Nodaway County, Missouri
from Standard Historical Atlas of Nodaway County, Missouri containing maps of Villages, Cities and Townships of the County. Maps of State, United States and World. Farmers Directory, Business Directory and General Information. Published by The Anderson Publishing Co., Map & Atlas Publishers. Chicago, Ill., 1911; page 1 section 2.
(Transcribed by Pat O'Dell:
By Nathaniel Sisson

Since the years of wandering by Moses and the Israelites in search of the "Promised Land," the enterprising citizen has been ever alert to the possiblilities of some newer and better county.

No more alluring to the Israelites were prospects presented before them in the land of Canaan than the prospects present to the early settlers of Western Missouri, in the land of the Pottawattomies.

Notwithstanding its nation-wide reputation as being one of the most fruitful and lovely "beauty spots" on the face of Mother Earth, few there are at this day who know the territory embraced therein or the circumstances which gave rise to the name.



When, in 1820, Missouri became a state, her western boundary was a direct line from south to north, crossing the Missouri River at the mouth of the Kaw River (this point being now the site of the metropolis of the Missouri Valley). By reference to a map of Missouri the reader will observe that a line drawn from Kansas City due north to the Iowa state line leaves a wedge-shaped tract intervening this line and the Missouri River to the west, in length about one hundred miles, and an average breadth of about twenty-five miles, embracing the counties of Platte, Buchanan, Andrew, Holt, Atchison and Nodaway.

In the early time, settlers coming to the western part of Missouri, chiefly from Kentucky, Tennessee and the states farther east and south, came by steamboat up the Missouri River, disembarkein in the vicinty of the mouth of the Kaw River. They were free to settle any6where in Missouri, but not upon this wedge-shaped territory, later to be known as the Platte Purchase, for the reason that since the Treaty of Prairie Du Chien, July 15, 1830, this was a reseravtaion sacred to the use of, and by reason of abundant game, fish and wild fowl, the favorite hunting grounds of the Pottawattomies and other bands of Indians.

The whites were pushing their settlements to the northward, along the eastern boundary of this reseravation, with the usual disregard for the rights of the red man, making frequent hunting incursions into his country, became a source of annoyance to and causing the Indians to become much dissatisfied and to long to remove to some more quiet spot where would be no white hunters to molest and make afraid.

These Indian lands, with a soil as fertile as the famed Valley of the Nile, from which sprung perennial a vegetation in luxuriance unsurpassed, presented agricultural and pastural possiblities the hardy pioneer husbandman was not slow to discern.

These gently undulating prairies, watered by numerous springs and purling brooks well stocked with fish, the many larger streams along whose grassy banks grew groves of useful woods, nut and wild fruit trees, these shady groves once the retreat of the deer, the wild turkey and the prairie hen,--the home also of the squirrel and the honeybee--the hollows of many a gnarled trunk served as a granary for the one, as a pantry for the other in storing nuts and honey for the winter's use.

The mild-eyed buffalo, until then never yet startled into panic at the crack of the huntsman's rifle, lazily grazed in the summer's sun, fearless of harm, as do now the domestric cattle. This primeval landscape as seen in the summer time--vast meadows of velvety green, bespangled with myriads of multicolored wild flowers, became to the eye of the "new comer" a veritable "land of promise." The Government would not permit settlers upon the reservation, therefore, chafing under Government restrain and green with envy, ever covetous of any good thing the red man might chance to possess-this Eldorado--the "new comer," like the patriarch of Mount Nebo, was permitted to view from afar, but not to enter--therefore to remove the Indians, that he might possess it, became the white man's first desire.

In the year 1835, to prevent this from becoming apermanent Indian settlement, a strong protest by settlers on adjacent land was made to thie Secretary of the Interior and to Congress, objecting, on the ground of incompatablility, ascerting that whites and Indians could not dwell in peace in such close proximity, and for the further reason, which had much weight, that the Missouri River being the then only avenue of travel and commerce, this narrow strip of Indian land intervening, over which the settlers were not permitted to pass, cut them off from access to the Missouri River, compelling them frequently to travel many miles to the south to reach the boat landings.

This appeal to the higher authorities at Washington resulted in the calling of a council of the Indians to meet at Fort Leavenworth, at which providing for the removal of the Indians to a point south of the river, and the sale of the land to the Government, a treaty was concluded on the part of the United States by William Clark, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and/by the chiefs, warriors and counsellors on the part of the Indians, who for the consideration of assistance to be rendered them by the Government in their removal and the payment of $7,500.00 in money, this territory was relinquished to the Government on the 17th day of September, 1836, since which date the tract, embracing, as hereinbefore stated, the six counties in the northwestern part of the State, has been known as the Platte Purchase--and a valuable purchase it has proven to be. And William Clark, the purchaser and benefactor, how neglected! When, herafter, potiticians and patriots with unstinted praise laud the great statesman, Thomas J., for his business-like bargain with "the Little Corporal," Napoleon, in acquiring the western two-thirds of continental United States, for the sum of $15,000,000, let them not forget a mead of praise to William Clark, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, who turned a trick in favor of his countrymen by his purchase of six among the best counties in Missouri for $7,5000.


