Pioneer Address
"Our Old Pioneers"
Memorial Address by Hon. J. W. Armstrong at the Hillhouse Graveyard, Camden County, Missouri
The following article was contributed by Jim Jones of Redondo Beach, California. It appeared in a South Bay Genealogy Society magazine. The Los Angeles Family History Center was removing the magazine from their files and Jim saved it and passed it along. On Sunday, May 31, 1925, about 1,000 persons gathered at the Hillhouse Cemetery, a few miles northwest of Stoutland, for a Community Memorial Service. The main address of the day was delivered by the Hon. J. W. Armstrong, representative in the State Legislature from Pulaski Co. In order to conserve space, we present below an abridged version of his remarks, having deleted only comments not germane to the history of the early families of the area. We have met here to do “honor to whom honor is due” - the old pioneers of this community. We owe a debt to the sturdy men and women who braved the dangers and privations of pioneer life, that we, their descendants and others coming after might have homes and the modern conveniences and comforts we now enjoy. I will be unable in the time allotted me, to even mention the names of all those we are seeking to honor on this occasion. I can only select a few for special mention and typical of all the rest. We have met in honor and memory of ALL to whom honor is due. I have not been designated for this purpose on account of any peculiar ability or special fitness, but perhaps because I too am a descendant of these early pioneers. I was born here and am of the fourth generation from the earliest settlers of this community. Three full generations of my mother’s family have lived here - lived and wrought - labored and died and are buried in the soil where they made their homes. Many of my generation are already sleeping beneath the soil our forefathers wrested from the wilderness. Already some of the fifth and sixth generations have been placed beside their forefathers. Some of the real pioneers I have known are buried here and many more in other family graveyards in this vicinity. The first funeral I can distinctly remember was that of Uncle Minter Hillhouse, which I understand was the third person buried here. This was in May, 1871. The first person to be buried here was an old man by the name of Hedley, who came to the home of Uncle Minter and Aunt Margaret during the Civil War. He came sick and a stranger, but was taken into their hospitable home and cared for until his death. The fortunes of war had stripped the farm of both wagon and horses and the sons were all gone from home - some in the army wearing the blue and one the grey. There was no means of moving the body to a distant graveyard. Uncle Minter and Uncle Dick Craddock made a coffin and prepared a grave, dug mostly by Uncle Minter himself. These two secured some little assistance and carried the body across the Hollow from the old home and deposited it here. Some years after this I remember the death of old Mr. Debery, Thomas Debery, the father of all the older Deberys. On account of an accident when a boy he was a cripple and unable to do farm work, but applied himself to the task of making shoes and boots for the early settlers. He was the father of twelve children, four by a former marriage before he came to Missouri from Ohio. Eight children were by Emma A., the wife we knew. She had so many grandchildren who called her “Granny” that we all - almost everybody called her “Granny”. She lived until 1899. Another funeral I remember before I was ten years old was that of William Craft, the founder of the Craft family. Worthy of special mention is A. Y. Carlton, a schoolmaster of the old sort, born in North Carolina, but who moved here from Kentucky in 1842. He once taught school in a rude school house on this farm, situated near the home where Uncle Dot died a few months ago. It was through him that many of the children of the first settlers gained all the education possible for that day and age. One of his closest neighbors was Uncle Felix Hammer, the founder of the Hammer family. When I was a boy he had so many sons and grandsons settled about him that it was called “Hammer Town”. All his children are now dead, except his youngest child, Grundy - who, though long past seventy years of age, still lives in the house where he was born and has never lived anywhere else. One of the Hammer girls married William Winfrey - a family that deserves special mention. The large Winfrey family was most useful in the trying days of the first settlers. It is said that Uncle Joe Winfrey, was, at his death, the oldest white person born in Camden County. The Burke family was founded by two pioneers - Uncle Milton and Uncle Albert. Many of their descendants are present. How many descendants are now living I do not know, but I judge several hundred. Uncle Milton was the father of 19 children by two wives. Judge John A. Burke was a child by his first wife and Uncle Mark and Uncle Billy by his last wife. The founder of the Pritchett family was so old when I knew him that everybody called him “Dad”. He reared a large family on what is now the Smith Blackburn farm. I think all his children are dead - some buried here - but many of his posterity are here. The Riggs family was prominent in the early development of the country. Many are buried in what is known as the Riggs graveyard near here. I remember Old Dr. Riggs who was buried at Richland. Old Uncle Joe Huffman was almost the only buyer for live stock when I can first