History of St. Charles County, Missouri
First Legislators from St. Charles County -- Whom They were and Their Prominence and Influence -- Maj. Benjamin Emmons, Col. James Flaugherty, Col. John Pitman and Judge Robert Spencer -- St. Charles County the Home of the First Missouri Congressman or Territorial Delegate in Congress, Hon. Edward Hempstead -- Only Five Counties Then in the Territory -- The Continued Prominence of this County in the Legislature -- Her Members Secure the Location of the Seat of Government at St. Charles after the Adoption of the State Constitution -- Sketch of the Legislature and State Officers at that Time -- National Politics Little Discussed Prior to the Formation of the State Government -- Judge Rufus Easton, of St. Charles, Succeeds Hon. Edward Hempstead in Congress and Serves two Terms -- Hon. John Scott Then Elected upon the Pledge that He would Secure the Admission of Missouri into the Union -- His Zeal and Success -- Rise of the Missouri Question, or the Opposition to the Extension of Slavery -- The "Missouri Compromise," and the Admission of the State into the Union -- Attitude of the People of St. Charles County on the Slavery Question -- The Grand Jury Make a Formal Presentment Against the Congress of the United States -- Copy of the Presentment -- Constitutional Convention of 1820 -- Members from St. Charles County -- Political Issues Between the Democrats and Whigs after the Temporary Settlement of the Slavery Question -- The County Largely Democratic -- Democratic Sentiment of German Immigrants -- Early Public Men of the County After the Organization of the State Government -- Public Men of a Later Period, and Until the Outbreak of the Civil War -- Col. Ludwell E. Powell, Hon. John D. Coalter, Maj. Wilson L. Overall and Hon. William M. Allen, Whigs -- Judge Carty Wells, Hon. James R. McDearmon, Dr. William G. McElhiney, Joseph Wells, Col. Pines Shelton and Judge Arnold Krekel, Democrats -- Suspension of Politics During the Civil War -- Abandonment of the Democratic Party by the Germans -- Growth of the Republican Party -- Former Whigs Generally Become Democrats -- Political Attitude of the County Since the War -- Leading Democrats -- Leading Republicans -- Register of Public Officers Since the Formation of the State Government -- Bonded Indebtedness.
pages 186 - 204
From the earliest times in the political history of the State, St. Charles county has wielded a marked and enviable influence in public affairs by the ability, prominence and high character of her representative citizens. In the first Legislature of the Territory were four members from this county -- two in the Council and two in the House -- men who would have been recognized as leaders anywhere. Benjamin Emmons and James Flaugherty represented the county in Council, and John Pitman and Robert Spencer in the House. That was a time when men were required whose judgment and sagacity could be relied upon implicitly to lay the foundation of a new government, wisely and with an eye to the future development of the country, its growth and prosperity and its varied interests.
Benjamin Emmons, the senior member of the first Council, was a native of New England, and came to St. Charles county with his family a number of years prior to the organization of the Territorial government. He was a man of education and wide and varied information, and gifted with many of the stronger and better qualities for a popular leader. He was a man of unimpeachable integrity, great public spirit, and, withal, of a genial disposition and pleasing manners. In the Council he was looked upon as one of the able and influential men of that body, for he was not only a man well read in, and a close observer of, public affairs, but of original ideas and sound views on the science of government. He was a clever, forcible and logical speaker, and the influence of his high character contributed much to make him a successful legislator. He served in the War of 1812 as an adjutant, and was a member of the first State constitutional convention from this county. Afterwards he served with distinguished ability in both branches of the State Legislature. He was the father of Col. Benjamin Emmons, present circuit clerk of this county.
Col. James Flaugherty, Maj. Emmons' colleague in the Council, was a native of Virginia, and of Irish descent. Though a man by no means of the mental culture of Maj. Emmons, he was a natural orator, and fairly electrified the Council and the people by his eloquence. He was a man, however, of great modesty and a most retiring disposition, seemingly unconscious of his genius, and unfortunately too much devoid of self-confidence or assurance to make him a leader. He had no desire for political preferment, and, indeed, uniformly avoided it when possible to do so. His prominence in that early day was solely a tribute to his ability and purity of character. His name is now almost forgotten, but the fame of his magic eloquence has been handed down by his contemporaries who heard him, in wrapped admiration, nearly a century ago. If he had been ambitious, his name would unquestionably stand to-day among those of the first orators of the country.
John Pitman, who represented the county in the House, was not a public speaker or politician. He was one of those sturdy, clear-headed, thorough-going men who invariably make energetic, industrious and safe legislators when called to the work of legislation. He was careful, painstaking and judicious in investigating every proposed measure, and his good judgment was greatly relied upon by his colleagues. His vote for a bill always had a strong influence upon others for its support. In 1821 he was commissioned colonel of the Fifteenth Missouri State militia. Subsequently he removed to Montgomery county, where he served as county judge for a number of years. Col. Pitman was a lineal descendant of one of the Penn Colony of his name, who subsequently removed from Pennsylvania to Campbell county, Virginia. The Pitman family are now very numerous in Missouri, Virginia and Kentucky.
