Probably very few know that an old Indian trail once traversed Johnson county. It ran from south to north in a northwesterly course, entering the county southeast of the city of Warrensburg, and passing through the city at Gay street near the Grover dwelling just east of Miller street, thence north toward Lexington on the Missouri river. This trail was from the Osage river at or near where the city of Warsaw now is, and following the line of least resistance avoiding difficult hills, marshy spots and bad fording places, made its way to Lexington, on bare trail with room for but one at a time. When in the dim and misty past the selection of this trail was made will remain a mystery locked in prehistoric silence. When the white man came he desired a roadway from Warsaw to Lexington. At that time Lafayette county extended south from the Missouri river to the Osage river, in shape a long ribbon. Part of it had been surveyed, but not all of it; there were no farm lines, no fence- rows to interfere and the old trail seeming to be well adapted for ease of travel, the state highway was located on the trail. A small part of this old road is at the west end of the farm owned by W. L. and P. A. Jones, about a mile southeast of Warrensburg. Other stretches of the road ran angling across tracts of land now enclosed and in cultivation. Two other well identified parts of this road and frequently traveled by Mr. Crissey many years ago are: First, the present public road from the southeast corner of section 18, township 46, range 25 north, east to the north line of the section and about one-fourth mile west of the northeast corner, and second, the present public road as it climbs around and up the hill by the old James M. Shepherd (now owned by T. J. Trapp) place, about one-fourth mile north of Warrensburg on the Lexington road, and we who now whirl over these bits of road are today following the path of the red man for no telling how many centuries before us. Another Indian trail was the Shawnee Indian trail in the southwest part of the county, and is described in the Johnson county history of 1881. Shawnee Mound in Henry county was one of the favorite Indian resting places. From this mound the trail passed by the old residence of Wilson D. Carpenter in Chilhowee township and thence northwest through Rose Hill township to Center Knob near Kingsville. The old Clinton and Independence road followed this trail, and for many years those who traveled it shared the hospitality of Wilson D. Carpenter. Early Roads. — Before there was any permanent settlement within the present borders of Johnson county, there was a recognized line of travel across the county from east to west although there was very little regular travel over this road as the line of main travel was farther north, along the river. (This north road extended from Old Franklin to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and was known as the Santa Fe trail, and is well marked out today.) The first main-traveled roads connected the frontier settlements of Johnson county with the nearest trading points, grist mills and other places where the settlers made infrequent but necessary trips. At that time, of course, the section lines were not laid out and these roads were trails directly across the country following the straightest and easiest lines. First Public Roads. — The first public road established by law in the county was that running northwest "from Warrensburg to the Independence road." To us who are familiar with the square turns and the description of our roads by sectional lines, the order of court establishing this early road presents an interesting contrast.
This is the order verbatim: "December, Monday, the 13th day, eighteen hundred and thirty-six. Jester Cocke, Joseph Cockrell, viewers appointed to lay out a road from Warrensburg in a Direction to Independence. The aforesaid viewers having been appointed at the October term of this court and having failed to make report at the last term of the court now comes at this day and makes the following report, to-wit : Beginning at Warrensburg, running down the ridge with the same road that now runs down. Crossing Post Oak at the upper crossing thence through the bottom running up a Point between a little lake and Post Oak, thence crossing Devil branch at same bottom woods, thence through the Perrari leaving the high point of Perrari East of Jack Houxes to the left thence Crossing Black Water below Wade's mill, thence the direct road to Jester Cocke, thence the direct road leading to Thomas Windsor's so far as to the divide leading by the right hand corner of McMin's field, thence intersect the Road leading from Columbus to Independence, the nearest rout & the Brushy Knobs. Joseph Cockrell, Jester Cocke, Viewers, which report being seen and examined by the court and approved of. Therefore, it is ordered that the said view as marked and laid out be opened twenty feet wide, cleaned of limbs and trees and be bridged as the law directs and from thenceforth be a public highway." (Book A, page 15.) At the same time two other roads were located, one from Honey Creek to Independence and the other from Warrensburg to Blackwater town (about a mile south of Columbus). (See book A, December 13, 1836.) The following are other early roads in the county: In 1836 there were three recognized highways leading from Warrensburg, one ran north to Lexington (following the Indian trail): another one south to Clinton, the county seat of Henry county, and the third to Jonesboro by way of Gallaher's mill. An early public road running east and west was established from Warrensburg to Bluff Spring in Kingsville township. Henry Colbern. the saddler, father of George Colbern, the early banker, traveled this road to Benjamin Longacre's tanyard. This road was discontinued in 1856. An old road, located about 1852 ran from Knob Noster to Independence through Grover and Simpson townships crossing Blackwater at the old Davis, or Kirkpatrick mill near what is now Valley City.