1948-49, a history of Madison was compiled by Miss
Mary Humphrey, daughter of Frank and Marie Bassett
was the only high school student who, when told of Dr.
Turner’s offer to the student body of prizes for the
three best writings on the history of Madison, tackled
the tremendous job of research which this undertaking
history was published as installments in the Madison Times
and then a complete manuscript was turned over to the
Missouri Historical Society at Jefferson City.
Thanks again to Kathleen Wilham for providing
us with the Nannie Brown Collection, from which this
history was extracted.
find in looking over old records, that the first
permanent settlement made in what is now Monroe
County, was made in 1820 by Ezra Fox, Daniel and
Andrew Whittenburg and families, 3 ½ miles east of
Middle Grove’s present site.
These people, who came from Kentucky, came in
clans, that is, people united by ties of blood and
May 1825, Joseph Stevens; Joel and Jim Noel; the
Boulwares; William and Evan Davis; Reuben, John and
Jerry Burton; Harve, Robert and Austin Swinney; Jacob,
Pleasant, Daniel, and Tyre Ford, and families from
Oldham County, Kentucky, settled north and east of
this location. Jesse
Elsberry led this band.
He returned to Kentucky in the following year
and brought back more settlers.
Among them were David Enochs, Sam Quirey, the
Ownbys, the Noels, and other families who settled just
west and south of Madison.
Davis married Betsy, the daughter of Ezra Fox.
The youngest descendant of the first settler is
Lonny Elsberry, son of Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Elsberry, who
lives near the old Fox settlement.
From 1829 to 1830, immigration increased
rapidly from Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee.
Mr. Elsberry made seven trips on horseback to
lead these settlers.
Joseph Stevens was the first representative to
the legislature from this county, serving from
daughter, Amanda, married John Davis.
She was beheaded by a slave in July 1857.
Their daughter, Sally, was the first young lady
of the community to own a piano.
County, at that time, comprised several counties.
What is now Monroe County, was then Union
governor, Daniel Dunklin, appointed Reece Davis, first
Justice of the Peace.
The first election held in this county was held
at his home, August 1832 (where Herbert Johnson’s
home now stands).
The first county court met February 26, 1831.
The grand jurors of this part of the county
were David Enochs, Joel Noel and John Burton.
James R. Abernathy was appointed commissioner
of the Township School lands.
A road from Hannibal to Hunstville was opened
1837, the town of Madison was laid out by James R.
Abernathy, a native of the Old Dominion, born in
Lunenburg County, February 25, 1765.
The name of no man is so closely identified
with so many initial enterprises of the county as that
of James Abernathy.
The ancestors of both of his parents had
settled in that state long prior to the Revolution.
In 1797, they removed to Kentucky and his
father was one of the pioneer settlers of Fayette
County, one of the first counties in the bluegrass
was reared there, learned the hatter’s trade, and
came to Missouri in 1817, locating at Howard County.
Having received a good education, he taught
school for several years and came to Monroe County in
to this, he had been engaged in agricultural pursuits;
was at New Madrid at the time of the great earthquake,
and lost all he had by that unfortunate event.
During leisure hours, he studied law and was
admitted to the bar.
Abernathy was accounted one of the most
successful prosecuting attorneys of the time; he was
the county’s first treasurer, resigning after twelve
was Constable, Justice of the Peace, Judge of the
County Court, and Circuit Attorney.
He was a soldier in the War of 1812, and the
Union for which he fought, he could not forsake in the
hour of peril of 1861.
He had been married three times: his first wife
was Miss Jennie Winn.
He then married Rosana, a daughter of William
and Nancy Swinney Davis.
Their daughter, Nancy, married Dr. Hugh Glenn,
who went to California in 1849.
He took up thousands of acres of rich land in
the Sacramento Valley and became a multi-millionaire.
He laid the foundation of one of the largest
fortunes on the Pacific Coast by becoming the wheat
king of the world.
He owned Tulare County.
In those days, every boy hoped to go to
first place they struck was Hugh Glenn’s ranch,
Glenn was killed by Huren Miller, his best
Ford was the prosecuting attorney and Eugene Bridgford,
judge, both being Monroe Countians, where Miller was
few were the murders in those days, the daily progress
of the trial was printed by the metropolitan papers
all over the United States.
Miller was sent to San Quentin prison and
released after 10 years.
was established as a trading center.
It was half way between Old Allen (now a part
of Moberly), and Paris, the county seat.
A stage line was established between Glasgow
and Hannibal during the 1830’s.
Since the stagecoach ran day and night, fresh
relays of teams were kept ready at stations along the
David Enochs home, one mile west of Madison, was a
stopping point. The
coaches were beautifully painted.
