Appointed Governor of Cuba and President of Florida by Charles V. of Spain, Ferdinand De Soto arrived in Florida in 1539 with an enthusiastic and richly furnished company of 600 men. They passed through Georgia and Alabama, reaching the Mississippi in 1541. De Soto was the first white man to discover the Mississippi. He explored the territory and after enduring incredible hardships, bitter winters and battles with the Indians, he died, saying good-bye individually to each member of his expedition. In 1542 his body was placed on the trunk of an evergreen oak and sunk into the waters of the river.
In June, 1673 Father Jaques Marquette and Louis Joliet with five French companions descended the Mississippi from the mouth of the Wisconsin to the mouth of the Arkansas river. These were the first white men to look upon the soil now included in the boundaries of Lewis County, Missouri. They came in two canoes, leaving the Straits of Mackinaw on May 17, 1673 and entering the Mississippi June 17, 1673. In March 1680 a French Catholic priest, Father Louis Hennepin, who had accompanied Robert De La Salle to America in 1678-79 and two French companions passed Lewis County on their way to the head waters of the Mississippi. They had been sent by instructions of La Salle and a plan of exploration authorized by the French government. They were captured by the Sioux and as a captive Father Hennepin was taken from hunting ground to hunting ground along the Mississippi for four months. He was freed by Daniel de Greysalon, (known as Duluth) another French explorer and friend of the Sioux.
Duluth, Minnesota on Lake Superior was named for this explorer.
According to Marquette the country north of the Missouri to the Des Moines River was occupied in 1673 by the tribe of Indians (We-Messouret). But the Missouri Indians were not here first. Many ages ago the "Mound Builders" occupied this county and left mounds with fragments of pottery, stone axes, arrow and lance heads. Numerous mounds were constructed and the smaller apparently used as sepulchers. Some very large mounds were "artificial elevations sustaining religious structures on which religious rites were celebrated". (Hon. E.C. Squier, Flagler Scrapbook, circa 1850). One sepuicheral mound on the banks of the Ohio River in Virginia is 90 ft. high and 300 ft. in diameter at the base. About 1843 a mound was opened 2 miles south of Canton and a human skeleton 8 ft. in length at a depth of 6 ft. was found. In the same neighborhood on a farm belonging to the Jennings in 1878, a large mound was found, originally 50 ft. in length and 10 ft. high. Across from Canton on the river-Indian Grave Lake contains many mounds. In this county chiefly in the bottom lands other mounds have been opened where fragment human bones, pottery, beads, etc. were found. Burial places have been found along the Wyaconda containing numerous red Indian skeletons of a more recent period is conjectured that there had been Indian battles in area, but on the other hand it is thought that since there were Indian encampments along the Wyaconda, burial sites were located on a common ground.
In 1682 Sieur Robert de la Salle made his memorial voyage floating down the Mississippi in the spring to Gulf and took possession of this territory in the name of King of France, Louis XIV. He named it Louisiana. La Salle was later murdered by his own mutinous men). -1762 the Louisiana Territory was ceded by France to Spain and retroceded to France in 1801. France then sold The United States in 1803 for $15,000,000, a little more 3 cents an acre. Northeast Missouri was included in transaction.
Bales of fur were the first commercial items on upper Mississippi "long before the river carried its from Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri mines, its long cargoes from northern forests, its harvests of grain the prairies".
Pierre Laclede with a company of trappers, hunters mechanics set out from New Orleans and in February founded St. Louis. He sent his men in every direction search for furs and skins. Some came as far as the Moines river and doubtless visited this country in search fur bearing animals. Otter, beaver, muskrat and other bearing animals were abundant along the Wyaconda North and South Fabius and the Bay areas. During Revolutionary War fear of the northern Indians kept at the most daring hunters, trappers and explorers away while Sacs and Sioux raided exposed settlements. After 1795 hunters, trappers and explorers visited Northeast Missouri in increasing numbers. Also in 1795 Godfrey Le Seur, a Frenchman, came up the Mississippi from St. Louis established a trading post at the mouth of the Wyaconda river. He built four log cabins.
