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


Union Township is now bounded on the north by Atchison, Hopkins and Independence Townships, on the west by Atchison and Nodaway Townships, on the south by Nodaway, Polk and Jackson Townships, and on the east by Independence Township. We give below the orders of court establishing the boundaries of this township.

The following order of court appears for the May term, 1856, organizing Union Township:

"Ordered that all the territory in Polk Township that lies north of the line dividing townships 65 and 66 be and the same is erected into a new township to be called and known by the name of Union Township."

On June 15, 1866, occurs the following order of court defining the bounds of Union Township:

"To commence at the northeast corner of the northeast quarter of section 33, township 67, range 34; thence west on the state line to the northwest corner of the northwest fourth of section 32, township 67, range 35; thence between sections 31 and 32, township 67, range 35, and sections 5 and 6, 7 and 8, 17 and 18, 19 and 20, 29 and 3o, 31 and 32, township 66, range 35; thence east to the northeast corner of section 1, township 65, range 36; thence south on the range line between ranges 35 and 36 to the southwest corner of section 18, township 65, range 35; thence east on south line between sections 18 and 19, 17 and 20, 16 and 21, 15 and 22, 14 and 23, 13 and 24, in township 65, range 35, and sections 18 and 19, 17 and 20, to the southwest corner of section 16, township 65, range 34, being the southeast corner of Union Township; thence north on the section line between sections 16 and 17, 8 and 9, 4 and 5, township 65, range 34; thence west to the southwest corner of section 34, township 66, range 34; thence north on section line between sections 33 and 34, 27 and 28, 21 and 22, 15 and 16, 9 and 10, 3 and 4, township 66, range 34, and sections 33 and 34, township 67, range 34, to the place of beginning."

Subsequently, Hopkins Township was taken out of territory originally belonging to Union Township.


This township is well watered. The One Hundred and Two River runs nearly through the center of the township from north to south, and has several tributaries. Mozingo Creek runs through the extreme southern portion of the township, and about one third of the distance from east to west. Mowery Branch flows nearly through the township in a southwesterly direction and empties into the One Hundred and Two River. On the west side, Gray's Creek and several minor creeks flow into the river. In the extreme western portion of the township are the headwaters of the southern branch of Clear Creek, which flows for some distance in a southwesterly direction. The central and eastern portion of the township has considerable timber, and timber occurs more or less along all the streams. Stone quarries are found along the larger streams, There is no poor land in the township. It is estimated that about one eight of the land is timbered.

Union is justly considered one of the best townships in Nodaway County for agricultural purposes. The second terrace glides down gently to the first bottom without river bluffs, and the land can be cultivated almost to the water's edge. The soil is a deep, rich loam, with the usual alluvium along the streams. All the cereals grow in abundance, and the cultivated grasses flourish. The people of Union Township can be said to live in one of the most favored portions of Missouri.


The first settlers in Union Township were William and James Ingels. They came in the year 1841, and settled at White Oak Grove, about two miles below where the town of Xenia afterward stood. The attractions offered to them by the grove, in the way of protection from the winds, and timber and fuel for farm and household purposes, determined their location there.

Abraham Fletcher came next and settled in the grove, opening an adjoining farm, finding an additional attraction in having near neighbors.

Mr. Shurley, a son in law of Mr. Fletcher's, was next attracted to the grove for similar reasons, and by kindred ties, and opened an adjoining farm to Mr. Fletcher's, on the south.

Mr. Martin and John Gray came next in order, and settled on the prairie, about two miles west of White Oak Grove, opening prairie farms near enough to the grove to avail themselves easily of all the advantages of native timber, so necessary to pioneers.

Mr. Cromwell came next, and settled in the grove north of the others, but afterward sold out to Thomas Pistole.

