St. Clair County Remnants Of The Past


St. Clair County
Remnants Of The Past

History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri, 1883

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 section.
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.