This county was named after Capt. Merriwether Lewis who had served as President Thomas Jefferson's per secretary. After the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson wanted to know more about the topography of this new acquisition and in 1804 Lewis and Capt. William Clark were sent voyage of exploration, known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In 1804 the Louisiana Territory was split into two portions. In 1807 Lewis was appointed Governor Louisiana Territory. While returning to Washington in 1809, at the age of 35, he allegedly committed suicide, shooting himself the head. In 1812 Missouri was organized as a territory with a governor and general assembly. The first governor (1813-1820) was Wm. Clark.
The first important American expedition on the upper Mississippi was led by a U.S.A. officer, Lieutenant Zubulon Pike. He was authorized to lead an expedition to the head waters of the Mississippi. He left St. Louis on August 9, 1805 with a party of 20 men and a 70 foot keel boat loaded with provisions. With a good wind he could make 20 miles a day against the current. His diary indicates that he encamped near the mouth of the Fabius river where he found a "farmer" with an Indian wife. It was surmised that perhaps this was Le Seur who had moved south of his location. When Pike was in vicinity of the present La Grange he made 39 miles up the river in one day without incident, except, as recorded in his diary, "passing three boats belonging to traders or trappers". His second led him to Colorado, where he discovered the renowned mountain now called Pike's Peak. He was killed the war of 1812.
There were skirmish raids at Monticello, Canton, Edina, Ewing, Shelbyville and other communities. There were bushwhacking incidents at Novelty and Colony. Kirksville was the scene of a large engagement with Colonel John McNeil leading the Federals and Colonel Joseph C. Porter in command of the Rebels. The battle was fought in the town with the Rebels hidden in every house, "every garden fence is an ambuscade and the court house a castle with its lower windows boarded up and loop holed and all its rooms filled with sharpshooters". (Mo. history)
In this battle A. H. Waggoner was killed. McNeil won the fight and Porter retreated with his men is disarray. The Federals followed and it was "save himself who can". Desertions were numerous and unrestrained. In a few hours 500 men had drifted away, many set out for their homes others started for Illinois and Iowa. Some of McNeil's prisoners were convicted of parole violations and shot. Porter captured Palmyra, releasing 45 Confederate prisoners. One of these, a soldier named McKenny, was in jail for shooting a prisoner and an aged citizen of Palmyra named Andrew AlIsman. The soldier was taken into the brush and shot. Mr. AlIsman was murdered a few nights later. In retaliation for this murder, Gen. McNeil executed ten men at Palmyra on the 18th of October, a circumstance called the "Palmyra massacre" and still recalled by the present citizens of Northeast Lewis County. COL Porter moved on to Springfield and Rolla, Mo. He retreated into Arkansas and was defeated at Hartville, where he was mortally wounded.
With the surrender of General Lee and General Johnston's armies, the fall of Richmond and imprisonment of Jefferson Davis the war was ended. Northeast Missouri received the news with great delight.
In the spring of 1865 lawlessness and terror prevailed over much of Missouri. Gangs of criminals on horseback were running loose to prey on the people. Over most of the nation the war's agony ended with the surrender of Lee, Johnston and Kirby Smith, but not in Missouri. At the close of the war, Union troops were hunting down and killing many of the guerrillas, but the military was rapidly withdrawn, leaving weak civil authorities to cope with widespread outlawry by such bloody public enemies as the James brothers, the Youngers, Dave Pool, Archie Clements and all their breed.
When a convention to draft a new constitution met in St. Louis in January, 1865, deliberations were made against this somber background. The first move was to enact an ordinance emancipating slaves in the state. Thus, Missouri became the first state to abolish slavery, one month before Congress submitted the Thirteenth Amendment. The new Missouri constitution contained the "Ironclad Oath" which excluded from immediate participation in state and local government all those who had taken any part directly or indirectly in the Rebellion. Professional people were required to take a special oath as a test to eliminate those who had lent themselves to the secession movement.
This action was consistent with that taken by the Thirty-ninth Congress which refused to admit Senators and Representatives from the states lately in rebellion until they had been reconstructed. In the 1865 Constitutional Convention was an ordinance stipulating that all judges of the Supreme Court, other state courts, sheriffs, circuit attorneys and county recorders should be ousted from their offices. The presumption was that they were carryovers from the regime of slave power and any decisions they made would reflect the regime of slave power. This drastic measure was adopted by a narrow margin of those who qualified under its provisions to vote. This reflected the fear by Missourians that the war might be succeeded by domestic discord and anarchy. They distrusted the formex enemies of the national government and acted to make sure that the awful cost of victory in preserving the Union should not have been spent in vain. They did not want to be left helpless without the protection of Federal troops. A part of the history of Reconstruction in Missouri, and one that the revisionists stress, relates to the state's general progress after the war. From 1869 to 1871 the state government met through sound measures the heavy financial burden left by the war. It was then that important steps were taken in the progress of education. The Missouri School of Mines was established at Rolla, the College of Agriculture at Columbia and state normal schools at Kirksville and Warrensburg.
Lawless outlaw gangs continued to harass the state and it was not until 1881 that their power was broken. Jesse James was killed and many other outlaws hanged, jailed by the law, shot by sheriffs, or lynched by enraged mobs. Others went into hiding. Some former secessionists left LaGrange and other communities to live in Arkansas. An army of embittered followers of Sterling Price and Jo Shelby crossed the border into Mexico, still under arms and unreconciled to the war's outcome. Having survived the terrible ordeal of the Civil War and its aftermath, Missourians looked forward to a shining future. Historians have concluded that "for the most part the Radicals in the 1865 convention and in the legislatures during these times proved to be farsighted." (William E. Parrish). A comparison of Missouri with Kentucky, a neighboring slave state that refused to secede, justifies this conclusion. After the war Kentucky's rebel leaders stepped into the political vacuum and began to assume the power they had relinquished in 1861, with no loyalty qualifications for voters or office holders. The old laws limiting Negro testimony in the courts and blocking a white man's conviction on the word of a Negro witness remained. The Ku Klux Klan flourished in Kentucky and became a curse to the state through its intimidation that made justice a mockery in the courts.
In Missouri, as in the nation, the revisionist view of Reconstruction modifies the harsher critical judgments of the past. Such controversial actions of the 1865 convention as the test oaths, the ouster of state and local officials in order to start the post-war era with a clean slate, and the registration of voters by a central agency were not purely arbitrary actions by a tyrannical Radical leadership. They were consistent with national policy as defined by Congress. They served the purpose of transition from war to peace and were intended to be only temporary in their application.
The first treaty with the Indians was made at St. Louis November 3, 1804. After the war of 1812, another treaty and the last was made on August 4,1824. The Sacs the British, with Black Hawk as a leader, in the War of 1812. The Indian tribes, Sacs, Foxes and lowas claimed Northeast t Missouri Territory until 1844, when they forced into Kansas. In the spring of 1819 John Bozarth, his son-in-law, John and his eldest son, Squire Bozarth came from and settled 2 miles south of LaGrange. At the the ruins of Le Seur's four log cabins at the mouth of Wyaconda could be plainly seen but Le Seur had abandoned his post on the Wyaconda. Mr. Bozarth built a log cabin and planted 20 acres of corn. In the fall he returned to Kentucky and brought his own family, another son-in-law, Jacob Weaver and his slaves. After this settlement was established other settlements followed. About 1822 John McKinney built a mill on the Wyaconda, near the mouth. Soon after a town was laid out nearby and called "Wyaconda". "Of this town "Beck's Gazatteer" written in 1822 and published in 1823 says: "The surrounding country is fertile, and is handsomely interspersed with prairie and woodland. A saw and grist mill are already in operation here and other improvements are progressing
The mill was soon washed away by the backwater and never rebuilt. It is doubtful that this settlement ever contained more than 3 houses and Mckinney's mill. Just below the mill in 1832 the town of LaGrange was established. John S. Marlow was the first man to settle on the present site of LaGrange in 1828. He and an Indian trader named Campbell were the first merchants. River commerce had begun in 1820. The first tavern was kept by Joseph Miller. In April 1823 a steamboat, Virginia went up the river from St. Louis to Fort Snelling, Minnesota. In 1830 the steamboat age had come to the upper Mississippi. By 1840 there was a "pageant of commerce between St. Louis and St. Anthony Falls in Minnesota, the head of navigation". The 1850's were the great years of river trade. In 1821 (Aug.10) Missouri was admitted to the Union as a State. With the exception of Louisiana, it was the first state admitted west of the Mississippi. On July 21, 1831, the Marion County Court created Union Township. In 1830 William Wright platted LaGrange and recorded it in the County of Marion in 1832. In 1837 the first addition to the original plat was made by Wright and Shropshire. The plat of La Grange was recorded 9 years after Gen. LaFayette visited U.S. and LaGrange was named in his honor, being the name of his residence in France and the principal street was named La Fayette. La Grange is a French word for "The Granary", and La Fayette street is now Main Street.