Mail was carried on horseback.
the days of slow transportation, a trading center was
greatly needed between the two towns.
James Abernathy entered 40 acres and laid out
half of the tract into 90 lots, selling the lots for
$1,000 and naming the town for the President, James
part of the city in which the business section is now
located comprises most of the lots surveyed and sold
by him. From
an abstract of one of these lots, I learned that the
lots were sold in 1837, but the abstract was not
recorded until 1891.
The abstract, revealing the width of the
streets, stated that Broadway was 72 feet wide,
Washington, Marion, Jefferson, Main, Cross, and
Lafayette streets were each 60 feet wide, the alleys
12 feet wide, and the lots each have a 60 foot front
on the streets, running back 124 feet.
first home was erected by Abernathy just west of the
Later Henry Harris built a home which was used
as a tavern in 1837.
The Martin Groves family settled where the Moss
Dawson home now stands.
He was the town’s first merchant, operating a
general store. In
1834, he donated a plot of ground for a cemetery; his
little daughter being the first of the settlers to be
buried on Sunset Hill.
1838, Daniel and James Eubank, who came from
Tennessee, opened a store.
It was a two-room log house facing west on the
grounds where the Chowning Brothers’ store now
building stood for 75 years.
Then the cloth, itself, as well as the clothing
was made at home.
Miss Virginia Swindell bought the first lawn
for a dress at a cost of 30 cents a yard.
It was the talk of the community.
grocery stores sold mostly spices, sugar, coffee and
first lawyer was Champ Clark, who made his home for a
short while with Elder J.C. Davis.
Later Monroe Stevens was a lawyer.
Dr. Ray was the town’s first physician.
Others have been Ladd, Venaugh, Tucker, McNutt,
Todd, Perry, Davis, Wilcox, Forrest, Johnson,
Atterbury, and Drace.
Dr. T.R. Turner is our present physician.
The first blacksmith shop to be erected was
built by Harve Collins, who hammered out plow shares
used by farmers of this section.
Madison was quite a manufacturing town.
A carding mill was operated by John Dawson on
South Main Street.
Fleeces of wool were picked and carded.
August 31, 1861, about 31 men left Madison under the
command of J.R. Chowning and J.W. Atterbury.
Marching to Middle Grove, they joined the
forces of the Confederacy under Capt. Frank Davis.
Their first actual encounter was at Boonville,
where they had a skirmish with the Union forces.
They were unsuccessful in capturing the
position, but they secured the release of about ten
Atterbury Sr. received a wound in his ankle, having to
return to his home.
other men proceeded to Lexington, where they fought
their second encounter.
They joined a battery under the command of
Captain Tull, in Springfield, and consolidated with
Bledsoe at Mobile, Ala.
For the remainder of the time, the battery was
in the South. The
cannon used by Bledsoe’s battery was called “Old
was a battle at Paris.
The old Glenn Hotel shows the marks of that
of the men from this section who served in this famous
old battery were J.S. Dunaway, Jack Overfelt, J.R.
Chowning, Bill Edwards, Nick and Les Farrell, Joespeh
Hersman, Henry Wade, C.A. Overfelt, D.T.C. Mitchell,
J.W. Atterbury, Wes McKinney, Jim Elsberry, Ed Lynch,
Sam Houchins, C.L. Enochs, and G.E. Green.
the following men: Joe Boulware, Will Klugh, Simp Dry,
Neut Turner, Curt Mitchell, Charles McKinney, Elsea
Dry, Bos Botkins, Adolphus Elsberry, and Henry Clay
Bryant were returning home, four of their comrades
were drowned when “Old Kentucky” their boat, sank
on Red River, Louisiana, September 9, 1865.
The four were: Mac Wilson, William Baker, Ben
Houchins, who was the father of Frank, Benny, Eddie
and William Houchins, and Mrs. Mary Swindell, and Doc
Dry, the grandfather of John Dry.
Captain George Waller fought with Gen. Sterling
Price, as did William Farrell.
M.K. & T. Railroad, now the Wabash, built from
Hannibal to Moberly, was completed in 1872.
The land given by owners and citizens for the
county bonded the county for $250,000 for the road.
The depot was a very busy place.
Fifteen and twenty trains a day ran through
Madison carrying longhorn Texas cattle to Chicago.
Stock was shipped out almost every day.
T.B. and H.T. Davis were stock buyers.
Many young men who became telegraphers received
their training at this station.
era of great prosperity followed.
Lun Palmer built an imposing house just south
of the depot, known as the Southern Hotel.
Madison boasted of two other hotels, the Brown
Hotel and the Morris House.
