In the north-eastern part of the State, is bounded north by Lewis County, east by the Mississippi River, which separates it from Illinois, south by Ralls and Monroe, and west by Shelby county, and contains 280,509 acres.

POPULATION in 1830, 4,837; in 1840, 9,623; in 1850, 12,230; in 1860, 18,838; in 1870, 23,780, of whom 20,187 were white and 3.593 were colored; 12, 282 male and 11,498 female; 21,164 native (12,353 born in Missouri) and 2,616 foreign.


Previous to 1800 a tract of land lying upon the Bay de Charles, 3 miles above the present site of Hannibal, was granted to Manturi Bouvet, a trapper and fur trader. Some Canadian French join him here, and a little settlement sprung up with which the Indians carried on a lively trade, and on a fall or spring day a hundred bark canoes, loaded with furs and skins, might have been seen moored in the bay. Bouvet grew rich, and it was rumored that he possessed a barrel of gold which he kept buried near his house, and when a few years later his hut was burned and all trace of him was lost, many supposed that he had been murdered, while others believed that fearing that he would be treacherously dealt with, he fired his cabin himself while deep sleep was upon the little settlement, and taking his gold in a canoe, made his way to New Orleans. The ruins of the stone chimney are still to be seen, and also numerous cavities close by, made by parties digging for his gold. The grant was sold by the public administrator before the church door while the people were at service, and Charles de Gratiot became the purchaser. The deed made out in his name is recorded at St. Louis. Settlements were made South River Valley near Palmyra in 1814, at Taylor’s Mills in 1816, at Palmyra in 1818, and at Hannibal in 1819 by emigrants from Kentucky, Virginia, and North Carolina. The first families that cut their way through the forests were those of Grafford, Moss, McKay, Haywood, Durkee, and Foreman in 1814. These settlers were encouraged by the arrival in 1816 of the families of Bush, Turner, Bates, and Dulany. In 1817 came Feagan, Masterson, Lyle, Palmer, gash, Longmire, Parish, Nesbit, Vallandingham, Kethley and Culbertson. In 1818, Calvert, Spaulding, Donley, Young, Mathews, Willis, Barton, Lane, Shropshire, Richey, Ray, and White arrived–a hardy stock of immigrants. These were followed in 1819 by Armstrong, Walker, Rice, Lake, (the wife of Burgess Lake is now living in her eight fifth year, ) McFall, Frye and Taylor. In 1820 came McFarland, Dunn, Lear, Gupton, Fort and Glasscock, who are still living, and vividly recount the story of their early dangers and hardships. Hawkins Smith erected the first mill on South River, and the settlers came forty miles to mill, remaining one or two days for their grist. Palmyra afterwards became a great trading point for the Indians. The first difficulty between them and the whites occurred in 1817, when an Indian shot a white man and a few weeks later the white man killed the Indian. He was taken as a prisoner to St. Louis in a canoe.

The section of country just about Palmyra settled tip quite rapidly, the soil being of the finest quality and springs abounding. In the early days, the first Sunday after the arrival of a new settler the entire neighborhood called upon him, and carried him a piece of venison or some present of game, counted his negroes, (his influence was in proportion to the number of these,) and made arrangements to help him build his house. A log-rolling day was appointed, and with hearty good will a cabin was soon erected. The Sacs and Foxes hunted over this entire region, and the site of Palmyra was the council ground of these tribes long before the whites came into the country. After it was settled it was a favorite trading point with them, and their distinguished chiefs, Keokuk and Black Hawk, were frequently here. The venerable Presley Carr Lane, one of the few pioneers who yet remain (1874), says: “I well remember seeing, soon after the first settlement of Palmyra, the long file of Indians coming into the village, the men in advance, carrying nothing but bows and arrows, while the squaws brought up the rear, each one with a bark sack containing about 2 bushels of pecans, on her back ”

These pecans grew in the Mississippi Bottom, cast of Palmyra and north of Hannibal, but the trees have all been destroyed.

