History of Washington Township, Johnson County, Missouri
From: History of Johnson County, Missouri
By: Ewing Cockrell
Historical Publishing Company
Topeka - Cleveland 1918


Washington was one of the first four townships of the county and originally comprised approximately the northeast quarter of the county. It was organized May 4, 1835. It was named for George Washington.

Geography and Soils. - Area. 45 square miles, or 28,800 acres. Geographically and according to the United States Department of Agriculture's Soil Survey of 1914, Washington township is composed of a fairly solid area of gray soil (Oswego silt loam) in the southeast half, a mile wide strip of "sandy" soil ( Boone silt loam) along the west side and patches of different soils in the northeast.

These soils in detail are:

Oswego silt loam, upland, about 16 1/2 square miles or 38 per cent. of the township; a gray, rather compact level lying soil. It lies in a large body in the southeast.

Boone silt loam, upland, 14 square miles or about 30 per cent. It lies chiefly along Clear Fork creek in the west and in a strip one quarter to one half mile wide along Walnut headwaters in the northeast.

Summit silt loam, "black limestone" soil, about 6 square miles or 14 per cent. It composes chiefly the smoother upland on both sides of and one-half to three quarters mile back from Walnut creek in the northeast, and also in an irregular patch about a half mile wide and two miles long, extending southwesterly from a point about half a mile east of Knob Noster to a point about a half mile south of town.

Bates silt loam, upland, dark gray-brown soil, about 4 square miles or 9 per cent. This lies chiefly in irregular patches of three quarters square mile in area between the sandy upland next to -Walnut bottom and the black limestone soil farther back.

Cherokee silt loam, upland, light-brown soil, reemhling the Oswego silt loam, about two and a quarter square miles or 5 per cent. It lies chiefly along Muddy creek in the southeast.

Osage silt loam, ordinary bottom. about one square mile or 2 per cent.; lies along Walnut and Clear Fork creeks. The smallest proportion of bottom land of any township in the county.

Robertsville silt loam, gray second bottom soil, about three quarters square mile or 1 1/4 per cent. This lies chiefly in a strip about one half mile wide immediately north of the Missouri Pacific railroad on the east side of Clear Fork and immediately adjoining the first bottom. It runs north from the railroad about two miles and south about one mile, gradually narrowing in both directions.

Boone gravelly loam, more sand than Boone silt loam; about one-half square mile or three-quarters per cent. It is in a patch one mile west of Knob Noster, close to railroad, on the south.

Of the foregoing, the Summit silt loam is ranked as one of the best three common upland soils in the county, with the Bates silt loam next.

For further soil details, see chapters on Agriculture and Soils.

Knob Noster. - One of the unusual physical features of the township is what is known as the Knobs, two prominent knolls located just north of the town of Knob Noster, from which the town derived its name. They both rise a considerable height above the surrounding country. Much conjecture and a great deal of unreliable tradition envelop the history of these mounds. The early settlers for many years regarded these knobs as prominent land marks. An Indian tradition is that a great battle was fought here at one time. Human bones have been exhumed from these mounds but the mystery of how they came there is still unsolved. There is also an Indian tradition that these mounds are the hiding place of valuable treasure which was buried here some time in the past. Concerning the curiosity with which these mounds were viewed as late as 1879, the following article appeared in the "Knob Noster Gem," under date of November 28, 1879: "Just north of Knob Noster are two hills known as the Knobs. For some time there has been talk of the possible contents of these Knobs but almost everybody laughed at the idea of them containing anything more than the surrounding land. However, there were a few who still thought there was a bonanza in the hill if it could only be gotten out. Last Saturday, W. L. Shockley and R. H. Carr shouldered a pick and struck out for the Knobs. After a few hours' digging they found the skeletons of several human beings, together with other curiosities, which were buried with the Indians, Mound Builders or whoever they were."

Early Settlements. - The first settler of the original Washington township of whom we have any record is said to have been John Beeper, who settled in what is now Grover township, Col, John Robinson states in the Johnson County History of 1881: "In about 1828, John Beeper, son-in-law of Peter Fisher, of Pettis county, settled in the woods in section 22, township 47 and range 25, and improved five or six acres, Just northeast of him in section 16 William Cheek settled about the same time and in 1831 built the old Gallaher mill in section 6, on Clear Fork." The first land entry by Cheek was November 30, 1832, in Montserrat township.