W.C. Davis was a boot and shoe maker; William
Ownby owned a livery and feed stable; Reeds had a
restaurant; H.C. Baker was a merchant and stockman;
Farrell and Roberson sold hardware and implements;
Mrs. S.A. Morris was a milliner; J.R. Chowning had a
dry goods store; Buckner and Bassett were druggists;
C.T. Quisenberry was a butcher; C.F. Jackson had a
bakery and restaurant; Butler and Branham owned a meat
market; Manning and Davis ran a millinery.
C.H. Eubanks owned a grocery and lumber store;
Todd Lightner & Co. had a dry goods store.
1875, a tobacco factory for the curing of tobacco was
built by a firm from Hannibal.
It employed about 50 men and stimulated the
growth of Madison.
Much tobacco was of a very fine quality was
grown as the soil was well suited to its culture.
Mr. J.R. Chowning, Peter H. Bassett, and James
Davis operated this factory for several years.
A brick kiln furnished brick for the local use.
Cicero, the father of our postmaster, Waller
Eubank, built the first brick building on the corner
of Broadway, now a part of the Baker Lumberyard.
January, 1885, Charles Reed gave Madison her first
was called “The Madison Watchman.”
The next year J.E. Kribs became editor and
changed the name to “The Advance.”
The first edition was printed on a “hand
press,” where the type was linked each time that it
was used. Henry
Wade got the first paper that came off the press.
M.A. Leftwich purchased the paper and again
changed the name to its present name, “Madison
a few months he sold it to Margaret and Nora Waller
and Clyde Eubank, who edited the paper from 1890-1909.
Clyde and Waller Eubank later became owners and
editors for a number of years.
Sumpter for many years furnished the house-wives with
William Brownfield, who lived in west Madison,
furnished the community with ice and fresh meat during
the summer months.
During the coldest weather he cut ice and
stored it in his large ice house.
Artificial ice was then unknown.
The Brownfield, Dixons, Turpitts, Bloodworth
and Burnsworth family located in and near Madison
after the war. They
were from Pennsylvania.
Abernathy had laid out the town of Madison, it was
James R. Chowning, J.W. and I.N. Atterbury who
practically made the town.
James R. Chowning erected brick buildings south
of the bank and sold dry goods.
His sons, Orville and Scott, were later
associated with him.
His grandson, Wray Giddings Chowning, now owns
this clothing store.
This firm was established over 80 years ago.
Chowning was admitted to the bar in 1905 and
represented Monroe County in the Missouri House of
Representatives in 1916.
J.W. and I.N. Atterbury, brothers, helped to
build up the town of Madison in a substantial way by
forming a partnership in 1867 in the mercantile,
livestock and farming business, which continued for 54
1884, J.W. Atterbury was elected to the state
legislature by a large majority, after one of the
hottest contests in the history of the county.
Madison Bank was organized in 1888.
Marcilus Harvey, a traveling grocerman of
Boonville, was president; William T. Armstrong, vice
president; J.R. Chowning, cashier, and Ed Thomas,
It opened for business March 1, 1888, and
George Lenhart was the first depositor.
Soon after, J.W. Atterbury was elected
president, which position he held until his death in
Atterbury, Jr., now president, has been with this bank
brick block west of the bank, including the old post
office building, was erected by the Atterbury brothers
during the 1880s.
I.N. Atterbury and Ed DeYoung made a trip to
England to purchase a load of horses.
Probably no other men of the county have
contributed more to the livestock industry, especially
horses, than the Atterbury Brothers and H.C. Baker.
They owned some of the finest horses in the
1884, Charles Atterbury engaged in the furniture and
He was one of the town’s most influential and
progressive business men.
In previous years Henry Wade was the town’s
furniture dealer and undertaker.
The art of embalming was then unknown.
was indeed very proud of her new Opera House (which
was over the Noel & Cunningham store).
On the opening night Miss Katy Castleton, a
very noted actress of the day, was the principal
was the social center for many grand occasions, for
socials were very popular.
There was always a community Christmas tree at
the Opera House.
first Christian minister was Elder Donan, who traveled
over this section on horseback, preaching for the free
will offerings of his members.
The Christian Church was organized in 1838 at a
log school house on the farm of Martin Grove west of
were five charter members.
The preacher was Martin Vivian.
In 1841, another church was organized.
It stood where the Lack Broaddus property now
stands, facing west. These
charter members were sturdy and heroic men and women,
who came from Kentucky and Virginia and subdued the
old record bears mute testimony to a beautiful and
abiding faith, which sustained them in their early
of their descendants yet live in and around Madison,
and exhibit the same sublime faith and loyalty to the
church, which characterized their forebears.
The church discipline of those early days may
seem harsh and unreasonable to the present generation.