Elections in Union Township were held at the house of John Wash, Jr. whose father was one of the Revolutionary soldiers. On June 5, 1833, the first term of the Lewis County Court was held at the home of John Bozarth, which was considered a temporary seat of Justice.
In July 1833 cholera spread in Palmyra. 107 people died out of a population around 600. Dr. Higgins, a physician living in LaGrange attended the ill. Col. John Bullock, who lived just above LaGrange went to Palmyra and communicated the disease to his family which six members whom died. Some of the inhabitants of La Grange. moved into the country. Personal intercourse was forbidden by frightened families. Dr. Higgins sent his family to a relative but continued to serve the stricken. He, too, died from cholera. Coffins for the victims were made in the country by John Loudermilk and brought to "lover's leap". From there they were taken away in canoes as fast as needed. Cholera reappeared in 1849 with several deaths and again in 1857.
In the summer of 1832 the Black Hawk war caused considerable uneasiness among the settlers. A strong block house for protection and defense against the Indians was built a mile west of the Fabius on the Nall claim.
The first brick house was built by John La Fon, near LaGrange in 1836; the next by John Nunn near his mill. Edmond Weber and Judge Wm. Hagwood's brick houses were put up in 1838. James and Ben Hale made the brick and Joseph Buckley made the woodwork. In 1836 C. S. Skinner became postmaster at LaGrange.
LaGrange was selected by its founders on account of its river front, deep water close to shore, the narrowing valley and higher land, the hills overlooking the great river and the fertile farm lands adjacent. Early in the 30's LaGrange became a steamboat landing, settlers looking for rich farming lands along the streams of the northeast Missouri disembarked here. Steamers would often lie for several days at the wharf discharging and receiving goods. Long wagon trains came to deliver produce and stock up with goods from the wholesale houses.
Located on the LaGrange-Memphis trail was the Wayside Inn built in 1835 and the old teamsters driving their stock to the market in LaGrange would stop at the Inn to rest and feed their stock. Nearby were old camp meeting grounds, a dam and a water well. Salt licks could be seen near the inn and hunters lay in wait for the deer coming for salt. There were three large fireplaces, a porch on one side running the entire length of the building, 12 rooms and two stairways.
Due to its strategic water front site it grew rapidly. There were pork packing plants, cooper shops, distilleries, flour mill, tobacco factories, button factories and other diversified industries due to the extensive river traffic. The first citizens of the county were from Kentucky, Virginia and a few from Tennessee, and a few from the free states. The earliest substantial homes were built around a park on top of a hill.
The first newspaper in La Grange. was the La Grange. Free Press in 1846. Booth and Doyle were the publishers and R.L. Doyle the editor. The first trustees were Joseph Miller, Thomas J. Richards, A. C. Waltman, William P. Skinner and T. C. Threlkeld.
In May 1837 B. G. Houston and P. B. Pritchard were merchants. Dr. R. Craughton was the practicing physician. In November 1839 Dr. J. B. Wiggington opened a tavern.
