Transcribed by Karen Hammer -2009
From a historic standpoint Columbus township is second to none in Johnson county. Here the first permanent settlement in Johnson county was made in 1828. Columbus township was originally a part of Jackson township but was established according to its present boundaries May 12, 1870. It was named for Christopher Columbus.
First Settlers.-Pleasant Rice or Nicholas Houx was the first permanent white settler in Johnson county. They both settled in what is now Columbus township in 1827. See chapter on Early Settlements. Pleasant Rice first visited this locality on a hunting expedition in 1818 and in the fall of 1819, returned on a hunting expedition in company with Dangerfield Rice, Capt. Hugh Brown, Hugh Brown, Jr., Cicero Brown and John Wallace. They got on this expedition, besides various game and fur, two hundred and sixty gallons of wild honey. Mr. Rice stated that he found twelve bee trees in one day, from which he took an average of sixteen gallons of honey each. Henceforth the little creek along which he hunted bees on that occasion was given the name of Honey creek. At that time hundreds of Indians had their wigwams along the creeks near suitable hunting grounds. Mr. Rice estimated that he saw as many as two thousand Indians within a radius of four miles of his log cabin. He settled with his family on Honey creek in section 10, township 47 on a place which is now owned by Mrs. Kelly, grandmother of Charles L. Gillilan, ex-county assessor. Part of the old building which he first erected is still standing. It is fourteen feet square and was covered with clapboards and weight poles. The logs were chinked with mud and the door swung on wooden hinges .and was fastened by a wooden latch, the string of which was always said to hang on the outside. The chimney was built of mud and sticks. This old hut was built by Pleasant Rice with the assistance of a negro, and the logs used in its construction were of white oak. Since then the old clapboards have been dispensed with. It has a new roof, and the log walls have been covered by siding, and it is now used as a kitchen.
Pleasant Rice was born near Nashville, Tennessee, March 7, 1803. He was of Dutch and English descent. His wife, to whom he was married August 26, 1826, bore the maiden name of Virlinda G. Ray. She was a daughter of Senator Ray and came from a prominent Kentucky family. She was born in Warren county, Kentucky, May 13, 1809. Mr. and Mrs. Rice were the parents of thirteen children, ten of whom grew to maturity, four sons and six daughters and many of their descendants are now living in Johnson county.
Nicholas Houx was born in Maryland of French and German ancestors. His parents moved from Maryland to Kentucky and he and five other sons moved later to Missouri. He married Miss Rachel Maxwell, just before leaving Kentucky. He and his bride came on horseback to Missouri, bringing all their possessions with them. They lived first at Booneville for a few years, then a few years at Lexington, and then moved to what is now Columbus township, in Johnson county. Pleasant Rice helped him build his first house. He was a stanch Cumberland Presbyterian, a noted hunter and a successful farmer. He died about 1834, at the age of thirty-three, and left two sons and three daughters.
The following is a list of early settlers in what is now Columbus township: Pleasant Rice, Nicholas Houx, Robert King, Dr. Robert W. Rankin, John Whitsett, Thomas Evans, John Evans, David Norris, Samuel Ramsey, John Kelley, Uriel Jackson (who had the first horse-mill in the county), Moses Pinkston, Jesse Marr, Thomas Windsor, Richard D. Bradley, Sr., John Furguson, Elmore Douglas, Morgan Cockrell, Jonathan Fine, B. H. Fine, Prince L. Hudgins, William Logan, Isaac Garrison, James Morrow, Uriel Murray, David Morrow, William Davidson, Joseph Cockrell (the father of F. M. Cockrell, United States Senator), Josiah Beatty, William Kincaid, J. Washam, James C. Francis, Col. Ambrose, Toombs, Benjamin Runnels (who was a soldier under Gen. W. H. Harrison in his Indian campaign), Benjamin Matthews, C. D. Cobb, Love S. Cornwell, James Perdee, Robert Craig, N. W. Lowrey, James C. Strange, a gentleman by the name of Edwards (who was a tailor in the town of Blackwater, and who is the father of Senator Edwards, of Lafayette county), Peter Drace, Levi Simpson, William C. Baker, T. Simmerman, Jesse Kelley, Robert D. Morrow, William Horn, I. Reese (who was sheriff at one time), Thomas Claunch, J. H. Miller, J. W. Henderson, Dr. E. D. Schreiner, R. R. Dalton, Abel. Gilliland, Rev. William Horn, Reason Offnit, William E. Cocke, R. Sanders, J. P. Murray, R. Rudolph, P. H. Drace, John Kitchen, J. Kinder, William Ramsey, W. T. Herndon, M. Davis, J. Harner, B. W. Boisseau, J. Pickel. C. Gautt, Z. T. Davis and James M. Fulkerson, the first physician in Johnson' county.
