James Dailey








     Paris, Mo., Nov. 23, 1926. – The final chapter in an episode of Missouri history that was an even 90 years in the making, was written on the front of the steps of the Monroe County courthouse in Paris one day last week, when the word "sold" announced the fact that after 90 years of family possession the estate of James Dailey, pioneer settler of Missouri, had passed out of the family name for the first time since it was taken up as a raw government claim in 1836.

    Heedless of the incident passing before their eyes, the citizens of the town passed and repassed, little dreaming that there midst the little group of individuals assembled on the front steps of the courthouse was being brought to a close a chapter in early Missouri history that is doubtless without a parallel in this or any other section of the state.

    Paris, founded in the pioneer days of this state’s history and not long before coming to Missouri of James Dailey, has witnessed many scenes, tragic and otherwise, but never before, and never again, will it witness just such a scene as that of last week.

    On October 7, 1836, James Dailey, the son of an Irish linen weaver and a Kentucky pioneer’s daughter, loaded his few belongings, chief among which were a wife and two children, into an ox drawn wagon, bade a last farewell to the verdant valleys of the rippling Kentucky and turned his face westward, where the ever advancing civilization had a few years previous laid the foundation stones of a new state, and where land was to be had practically for nothing.

    Little is known of the six weeks’ journey of the plodding oxen team and the lurching emigrant wagon, but it is to be presumed that the usual hardships, disappointments and dangers beset the hardy pioneer and his courageous family. After a month and a half of constant travel, the covered wagon reached Monroe County and there, at a point just a few miles from the then non-existing town of Madison, came to a halt and James Dailey settled and began a new home in a new land, and for 90 long years, and a quarter of a century after the death of the same pioneer settler, the land thus entered as a government claim remained on the records of Monroe County in the name of it’s original owner.

     Some of the hardships of the family, endured in their early home, have been related to the writer by the last surviving members of the family.

    It was nothing unusual to awaken in the early morning to find a coverlet of snow, several inches in depth, spread over the beds, where the storm had entered through the crevices between the logs where the process of "chinking," or filling the crevices with clay, had not been completed. The floors were constructed of "puncheons," or rough slabs hued from the log by hand adz and axe, and it is to be taken without question that, in the matter of warmth, there was quite a difference between them and our modern double hardwood floors.

     The first dwelling structure erected was a large log cabin, with open fireplace and stick chimney, held in place by wet mud. This structure, in 1844, gave way to another building, which is standing today. This latter building was constructed of hewn walnut logs, covered and boxed with weatherboarding. It originally had a large open fireplace, but this in later years was sealed up in favor of the more modern stove. The logs in this structure, though 82 years old, are today, as sound and firm as when the oxen team "snaked" them out of the forest, and the broad axe bit huge chips out of the bark in preparation for being placed in position in the structure, the manual labor of which was done by willing neighbors, and their slaves, who had come to the "house raising." At the present prices of walnut material, there is several hundred dollars worth of walnut in this building. Back of that structure is a one room building, also of logs, over whose rough and uneven floors and along whose "chinked" walls, three generations have taken their first steps.

    But in these modern day of legal turmoil and changing ideas, the instance is rare where the desires of a man, expressed through his last will and testament, are strictly adhered to by his descendants for 24 years after his death. This the Dailey heirs have done, until last week, when after 90 year of possession, during which time all but two members of his immediate family have passed on, it was deemed the best to dispose of the land in partition.


    So, with the auctioneer’s cry of "sold" – this same auctioneer a brother of a former governor of Missouri – this unique record of land possession and the carrying out one man’s desires for over 24 years after his death, came to an end and stands probably without a parallel in the annals of the state of Missouri.

Submitted by Lisa Perry      

(All Photo rights reserved by Lisa Perry - reprinted here by permission) 

Above is a newspaper article written by my grandfather, Harold Dailey Sr. in 1926.  Born and raised in Monroe County, he joined the Shelbina Democrat as an assistant editor and reporter in the early 1920s. I believe this article is from either the Democrat or the Shelby County Herald. The article was a way for my grandfather to chronicle a piece of his family's history and the photos are from my private collection.