In these early days, every family raised from  to 50 to 100 pounds of cotton for home use, and the picking of this was turned into a merrymaking. The evening was the time selected, and the young people collected about the great log fire, when the cotton was drying, frolic and work going hand in hand. It does not require a vivid imagination to suggest that perhaps more than one love story was told, while the busy fingers separated the seed from the cotton. After it was picked, the women spun and wove it, and then fashioned it into garments.

Marion was taken from Ralls, and its boundaries defined, December 14th,1822; organized December 23d, 1826, and the first court was held March 26th, 1827, at the house of Richard Brewer; Elijah Stapp, James J. Mahan, Wm. J. McElroy and John Longmire. justices.. Joshua Gentry, sheriff, and Theodore Jones, clerk. The court adjourned for dinner, and re-assembled in the house of Abraham K. Frye, when Daniel Hendricks presented his commission from the Governor, and took his seat as one of the justices. The settlement of Marion was greatly increased from 1830 to 1835, by efforts made in Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburg by Mr. Wm. Muldrow. About 300 immigrants came into the county through his efforts, and a town called Marion City was laid off 6 miles east of Palmyra in 1834, but in the great freshet of 1844, it was entirely washed away. . Marion College, and the preparatory schools at East and West Ely (manual labor schools) , were established,
and the services of such men as Ezra S. Ely, D.D., Dr. D. Nelson, Rev. Marks, D.D., Profs. McKee, Potts, Goodrich, Hays, Roach and Blatchford were secured. These schools flourished for 10 years, and were then

This county furnished troops for the Black Hawk War in 1832; for the Florida War in 1837 ; for the Mormon War in 1838; for the Mexican War in 1846; and for the Civil War in 1861. Marion County has been the residence of a number of distinguished men : 5 congressmen, 5 State senators, also Bishop Marvin Nelson, the author of a work on Infidelity, Dr. Hobson, Uriel Wright, Judge Dryden, Samuel Glover
and Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens).


Probably two-thirds of the surface is undulating prairie; the woodland is thin along the margins of the streams, extending here and there into the prairies, and embraces hickory, oak, black walnut, sugar-maple, ash, sassafras, haw, elm, honey-locust, etc. The county is drained by North and South Fabius, Troublesome, Saline and Grassy Creeks, North and South Rivers, and many smaller streams. ‘I’here are also many fine springs of pure water, besides several chalybeate and sulphur springs. The soil in the bottoms is very fertile, and oil the prairie is underlaid by a siliceous marl, which contains all the elements necessary to render it exceedingly fertile. North and east of Palmyra are considerable bodies of land which sustain a heavy growth
of American elm. The soil of these elm lands is second to none ill the State in point of fertility.

Hannibal Cave, situated 1 mile below, the city of Hannibal and about a quarter of a mile from the Mississippi River, is approached through a broad ravine hemmed in by lofty ridges which are at right angles with the river. The antechamber is about 8 feet high and 15 feet long; this descends into the Narrows, thence through Grand Avenue to a spacious hall called Washington Avenue through which the Altar Chamber is reached, where crystal quartz rock, carbonate of lime and sulphate of magnesia abound ; and stalactites and stalagmites, continually forming by limestone percolations, are everywhere seen. The larger  portion of the rock formations of the cave are of the kind styled “lithographic stone.” By crawling in the Bat Avenue Chamber stealthily, the bats may be seen hanging from the ceiling in clusters like a swarm of bees. A few years ago a king bat was caught in this chamber by Wm J. Marsh, which measured 15 inches from tip to tip. Washington Avenue, over 16 feet high, with long corridors of stalactites and stalagmites, is the largest and most spacious, of all the divisions of the cave. At one place in it is a spring of living water, and at another in a deep pool are found the wonderful eyeless fish. Nitre also abounds here in the crude state, and saltpetre was manufactured here thirty years ago. Another very interesting department is the Devil’s Hall. This is large, wide and spacious, with horizontal ceiling, and smooth, level floor. In the rear of this chamber, is the Alligator Rock, a stone bearing a, wonderful resemblance to that animal, Beyond this is the Elephant’s Head, at the confluence of two avenues that lead to regions far beyond. Here also are seen two natural wells, which are circular in shape and filled with limpid water. Then comes the Table Rock, which, is elevated twenty feet above the head, with regular steps to ascend on one and descend on the opposite side, down to the western terminus of the cave. A visit will amply repay the day’s time spent in its exploration. This cavern   was the rendezvous of French Canadians a hundred years ago, and for the Indians long prior to that time. In 1840, Dr. Joseph McDowell, of St. Louis, purchased it with the intention of using it as a grand museum. Anatomical and mineralogical specimens were brought and assigned a place in the cave, and a sarcophagus was cut and the remains of a child were deposited in the Altar Chamber.
Murphy’s Cave, in Ides,Hill near the center of Hannibal, was discovered in 1872, by some workmen who were digging for fire-clay, and is similar to Hannibal Cave.

