History Surar Creek Township, Randolph County, Missouri (part 1)
From: History of Randolph and Macon Counties, Missouri
National Historic Company
St. Louis, 1884


This is one of the original municipal townships, and was organized in 1829. Its general shape is that of an L, a strip six miles long and two miles wide forming the lower extension of the letter, while a strip four miles wide and six and a half miles long composes the upper extension. The township contains about thirty six square miles. It has been much reduced from its original limits, other townships having been formed from it. The narrow strip of the township reaches to the eastern border of the county, while the greater body of land lies six miles west of that boundary. A large proportion of the terrritory is prairie, but there is abundance of timber for all the practical purposes of the farmer.

The "divide" runs through its territory in a north direction, in the eastern central portion of the township. The eastern part, therefore, contributes its waters to the Mississippi river, while the streams of the western part are tributary to the Missouri.

Among the earliest settlers having made their homes in the county before it was originated, were Reuben Cornelius, Benjamin Hardin, Malcom Galbreath and T. N. Galbreath. From the latter, now living in Prairie township, we learn that, in 1822, when he first settled there, and even at a much later period, elk, deer, bear, wild turkeys and grouse were abundant for game, while wolves, foxes, wild cats and panthers were numerous. Col. P. P. Ruby, T. P. White, John Hannah, Alexander Jones, John Grimes, Elijah Williams, Patrick Lynch, W. H. Baird and Eli Owens were among the early settlers.

Wild honey proved a profitable crop, and could be found with little labor. In 1823, or 1824, Mr. Whittenburg built a mill in the southeastern part of the county, and Mr. Goggin one within the present corporate limits of Huntsville. These were draught or horse mills, grinding corn alone. Previous to that meal was ground on hand mills or grated on graters prepared for the purpose. Little wheat flour was used, and what was consumed was brought from Old Franklin, more than forty miles distant.

The land is diversified with prairie and timber; comparatively little of it is so broken as to be unfit for cultivation, and all of it is adapted to grazing. The climate has undergone a great change within the recollection of those now living, and is much milder than a half century ago. Snows fell more frequently, and were deeper then than at the present time. The ground froze to a greater depth, but it was more easily cultivated than now. The summers have become warmer, and crops mature at an earlier date. Harvests that were gathered in July and August then are gathered now in June and July.

A piece of information given by some of our oldest citizens is important. In the early settlement of the county the native grasses held possession of the soil, and blue grass was unknown. When the lands were enclosed, and the trampling and grazing of stock had killed the native grass, blue grass began to make its appearance; showing that it is an indigenous growth in this soil, and neither cultivation nor grazing will destroy it.

The township settled up slowly, owing, in great part, to its remoteness even from local markets and the want of adequate transportation to foreign marts. The farmers fed their grain and grass to live stock, and depended upon the "drovers" to purchase their cattle, horses and hogs. After the construction of the North Missouri Railroad, settlements became more common, and since the close of the Civil War they have advanced rapidly. Within the last twelve year fully two thirds of the land now cultivated by farmers in Sugar Creek township has been prepared for the plow. Its growth since then has contrasted strangely with its tardy improvement in previous years. Farms have been opened in every direction, population has increased tenfold, manufactories have been established, and a new era has been inaugurated.

The creeks in this township are numerous, but as the land lies along the dividing ridge of eastern and western waters, these streams are,all small. They, however, supply abundance of water for the loose stock. In the absence of springs, farmers prepare with little labor convenient ponds, which, being once filled, are never empty until they become filled by the gradual washing of the soil. The character of the substratum is admirably adapted to such convenience, being a stiff clay that forms an almost solid bottom and a safe receptacle.

The variety of agricultural products is not surpassed by any other country in the world. While there are other lands that may produce one, two or even three crops in larger proportion, there are none that will yield so generous a harvest of such a great variety of productions. And this fact constitutes the chief charm of Central Missouri. To enumerate is only to repeat what has a thousand times been said: Corn, wheat, oats, barley, rye, flax, Hungarian grass, millet, clover, blue grass, apples, peaches, pears, quinces, and the smaller fruits and berries, potatoes, yams, artichokes, beets, all the vegetables for the kitchen garden, tobacco, and numerous other vegetable products, grow with proper culture, and give back ample remuneration for the toil of the husbandman.