About the same time came John Walden, a son in law of Mr. Cromwell, and settled at the grove. The White Oak Grove settlement thus takes precedence in the order of time over all others in what is now known as Union Township. It was Atpleasant neighborhood, made up of congenial friends, living in and around the grove, a landmark in all that region in early times, where the traveler was glad to find himself at nightfall, to rest his weary limbs and enjoy the hospitality so gladly accorded by pioneers. Our modern civilization has given us many things, but it has lost somewhat of that old fashioned hospitality that would not let the stranger pass by the door without a cordial welcome that warmed the heart, and prepared the traveler in body and mind for his onward journey.

The next settlement in Union Township was made by Dr. Josiah Coleman, who entered the land where Pickering is now located. This is a most delightful situation, on the rolling prairie as it rises out of the first terrace, some three quarters of a mile 'from tfrome Hundred and Two River. Here Dr. Coleman opened a farm, and administered professionally to those who came and settled around him. He afterward sold his farm, disposing of the portion on which the town of Pickering now stands to Judge Andrew Royal, and went to Kansas.

After this, a settlement was commenced at Lower White Oak Grove, by John Ray. Alvin Sturgill came next and opened a farm on the south side of White Oak Grove. David Cooper took a claim a little north of Pickering, thus becoming a neighbor of Dr. Coleman. The settlement of Lower White Oak Grove received an addition in the person of Edward Ray, who located there and opened a farm. Valentine Ray soon followed, and took a claim in the same neighborhood. Martin Van Buren took a claim about one mile and a half west of Pickering. Martin Fakes settled soon after on the west side of the township, on the divide west of White Oak Grove. About this time settlers began to come into Union Township more rapidly, so that it is difficult to note the settlement of each one in consecutive order.


William Ingels, 1841.
____ Shurley, 1841.
John Gray, 1842.
Jacob Miller, 1842.
Samuel Nash, 1843.
Thomas Pistole, 1843.
George Pistole, 1843.
Abraham Fletcher, 1841.
William Nash, 1842.
Martin Gray, 1842.
Samuel C. Nash, 1843.
George Nash, 1843.
William Pistole, 1843.
Andrew Pistole, 1843.
Stephen Pistole, 1843.
Mr. Harris, 1846.
E. Hatfield, 1850.
Thomas Washburn, 185o.
Edward Godsend, 1855.
Timothy Nash, 1843.
Mr. Murphy, 1850.
James F. Williams, 1850.
Stephen Girard, 1853.
Wm. R. Johnston.


This pleasant little village, of about 200 inhabitants, 'is situated nearly midway between Maryville and Hopkins, on the Maryville Branch of the Kansas City, St. Joseph & Council Bluffs Railroad. Dr. Josiah Coleman made an original survey of the town, and named it Pickering, in honor of Pickering Clark, who held a position on this railroad. It is a tradition of the town that when the first train came down the road and approached this point, this name was selected, and the place was christened Pickering. Dr. Coleman's interests were bought out by Judge Andrew Royal who purchased the forty acres upon which the town is now located, for $3,000. Judge Royal re-surveyed and laid it out the second time in 1871. There was no public sale of lots, but lots were disposed of at private sale.

Pickering is located about three fourths of a mile from the One Hundred and Two River, on what is known as the second terrace. It is a beautiful site for a town, - the land rising gently with a fine roll from the lower terrace which gives the town a sufficient elevation to overlook all the valley for miles in both directions. Just above the town the river is deflected in its coure a little toward the east, and carries with it a belt of timber in a waving line through the valley, the trees partly hidden by the banks, appearing in the summer like a fringe to the green carpet beneath one's feet. Pickering is as cosy a little village as one can find, and there is a peaceful atmosphere about the place, to the observing traveler, that is quite delightful.

In 1871, D. N. Garten & Brother erected the first business house in Pickering, and opened a stock of mixed merchandise.

Dr. William M. Wallace and Judge Royal erected the second business house in 1871, and opened a drug store.

In the summer of 1871, A. Woods built a blacksmith shop.

Peter Behm put up a business house in 1873, and opened a stock of mixed merchandise.

About the same time Milton Anderson built a harness shop.

The next store was put up by Marion Ferrel, who opened a stock of mixed merchandise.

The Pickering House was built in 1873, by Royal & Garten.

