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; pages 1 & 2, section 2.
(Transcribed by Pat O'Dell:
by W.F. Smith

By request of the publishers of this Atlas I have been asked to contribute a short sketch of Atchison Township.

Incidentally I find that on this day (May 22nd), fifty-two years ago, I first saw the light of day in our humble home on the land adjoining Clearmont on the west, and where I lived until manhood.

Atchison Township was organized in its present metes and bounds on June 14, 1866. Its broad expense of prairie, with strips of timber along its small streams, its undulating surface affords to the eye a remarkable view, I have often viewed it while driving or riding over the land and became entranced with its beauty; I have seen it when the herds and herdsmen were its almost sole occupants, vast herds of cattle and horses roamed at will, and some few deer were seen, I have witnessed its transformation from the pasture to the farm and have seen home after home established and where once the "Blue Stem" waved in the breeze and the herds held undisputed sway, the orchard and the vineyard, the well built home and commodious barns now evidence the fact that "Westward the star of the empire takes its way." It could not be otherwise, as the rich aluvial soil, the abundance of good wholesome water, offered such great attractions to the early settlers, many of whom were the intimate friends and associates of my father, Jeremiah C. Smith, who settled just west and adjoining the present site of Clearmont in 1855.

Preceding my father, and I think in the order named, are other pioneers, Ephraim Johnson, from Indiana; Mr Barner and John and William Taner, from Virginia; John and Henry Hickman and their widowed mother, from Dark County, Ind.; a Mr Cartright and Elijah Walter, also from Indiana; John H. Warren, from Johnson County, Mo.; located there in 1845 and enjoyed the distinction of being the first "Justice of the Peace" appointed in Nodaway County. Harvey Dillon and William Houston were also early settlers, Wes Farrens settled some seven miles northeast of Clearmont in 1841, a portion of his farm laying in Iowa and the other in Missouri, at the time, however, he thought, and did locate in Missouri, and, what was then Andrew County, which was divided and he was then in Nodaway County, Mo., but being on the disputed strip as it was called he, after the land was awarded to Iowa, was over the line in Ringold County, Ia. [* see note below], and that county was divided and he was put in Page County, Ia., thus he lived in two states and four counties and never moved from his former site. I have often been entertained in the home of Mr Farrens, whose great pleasure it was to entertain his friends with bits of early history, and pointing to a log cabin once while I was there he said, "Billy, there is the cabin I built in 1841, after I had it completed, I went out one morning and saw from my door the tents of some Indians and I walked over to where they were, and imagine my surprise when one of them came up to me and called me by name, he said he was one of the tribe that I had years before helped take to Fort Des Moines, on a Reservation near there, and I asked him where the nearest town was and its name, he pointed southeast and said it was two days off, in that direction to Savannah, soon after I decided to go there. I hitched up my yoke of oxen and cutting a small tree tied it to the rear of my wagon and started southeast through the tall blue stem grass, following the ridges, and somewhere west of where Pickering is located, I struck a trail or faint road leading south, I cut my tree loose and left it to mark my trail so I could find my way back home, and went to Savannah and did my trading and returned. During my absence I had callers at my home, a part of a barrel of salt had been taken, but in its place were 200 muskrat skins, so I judged that the Indians had come to see me and missed me and traded for my salt, I was never molested by them, and they were frequent visitors at my home. Mr Farrens made that his home until his death a few years since."

John Allison and Alexander Swaney located here near Clearmont in the early fifties, and Barney Thomas and Sanford Smith in a short time followed them, a few years later Jeremiah C. Smith, John B. Wallace, Alex Gray, Alex Hulse, John Shanklin and others settled near Clearmont. Stephen Call and Marion Conley followed and they owned land on either side of the Main street of the now, old part, of Clearmont, and in 1857 engaged Alonze Thompson to survey and plat the town of Clearmont. Mr Conley built the first house in the old town of Clearmont, it was of hewn logs and with hand-made oak shingles, and when torn down in 1902 the roof was in a good state of preservation.

In 1879 the C.B. & Q. R.R.[railroad] was built through the township, running just west of Clearmont, and it necessitated the removal of the town or the most of it farther north and west of the old location, and the writer helped to survey and lay out the present town, and drove the stakes for the corners of the lots. A public sale of town lots was had and a number of lots sold. Among the buyers was Frank D. Sturtevant, who built the first hotel in the town. Col. A.M. Scott put up the first business house and it stands today on the corner of Main street across south of the bank. Other buildings were quickly added and some moved from the old town. Messrs. Craig and Smith (the writer with W.G. Craig) started the first lumber yard and added farm implements and coal. A. Gray and Company started a general store, the firm was composed of Alex Gray, A.M. Scott and T.J. Rogers, other firms commenced business and the town enjoyed a period of prosperity which has not been equaled since. The Baptist church was the first to build a house of worship and they were followed by the Methodist and several years after the Christian church erected a church, all of which have wrought well.

Clearmont has always been abreast of the times with its schools and today has as good a graded school as any town in the county of its size.

Atchison Township has as live and progressive set of people as any one would wish to meet. Since its organization no murder has ever been committed with its borders and to my knowledge has cost the county less than most any other township in the county for ciminal costs. One "blot," however, remains upon its fair escutcheon, the lynching of A. W. Tansey on August 27, 1872, for the killing of five people, the facts, and his confession, being fully set forth in the history of Nodaway County.

But two men are living in Clearmont now that were in business there formerly, those are J.T. Smith and Alex M. Scott, who were partners in the furniture business in 1881 and 1882. T.J. Rogers, one of the pioneer business men, lives on a farm near Clearmont.

The Masons, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and Modern Woodman, each have lodges there and an excellent membership. "The Clearmont News" supplies the people with the current news of the day, and all classes of business is represented in the city by wide awake and progressive people.

There are a number of characters, and many events, that could be mentioned which would be of interest but space forbids.

It was my home for twenty-eight years, and the memory of those years are precious to me, although living with a three hours' drive of the place I have to a certain extent lost sight of the new generation of people that live there and a visit to the old home impresses me with the truth that "It is but a step from the cradle to the grave," when I scarcely see any of my former friends and associates, and, of the older friends many sleep beside my dear old father and mother in the little "City of the Dead" on the hill east of the town. New faces, new friends, to supply the places of those gone before. When future historians write of this township, and of those who have helped in it making who will be of the present generation that have lived and wrought well, and earned a place on the pages of the book of "Who's Who."

[Note from Pat O'Dell - I know that Mark Twain said that facts were not essential to a good story, but the fact is that in 1841 that area wasn't in Ringgold county because Iowa wasn't a state until 1846. In 1833 that part of Iowa was designated Pottawattamie Indian Reservation and after 1846 it was considered Pottawattamie County. Page County was organized from that area in 1851. Page County, Iowa history will show that the settlers in the sourthern part of the county who settled there in the 1840's thought that they lived in Missouri.]
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