History of Walnut Township Bates County, Missouri
From: History of Bates County, Missouri
By: W. O. Atkeson
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka - Cleveland 1918

Walnut Township.

Walnut is a border township, with Kansas on its west, Homer and Charlotte townships on the north, New Home on the east and Howard on the south,

With the Marais des Cygnes river forming the division line most of the distance between it and the two townships to the north, Walnut has much valuable timber and large rich bottom lands. The land not timbered is rolling prairie and splendid agricultural land. Mine creek comes out of Kansas and waters the extreme northwest part, and Walnut creek enters the township in the southwestern corner and flows in a northeasterly direction entirely through the township and enters the Marais des Cygnes river in the northwest part, of New Home; with its tributary streams it waters and drains almost' the whole township. The township and creek derive their names from the enormous black walnut trees that grew in the bottoms and valleys. In 1880, before there was any railroad in Bates county, except the Missouri, Kansas & Texas at Rockville, b, W. Laughlin, an old citizen of Walnut township, sold six great walnut trees for fifty dollars each to be cut and floated down Walnut creek, thence down the river to the Osage, thence to the Missouri river. Our informant says he counted 384 annular rings on one of the stumps, which would make 'the tree sprout in A. D, 1496, or just after Columbus discovered America. A Mr. Cox, on Walnut creek, made a record in the early days by splitting 1,250 ten foot rails out of the big walnut trees, There were numerous fords across the river: the government ford and ferry in section 33; Gritton ford, north of where Foster now is; Whitewash ford across Walnut in the center of section 11. The Government road from Lexington, Missouri, crossed here on its way to Ft, Smith, Arkansas. Goods were brought up the Missouri river to Lexington and then freighted along this road to supply the country which could not be reached from the White river in Arkansas, Marvel bridge was the first bridge built across the river, in 1879, in section 1. Since then a number of substantial bridges have been built across the main streams and the river in the township. Abundant coal exists in this township; and coal mining is one of the chief industries.

One of the earliest settlers was Hon, John McHenry. He was a Kentuckian and a Democrat. He came to Missouri in 1840, and was elected the first representative to the General Assembly in 1842. A year later, November 15, 1841, his son, James McHenry, came to Walnut township. James Goodrich, a nephew of the elder McHenry, came about the same date, but went to California in 1844. William Cooper came from Pettis county in 1840. One of the pioneers of the county was Lewis Gilliland, who settled in Walnut some time prior to 1840. He went, with others, to California in 1850, Mark West; the father of Gentry, was an early settler, and died in 1851, Thomas Woodfin and his sons came from North Carolina to Johnson county, Missouri, and thence to Bates in 1839 and 1840, Shelton and Gilliland were the only settlers who preceded the Woodfins. Cooper, McCall and Hedges camel soon afterward, Judge Edward Bartlett came to Walnut township in 1844. Under Order No, 11, Bartlett went to Kansas but returned in 1866,

Marvel was first located on the Marais des Cygnes river in section 1, but was moved to section 2, and later abandoned or discontinued. The first postmaster was in 1846, A small stock of goods was opened at Marvel in 1868 at the residence of James Campbell by Kincaid & Park, The first store in the township was established in section 1, by a Mr. Jewell before the Civil War. James McDaniel also sold goods before the war at a little place called Louisville in section 5, near the mouth of Mine creek, Both Marvel and Louisville belong in the extinct village class,

Walnut Postoffice, located on section 16, came into existence in 1872. Berry kept a drug store there in 1879. Lee Peak sold dry goods in 1878. A. H. Lloyd and John Craig were the blacksmiths and Dr. Splawn the physician. When Foster, or Walnut, grew up in a night, just two miles away, Walnut Postoffice went out and took its place in the extinct class.

Worland was laid out September 4, 1888, by Arch L. Sims and James M. Tucker, and took its name from Harry Worland, a druggist, who did a flourishing business there. It has at this time, about 100 population, and is situate about a mile from the Kansas Missouri state line in section 7, on the St. Louis & Eastern railroad, often called the Madison branch of the Missouri Pacific railway and near the crossing of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf railroad.

Foster was born in 1884. It was a typical western boom town, and within a few months had a population of 2,000 people, and was a hustling driving place. It went up like a rocket and came down like a stick. We cannot go into its wonderful history at this place, designed for mere mention of the upstanding facts of each township. The Walnut Land & Coal Company, with a million dollars capital, was indirectly behind the boom, and the town was first called Walnut, but when the people asked for a postoffice they had to change the name, as there was already a postoffice of Walnut about two miles away. In due time, the town, it was really a small city by this time, was re christened Foster, after Governor Foster, then everywhere known as "Calico Charley" of Ohio who was, secretary of the Walnut Land & Coal Company. Two years after it was founded what is now known as the Inter-State, or Madison branch of the Missouri Pacific railroad, was builded to and through the town. After a sensational and precarious career it soon settled down into the village class and its glory departed. At this time it has a population of about 400, has a bank, lumber yard, depot, express office, two blacksmith shops, and seven stores, and does a healthy country business, the surrounding territory being a fine grain and stock growing country. Much coal has been mined all about the town, and the vast coal deposits yet await the call of labor and capital. The town of Walnut (Foster) was laid out by E. A. Henry as trustee for Thomas M. Nichols, Phil L. Spooner, Jr., Charles Foster, Amos Townsend, J. Warren Kiefer, Warner Miller, B. J. Waters, J. L. Pace, and John Scullin, on July 3, 1883.


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