A wagon shop was built in 1873, by Jacob Wagoner.

In 1874, the Pickering Manufacturing Company erected a building and carried on the manufacture of agricultural implements, wagons, etc. They continued business about two years, and had a thriving trade, but through mismanagement, concluded to make a change, and sold out to B. W. Kenny, who continued to do business on a less extended scale for about six years.

In 1874, a cheese factory was put up by Shoemaker Bros., of New York, who carried on the business for two years.

In institution for packing and preserving eggs was built in 1874, which was in activity for three or four years.

In 1877, Wallace Bros., erected a building an d opened a drug store. In 1879, J. J. Van Buren built a blacksmith shop.

Dr. Josiah Colman owned the farm where Pickering now stands. and his farm house, located on the second roll from the river, fell within the village limits, and has since been used as a hotel. This was the first hotel opened in the village, and was kept by J. W. Harman.

David Van Zandt built the first residence after the town was first incorporated. D. N. Garten then moved a dwelling house from Xenia, which, being left by the railroad, was afterward abandoned. The next residence was put up by J. W. Harman. Several dwellings were erected about this time, as the town began to grow.

Mrs. David Van Zant was the first person who died in Pickering after it was first incorporated. This occurred in the fall of 1871. Mr. David Van Zant's son was the first child born after the first Incorporation. Dr. Wm. M. Wallace was the first practicing physician in the incorporated town of Pickering.

The first marriage in Pickering occurred at the house of J. W. Harman. Mr. L. L. Holbrook, of Maryville, was united in bonds of wedlock to Miss Lou D. Harman.

The Methodists built the first church edifice in the year 1875.

In 1879, E. D. Nash put up a grain elevator, which he operated two years, when he sold it to Bariteau & Welch, of Maryville, who still own it. Pickering is a good point for the shipment of grain. In 1879, 370 car loads of grain were shipped, and in 1880, 400 car loads were shipped, mostly corn. When the railroad came to Pickering, J. W. Harman was appointed agent, and has continued to hold the position to the present time. Mr. Harman has made a model agent, being a careful and accurate business man, kind and obliging to the traveling public, and keeping the passenger house as neat and clean as a dwelling.

Pickering is considered a healthy point, the drainage of the village being good, and the roll on which the village is built lifting it above the malarious influences in the valley lands.

The town was incorporated February 4, 1879.


The Pickering circuit was detached from the Hopkins circuit and organized as a separate circuit in 1871. Rev. W. Cowley was the pastor, The membership of the circuit numbers about forty. The names of the pastors have been as follows: W. Cowley, E. V. Roof, William Shelley, Thomas Evans, W. B. Moody and W. Cowley, the present pastor. The church building. was erected in 1874 at an expense of $2,000. Mr. Cowley has six other appointments outside of Pickering. There is another church building on the circuit near Sweet Home. There is a good Sabbath school and something of a library. The church is in a good condition. The church has just built a parsonage at a cost of $650.


The charter of this lodge was granted October 14, 1873. The names of the charter members are as follows: Edwin Van Buren, James H. Johnson, E. M. Groves, W. M. Wallace, M. B. Harman, H. H. Harman, J. W. Harman, William M. Pistole, Dr. A. D. Sargent and A. J. Woods. The present membership numbers thirty one. The lodge is in good condition, out of debt, and own their lodge room.

The names of the present officers are as follows: James C. Pistole, W. M.; J. W. Harman, S. W.; Jacob Ashford, J. W.; Henry Dunn, Secretary; George Nash, Treasurer; H. H. Harman, Tyler.


The charter of this lodge was granted May 19, 1876. The names of the charter members are as follows: Edwin Van Buren, Charles M. Whipple, Phillip Sellers, Newton Wray, O. H. Mitchell.

The present officers are: James K. Young, N. G.; John Burch, V. G.; James A. Lowery, Secretary.

The members of this lodge number twenty eight. The lodge is in a flourishing condition.

Return to [ Nodaway County ] [ MO History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ]

All pages copyright 2009. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy