Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Historic Huntsville Missouri" Website

About 13 years ago I created a website on Rootsweb Freepages called "Historic Huntsville." I never did much with it except provide an incomplete history and a bunch of links to other websites. And so it sat for 13 years with only minor updates a year or two later. Then last week after completing work on my "Historic Map of Randolph County" I decided to revisit it, perhaps complete the history and write my own pages instead of linking elsewhere. One week later it is done. In the meantime the web address has changed. Last Monday Ancestry.com had a Distributed Denial of Service Attack. This knocked Freepages offline for about a week. Freepages was operational for a few hours Friday which allowed me to complete the history, then again I did not have access until today. This gave me time to complete the biographies and other pages. I also decided to move the site to Google Sites. Google Sites allowed me more features such as a site search, and overall made the site easier to manage. The resulting site is much bigger than the old one with added features such as the "Historic Map of Randolph County;" a map of Huntsville; a photo gallery; a section for community news; new listings for Huntsville clubs, churches, government offices, and businesses; and all new biographies of famous people that have lived in and around Huntsville. I am rather proud of it although it could be so much more, and I am going to work to add to it. I need to bring the history up to present times, and I need to find news to add to the community news section. But for now it is a working and I hope informative site. If you wish to visit it go to: https://sites.google.com/site/historichuntsvillemissouri/ If you have any comments please email me at the links provided or comment here. I could have enabled site comments, and I am still considering it, but for now they are disabled.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Map of Historic Places in Randolph County, Missouri

A while back I got the idea of trying to document the villages and towns that have existed in Randolph County Missouri. In the early days there were places that were little more than a store and a post office that are now forgotten, yet they were important enough to make it on maps of the time. Among these are Bournesburg, Edwardsville, Oak Point, and Smithland. In the case of Bounresburg, Edwardsville, and Smithland their rough locations are known. Other early places have had their names and knowledge of their locations survive to the present day like Mount Airy and Milton. Still others like Elk Fork and Berthaville despite appearing on maps leave us confused as to their locations.

Later, after the early settlements, mining towns would be founded often within a couple miles of each other as competing mining companies did not wish to use the others' towns. Such is the case with Shafton and Tuanton which were within a mile or two of each other and only a mile or so from present day Renick. These too have largely disappeared and been forgotten. Some mining towns though despite having only a brief existence remain on the map. Kimberly and Harkes are just a couple of examples of such towns.

Some of the locations of places on this map are conjecture and where that is the case a question mark is placed after the name. With some places only a rough location is known, but in those cases I have hoped from directions given in old newspapers and histories to have located the places within a mile or two of where they were. Such is the case with Shafton and McMullen. The location of many places are well known in the county, and some remain on maps to this day. Outside of the major towns these are Darksville, Fort Henry, Grand Center, Hubbard, Kimberly, Levick's Mill, Milton, Mount Airy, Roanoke, Rolling Home, Ryder, and Yates. There is a special exception and that is Kribb's Corner (Kribbsville) which has never appeared on maps or had a post office. It was an attempt at a village that never gained traction in the mid to late 20th century. but remains in people's memories. Finally, there are villages and stores the location of which may never be known. From a post office list there were once places named Breckenridge, Clarno, Hillis Crown and Plum Point. Some such as Hillis Crown even operated post offices for up to 12 years. Yet they are now forgotten.

Towns, villages, and settlements are designated by stars on the map. Historic places are designated by circles. And diamonds designate geographic features. Settlements and mining towns listed besides the major towns are Allen, Belview, Berthaville, Bournesberg, Darksville, Edwardsville, Elliot, Elk Fork, Fort Henry, Grand Center, Harkes (Wilcox), Hubbard, Kimberly, Kribb's Corner,  Levick's Mill, McClainsville, McMullen, Milton, Mount Airy (Uptonville), Oak Point, Penney's, Roanoke, Russell, Ryder, Shafton, Smithland, Sunshine, Taunton, Thomas Hill, and Yates. All of these are in Randolph County except for McClainsville which is over the county line in Macon County, and Russell which is right on the Randolph and Howard County line. Historic places listed are Bagby's Mill. the Battle of Roan's Tanyard, Burkhartt's Fields and the Monkey Nest Mine. Geographic areas that are listed are Dark's Prairie, Foster's Prairie, Grand Prairie, and Titherow Hills. To enlarge the map in another window, please click on the little rectangle in the upper right hand corner. You can zoom in and out by clicking on the + and -.  And when you click on one of the icons (rectangle, circle, or star) you get little tidbits of information about the place.

If you see any corrections that need to be made to the map, let me know. And if you know of anything that needs to be added by all means let me know. This is very much a work in progress.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Beware of Companies Selling you Family Coats of Arms and Crests

One of my interests over the years has been heraldry. Heraldry is defined by the Oxford Dictionaries as "the system by which coats of arms and other armorial bearings are devised, described, and regulated." I have been aware for a number of years individuals of my mother's family held coats of arms. One is described in the February 23, 1896 issue of the Courier-Journal (published in Louisville, KY) as "a prostrate foe, an exalted victor standing over him with upraised club." This is just a description, not an official blazon.  Blazoning is the way a herald describes what a coat of arms looks like. If a herald blazons an arms he or she is in a fairly precise language using specialized terminology describing what a coat of arms looks like. A heraldric artist can then take this description using standardized pictures and colors and reproduce what the arms look like in a work of art such as on a shield or a scroll.  It is a science developed over centuries of work on coats of arms and family crests. Another coat of arms registered to an individual of the Towles family is found in the book Encyclopaedia Heraldica Or Complete Dictionary of Heraldry Vol. 1 (as well as in other works of the period), and is blazoned "per pale, and per chev. erm. and sa. four cinquefoils counterchanged."

Having found these arms my curiosity was piqued so I went searching for more coats of arms registered to individuals of the Towles family. As usual with the searches on Google for the topic "coat of arms" results came up from many of the companies purporting to sell folks scrolls and plaques with their "family coat of arms" or "family crests" on them as well as family histories. I came up with results from companies such as 4crests.com and House of Names. I knew immediately that these companies had not done their research. House of Names and 4crests.com both give previews of one's "family coat of arms" or "family crest." In the case of both the arms pictured I knew from books listing the arms of various families were registered to an ancestor of the Tolson family, not the Towles family. They also had these arms as being the arms of the Towle family. Apparently according to these sites, these arms are the coat of arms of many familes with Towl- or Tol- in their name. While there is some evidence the Towle and Towles families may be related, I am aware of none showing that the Tolson and Towles families are. Similarity of names though was enough for these companies to assume the families were somehow related and therefore the coat of arms of one individual of the Tolson family must be the coat of arms of all these families. Of course this is not so. The arms of an individual of the Tolson family are in no way the coat of arms of the entire Towles or Towle families.

Further to the point, families from England and France do not have "coats of arms." A coat of arms is awarded to an individual, not a family. While a child may have the right to have their father's arms as a part of their own, for the most part arms are unique to an individual and are not hereditary. It has always been that way as long as the various England and France have been granting coats of arms. On the College of Arms Website FAQ (which serves the United Kingdom) it says this:
Q. Do coats of arms belong to surnames?
A. No. There is no such thing as a 'coat of arms for a surname'. Many people of the same surname will often be entitled to completely different coats of arms, and many of that surname will be entitled to no coat of arms. Coats of arms belong to individuals. For any person to have a right to a coat of arms they must either have had it granted to them or be descended in the legitimate male line from a person to whom arms were granted or confirmed in the past.

Therefore telling someone their family has a "coat of arms" is entirely misleading. Some nations did assign coats of arms to families, but many of these sites do not distinguish between countries that awarded arms to families and those that did so only to individuals. They give the impression all countries awarded arms to families which is not so. Now in England, families did and do have heraldric achievements, more commonly known as "family crests." These are the items surrounding the shield on which a coat of arms is portrayed. Crests usually consist of something like a helm atop the shield and supporters to either side of the shield like lions or other animals or items often with a scroll under the shield with the family motto. Even then some families that are not related to each may use the same crest, and sometimes the same motto. A crest is not necessarily unique to a family, and a family may use more than one crest (I have found two for the Towles family). If you can document the coat of arms of one of your ancestors from a reliable source such as Burke's Peerage or the United Kingdom College of Arms, and you find that one of these companies has that individual's arms as your "family coat of arms" and want a cool representation of them then buying a plaque or some such might be great. But otherwise do not rely on these companies to honestly give you a "family coat of arms" or a "family crest" or even a reliable family history. Instead turn to reliable sources such as Burke's Peerage and see if you can find arms registered to your ancestors. If you are of English, Welsh, or Scottish descent you can pay to have the College of Arms do research for you  (a warning though if you go that route it is a very expensive undertaking). The point is though do not rely on these "coat of arms" companies for research into any arms ancestors of your family may have used. They simply are not reliable enough to do so.

For more information on coats of arms I suggest the following websites:  College of Arms http://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/ and Burke's Peerage http://www.burkespeerage.com/

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Repeal Daylight Savings Time

I wanted to let you know about a new petition I created on We the People,
a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov, and ask for your support. Will you add your
name to mine?  If this petition gets 100,000 signatures by April 09, 2014,
the White House will review it and respond!

Here's some more information about this petition:

Cease the practice of Daylight Savings Time and go to Standard
Time all year long.

We need to move to Standard Time year round. Every November and March we  change the clocks backwards and forwards. Studies have shown each time we  move the clocks backwards or forwards there is an increase in car accidents,  workplace accidents, and heart attacks in the two or three days that follow.
It has been shown that Daylight Savings Time does not save energy as it was  supposed to do, and costs millions in lost revenue. Many children have to get  up and go to school in the dark in March when clocks are moved forward, and  then again in the early Fall months as days get shorter. Going to Standard Time year round would prevent the increased risk of accidents and health  issues as well as allow children and workers to travel to school or work when  it is light outside.

You can view and sign the petition here:


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Many Benefits of Hemp and What it Could Mean to Missouri

Long ridiculed and called "ditch weed" by marijuana users for its low THC content, and yet still banned by the government due to essentially being a variety of the same plant marijuana is, hemp seems to get no love. Hemp is banned as it is simply another variety of cannabis, the same plant marijuana is a variety of. Yet it has many, many uses in industry. The one most historians may be familiar with is in making rope. At one time Missouri was one of the top producers of industrial hemp, and with that production of hemp came rope factories. In the small town of Huntsville, Missouri where I live in there were actually two rope factories and the same was true of other small towns around Missouri in the 1900s. It was a big industry, and could be once again. Even George Washington grew hemp.

Unlike its more well known cousin marijuana, hemp is a hearty plant that is easy to grow. It does not need any special care. Indeed, you basically plant it and it grows until you harvest it. There are fields of it here in my county that have grown wild for over 150 years. This despite being routinely cut down and burned by law enforcement officers to show that they were waging a war on drugs. The fact is hemp has only 1% THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that gets one high. It therefore cannot be used as a recreational drug. Hemp is a plant that does not harm its environment by needing fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. It therefore has very little impact on its environment. In essence, industrial hemp is easy to grow, and at the same time gives high yields in a little space. It is therefore a desirable cash crop to grow from an economic standpoint when one considers what it can be used for.

Its uses are many, in addition to rope, industrial hemp can be used to make textiles for clothing among other things. Cloth made from it is very durable and it can be used to make jeans, coats, T-shirts, suits, shoes and yet it can also be mixed with other fibers like silk to make lingerie. It is so durable it can be used to make heavy canvas of the variety you use to cover your car or boat. Industrial hemp's potential for use in the garment industry alone are reason enough to permit its being grown and used in manufacturing. However, it has many other uses. One is in the manufacture of plastic. Many plastics today are made from petroleum which has a negative impact on the environment in their production. Plastic made from hemp though would have much less of an impact on the environment and would be cheaper to produce as well given the price of petroleum these days.  And the plastic from hemp is very durable. In 1941 Henry Ford had a car made that had doors and fenders made of hemp and soy plastic. He demonstrated its durability by using a sledge hammer on it. Unfortunately, the car never made it out of the stage of being a prototype. Now though many automakers are moving to using hemp plastics in their cars. Ford, GM, Honda, and Mercedes are all manufacturing door panels and dashboards molded from hemp plastic. Currently, most of the hemp used to make this plastic is grown overseas, but it could be grown here if the ban on industrial hemp were to be lifted. In addition to car parts hemp plastic can be used to make plastic bags, water bottles, computer parts, nearly anything and everything currently made out of plastic from petrochemicals. Hemp can also be used to manufacture such building materials as insulation, fiberboard, floor tiles, floor boards caulking, shingles, and more. There is even a form of concrete called hempcrete which is a mixture of hemp hurds and lime and sometimes additional ingredients like sand. It is not brittle like regular concrete and therefore has the advantage of  not needing expansion joints when used in construction. One of the oldest uses for hemp is to make paper, and this was done as early as 2,000 years ago. Most paper today is made of wood pulp, and the trees to get the wood pulp from take years to grow. Hemp on the other hand can be harvested every year. By using hemp for paper we would be saving our forests, and our forests help fight global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air. Finally, hemp oil can be used to manufacture biodiesel much like vegetable oil is used now. With dwindling petroleum supplies, the price of diesel is only going to go up, and a cheaper alternative needs to be found. Hemp oil can provide one of those alternatives.

