Caldwell County History

Caldwell County History

Source: Caldwell County, Missouri Genealogical Records Information

Caldwell County was once a part of Ray County. For many years after the organization of Ray County, the territory now included in Caldwell was unsettled. Over it roved migratory Indians and white hunters, but it was not considered for homes because it had too much prairie land. Early settlers avoided prairie sod which refused to be broken by their weak plows and preferred the timber lands which, having been cleared, gave them mellow soil and also provided them with wood for building cabins and for fuel.

In 1833 began the first town in Caldwell County. Three Lyons brothers, who were Mormon exiles from Jackson County, settled at Log Creek, two miles southeast of Kingston. They built a horse mill (the first mill in the county), a blacksmith shop and three cabins for their families.

The early pioneers came into the county by following trails rather than roads. Tall prairie grass grew on either side. A state road from Richmond to Gallatin which passed through Kingston was for years the only thoroughfare connecting our county with the Missouri River. Merchandise intended for this section was carried by boat to Camden in Ray County and then carried over this state road by ox team to its destination. This road passed through the site where Hamilton was later built. In 1855, the stage coach route was established between Gallatin and Lexington. Hamilton, scarcely yet started, was made a stage station.

Caldwell County has not always had twelve townships as at present. Soon after the organization of the county, there were four townships. Rockford which comprised the present western tier of counties (Kidder, Mirabile and Rockford); Blythe which comprised Hamilton, Kingston and Grant; Grand River which took in all of range 26 and 27 which lay north of Shoal Creek; and Davis which took in all of range 26 and 27 which lay South of Shoal.

In 1867, changes were made. Rockford was sub-divided; the part North of Shoal was Kidder township, the part South of Shoal was Mirabile. Grand River township was sub-divided. Range 26 became Elm, Range 27 became Grand River. Blythe was sub-divided into Hamilton, eight miles long, and Kingston, ten miles long. This made seven townships. in 1870, the twelve townships of equal size were arranged as at present and the name of Grand River Township was changed to New York Township by petition of the residents thereof, most of whom had come as settlers from the state of New York in the late 60's.

There are eight towns at present in the limits of Caldwell County. Kingston, Mirabile, Hamilton, Breckenridge, Kidder, Nettleton, Polo, Braymer and Cowgill.

A visit to the old cemeteries of our county is worthwhile, for there lies the pioneers of whom we hear in the county's history. The oldest cemetery in the county is the burial plot used by the first families in this county in the Shoal Creek settlement of 1832. Those graves lie one half mile east of Kingston. While the names are know, the graves have long since been plowed over.

The Mormon cemetery, west of the old town of Far West, is next in age. It is thought to have contained two hundred graves, but records of only four of the dead have been kept. The grave stones have disappeared and the field has been under cultivation. The graves in the old Salem (or Richey) Cemetery have likewise been lost, with little record of the dead. Many other small burial plots in the county have been plowed over when early families sold their farms to strangers.

The White Cemetery in Fairview Township is considered the oldest cemetery in the county still in use. Records show its use in 1845 but tradition says it is even older, saying that some of the Mormons wounded at Haun's Mill Massacre (which occurred at no great distance) died soon after, and were the first to be buried in the White Graveyard.

Other old cemeteries whose stones by their inscriptions show early use are Bonanza (also called Ernsbarger or Rutherford) in 1839, Paxton Farm in Mirabile Township in 1842, Cox in New York Township in 1843, Pleasant Ridge in New York Township in 1845, and Hines in Rockford Township in 1846.

It is interesting to note that soldiers of the following wars were buried in Caldwell County: Revolutionary, War of 1812, Black Hawk War, Mormon War, Florida Indian War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War.


This page was last updated September 24, 2006.