Remnants Of The Past
History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri,
Early Pioneers of Appleton Township
The township of Appleton, as now known, was a part
of Monegaw, and Monegaw Township was organized by the Rives County Court,
November 1835. When St. Clair itself took on the robe of independence,
the name Monegaw was not changed, but its dimensions were curtailed.
Appleton Township was not settled as early as many others, because of
its vast prairies. The pioneer preferred to be near water and woodland,
and as this was found in the southeast corner of the township, there
was its first settlement. On the Big Monegaw, or near it, James Carroll
settled in 1839, and his wife is still living.
John and Franklin Dittee came and settled within about two miles of
the Yonces, neighbors, in Monegaw. Mrs. Carroll's settlement was known
as the "English Settlement". All these came in 1838. A.C.
Dittee at this time lives on the old homestead on section 26, and they
all came from Tennessee.
Phillip Ruby settled near where Appleton City now stands or south of
it, on section 8. A. Buskirk owns the place, and this was the most northerly
settlement in the township. Ruby came in 1840 and was also from Tennessee.
Then Henry Ruby, John Norton and Aaron Davis came the same summer or
early in the fall of 1840, and settled on section 21, some two miles
east of south from Phillip. The settlers all followed up the bank of
the big Monegaw from the starting point, which was the "English
Settlement". There were no roads, no mills, and, as Mrs. Carroll
expressed it, "no nothing", when they came except the land,
timber and water and the wild animals of the forests.
Jesse Ridgway, who settled on section 34, may be called the oldest settler
of the township. He is still living and is a man of good memory and
enjoys the growth and prosperity of the county and looks back with a
vivid interest on the times and trials of his early days. He settled
on his present homestead in 1837. James Carroll, above spoken of, may
have come first and Ridgway followed, but there was but a few weeks
apart in their arrival. James Dittee came in 1839 and settled on section
35. The Rev. William Browning, of the M.E. Church, was among the early
arrivals, as early as 1838, and was the first preacher in that part
of the country. He settled on section 23. Rev. L.R. Ashworth, mentioned
in Roscoe and other townships, a Baptist, preached occasionally in that
Of course the services were held at the cabins of the farmers, for unless
a neighborhood was sufficiently large to make a log school house a necessity,
none were put up, and so the settlers had services at their own houses
when the circuit rider came, or a local preacher settled in their neighborhood.
The regular church of those days was the log schoolhouse. Even at this
day, in many districts, the school and church are the public school
buildings of the neighborhood.