History Chariton Township, Randolph County, Missouri
From: History of Randolph and Macon Counties, Missouri
National Historic Company
St. Louis, 1884


Chariton township lies in the north west corner of Randolph, and borders on Macon and Chariton counties. It was organized in 1832, and of territory originally belonging to Salt Spring township, and extended 12 miles into the present limits of Macon county. By the subsequent organization of that county Chariton township lost two thirds of its territory, and was reduced to its present dimensions of 54 square miles in a rectangular shape, being nine miles long from east to west, by a width of six miles from north to south.

The first settlement was made in about the year 1829, by a few families on each side of Dark's Prairie, near the present sites of Eldad and Darksville. These were followed in the spring and fall of 1830 by others, and from that time the country was rapidly filled up by immigrants from Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee. In about three years from the time of its first settlement it had acquired sufficient population to justify its organization into a separate township, with Joseph Turner its first magistrate and Henry Smith its first constable.

The soil of this township, while ranking along with the best in the county, is remarkable for the uniformity of its adaptability to agricultural and grazing purposes. There is very little waste land in the whole township, and scarcely an acre can be found that is not valuable for growing grass or grain. The soil is principally a black loam of great fertility, and sufficiently undulating to avert disaster from the crops in extremely wet seasons, and yet sufficiently retentive of moisture to preserve them from total failure in extreme drouths. The township is about equally divided between timber and prairie land, the timber embracing wide margins along the streams, and the prairie occupying the intervening space. This natural arrangement afforded the early settlers ample scope for selecting their lands with a proper division of timber and prairie, and has resulted in the establishment of some of the best organized farms for mixed husbandry in the county. The timber is principally white oak, black oak, pin oak, elm, and hickory, with some burr oak and walnut. The township is well watered by four principal streams and their tributaries, all flowing from north to south, and so well distributed as to furnish abundant stock water convenient to all the farms the year round. Along the eastern margin of the township flows the East fork of the Chariton, and through the central portion, at an average distance of two miles, are Dark creek, Muncas creek, and the Middle fork of the Chariton, while the western portion is watered by a tributary of the Chariton river, the latter of which flows from north to south just outside of the western boundary. Surface springs are not abundant, but unfailing living water is of easy access in well distributed localities throughout the entire township, by sinking wells to a depth of 10 to 30 feet.

So well is this township adapted to general, mixed and varied farming, that more than three fourths of its entire territory are now fenced, and are either under the plow, in blue grass pasture or in meadow.

In population, this township ranks fourth of the 11 townships in the county, and this without a town of any magnitude or a railroad station within its borders. Its inhabitants are engaged almost exexclusively in agricultural pursuits, and the well improved condition of their farms indicate their general prosperity.

There are three election precincts in this township, one at Darksville on the east, one at Rolling Home on the west, and the third at Thomas Hill near central portion.

At Darksville(1) are a dry goods and grocery store, a blacksmith shop, a cabinet shop, a saw and corn mill, a wagon shop, a shoe shop, and a tobacco factory which was built and managed by the Grange at that place. W. S. Campbell is the postmaster, and Dr. R. A. Terrill, who resides on his farm adjoining the town, and Dr. W. P. Terrill are the physicians. Darksville was settled in 1856.

At Thomas Hill are an extensive dry goods and grocery store, a drug store, a blacksmith shop, a wagon shop and a saw and grist mill. There is at this place one physician, Dr. W. W. Passe. J. R. Wren is postmaster, and W. A. Hunnes justice of the peace.

At Rolling Home are a dry goods and grocery store and a blacksmith shop. J. B. Carney is the postmaster, and Joseph H. Frazier, physician.

The people along the eastern and southern borders of this township are well accommodated with railroad advantages by depots on the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railroad at Jacksonville, Cairo, Huntsville and Clifton Hill, but the people in the central, northern and western portions have to travel from 6 to 12 miles to reach a shipping point. This difficulty will be overcome in time, however, by the building of the Missouri and Mississippi Railroad, which has been projected through the entire width of the western side of this township. The completion of this road, already in operation from Glasgow to Salisbury, is only a question of time, and will be accomplished as soon as the financial prosperity of the county is securely re-established.

