Remnants Of The Past
History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri,
Early Arrivals to Washington Township
Washington Township can claim as being the home of
the first settler in St. Clair County, Jacob Coonce. Although Mr. Coonce
lived one year in Roscoe Township, he moved to Washington in 1832, and
ever afterward made it his home. The Gibsons made it their home in 1836,
settling on section 15, township 36, range 25; John Haney and Richard
Haney on section 16, John Snell on section 33, and John Denson on section
14. These pioneers came in 1837 and 1838. Elisha Wamsley, Peter Francis
and Richard DeShazo all came in 1835, and William Allen in 1836, and
settled on section 6; Alfred Burks in 1837, and James Stams in 1839,
settling on the Sac River. Jacob Rowe settled on section 28, in the
southwest corner, in 1842. This covers most of the early settlers of
Washington; then one of the Gash family and one of the Culbertson's
settled in this township in 1834, but their precise location or section
was hard to find and being very near Doyal line have probably been credited
to that township, but they undoubtedly settled in Washington.
Jacob Coonce, the oldest settler in the county. Obituary taken from
the Osceola Sun:
Death has again laid his remorseless hand upon one
of the citizens of St. Clair, the victim being one of the early pioneers
and most estimable men of the county, whose residence here dates back
more than half a century.
Jacob Coonce breathed his last at his old homestead in Washington Township
on Sunday, April 21, 1878.
Uncle Jake, as he was familiarly called, was, at the time of his death,
nearly seventy-five years of age. He was born and reared in St. Louis
County, Missouri. When just entering the threshold of manhood he went
to the mountains in the northwest, remaining there for several years,
after which he visited the British colonies, under the leadership of
General Dodge. His first visit to the portion of Missouri now comprising
St. Clair County was made in 1827, coming into this region on a hunting
and trapping tour, and making his headquarters near where now stands
Howard's, or Ritchie's Mill, on Sac River. He then ranged from Gasconade
up to the above named point.
An Indian trading post was situated upon Sac River on what is now known
as the "Captain Harris Farm", and was kept by a man named
Hogle. Mr. Coonce permanently settled in St. Clair County in 1831, locating
on the farm where his death occurred forty-seven years later. Having
previously obtained permission of the agent of the Osage Indians to
make his home where he did, and being naturally of a kind and peaceable
disposition, his residence during the stay of the red man in his vicinity
was never marred by any trouble. His finest neighbors were Daniel Waldo,
Daniel Brant, Nick McMinn, Ebenezer Gash and the father of Albert G.
Gardner, all of whom have years ago passed into the valley of death.
In 1847 Mr. Coonce enlisted for service in the war of the United States
with Mexico, joining Captain Smithton's company under General Sterling
Price. He served in this war until its termination in 1848, when he
returned to his farm in this county.
Uncle Jake and Missouri's famous scout, Kit Carson, were personal friends,
and were comrades and fellow-sufferers in some of the western exploring
expeditions headed and guided by Carson.
When the rebellion arose Mr. Coonce naturally sympathized with the cause
of the South, but never took up arms against the government.
In 1863, when the unsettled state of affairs in Southwest Missouri made
it impossible for even a man of his years to remain at home in safety,
he removed to Boone County, and passed the next four years at his old
occupation of farming. Peace being restored he returned to his farm
in Washington Township, twelve miles south of Osceola, where he has
Like the true pioneer, Uncle Jake possessed a most kind and charitable
disposition, and was always ready to assist a fellow-being in distress;
generous in all his transactions, he had few enemies and counted his
friends by the score. The weight of many years had caused his once vigorous
step to totter in feebleness and dimmed his sight, but the warm impulses
of the true man were as strong within him as ever, and deep sorrow for
his loss mantles the neighborhood wherein he died.