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Past and Present of Livingston County
Volume 1. History
by Major A. J. Roof. 1913
As the historian of this volume we cannot omit reference and add briefly a story of a Christian man, a resident of Livingston county almost sixty years and whose centennial anniversary was celebrated on Monday, February 26th, 1900, but who was called to rest January 18th, 1901:
To attain the venerable age of one hundred years; to retain one's health and be hale and active when the century mark is reached; to have unimpaired the mental activities at the dawn of one's hundredth birthday anniversary; to have the memory so active and reliable that events of one's childhood can be recalled as easily and as accurately as they could be three quarters of a century ago; to live in the esteem of one's neighbors five score years; to be regarded through this long period as one of nature's real noblemen; to regulate one's conduct, through a period of years exceeding those allotted man by the Psalmist, so rigidly as ever to be pointed out as a consistent Christian example, worthy of all emulation; to live through an entire century, barring a few short months, with fair prospects ere the final summons comes of spending a few days in the third that has illumined the earth since one's advent thereon - are blessings vouchsafed few mortals in this transitory world of ours, but such were the privileges of Thomas Hutchinson, who for almost sixty years had been a resident of this county. He was one of the pioneers of Northwestern Missouri, and two generations have known and honored him since first he braved the dangers and trials of a long and tedious journey, through almost trackless forests and across broad expanses of prairie, but lately the demesne of the red aborigines, to cast his lot with those thousands of hardy pioneers from Virginia and Kentucky and Tennessee (among them grand old Daniel Boone himself) who added vim and vigor and respectability to the population of the young commonwealth - Imperial Missouri.
Thomas Hutchinson first saw the light of day in Pittsylvania county in the southern part of Virginia, on February 26, 1800 - but two months after the death of Washington, the most illustrious of all that army of noblemen whose names crowd the escutcheon of their mother state. His father was John Hutchinson, and Thomas was the only one of his children born in the Old Dominion. In 1802, when Thomas was but two years of age, his parents were attracted by the glowing accounts sent back by Daniel Boone and his companions, and they concluded to sever the ties that bound them to home and its associations and seek their fortunes in the wilds of Kentucky. Thither they made the journey on horseback, the only other means of travel (there being no roads through the wilderness and across the Alleghanies) being on foot. The young child was carried on his mother's lap and after many a weary day's journey his parents located on a farm in Casey county. Not yet was a home in the "dark and bloody ground" entirely without danger. Bands of predatory savages occasionally invaded the state, and one knew not at what moment from be hind a tree a lurking foe would speed the deadly bullet, or the piercing warwhoop would chill the very blood coursing through the veins of wife and little ones as they cowered in the darkest corner of their primitive log cabin, fearful lest the next moment would send the reeking tomahawk crashing in to their brains. But slowly was the red man being pushed to the West, and fewer and fewer became those deeds of terror east of the Mississippi river.
In this new home nine children were born to John Hutch inson and wife, and here Thomas spent his boyhood days and received such an education as the limited facilities of the times afforded. Of these brothers and sisters, only one is left - James Hutchinson of Chillicothe, Missouri, who was ninety-eight years of age May 23rd, 1913.
On this farm John Hutchinson died when something over sixty years of age, while his wife, Jane, came to Missouri with her youngest son, George, and died many years later. She was a cousin of General Linthacum who served in the Continental army during the Revolution.
One day while attending a protracted meeting, Thomas, then a young man, witnessed the immersion of a number of persons. Among these converts was a young lady to whom he seems to have been attracted, whether by her piety or by her comeliness we know not. The attraction seems to have been mutual, for the young man formed her acquaintance and at once proceeded to lay siege to her affections, pressing his suit with so much earnestness that she speedily promised to share his fortune for life. This young lady was Miss Polly Tate, of Lincoln county, Kentucky, a niece of Gen. Charles Lee, of the Revolutionary war, and on the 15th of November they were married. Polly was born on February 18th, 1799, hence was a year the senior of her husband.
After the honeymoon had begun to wane, Mr. Hutchinson bought a tract of land situated in the forks of Green river and Indian creek, including the valley of each. On this farm was a boiling spring and a salt well. From the latter all the salt used by the family during the first years of their residence there was manufactured.
Here the young couple began life for themselves; and while the husband toiled early and late on the farm, putting into practical use the lessons learned so well under the teachings of his father, his young wife presided with equal dignity and frugality over the department sacred to Lares and Penates, serving these equally as well as her husband served Agricola. Here their children - nine in all, six boys and three girls - were born, and here was laid the foundation of that competency which the couple enjoyed in after life. But after some twenty years they began to hear wonderful stories of the fertility of the soil and of the genial climate of the new commonwealth beyond the Mississippi, and oft were their longing eyes turned to Hesperides. At length, in common with many of their neighbors, the spirit of emigration swept them off their feet; hence in 1840 the farm was sold to a brother, Jeremiah Hutchinson, and Thomas set out on horseback for the fabled Utopia in Northwestern Missouri. Here he bought twelve hundred acres of land, situated principally in Jackson township, Livingston county. This land included all or a part of the estates of Jerd M. Hutchinson, John P. Hutchinson, Jas. Hutchinson Alexander Dockery and Luther Williams.