In 1845 J. L. Jenkins, Dr. Joseph Hays and C. S. Skinner comprised the committee who drafted the by-laws and rules for the town. Lewis County had been separated from Marion County and the town of LaGrange became the first incorporated in the new county. On February 23, 1853, LaGrange was incorporated as a city by the Missouri Legislature. Three other cities were granted a charter at the same time: St. Louis, Kansas City and St. Joseph. The LaGrange charter was drawn up by David Wagner, a young lawyer who had a 6 x 3ft office on Main Street. He became the first man elected City Attorney, and office he held until August, 1862, when upon the issuance of Governor Gamble's celebrated order, No. 19, men of Northern Missouri flew to arms. David was elected senior captain of Company A by the hundreds who came to enlist at LaGrange. Later he was elected state senator, then became circuit judge and finally Judge of the Supreme Court of Missouri.
The first mayor was G. M. Triplett. In 1854 the councilmen were G.M. Triplett, Joseph Hay, John Talbot, C. S. Skinner, A. C. Waltman and J. L. Jenkins. The first city clerk was Judge William Waggoner, who wrote the statutes for the State of Missouri. At this time LaGrange was known and recognized as an important commercial point and few other places on the river between St. Louis and Keokuk did a more thriving business. U.S. Senator Thomas Hart Benton spoke here in 1850 in an effort to obtain votes for his continuance in the U.S. Senate, also Hon. James Green and Thomas L. Anderson.
Borne by the river, prosperity flowed into LaGrange in the 5Os and 60s. Waves of industrious, thrift German immigrants came up from New Orleans. Steamboats clustered around the wharf. River front factories, packing plants and mills flourished. Pioneer log cabins gave way to comfortable and valuable frame and brick houses. There was a considerable number of slaves whose labor contributed to the production of wealth of this county.
People were chiefly engaged in agriculture. Considerable quantities of hemp were grown in the bottom lands and rope walks were established. Hemp, corn, wheat, tobacco, bacon and pork and other articles of produce were sent to the markets of the world by the river steamboats, which were running regularly. Thomas Pryce, an immigrant Welshman, landed in New York at the age of 24. He walked from St. Louis to LaGrange arriving here on December 23, 1849. He became an articulate and prolific journalist whose humor and keen observations make the history of LaGrange live today.
In 1851 an extraordinary flood of the Mississippi covered the low lands and caused considerable loss of property. The town of Tully was submerged and almost entirely lost. The waves washed Third Street in Canton and the current ran through Second like a "mill-race". At this time the leading citizens from Canton (included were a former U.S. Senator, James S. Green, Charlie Bland and Chauncey Durkee) came to LaGrange, seeking to buy an interest here from Mr. Skinner. They contemplated abandoning Canton as a town. Mr. Skinner told them he would sell them all the lots they desired, but he did not want any partnership in the town. Mr. Pryce, reporting this visit, added that in his opinion the decision was unfortunate as, in the future there would probably be one larger town than both towns could make.
At this time water covered the wharf. Water was in the Skinner storeroom and warehouse. The pork men were busy moving their meat from the cellars to the west side of front street, owned and occupied by Durrell and Triplett, where the water had not yet reached the first floor. Just then the workers noticed a steamboat coming up the river. It landed south of the wharf and threw its stage plank into the door of the pork house. In a very short time the crew commenced carrying the meat and piling it on the boat. They continued working until all the meat was removed. A large crowd had gathered watching this rare sight. The captain invited some merchants to ask them to visit the boat. They gladly accepted and when the gong sounded for dinner, all were invited to participate.
