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A History of Livingston County, Missouri

Published by The Livingston County Centennial Committee

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The Indian wars, the "Big Neck" and "Black Hawk," served to retard the settling of Livingston County. After the Indian "fright" subsided and the county began settling, the first conflict in which the county had part was the so-called Mormon War in 1838. While no Mormons lived in this county, its citizens did not stand by idle. Money was subscribed and a force of men, composed largely of Livingston County inhabitants, under the direction of William O. Jennings, marched to Caldwell and Daviess Counties where they participated in activities to drive out the Mormons. Captain Nehemiah Comstock also had a company. After the trouble was over, Mr. Jennings returned $14.13, the balance of the subscribed money, to the county treasurer.

The next conflict to draw men from our county was the Mexican War of 1846. Then early in the summer, Hon. Sterling Price commanded a regiment of Missouri volunteers to re-enforce the army of the West. Livingston County men joined the forces. In the late summer, a Livingston County company was organized at Chillicothe, with William Y. Slack, a young lawyer, as captain. This group was known as Company L, Second Missouri Mounted Riflemen.

In early days in Missouri, all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to organize into companies. In this county, company musters were held in every township. In Chillicothe, the drill ground was about two blocks north of the square. Colonel Joseph Cox was the earliest commanding officer. While these companies met no war experience, they did create many captains, majors and colonels who, dressed in showy uniforms purchased at their own expense, made imposing figures as they marched in parades,

The gold rush of 1849 took a number of good citizens from Livingston County. A few remained in California where it was said even the "wave of the river and the spray of the fountains were bright with the glitter of genuine gold." Of those who stayed, a few "made good," though many failed. In 1850, a second emigration took place, but eventually the majority of those who left returned.

Before the Civil War, slavery was an institution in Livingston County. In 1860, out of a total population of 7,417 there were 705 slaves, nearly one-tenth of the entire population. Most of the slaves came here with their masters from Kentucky and Virginia; few were bought in this county, for slavery here was never profitable. To tell of the lives of the slaves would take more space than this summary affords. Suffice it is to say, they fared well, much better than many of their race in more southern states. After the war, nearly all of them left their masters and set about doing for themselves. Some went to Illinois and Iowa where they expected much sympathy and assistance, "forty acres of land and a mule," but they did not receive it.

After the declaration of war, the Livingston County secessionists were active, but never did they succeed in holding the county under their own armed forces, for early during the war the county came under the armed guard of the Federal ists, and so remained. A company of Southern sympathizers, under General Slack, joined forces at Richmond and Lexington, and later took part in every principal engagement fought in Missouri.

The first company organized to do service to the Union cause was an independent company of sixty-seven Home Guards, belonging to no regiment. Peter Sutliff was captain. Later, home guard companies were organized at Utica and Springhill. In September, 1861, a company of Federal cavalry was organized at Chillicothe. At first Captain Garrison Harker was their leader, then Captain Harker was promoted to Major, and Lieutenant William N. Norville to Captain. This company served in Missouri and Arkansas and took part in numerous battles and skirmishes.

The county suffered most during the war from bushwhackers and guerrilla warfare. Robbing, plundering, wasting and burning of grain and property created suspicion and hatred between former friends and often neighbors. Now there is one Civil War soldier left in the county, Mr. Jerome Miller, who lived for years in Utica, and was a gallant Federal soldier. His present home is in Chillicothe,

Of the slaves over whom the Civil War was fought. there are four still living: Daniel Munro, Nancy Kiles, "Hamp" Arnold and John Palmer. Dan was janitor at the high school for many years, then he ran a hamburger and ice cream stand. Many were the homemade cones filled with homemade ice cream consumed by Dan's white patrons!

In 1898 the Spanish-American War brought volunteers from Livingston County to the fore. Company H of the Fourth Missouri Volunteer Infantry was organized with Frank S. Miller, Captain; William T. Broaddus, First Lieutenant, and Harry D. McHolland, Second Lieutenant. Although the company was mustered into service, it was never drawn into action, and in 1899 its men were mustered out. This does not include the number of volunteers from this county who joined other companies and served in active warfare.

Before war seemed imminent to the United States, Company I, National Guard, was formed in Chillicothe about 1914 with Morris Ellett, Captain; Warren Roberts, First Lieutenant, and Elmer Goben, Second Lieutenant. During the summer of 1916 Company I was called to the Mexican border, and after their return, because it seemed the United States would enter the war very soon, a number of the company went to Fort Riley, where they were trained and received commissions. Several joined the regular army, among them Fred Black, who is now a Major stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison, in Indiana. Company I was merged into the 35th division, although a number of its members were taken into other companies and other divisions. This county's quota was high, but the young men responded so loyally that in a short time the quota was far exceeded.

Only two months after the United States entered the war, her first troops landed in France. By November they were seeing actual service, and in January, 1918, they were occupying first line trenches. During the months which followed, Livingston County was represented overseas in at least twenty-one divisions where fighting was heaviest and losses were greatest: St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, Chateau-Thierry, Aisne-Marne. There were Livingston County men in Engineer divisions, Aviation, signal corps and hospital corps. The navy, too, drew, heavily for its share. After the Armistice was signed, November 11, 1918, and our troops at last returned, it was found that twenty-five of our men bad lost their lives in service. Stories of their bravery and loyalty have often been told. There was Vernon Glick, who, learning that Company I was to be thrown into the Meuse-Argonne offensive, walked eight days to join his comrades and was struck and instantly killed by enemy shrapnel only a few hours after he reached the company. Perhaps some day there will be written a full account of the heroic deeds of those who died and of those who have returned to us, many of them to make the finest of our citizens.

A record of Livingston County's World War activities, her soldiers, sailors, Red Cross and other workers is written in a beautiful book called "The Roll of Honor," published by the Chillicothe Constitution. Much of the material in this book was collected for the D. A. R. by Mrs. W. J. Gunby after long hours of investigation and many visits through the county to talk with parents of soldiers.

When the officials at the state capital called for county service flags, Mr. J. J. Jordan presented the names from Livingston County, and had our service flag made. Following is a list of commissioned officers who received their commissions before, during and since the war:


Herbert V. Wiley, Lieutenant Commander

Fred S. Black, Major

Ross Diehl, Major Reserve Officers Corps

Dr. J. P. Henderson, Kansas City, Missouri, Major Surgical Department

A. Morris Ellett, Captain

Elmer R. Axon, Captain Engineers

George P. Rixey, Chaplain



R. Warren Roberts

Fred W. Gunby

Don Chapman

Harold Hoyle Sutherland

Walter Raymond Bright



Frank Batta

Arthur J. Bayers

Lee Dee Cady

Charles G. Glascow

Clyde R. Kinnison

Curtis B. Perryman

Robert H. Reed

Herman W. Shiflet

Charles E. Williams

Max J. Gordan

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