remember. He bought entirely on credit and paid for the stock after they were sold. He bought hundreds of head of cattle and drove them away to distant markets - never giving any written evidence of debt. His word was as good as his bond, and as soon as he had sold the stock he would return home and ride around and pay for everything purchased. Of the families contributing to the up building of the country were the Traws; Uncle Simeon being the first of a large family of brothers to move here from Kentucky. They all opened up new farms on which they reared large families and died honored and respected by all. Uncle John and Adam Gorman belong to the group of honest hardworking citizens who added materially to the development of the country. Uncle Joe Story, and his wife, Aunt Lindy, lived and died honored by all who knew them. Uncle Dick Craddock, a helpful neighbor and active in every good work, lived on the farm now occupied by Dr. John M. Carlton. He was a good farmer and splendid blacksmith. The Monday and Miller families were active in the county’s development. Their numerous descendants are still here contributing their full share to hold and keep what their forefathers gained. William Simpson was a civil engineer of the highest attainments. Corner stones erected by him in the early days are still standing, and re-surveys have proven him to have been one of the most accurate and painstaking surveyors that ever handled a compass. I shall have little to say about my own family, though they were among the first white people to settle on the Wet Glaize. You will pardon some reference to my mother’s father, Dr. William M. Dodson - called Uncle Billy by many - who came here with his parents from Tennessee almost one hundred years ago. He was intimately associated with almost everyone mentioned here today. In his capacity of family doctor, he was present at the birth of many present here today and many more long since dead. As a minister he married them and as a physician he treated them in their last sickness, and again in his capacity of minister of the Gospel he preached their funeral. It is generally believed that he rode more miles on horseback, married more couples and preached more funerals during his more than eighty three years than any one who ever lived in this part of Missouri. I mention this not because he was my grandfather, but because he was a part of the early history of this community. I know he was held in high esteem by those with whom he was co-worker during the days that tried men’s souls. I must not fail to mention another pioneer preacher, he of the Baptist faith - Rev. James Gideon, whom I do not remember, though I do remember his wife, who survived him many years. His youngest son is still among us and living on the farm settled by his father. The name of Fulbright has been prominent from the earliest settlement. The Turner family - once numerous, but now reduced in number should not be omitted. Nor could the history of Camden County be complete without the Vernon family, who played such a prominent part in its very organization. The first County Judges of Kinderhook - now Camden County, were Laban Ivy, David Fulbright, and Miles Vernon. The first County Clerk was James N. B. Dodson, a brother of my grandfather. Martin Fulbright was the first Sheriff. The county seat was on the bank of the Osage river and was called Oregon. I will digress sufficient to mention the fact that Uncle Minter Hillhouse was the first road overseer for Auglaize Township and Levi Fulbright was a member of the first Grand Jury. This was all in 1841. Two years later the name of the county was changed to Camden. It was under the supervision of Uncle Minter that the first roads were marked out in this part of Camden and Laclede counties. Uncle Henry Evans was elected County Judge in 1858. The Lambeth family has long been identified with all that makes this a better and more desirable country in which to live. The older Rogers were old time residents - all dead and gone now, but their descendants now living are laboring honestly and cheerfully at the task set before them. Others worthy of mention, though moving here later, but buried here are Boone Daniels and wife. Uncle Charles Jacobs and wife and mother. Uncle Charlie Jacobs and his mother, I understand, were born in Germany and are probably the only ones buried here who are natives of Germany. Here are also buried Mrs. Marshall, who was born in Ireland, the mother of Amos Marshall and also his little sister who was burned to death nearly fifty years ago. Another good old citizen buried here is Samuel Seybold. His wife was buried at Stoutland. Uncle Bill Bailey has long since passed to his reward. His family are all gone so far as I know, but in the olden time he was a prominent character. Though sometimes rough in manner he was honest, industrious and ever helpful. In his later life he became a devout Christian and died honored and respected. Beneath his rough exterior there was always an honest heart, and his closing days were as tranquil as his early life had been boisterous. In the early days he lived on what is now called the Widow Clifton place north of the Dick Craddock farm. This review would be far from complete without mention of the McClure family and especially Uncle Dave and his wife, Aunt Mahala who lived such a long life together. His wife was a daughter of Aunt Phoebe Fulbright and they celebrated their sixty-eighth wedding anniversary before their death at Stoutland only a few years ago. At the time of