Judge Robert Spencer completed this quartette of St. Charles county's members of the first Legislature. He was a lawyer by profession and one of the pioneers of the county. He was the first judge of the Common Pleas Court for the district of St. Charles, having received his appointment in 1804. He was a man of ability and of considerable property, and built the first brick house in this county below St. Charles. He was chairman of the committee on legislation in the House, and many of its wisest and best laws were originated by him. He was a man of a genial, hospitable disposition, a fine mind, but not a hard student; and what he accomplished was effected more by the natural strength of his talents than by any efforts on his part. However, as a legislator, he was earnestly solicitous for the enactment of wise and just laws, and was very active in his work while in the House. He was a man whom every one liked that knew him, and the hospitality of his home was unbounded.
Such were the four first legislators from this county, a quartette known in the Legislature as the "Irresistible Four," from the fact that their influence in shaping legislation was considered hardly less than irresistible.
But St. Charles county also secured the first representative in Congress for one of her citizens, the Hon. Edward Hempstead. He was one of the distinguished lawyers of Missouri in that day, and a man whose career forms an honorable page in the history of the State. He will be spoken of further along, however, in a chapter devoted to the "Bench and Bar." Hon. Rufus Easton was another distinguished citizen of this county, a noted lawyer and jurist. He was a candidate against Judge Hempstead for Congress, and afterwards was twice elected.
At that time there were but five counties in the territory -- St. Charles, St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve, Cape Girardeau, and New Madrid. These, however, included an almost limitless territory west of the Mississippi. But at the second session of the Legislature the county of Arkansas was formed, which then contained a population of 827 inhabitants.
By each succeeding Legislature new counties were formed from the territory of former ones as the country continued to settle up. But during all this time St. Charles county maintained a commanding position in public affairs. The personnel, however, of each of her members of the Legislature and her other public men can not, of course, be discussed in a work like the present one, for want of space. But suffice it to say that they were almost invariably men of such character and ability that they never failed to reflect full credit on their county and on the public affairs of the Territory. Such, indeed, continued to be the prominence and influence of the county in legislation that, after the formation of the State constitution and the admission of Missouri into the Union, the city of St. Charles was made the seat of government; and here the Legislature held its sessions, and the great officers of State performed their varied official duties. Speaking of the State government of St. Charles, a former writer gives the following sketch of the condition and events of the times: --
"The constitution had made liberal provisions for remunerating the Governor and Supreme Circuit Judges, but one of the first acts of the Legislature was to reduce the salaries of these officers to a very low figure, in conformity with the stringency of the times. The Governor was allowed $1,500, the Supreme Judges, $1,100, and the Circuit Judges, $1,000. It was expected by many that this reduction of salaries would prevent men of ability from seeking those positions, but at the next election there was a general scramble for office as there had been at the preceding one, under the large salaries fixed by the constitution. Those salaries seem small and mean to us now, and would hardly be sufficient to support the family of an ordinary mechanic; but they were sufficient for those primitive times, when a family could live in considerable style on five or six hundred dollars a year. They had 'hard money' and 'hard times' then; and if the hard money advocates of our own day succeed in driving the country into the adoption of their suicidal policy, we may have to go back again to the condition of our ancestors. 'Hard money,' low prices, and 'hard times' are inseparable.
"Most the members of the first Legislature, as well as the Governor and other high dignitaries, rode to St. Charles on horseback, and their horses were kept during the session by Mr. Archibald Watson, a farmer, who lived a few miles below St. Charles, on 'the point.' The members boarded at private houses, and at the few hotels that were in the town at the time, at the rate of $2.50 per week. The remuneration proved to be insufficient, and those who kept boarding-houses generally lost money. Uriah J. Devore, who boarded a number of the members, lost everything he had. Pork was worth 1½ cents per pound; venison hams, 25 cents each; eggs, 5 cents per dozen; honey, 5 cents a gallon; and coffee, $1 per pound. Sugar was not in the market, and those who drank coffee sweetened it with honey. Some of the members were rough characters, and they all dressed in primitive style, either in homespun and home-made clothes, or in buckskin leggins and hunting skirts. Some wore rough shoes of their own manufacture, while other encased their feet in buckskin moccasins. Some had slouched hats, but the greater portion wore caps make of the skins of wild cats or raccoons. Governor McNair was the only man who had a fine cloth coat, and that was cut in the old "pigeon-tail" style. He also wore a beaver hat, and endeavored to carry himself with the dignity becoming a man in his position.
"The seat of government was removed to this place by an act of the first Legislature and continued here until the increase of population further west necessitated its removal to the interior, Jefferson City being selected as the site, where the capital was located in the fall of 1826."1
Prior to the admission of Missouri as a State, questions of national politics were little discussed in the county or in the territory, candidates being chosen for office more through their personal popularity and fitness for official duties than from any other considerations. The principal question that engaged public attention then was to secure a State government for and the admission of Missouri into the Union. At the time of Judge Hempstead's service in Congress the population of the Territory was hardly sufficient to justify a hope for its admission as a State. Col. Hempstead having declined re-election, Judge Rufus Easton was elected to succeed him. Judge Easton was an ardent Democrat (or Republican as Democrats were then called), and a warm supporter of Madison's administration, as he afterwards was of Monroe's. He was elected for two terms and was succeeded by Hon. John Scott, of Ste. Genevieve.