The educational advantages of this township are well maintained by eight well built and commodious school houses, in which the public schools are kept open from four to eight months during the year.

There are six churches in this township - two of the Calvinist Baptists, two of the Missionary Baptists and two of the Cumberland Presbyterians. There is very little selfishness or sectarianism among the people, however, and most of these churches are occupied at stated intervals for public worship by the Methodist, Christian and other Protestant denominations. Well organized Sunday schools, under the guidance of zealous and efficient teachers, are kept up in these churches the year round, and the morals of this fine rural district are further protected in the fact that there is not a single drinking saloon, or place of public resort of questionable moral tendencies, within the limits of the entire township.

There are four resident ministers of the gospel in this township: Revs. James Bradley and James P. Carter of the Calvinist Baptists, Rev. J. E. Ancell of the Missionary Baptist, and Rev. M. B. Broaddus of the Methodist church.

The agricultural products of Chariton township consist mainly of tobacco, corn, wheat, oats, rye, and timothy. That large and remunerative yields of these crops arc made, is abundantly attested by the following estimates gathered from intelligent and reliable farmers of that locality: An extra crop per acre of corn is 50 bushels; of tobacco, 1,200 lbs.; of wheat, 30 bushels; of oats, 40 bushels, and of rye, 35 bushels. An average crop per acre of corn is 40 bushels; of tobacco, 800 lbs.; of wheat, 20 bushels; of oats, 25 bushels, and of rye, 25 bushels.


John Summers, Aaron Summers, Johnson Wright, Allen Wright, Hezekiah Wright, Nathan Barrow, Daniel Barrow, Joshua Phipps and James Phipps, from Kentucky; Robert Grimes, from Virginia; Robert Elliott, Robert Elliot, Jr., William Cristal, Thomas Rice, A. R. Rice, William H. Rice, George Shipp and Owen Singleton, from Kentucky; John W. W. Sears, from Virginia; Philip Baxter, William Terry, Jonathan Cozac and E. H. Trimble, from Kentucky; John H. Hall, from Maine; William Rutherford and John McCully, from Kentucky; Mathias Turner, Joseph Turner and John M. Turner, from Tennessee; Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Mary Dawkins and Henry Griffith, from Kentucky; John M. Gates, Giles F. Cook and James Carter, from Virginia; James Lingo, Samuel Lingo, G. W. Harland, Isaac Harland and James Harland, from Tennessee; Hancock Jackson and William Sumpter, from Kentucky; Burchard McCormick, John Gaines and John Head, from Virginia; Thomas Roberts and ____ Chitwood, from Kentucky; James Holeman, Thomas Gillstrap and Thomas White; William Brogan an Henry Brogan, from North Carolina; ____ Black; Nathaniel Tuley, from Virginia; James Hinton, from North Carolina; Green Shelton and N. Tuttle, from Tennessee; William A. Hall and John H. Hall, from Maine; Dr. R. L. Grizard, from Tennessee; Dr. Stephen Richmond, from North Carolina; John Harland, Josiah Harland, Lee Harland Josiah Smith, Henry Smith, John Smith, James Smith, William Beard, Josiah Taylor, from Tennessee; William Redd, John Richmond Samuel Richmond, James M. Richmond, John Dameron and James Dameron, from North Carolina; ____ Pipes and William Pipes, from Kentucky; John Hix, Elliott R. Thomas, Henry Thomas, Lowden Thomas, ____ Haines, from Virginia; Bruce Stewart, Frances Terrell, Ned Stinson, John Wilks, Tyra Baker, Andrew Baker, Douglas Baker, Alfred McDaniel, Thomas Kirkpatrick, Ephriam Snell, Jordan Elliott, Perry Elliott, William Elliott, Jr., H. M. Rice, Joshua Rice, Bennett Rice, Yancey Gray, Mike McCully, John McCuley, Jr., Robert Turner, Elijah Turner, John Turner, Carroli Holman, John Godard, Samuel Turner, Bartlett Anderson, John R. Anderson, Crafford Powers, ____ Campbell, John Campbell, Thomas Campbell, William Edwards, James Lamb, Ashbury Summers, Thomas Egan, Benjamin Cozad, John Terrill, Caswell Smith, Grant Allan, Henry Johnson, George H. Hall, George W. Barnhart, and Silas Phipps.