Coal underlies a large area of the township. New and valuable mines have been and are constantly being opened. As the manufactories of Moberly and the demands of the railroads increase, these will be fully developed, making a valuable acquisition to the industries of the township and employing a large number of laborers. This trade is constantly increasing and must prove a source of large profit in the near future.

Within a comparatively short time, the school interests have received a new impetus. Schools are convenient to every part of the township, there being 11, including those in Moberly, within its limits. These are equal to the best common schools in any section of the country, and give instruction in all the rudimentary branches of education. For the pay of teachers the State furnishes a large fund to every organized district. The balance of the money needed for teachers, apparatus, library and conti gent expenses, is derived from taxation upon all the property of the district, nothing but churches and cemeteries being exempt.

The population will compare favorably for intelligence, morality, enterprise, hospitality, liberality and thrift, with that of the same number of people in any part of the Union. The population of the township is about 12,000, possibly more, no census having been taken for several years; this is but a fair estimate. They represent all sections of the Union, all political parties, all denominations of Christians in the West, a multitude of occupations and an aggregation of those higher qualities of manhood that give tone and character to a community. Every industrious immigrant is cordially greeted. The churches in the township, including those in Moberly, are 14 m number; besides which, the school houses are frequently used for religious meetings. There are few townships in Missouri where the number of houses of worship is in, such large proportion to the population.

As the manufactories are nearly all in the city of Moberly, we shall speak of them in connection with our review of its industries and business.

The average yield of land in Sugar Creek township is thus reported by farmers who have had a long experience: Corn, per acre, average crop, 25 bushels; good crop, 35 bushels; extra crop, 50 bushels. [When an unusually good season and extra cultivation and care on well prepared around have combined, these figures have been doubled]. Wheat, average crop, 15 bushels; good crop, 20 bushels; extra, 30 bushels. Oats, average, 30 bushels; good, 40 bushels; extra, 50 to 60 bushels. Rye, average, 40 bushels; good, 50 bushels; extra, 60 bushels. Tobacco, average, 1,200 pounds; good, 1,500 pounds; extra, 1,800 pounds. Timothy hay, average, 3,000 pounds; good, two tons.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to estimate, even approximately, the number of live stock shipped or exported from the township, as Moberly is not the only shipping point from which its products are sent, and many mules, horses and cattle are driven on foot to remote points. The aggregate is very large, and the returns to the farmers very remunerative.


But a few years ago, comparatively speaking, the present beautiful town site of Moberly was covered with wild grass, over which roamed at will the cattle of the neighboring farmers, who, at that time little dreamed that the unbroken quietude of the prairie range would soon be disturbed by the shrill whistle of the locomotive, the hum of machinery, and the din and noise of a busy and populous city. Almost at a single bound the bantling sprang into vigorous life, defying all opposition, and transcending the hopes of its most ardent friends, who looked and wondered, until the fair young city now looms up as one of the most remarkable and rapidly built monuments of Western pluck and Western energy to be found outside of the mining regions of the Rocky Mountains.


In 1858 a charter was granted to the Chariton and Randolph Railroad Company, with authority to construct a road from a point in Randolph county to Brunswick, in Chariton county. It was desirable that this road should tap the North Missouri road at the most convenient point for its construction, and what is now Moberly was fixed upon as the point of departure. The company laid off a town and drove up stakes marking the lots. The village of Allen, one mile north of where Moberly now stands, contained several houses, and was the shipping point for Huntsville and other points west. To induce the abandonment of this village, the Chariton and Randolph Company offered to all who would remove their houses to the new site the same amount of ground they owned and occupied in Allen. This was in the summer of 1861. But the inhabitants of Allen either had no confidence in the company's ability to build the road, or thought their own town better located, and destined in the future to beat its rival, which then existed only in name and on maps. From whatever cause, the proposition was rejected by the majority, and was accepted by only one person. Patrick Lynch, an Irishman, who still resides near the corporate limits of Moberly, had a small, one story frame house in Allen, and believing the junction would one day be the better point, he placed his domicile on rollers, took a yoke of oxen, and drew it down to what were then and still are lots 11 and 12 in block 12, fronting on Clark street, opposite to the Merchants' Hotel, and running east with Reed street to the alley between Clark and Sturgeon. The west end of these lots is now occupied as a grocery store by Messrs. Hearty.