In 1853 the city of LaGrange was organized and in 1854 the City Council let a contract to open grade and put in gutters on Washington Street. As there was not a good wharf the surplus rock was used to improve the wharf. In 1855 the work was completed but the wharf did not belong to the city. Improvements cost $7,500 but the wharf was on private property. That year Mr. Skinner sold out his business to give more attention to the city affairs, particularly the wharf. In 1856 he took a turn at politics, having joined the "Know Nothing" party. He gave his time to that and planned a fabulous barbecue for the 4th of July. The great Dr. McDowell, a surgeon from St. Louis was to arrive by boat to speak at the affair. That morning thunder and lightning were followed by torrents of water. The barbecue pits were flooded. The weather cleared and Mr. Skinner had his two blacks, Tom and Dan, in charge of the cooking. When Tom got the dinner ready, he retired to decorate his person and soon was on the scene with a clean white frilled shirt and jacket, a long white apron and a large carving knife. Mr. Skinner ordered that everyone who had lost dry wood should report to him and he would replace it, but no claims were received. Every housekeeper brought her choice preserves, canned fruits, cakes, pies, etc. When the guest of honor appeared by boat, after being delayed by the storm, he in his speech to the group, insulted them all. He belittled the foreigners, especially "the lop eared Dutch". "He flayed the Germans alive and then dissected their bodies and consigned their spirits to the internal regions, using the most intemperate, blasphemous and bold obscenity, I ever heard in a public address on America's patriotic and grand day of Jubilee." Mr. Skinner, after the barbeque, soaking wet, contracted pneumonia. Aug. 1, 1856, in "Early Days In Old LaGrange. Several delegations were sent to Monticello to examine records on the wharf and all delegations reported that there were none on record. So "of course, the money spent on these delegations had been thrown away."
The Wyaconda Baptist Association, in 1856, voted to establish within its boundaries a Male and Female Seminary. Rev. James M. Lillard was appointed traveling agent to raise money for building purposes. LaGrange contributed the most money and was chosen for the site. The building was completed and the school opened Sept.15, 1858. The first president was W. M. Ellis who retained the office until the Civil War. The state legislature granted a charter on March 12, 1859, to the La Grange Male and Female College". It was well patronized and flourished until it was closed by the war and became a military headquarters for Federal troops. At the end of the war, Dr. J. F. Cook of Kentucky became president, assisted by his brother, Prof. J. N. Cook. They labored zealously to clear the college from debt. After 30 years of service President Cook resigned and was succeeded by Dr. J. T. Muir. In 1929 was moved to Hannibal and is now called the Hannibal - LaGrange College. The LaGrange National "American", August 6, 1859, carried a notice regarding subscriptions of stock for a La Grange branch of the Union Bank of Missouri. An appeal directed to the citizens to take stock in the bank. It opened on August 29, 1859. John M. Cashman was the president and J. N. Hagood, the cashier. The directors John Cason, Willis Anderson, Simeon Connelly, William Hagood, Abram Oyster, John C. Nunn, William Redding, John H. Talbot, James P. Turner and John M. Inan. This accommodation was much appreciated as it the citizens from going to Quincy, Palmyra for banking privileges. (Thomas Pryce & Hist. of 1909.) Later in July, 1866, the LaGrange Savings organized with I.D. Alverson, president, and Joseph A. Hay, cashier. In 1871 this became the First of LaGrange. It was burglarized February 28, 1887.
As early as 1840 the abolitionists began to assert themselves. Late in 1842 an antiabortion movement was in Canton In LaGrange in 1850 secession and slavery questions were a cause of division in the churches. The Episcopal Church, South, represented by Enoch Marvin and the Northern Episcopal Methodist Church, represented by Mr. Chivington, took opposite views. At this time the Baptist and Presbyterian churches were not finished and the Methodist Episcopal was jammed by crowds standing in the church and outside in the cold by windows to hear these two men discourse on the issues. Later Enoch Marvin joined the Confederate Army as a captain and Chivington the Union Army as a Colonel of Calvary.
Abolitionists across the river in Illinois were actively
involved in "tampering" with slaves. The headquarters of the abolitionists
were at Quincy where they had a college presided over by Dr. Richard Eels,
called the Eels Institute or the Mission Institute. In July 1841 three
abolitionists crossed the Mississippi: George Thompson, James Burr and
Alanson Work. They planned to spirit away a number of slaves belonging
to R. N. Woolfolk and others. The Negroes however, were faithful to their
masters and betrayed the scheme. The liberators were actually arrested
by the slaves they came to free. The men were taken to Palmyra and sentenced
to 12 years in the penitentiary. Later a dozen slaves in Lewis and Marion
Counties ran away and aided by the Illinois abolitionists escaped. "Tom",
a slave of Dr. John La Fon and "Lew", a slave of William Hagood, made a
break for freedom. John A. Johnson and William Warner were indicted for
this. Both men were acquitted. Eels was arrested for aiding slaves to escape,
but never brought to trial. A group from Palmyra crossed the river on the
ice and burned Eels Institute.