Mr. Scott made his canvass on the ground, principally, that Judge Hempstead had not shown the energy and ability to have been justly expected of him in obtaining authority from Congress for the organization of a State government and the admission of Missouri into the Union. Two years before, his race against Judge Easton was very close; and, indeed, he obtained a certificate of election, but Judge Easton was given the seat by Congress. Mr. Scott worked with great zeal for the passage of an enabling act for the organization of a State government in Missouri, but was not successful during his first term. Re-elected for a second-term, a bill was again introduced which he supported with great ability, and which finally passed both Houses of Congress and became law. It was on the passage of this bill that the slavery issue first assumed commanding and threatening importance. For nearly a year it was discussed in the House and Senate with extreme bitterness, the effort having first been made by those who opposed slavery to prevent the State from adopting a pro-slavery constitution, and finally to prevent slavery extension further north and west. At last, what was known as the "Missouri Compromise" was agreed upon and the bill became a law.
The people of Missouri unquestionably favored the maintenance of slavery at that time, for it had been recognized as one of the institutions of the country from the earliest times of the Spanish colonists. St. Charles county, in common with her sister counties, was ardently and almost beligerently pro-slavery in sentiment. Indeed, to such a point did this feeling go that the grand jury of the county felt called upon to take cognizance of the machinations of those who sought to make Missouri a free State, and a bill of indictment (for a criminal prosecution to be based upon (!) we suppose) was formally and solemnly drawn up and presented against Congress. The following is a copy of the bill: --
A QUAINT DOCUMENT
We the undersigned grand jurors, from the body of the county of St. Charles, Missouri Territory, and summonded to attend the sitting of the Circuit Court for the county aforesaid, beg leave to present to the Honorable Court, that we deem it our privilege and duty to take notice of all the grievances of a public nature; that amongst the various duties assigned us, we do present that the Congress of the United States, as the last session, in attempting to restrict the people of Missouri, in the exercise and enjoyment of their rights as American freemen, in the formation of their State constitution, assumed an unconstitutional power, having the direct tendency to usurp the privileges of our State sovereignties; privileges guaranteed by the declaration of American rights, the constitution of the United States, the treaty of cession and the blood of our fathers who achieved our independence. That it is a restriction heretofore without precedent or parallel, as it regards the admission of Territories into the Union of the States, and if persisted in by those members of Congress who at the last session proved themselves opposed to the growth and prosperity of our happy and luxuriant country, will be, in our opinion, a direct attack and infringement on the sacred rights of State sovereignty and independence, and the tocsin of alarm to all friends of Union under our republican form of government. Although we much deplore any existing political difference of opinion with the majority in the House of Representatives of the last Congress, who introduced and supported the restriction, yet, we consider it our bounden duty as freemen, and as Republican members of the great American family, to take a dignified stand against any assumption or usurpation of our rights from whatever quarter it may come, and to support the constitution of the United States as the anchor of our policital hope. Thomas Dozer, Wm. S. Burch, Wm. Keithley, Randal Biggs, James Baldridge, Francis Howell, James Smith, Antoine Raynal, Warren Cottle, James Clay, Samuel Wells, foreman, N. Howell, T. D. Stephenson, David Lamaster, Edwards Hinds, Joseph Sumner, Antoine Derrocher, Armstrong Kennedy, Chas. Parmer, Joseph D. Beauchamp.
What effect this presentment had upon the Congress, we are not able to say with certainty; but if we are to judge by results, we must confess that it hastened the settlement of the question in favor of slavery in the new State, for the presentment was made July 5, 1819, and the following winter the bill was passed by both Houses of Congress -- which was as soon, in those days of horse-back and river travel, as the full import and meaning of the awful, ominous document could be received and comprehended by the National Legislature. No one, however, could tell what the result would have been if Congress had disregarded the action of the grand jury, or treated it lightly.
The constitutional convention of the Territory or State, authorized by the enabling act of Congress, met at St. Louis, in the summer of 1820, with forty-one delegates, and by it a constitution was framed, which was afterwards adopted by the people, and the State was admitted into the Union. There were then fourteen counties in the State, and St. Charles county had three delegates, Maj. Benjamin Emmons, Col. Nathan Boone and Hiram H. Baber.
Of Maj. Emmons we have already spoken. Col. Boone was a son of the old pioneer Daniel Boone, referred to in a sketch of the latter, on a former page. He was a man well educated, though self-educated, and was an accomplished surveyor. He died in this county November 16, 1856, in his seventy-sixth year. Mr. Baber was an early settler of the county, and one of its leading and influential citizens. He was sheriff of the county for some years, back in the "twenties," and was a man of great popularity.
