Jefferson Township is bounded on the north by Jackson Township, on the east by Gentry Country, on the south
by Washington Township, and on the west by Grant and Polk Townships. It contains forty seven square miles.
On March 29, 1871, we find the following order of court establishing Jefferson Township:
"Ordered that a new municipal township be established out of Washington and Jackson Townships, to be known
and designated as Jefferson Township, in said county, said new township to commence on the Nodaway and Gentry County
line at the southeast corner of the southwest quarter of section number 34, in township 64, of range 33, thence
running west on the township line to the northwest corner of section 5, township 63, of range 34, being the east
boundary of Polk Township, thence running south to the southwest corner of section 8, in township No. 63, of range
34, thence running east to the northwest corner of section 16, township 63, range 34, then running south to the
northwest corner of the southwest quarter of the southwest quarter of section number 33, in township 63, range
34, thence running east on the quarter mile line to the Gentry County line, thence running north on the county
line to the place of beginning, and it is further ordered by the court that Conception be designated as the voting
precinct of said township."
The Platte River enters about the center of the township on the north, and runs diagonally through it a littler
west of the center in a southwesterly direction. Long Branch passes across the extreme northwestern portion of
the township through two sections, and flows in a southerly direction. The Wild Cat finds its headwaters in the
eastern and northeastern portions of the township, and runs southeasterly and empties into Grand River. The land
along the streams is rather rolling in character, and the township consists principally of upland rolling prairie.
The soil is a silicious loam, and is exceedingly fertile, producing large crops of cereals. The land is well adapted
in character for the cultivation of fruit, especially of the small fruits, and the farmers are engaged more or
less in fruit culture, which is proving profitable. The first bottom along the Platte River is about a mile in
width, and the soil is a deep, rich alluvium. The township does not contain a large amount of timber - not more
than one fifteenth of the area of the township being timbered land.
Good stone is quarried in abundance, enough for building purposes. Many springs are found among the hills, and
the whole township is well watered.
The earliest settlements of Jefferson Township were made along the Platte River and the various branches of
the Wild Cat.
Among the first settlers, came David Rhoades, in the year 1846, and took a claim and built a cabin, in the northwest
corner of section 28, township 63, range 34. He owned several hundred acres of land. He died in the year 1876.
Samuel Ross came probably in the same year, and located two and a half miles southwest of the present site of Old
Silas Best, at an early day, emigrated from Washington Township, and with four sons, took a claim on the east side
of the Platte River, in the edge of the timbers. He built a house on the northeast corner of section 14, township
63, range 34, and increased his possessions until he owned over a thousand acres of land. He died in the year 1875.
Jacob Pugh, at an early day, emigrated from Iowa, and settled on the west side of the Wild Cat, about four miles
southeast of the present site of New Conception.
In 1857, Anderson Smith emigrated from Virginia, and located two, miles and a half west of the present site of
In the same year, Isaac Weatherman came from Tennessee, and settled on Wild Cat Creek.
During the year 1858, John S. Aldridge emigrated from Indiana, and took a claim three miles southwest of where
Old Conception is now located.
Benjamin Casteel emigrated from the South, and located on the northeast quarter of section 11, township 63, range
33. His farm of 160 acres was cut in two by the Platte River. He died about a year ago, in Montana.
Sidney Smith emigrated about the year 1856, from Cooper County, Missouri, and located on the Wild Cat, three miles
southeast of the present site of New Conception.
In 1858, Matthew Riley came from New York and settled one mile south of where New Conception is located.
Patrick Growney originally emigrated from Ireland, and made Brooklyn, New York, his home for twelve years. He came
in the year 1858 to Jefferson Township, and located in section 9, township 63, range 34. He died June 17, 1879.
Patrick Growney had three sons, who all have farms in section 9. The family estate contained 40o acres of land.
Phillip Growney and John Growney still live on their farms. Lawrence J. Growney is now Circuit Clerk and ex-officio
Recorder of Nodaway County, and lives in Maryville.
THE READING COLONY.