This was the beginning of Moberly. The land around was a prairie, without fence or enclosure of any kind, and here Pat Lynch lived with his family, solitary and alone. The Allenites laughed at him, but he stuck to his contract and stayed. The Civil War puts temporary embargo upon town building, and Patrick concluded to profit by his lonely position. He plowed up the stakes set to mark the lots, and cultivated the land on the west side of the railroad, where the business houses of Moberly now stand. Nothing was done toward the further sale of lots by the Chariton and Randolph Railroad Company, and Pat continued to occupy the place and "hold the fort" during the continuance of the war, unmolested by soldiers.

When business began to revive after the cessation of hostilities, the franchises and property of the Chariton and Randolph Railroad Company passed into the hands of the North Missouri Railroad Company, and the project of building the road and extending it to Kansas City was renewed. At the head of that company was Isaac M. Sturgeon, of St. Louis, a practical business man of eminent ability and forecast, and endowed with an indomitable spirit of energy and enterprise.

Having determined to complete the extension to Kansas City, it seemed to be certain that a large town would grow up somewhere about midway between the eastern and western termini of the road. The junction of the north end with the western branch seemed to offer a good opportunity to lay out and establish such a place. Moberly was, therefore, resurveyed, and a sale of lots was advertised to take place on the grounds September 27, 1866. In the first map of the place, issued by the auctioneers, Messrs. Barlow, Valle & Bush, of St. Louis, machine shop grounds were indicated and the picture of a house, somewhat resembling a southern cotton gin, combined with a Kentucky rope walk, was sketched on its face. The terms of sale were one third cash when the deed was ready, one third in one year and one third in two years, with interest at the rate of six per cent on deferred payments - $10 on each lot to be paid at the time of bidding. The sale was pretty largely attended and lots sold at fair prices. The lot on which the Merchants' Hotel now stands was sold for $150, and some other lots brought prices ranging from $85 to $125. The average price of lots at this sale was between $45 and $50. Before the sale began, Mr. Sturgeon ordered that lots 11 and 12, in block 12, be marked off to Patrick Lynch and a deed to them be made, he to pay $1 as recorder's fee. This, as Mr. Sturgeon said, was in consideration of the fact that Pat had "held the city daring the war without the loss of a life or a house." Among the purchasers at that sale, who now live in Moberly, were Wm. H. Robinson, O. F. Chandler, Dr. C. J. Tannehill, Elijah Williams, John Grimes, Ernest. Miller, C. Otto, J. G. Zahn, Patrick Lynch and others, perhaps, whose names we have not leaned.

Immediately after the sale S. P. Tate began the construction of a hotel on the south west corner of Clark and Reed streets. The structure was a two story frame. John Grimes also began the building of a hotel on Sturgeon street, which, being completed before Tate's, is the first house ever built in Moberly. It is the American Hotel, near the corner of Sturgeon and Rollins streets, and now occupied by Martin Curry, as a hosteirie. Messrs. Chandler, Otto, Robinson, Miller, McDaniel and other parties followed in rapid succession, and the noise of hammer and saw was heard everywhere along Clark, Reed, Sturgeon and Coates streets.

Mr. Adam Given, now of the banking house of Avery, Woolfolk & Co., owned a horse mill and sawed the lumber for the first house erected in Moberly. The house is still standing.

The original plat of the town embraced four blocks north of Franklin street and bounded on the north by the lands of the railroad company; five blocks and five half blocks on the west side of the railroad, from Wightman street on the south to the railroad lands on the north, and from Sturgeon street on the east to the alley between Clark and Williams streets on the west; and also fourteen blocks on the east side of the railroad, from Sturgeon to Morley, and from Wightman street to the township road on the north. At the first sale no lots on the east side of the railroad were disposed of, and the new buildings were erected on the west side. The first brick house built in Moberly was the dwelling which stands on the south west corner of Coates and Williams streets, erected by Perry McDonald. In the fall of 1867, another sale took place, at which a large number of lots on the east side were sold, and the work of extending the area of the city began. This sale also attracted many bidders, as live men had begun to appreciate the value of the location as a business point.