After the admission of the State into the Union and the slavery question was settled for a time by the Missouri Compromise, questions of national politics, such as the tariff, internal improvements by the general government, and the United States Bank act began to elicit attention, and the people divided themselves into two parties -- Democrats and Whigs. Political parties, however, did not assume definite form until the Presidential and State elections of 1828, when Jackson and Adams were the candidates for the Presidency. The Democrats polled 8,272 votes for Jackson, and the Whigs 3,400 for Adams. St. Charles county supported the Jackson electoral ticket by a large majority. The State afterwards continued to be Democratic, and St. Charles county as a rule remained in political accord with the State. German immigration to the county contributed very materially to the power of the Democrats, for until the slavery question again became the leading issue, the Germans were almost without exception Democrats. On a strict party test the Democrats rarely failed to carry the notwithstanding the Democrats were in the majority, one or more candidates of the Whig ticket were not unfrequently elected, through their personal popularity.
Among the earlier public men of the county was Felix Scott, who was also something of a "character." Though a man of culture and good breeding, he partook largley of the spirit of the times on the then frontier of civilization, as Missouri was regarded, and was noted as a fighter, being considered the "best man" in all the country round about. Once challenged to fight a duel, such was his courage and his contempt for his antagonist that he quietly stood with his gun presented without offering to fire, and, after his opponent fired at him, coolly laid his gun down and gave the latter a sound drubbing with his fists. In 1826, after having served for several terms in the House of Representatives, he was elected to the State Senate; and such was his prominence and recognized ability, that he was made President of the Senate pro tem, or presiding officer of that body in the absence of the Lieutenant-Governor. He was originally from Monongalia county, West Virginia, and was educated for the profession of the law. In 1846 he removed to California, and became one of the leading and wealthy fine-stock raisers of the country. He was finally murdered, however, by a hired man while returning from Kentucky with a herd of blooded cattle, and when within a day's journey of his home in Oregon.
Between 1815 and 1835 or '40, William Christy, Jr., was an active leader in county politics. He held the position of quartermaster at Bellefontaine during the War of 1812. Afterwards he removed to St. Charles, where he was elected clerk fo the county and circuit courts. He was also clerk of the Supreme Court for a time. He held the office of circuit clerk in this county for over twenty years continuously, and until he was succeeded by Col. Ludwell E. Powell, mentioned in the sketch of the Mexican War, on a former page.
But above all, the most distinguished citizen of St. Charles county in the early history of the State, or at any other time, and one of the greatest and best men whose life adorned public affairs, was Hon. Edward Bates, who rose from the position of youth without means and obscure to a place in the Cabinet of President Lincoln. He represented St. Charles county in the Legislature in 1828, and was the father of the Whig party in the county. He also represented his district in Congress, and in 1856 was the president of the National Whig Convention at Baltimore. Mr. Bates held various official positions, being in public life throughout most of his long and active career. But he was, nevertheless, more of a lawyer than a politician; for his whole life, from early manhood until the shadows of old age had settled deep and heavy about him, was devoted to his profession. A sketch of his career, therefore, belongs more properly to the succeeding chapter -- the "Bench and Bar" of St. Charles county.
After the period of Judge Bates' active participation in politics in this county, the leading public men of the county on the Whig side were: Maj. Wilson, L. Overall, Col. Ludwell E. Powell, Hon. John D. Coalter, Hon. William M. Campbell and Maj. William M. D. Allen. On the Democratic side of the contemporaries of these were: Hon. James R. McDearmon, Judge Carty Wells, Col. Pines H. Shelton, and Judge Arnold Krekel. Dr. William G. McElhiney, and Joseph Wells, a brother of Judge Wells, were also active and influential Democrats.
The question discussed, as before indicated, were the tariff, the United States Bank Act, and internal improvements by the general government. The Whigs favored all of these measures as conducive to the best interests of the country and consistent with the genius of our institutions, and the ideas and purposes of the founders of the government. The Democrats opposed them on the ground that they were not authorized by the constitution, were contrary to every principle of local government, subversive of the reserved rights of the States, unwise and injudicious in themselves, and tended to centralize in the general government all powers, regardless of the States, and strip them of their necessary and constitutional functions as members of the Federal system and of their constitutional prerogatives as local sovereignties. These questions and others of less importance were discussed before the people with more or less spirit, and with ability on both sides, from the rise of the Whig party until its dissolution following the defeat of Gen. Scott in 1852. The Democrats were almost invariably successful in the election of their Presidential candidates, and in the State elections of this State they succeeded without exception. The United States banking system was wiped out of existence, and the country repudiated the policy of protection in the tariff system. The doctrine of internal improvements by the general government, it its broader application as supported by the Whigs, was also generally renounced.
Probably the ablest speaker in the county, among those mentioned previously on the Whig side, was Hon. William M. Campbell -- at least he was the favorite by far as a popular orator. He was a fine lawyer and a man of marked natural ability. Though quite animated as an orator, and something of an actor, as the best of speakers invariably are, he was at the same time logical and studied in his arguments, and invariably carried the reason of his hearers along with him, as he did their feelings. In the every-day walks of life he was somewhat eccentric, and rather a man of moods. He was very untidy of dress and careless of his personal appearance; and while at times he was a great talker, seemingly delighted with conversation, at other times he was remarkably taciturn and reserved, refusing even to speak to or notice any one, whatever the occasion might be. Though a good-hearted man, and never desiring to give offense to any of his friends, he was often extremely disregardful of the finer amenities of life. Still he was very popular; and although an ardent Whig in a strong Democratic county, he invariably carried the county when he was a candidate before the people. He was a man of large physique and light complexion, but by no means handsome; yet, when he chose to present a good appearance, he was of prepossessing presence.