Given all of hemp's uses the legalization of industrial hempcould mean an economic boon for stagnating rural. economies where it could be grown. With all its uses, its growth and use in manufacturing could bring billions of dollars into rural areas with struggling economies like the one I live in. The county  I live in, Randolph County, Missouri was once one of the biggest producers of hemp in the nation. There were four rope factories alone. Now imagine what a county like the one I live in could have with the legalization of hemp now we know even more uses for it? In addition to hemp farms, there could be clothing factories, rope factories, plastic factories, places that produce fiberboard and insulation, bio-fuel plants, to name a few things. It only makes sense to place these plants near where hemp is grown, and Missouri is ideal for growing hemp. With Missouri towns suffering from the loss of industries to places overseas, the railroads ceasing passenger service and closing lines, hemp could serve to revive ailing economies. There is no reason to be against the legalization of hemp with its many uses in manufacturing. Even marijuana has many medical uses that could benefit the economy.

But alas those wanting marijuana legalized for recreational and medical use drown out those that may present the more logical argument that the legalization of marijuana will also mean legalizing industrial hemp with all its economic benefits. Politicians love money, and tell them their backers can make a lot of money growing and using hemp in manufacturing, and they might be more behind lifting bans on both varieties of cannabis. Right now according to a recent poll 51% of Missouri voters are against lifting the ban on the growth and sale of cannabis. The reason perhaps is that all these voters think the legalizing of the growth and sale of cannabis would mean is that potheads would have the legal right to get stoned. Their minds shift to the dangers of people driving cars and operating heavy equipment while high from smoking marijuana. But lifting the ban on the growth and sale of cannabis could mean much more than that. It could mean bringing a lot of money into rural economies that badly need it. As for the dangers of people driving or operating heavy equipment while high from smoking cannabis we have the same problem with folks doing such while drunk, and no one is suggesting we go back to the prohibition of alcohol. Even though I have pointed out the benefits of hemp here, there are many reasons for marijuana to be legal as well with its many uses in medicine as a potential way to fight cancer. Even recreational use can benefit the economy. Colorado is expected to make over one billion dollars off of taxes on marijuana sold for recreational use. Such an influx of tax money for the state government to use could mean better schools and better roads that would benefit all. The reasons for keeping the ban on the growing and sale of cannabis are dwindling. There simply are too many reasons to make it legal, and rural Missouri economies need it. With the legalization of cannabis we could see a new era of prosperity for small Missouri towns. If you wish, by all means share this post to Facebook, Google+, or tweet it on Twitter. And write your State Legislators. Tell them you want it to be legal to grow industrial hemp and use it in manufacturing. I could care less myself whether marijuana is ever made legal, but I feel passionate about making it legal to grow industrial hemp, and to use it in manufacturing in Missouri. However, if marijuana has to be legalized for industrial hemp to be grown, so be it. You can get your State Legislator's addresses by going to the State Senate website. Just enter your address in the Legislator Lookup form and it will give you all the contact information for your State Senator and State Representative. The State Senate website is at: http://www.senate.mo.gov/

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Forgotten Village of Smithland, Randolph County, Missouri