The first child born in what is now Columbus township, which was also the first birth in the county, was Margaret Ann Rice, daughter of Pleasant Rice. She was born April 7, 1829, was reared to maturity, married, and died October 6, 1870.
The first death was Mrs. Chitwood and the location of her lone grave has long since been forgotten.
First Mill.-The first mill was erected in 1830 by Uriel Jackson. It was a two-horse mill and the process of grinding was slow and tedious. Later the owner went to the Osage river, where mill stones could be cut from the rock and brought home a pair of burs, after which the process of grinding was speeded up in that locality. The second mill to be built was Wade's mill on the Blackwater. This was operated by water power and was quite a pretentious mill for its day and age.
Early Physicians.-Dr. James Monroe Fulkerson was the first physician of the county. He was born in Lee county, Virginia. His father settled in Lafayette county in 1849, when James M. was only eighteen years old. Doctor Fulkerson received his medical education at Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1834 he came to Columbus and made his home at the residence of Nicholas Houx, and a short time afterwards married Elizabeth C. Houx, daughter of Nicholas Houx. Doctor Fulkerson became a very wealthy man and was prominent in the affairs of the county. When the Civil War broke out he owned a large number of slaves and about three thousand acres of land. He served one term in the state Legislature from Johnson county. He served as surgeon in the Osage Indian War and was also in the service during the Mormon War of 1834.
Doctor Brooks also practiced medicine here at an early day.
First Court.-The first court met at the residence of Nicholas Houx.
First Postoffice.-The first postoffice was at the town of Columbus in 1832, and the first postmaster was William Kincaid, who served for some time. He was followed by Josiah Beatty, Jerry Washam and Charles D. Cobb. At one time the office was kept at Blackwater.
First Store.-The first store was erected in 1836 by William Beatty. Houx operated a tannery and P. L. Hudgins kept a whiskey shop. Later Hudgins left Columbus and started the town of Blackwater, which was laid out in March, 1836, about one mile south of Columbus, near the creek. Hudgins was afterwards converted, gave up the whiskey business, and became a preacher and was regarded as a man of some talent.
Early Churches.-About the time of the first settlement here Rev. J. B. Morrow began preaching. For a time there was preaching in the residence of Nicholas Houx. Regular monthly meetings began in 1829. The first church, a log structure, was built shortly afterward and camp meetings were held in the grove as early as 1831. On this occasion Rev. Finis Ewing, great-grandfather of the writer, and Rev. Samuel King, founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, were present. The Reverends Robert King, J. B. and R. D. Morrow were also there. The first Sunday school was organized in 1834. John Harris and James Morrow were active in Sunday school work and instrumental in the first organization. A preacher's institute was organized here and taught by Rev. J. B. Morrow. This school was started in 1834 and abandoned two years later.
The Cumberland Presbyterian church was organized here in 1830 by Rev. R. D. Morrow, but they had no building until 1837, when a log house was erected. In 1847 they built a brick church. Among the early pastors of this church were Reverends Robert D. Morrow, James H. Houx, John A. Prather, S. Finis King, A. VanAusdol and A. A. Moore. Some of the first members of this congregation were Nicholas Houx, Rachel Houx, James B. Harris, A. Harris, Isabelle Foster.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, is prominent among church organizations of Columbus township. The Methodist church was organized here in 1843, and the following ministers seem to have served this congregation prior to the Civil War: Thomas T. Ashley, 1843; Daniel S. Capell, 1844-5; E. E. Degge, and Silas Williams, D. A. Leeper, J. Chase, T. C. James, W. M. Pitts, James A. Cuming, R. A. Foster, A. Williams and W. M. Pitts, up to 1858-9. Some of the ministers since 1866 were: H. W. Webster, 1866-7; M. Minshall, H. N. Watts, M. Doreen, W. J. Brown, T. P. Cobb, J. C. Daily, E. W. Woodard, John D. Wood and J. D. H. Woolridge, 1880-81.
The Church of Christ was organized by Elder D. Young. In July, 1865, this church was reorganized and three years later, a frame building erected at a cost of two thousand dollars. Among the early pastors of this denomination we find the names of Hiram Bledsoe, C. A. Hedrick, G. W. Longan, D. M. Granfield and E. M. Monsert, E. A. Cheat-ham, Samuel B. Stark, James Meyers, W. E. Frakes and Ralph Green-well were some of the original members.
Early Cemeteries.-The cemeteries in Columbus township were among the oldest in the county. The first one was at Columbus and Nicholas Houx was the first to be buried there.