Mr. Hutchinson brought with him from Kentucky a quantity of blue grass seed, practically unknown in this region at that day. This he supplied to all applicants, and in a few yeaes it had largely rooted out the prairie grass and was seen in the fence corners from Jamesport to Spring Hill. Kentucky blue grass was a great curiosity to the natives, growing frequently from three to four feet in height.
In 1830 the subject of this sketch united with the Baptist church and was immersed by Reverend Wariner, who afterwards located in this part of Missouri. Afterwards, through the teachings of Alex. Campbell, the branch of the Baptist church with which Mr. Hutchinson united was known as the Church of Christ. For seventy years he had lived a consistent and exemplary Christian life, and for fifty-eight years had been an elder in his church. Such long service in the cause of the Master here on earth will surely entitle one to an eternity of rest in the Land Elysian.
In Missouri seventy years ago, there were, in the rural districts, no church buildings or even schoolhouses in which preaching could be held. It was customary to have services .at private residences. Such services were held alternately on one Sunday in each month at the farm residences of Mr. Hutchinson and John Boyle. A peculiarity of the time was the custom of almost the entire congregation remaining to dinner with the family at whose home the preaching was held. That surely worked quite a hardship upon the feminine portion of the household - but hospitality was at tidewater in those days. It is a pity more of it had not survived the "reconstruction" period subsequent to the Civil war. A half century ago, in Missouri, as throughout all the southern states, for a farmer to accept pay from a stranger for entertainment, or neighbor to demand or expect remuneration for a few days' help in the harvest field or during other busy seasons was something unknown.
The products of the farm in those days were hemp, flax, wheat, tobacco, corn, oats and hay. The farmer hauled his surplus of these to Brunswick, while his cattle were driven to Leavenworth before a market was reached. The few "store goods" used by the family were purchased at Chillicothe and Brunswick. About all the cloth used for clothing and bedding, and nearly all the food were produced on the farm. In those days "Adam delved and Eve span." For a buxom and intelligent lass to have reached womanhood without learning to card, spin, dye, weave, and cut and make garments, would have been a disgrace.
Seven men - Messrs. Peery, Kesler, Carson, Davis, Ramsey, Blackburn and Hutchinson - united in furnishing the means to build the first schoolhouse in Jackson township, in what is now known as the Blackburn district; and in this schoolhouse Thomas Hutchinson taught the first free school in that locality. He taught only one term of school, but thereby earned the reputation of being a very successful teacher, being much better educated than the majority of the pioneers.
In 1835 Mr. Hutchinson was elected county judge of Livingston county, and was re-elected for a second term. It was about this time that a proposition to sell all the swamp and overflowed lands, donated by the state to the various counties for school purposes, came up. Over this question the two dominant parties of the time - the Democrats and the Whigs - both split. Mr. Hutchinson (who was then, and had been all his life, a Democrat) was opposed to the sale of these lands, believing that the time was not far distant when they would be greatly enhanced in value - and it has since been demonstrated that he was right. When he came before the voters for re-election the third time, his opposition to this measure caused his defeat.
During the Civil war Mr. Hutchinson remained at home, taking, no part in the strife, being even then past the usual age at which a man bears arms. His sympathies were with the South. While he lost considerably in the way of stock and feed, etc., he was not molested personally. His slaves, of which he owned several, remained with him until 1863, and one man until near the close of the war when he left to avoid being drafted.
The subject of this sketch had always been a man of peace and conservatism. His home had always been noted for its hospitality and the congeniality of its inmates.
ONE HUNDRED YEARS! Mr. Hutchinson, as we have stated, was born two months after the death of Washington. He was born during the administration of the second president of the United States, hence lived in the term of every chief executive except the first. He was born about the time Spain ceded to France that vast territory west of the Mississippi, out of which Missouri was subsequently carved. He was seven years old when Robert Fulton astonished the world by propelling his vessel, the Clermont on the waters of the Hudson river by means of steam. He was twelve years old when the War of 1812 began, and relates that his father personally outfitted a man named Randall Sluter, who enlisted in a regiment commanded by Colonel Coffey, and won the distinction at the Battle of New Orleans of being the first man to leap over the cotton-bale breastworks in pursuit of the flying British, whose ranks again and again had been decimated by the pitiless storm of lead from the unerring rifles of the Southern frontiersmen. He was of age at the election of John Quincy Adams (1824). He was nineteen years of age when the good ship Savannah sailed into a British port, from America, under steam. He was in his twenty-second year when Missouri became a state. He was thirty years old when the first train of cars was drawn by a locomotive. He was forty-four years of age when the first message was flashed over the electric telegraph. He was forty-six years of age when General Taylor, hitherto almost unknown, won that renown on the plains of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma and Buena Vista which elevated him to the presidency; and General Scott carried his conquering eagles from Vera Cruz, by a path deemed well nigh impregnable, to the ancient capital of the Montezumas. He was sixty-one years old when that gigantic strife between the states broke out, the losses in engagements of which were numbered by thousands, and in which the "battles" of the wars of the last few years would have been regarded only as significant skirmishes, scarcely worthy of mention in the official reports. His hair was already snowy when the telephone and electric lights came into use. He has seen the reaping sickle give place to the cradle, the cradle to the reaper, the reaper to the harvester, and the harvester to the self-binder. He had seen the population of our country increase from four millions to seventy-five millions. He had seen the area of the United States increase from 800,000 square miles to nearly 5,000,000 square miles.