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Livingston County History
Celebrating 150 Years, 1821-1981
Published by The Retired Senior Volunteer Program
“Utica is a quiet little village, situated on the St. Joseph branch of the Burlington Railroad in the best fruit growing district of Missouri. Its apple orchards rival those of any state in the union. Utica has six churches and is a thoroughly religious and educated community.” (copied from a 1900 edition of the Utica Herald, Harry Webster, Editor.)
According to county records, Samuel E. Todd was the first white settler. In 1833 he put up a horse mill and in 1836 he built a water mill on West Grand River. Roderick Matson is given the distinction of founder of the town. In the spring of 1836 he came to Livingston County from Utica, New York. In April, 1837, when the original town of Utica was laid out and the plat was filed for record in Chillicothe, it was named by Mr. Matson for his old home in New York.
In 1880 the population was 660. Besides the churches, there were a newspaper, two lodges, a brick school, a flour mill, seven stores, several shops, four attorneys, two physicians, two saloons and an opera house.
In 1980 the preliminary census lists the population of Green Township as 407. There are two churches, a post office, and two garages (A machine shop owned by Bill Stamper and son, Patrick and Pete’s Auto owned by Garry Peterson).
Few of the original buildings still stand. One is the building known as the “old hotel”. It was built in 1836 by Edward and Susan Mead and has changed hands frequently over the years. Its present owners are Stephen and Wilda Locke who have made extensive restoration. Another is the Masonic Hall. The Masonic Lodge is the only lodge in Utica now and meetings are still held in the original building.
Edgar Kohl is the postmaster. For years the post office had been located in various stores around town until Edgar purchased the former Bank Building and it has been located there since. Mrs. Mike Clark is the clerk. Mail is brought in week day mornings by truck and is picked up each evening.
In 1970 the Utica Community Betterment Association was organized by a group of interested citizens. They have sponsored projects such as July Fourth Celebrations, a ball park for youths, and a fire department. Money making projects have been chill and ice cream suppers. Meetings are held in the fire house. Present officers are Mrs. Keith Wheeler president, Mrs. Bill Hightower secretary, and Mrs. Junior Ireland treasurer.
The Green Township Fire Protection #40666 was organized September 20, 1971, and Jerry Baldwin was elected the first fire chief. A used fire truck was purchased and the men worked many nights to repair and put in new parts. Fifteen men received fireman cards after a short study course. A store building was purchased from Mike Clark as a fire house. The group decided to rent the building for worthwile causes for $10, with the promise of no alcohol on the premises. Bill Hightower is the present fire chief and Edgar Kohl, Mike Clark, and Paul McIntosh are on the board.
Formerly there were acres and acres of orchards in the area but the trees have died out. The only orchard now is the Central States Orchard located west of Utica on the highway. Bob Brozovich is the present owner.
Utica has two industries - The Midland Brick and Tile Co., owned by the Patek family with Paul McIntosh as the present plant superintendent and the Trager Industries made up of several divisions located at the western edge of town.
Utica is unincorporated. Vencille Jones (trustee), Ralph Ratliff, and Charley Allen are on the Green Township Board. Other elected officials are Keith Wheeler assessor and Mrs. Frank Romeiser, collector.
One of the most interesting buildings in Utica, which still stands is the old Utica Hotel. It’s present owners are Stephen E. and Wilda (Peters) Locke. They have restored it and graciously take interested persons on a tour of it. They are retired builders from Gary, Indiana. Mrs. Locke is a native Chillicothian and upon retirement became interested in this building she had known as a child. The house was built approximately in 1836 by Roderick and Catherine Matson, who was given the distinction of being the founder of the town of Utica. It was sold to and occupied by Edward, George, and Wm. Van Zandt. It changed hands frequently with over 30 owners to the present time.
The original house consisted of three rooms downstairs with two upstairs. Every room had a fireplace. The inside and outside walls are 18 inches thick solid brick. Each room on the first floor had its own solid rock foundation and a crawlway large enough for a person to crawl through it. Heavy quarried rocks were used for the fireplaces. Only two fireplaces were in good enough condition to restore them and be used now. The architecture is that of the Greek Revival period. The woodwork throughout the entire house is of native black walnut and parts are beautifully carved. The original key holes in each door were made of coin silver and some remain.
An additional four rooms were built on approximately 1856. These rooms had lower level flooring and ceilings. The house consists now of nine rooms and a large attic; an outside porch on both floors; and a look-out.
It is believed the first time the residence was used as a hotel was by Mrs. Ann Waters, a widow, in 1890. This was a way in which a woman of her day could earn a livelihood. Records show that Lucy Lemon, purchased it and operated a boarding and rooming house from 1904-1930. Since that time it has been used as a single family residence. Some of Mrs. Lemon’s descendants have owned and resided in the hotel. Many of her descendants have visited and shown much interest in the Lock’s restoration of the building.
-- Grace Stone