Ure’s Cave is in the rear of the same hill, but is not so extensive as the two just mentioned.

Lover’s Leap, a promontory 300 feet above the Mississippi River, is in South Hannibal, and commands a fine view of the city and surrounding country.

THE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIONS are wheat, corn, oats, hay and fruit. In the vicinity of Hannibal there are several fine vineyards, and grapes are grown to some extent in every part of the county. Stock-raising, especially of thoroughbreds, is an important industry.

THE MINERAL RESOURCES consist of coal clay, limestone and freestone.

MANUFACTURING INTERESTS.-Flour, lumber, railroad cars, lime and blank books are all manufactured to some extent, and three extensive potteries are now in operation in the county.


Valuation of the county per census of 1870, $15,750,000.

Note: Assessed valuation in 1873, $9,716,967. Bonded debt, $80,000. Mason township has a railroad debt of $200,000 and Liberty township, $85,000. The bonded of Hannibal is $240,000. The floating debt, $70,000.


There are 80 miles of railroad in operation, and about, 3 miles in  process of construction. The Hannibal and St. Joseph R. R. extends from Hannibal north-west to Palmyra, and from Quincy southwest to the same point, thence south-west, returning to pass through the extreme south-western part of the county. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas R. R., from Hannibal, follows the southern line of the county for about 12 Miles.

The Toledo. Wabash & Western R. R. has about 1 mile of road above Hannibal. The Quincy, Alton & St. Louis R. R., furnishes a convenient route to Quincy and St. Louis via Hannibal and Fall Creek junction R. R. The Keokuk & St. Louis R. R. passes through the county along the Mississippi River, and is now completed and cars are running to Hannibal, a distance of 22 miles. The 3 miles remaining will soon be completed. The St. Louis, Hannibal & Keokuk R. R. is completed from Hannibal south-westwardly to the southern line of Ralls County, and when completed will connect with the St. L., K. C. & N. R. W., probably at Dardenne, thus furnishing another direct route to St. Louis. The Mississippi Valley & Western R. R. is completed to Hannibal, and cars are now running.

THE EXPORTS are wheat, beef, pork and fruits.


There is a growing feeling in favor of public schools, and nearly every sub-district is supplied with a comfortable school-house. Excellent teachers are employed, and the schools generally are of a high grade, especially in Hannibal and Palmyra, where very superior educational advantages are found.


Barkley, named for its first settler, Levi Barkley, a station on the H. & St. J. R. R., 5 miles s. of Palmyra and 10 miles n. w. from Hannibal, is an important shipping point for stock and fruit.

Bear Creek, on the H. &, St. J. R. R., 5 miles w. of Hannibal, has 1 patent lime kiln, 1 cooper shop, 1 stone crusher and 1 lime quarry which s extensively worked.

Benbow, (formerly Midway,) 18 miles n. w. of Palmyra, has 1 public  school, 2 churches–Methodist and Presbyterian, 2 stores and 1 wagon shop.

Caldwell.-See Woodland.