At the peak of its prosperity, LaGrange was crippled by the Civil War.
In 1860 the presidential ejection of Lincoln was received by the people of Lewis County with some dissatisfaction, but a majority were disposed to acquiesce to the fact. The first organized expression of opinion was made at a public following April a large secession meeting was held LaGrange and a secession flag raised over the store of J. H. Talbot and Co. Young men and boys went about streets wearing secession cockades and cheering for Jeff Davis. A week later another meeting was held Monticello and a secession flag was raised over the court house. Senator Green made a strong speech in favor immediate secession. At Canton other secession meetings were held. The Union men of this county were strongly opposed to abolition and later accepted the emancipate under strong protest.
In spring, 1861, the secessionists were strong but a month later the Federalists began to move. LaGrange's Charlton H. Howe, John Cashman, John Holland and others were leaders. Senator Green canvassed northeast Missouri the secessionists. Justices Martin E. Green and Ralph Smith, together with John H. Talbot of LaGrange were active secessionists. Hundreds of men enrolled a organized with the purpose of resisting secession a fighting on the side of the United States. The home guard was organized in LaGrange, and a German company men joined the guard. On the 4th of July, 1861, at Canton there was a scuffling resulting in the death of John HOWE a member of the home guard. After Howell's death Federal troops in camp at Quincy were sent to Lewis County Colonel Palmer with 800 men arrived on a steamer, "Black Hawk". They were quartered in the college. Judge Martin E. Green was elected Colonel and Captain Joe Palmer was chosen lieutenant colonel of the secessionists. Both m became excellent military leaders. Martin Green and his brother operated a saw and grist mill on the Wyaconda. the close of his term with the state Guards, he entered into service with the Confederate troops. He took part engagements at Athens, Shelbina, Lexington, Crane Creek Pea Ridge, defense of Cornith, Port Gibson, Champion Hills and the defense of Vicksburg, where he was killed June 27, 1863. Colonel David Moore became the leader the Union cause at Athens and defeated Col. Green forces. This was the fight between Missourians for Northeast Missouri which was over with this battle.
When Col. Joseph C. Porter arrived in Lewis County obtain recruits for the Confederates, Lewis County was the scene of some stirring incidents. The county swarmed with Rebel raiders and Federal parties. Business of all kinds was suspended. Alarming reports and exciting rumors were constantly circulated. The citizens were foraged upon often robbed and maltreated by both sides. Nearly a able-bodied men had taken up arms and their families left to care for themselves. Troops were billeted in the college buildings at LaGrange and in private homes causing the inhabitants much distress. Some citizens were asked to feed the men three meals a day. The soldiers were paid downtown at what now the location of the Solter Hardware Store.
The people were given a taste of Civil War and the found it bitter and unwholesome. July 9 a company of rebel partisans visited Monticello, held the town a few hours, taking from the citizens a considerable quantity of boots shoes, guns, etc. The County Treasurer was taken prisoner and forced to pay $100 for his release.
The next day a number of Union citizens started for Canton for safety but met a detachment of enrolled militia sent to Monticello to protect them. Horses were seized and Staples' grist mill and distillery was burned. The Confederates raided Canton on August 2, 1862, where ex-Senator James S. Green was taken prisoner. . but eventually released. A skirmish occurred near the site of Maywood when 28 men from LaGrange militia were on a scouting trip. A man was killed, one wounded and two taken prisoner. The next day a strong force of Federals left La Grange and scouted the country thoroughly but encountered nothing.
Times were changing and a strong party grew in Missouri favoring emancipation, in this party were numbers of slave owners. Company A of the Twenty-First Missouri Infantry was comprised of men from Lewis County. It was engaged in active service in northeast Missouri, in scouting the country and clearing it of rebel partisans and preventing their organization. The regiment participated in the battle of Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg. It was also engaged in the battle at Tupelo, Miss.