Since then many additions have been made, and the territory of the city has been vastly extended, the old limits being gradually filled with business houses and dwellings, the population steadily advancing, and the permanency of the location becoming every year more and more assured. The wooden structures at first built gave way to more substantial and stylish brick edifices, the frame hotels and wooden store rooms were superseded by commodious and solid walls, and the small one roomed dwellings were moved to the rear to make room for larger and more imposing buildings.

As a matter of history we record the names of the first dealers in the leading lines of trade: Dry goods, Tate & Bennett; drugs, O. F. Chandler,; groceries, - Lampton, who was immediately succeeded by Martin Howlett; hardware, William Seelen; furniture, H. H. Forcht, and, immediately after, J. G. Zahn, both houses being owned by E. H. Petering; lumber, sash, doors and blinds, H. H. Forcht for E. H. Petering; jewelry, John N. Bring; livery, White Bros.; clothing, Levy & Krailsheimer; boots and shoes, L. Brandt; butcher, Henry Overherg; barber, O. N. Kaare.

The first officers of the town were: Trustees, A. T. Franklin, president; Chas. Tisue, L. Brandt, Asa Bennett and William Seelen; marshal, Martin Howlett; justice of the peace, E. Shiner; constable, Chas. Featherston; notary public, W. E. Grimes; postmaster, Chas. Tisue, who was also agent of the Merchants' Union Express Company.

Up to 1873, the year of the great panic, the amount of building and the increase of business were sufficient to justify the assumption of the now popular sobriquet of the "Magic City." Mining districts have sometimes gathered larger populations in shorter time, but they have not carried with them the evidences of solidity and stability that marked the growth of Moberly. But the panic placed a temporary check upon the spirit of speculation and enterprise. It checked, but did not stay the progress of the town. Even under the most discoursing circumstances the work of extension was continued, and if there were fewer buildings erected than in previous years, still the citizens and property holders had unfaltering faith in the future of Moberly, and continued to build as the wants of the place demanded. Meantime Moberly had grown from a place on paper to a smart village, from a village to a town, from a town to a city.

On the 6th of June, 1868, the first board of trustees met, chose A. T. Franklin chairman, and appointed the chairman and C. Tissue to draft bylaws and ordinances. At a meeting of the board June 14, 1869, a resolution was passed offering one of three tracts of land to the North Missouri Railroad as a site for the location of the machine shops, the ground and its appurtenances to be exempt from city taxes so long as they were used for that purpose. These tracts were the Concannton farm, 67 acres, northwest of town; a portion (60 acres) of the farms of Grimes and Meals, north of town; a portion (60 acres) of the Hunt and Godfrey farm south of town. J. D. Werden was appointed agent of the town to confer with the directors of the railroad. On the 20th of August the purchasing committee reported that James Meals offered to sell near six acres along the West Branch Railroad at $200 per acre, and the remaining portion north of said strip and including the ground his house is on, extending north to the north line of the land known as the reservoir land, at $500 per acre." No action was taken by the board on this liberal proposition, but an election was ordered for August 31, 1869, to take the sense of the voters as to whether a tract of 100 acres, to cost not exceeding $12,000, should be bought for machine shop purposes. At this election T. B. Porter, B. Y. N. Clarkson and Josiah Harlan were judges. At a meeting on the 4th of September, A. F. Bunker was appointed a committee of one to close the contract with the railroad company for the location of the machine shops.

Quite a panic was created in the fall of 1869 by the appearance here of a malignant form of small pox, and the town incurred heavy expense in caring for the patients and taking precautionary measures against the spread of the disease. On the 27th of June, 1870, another vote was taken to determine whether the town would purchase a tract of 104 acres of ground lying north and west of town for the machine shops. The result of this election is not recorded, but it was held to have been unlawful, having been held on Monday. A new election was ordered for August 2, 1870. This election showed perfect unanimity on the subject of the purchase, as there was not a dissenting voice; and at a meeting of the board of trustees on the 4th of August, 20 bonds of the denomination of $1,000 each were ordered to be printed.