Ely, on the H. & St. J. R. R., 9 miles s. w. of Palmyra.

Emerson, 13 miles w. n. w. of Palmyra, was settled at an early day by Messrs. True, Jones, McPike and Emerson. It was laid off Jan. 20th, 1837, and called Houston, but in 1859 the name was changed to Emerson. it has 1 public ,school, 3 churches-Methodist, Baptist and Christian, and 4 stores and several shops.

Hannibal, in the southeastern corner of the county, the terminus of the H. & St. J. R. R., and the M., K. & T. R. R., and on the K. & H. R. R. is situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, which is bridged at this point, thus making Hannibal the western terminus of the T., W. & W., and F.C. Branch of Q., A. & St. L. R. R’ds. It is also the northern terminus of the M., K. & T. R. R., and present terminus of the M., V. & W. R. R., and of the St. L., H. & K. R. R., which is in operation from. Frankford to Hannibal, a distance of 18 miles. The city is built between Holliday’s Hill on the north, and Lover’s Leap on the south, and is divided by Bear Creek and Ide’s Hill into North Hannibal and South Hannibal. It extends two miles back from. the river, over the valley of the creek and tip on the hillsides, making a beautiful and picturesque city. In early times it was known as Staveley’s Landing. Lots were sold here to settlers in 1817, and in 1819 the town was regularly laid off by Thos. Bird, on a New Madrid claim. The first keel boat was built by Moses D. Bates & Bro., and in 18 1 7 the first named built the first log cabin. The oldest portion of the town is near the ferry landing; after this Palmyra Avenue was settled and then Main Street. For years after its settlement, Indian wigwams dotted the hills about it, but they decreased in number as white settlers came in. In the fall of 1828, the families of Giles Thompson, Joseph Brashear, Amos Gridley, Zachariah G. Draper, Reuben Turner, Theophilus Stone and Joshua Mitchell constituted the inhabitants of Hannibal. Mr. Mitchell, now (1874) 70 years old, says when he arrived, the present site of’ Hannibal was a forest of oak, walnut and hackberry, with a derise underbrush of hazel and that he rode from St. Louis on horseback, finding but three settlers between New London and Hannibal-Stephen Dodd, Stark Simms -and James Mills. In 1829, Mr. Mitchell built the first in on the first brick frame house of the town, and in 1823 Joseph Hamilton the first brick house on the Levee, between Bird and Hill. Joab Smith and Mr. Johnson, of St. Louis, in 1833, built the first steam saw-mill, on the corner of Main and Broadway, now occupied by Mr. J. Settle’s clothing Store. In 1826, Mr. John Fry and family settled in the town, followed bv Mr. Robert Buchanan in 1832.

The commerce of the Upper Mississippi, until 1829, was carried on by keel boats, manned chiefly by French Canadians; ten to twelve days were required to make the trip from St. Louis to Hannibal. In 1833 the inhabitants of the town numbered 35, and 1 steamboat arrived and departed per week.

The families then residing there, in addition to those already mentioned, were as follows: Samuel Stone, Joseph Craig, Samuel Bowen, Abraham Curts, Abner Nash, Isaac Holt, A. McGinnis, John L. Lacy, James Clark, John Nelson and James Conroy. In 1837 Thos. E. Brittingham arrived from Maryland, and in 1839 he built his present brick residence. The same year Dr. B. T. Norton, J. Pierce and. William McDaniel arrived-the latter in a snow storm, and was only able to find accommodation for himself and family in an outhouse, and it was impossible for him to find supplies for man or beast. Bear Creek at that time passed in a serpentine course through what is now the chief business part of the town; South Hannibal was a dense forest, and West Hannibal a favorite hunting ground.

