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Audrain County, Missouri

from THE INTELLIGENCER (weekly) May 16, 1907 3/3


             The Mormons were somewhere around Keytesville, Mo., at the time of the surrender mentioned in our last paper, which was not done in good faith.  Two or three months afterward, they again became rebellious and so troublesome that they were unbearable.  They were drilling--even their women--and getting supplies for further resistance.  They had gathered up considerable recruits and had much sympathy from people who did not come out openly in favor of them.  They talked very religiously and pretended to have a special revelation from Heaven; and the same enthusiasm arose concerning them that has always arisen in connection with a new form of religion.  Even two persons who subsequently became good citizens of our own county had temporarily subscribed to the doctrines, but when required to give up all their property to "the church", they balked and one of these, later, volunteered against these.

            Again the government asked for volunteers to drive the troublesome people on.  In this case Audrain was called upon to furnish a hundred men.  These mostly volunteered, but a few had to be drafted to fill out the quota, because the call was hurried and there was not time to wait for volunteers.  As before, Captain Fenton was in command, and the first Lieutenant was B. S. Kilgore, the second was Jas. W. Kilgore, the third J. B. Kilgore, thus showing the importance of this family then.

            After these had gone some distance they were joined by companies from other counties, including one from Callaway.  They were all in need of corn to feed their horses, and one day a single load came into camp.  Callaway at once claimed it but Audrain asserted that she had spoken for it first.  The contention began to look serious when some one proposed that each choose a champion from its company and let these fight it out "fist and skull" -- the victor's company to take the corn.  This was agreed to and a ring was drawn.  Audrain chose Thomas Keeton, brother of Henry Keeton and father of our present citizen, William Keeton.  He threw off his coat, tied his suspenders about his waist, rolled up his sleeves and stepped into the circle, awaiting his adversary; but when the Callawegians looked him over there could be found no one among them who would volunteer against him, and Audrain got the corn by default.

            The boys had heard all along that there would likely be fighting this time.  When they approached the Chariton river, which they would have to ford at slight flood, a rumor came that the Mormons were lined up on the other side, with their women in their ranks, ready to resist the crossing.  They camped there that sleepless night.  Some of the boys became very panicky, claiming they were not properly officered, and that it was a shame to be thus led into a trap of slaughter.  Others, however, were cool and brave, while some were hilarious at the prospect of a fight.  One man claimed that he had loaded his gun to the muzzle and that when it went off he would sweep it along the

Mormon ranks and slay them in rows.  He assured some nervous friends that they need not fight at all--that he and his gun would supply their place.

            When morning came there was no appearance of the foe.  The Mormons had again surrendered, to other troops, and the leaders were in jail at Independence.  Next spring these Mormons were released.  They agreed to leave the country and did start for Salt Lake.  Not one of Audrain's boys ever came into action.

            This was the county's last military experience, till the War of the Rebellion came on.  However, a series of "musters", so called, or drilling exercise, prevailed two or three times a year for several years.  These were held by authority of the state, and every able-bodied man under fifty was compelled to comply.  There was a drill master and other subsidiary officers, and a fife and drum--all of which were very impressive.  "Muster Day" was a great day then and the tradition of the old negro with his cider and gingerbread at this and election days is with us yet.  John G. Muldrow was the drill-master, and William James, the father of Levi James, was the drummer, while "Uncle Billy" Harper (not the merchant) was the fifer.  These last two men were in demand far and near to lead processions, such as rallies, Fourth of July barbecues, etc., and were very important factors on many public occasions.

            The drill grounds were near Jefferson street, south of the railroads, not far from the residences of W. W. Fry and W. H. Wallace.



from THE INTELLIGENCER (weekly) May 30, 1907 1/5 & 6


            The stock taken in the North Missouri Railroad was really issued to our people from the county in the form of tax receipts  --each person owning stock to the amount of his special taxes.  These were paid up in five years.  Our people placed no value on this matter for a long while, but suddenly some clique, growing anxious to control the road, began to buy up these equivalents of stock and there was a rustling among old papers, as these receipts were dug out and sold.