Col. Ludwell E. Powell was perhaps the best political organizer ever in the county. He was no speaker, but relied for success on his ability and skill in planning and executing a political movement, and on cultivating the friendship of every one -- Whig and Democrat, old and young. He was a remarkably handsome man, large and of fine appearance, and courtly and cordial in manners and conversation. He was unquestionably a man of superior mental force, and of a good heart; and in his day by for the most popular man in the county. Whig as he was, he rarely had any opposition as a candidate, and was invariably elected.
Hon. John D. Coalter was a man of finer mental culture than his Whig friend and coadjutor, Campbell, and was a very incisive, logical and effective speaker. Indeed, he had something of the genius of the orator, and his speeches were models of diction and literary eloquence. But while they read better than those of Campbell, they by no means had the electrifying effect that Campbell's speeches invariably produced. Both were men of temperate habits and strictly honorable, upright lives. Neither was ever defeated when before the people for office. Campbell distinguished himself as a member of the State Senate, and Coalter was recognized as a leader of the House.
Maj. Overall was a wealthy farmer of the county, a man of high character and good intelligence. He took little or no part in discussions on the stump, but was an earnest Whig and well posted in teh history of parties and in current politics.
Mr. Allen, who is still living, a resident of Wentzville, of which he was the founder, was a prominent man in the politics of the county 30 or 40 years ago. He represented the county in the House of Representatives and in the State Senate for a number of years, and in conjunction with State Senator Reed, of Callaway county, was mainly instrumental in obtaining the charter of the old North Missouri Railroad. Senator Reed was the author of the bill, although others have claimed the credit of drawing and introducing it. Maj. Allen was his main coadjutor in carrying it forward to a successful passage.
Mr. Allen was first elected to the Legislature in about 1846, though he was previously been quite active and prominent in county politics. Four years later he was elected to the State Senate, and while a member of that body was one of the principal leaders of the supporters of Hon. Henry S. Geyer for the United States Senate. The Whigs were in a minority in the Legislature, but the Democrats were divided into two factions -- the anti-Bentons and Bentons, or the "Hards" and "Softs," as they were called. Here the Whigs saw their opportunity, for the two factions in the Democratic party were so bitter against each other that each would vote for any one else in preference to one of its opponents, and neither the anti-Bentons, Bentons nor Whigs could elect without help from one of the other parties. Balloting was kept up for several days, until the fortieth ballot was reached when, the Whigs still holding out for Geyer, and the Anti-Bentons fearing the success of Benton, whom they were determined to defeat, finally voted largely with the Whigs for Geyer and elected him. Thus ended one of the most remarkable senatorial contests ever witnessed in the country.
Such was the high estimate placed upon Mr. Allen's services by Senator Geyer that he personally, and afterwards by letter, warmly thanked him for the fidelity and ability he had shown as a leader of the Geyer forces. In this letter Senator Geyer outlined his intended course of political action in the Senate, and his reasons therefor, and it was regarded by those who saw it as one of the ablest enunciations of the principles of the Whig party which ever emanated from the pen of that distinguished man.
Mr. Allen, now retired, was a farmer by occupation, and a man in easy circumstances. He was an early settler here and a large slave-holder and land-holder. A representative of an old and well known Virginia family, he succeeded in obtaining a good education in early life, and has always shown a marked taste for mental culture. An industrious and extensive reader, he early became a man of large information, and on account of his character and ability was soon accorded a position among the leaders of his party in this county. He was an active canvasser in his political life, and although a representative of the minority party in the county, he had a happy faculty of putting the questions at issue before the people in such a light as to win for his views and opinions their hearty indorsement. One illustration of this will suffice: the Democrats were unanimously opposed to internal improvements by the general government. But Congress had passed an act making an appropriation for, and authorizing the building of a national turnpike from the Atlantic seaboard westward through the different State capitals along the general route of the road. As this would have to come to Jefferson City, it could not fail to pass through St. Charles county, and of course the great advantages that would thus accrue to the county could be dwelt upon with great fervor and effect. Democrats though the majority of the people were, the advocacy of this particular road was a winning card, and Maj. Allen had the tact to see this and the address to use it for all it was worth. But a man of most excellent worth of character, the high esteem in which personally he has always been held also contributed very materially to his success.
On the Democratic side Judge Carty Wells was unquestionably the ablest speaker in the county. Judge Wells was a son of Col. John Wells, who settled in this county from Kentucky in an early day, and was one of its most prominent and wealthy farmers. The Wells family, though somewhat aristocratic in their tastes and manner of life, were highly esteemed by all classes. Judge Wells, naturally gifted with a fine mind, had the further advantages of a thorough and advanced education. He was a man of great refinement and delicacy of feeling, scholarly and always gentlemanly and polite. A speaker of great polish, he yet had the faculty of reaching the popular heart and arousing his hearers to a high degree of enthusiasm. As a political leader and as a man he was eminently worthy to represent his party in the county against the ablest and best men on the Whig side. His brother, Joseph Wells, also a prominent and successful lawyer, was a fine speaker, one of the best, in fact, who ever went before the people of the county.