At a meeting held August 19, 1870, William Seelen was required, in addition to his duties as vice president of the board, to "hear and try all cases for the violation of the city ordinances," and on the 7th of October he was appointed to purchase six street lamps. The bond of the town collector was fixed at $4,000; but in 1871 it was raised to $10,000, showing a hundred and fifty per cent increase in the revenue within two years. On the 24th of August, 1871, the president of the board was authorized to borrow "such a sum of money as he may be able to obtain at 15 per cent interest for the longest time he can get said money, for the improvement of the streets of Moberly," for which the bonds of the town were to be issued. On the 13th of November, 1871, the proposition to donate money to the North Missouri Railroad Company for machine shops was renewed. On the 21st of March, 1871, the board of trustees accepted the proposition of Dr. C. J. Tannehill to donate the block on which the public school building now stands as a public park. On the 25th of the same month, an election was held to determine whether the city should purchase and donate to the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railroad Company 200 acres of land lying between the west branch and the main line, for the erection of machine shops. The election resulted favorably, the board of trustees proposed to donate this land, also 618 acres one and a half miles west of that tract, and exempt the whole for twenty years from all city taxes. Another inducement held out was that the land thus given contained an inexhaustible bed of coal. Hon. William A. Hall was appointed the agent of the town to present the proposition. The contract was subsequently made and was ratified by the trustees of Moberly April 2, 1872.

At a meeting of the board on the 3d of April, 1872, W. F. Barrows was appointed to contract for the lithographing of seventy bonds of the denomination of $500 each, bearing 10 per cent interest, and amounting in the aggregate to $35,000, payable in 10 years. He was also empowered to sell these bonds without limitation as to price. At the same time a special election was ordered to take place May 10, 1872, to determine whether the town would purchase 818 acres of land for the car shops. The election resulted in favor of the purchase by a vote of 299 for, to 4 against it, and bonds to the amount of $27,000 were ordered to be issued. On the 26th of August, same year, right of way was granted to the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway Company to construct their road the entire length of Moulton street, and across "any other street in said town."

An election was held February 1, 1873, to ascertain "whether a majority of the citizens of the town are in favor of having the town of Moberly incorporated under a special charter by act of the Legislature," J. T. Young, J. H. Burkholder, H. M. Porter, B. Y. N. Clarkson and T. P. White having been appointed in the preceding December to draft the charter. This election resulted in favor of the charter, and T. P. White was appointed to go to Jefferson City in the interest of the town. On the 5th of March, a legislative delegation visited Moberly and a supper was given them by the city, which cost $272.

The first election under the charter granted by the Legislature was held April 8, 1873, and resulted as follows: T. P. White, mayor; councilman at large, C. P. Apgar; councilmen: First ward, H. C Moss; Second ward, William Seelen; Third ward, D. H. Fitch and B. R. White. Clerk, C. B. Bodes. At that election, also, it was decided to fund the debt of the town, under the general law, by a vote of 509 to 4. The bonds of the city were ordered by the first council to be of the denomination of $500 each, to be issued to W. F. Barrows or hearer, payable 10 years after date, redeemable at option of the city after five years, with ten per cent interest payable semi annually. The bonds authorized to be issued amounted to $30,000.

The mayors of the city, from its organization to the present time, have been T. P. White, 1873-4; J. H. Burkholder, 1874-5; W. L. Durbin, 1875-6; J. C. Hiekerson, 1876-7 and 1877-8; W. T. MeCanne 1878-9; J. H. Burkholder, 1879-80; George L. Hassett, in 1860-1; P. J. Carmody, 1881-2; Daniel S. Forney, 1883. Present city officers and councilmen are: City attorney, W. S. Sandford; recorder, D. A. Coates; clerk, Charles L. Hunn; collector, Joseph B. Davis; marshal, George Keating; treasurer, C. P. Apgar. Councilmen, W. Chisholm, J. A. Camplin, E. H. Mix, M. A. Hays, W. M. Coyle, Norris Tuttle. During these years the population of the city has largely increased, elegant business houses, hotels, public school buildings and private residences have been erected, and all the appliances of a young and vigorous city have been added. The Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad has been completed through the limits of the city and railroad transportation to any part of the country is easily obtained.

