History of Athison Township, Nodaway County, Missouri
From: The History of Nodaway County, Missouri
National Historical Company
St. Joseph, Mo.: 1882


At the April special term for 1845, we find the following order of court defining the bounds of Atchison Township:

"Ordered that all the territory within the following bounds, be called and known by the name of Atchison Township, to wit:

"Beginning at the southeast corner of Buchanan Township in Nodaway County, Missouri, on the divide between Nodaway and One Hundred and Two Rivers. Thence westwardly with the line of said township to Atchison County. Thence south with the line dividing Nodaway and Atchison Counties to a point opposite the line dividing sections 18 and 19 in township 64. Thence east to the divide between Nodaway and White Cloud. Thence north with said divide to the big road leading to the three forks of Nodaway. Thence with said road so as to include said road to the place of beginning."

At the May term 1845, occurs the following record changing the bounds of Atchison Township:

"Ordered that the record giving the bounds of Atchison Township be so changed as to include the road on the main divide between Nodaway and One Hundred and Two Rivers, so far as said township is bounded on said road."

Atchison Township was reorganized June 14, 1866, with the following boundaries:

"Commencing at the northeast corner of section 31, on the state line, township 67, range 35; thence west on the state line to the Nodaway River near the northwest corner section 32, township 67, range 36; thence meandering with said river to the section line between township 65, range 37, sections 17 and 20, where the same crosses said river; thence east on the section line between sections 16 and 21, 15 and 22, 14 and 23, 13 and 24, township 65, range 37, and sections 18 and 19, 17 and 20, 16 and 21, 15 and 22, 14 and 23, 13 and 24, township 65, range 36, to the southeast corner of section 13, township 65, range 36, being the southeast corner of Atchison Township; thence north on the range line between ranges 35 and 36 to the township line between townships 65 and 66; thence west to the southwest corner of section 32, township 66, range 35; thence north on section line between sections 31 and 32, 29 and 3o, 19 and 20, 17 and 18, 7 and 8, 5 and 6, township 66, range 35, and 31 and 32, township 67, range 35, to the place of beginning."

Subsequently Nodaway Township was formed out of territory originally belonging to Atchison and Green Townships. See present boundaries of Nodaway Township.


The land of Atchison Township rises gently from the Nodaway River toward the northeast, and is well watered by Clear Creek and its numerous affluents. Clear Creek, formed by the uniting of the northern and southern branches of the same, flows nearly in a western direction, bending a little toward the southwest in its lower portion before it empties into the Nodaway River. The land along Clear Creek is considerably broken, and numerous springs are found gushing out of the hills. Sinking Creek rises in the western part of the township and flows on a mile or so in a southwesterly direction, where it disappears beneath the ground for about a mile, when it appears again and flows on into a shallow lake about a mile and a half in length and half a mile wide, which finds in turn an outlet into the Nodaway River. Atchison is mainly a a prairie towship, although there are fringes of timber along the Nodaway River and its affluents. The land in the township is generally good, and in many portions exceedingly fertile.


Ephraim W. Johnson was the first settler in Atchison Township. He came from Lawrence County, Indiana, and arrived November 6, 1841, at a point three miles north of where he now lives, where he spent the first winter. In the spring of the next year (1842) he settled on the place where he now resides, about eight miles northeast of Clearmont, on section 35, township 66, range 36. There were no sections then, and he simply took a claim after the manner of the first settlers. He now lives three fourths of a mile south of the Iowa State line. This territory was then annexed to Andrew County, Missouri, which extended north within two miles of where Clarinda, the present county seat of Page County, Iowa, is now located. After Nodaway County was organized, Iowa and Missouri had a dispute about the boundary line between the States, and even went so far as to call out the militia to settle the matter. Iowa claimed the line as the boundary, dividing townships C6 and 67, and Missouri claimed a boundary line twelve miles further north. Each state appointed a commissioner and compromised, the matter, and the present boundary line was established in 1849.