Of Hon. James R. McDearmon it may, with truth, be said that he was one of the most conscientious public men and upright citizens in the county. In early life he was a school teacher, and, later along, a farmer. He was originally from Virginia, where he received a collegiate education. Frequently in this county he was the recipient of important public trusts; and, finally in 18--, he was chosen to the office of State Auditor, which he filled with ability and great acceptability to the people until his death at Jefferson City in 1848. The fact of his appointment to that office by Gov. Edwards, then Governor of the State, shows that he was regarded not only as a Democrat of more than local prominence, but as a man of the highest integrity of character. No man was ever more universally esteemed among his neighbors and acquaintances for his many excellent qualities than he. He always took an active part as a speaker in the political campaigns of the times, and was an able and popular speaker. He was also a man of fine business qualifications. His sons, John K. and Theodrick McDearmon, are prominent and well known citizens of this county.
Col. Pines H. Shelton was considered in the preceding generation one of the strong Democratic war-horses of the county. He was a wealthy farmer with a penchant for politics, a fine large mouth, a circular talker, and, withal, a vigorous, good speaker. When he went on the hustings it was like shelling the woods, for the people could not avoid harkening unto his voice. He was a man, however, of good strong native ability, and one who read a great deal when no one was around to talk to; so that, being gifted with a good memory, he became well posted in politics and the current events of the times. Neither he was not a man, by any means, without ideas, and, withal, he was serious and in dead earnest in everything he went about. He was a man of good impulses, and with an honest desire to do what he believed to be best for the public interests and the cause of morality and good government. His greatest fault was that he was too zealous and earnest in whatever he undertook and carried it to an extreme. An illustration of this is seen in his advocacy of the cause of temperance. Honestly and justly opposed to intemperance, he would carry temperance to the extreme of putting it beyond the power of any one to obtain a stimulant, under any circumstances, which could possibly be made to intoxicate. That is, of course, all nonsense and fanatical. He was a popular man, however, and highly esteemed in the county, and represented it in the State Legislature and this district in the State Senate. He subsequently moved to Texas, and there served in the House and State Senate. Now, we believe, he is the leading temperance advocate of Henry county, Missouri.
Dr. McElhiney was for many years previous to, and until the outbreak of the war, an active and influential Democrat. He was a delegate to the Baltimore convention that nominated Breckinridge and Blaine in 1860, and was one of the committee who notified Franklin Pierce of his election to the Presidency. Previously, he had served with distinction in the Legislature, having defeated Wilson L. Overall, the Whig candidate, and one of the most popular men in the county. Dr. McElhiney was for a number of years curator of the State University at Columbia, and was one of the commissioners appointed by the Governor to locate the State Insane Asylum. He was a native of Maryland, born in Baltimore, November 15, 1798. He graduated in medicine at the University of Maryland, and was afterwards appointed brigade-surgeon by the Governor of that State. In 1857 he removed to St. Charles from his farm on the Boone's Lick road, in this county, where he still resides, now in his eighty-sixth year. He retains to a remarkable degree his early mental and physical vigor.
Judge Arnold Krekel, who was among the last of the Democratic leaders in this county previous to the war, first began to take a prominent part in politics along in the later years of the "forties." He came over from Prussia with his parents, who settled in St. Charles county in 1832, when he was about seventeen years of age. Subsequently, he took a course of three years in the St. Charles College and studied surveying. Following this he was elected county surveyor and also held the office of United States deputy surveyor. He then studied law and began practice in 1844. Later along he held the offices of city attorney of St. Charles and county attorney, and in 1850 he established the St. Charles Democrat, which he edited for a number of years. In 1852 he was elected a member of the Legislature, and was quite active in railroad legislation. Though a Democrat, he was an ardent advocate of internal improvements, particularly by the State. Just preceding the war he was unquestionably one of the foremost Democrats, if not in fact the Democratic leader, of this county. But when it came to the question of breaking up the Union and destroying the government, he left the Democratic party and identified himself with the loyal element of the State. Indeed, he had never had any sympathy with the pro-slavery tendencies and antecedents of his party, and on that account would undoubtedly have left it, if for no other cause. During the early years of the war he was one of the most prominent and valuable supporters of the Union in North-east Missouri. In St. Charles county alone he was instrumental in enlisting between 1,200 and 1,500 men for the Union service. His prompt action and activity saved all this region of the State north of the Missouri to the Union. In 1865 he was a member of the State constitutional convention, of which he was made President; and he signed the ordinance for the emancipation of the negroes. While a member of the convention he was appointed United States District Judge by President Lincoln. He then removed to Jefferson City, and he and Maj. Foster, now of St. Louis, founded Lincoln Institute. Afterwards for ten years he delivered lectures at the Institute on Civil Government and Political Economy, free of charge, lecturing on an average more than a hundred times a year. He is an enthusiast in the cause of education. Since the division of the district he has resided at Kansas City.