On many maps of the State of Missouri dating between the years 1844 and 1875 there appears a place called "Smithland" located in the Southern part of Randolph County. Often it may be the only place shown in the county besides Huntsville and Mount Airy, places still remembered today. Smithland though has been largely forgotten. Many that have lived their entire lives in and around the town of Higbee, Missouri but two or three miles away have never heard of it. Its name does not appear once in the numerous county histories written as early as 1884. I, myself did not recall ever hearing of it, and would have been blissfully unaware of Smithland had I not noticed the name on so many maps of the period. I therefore went on a quest to learn more about it. The only place I found detailed information on it was from was a pamphlet entitled Higbee Centennial 1872-1972: Higbee Through the Years compiled and edited by Emily F. Patison now deceased. I presume the information in the pamphlet was compiled from early editions of the Higbee News (sadly for many years a defunct newspaper) about the history of the area many years before at a time when folks remembered Smithland. While what information there was was enlightening, it did not answer the one question I had, exactly where was Smithland? The early maps clearly show it in the Southern Part of Randolph County in the general area of the towns and villages of Higbee, Roanoke, and Yates. That is a very large area though. Too, I had many other questions about it. While the piece from the Centennial pamphlet was interesting, it really did not provide much information. So I went searching.

Here is what I learned. Smithland was an active community roughly between 1830 and 1871 founded by prominent landowner Joel Smith. It served as a stage coach stop on a line from Hannibal, Missouri to Fayette, Missouri, and had a post office that served between 1838 and 1858 (it was only one of five in the county at the time). In 1833, State Representative George Frederick Burckhardt of Randolph County was going to introduce a bill declaring the stage road from Paris, Missouri via Smithland to Fayette, Missouri a state road. I could not find out whether he did or did not do so. According to Esther Leech's Master's Thesis published in 1933 Place Names Of Six East Central Counties Of Missouri  the stage line stopped operation when the Western  Branch of the North Missouri Railroad began operation which would have been in 1866. The biography of William Smith, son of Joel Smith found in Randolph County, Missouri, Cemetery Records and Histories says much the same thing. I also learned from Missouri As It Is in 1867 by Nathan Parker that in 1867 Smithland had a population of only 50. The last State of Missouri map I can find that it appears on is from 1875. As early as 1885 it was being called "Old Smithland" in obituaries. In this part of the country a town or village is only called "Old" if it has ceased to exist. However, in its heyday Smithland boasted a post office, a small inn, a blacksmith shop, a general store, a tavern, and even a horse race track. It was large enough that political rallies were sometimes held there according to old stories told by old timers of their parents found in editions of the Moberly Monitor-Index from the 1930s.

What caused its decline is anyone's guess. Its post office ceased operation in 1858, the same year the Renick post office in Randolph County opened. Indeed, it is said in such sources as Ester Leech's thesis that Smithland was displaced by Renick. The Civil War may have done it no good either as the Battle of Roan's Tan Yard was fought within a couple of miles of Joel Smith's land. According to Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume III Joel Smith was pistol whipped and had two horses taken from him by some of Bloody Bill Anderson's men as they traveled through the area from their raid on Huntsville, Missouri in July of 1864. It could be the guerrilla activity in the area seriously hurt the business that kept Smithland alive. Finally, it is known that Joel Smith was a slave holder from government records (Descriptive Recruitment Lists of Volunteers for the United States Colored Troops for the State of Missouri, 1863-1865) that show he sent two slaves to fight for the Union army during the war. Many slave owners suffered economically due to the loss of income from the labor of the slaves after the war. The final blow was perhaps the stage line ceasing operation in 1866. It had continued to appear on maps though throughout the Civil War, but it may have already have been in decline by then. Its days would have been numbered anyhow. In 1872 Higbee was founded not three or four miles away to the Southeast to be followed by Yates not many miles to the Southwest. The Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad went through Higbee in 1874, and Yates got a railroad in 1879 when the Chicago and Alton Railroad built through both it and Higbee. Later the mining town of Elliot would spring up not far away as well as the town of Harkes. All these towns were in about a six mile radius of  what had been Smithland. Joel Smith moved to Moberly, Missouri in 1880, and died two years later though his daughter Sarah remained living on the original farm. Any number of factors could have lead to Smithland's demise. Most likely it was due to accumulation of many things. All that is known is by 1885 it was being called "Old Smithland" a clear indicator it was no more. My brother Terry has suggested that perhaps it was like a "company town" that declined with the fortunes of its owner. I cannot discount that idea.