Council meeting February 13, 1852 - A "citizen's committee" is in the process of being formed for the purpose of creating interest in the betterment of our city. It is our goal that each committee can develop programs that won be approved by the city council. Improvements in our business district and residential areas can be experienced through cooperation of civic and fraternal organizations, our river front, probably our greatest asset, can be made into a major attraction for tourists as well as for our own enjoyment. Our city park, the old and newly acquired, needs to be developed for the use and pleasure of all ages.
Council Meeting December 4, 1849 - The board took up the subject of fires and the results there from which after being discussed by the members generally. There was an ordinance passed as to prevent the firing of firecrackers within the city limits.
In 1858 and through 1860 Vice-President Thomas R. Marshall lived in La Grange. he served two terms under Woodrow Wilson.
Council Meeting December 3, 1858 - A report of the city engineer was presented in relation to work done on Monroe Street by J. A. Hay for one third of the original contract for opening Monroe Street which was approved by the board. An account in favor of W. C. Gantt was presented one dollar and fifty cents which was allowed. There was an account presented in favor of Jas. Hutton for furnishing bedding for the calaboose for seven dollars and seventy-five cents for six months service as councilman from 1st of April last both audited which was allowed and drafts ordered for the amounts. A petition of J. Turner, H. Flagler and others asking the board to open or widen Benton Street at the graveyard.
Council Meeting February 15, 1859 - There were two accounts presented duly audited, one in favor of John H. Barnett for hauling for the city for $3.60 and one in favor of Mr. Wright for $1 for paper and candles for the use of city hall, both of which was allowed and drafts ordered drawn for these amounts. Ordinance No.62 was presented and passed in relation to the storage of gun powder.
Council Meeting, July 15, 1869 - The following resolution was resolved by the city council as follows: That the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars is hereby appropriated out of any money in the treasury for the purpose of buying instruments for the German Association Brass Band of LaGrange, Mo. Said instruments to belong to the City of LaGrange, Mo., and that a committee of three be appointed by the city who shall take charge of said instruments and take receipt for each instrument taken by any member of the band and that the city auditor is hereby directed and required to draw a warrant on the city treasurer in favor of the committee appointed under the resolution for the purpose of carrying this into effect and that said committee report to the city council at some future meeting the German Association Brass Band of LaGrange, Mo., is to have the exclusive right and use of the instruments so long as they keep their band by practicing at least once a week, otherwise the city shall take charge of the instruments.
In the latter part of 1870 and early part of 1871, the railroad known as the Mississippi and Missouri Air Land RailRoad was constructed from West Quincy through La Grange. In 1872 La Grange had two railroads running through town and a large manufacturing company called the La Grange Iron & Steel Rolling mill was visualized but never opened the door. Until 1906 the factory stood idle until Gardner-Governor Works of Quincy took the plant over.
In 1890 Ella Ewing who was the world's tallest woman was born five miles west of La Grange.
In 1895 a handstand or gazebo was erected in the north east part of the LaGrange City Park. At this time the park was the center of community activities, chautauquas, religious revivals, patriotic celebrations, ice cream socials and band concerts were held there. A civic band sometimes called "Trombone Band" was composed of about 18 or 20 citizens and flourished for many years. Bandstand was originally built to full 2 story height, sometime later the bandstand was reduced to one story because it had become dangerously weak. The fence around the park was of iron pipe
Electricity was turned on in 1898 and although only
one residence had lights, nearly all stores were wired. On October 17,
1899, a street fair was held in La Grange attracting 5,000 visitors. In
1898, La Grange had the only woman steamboat agent and Miss Lena Bohon
was the agent for five boats, The St. paul, The Quincy, The Sidney, the
Dubuque, and The Diamond Jo Line.
The La Grange Pearl Button Co was formed in 1894 and the Missouri Pearl Button factory was formed in 1899. The Union Button Company was formed in 1900 along with The Independent Button Company.