At quite an early day Dr. Nelson preached to the people, and the first church (Methodist)- was organized in 1835 by George W. Bewley. In 1837 Dr. Marks, now (1874) of Webster Groves, organized the first Presbyterian church. In 1847 a charter was obtained for the H. & St. R. R,, and this secured the future prosperity of the city, and in 1845 the Keokuk & St. Louis Packet Co.-was organized, which added much to the business of Hannibal. From 1825 to 1835 New London, Palmyra, Hannibal, Scipio, Marion City and Quincy were the great cities of the West, and much jealousy existed between them. In 1825 New London and Palmyra were rivals in 1837 Palmyra and Marion City; in 1829 Hannibal and Scipio, and finally a spirited rivalry between Palmyra and Hannibal. The last came off victorious in the succeeding decade, and was incorporated as a city in 1839. The oldest settlers now living are Thos. E. Brittingham, Joshua Mitchell, John Fry, Robert Buchanan, Theophilus Stone, Abraham Curts and John L. Lacy. The corporate limits embrace about 3,000 acres of land, and the business of the city may, be inferred from the following figures. There were sold from this place and carried over the various railroad lines centering here, nearly 100,000,000 feet of lumber, 100,000 barrels of lime and 150,000 barrels of flour, manufactured here; and many thousand pounds of tobacco. There were slaughtered here in 1873, 16,000 hogs and several thousand cattle. The city contains about 350 stores and business houses, 2 extensive car shops, which have turned out some fine palace cars, 1 large foundry and many smaller manufactories. A fine union depot is soon to be erected; also a grand hotel and a capacious grain elevator. There are 2 newspapers-the Courier, published by the Winchell & Ebert Printing Company, and the Clipper, by Rich & Newberry, 6 public schools and 1 high school-3,229 children of school age with a regular attendance of 1,000 ($25,000 are expended annually for school purposes), 11 churches-Baptist, membership 265 ; Presbyterian, 275 ; Congregational, 350; Episcopal, 200; Lutheran, 75 ; Baptist 150; Methodist (col.), 260; M. E. Ch. South, 250; M- E- Church, 300; Catholic, 500 adult members; Arch Street Methodist, 100 ; Christian Church, 225. The Union Stock Yards are new, admirably arranged, and easy of access.

The North Missouri Fair Grounds are near the city, and have been beautifully laid off at an expense of $60,000. Hannibal now has a population of 12,575, and with the natural advantages it possesses, together with the intelligence and enterprise which characterize the people, its past vigorous growth is but a promise of greater prosperity in the future,

The Hannibal bridge, erected in 1870 and 1871, at a cost of $385,000 is a combined railroad and highway bridge over teh Mississippi, and the trains of the C., B. & Q. R. R., and T., W. & W. R. R. pass over this bridge and through the tunnel, which is cut through Halliday’s Hill, 1 mile above the city, and is 302 feet long, 20 feet high, and 18 feet wide.


Founded under the auspices of a few patrons of learning, chief among whom were R. F. Lakenan, J. L. RoBards, J. W. Brady, John Ure, J. H. McVeigh and Wm. Dresher, was open in the fall of 1869, since which time 650 students have received instruction in the higher collegiate branches. The charter provides that the Bible shall be taught daily to all who receive instruction at the institution. Its endowment at present consists of 35 acres of land lying within the corporate limits of the city, valued at $10,000, and donated by R. F. Lakenan. This college, under the able management of its President, Rev. Prof. Leo Baier, is made self-supporting.


In 1864, the Catholic church of Hannibal, with funds raised by subscription, purchased the building and grounds of the Hannibal Institute (an unsuccessful private school) and deeded the property to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who the next year opened a parochial school, which has grown into a flourishing Academy. Extensive improvements have been made, and more ground added, till the property is valued at $15,000 to $30,000. They can accommodate 120 boarders and 300 pupils.

Hester, 8 miles w. s. w. of Quincy, and 9 miles n. of Palmyra, is a new town in the midst of a well timbered and fine agricultural district.

Naomi, 16 miles n. w. of Palmyra on Troublesome Creek, has been recently laid out, and is surrounded by well-cultivated farms.

Nelsonville, a P. 0. 25 miles w. n. w. of Palmyra, is near the northwest corner of the county.