November 1, 1883, the Board of Trade of Moberly published a paper called the Moberly Board of Trade Review, and as the industries, manufactories, enterprises and business interests of the city have been admirably classified and concisely treated of under their proper headings, in that paper, we take from it the following extracts: -


As the permanency and prosperity of Moberly depend almost wholly upon the railroads centering here or contributing to her commercial growth, as they furnish the only means of transporting our products to distant markets, we mention them first in order. Taking Moberly as a center, the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railroad extends eastward to St. Louis and westward to Kansas City, Mo. At these points connection is made with the great trunk lines leading to the Atlantic seaboard on one side and the Pacific coast on the other. Moberly is the central point between the two places, is the terminus of one and the beginning of another division and is the point at which all repairs are made, all engines are manufactured and all cars are built. The Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific is one of the leading roads in Missouri, and its tonnage during the year shows a traffic second to no western road. Four mails daily pass over this route.

Stretching north westerly from Moberly, also, is the Omaha branch of the Wabash, terminating at Omaha, Nebraska, and there connecting with the Union Pacific, with which it is closely allied. A very large proportion of the California trade and travel passes over this branch, and as this is one of the termini, much of the freight is handled at this point. These two roads cross a number of lines running north and south through Missouri, which thus become valuable feeders from the northern portion of the state.

Northward from Moberly a road extends to Ottumwa, Iowa, and connects with the Iowa and Minnesota systems. It crosses several important east and west lines, furnishing direct communication with north eastern and north western Missouri and all of Iowa and Minnesota. Two mails arrive daily from them north.

The Kansas and Texas branch of the Missouri Pacific Railway runs north easterly to Hannibal and there connects with roads running northward through Keokuk and Burlington, Iowa, and north easterly to Chicago. Two trains daily leave Moberly for Chicago and two arrive from that point, besides a number of freight trains.

South westerly this road traverses South west Missouri, South east Kansas and the Indian Territory and enters Texas at Denison. It crosses the Chicago and Alton at Higbee, Randolph county, Missouri, the Missouri Pacific at Sedalia and the St. Louis and San Francisco at Vinita, I. T. It is part of the great consolidated South western system and connects with the main lines of Texas.

Numerous branches from all these roads tap the richest agricultural and mining lands in the West. Thus Moberly is in close proximity to the cotton fields of Texas, the lead mines of South west Missouri, the iron mines of South east Missouri and the grain fields of the whole trans Mississippi Valley. It is on the direct line of travel between New York and San Francisco; it is located on one of the railroads that carries the products of the great South west to the great St. Louis, Chicago and eastern markets. It stretches its iron arms into remote territories and enables the manufacturer to ship his 'Wares direct from this point to almost every prominent place on the continent, and especially to the thriving towns and villages of the West. Its facilities for transportation are, therefore, unsurpassed. Other railroads are talked of, but even with those already built the advantages are better than those of any other town in the interior of Missouri.

As an evidence of the growing importance of these roads, we give below a statement of the passenger and freight business during the periods indicated: -
The number and value of passenger tickets sold at this point for the last three years is as follows:-

1882, No. tickets sold,



1882, No. tickets sold,



1853, (9 mos. to Sep. 30)



Allowing that the last three months of 1883 will averaged with the first nine (and they more than did so), the number of tickets sold during the year will reach 45,861 and the receipts will be $113,722.73, an increase over the previous year of nearly seventeen per cent, and over the year 1882 over twenty eight per cent.

Comparing the freight received and forwarded in 1882 and 1883, the increase is still more marked. The receipts for freight during the month of August, 1882, were 9,675.53, during the mouth of August, 1883, $11,988.55 - an increase of $2,313.02, or nearly twenty four per cent. The receipts of September, 1882, were, $9,981.03; for September, 1883, $15,352.17 - an increase of $5,371.14, or nearly fifty four per cent. The tonnage of freight forwarded by the Wabash for the first five months of 1879 was 7,531,130 pounds; while for the single month of August, 1883, it was 6,378,670 pounds. The cash receipts on freight for the same periods were, January 1 to June 1, 1879, $17,509.28; for the single month of September, 1883, the receipts were $15,352.17.

We have given these figures as a slight indication of the rapid and steady growth of the city of Moberly.

