Remnants Of The Past
History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri,
Early Settlers of Collins Township
The county court of St. Clair County in 1872, complying
with the provision of what is known as the "new township law",
cut old Washington asunder and from it constructed two townships, one
to retain the name of the "father of our country", and one
to yet receive a name. The citizens of the new township came forward
at this time, and with great appreciation for the services of one of
the judges of the county court, asked that it might be named in honor
of Judge William Collins. Accordingly, the county court complied with
the request and named the new township "Collins".
Perhaps the first settlement ever made in Collins Township by the pale
faces, was made by Daniel Molder, of Tennessee, who in 1831 came to
Collins and located on section 21 of township 34, range 24. Mr. Molder,
who seems to dispute the first settler with Jacob Coonce, with characteristic
energy built him a log hut, and proceeded to establish himself a permanent
home in the then wilderness. His nearest neighbor was some miles distant.
But this was not to last long, for in the spring of 1832, James Francis,
of Tennessee, settled near him and established neighborly intercourse.
Another neighbor made his appearance in this district in 1833. Isaac
Culbertson cast his lot with his brother pioneers in Collins Township.
The immigration of 1834 brought such pioneers as Albion Ayres, Isaac
Rogers, William Allen, Richard Deshazo, A.M. McMiner and L.R. Ashworth,
who lived in Roscoe, a minister of God's word, who, while attending
to the duties of his little patch of corn, would on Sunday mornings
visit some near neighbor, who lived not more than three, four or five
miles distant, and by preaching the good word cheered the hearts of
many downcast spirits to renewed exertions.
After this, followed Peter Francis in 1835, Francis Yoast in 1836, Samuel
H. Martin in 1837, Robert Gardner in 1839, and William King the following
Of the old pioneers, there now remain but two. These are Mr. Yoast and
Mr. Peter Francis. Mrs. Dolly Martin, the wife of Samuel Martin, is
still living, and enjoys the friendship, esteem and love of all with
whom she is acquainted.
The first school in the township was taught by a man named Wayne. He
charged for his services $2.50 per scholar for a term of three months,
and received in pay, as legal tender, coonskins and corn. He taught
in the neighbors' houses and "traveled around". From this
time the educational interests of Collins Township was one of the chief
interests, and today this township ranks second to none in educational
The first manufacturer that ever trod the soil of St. Clair County,
was Samuel Martin. In 1836, Mr. Martin's family were nearly out of the
necessary wearing apparel, and as there were no ready made clothing
to be found closer than St. Louis, it devolved upon him to furnish a
means for manufacturing the necessary goods from which to make it. Therefore,
in July, he commenced work. None knew what he was constructing, but
while looking at the great beams, some fourteen feet long, swung to
the roof of a log kitchen, some surmised what would be the result of
so much patient labor.
They were correct in their surmises, for after three months of hard
work Mr. Martin produced a full grown loom. His wife was the first to
use it, finishing on the 13th day of September a piece of jeans seven
yards in length. This was the first piece of cloth ever made in St.
Clair County, one yard of which is now in the possession of Mrs. Dolly
Martin, the lady who wove it.
It is not known to a certainty who was the first child born in the township,
but perhaps John R., a son of Daniel Molder, born in 1838. The first
death was in the month of July in 1834, and was a son of Mr. Isaac Culbertson.
The first school house of which we could receive any information was
located in section 12, and was built of logs; dimensions, twenty by
fourteen feet. After this, several such buildings were put up, but all
have been replaced by structures more commodious.
The first sermon preached in Collins Township was by the Rev. L.R. Ashworth,
at the house of Mr. Culbertson.