Joseph Lapsley came from Russell county. Kentucky, in 1837 and died in 1854, John Coy settled here in 1833 and died in 1850. He was also a Kentuckian. Spencer Adams, a native of North Carolina, is said to have settled in this township in 1835, (He made land entry in 1832,) He died in 1867. Ambrose Brockman. from Russell county, Kentucky, settled here in 1837 and died in 1848, James A. Gallaher was also a very early settler. Vally Hall, a Kentuckian, came here in 1835 and died in 1868, John Stewart, also a Kentuckian, came in 1834 and died in 1843, Samuel Graham from Kentucky, made his home here in 1834 and died six years later, Thomas M. Ramsey settled on section 14, in 1859, Jonathan Butler, Alexander and William Gregg, James Ray, and George Gallaher were also pioneers who settled here in the thirties. A German named Strickland settled on section 12 in 1836 but a few years later, when the settlers began to locate within two or three miles of each other, he began to feel crowded and went farther south. Among others who settled here prior to 1840, were W, A, Williams, Jacob Knaus, Samuel Workman, W, H. DeArman, James Brown, Richard McCombs, Henry Hayes, Fred Houck, John Reed, Andrew Thompson, George Thornton, Samuel McCormack, Benjamin Howard, William Box, W. R. McCart.

At a general election held in Knob Noster on the first Monday in August, 1858, appear the names of A, Hargraves, Samuel McKeen and Jacob Knaus as judges, and J. C. Corum as clerk, All were sworn in August 2, 1858, by J, B, Mayes, justice of the peace, (At this election two hundred and fifty votes were cast,)

Among the first to enter government land in this township were Richard Marshall, October 4. 1833: James Ray, March 1, 1834, and Henry Edwards, June 13, 1834,

Early Churches. - The earliest church in what is now Washington township was Pleasant Grove church, a union building owned by the Cumberland Presbyterians and Southern Methodists in the south part of the township.

It was organized in 1853-54 by Rev, John B. Morrow. The building was erected since the Civil War and dedicated by Revs. J. H. Hint and Mr. Young,

Early pastors of this church were W, Gilliam, W. Compton. B. W. Pierce, E. Morgan, J, B, Morrow, J, Whitsett, B. F. Thomas, J. T. A. Henderson and L. H. Davis, Old members were William Geery and wife, Daniel Adams, Susan Adams, Isaiah Kimzey and wife and C. P. Phillips.

The next churches organized were in Knob Noster town, and are included in the history of that town.

Early Schools. - The first log school house erected in the township was a crude structure, 10 by 16 feet, located in the northeastern quarter of section 10. One log was cut out to admit light. The clapboard roof was held on by weight poles, the door swung on wooden hinges and was fastened by a latch made of wood. In 1837, another log school house was built along the same general line of architecture on the southeast quarter of section 11, Here Jesse Trapp and James Ford taught school for a time. In 1838, a log school house was built on section 23. This building was along the same general lines as the others with one log left out for a window. The seats were made of puncheons and the heating system consisted of a fire place, James Cochran was the first teacher here. The next school house was erected in the old town of Knob Noster. This was built in 1856 and was of the frame type of building. In 1866, it was moved two miles northeast of the old town on the south half of section 12 in Oak Grove District No. 10.

Among the early teachers at Oak Grove school were D. D. Duncan, Miss Sophia Welsh, J. R. Rainwater, J. M. Bigley, Mrs, Anna Dunn, Reuben Reaves, W. R. DeLaney, Reuben Wade, Thomas Prather, William O'Bannon, W. H. Hatton, H. C. Sparrowhawk, T. P. Walker, H. T. Williams. J. E. Gatewood, J. H. Allen, and Everett Miller, Prairie Home school, in District No. 8, succeeded an old school called Quail Trapp, built in 1866, The following were early teachers in this district: Miss M. Brown, B. C. Stephens, Thomas H. Jones, Miss Nellie Zimmerman, Charles B. Littlefield, Miss Laura Lutz, Miss Alice Wharton, Frank P. Langston, Davidson Grover, Peter Lynch, Miss Sallie Zoll, Miss Bettie Duffield, Miss Myra Houts and Miss Mollie Guihen, John McKeehan, Mrs. D. A, McCormick, J. P. Wallace, A. J. Sparks and John Byrne,

