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


Prairie township lies in the south eastern corner of Randolph county. It is the largest township in the county, and has an area of about 88 square miles. The amount of prairie and timber land is about the same. As the township is bounded on two sides by Monroe, Audrain, Boone and Howard counties - counties that stand in the front rank as to soil, productions, population and wealth, it may justly be inferred that Prairie is in the front rank of townships, and is settled by a progressive and prosperous people. The soil is a black loam with substratum of clay. The land has an undulating surface, drains itself readily in seasons of protracted rainfall, and retains sufficient moisture for the sustenation of vegetation in periods of protracted drouth.

It is watered by the tributaries of Salt river on the north and east sides of the " divide," and by Perche and the tributaries of Moniteau river on the south west. These streams take their rise within its territory, but before they leave it, form large, deep creeks that contain water during the entire year, however dry the season. The smaller streams being numerous, supply stock water for every part of the district, as well as moisture to the air in the hot months of summer. Wells and cisterns are relied upon for domestic use and are easily and cheaply made. Ponds dug in the clay hold like a jug, and are frequently employed by farmers in fields and pastures through which no streams run. A few days' work, with teams, plows and scrapers, will dig a pond of sufficient size to water a hundred head of stock for seven to ten years before cleansing is necessary. The timber of Prairie is good, embracing several kinds of oak, hickory, walnut, honeylocust, elm, hackberry, etc. When the white oak timber is removed the land makes the best tobacco ground used; hickory land is the strongest, and walnut, elm, honey locust and pawpaw the richest and most productive. Coal is abundant throughout the district, and some mines near Renick are successfully and largely worked.

It is often the case in the east that coal lands are unfit for anything but coal, but such is not the case in Missouri. Land overlying coal beds is frequently as rich and productive as any other land in the country, and this is peculiarly the case in Prairie township.

There are five churches in this township, the Baptist, Methodist and Christian denominations being the most numerously represented. Every school district is organized, and all have comfortable and convenient houses, with modern appliances. The principal products are grain, grasses and live stock. The number of cattle and hogs sold annually is very large, and the annual sale of wool reaches $25,000. The average yield of corn per acre is 25 bushels, extra 60 bushels; wheat 15 bushels, extra 30 bushels; oats 40 bushels, extra 60 bushels; tobacco 1,000 pounds. Hay sure crop; average yield per acre 11/2 ton. Over two thirds of the township is in cultivation, which includes all of the prairie and part of the timber.


Among the old settlers of this township were John Hamilton, James Martin, R. P. Martin, Mrs. Chisham, William Butler, Joel Hubbard, Rice Alexander, Hugh C. Collins, Dr. Presley T. Oliver, Jackson Dickerson, Joseph Davis, Moses KigimbroughAaron Kimbrough, Thomas Kimbrough, A. Hendrix, Benjamin Hardin, Asa K. Hubbard, Presly Shirley, Jeremiah Bunnel, Thomas StoSanderson S. Christian Granderson Brooks, Archibald Goin, May Burton, John Sorrell, Henry Burnham William Croswhite, John Kimbrough, Bluford Robinson, Wiley Marshall, A. W. Lane, Durett Bruce, Reuben Samuel and Joseph Wilcox.

Nearly all of the above named pioneers were from Kentucky, and many of these men were great hunters, notably so Davis, Uriah Bruce, Joe Davis, Cy Davis,Uriah Davis, H. C. Collins, John Sorrell and James Martin. The latter in his early manhood was very athletic, and is probably the only man who ever caught an unwounded deer by ranning after it on foot, and an unwounded wild turkey by climbing a tree. Durett Bruce, who came to the township in 1837, is the oldest man now living in Randolph county. He was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, eight miles south of Lexington, March 1st, 1789, and was, therefore, 95 years old March 1st, 1884. His father's name was Benjamin Bruce; he was a native of Scotland, and a kinsman of Robert Bruce, one of the Scottish chiefs, whose deeds of bravery and feats of manhood have been immortalized by the incomparable pen of Jane Porter.