            There was considerable opposition to the taking of this stock.  Many claimed it would bankrupt the people; and one prominent citizen, who had a farm that now joins the city, sold it at seven dollars per acre and moved out of the county.

            Of course, after those on the southern edge of the county found that the road would not pass them, they manifested much opposition to the taking of stock for the route through the towns.  Judge James Harrison was inclined to urge, of course naturally, that the true route should be past his home on the Old Boone's Lick road--the great east and west thoroughfare through the state--and he laughingly ridiculed Mexico, saying that it was of such small importance that he would grease it sometime and bring his hounds down, and they would eat it up.  It behooved the rest of the people to act decisively; and we, from the  standpoint of our city's interest, cannot help wondering what would have become of it had not that $50,000 stock been taken.  Dr. Holmes, rhyming of his grandmother's girl portrait, wonders what would have become of him had she said "No" to his grandfather's important query; and he concludes rightly that he would have been, "three fourths somebody else and one fourth me".  Mexico might have been only fourth of its present self, and northern Audrain even less.

            There is considerable variation about the dates at which the cars first reached Mexico; but the majority of those who recall the time agree on about the following:--In October 1857 the terminus of construction was on Cuiver just east of Benton City; in the spring of '58 the cars were at that village and a little later they ran to the Roundtree Farm about a mile east of the bridge over Beaver Dam, where they were detained some time till a temporary trestle could be bult across.  The cars reached Mexico in June 1858, and the station was at Jefferson street, where it is now again.  Allison's Hotel, on what is now the old livery stable lot, was headquarters for the railroaders till the station further west was built.

            There are few now of our citizens who recall the first coming of the cars.  Their experiences are interesting.  In the spring of '58, Mr. R. S. Pearson says he took the construction train at Roundtree and went to Montgomery City, where he took the passenger train for St. Louis.  Mr. B. L. Locke says that about October '58 he went from Mexico to St. Louis, and there were only three others on the train; Mr. Jno. W. Beatty, former postmaster, says he took the cars at the Roundtree station, and the fare was  then about five cents per mile.

            In December 1862 this railroad was torn up by the citizens along its line, who were southern sympathizers.  General Harris was in northeast Missouri raising troops for the Confederate army, and it was rumored that Federal troops would pass up the railroad to be stationed so as to intercept these as they should attempt to go southward to the Missouri River.  To prevent this, the road was torn up from St. Charles to the Missouri River region, its bridges burnt, its ties and rails heaped and the piles fired.  It was only a short while, however, till the line was in operation again.


            This paper will conclude, for awhile at least, these desultory sketches of our county's early history.  They have in no sense pretended to discuss the whole of our annals.  There are many interesting personal reminiscences omitted.  The fact that they are personal has compelled omission, so that the simpler and purely non-partisan facts have been attempted.  The Morning Intelligencer, and those who have cared for the matter, are under obligation to Mr. R. S. Pearson who has so patiently given the facts on which these sketches have been based.  In many of these scenes Mr. Pearson was an actor and to his clear memory and facile forms of expression is due whatever of merit these papers possess.

            The Morning Intelligencer would be glad to see any letters or other matters bearing on our county's history.  Beginning next week will appear another, but a briefer, account, from a different point of view, a reprint of the history of the county by Judge S. M. Edwards, written in 1874.  In this the political and financial annals will be more especially set forth.  No man now living is better qualified for this work than Judge Edwards was at the time this was written, when the events were fresh in his memory.



Interview with Rufus S. Pearson

From The Mexico Mo Message, 28 Aug. 1913 pg 1 col 7


             Uncle Rufus S. Pearson, in his 88th year, one of the youngest old men in this town, is a very modest fellow but he knows more about the early days of Audrain county and the first improvements in Mexico than perhaps any other person now living.  We managed to pull a few observations from him the other day and make note of them here.

            Mr. Pearson came to Mexico in 1835 and has been here now longer'n anybody.  John W. Beatty is the next oldest first settler.  Mr. Beatty's father came from Illinois in 1842, settling on a farm north of Mexico.