The settlers above named located in the township before 1848.

One of the oldest settlers in the township was Judge Joseph Turner. He was born in North Carolina, in 1802, moved with his parents to Tennessee in 1815, was married in 1822, and moved to Missouri and entered the land on which he now resides, near Eldad church, in 1830. He was appointed justice of the peace before the township was organized, and had jurisdiction to the Iowa line. He held the office of justice of the peace until 1850. In 1861 he was appointed county court justice, was president of that body, and held the position nearly six years. When he first settled he had for neighbors Joseph Holman, George Epperly, Richard Blue and Asa Kirby. These were, perhaps, the first settlers on the west side of Dark's prairie. Richard Blue and Asa Kirby were the only heads of families then residing west of the Middle fork. Judge Turner lived in Chariton township 54 years at his present residence, where he raised a family of eight children, three boys and five girls, all now living, and most of them around him, except one son who died out West about 1877.

The only other survivor of those very early times, now living in the township, and a close neighbor of Judge Turner's, is John Richmond. He moved to Randolph county from Tennessee in 1830, and lived in Silver Creek township until the fall of 1832; when he entered 120 acres of land where he now lives, and built his cabin upon it in pioneer style. He has since increased his farm to 520 acres, and now occupies quite a commodious dwelling, built some 25 years ago. He is now in his 79th year, and has raised a family of six children, four boys and two girls, all now living. When he first came to the township, the first settlers of that neighborhood, already mentioned, had been increased by the addition of Yancey Gray, Mark Crabtree, Samuel Richmond, Josiah Smith, Henry Smith, James Lingo, Samuel Lingo, Isaac Harlan, John Withes, Andrew Baker, Tyree Baker, Jesse Miller, Thomas Kirkpatrick and Greenbury Shelton. Some of these made their settlements about the same time with Mr. Richmond. Among those who settled in his neighborhood soon after him, he remembers, Daniel Milam, John Gray, Jonathan Haynes, Thomas Brookes, John McCully and Madison Richmond. On the east side of Dark's prairie, south and east of the present site of Darksville, were living at that time (1832) Johnson Wright, John Waymire, Joseph Summers, Hodge England, and Pleasant and Nicholas Tuttle. With the last famed lived their father, a very aged man and a revolutionary soldier, whom our informant remembers to have seen on election and parade days surrounded by crowds listening to his account of the part he took in the War of Independence.

One of the most eccentric men that ever lived in the township was Johnson Wright. He was at first a minister of the gospel, but did not entirely agree in doctrine with any religious denomination, and we doubt if he ever belonged to any church. He sold his farm in Chariton township in 1837, and moved to Macon, which county he soon afterward represented in the State Legislature. He was in the habit of doing some things, which, although not considered immoral in themselves, were nevertheless thought to be unbecoming the character of a minister of the gospel. But he always justified himself by quotations from the scriptures, and by citing the example of some old patriarch who indulged in the same practices. Among other things, he was very fond of the game of euchre, and claimed that this, his favorite amusement, had the divine sanction, because he had seen the word "Eucharist" in the Bible. He returned to Chariton township about the year 1847, where he lived tili his death, some years after. Towards the latter part of his life some of his eccentricities were so absurd that most of his acquaintances considered him insane. He voted at the August election of 1850 at Huntsville, but his ballot contained only the name of "Jesus Christ for the office of Head of the Church." When it was suggested to him that Christ had been elected to that office over 1800 years ago, his reply was: "Well, if it has been that long it is time he was re-elected." His erratic notions on religious subjects culminated before his death in his deeding his farm to Christ (see deed in Chapter Ell.), upon the fancied consideration, no doubt, that he would be granted an equivalent interest in the happy land of Canaan. He was, withal, ode of the kindest of men, and had the friendship and regard of ali who knew him. He was several times married, and raised quite a family of children, some of whom and his widow, we believe, still live in Chariton township.