Justices. - The following are the justices of the peace of the township as far back as the county court records show, with dates of their election: 1842, Richard C. Mariner, Samuel Workman, William H. Collins; 1844, Jacob Knaus, Jacob Raper, Henry S. Pease; 1846, William Kirkpatrick; 1850, Hiram C. Key, Robert M, Maxwell, Squire Williams; 1852, Zachariah Clark, John Bobbitt; 1856, William P. Mayes, John Bobbitt; 1860, N. Fisher, John Bobbitt; 1862, Samuel Workman; 1870, A. E. Weidman, William Fisher; 1878, W. H. Anderson, B. R. Tompkins; 1882, J. W. Denison, H. J. Adams; 1886, P. D. Fitch, John S. Mayes; 1888, W. H. Anderson; 1890, L. B. Thomas, J. W. Mitchell, Taylor Kirkpatrick; 1896 John M. Kelly; 1898, A. M. Craig, A. W. Wheatley; 1900, J. M. Mitchell; 1902, A. M. Craig, B. F. Summers; 1906, George L. Taylor, B. F. Summers; 1908, S. P. Caldwell, F. S. Denton; 1910, J. C. Metts, John T. Lay; 1914, Jacob H. Knaus, J. C. Metz.

County Officers. - The following are the county officers who have been elected from the township since 1882, with the dates of their election:

1892 - George N, Hocker (Democrat), representative.
1894-96 - George T, Gallaher (Democrat), surveyor.
1894-96 - L. B. Thomas (Democrat), assessor.
1900-1904 - T. J. Summers (Democrat), assessor.
1902 - C. D. Thompson (Democrat), superintendent of schools.
1904-08-12 - A. M. Craig (Democrat), public administrator.
1908 - B. F. Summers (Democrat), county judge.
1912-14 - Ed. S. Harte (Democrat), county judge.

Population. - The population of Washington township by United
States Census was:

1850 1,001
1860 2,239
1870 2,992
1880 3,160
1890 3,294
1900 1,762
1910 1,612

Personal Property and Products. - Agriculture and personal property statistics for Washington township, as given by Missouri State Report for 1877, and Johnson county assessors' lists for 1896 and 1916 are:



Wheat, bushels


Corn, bushels


Oats, bushels


Rye, bushels


Tobacco, pounds


Wool, pounds


Hay, tons


Molasses, gallons


Wine, gallons

































Notes and money



Bank stock



Other personalty



All personalty



County Road Improvements. - County road improvements made by Washington township since this system was established in June 1911, were up to January 1, 1918, nineteen in number, and aggregated $1,224 furnished by the citizens of the township, and $1,025 by the county. In this particular matter Washington township ranks seventh among the townships of the county.

Organizations. - The following is a complete list of all organizations of every kind in Washinton township. Full details of each organization are in separate chapters on the different organizationsNeighbors,

Churches-Baptist, Knob Noster; Christian, Knob Noster; Cumberland Presbyterian. Pleasant Grove; Cumberland Presbyterian, New Church Latter Day Saints, Knob Noster; Methodist, Knob Noster; Methodist, South, Knob Noster; Prexbyterian, Knob Noster.

1917 War Organizations - Red Cross, Knob Noster Branch.

Fraternal Organizations-Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Modern Woodmen, Mystic Workers, Royal Neighbors.

Miscellaneous Organiations-Swastikas.

Business Organiations-Bank of Knob Noster, Peoples State Bank, Total number of organizations in township is nineteen.


Knob Noster, one of the progressive towns of the county, is on the main line of the Missouri Pacific railroad about three miles from the Pettis county line, The town is situated in sections 15, 16, 21 and 22, The old town of Knob Noster was located about a mile north of where the depot now stands and still contains a number of houses on its one broad street.

The present town came into existence when the Pacific railroad was built, William Northam was perhaps the pioneer merchant in the old town of Knob Noster,

The first post office was established here in 1850 before any town or village was laid out. It was located at the residence of Andrew Thompson, who became the first postmaster, Other early postmasters here were Tames Morrow, John Satoris, Charles Vantillman, Robert Dawson, William Mayes, John A, Pigg, William Chester, Miss Jennie Chester and C, Cobb.