            Wm. Piney Harrison, from Osage county, came to Mexico in 1850 and built the first two-story business house in the town.  It stood on the Ringo corner, where Worrell's Jewelry Store is now located, and faced the north.  Mr. Harrison and John P. Clark sold goods there two or three years, Harrison then selling out to Clark.  About 18 months after this Clark sold to Alfred and Carter Cauthorn, who were uncles of the late Ben Cauthorn.  In 1854 Dr. L. N. Hunter built the first drug store building.  It stood on the southwest corner of the square.  In 1854 or '55 John Reed hauled the framed timbers from Boone county and put up a store building on the southeast corner of the square, where the Savings Bank now stands.  His son, Dr. Tom Reed, put in a stock of drugs.

            Mr. Pearson tells the history straight, and he could tell very much more if you could get him to unfold himself.





The Mexico Ledger


            The following article is another in a series being written for the Ledger by S. M. Locke, vice-president of the Southern Bank, on early banking in Mexico. They give many interesting views of early days in Mexico aside from their historical value.


            In my first article regarding early banking in Audrain County, I neglected to mention William Harper as one of the organizers of the Southern Bank. He was for many years its Vice-President. Also omitted M. Y. Duncan, of the Savings Bank, who was afterwards its President. As has been stated, A. R. Ringo was our first banker. He was a native of Kentucky, and his wife was the daughter of Racoon John Smith, a noted preacher of his day. His home was the show place of the town in that day. A handsome Gothic house, fronting on Promenade Street, comprising all the ground now occupied by a dozen or more houses, also the ground now occupied by the Audrain Hospital, Jackson Street, not having been opened. Mr. Ringo was easily the most prominent citizen of the county. He did all the banking business, issued his own money, bought and sold hogs, cattle, mules and horses, and shipped them to market. "As good as A. R. Ringo" was the saying when solvency was spoken of. He was several times mayor, and was very useful in keeping peace between the Federal soldiers and citizens. The old Ringo Bank was situated on the Ringo corner where Gum Null now runs a private bank, besides having time to discuss, Pap Kennan, Charlie Powell and others of his satellites.      

             Banking business under such circumstances was both easy and profitable. The cashier of the Ringo Bank was John E. Dearing. He was not only a good banker, but the repository of mathematical knowledge in those days. There being no city scales, when a man brought a load of corn to town for sale, he first brought the measurements to Mr. Dearing, who would figure the number of bushels, which would be satisfactory for all concerned. Mr. Dearing was a Presbyterian of the strictest type. He had a brindle dog named Frank, and two boys named Wallace and Elon. No doubt he loved the boys, but his affection for Frank was most pronounced. It was "love me, love me dog" with him. Frank considered every dog in town his natural enemy, and he fought many potential battles safe behind the plate glass window at the bank. When a dog passed Frank would raise such a row that business would be suspended for the time.

            It is said that animals never forget anything. One day John C. Muldrow, the liveryman of the town, also the only auctioneer in those days, was passing. Seeing Frank's evident anxiety to get at a big dog on the outside, Mr. Muldrow took him firmly in the back of the neck and deposited him on the sidewalk. This, it seemed, was about the last thing Frank wanted done. After the scrap he came limping in, a lamer if not wiser dog. At any time after this when Frank would be lying on the inside, seemingly sound asleep, if Mr. Muldrow passed along on the sidewalk, Frank would awake in a most terrible rage, which would continue till Muldrow got out of sight.    

            One of Mr. Ringo's negroes kept up business relations with him long after he was free. George Clark, Vice-President of the North Missouri Trust Company, will remember him. His name was Kit, he had a game leg, and drove a garbage cart for a living. One day Kit dropped into the bank and said, "Mars Bert, please lend me a dollar till Sat'dy. I will pay you sho'." Mr. Ringo threw him a dollar, with the remark, "I'll bet you ten dollars you don't."  "I'll take de bet," said Kit, and went off happy laughing.