These roads are all equipped with an abundance of the finest rolling stock palace coaches, sleeping cars, freight and stock cars, magnificent engines and all the needful vehicles for the transportation of the products of our orchards, fields and mines. Thus these roads are continually pouring through our city a flood of cars laden with the silks and teas of China and Japan, the wines and fruits of California, the gold and silver of Colorado and the western territories, the wheat and corn of Kansas, Nebraska and Western Missouri, the cotton, grain, cattle and horses of Texas, the manufactured goods of New England, the agricultural machinery and other products of States farther east, and the lumber from the pineries of the North.


By large donations of land, the city secured the location here of the immense machine shops of what is now the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway. They are located on a tract of 218 acres of land lying in the northern limits of the city, though the company owns over 800 acres in the immediate vicinity of the shops. Under the contract between the railroad company and the city these shops cannot be removed, but must ever be the main shops of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway and its successors. Even the forfeiture of the land donated would not release the company from the contract, and as immense buildings have been erected they will ever remain a prominent and permanent feature of the manufacturing interests of Moberly.

Everything connected with a railroad, except the rails and wheels, are here manufactured. Engines, coaches, passenger, freight and stock cars, velocipedes, cabooses and everything that moves on the track are made. Here, too, the bridges, station houses and boarding "shanties" of the road are built and shipped wherever needed.

The water necessary for all this work is derived from a lake covering several acres of ground and measuring about 20 feet in depth in the deepest parts. The lake is fed and maintained by small rivulets that prevail during the spring and fall seasons, and affords an abundance of water all the year round for every demand of the car and machine shops.

From 650 to 900 men are constantly employed in building engines and constructing coaches and cars. They form a part of the permanent citizenship of the place. Many of them have acquired property since they came here, and own their homes. For industry, intelligence, integrity and sobriety, they will compare favorably with the same number of men in any department of business or in any profession. Their large library, located in the office building on the shop rounds, and containing over 1,000 volumes, is evidence that they are actuated by high moral principles and superior intelligence. They are skilled workmen, and the products of these shops are not excelled by those of any similar manufactory in the Union. Whether in the production of engines, sleeping, dining, passenger, baggage, or freight cars, the work is a model of completeness and excellence. In the brass and iron foundries, the boiler shops, the forges, and the woodwork department, only the finest and most costly machinery is used. The fuel necessary to carry on this vast work amounts to about 1,000 tons of coal and 100 cords of wood monthly. This fuel is obtained in this immediate vicinity, and thus aids in the establishment of other industries.


As previously stated, the entire county is underlaid with valuable beds of coal. At Renick, six miles south of Moberly, several shafts have been sunk and beds of coal of great thickness and wonderful heating power have been worked for several years. West of Moberly, between this city and Huntsville, three or four mines have been opened on the line of railroad, giving employment to hundreds of miners and affording an excellent quality of fuel.

Three fourths of a mile north west of this city, and connected with it by a branch railroad, is the Williams mine, opened a short time ago. The depth of the shaft is 115 feet. The coal is found in layers of from four to four and a half feet in thickness. The mine is absolutely free from water, and the coal is perfectly dry. Its heating capacity is equal to that of the best coal of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and for making steam is unsurpassed by that of any other mine. Owing to want of capital, the proprietor has not been able to develop the bed, and is at present only working about 30 hands and taking out from 40 to 50 tons per day. He has a lease on 210 acres, but the lead may be extended for miles.

In the north eastern part of the city, and just beside the railroad, Timothy Collins has sunk a shaft to the depth of 256 feet, and found a bed of coal ranging in thickness from two feet to four feet two inches. This mine has not been fully developed, but arrangements are being made to work it thoroughly.

Other mines will be opened in time, but it requires an amount of capital which our people find it practically impossible to command at present. The market for all this mineral is as extensive as could be desired. Already miners are shipping their products northward to Iowa, westward to Kansas and Nebraska, southward to Arkansas, and eastward till it comes in contact with the mines in Illinois. It is furnished on flats the year round for $1.75 per ton. There are thousands of acres of it, and many years must elapse, even should manufactories be multiplied many fold, before the mines could be even partially exhausted.