Should the homeseeker ask, "Where in the great Middle West are to be found in great perfection conditions suited to the highest order of husbandry?" the answer must unquestionable be, the Platte Purchase and county adjacent thereto--soil, water supply, drainage, climate, rainfall, all of the fruit order.

The Indian title having been extinguished the Indians removed, settlers began to pre-empt the new territory. Platte, the southernmost county in the purchse, was organized December 31, 1838, the other counties following in quick succession, when on February 14, 1845, Nodaway became a county by legislative enactment, the boundary lines being defined as now, except as to the west line and that part of the south line west of the Nodaway River, which lines to a surveyor accustomed to mathematical precision appear rather indefinite, as follows: starting in the main channel of the Nodaway River, "at the mouth of the branch, in what is now know by the name of Roland Grove, thence west to the dividing ridge, dividing the waters of the Big Tarkio and Nodaway Rivers, thence north upon the top of said dividing ridge to the state line." The deer hunter of the time could likely have followed this line near enough for his purpose, but a good surveyor would have been lost at the start. The lines have since been properly defined as they now are.

The act providing for the organization of Nodaway County, directed that the terms of the County Court should be held on the first Mondays in February, May, August and November, whereas the minutes of proceedings of the fist County Court show that the first court convened on the first Monday in April, 1845. Query: Was the court legally convened, and it acts "constitutional"? If not, the appointment of clerk, sheriff and county assessor at that meeing was illegal, etc. A lawyer could write a whole volume on the point.

History accords to Isaac Hogan the distinction of having been the first permanet settler with the borders of Nodaway County, having in 1839 taken a claim near the location of the town of Graham. With Hogan came others, among whom a wandering youth who afterward became Governor Bob Stewart, of Missouri. Other settlers follwed, but owing to lack of roads and transportation facilities, settlement was necessarily slow, until 1870, the first railroad, then known as the Missouri Valley, now the Burlington, from Savannah, was completed through the county, then settlement advanced with leaps and bounds, to the present time, when every acre is fenced and the county an empire in wealth and population. When, in retrospect, we hark back to 1774, when Paul Revere carried his message from Boston town to the revolutionary patriots at Lexington, how marvelous the change, how great the advancement! Then there was not a steamboat, a railroad, not even a steam engine. He carried the message by the then best known means of dispatch bearing--the horse and rider.

When, in 1845, Nodaway County was organized as a county, there was not a steam railroad nor telegraph in Missouri, and for several years thereafter the United States mail was carried from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast by the "pony express" horse and rider. The early settlers in Nodaway County, and indeed all pioneers of that day, settlers in Nodaway County being no exception, dressed in coon-skin cap and homespun jeans, dwelling with his family in his cabin of logs and clay, notwithstanding the world had been peopled, as supposed, some six thousand years, in his habits and mode of living was not many steps removed from prehistoric cave-dwellers. Not then, 1845, in existence a cook-stove nor sewing machine, the wide, open fireplace, the "crane," the "pot," and the "spider" were the cooking conveniences. The whole range of agricultural implements consisted of the ax, hoe, plow, harrow, scythe, reap hook, the homemade rake and wooden pitchfork. Wool and flax were grown, spun, woven and made into garments at home, by hand, with only the spinning wheel, the hand loom and the needle, not a suit of ready-made clothing to be had in any store in the wide, wide world. Superseded all these in less years than the span of a human life the wooden sailboat by the palatial passenger steamer and the steel-clad war dreadnaught; the reap-hook and scythe by the motor-harvester; the pot and spider by the electric cooker before you on the breakfast table, that cooks prepared foods while you eat; the homespun garments by the elegant read-made rigs from the baazar; the early cabin of logs by hundreds of farm ansions within whose walls are to be found greater taste, more artilces of convenience and lusury than the palaces of kinds one hundred years ago. And in means of communication with man three thousand miles, as though face to face, the automobile and the aeroplane--the bird-man has conquered the insurmountable Alps and penetrated blue ether miles above earth. The individual fortune, counted in thousands then, is multimillions now. The youth now of ten with typewriter ken has supplanted the sage of sixty years who then laboriously indited his pages with the goose-quill pen.

What with the accumulated book knowledge of today, upon which to build with present facilities for research, invention and discovery, are kept up in the same ratio as during the past, we stand entranced in contemplation of the possibilites of the future. "What will the harvest be?"

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