their death they were perhaps the longest married couple in the State. The founder of the Kissinger family - Uncle Enos Kissinger, lived on what is now the Amos Marshall farm and reared a large family. Uncle Jim Kissinger, now 80 years old, and family are still with us and some live near the old homestead. Uncle Enos Kissinger married a daughter of Uncle Israel Light, who then lived on what is now known as the William Ware Miller farm. He was nearly 80 years old at the time of his death. Uncle Jacob Bilderback, who did not come until later, moved here from Indiana. His death resulted from a fall and broken limb when he was nearly ninety years old. Another old mother buried here was Mrs. Calistia Farquer, mother of the Farquer family, some of whom were my school mates at the Pritchett School House. Reverting to those who were the earliest residents and true pioneers of this immediate community, I will now briefly review the early history of the most numerous and influential families in the early history of the country. These three families by their intermarriage and extreme fecundity have become inseperably associated with us all, and I am confident a large majority of those within the sound of my voice are in some degree, either by blood or marriage, bound to these three families in bonds of kinship. I refer to the Oliver, Evans and Hillhouse families. When I say that probably the majority of those present are in some way related to these families I have only to point to the fact that when Aunt Margaret Hillhouse died in 1895, aged 88 years, 5 months and 17 days, she left 246 living descendants. The mother of 12 children, 10 were living at the time of her death, together with 68 grandchildren, 154 great-grandchildren, and 14 great-great-grandchildren. Twenty-six of her descendants had preceded her to the grave. George K. Oliver and Parthenia Burton Oliver, who were originally from Mississippi, moved here from Tennessee at a very early date, and are both buried at the Hooper Graveyard, only a few miles from here. Also the parents of Mrs. Oliver, Uncle Humphrey Burton, and wife Nancy Bledsoe Burton, are buried at the same place. It is worthy of note that the Burtons were originally called Halliburton, but was abbreviated by common usage until they were generally known as Burton. The Olivers had 10 children as follows: Mary, who married William Thompson, lived long and reared a large family on what is now the Henry Debery farm. Giles J., the oldest son, and his wife Caroline Evans Oliver, were the parents of Henry M. Oliver who still survives and is the father of Dr. Oliver, Ed Oliver, Clarence Oliver, and several other children who are not now living in this vicinity. Mabel married John Ragan, a member of one of the pioneer families, and a brother of Dr. Ragan, who lived and practiced medicine so long in Richland. Another daughter Frances, married E. R. Fulbright [Uncle Eph]. Billie, named for his Uncle Billie Oliver, married a sister of Dr. Riggs. They were also the parents of Leander Oliver, who died when a boy. Shade, who married Prudence Evans [Aunt Prude] who still lives among us, the only living member of the older Evans family. She is nearly 89 years old and is here surrounded by numerous descendants. Nancy, who married William Huffman, a brother of Uncle Joe Huffman. Margaret, who married Alfred or Al Lawrence. Martha, married Joseph Wilson. Poley Wilson and brothers, of the Dry Glaize are descendants of this branch of the family. Susan died before marriage. Ophelia, married Joseph Appling and lived near Lebanon. Billie married Anna, the oldest daughter of Uncle James Perkins, who lived farther down on the Wet Glaize. They moved to Miller County and lived near Eldon where they raised a large family. Uncle Billy has been dead only a few years and his wife still survives. Grandma Perkins, the mother of the wife of Billie Oliver is still hale and hearty at the age of 86 years. As an evidence of the longevity of these older families, I call your attention to the fact - so unusual as to be almost incredible - that the oldest child of Mabel Oliver Ragan, above referred to, was nursed on the laps of six grandmothers - her grandmother Oliver, her great-grandmother Oliver and her great-great-grandmother Burton. Also her grandmother Ragan, her great-grandmother Evans and her great-great-grandmother Prater. Mary Evans, whose maiden name was Dain, was born Sept. 1, 1801 and died April 1, 1879 and lies buried here in the Hillhouse Graveyard. Her husband, Jacob Evans was born Oct. 27, 1790, died and was buried in Tennessee. As a widow, Mary moved here from Tennessee with eight fatherless children. She also had two other daughters - Liza and Sally that married in Tennessee and never moved to Missouri. Both married men by the name of Stokes. The sons were Hartwell, Henry J., John C., and Oliver Evans. Oliver was usually called Jake. Her daughters who lived in Missouri were Caroline who married Giles Oliver; Martha, always called “Mit”, who married Jasper Light; Luvenia, who was always called “Aunt Din”, married John W. Pritchett - Judge Pritchett he became; and Aunt Prude, who married Shade Oliver, the father of “Little Henry” Oliver and brothers and sisters. All of this remarkable family except Aunt Prude have long since passed away. I remember the tragic event in which Uncle Henry Evans lost his eyesight. He lived a long and eventful life and died full of years and good deeds. He served during the War with Mexico, and again when civil strife broke out in 1861, he joined the