Moberly can boast of grist mills which, if not so extensive as those of other cities, are at least equal to the best in the quality and character of their products. Located in the eastern part of the city are the Moberly Flouring Mills of Messrs. Simon Bros. They were erected in 1874 at a cost of $22,000; but since coming into the possession of the present proprietors, they have been enlarged at heavy cost, and greatly increased in capacity. They have ten sets of rollers in fact, all of the most modern improved machinery of a complete roller mill for the manufacture of new or patent process flour. They are 40x40 feet, four stories high, with a brick engine and boiler house 20x50 feet. There is warehouse capacity for 15,000 bushels of wheat, and storage for 1,000 barrels of flour, and 100,000 pounds of bran.

The wheat used is largely obtained from this immediate vicinity, the proprietors claiming that the finest flour in the market is made from the wheat grown in Randolph and adjacent counties. The products of these mills are sold along the line of the various railroads, reaching far into Iowa on the north, New York and Boston on the east, and North eastern and Central Texas. The present capacity of the mills is 140 barrels per day, but they are so arranged as to be susceptible of great extention at comparatively little cost. The proprietors manufactured during the past year 7,000,000 pounds, or 35,000 barrels of flour, all of which has found ready sale for cash at remunerative prices, besides a large amount exchanged with farmers for wheat. The flour made is equal to the best brands manufactured elsewhere, and will command a premium in almost any market.

In close proximity to the Union depot, and almost in the heart of the city, is another mill, also erected in 1874, to which is added wool carding machinery. It has recently been enlarged and improved, and now supplies the best quality of bolted meal to all the surrounding country. It is under the management of William Radell, an experienced miller, and has secured a large and constantly growing trade.

Very recently a company has been formed in Moberly for the erection of a large merchant mill near one of the railroads, in connecnection with which an elevator will be built.


Fully $25,000 worth of agricultural implements, such as mowers, reapers, threshers, cultivators, riding and walking plows, harrows, rakes, stackers, planters, etc., are annually sold in this city. Nearly all this machinery is manufactured abroad; not because we have not the necessary materials cheaper and more convenient than they are ordinarily found, but because a want of capital has prevented our citizens from engaging in such enterprises. The very timber that grows in our forests is shipped to distant points, to come back to us or to go into States and Territories still farther west, in the shape of completed tools and implements. While this work is being done elsewhere, our beds of coal lie only partially explored, and scarcely at all developed. With beds of fine coal three and a half to five feet or more in thickness, with easy, speedy and cheap transportation from the iron fields of Missouri, and with great forests of as fine timber as was ever worked into shape, we have no manufactories of importance, simply because we have not a surplus capital that may be taken from the ordinary occupations of our people and invested in such enterprises.

The demand for every kind of agricultural implements is daily increasing. Farare annually multiplying all around us, while the vast prairies of Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming are peopled with adventurous spirits whose demands for all improved farming machinery must he supplied from the timber, iron and coal fields of Missouri. Farming is no longer an experiment, it is a science which is rapidly developing into a fine art, and it will require a vast outlay of capital and the employment of a large amount of skilled labor to furnish the plows, rakes, harrows and other implements of the Western farmers for ages to come. No better point can be found in the State of Missouri than the city of Moberly for the establishment of these manufactories, and he who first occupies the field has a positive assurance of gain.


While our forests abound in maple, ash, cherry, oak, walnut, syncamore, and other woods suitable for making furniture for the entire West, there is scarcely a single article of household economy that is not shipped here from abroad. Chairs, tables, stands, bedsteads, bureaus, etc., whether of fine or common material, are all imported, and that, too, from places which are destitute of the facilities we possess. As the great tide of emigration sets westward, and the territories every year become more densely peopled, new fields are opened up for the sale of such wares. The nearer the manufacturer can get to the market the cheaper his goods can he supplied to consumers, as the cost of transportation is lessened. Here is a boundless territory rapidly becoming an empire, not only in extent, but in population and wealth. The country west of Missouri affords no facilities for the production of this class of manufactures, as the land is barren of forests and possesses only scattered and stunted trees. The market for furniture of all kinds is constantly increasing in its demands. The investment of capital in the city of Moberly in this branch of industry, cannot be otherwise than profitable to the investor.

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