The "Knob Noster Gem" is one of the old newspapers in the county. Its first issue was printed May 31, 1878, with Harris & McFarland as editors and proprietors. It is now unusually well edited by E. T. Hodges.

Other newspapers published at Knob Noster from time to time were the "Farmer," 1872, the "Register," "Local," "Herald" and "Review."

The following are the churches of the town with dates of organization: Cumberland Presbyterian; Baptist, 1856; Catholic, soon after Civil War; Latter Day Saints, 1889; Methodist, 1865; Christian, 1866; Presbyterian, 1867; Baptist Negro; Methodist Negro.

The town has electric light service, two banks, high school, good oiled streets, a large well established brick plant and all lines of ordinary business.

The population, 1910, was 670,

The following is a list of city officers:

Chairmen. - 1877, H. C. Coffman; 1878, P. O. Sullivan; 1879-80, B. R. Tompkins; 1881, J. H. Knaus.

Mayors.-1901-04, B. F. Summers; 1905-06, C. V. Huff, Jr,; 190712, A. M, Craig; 1913-14, J. H. Bothwell; 1915-18, A. M. Craig,

Aldermen.-1877, V. Hughes, C. Cobb, P. O. Sullivan, G. Hanley; 1878, V. Hughes, C. Cobb, H. C. Coffman, G. Hardey; 1879, V. Hughes, C. Cobb, P. O. Sullivan, G. Harden; 1880, J. C. Winkler, J. Carr, G. O. Talpey, W. J. Workman; 1881, J. L. Winkler, C. B. Littlefield, A. D. Wilson, J. C. Miller; 1901, J. V. Campbell, L. P. Shafer, E. A. Shepherd, A. G. Hunter: 1902, J. M. Kendrick, J. C. Foster; 1903, C. B. Littlefield, G. C. Miller; 1904, J. N. Kendrick, G. N. Cocker; 1905, E. E. Thompson, W. W. Spiess; 1906, J. M, Kendrick, W. B. Daw, D. N. Saults; 1907, J. C. Meas. W. B. Daw; 1908, Wm. Shoemaker, D. N. Salts; 1909, J. T. Lay, J. C. Metts,. J. C. Foster; 1910, J. T. Lay, W. McIntosh; 1911, S. A. Spiess, Hill Hunter; 1912, S. J. Dudley, Jehu Hull; 1913, S. A. Spiess, Frank Jenks; 1914, C. W, Weidman, C. L. Saults; 1915, S. A. Spiess, Frank Jenks; 1916, C. W. Wiedman, C. L. Saults; 1917, J, M, Kendrick, Wm. Ragner; 1918, C. W. Weidman, C. L. Saults.

Clerks. - 1901-06, George J. Taylor; 1907-09, Charles Y. Taylor; 1910-14, C. L. Faults: 1914-18. W. J. Carr.

Police Judges. - 1901-04, J. C. Winkler; 1905-06, W. C. Knaus: 1907-08, J. M. Kinsman: 1908-10, Mark Kidney; 1910-14, W. C. Knaus; 1915-18, T. C. Foster.

Marshals. - 1881, T. E. Rigg; 1901-03, J. H. Brendel; 1904-06. J. W. Bailey; 1907-08. William Covey; 1909-10, George Kinman; 1910, W. C. Knaus; 1911-14, W. B. Arbogast; 1915-16, R. F. Clark; 1916, George Kinsman; 1917. H. T. Hite. Hill Hunter; 1918, Hill Hunter. L. W. Scott.

Collectors. - 1901-02, A. M. Craig; 1903, C. C. Hayes; 1904-06, J. W. Bailey; 1907-14, William Covey; 1915-16, R. F. Clark; 1916, George Kinsman; 1917, H. T. Hite; 1917-18, Hill Hunter.

Street Commissioners. - 1901, A. M. Craig; 1903-06, B. P. Michael; 1907-15, R. F. Clark; 1916-18, George Kinman.

Treasurers.-1901-04, Ed S. Harte; 1905-08, W. T. Zuber; 1909-12, S. I. Doggett; 1913-18, A. S. Adcock,

Attorneys.-1901-08, S. G, Kelly; 1909-12, E, C, Littlefield; 191316. J, H, Knaus; 1917-18, E. C, Littlefield.

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