Confederate army under Gen. Cockrell, afterward Senator of the United States from Missouri. Uncle John Evans was known as Squire Evans. I cannot avoid reference to his long service as Justice of the Peace. For a long time he was all the law many of us knew; for as a matter of fact I was never in Linn Creek, the county seat, until after I was grown and married. The little differences between citizens were invariably settled in the Court of Squire Evans - sometimes not according to the technicalities of law as interpreted by special pleaders, but in keeping with rugged justice. His fairness was recognized by all and his decisions usually settled all further controversy. I have now reached the Hillhouse family. Here on this farm, they lived for nearly a hundred years, many have died here and are buried on the farm where born. Josiah Minter Hillhouse was born July 22, 1805 and died May 4, 1871. He was ordained a minister of the M.E. Church, South, at a very early age, and continued a local preacher as long as he lived. His wife, whose maiden name was Watts, was born June 12, 1807, and died November 29, 1895. After the birth of the couple’s first three children, they moved from Giles County, Tennessee to Missouri in 1828. After a short stop on Cobb’s or Mill Creek, they lived for a short time on what is the Julius Lambeth farm. About 1829 or 1830 they settled on the present farm and reared their family of twelve children. All are now dead except two daughters. The seven daughters were: Emily, the oldest daughter was the second wife of Uncle Levi Fulbright who had five children by a former marriage. They were: Uncle John and Bruce Fulbright, Matilda who married William Story, Susan who married Uncle Joe Huffman and Ann Eliza who married Ples Joiner. Aunt Emily and Uncle Levi Fulbright had eight children. The daughters were: Vine who married Wright Jones; Caroline, called “Tim”, who married Harvey Pritchett; Ellen who married Richard Jones; and Roxanna [Aunt Dutch] who married Kelly Thompson. Their four sons were: Ephraim, Dan, Josiah and Sam. Sarah E. [Aunt Sallie] first married Henderson Ivy, by whom she had two daughters - afterwards the wives of Bruce Hutton and Sherman Goss. Mr. Ivy started to California during the gold rush and was killed by Indians on the Plains. After some years of widowhood, Sarah married John C. Evans [Uncle John]. Many children and other descendants of this branch of the family are here present, and their position and influence in the development of all that is best in the community is well known. Adaline, wife of Henry Evans raised a family of which the community is proud today. Some are dead, but others are present today, proud to be counted as descendants of this noble family. Aunt Jane, widow of Mart Evans, who was a son of Hartwell Evans, still survives and lives among us. Like her sisters who have passed away, she has long exceeded the Biblical allotment of years, but we hope she may be spared many more years in which to meditate upon a long and useful life. Aunt Bettie was left with a large family when her husband, Oliver Evans, was taken away suddenly by a stroke of lightning. She survived him many years and reared her family to manhood and womanhood before she was called to meet other members of her family who had gone on before. I still remember Aunt Mandy, wife of John Woods. They have both been dead many years and I am informed their children are living in or near Pueblo, Colo., except Ellen, wife of Schell Honey. The baby girl of the family is Mrs. Ellen Bohannon, widow of Thomas G. Bohannon. She is present and is the mother of ten children - nine of whom are still living. Lee, her oldest son and one of my best friends, I understand is largely responsible for this service - he having made the suggestion at Uncle Dot’s funeral some months ago. Of the five Hillhouse brothers, I can speak from personal and intimate association of only three. James died before he was grown and was the second one buried here. Uncle Frank I only knew in a casual way. He married Catherine Hensley, a half sister of Uncle Joe Laquey and died and was buried in Pulaski county near Laquey. Uncle Bill was an intimate friend of my father and mother and used to tell me incidents about my parents before I was born. His wife was Aunt Martha, daughter of Hartwell Evans, and a sister of Mart Evans. It used to be said that they “swapped” sisters. Their children grew to manhood and womanhood here on this same farm. The last of the family to die and join the celestial choir was Uncle “Dot” - Monroe Dodson Hillhouse, who with his brothers, William and Thomas, purchased the old homestead from the other heirs and lived and died on the farm where they were born. Some time ago a descendant of this pioneer stock we are honoring today, remarked to me that his family were all plain people, without ability to do the big and worthwhile things of life. No greater eulogy of these pioneers could be pronounced than that they were plain people, seeking only that which they honestly earned. They never asked for places of ease or importance above their fellowmen. They never sought positions of power, but were content to help others to the preferred places. They were never candidates for high office, but were content to leave them to others, and oftimes to those less worthy. Because they lived the simple life - content to bear burdens that others might enjoy more abundantly, is sufficient to earn for them a place in the hearts of all mankind.
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