During the war politics were silent, amid the clash of arms, and little interest was taken in the elections. Since the restoration of peace the two leading parties in this county have been the Democrats and Republicans. However, up to a few years ago, party nominations were rarely made by either party. This is attributed to the fact that parties are so evenly balanced here that candidates preferred to run unhampered by party nominations, and alone on their personal merits and popularity. In the meantime, the Germans, in 1860, almost in a body joined the Republican party and have continued to vote and act with that party ever since. This has made the county very close. In presidential years, sometimes one party carries the election and again the other. Tilden carried the county in 1876 by a safe majority, but Garfield received a majority in 1880 and Blaine several hundred majority the present year. Since the war the leading Democrats, from time to time, have been Hon. A. H. Buckner, Judge Andrew King, State Senator A. H. Edwards, Hon. Theodrick McDearmon, and his brother, Col. John K. McDearmon, Hon. H. C. Lackland, Maj. C. W. Wilson, Maj. James Edwards and a number of others.
Judge King was elected to Congress from this district in 1870, but for a number of years past has resided in St. Louis. Judge Buckner succeeded him in Congress, in which he served for twelve years continuously, but he, too, has not been a resident of the county for a number of years, having made his home at Mexico, in Audrain county.
Hon. A. H. Edwards has been a member of the Legislature, continuously, since 1870, and for the last ten years of that time he has represented this district in the State Senate. He is conceded to be one of the most prudent, experienced and upright legislators in the State.
Hon. Theodrick McDearmon has been conspicuous in politics, having given his time almost exclusively to the law, but, nevertheless, has been a consistent Democrat and given the party the benefit of his counsel and personal work when thought to the necessary. Such was his high standing as a lawyer and citizen that in 1884 he was nominated for Judge of the Court of Appeals, but the district being largely Republican he was defeated by Judge Rombauer, a former circuit judge of St. Louis and a man of fine reputation as a lawyer and jurist. His brother, Col. John K. McDearmon, has held the office of county clerk for some eighteen years, six years prior to the war and afterward, since 1872, continuously.
Hon. H. C. Lackland was a member of the constitutional convention of 1875, and in 1878 was elected to the State Legislature and became chairman of the judiciary committee. The other gentlemen mentioned, Maj. James Edwards and Maj. C. W. Wilson, are prominent and active workers in the Democratic party. Maj. Edwards was chairman of the congressional district committee and for some years was an assistant door-keeper in the United States Senate. He was a brave and dashing officer in the Confederate army during the war and greatly distinguished himself by his courage and intrepidity.
On the Republican side the principal political leaders are Hon. Theodore Bruere, Capt. Charles Daudt, Hon. ____ Grabenhorst, Capt. Gustave Bruere, Col. Benjamin Emmons, and a number of others.
Hon. Theodore Bruere, one of the leading lawyers of the circuit, was for a number of years a member of the State Senate, and occupied a position of marked pominence in that body. He is a man of culture and ability, and of high character and courtly, cordial bearing. He is, in every best sense of the word, one fo the prominent representative citizens of the county.
Capt. Daudt is an active politician, for a number of years chairman of the Republican county committee, and a man of large influence in the county.
Hon. Mr. Grabenhorst has been a member of the Legislature from this county since 1880, and is generally conceded to be one of the men whom nobody can beat. Some of the best men in the county have tried him and all have come out of their campaign wondering how it was that he beat them so badly. He is a fine electioneerer, a good man and popular with everybody. He has made a capable and faithful representative, and the people are very well satisfied to keep him in that body.
Col. Benjamin Emmons is a lawyer by profession, and was for a number of years a member of the firm of Wagner, Dyer & Emmons, of St. Louis, one of the leading law firms of the State. He was a son of Maj. Emmons, mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, and was reared in St. Charles county. He returned here after the dissolution of the law firm of which he was a member, and in 1883 accepted the office of circuit clerk. He had previously held the office, prior to 1865, for some seventeen years. He is one of those quiet, unassuming men, of great personal worth and no pretense whatever, with a large heart and a kind disposition, always ready to favor anyone deserving it, and thinking less of his own interests and advancement than of helping others. He is a man of sound, sober judgment, strong, native ability, and is said to be the best statute lawyer in the State. Of course he is popular with both parties, hardly less so with Democrats than with Republicans; and as long as he will consent to hold his present office he can retain it, it matters not who carries the country, Blaine or Cleveland, the ghost of old John Brown or the living Jefferson Davis.
Capt. Gustave Bruere was county clerk for six years, from 1866 to 1872. He made a capable and efficient officer. He is a man of the most accommodating disposition and will always do one a favor at the cost of his own inconvenience and time. Sociable and cordial with his friends and acquaintances, he is a man of recognized popularity and marked influence in the county.
Since 1880 the two parties have generally made regular party nominations at the biennial elections, but the old feeling of voting for candidates on their personal merits, rather than on their political views, has so far prevailed that the stronger men in personal popularity on either ticket have generally been elected.
The following is a list of the different public officers, as far as we have been able to obtain them, with their terms of service: --
Circuit Judges. -- David Barton, from 18-- to 1818; N. B. Tucker, from 1818 to 1820; Alexander Gray, from 1820 to 1821; Rufus Pettibone, from 1821 to 1823; N. B. Tucker, from 1823 to 1830; P. H. McBride, from 1830 to 1835; Luke E. Lawless, from 1835 to 1837; Ezra Hunt, from 1837 to 1849; Carty Wells, from 1849 to 1857; A. H. Buckner, from 1857 to 1859; Andrew King, from 1859 to 1864; William W. Edwards from 1864 to present time (1884), and term expires in 1886.