When Mr. Johnson first came, in the fall of 1841, he had seven children and only fifty cents in silver. He had no provisions for the ensuing winter, and none could be obtained this side of Buchanan County; so he left his family and went to Buchanan County to obtain supplies. He made rails for a man by the name of Martin, and got a load of provisions and started for home. He was in company with two brothers, Thomas and Eli B. Johnson (who emigrated to California in 1861,) and a man by the name of James Campbell. On the 26th of November, 1841, on their way home, they encamped at night on the White Cloud, close to the place where the Prather farm is now located. That evening it commenced snowing from the north - a terrible snow storm. The next morning they thought they would try to reach the family, fearing they might perish in the great storm. The snow had ceased to fall and it was calm, but the snow was so deep they could not take their wagons with them; so each man got on his horse, taking about a bushel of meal and a little piece of meat and started at daylight for a thirty mile ride, just with the harness on their horses. The snow was drifted from hill to hill. As soon as the horses got saddle skirt deep, they would lie down; so they took their turn about to throw out a road through the deep drifts with their hands. About the middle of the afternoon his brother Tom and Campbell gave out. Then he and his brother Eli had all the work to do. They worked on for dear life until nearly sundown, when they were about three miles from home. Campbell, who was a very profane man, then said to Ephraim Johnson:

"Do you think we will get in, Johnson?"

He replied, "I don't know Jim; I doubt it."

Campbell said, after a moment's reflection, "I believe I will quit swearing."

They were so near home now, however, that the thought of home and the family seemed to nerve them to the outmost limit of endurance. As the evening shades fell upon them, and the night was fast approaching, when the snow might be their only winding sheet, they strained every nerve and urged their horses to their utmost strength to break through the deep drifts. At last they saw a light glimmer through the darkness, and just as their strength failed them, and horses and men utterly prostrated, were about to fall and perish amidst the terrible drifts, they reach their cabin door. We drop a veil over that joyful meeting, which no artist could picture and no pen describe. Suffice it to say Mr. Johnson and his family clasped each other in their arms and thanked God that they had escaped alive from the terrible storm.

Mrs. Johnson and her two sons had seen the awful storm was upon them and had resolved to make a heroic struggle for life. Levi, the older, only ten years of age, and Joseph, only eight years of age, had cut and packed enough wood on their shoulders, although the snow lay three feet deep in the timber, to keep the fire burning. They would warm themselves and then go out together in the awful storm for more wood, working on amidst the drifting snow until they were rescued from their great peril.

The snow melted gradually and went off entirely in about three weeks, when Mr. Johnson and his companions returned to the White Cloud and brought home their wagons.

Mr. Johnson reared nine children, all of whom were married. Seven live in this county; one daughter lives in Oakland, California, and one daughter died in Washington County, Oregon - two died in infancy. His son, Eli B., was the first child born in Atchison Township. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have fifty grand children and eleven great grand children.

Joseph A. Johnson, who came with his father, Ephraim, in 1841, lived at home until he was twenty two years of age, but pre-empted a piece of land in 1854 in section 35, and opened a farm, on which he is living at the present time. In 1844, when about twelve years of age, his father and mother went away on a visit into Page County, Iowa, leaving himself and six other children at home, only one brother being older than himself. One day four hundred Indians came suddenly to the house on ponies. There was only a little clearing around the house, just a garden spot. Some Indians hitched their ponies and others let theirs run loose, but all the Indians filed through the house as if they had never seen one before. They were friendly, and did not molest anything. One Indian, however, made as if he would shoot the dog, when Joseph snatched down the rifle and was going to shoot the Indian. At this the chief patted him, said he was brave, and wanted him to go along with them.

One day Joseph was out hunting, as the pioneers were accustomed to supply themselves with meat by the chase, when he shot a large buck and crippled or stunned him. As he ran up to cut his throat, the buck jumped up, when he sprang on his back, grasping one of his horns. The buck, being large and powerful, ran three hundred yards before he could cut his throat.

The next settlers, after Mr. Johnson, were probably Mr. Banter and John and William Taner, and their widowed mother. They emigrated from Old Virginia in the year 1842.

After these pioneers, the next settler was probably a widow by the name of Hickman, with her two sons, John and Henry. They came from Dark County, Indiana, in the year 1843.

Mr. Cartright came from Indiana in 1843. Elijah Walters came from Indiana in 1844, and settled where the old town of Clearmont now is. He built his house right where Mr. J. C. Smith's barn now stands.

John H. Warrens came from Johnson County, Missouri, in 1845. He was the first justice of the peace ever commissioned in Nodaway County, which position he filled for many years. He was well fitted for frontier life. In 1866, he emigrated to Gage County, Nebraska, where he has filled some positions of trust, though now he is very feeble.

Elijah Walters and James Roberts came at a very early day, and settled near where the old town of Clearmont stands.

West Farrens took a claim very early, six miles northeast of where Clearmont is now located, near the present state line.

Harvey Dillon took a claim about the same time in section 35, township 66, range 36. He died in 1850.

William Houston came in 1844 from Indiana, and stopped on his way, about three years, at Savannah. He settled eight miles northeast of Clearmont.

