mathews' place. Linnie
Sneden, a widow, lives in a four room cottage near the old schoolhouse. Ray and
Ilene Miller live in a small, completely modern house they built on the spot
where Lena and Alva Mast lived. Max and Kathy Smith and two little daughters
live in a house where Doctor White and his wife, Nanny, once lived. And just
across the street another young couple, the Plowmans, have moved in.
In 1917 the Legislature allowed road funds to lift Missouri out of the mud. The Cooley gravel pit near Sampsel and the Fred McVey gravel pile, close by Springhill, supplied gravel for the most traveled roads in Jackson Township. The Hannibal Railroad built in 1895 made transportation by rail easier and quicker. Better roads diverted traffic to larger markets, and they may have caused Springhill to lose its trade.
Who knows? Let's call it fate.
--Ola Stewart Young