I have compiled a list of people that lived in and around Smithland from sources on the internet. First off there is Joel Smith's family. Joel Smith was originally from Kentucky. His wife was Dorcas Smith nee Tureman. They reportedly had nine children, but I can only find the names of six. He had one son William Smith who married Florence Head daughter of Doctor Walter Head of Huntsville, Missouri. He operated the stage line between Allen and Fayette and between Paris and Huntsville all in Missouri during the years of the Civil War and built and operated the Grand Central Hotel in Moberly, Missouri in 1880. The rest of Joel and Dorcas Smith's children were daughters and they are listed in no particular order. One of his daughters was Mary who married William James, William James was through his sister, Susan, brother in law of Doctor James Marion Walker who owned land beside some of Joel Smith's properties. Then there was Sarah Catherine who married James Edwin Rucker. According to her obituary in the Higbee News she lived on the farm she was born on her entire life and died there in 1924. The Smiths' daughter Elizabeth married John Tunstall Coates who would become a Circuit Judge and was influential in the early days of Moberly (he has one of the streets in Downtown Moberly named for him). Elizabeth died young. and after her death her sister Amanda married Judge Coates. Finally their daughter Annie married George Bradford. George became a prominent farmer Southeast of Columbia, Missouri.

There are others that may have lived in or around Smithland. I say, "may have lived" because some of these names are from genealogy pages which do not always have correct information. Smithland produced one famous or should I say infamous son. According to the Encyclopedia of  Frontier Biography Thomas F.M. McLean also known as "Bison" McLean was born in Smithland. He attended the University of Missouri and was recommended for an appointment to West Point by W.W. Hudson Professor of Mathematics as well as University President John Hiram Lathrop. He was admitted to West Point in July of 1844, but was dismissed in August of 1848 for being "deficient in conduct." He then traveled to California where he took up life with Native Americans and took to raiding. It could be he is related to Doctor William B. McLean whose estate was listed for sale near Smithland in a January 24, 1846 edition of the Boon's Lick Times, a paper out of Fayette, Missouri. A Mary McLean according to the 1876 plat map of Randolph County Missouri owned land adjacent to Joel's Smith's property. I cannot help but think they are all somehow related. Abiel Leonard who was at one time Secretary of State of Missouri and lived in Fayette apparently stayed in or near Smithland at some point. He received a letter there in 1855 from a Mrs. Terrell according to The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Volume 58.  Also according to that volume Fleming Terrell lived in Smithland or nearby. According to postal records Reubon Watts was Postmaster of Smithland in 1856. Other people are mere names, and they are Thomas H. Withers, his wife Susan nee Shackleford, William Fleming Boulware, Peter Bass, Susan E. Creason nee Robb, Henderson D, Wilcox founder of the village of Harkes, Missouri owned property adjacent to Joel Smith's property.

Now to the question of locating Smithland. To do so I started first by checking the An Illustrated Historical Atlas of Randolph County, Missouri, 1876. Despite its glorified name it is essentially a plat map showing where people owned property within the county along with the acreage they owned. Through this I was able to locate where Joel Smith owned property in 1876. However, this is long after Smithland's heyday, and he may have sold or bought property in the intervening years. It would be of little use in locating Smithland. I then decided to check for the purchase of land patents by Joel Smith at the Bureau of Land Management website. He obtained land from the government in 1833, 1835, 1837, 1843, 1856, and 1859. The largest patent was the one in 1833 for 160 acres, though he obtained more acreage in another year by buying two patents. The 1833 patent was the largest one at one time. As the township, range, and section are given on the documents I could then locate them on a present day county map. With this information, I set about making my own map. I first drew in the land grants up until 1843. We know Smithland existed in 1838 as that is when the post office was opened, but I figured the later grants may be near to his original holdings. I then went back to the 1876 plat map, and drew in the properties he held in 1876. Amazingly he only sold one of his original land grants that being the 40 acre one in Section 35. Now to the map itself. Sections where he may have owned property between 1832 and 1876 are outlined in red and white. His land patents up until 1843 are outlined in blue and white with the dates of the grants given. Land he owned in 1876 in addition to the land patents are outlined in heavy red lines. As can be seen nearly all the properties run along present day Randolph County Road  2480 or close by. Only two of the properties had residences on them in 1876 (that are marked on the plat map anyway), and I have marked these on my map. In the Higbee Centennial pamphlet it is stated the settlement was near the main house. For that reason I think Smithland was in most likely Section 31, the location of the 1833 land patent. It is possible it was in Section 32 as we have no idea when he obtained that property, but I find that unlikely. It is possible there were other residences on the properties that were torn down before 1876, or that simply were missed in the making of the map. We have no way of knowing. So for now I think the best bet is that Smithland was in Section 31. It would be nice someday, if the present land owners were to allow it to explore Section 31 with a metal detector to find the exact location. Perhaps still there may be those that know the exact location.