Alexander Swaney settled at an early period near where Clearmont is now located, and Mr. J. C. Smith came in 1855 and took a claim in the edge of the old town of Clearmont. The town has extended upon his land.

John Allison opened a farm one half mile north of Clearmont, in 1855.


Clearmont is located five miles northeast of Burlington Junction, both on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad and on the Clarinda Branch of the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad. Each one of these railroads has a depot in the town. The town is located about two miles east of the Nodaway River and half a mile north of Clear Creek, which flows into the Nodaway River a short distance below the village. Clairmont is the orthography used in the Post Office Department for the name of the post office, but Clearmont is the spelling as used by the people of the town. There are two theories in reference to the origin of the name. As there is a roll between thirty and forty feet above the waters of Clear Creek near the town, some think the mound received its name from Clear Creek, and the name was naturally transferred to the new town. Others claim that, as Mr. Call, one of the original proprietors of the land on which the town is located, came from Clearmont, Indiana, he naturally gave this name to the place.

Stephen Call and Marion Conley originally owned the land on which the town of Clearmont stood. The range line 37 passes through it. Call owned on the east and Conley on the west side. Conley's section was No. 25, range 37, township 66; Call's on the east side, just opposite, was section 30, range 36, township 66. The town site was surveyed and platted by Alonzo Thompson, in the year 1857. The proprietors donated one lot for his services in surveying the town. The lots were laid off 66x132, and sold at private sale. Mr. Call owned a residence in the corporation when the town was platted - the residence on his farm. Mr. Conley erected the first building in the town after it was laid off. It was constructed of hewed cottonwood logs, and was afterward used as a residence, having been moved to the edge of the town. John Griffey built the first blacksmith shop, and John Markwell put up the first saloon.

In the spring of 1859, a wool carding factory was located here by Mr. Fleming, of Illinois. The business was carried on extensively for about two years, but on acèount of financial embarrassment Mr. Fleming was compelled to give it up, and the machinery was sold, and afterward converted into a shingle machine, and owned by John Shanklin, who did a good business in the manufacture of cottonwood shingles, which met with a ready sale at from $2.50 to $4 per 1,000.

A saw mill was also located on the west side of town, and was owned by John and Lewis Caughman and run by Mr. Spurlock.

The first store, built in 1865, was one for general merchandise, owned and run by Cross & Groves. Mint. Wallace, also in 1867, built a house, and commenced selling dry goods. The next store built was the one now occupied by James & Wilkin, which was built and run by Isaac Wallace and Cooper. Moreland, successors to M. Wallace. Moreland afterward retired from the firm, Mr. Wallace continuing in the business for about ten months, and was succeeded by Alexander Gray, who, in April of the following year, took as a partner William M. Gray, and owing to the increasing trade, was compelled to add to their building or build a larger room. They chose the latter, and the building now occupied by Scott & Smith erected, and sold the other building in 1869, to Benjamin Sweet, who occupied it with a large stock of drugs. In August of the same year, he tqok in John G. Combs as a partner, who in March of 1871, was succeeded by Stephen Curren, who in his turn, was succeeded by Cissna & McKittrick. Patton Moreland afterward succeeded this firm. The firm of Alexander and William M. Gray dissolving, Alexander Gray retired from the firm, being succeeded by Stephen Curren, who sold in 1872, to A. Gray, J. C. Smith and M. Rittenour, the style of the firm being A. Gray & Co., who after one year, was succeeded by J. C. Smith and T. J. Rogers. Smith was afterward succeeded by J. W. Cissna, the style of the firm then being Rogers & Cissna. Rogers afterward retired, and Cissna continued the business.

In the fall of 1879, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and the Clarinda Branch of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific reached the town at the same time. Mr. Jerry Smith gave the Wabash road a half interest in some thirty acres of land, one fourth mile northwest of the old town, on which the new town of Clearmont now stands. Mr. Smith also made a donation of ten acres of land to the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Road for a depot.

Mr. A. M. Scott put up the first building intended for a store in the new town in December, 1879. F. D. Sturtevant erected a hotel and J. M. Evans put up a store building about the same time.

Soon afterward Samuel Sinebaugh built a house for a restaurant and boarding house, and Uriah Baxter put up a building for the same purposes. E. P. Miller & Co. constructed a house for a harness shop, and Baxter Bros. put up one for a livery stable. W. W. Taylor then built a blacksmith shop, and B. P. Baxter erected a dwelling. About this time Craig & Smith established a lumber yard with appropriate buildings. Samuel Sinebaugh and W. F. Smith built their dwelling houses next, about the same time. In the summer of 1880, the Baptist Church and the M. E. Church were erected at the same period of time. A dwelling was also erected by Jacob Ragon.