Sheriffs. -- Uriah J. Devore from 1816 to 1818; Anthony C. Parmer, from 1818 to 1820; Hiram H. Baber, from 1820 to 1824; Henry L. Mills, from 1824 to 1826; William N. Fulkerson, from 1826 to 1832; William M. Christy, from 1832 to 1838; David McCausland, from 1838 to 1840; John Orrick, from 1840 to 1844; Edward C. Cunningham, from 1844 to 1848; James S. M. Gray, from 1848 to 1852; John A. Richey, from 1852 to 1856; Elias C. Stewart, from 1856 to 1860; Charles B. Branham, from 1860 to 1862; Edward C. Cunningham, from 1862 to 1864; Fred. W. Gatzweiler, from 1864 to 1866; Henry E. Machens, from 1866 to 1870; John F. Dierker, from 1870 to 1874; August Friedrich, from 1874 to 1878; Joseph W. Ruenzi, from 1878 to 1882; E. C. Rice, from 1882 to 1884.
Circuit Court Clerks. -- William Christy, Jr., from 1815 to 1836; Ludwell E. Powell, from 1836 to 1848; Benjamin Emmons, from 1848 to 1865; Joseph Maher, from 1865 to 1883; Benjamin Emmons, from 1883 to the present time.
County Court Clerks. -- William Christy, Jr., from 1821 to 1836; Ludwell E. Powell, from 1836 to 1848; Benjamin Emmons, from 1848 to 1854; John K. McDearmon, from 1854 to 1866; Gustave Bruere, from 1866 to 1872; John K. McDearmon, from 1872 to the present time (1884).
County Court Judges. -- Biel Farnsworth, Robert Spencer, John B. Callaway, 1821 to 1825; William G. Pelters, James H. Audrain, Alexander Murdock, Daniel Griffith, 1825 to 1826; Samuel Wells, John Smith, Ruluff Peck, Moses Bigelow, John Taylor, 1826 to 1827; Micajah McClenny, William G. Pettus, Daniel Griffith, 1827 to 1832; Robert Spencer, Daniel Griffith, M. McClenny, 1832 to 1836; Daniel Griffith, Hugh H. Wardlaw, William N. Fulkerson, 1836 to 1838; Daniel Griffith, Robert Miller, Benjamin Emmons, 1838 to 1842; Robert Miller, James R. McDearmon, Daniel Griffith (died), 1842 to 1844; Robert Miller, James R. McDearmon, Wilson Overall, 1844 to 1845; Robert Miller, Wilson L. Overall, Robert Bailey, 1845 to 1846; Robert Miller, Robert B. Frazier, Francis Yoste, 1846 to 1847; Robert B. Frazier, Francis Yoste, William L. Otey, 1847 to 1850; Ludwell E. Powell, Achilles Broadhead, Richard B. Brumfield, 1850 to 1853; Ludwell E. Powell, John P. White, Gordon H. Wallace, 1853 to 1855; Robert Miller, Robert Bailey, F. W. Gatzweiler, 1855 to 1858; Daniel A. Griffith, F. W. Gatzweiler, James W. Simpson, 1858 to 1860; F. W. Gatzweiler, Henry Leseuer, Daniel A. Griffith, 1860 to 1862; Thomas H. Barwise, F. W. Gatzweiler, C. F. Woodson, 1862 to 1863; S. S. Watson, John Hansam, B. C. T. Pratt, 1863 to 1864; John Hansam, B. C. T. Pratt, 1863, to 1864; John Hansam, B. C. T. Pratt, John F. Schroer, 1864 to 1865; Charles Hug, Josiah Pratt, John F. Schroer, 1865 to 1867; John D. Hollrah, R. Hansell, John F. Schroer, 1867 to 1869; John D. Hollrah, R. Hansell, G. Mindrup, 1869 to 1871; John D. Hollrah, Joseph Cruse, Richard Hansell, 1871 to 1873; John D. Hollrah, Thomas H. Barwise, Joseph Cruse, 1873 to 1875; Joseph Cruse, Henry Gronefeld, Thomas H. Barwise, 1875 to 1879; Clement Boyce2, Jacob Zeisler, R. M. Guthrie, 1879 to 1882; Jacob Zeisler, John F. Beumer, James Humphreys, 1882 to 1884.
St. Charles county, financially, is in a good condition.
August 1, 1873, the county issued jail bonds to the amount of $10,000, bearing ten per cent interest, and due August 1, 1893.
September 1, 1873, the county issued road fund bonds to the amount of $5,000, bearing eight per cent interest, and due September 1, 1893.
The county has now $11,000 in the treasury, as a sinking fund, to meet these bonds, so that really the amount to be raised would be only $4,000.
The current annual expenses are about $40,000, and the annual receipts are about the same.
1Pioneer Families of Missouri.
2Boyce died in 1882.
Transcribed July 2003 by Deborah Heimann -- Co-ordinator for the St. Charles County, Missouri USGenWeb pages.