Update February 25 2014: I emailed Randolph County Commissioner Jerry Crutchfield who someone said is very knowledgeable about county history. He said he did not know, but he asked County Commissioner Wayne Wilcox (Great, great, great grandson of H.D. Wilcox who founded Harkes) who lives very close to there. According to Mr. Wilcox, Smithland is South of the County Road 2530 and County Road 2520 intersection. It lies West and slightly South of a low water crossing on County Road 2520. Joel Smith did indeed own 80 acres there a little to the South in 1876 in Section 9 Northeast of Higbee shown on the map above. And his son William Smith owned 80 acres catty corner to the Northwest of this property in Section 4. This is a little West of where County Commissioner Wilcox says it is, and far from where I thought it was. However, the Smiths may have owned more property in that area and sold it by 1876. I have no doubt Commissioner Wilcox is probably right and this is the general location of Smithland. It is very near Route A which is a state road, and we know Representative Burkhardt was trying to have the road from Paris to Fayette via Smithland declared such. If that is the case Smithland is probably in Section 3  directly West of Renick. This would be in keeping with old accounts that put it West of Renick. Part of the problem has always been is Joel Smith owned so much land in the area, and referred to all of it as Smithland making locating the village difficult. I owe the Commissioners a great deal of thanks for their help! I cannot thank them enough!

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Experience with the Society of Create Anachronism

I first was exposed to the Society of Creative Anachronism (a Medieval reenactment group) when I was a tween. The Shire of the Standing Stones was holding a demo in Columbia, Missouri and my brother-in-law took my brother and I to see it. I was fascinated by the recreation of Medieval combat. When I was in my 20s some friends and I tried to found a shire in Moberly, Missouri called initially the Incipient Shire of the Iron Dragon. Due to a naming conflict with an Order of the Iron Dragon in the SCA we had to change our name to the Incipient Shire of the Flaming Pillars. Our first name was chosen due to the importance of trains in the early history of Moberly, Missouri. Flaming Pillars was chosen because of the smoke stacks of the Thomas Hill Power Plant here in Randolph County. I was seneschal (executive officer) of the group, and far too young to be such. I did not have the maturity or the means to do the job. Needless to say, things ended badly for the group and me. I wound up dropping out, and the group sort of faded away. I totally take the blame for it. I did take away one thing from the group. I learned to make chain mail. The group was revived later by others only to fail again. I then had nothing to do with the SCA again until around 2000 when after moving to Texas I joined the Canton of Glaslyn. I was not real active, and served for a short time as Web Minister (webmaster) for the group. I did enjoy it though. The people of Glaslyn were good folk and they held two events a year which I took part in. I dropped out after the birth of my son. I simply no longer had the time to devote to it. It was more a decision on my wife's part than my own. I am now joining the Shire of Amleth Moor (http://www.amlesmore.org/) which covers the towns of Brunswick, Centralia, Hallsville, Huntsville, Mexico, Moberly, Salisbury, and all the little places in between those towns in Missouri. I have only been to one meeting, but those people I have met seem to be good people, and an old dear friend is a member. I am hoping it will be as good an experience as I had with Glaslyn. By the way if there are any folk in Moberly, Missouri interested in the SCA, feel free to contact me (you can find my email on my Google Plus profile). I can get you the meeting details of the Shire of Amleth Moor.