The first death in the new town of Clearmont was the child of Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Evans, which occurred November 12, 1880. The first birth in the new town was a son to Mr. and Mrs. L. C. Evans, which occurred July 5, 1880.

In the old town of Clearmont a school house was erected about the year 1856, which was also used as a church. Public school has been kept in this house eight months in the year.

Two years ago this fall Mr. Jerry Smith gathered a crop of corn from the land where the new town stands, which averaged sixty five bushels to the acre. Now there are some forty houses, good substantial business houses and neat residences. Clearmont is one of the most promising towns in the Nodaway Valley. One by one the business firms have moved to the new town, until now the old town is nearly deserted by its former business houses. But the old town has many substantial residences, and their neat door yards and orchards, with many shade trees will always be one of the attractions of Clearmont. Clearmont possesses one of the finest locations in an aesthetical point of view in the Nodaway Valley, and will always he attractive to all lovers of the beautiful in nature. Located in the finest valley of Northwest Missouri, and possessing all the advantages of railroads, and of the most fertile soil, which produces in the greatest abundance all the cereals and grasses, Clearmont, with its healthful and beautiful location, must continue to grow in importance as a trade center. One hundred thousand bushels of grain have been shipped from Clearmont in the last six months.


Baxter, Nicholas, restaurant.
Baxter, B. P., livery.
Bucher, J. R., meat market.
Butler Bros., grain dealers.
Cissna, J. W., mixed merchandise.
Craig & Smith, hardware.
Evans, J. M., mixed merchandise.
Gaugh, M. A., physician.
Goodson, physician.
Hickenlooper, photographer.
Jones & Rotaling, lumber.
Lent, C. W., broom manufacturer.
Miller & Phillip, millinery.
Miller, E. P. & Co., harness makers.
Phillips, F. H., drug store.
Porter, E. P. & Co., grain dealers.
Rogers, T. J., mixed merchandise.
Scott & Smith, furniture.
Smith & Rittenour, live stock dealers.
Stratton, N. J., grain elevator.
Sturtevant, F. D.,
Wabash Hotel.
Taylor, William, blacksmith.
White, Robert, blacksmith.
Wilkins, William, drug store.


The Baptist Church of Jesus Christ at Clearmont was organized on Saturday before the second Sunday in October, 1872, with twenty three members, and was the result of a meeting held by Elder A. M. Wallace a short time previous to its oiganization. Elder Wallace has been the pastor of this church from its organization to the present time with the exception of one year. Elder Jacob Sharp served them in 1879. The house of worship was built in 1880, at a cost of $2,100, and is paid for except about $150. The present membership numbers sixty nine.


The members of the former Lodge at Lamar Station, who live at Clearmont and vicinity, petitioned for the organization of a lodge at Clearmont. Such an organization will soon be effected and a charter obtained. The Masons at Clearmount have secured a hall which will cost them, furnished, about $1,200.


On February 1, 1879, this lodge was organized with the following charter members:

D. Myers, Mrs. Emma Rittenour, P. H. Walker, F. L. Cason, Gertit Myers, J. M. Goodson, Mora M. Janes, Jerome T. Smith, Delia Taylor, Thomas B. Woods, J. W. Allen, Mrs. J. W. Woods, William W. Taylor, Emma Hamlin, E. L. Cason, J. M. Cason, M. J. Goodson, Lizzie Du Hodway, R. K. James, H. H. Thummel, M. E. Miller, Hennan Rush, H. Miller, C. H. Hicks and Isaac Chevington.

The names of the officers of the lodge when it was organized were as follows:

D. C. Myers, W. C. T.; Emma Rittenour, W. V. T.; P. H. Walker, W. Chaplain; F. J. Cason, W. S. E. C.; Gertie Myers, W. A. S.; J. M. Goodson, W. F. S.; Mora M. Janes, W. Treasurer; Jerome T. Smith, W. M.; Delia Taylor, W. D. M.; Mrs. M. J. Woods, W. I. G.; J. W. Allen, W. O. G.; Thomas B. Woods, P. W. C. T.

This lodge has done considerable work in the temperance cause at Clearmont. The members are somewhat scattered, and are more active in the winter, when agricultural pursuits do not occupy so much of their time. The lodge numbers at the present time seventy seven members. Some members of the lodge are constantly alive to the grand work, and labor at all seasons to advance the good cause. The fire always burns in their hearts, and they are ready "in season and out of season," for every good word and work. Such fire in the heart is contagious, and such every day workers must remember that the promise is to them "that endure to the end," and that they "will reap in due time if they faint not."

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