New Market, 12 miles w. of Palmyra, has 1 store, 1 wagon shop,and 1 hotel. This place was laid out November 24th, 1836, by Messrs. Hawkins and Burch.

North River, a P. O. situated in the forks of North River, 9 miles W. s. w. of Palmyra, is a comparatively new town. This section of country was known as “Turkey Shin,” because wild turkeys abounded, and regular hunting excursions were made thither by the early inhabitants.

North River Station, a station on the 11. & St. J. R. R., is 9 miles from Quincy and 5 miles n. n. e. of Palmyra.


The county seat, on the H. & St. J. R. R., 14 miles from Hannibal, and 14 from west Quincy, is in the midst of the ” Elm Lands” whose marvelous beauty and fertility became early in the settlement of Missouri, an attraction to those seeking homes in the “Far West.” Great inroads have been made upon those elm forests, and now following almost any of the roads leading from the city, are seen farm after farm of golden grain, flowery fields of clover, and magnificent orchards of fruit, which extend far back into the country. There are 7 never-failing springs in and around the city, which form the stream that runs through the heart of Palmyra, and empties into North River.   The largest, known as the “town spring,” is remembered by many a weary traveler, and affords abundant water for the entire city. Hugh White was the original owner of the site, and March 24th, 1819, he conveyed it to Samuel K. Caldwell and Obadiah Dickerson, who afterwards sold an interest in it to Joel Shaw and John McCune and the location of each gentleman’s portion was decided by lot. The city is regularly laid out and is substantially arid tastefully built, having about 30 stores and numerous shops, 2 flouring-mill’s, 2 breweries, 1 brick yard, 2 pork packing houses, 2 banks, 2 public and 2 private schools, and Ingleside Academy, under the patronage of the Baptist denomination, Mrs. P. A. Baird principal, 11 churches-M. E. Ch., M. E. Ch. South, Reformed, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Catholic, 0. S. Presbyterian, also colored Baptist and Methodist, 2 newspapers, The Spectator, published by Jacob Losey, and the New Era, by Leflet & Gordon. Population about 3,000- During the late Civil War a skirmish occurred at Palmyra between Col. Porter’s forces (Confederate) and about 80 Federal troops under Capt. D. Duback, in which 1 citizen fell and others were wounded.

Philadelphia, 12 miles w. of Palmyra, was laid out by Wm. Muldrow, Dec. 19th, 1835. It has 1 Union church, 1 public school, 3 stores and several shops.

Sharpsburg, 5 miles n. w. of Monroe City and 22 miles s. w. of Palmyra, is a small village which was settled at an early day.

Springdale, on the M., K. & T. R. R. 8 miles w. of Hannibal, is a newly laid off town in the center of a fine country.

Taylor, On the M, P. R. R- 5 miles w- Of West Quincy and 6 miles n. of Palmyra, is a small town laid off and chiefly owned by Capt. Jno. Taylor, who settled here in 1820.

Warren, 15 miles w. s. w. of Palmyra, was laid off in 1844 by Messrs. McElroy and Edelin. It is surrounded by a good farming country, and contains 1 church, 1 public school, 1 store and several shops.

West Ely,: 10 miles s. of Palmyra, has 2 stores, several shops, 2 public schools and 2 churches-Lutheran and Presbyterian.

West Quincy, on the H. & St. J. R. R. has 1 public school, 1 store, 1 lumber yard, 1 planing mill and 1 union depot.

Wither’s- Mills, on the H. & St. J. R. R. 7 1/2 miles from Hannibal and the same distance from Palmyra, has 1 school and 1 Baptist church.

Woodland, (Caldwell,) on the H. & St. J. R. R. 5 miles s. w. of Palmyra, has 1 store, 1 schoolhouse, and a Baptist church. This village is surrounded by a rich agricultural country.

Source: Campbell, R. A. (Robert Allen), b. 1836 or 7. Campbell’s Gazetteer of Missouri. St. Louis: R. A. Campbell, 1874