Mr. Bruce married Miss Sarah Stephens, daughter of Col. Stephens, April 13th, 1813. In 1834, October 10th, he came to Boone county, Missouri, and after raising two crops, he settled in Randolph county. Hearing that the wolves were numerous, and very destructive to sheep, he brought with him to the county 15 sheep, 18 hounds, and a cur dog, and was never annoyed by wolves after his arrival. He was in the War of 1812, and served under Gen. William H. Harrison six months, and Gen. McArthur four mouths, near Lake Superior.

In early life Mr. Bruce was apprenticed to the trade of locksmith, a pursuit which he now follows, notwithstanding he has nearly reached the ninety fifth mile stone in the journey of his life. In 1869 he located in the then new town of Moberly, where he has since resided.

We hope that the brittle thread of life may be yet lengthened out to the old man many spans, and that by and by it may be said of him:-

"Of no distemper, of no blast he died,
But fell like autumn fruit that mellowed long,
Even wondered at, because he dropt no sooner.
Fate seemed to wind whim up for four score years,
Yet ran he en for twenty winters more;
Till, like a clock, worn out with eating time,
The wheels of weary life at last stood still."

The first mill was owned by Jesse Jones, and was located about three miles south west of Renick. The first church edifice in the township was called Dover church, and was occupied by different denominations. The first school was taught by Col. John M. Bean, a Kentuckian, at a place called Oak Point. Lynch Turner was the first officiating minister of the Gospel.

Elliott, about two miles west of Renick, is a mining town, containing about 200 inhabitants. It has a post office, store, etc.

Shafton, about two miles south of Renick, on the Chicago and Alton Railroad, is also a mining town, and has a population of about 200.

Clark's Switch, about six miles east of Renick, at the crossing of the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railroad and the Chicago and Alton Railroad, has a post office, blacksmith shop, store, and other establishments.


Renick, the most important town in the township, was located in 1856, after the North Missouri Railroad had become an established institution. It is situated on a high rolling prairie, on the " Grand Divide," the waters on the east side of the town flowing to the Mississippi, and those on the west side to the Missouri. The St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railroad passes diagonally through the town, the depot being convenient to the business portion of it. It lies six miles south by east of Moberly, and contains a population of about 700. Its citizens are a thorough going and enterprising people. It has one large church edifice, which is used by the Methodist, Baptist and Christian denominations. Renick rejoices in having the finest public school building outside of Moberly in the county. The only other public building of any importance is the Masonic Hall, which is an elegant and attractive edifice. There is also a Good Templar and public hall.

There is located in the town a large custom and merchant mill. One or two coal mines are in operation near the place, giving employment to a number of hands, and working a four foot vein. The coal is used extensively by the railroads, and large quantities are exported. Three times has the business portion of the town been desolated by Ere, and at one time, during the great Civil War, nearly all the houses in the town were destroyed. But the public spirit and enterprise of the citizens were equal to the emergency, and it is today a better town than ever before.

It is a great shipping point for live stock of all kinds.


Masonic Lodge, NO. 186. - Was organized October 19, 1867, with the following charter members: G. A. Settle, A. E. Grubb, S. A. Mitchell, James Hardin, Benjamin Terrill, J. R. Alexander, R. Davis, T. Y. Martin, R. P. Martin, J. Y. Coates, S. S. Elliott, William Butler, G. R. Christian.

Lodge No. 225, A. O. U. W. - Was organized November 11, 1881. The charter members were J. M. Williams, Dr. S. M. Forrest, A. N. Maupin, R. W. Hatton, J. W. McDonald, J. D. Waters, D. A. King, T. T. Grant, J. J. Butler, O. Morton, D. W. Osborne, A. Butler, J. A. Mitchell, J. II. Littrell, J. B. Martin, B. H. Ashcomb, J. J. Hubbard, J. B. Brooks, W. N. Clifton, it R. Jackson, A. H. Shearer, W. H. Deer, A. Greenland, S. W. Terman, S. E. Keemer.


Nine general stores, one wagon shop, two blacksmiths, one paint shop, one lumber yard, one harness shop, one hotel, one livery stable, two saloons, and two butcher shops, are in Renick.

Clay Thompson, who came from Kentucky about the year 1856, erected the first house in the town; he also opened the first business house and hotel. William H. Marshall was the first blacksmith, Peter Hoernan the first shoemaker. William B. McLean was the first physician in that region of country.

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