Among the strongest minded and most influential men of his day in that township was John M. Yates. He immigrated from Kentucky to Randolph county about 40 years ago, and after living a year or two in the southern part of the county, settled on Dark's prairie about the year 1835, and died on a farm adjoining the one he first settled in the year 1872. He was twice married and raised 15 children, 13 of his own and 2 step daughters. Most of them are still living in this and adjoining counties, among whom we can mention Mrs. George Chapman and Mrs. Hugh Trimble, of Dark's prairie; Mrs. John S. McCanne and Dr. Paul Yates, of Jacksonville; Mrs. Elijah Turner and Dr. William Yates, of Macon county, and Mrs. W. T. McCanne, of Moberly.

Mr. Yates was an uncle of the celebrated Richard Yates, once Governor of Illinois and U. S. Senator from that State, and was himself a man of much more than ordinary intelligence and soundness of judgment. Had he turned his attention to public life in his early manhood, and pursued it with the energy necessary to bringing out his great natural capabilities, he would have equaled, if not surpassed in eminence, his distinguished relative.

Judge William A. Hall was born and partly raised in the State of Maine. His father having been appointed to a position in the U. S. armory at Harper's Ferry, Va., he moved with his parents to that place, and when they moved to Chariton township, about the year 1839, he soon followed them, being then a young man nearly 25 years of age. About that time his father died, and he made his home with his widowed mother, although he kept his law office in Fayette, Mo., and for a short time edited a Democratic paper in that place. He made regular visits. to his mother's home in Chariton county whenever his professional duties would permit, and very often walked the entire distance of over thirty miles. He rapidly advanced to the front rank in his profession, and on the death of Judge Leland, which occurred about the year 1846, he was appointed by the Governor judge of this judicial circuit, a position to which he was continuously re-elected until 1861, when he was elected to represent the district of which Randolph was a part, in the U. S. Congress. About the time he was first appointed judge, he was married to Miss Octavia Sebree, a niece and adopted daughter of Uriel Sebree, a prominent citizen of Howard county. Soon after his marriage he settled on his farm, now known as the Broaddus farm, in Chariton township, where he remained until he removed to Huntsville in 1861, and the following year to a farm near that place.

In the winter of 1860-61, Judge Hall was chosen, with Gen. Sterling Price, to represent this senatorial district, then composed of Randolph and Chariton counties, in the State convention called by the Legislature to consider the relations between the State of Missouri and the general government, in view of the then impending crisis which threatened a disruption of the Union by the secession of the Southern States. In that convention he sided with the majority in favor of the State continuing her allegiance and loyalty to the Union, and during the war that followed remained a faithful and consistent Union man. By his conservative position and able management he did more to protect the Southern people of this county and State from military despotism and the lawless acts of an unrestrained soldiery, than any other man. And those who truly and fully appreciate the value of his services in those precious times, will long hold him in grateful remembrance. He was twice elected to Congress during the war, and at its close he resumed the practice of his profession at Huntsville, in which he continued until about 1874, when he improved another farm in the north west corner of Chariton township, where he resided in complete retirement from public life, in the bosom of his family and surrounded by his flocks and herds.

Among the most noted men, and the giant of Randolph county, who was raised in Chariton township and still resides there, is Thomas Gee. His weight is about 300 pounds, his height about 6 feet 4 inches, and his age between 35 and 40 years. His great weight is not altogether due to excess of flesh, but is attributable in a great measure to large bones and heavy muscles. Although he was nearly as large in 1861 as he is now, yet he enlisted in the Confederate army, marched on foot through the campaigns of four years, and surrendered at the close with the remnant of that band of heroes who fought it out to the bitter end. Accepting the situation, he returned to Chariton township, where be has lived ever since.

He takes great interest in politics, goes to Jefferson City whenever the Legislature sits and always gets some employment about the capitol during the session. He does up his work during the hours of adjournment, so as to have his leisure to spend in the House or Senate during the sittings. He always gives a barbecue or more on election years, which he gets up in good style, invites ali the candidates, and manages so as to have everybody in the neighborhood present. The candidate that has any hope at ali of getting the vote of Chariton township never thinks of missing one of Tom Gee's barbecues.

Stock fed at Thomas Hill post office in 1880:






William McCann





Brown & Sons





H. T. Lamb





Davie Connell





J. W. McCanne





J . H. Penney










1) Darksville takes its name from a creek called Dark creek. William Elliott was hunting in the township in 1821, and night overtaking him on the banks of a creek, he camped an night, and said that it was the darkest night he ever saw; hence the name, Dark creek.

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