In the year 1856, in the State of Pennsylvania, three gentlemen of Irish descent, by the names of Felix, McLaughlan
and O'Reilly, conceived the plan of forming a colony of their countrymen with the object in view of seeking suitable
lands in the distant West upon which to settle said colony. They were induced to this measure by the scarcity of
work, hard times and small wages, which prevailed in Pennsylvania at that time. When the colony was formed, Anthony
Felix, O. O'Reilly and Rev. James Powers came West for the purpose of entering lands. Arriving at St. Joseph, they
fell in with Jeff Thompson, who gave them a plat of the then vacant lands on which the colony is now located, and
advised them to go to the land office at Plattsburg, in Clinton County, and make an entry of said lands. When they
went there the Commissioner of the office represented to them that the office was closed and as a consequence no
entry of lands could be made. Messrs. Felix, O'Reilly and Powers then went to the General Land Office at Washington
City, and upon application to Hon. Thomas A. Hendricks, who was then the Commissioner of said office, they succeeded
in effecting an entry of said lands, and the necessary documents were sent to the Commissioner at Plattsburg, with
the instruction to him that he should make a record of the entry upon his books. While Felix, O'Reilly and Powers
were at Washington City, or immediately after the documents were received at Plattsburg, the land office at the
latter place, which it seems had never been closed in fact, was opened as was claimed by the Commissioner, and
these same lands were entered by other parties. This complicated condition with regard to the entry of said lands
caused considerable difficulty and created a vexed question. Each party claimed that they had entered the land.
The case was finally taken up before the Committee of Public Lands in the United States Senate, in the year 1858
or 1859, during Buchanan's administration. Said committee decided the case in favor of Felix, O'Reilly and Powers,
and against the parties who claimed to have entered the land through the Plattsburg office. The lands that were
thus in dispute embraced about 20,000 acres, all of which, with the exception of one and a half sections, which
are in Gentry County, lie in Nodaway County, and in Jefferson Township. The decision of the case turned principally
upon the fact as to whether the office at Plattsburg had been closed, and partly upon the fact as to whether the
documents forwarded from Washington were not received at the office at Plattsburg before the other parties made
their pretended entry.
The names of the first settlers of the Reading Colony were as follows: John M. Carty, William Brady, Michael Fagan,
Jeremiah Sullivan, Thomas Reilley, Edward Reilley and Patrick Growney.
During the time of our civil war, immigration almost ceased, but soon after the war ended, a large number of immigrants
came into Jefferson. Township.
There are now heavy settlements both east and west of the Platte River. The farms generally throughout the township
are in a fine state of cultivation. There is a great deal of hedge fence. Many very elegant dwelling houses have
been built during the last few years, and that portion of the county is rapidly becoming one of the most wealthy
and best improved parts of the county. Several who are now quite comfortably situated came there a few years ago
with but little means. They, however, had brave hearts, clear heads and strong arms, and went resolutely to work,
and as a result they have transformed the vast, uncultivated waste of prairie, which could be seen there a few
years ago, into a well improved and richly productive country. They have gained in wealth, and have done so by
their own hard work and individual and collective industry.
The following are the township officers elected on the 4th of April, 1876: Trustee, William Farnan; Clerk, James
Merrigan; Assessor, L. J. Growney; Collector, A. J. Enis; Constable, John Motch; Justices of the Peace, A. T. Bleyley
and Anderson Smith.
This town is located about eleven miles southeast of Maryville, near the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad.
The town was named in honor of the Immaculate Virgin.
Father James Powers came from Reading, Pennsylvania, in the year 1856, and entered the land where the town of
Conception is now located, in behalf of a company of which he was a member. The company was composed of Father
Powers, Owen Reilly, and Anthony Felix, as above mentioned. They selected 20,000 acres of land in Nodaway and Gentry
Counties. Father Powers and William Brady laid out the town of Conception in 1860. On June 9, 1860, the colony
house and chapel were finished and dedicated. There were forty acres laid out and platted as a town site, described
as the southwest quarter of section 24, township 63, range 34. The first lot was sold to Mr. Saul for $1.00, who
put up a store for general merchandise, the second building in the town. A blacksmith shop was erected by Joseph
Heffner, who also built a dwelling. Mr. A. Blyley put up the next house for a dwelling, and moved into it, and
he also erected another building for a dwelling. Soon afterward, Frank Enos built a blacksmith shop and a dwelling,
and Father Tuerk erected a house for a dwelling. In the year 1870, Ignatius Richlin put up a dwelling and moved
into it. In 1871, he put on an addition to Mr. Saul's store building and opened a stock of general merchandise.
In 1871, Henry McIntire erected a dwelling, and Augustus Enos put up a dwelling the same year. A store and a dwelling
were soon afterward built by Joseph Wonderly. He moved into the dwelling and commenced keeping store, opening a
general stock of merchandise. About this time a dwelling was erected by Gerhard Arens, and another one by John
B. Krotch. Dwelling houses were also erected by the Sisters, Mr. Terris Ikleman, Mrs. Elizabeth Koons, Mrs. Elizabeth
Myers, Mrs. Margeret Smith, Mr. Barnard Nathan, and Dr. James Bickett. Joseph Sholze erected a dwelling and drug
store combined. Dwellings were also erected by Joseph Wonderly and Anthony Match. Nicholas Burns put up a saloon,
and Christian Voelker erected a dwelling and shoe shop.
The first church was built by the Catholics in 1867, and dedicated December 8, 1867. Its dimensions were 25x4o
feet, and it was enlarged in 1874 to 34x90 feet.
In the year 1880, a Monastery was erected in Conception, but during the present year it has been elevated to the
dignity of an Abbey, and called Benedictine Abbey New Englberg. The portion completed is 33x140 feet with ell 40x60
feet, four stories high with stone basement and attic. There are 46 rooms and 5 halls. On the north end of the
present building the new church will be built, and will be 80x208, 66 feet in height. It will run east and west
and will be one of the most magnificent structures of the kind in the United States. It will be surmounted by three
grand towers reaching some 140 feet in the air from the ground. At the southeast corner of the church another wing
similar to the one now completed will be built and extended to the southeast corner of the present building, making
the total building in size 208 x208 feet square, covering over one acre of ground. It is to be built of cut stone
and pressed brick. The material for the buildings is mostly obtained on their farm. The whole structure will be
built in pure Roman style with court in the center, and will cost some $250,000. It will require upwards of 3,000,000
brick to complete the building.
In the Abbey there is now a theological school and a high school for boys, with four teachers. Two libraries halve
been established, one for the Abbey, and one for the people. The library for the Abbey contains about 3,000 volumes,
some books being very old and rare. We noticed several books printed in the ancient black letter. One commentary
printed in Basil dates back to 1523, and a book on Canon Law was printed as early as 1500.
The congregation connected with the Abbey is increasing, and numbers now 200 families. In the community of the
Abbey there are now twenty five members.
There is a Sisters Convent about one mile and a half northeast of the Abbey. It is a four story building 44x100
feet. The new house for the Sisters Convent will be finished in the spring of 1882.
The first death in the town of Conception was that of Mr. Hewey McIntyre, in the year 1874. The first child baptized
in the congregation was christened Ellen, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan. Father Powers, who baptized her,
gave her forty acres of land because she was the first child baptized in the parish. The first marriage was that
of Elisha Richlin and Miss Julia Protzman, in the year 187o.
The Sisters have charge of the public school. There is a good school house. The population of Conception is about
Conception is located in one of the best portions of the Platte Valley, and is very desirable as a place of residence.
The educational advantages will continue to attract many who desire facilities for the higher education.
Bickett, Dr. James, justice of the peace and physician.
Blyley, A. T., notary public.
Blenkner, Theodore, physician.
Buehler, John, carpenter shop.
Enos, Augustus, assessor.
Enos, Francis, blacksmith.
Hogan, J. B., attorney at law.
Jenewein, Peter, saloon.
Sholze, Mrs. Mary, milliner.
Sholze, Joseph, general merchandise and postmaster.
Voelker, Christian, shoe shop.
This town is located on the Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railroad, about two miles northeast of Conception,
and eleven miles southeast of Maryville. The post office is called Clyde, which name originated in the following
manner; At a public meeting in July, 1880, composed of some forty citizens, it was thought desirable to give a
name to the new post office. Mr. Frank Bellows had recently been in Canada, and had brought back some Clydesdale
horses. Some one in the meeting thought of this, and proposed that the new post office should be called Clyde.
The proposition was accepted and the name adopted by the meeting, and subsequently by the Post Office Department
In 1869, Matthias Jerman bought the land on which New Conception is located. He sold the land in 1873, to Matthias
Rogers, and the latter in 1879, sold it to the Western Improvement Company, who during the same year platted and
laid out the town. The first lots, numbers 27 and 28, block 1, were sold to E. W. Cone at $100 each. He erected
a building and opened a saloon. C. Weaver erected the next building for a dwelling. At this time several buildings
were commenced. Gasper Kaiser erected a hardware store and went into business. J. A. Wonderly moved a building
from Conception, and opened a stock of general merchandise. In 188o, B. Toiler put up a hardware store and entered
into trade. E. J. Clark about that time put up a store room and a dwelling. A carpenter shop was erected by Kroetsch
Bros. A dwelling was erected by Mrs. Catharine Smith, and one by E. W. Cone. A lumber yard was established by Ambrose,
Brown & Co., whose business was transacted by A. C. Robison.
In 1879, an elevator was erected by Frank Bellows and Fayette Smith. The next house was built by C. Weaver for
a restaurant, and soon afterward Allen Mercer erected a dwelling.
In 1881, a dwelling was put by Mrs. Eliza Smith, and one by George Waugh, who also built a harness shop.
Mr. A. C. Robison, about this time, erected a hotel and opened it. Dwellings were erected soon after by M. G. Chapin,
by Simon Webber, and by J. Spates. Patrick Kenney very soon put up a boarding house. Two dwellings were afterward
erected by Dr. G. W. Hobbs and J. F. Wonderly. A store building for general merchandise was erected about this
time by Ruprechet & Hellman, who commenced business, opening a stock of general merchandise. Soon afterward
J. J. McManus erected a hardware and furniture store, and F. A. Bellisle put up a building for shoemaking and a
confectionery store. At this time a drug store was' built by C. P. Smith, and also a dwelling. E. W. Cone soon
put up a building which was occupied by H. H. Ross, who commenced in the drug business. A saloon was now built
by Fitzpatrick & McCarty.
The depot building was erected in the year 1879.
The post office was established in August, 1880, and the first postmaster was John F. Wonderly.
The people of New Conception are building a good school house, which will be completed in a short time.
The following named persons are members of the school board: James Fitzpatrick, Lewis J. Mann and J. A. Wonderly.
The first marriage in New Conception was that of Fred. Karcetsch and Miss Julia Match. It occurred in the sparing
The first death was that of a daughter of J. F. Wonderly. It occurred July r6, 1880.
The first birth in New Conception was that of a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. C. Weaver, in the year 1879.
Bellisle, F. A., confectionery.
Clark, E. G., general merchandise.
Craig, W. P., constable.
Durham, M. F., railroad agent.
Fitzpatrick & McCarty, saloon.
Hobbs, Dr. G. W., physician.
Kaiser, Casper, hardware.
Keller & Jones, meat market.
Kerns, Andrew, saloon.
Kinney, P., boarding house.
Lee, John, saloon.
McManus, J. J., hardware and furniture.
Moore, Mrs. Catherine, boarding house.
Robison, A. C., hotel.
Ross, H., druggist.
Ruprecht & Hellman, general merchandise.
Schaffer, Tonney, blacksmith.
Smith, C. P., druggist.
Toeller, B., blacksmith.
Weaver, C., livery.
Wolf, Mrs. Sarah. E., millinery.
Wonderly, J. F. & Bros., general merchandise.
Wonderly, John F., postmaster.