Columbus cemetery contains the last resting places of many of Johnson county's pioneer citizens and there are numerous tombstones in this burial ground bearing the epitaphs of several prominent early settlers, among them hundreds of men and women who were identified with the early history of this county. Among the countless number are the stones bearing the following inscriptions:
Died August 9, 1831
Aged Forty-two Years."
The widow of Nicholas Houx afterward married Jonathan Fine and a marker at her grave gives the date of her death as December 29, 1857.
"Dr. Frederick D. Fulkerson Died August 18, 1857."
"Pleasant Rice Born March 7, 1803-Died May 9, 1892."
Virlinda G., Wife of Pleasant Rice,
Born May 13, 1809-Died June 10, 1890."
"Reverend Robert D. Morrow, D. D. Born December 26, 1796-Died January 23, 1869.
"Here rest the remains of the first Cumberland Presbyterian missionary to the state of Missouri. He was ordained by the Logan Presbytery, February, 1819, was an active minister of the Gospel fifty-three years, was an humble and devoted Christian, a learned and eminent divine. His death was peaceful and triumphant."
"Elizabeth M., his wife, born August 7, 1802. Died December 29, 1880."
"Baxter Ewing Morrow Born June 9, 1824-Died July 25, 1890."
"Ann S. Dinwiddie, Wife of Allen Wallace
There are many more stones marking the graves of scores of residents of Columbus and Columbus township, whose names are indelibly written on the pages of township history. The memorial tablets of stone erected long, long ago impress the visitor with the flight of time and the older people with a train of reminiscences and memories of the days of seventy years ago, when other forms were familiar and frequently seen, moving amid the scenes of early pioneer life in Johnson county.
Early Schools.-The first school in the township was taught by Z. T. Davis at the farmhouse of Robert Craig, in 1833. Notable among the early teachers were Mr. Maum and his wife, Louis McCoy, Joshua Rogers, James Francis, Rev. Ben Love, Ben A. Bradley. Rev. R. D. Morrow was also a capable teacher of the early days. Among later teachers of the township were W. C. DeWitt, John Sarency, C. A. Potterf, Albert Potterf, Miss Nannie Dalton. Waldon school was established in 1868. The first director was James Middleton. Its early teachers were S. M. Corman, Henry Harmon, Mattie Gaskin, Minnie Morrow, Maggie Brown, William Cook, D. W. DeWitt, D. B. Longan, W. C. Naus, Jennie C. Woolsey, Albert Dunbar, Charles A. Potterf, S. P. Culley, Henry C. Potterf, Eula Tracy, and A. J. Sparks.
Justices.-The justices of the peace of Columbus township, as far back as the records go, with the dates of their election are: 1870, C. W. Hesser, John B. Edwards; 1878, James Mosby, W. H. Lee; 1882, James Mosby, W. H. Lee; 1886, James Mosby, W. T. DeWitt; 1888, James A. Anderson; 1890, James Mosby, James Tuttle; 1894, J. M. Tuttle, David Braden; 1898, John M. Black, James Mosby; 1900, A. J. McMahan; 1902, J. A. Black, W. S. Rankin; 1906, J. A. Black, W. D. Grinstead; 1908, W. S. Rankin; 1910, James A. Black, J. W. Henderson; 1914, James A. Black, J. W. Henderson.
County Officers.-The following are the county officers who have been elected from the township, since 1882, with the dates of their election:
1882-1886-1890-John M. Rice (Democrat), county clerk.
1908-1912-Charles L. Gillilan (Democrat), recorder.
1890-1892-1894-James A. Anderson (Democrat), county judge.
County Road Improvements.-County road improvements made by the township, since this system was established in 1911, were up to January 1, 1918, twenty-three in number, and aggregated $1,319.50 furnished by citizens of the township, and $1,250 by the county. In the amount of this work Columbus ranks third among the townships of the county.
Organizations.-The following is a complete list of organizations in Columbus township. Full details of each organization are in this book in separate chapters of the different organizations:
Churches-Baptist, Honey Creek; Catholic; Cumberland Presbyterian ; Methodist South; Presbyterian, at Columbus; Presbyterian, Jacoby Chapel.
Fraternal Organizations-Modern Woodmen, Royal Neighbors.
Homemakers Clubs-Greendoor, McCoy.
Total number of organizations is ten.
|Place name:||Rice's Branch|
|Description:||A tributary of Blackwater in the cental part of Columbus Township; named for Pleasant Rice (1803-1893), who settled on the banks of the stream in 1827. Mr. Rice came from Tennessee to Johnson County as early as 1818. (Jeff Coffman; HIST. JOHNSON (1881), 661; Ferguson's "Pleasant Rice First White Man to Settle in Johnson County," Warrensburg Star Journal, August 23, 1930)|
|Source:||Johnson, Bernice E. "Place Names In Six Of The West Central Counties Of Missouri." M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1933.|