Dancins was a rock over which many of the new
converts stumbled and there are found these words
after their names, “Excluded for dancing”; and
after the names of slaves who became members of their
master’s church are the following words,
“blackwoman” or “blackman.”
spite of the many hindrances, the church grew and
were the days of protracted meetings; many new members
were added in these revivals, until the total reached
Lampton, so fondly remembered and beloved by the
members of the present generation, served that church
from 1860-1863. In
1873, a primitive, but commodious frame building was
built on East Broadway on land donated by Ed DeYoung,
a public spirited man.
It was constructed without regard to beauty,
like all village churches of that day.
The only ornamentation was a glass fan light
over the door, the lettering “Madison Christian
spite of all the material handicap the church grew and
prospered mightily, exerting a wonderful influence
over Madison and surrounding community.
J.C. Davis held the pastorate; Miss Sally Gove
and Cicero Eubank organized the first Sunday school.
In 1896, the next church was built at a cost of
church burned in November, 1910.
The first funeral preached in it was that of
Mrs. Milton Forsythe; the last was her husband’s 14
years later. Some
of the pastors were Brothers E.M. Richmond, Briney,
Corwine and Bailey.
One of the greatest revivals held in this
community was by A.N. Lindsay.
first Methodist Church stood where Del Miles’ new
home now stands.
They sold this building to the Baptist
denomination and it was moved.
The new church was dedicated on August 5, 1900.
It was erected at a total cost of $3,000, with
an immense crowd in attendance at its dedication.
Reverend A.S. Bowles was the pastor.
Some of the members were the Mitchells,
Lenharts, Brownfields, Turpits, Burnsworths, Sumpters,
and Quisenberrys. This church burned in the early
are now using what used to be the Cumberland
In June, 1903, J.W. Kimball broadcast a sermon
over the telephone, on 14 rural lines averaging 10-20
He was unable to get to his country church due
to high waters. He
became one of the leading Methodist ministers of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized at the
home of C.H. Atterbury November 1, 1894, with a
membership of 32.
J.W. Sr., I.N. and C.H. Atterbury, Mary
Atterbury, Mrs. Thresher, Mr. Leightner, Mrs. Sally
Hulen and M.A. Leftwich were some of the members.
Reverend Sharp was their pastor.
Their new church building was dedicated October
24, 1897, by Reverend Morris, D.D.
Part of their interesting equipment of the
church was a bell listed as a blyner monister,
weighing 1,150 pounds and costing $103.
Reverend Morris was the first pastor and Miss
Juanita Grimes was the organist.
It is now used as the Methodist Church.
Baptist Church was organized in 1903 by Reverend
Painter at the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Farrell
with these charter members: Mrs. Griffith, Mrs. Diltz,
Mrs. Ella Timbrook, Mr. and Mrs. George Owens, Mr. and
Mrs. George Farrell.
They bought the Methodist Church building and
moved it to the lots on which the present building
first pastor was Reverend Mansfield.
Others have been Joseph Smith, R.T. Colborn,
R.A. Jones, H.C. Barton, P.F. Sears, Rev. Green, PD.
Mangum, and L.M. White, and under his faithful
leadership the church prospered with a substantial
increased in members, and renewed working force.
Second Christian Church was organized in 1873, but no
building was erected until 1882.
Logs for the building were cut on the John
Lepper farm and built on the site of the present
of the members are the Burtons, the Johnson, Gooches,
Burgesses, and Tydings.
Rice Burton is the oldest member of this
son has been pastor for years.
Their new brick building was erected in 1921.
first school building was erected on the grounds now
owned by Frank Houchins.
Some of the early teachers were: Sam Houchins,
Joe Grove, Lucy Holmes, and Emma Grove.
The next school was erected by the Christian
denomination on the lots where the Broaddus property
now stands, taught by William Featherston and later by
Eugene Lampkin and T.J. Harley.
A three-room frame building was next used.
After a few years it was moved south of the
tracks and used by the colored school.
At the turn of the century Madison had one of
the best schools in this section.
J.B. Rogers was superintendent.
Pupils came from surrounding counties.
We now have a first class school; one of the
best in the state for a town of its size.
Misses Mag and Nora Waller and Vada Lenhart
were among the best known teachers of the county.
At present, Miss Mary Lear has been honored by
Lindenwood College by a lifetime job as Professor of
first colored school was known as “Bush College,”
a one-room log cabin, southwest of Madison about two
miles near the railroad crossing on the Bud Engle
was built in 1854, later in a dwelling on the late J.W.
Atterbury farm at the south edge of Madison.
Later the present building used by the white
pupils was moved and used by the colored pupils.
The first teacher was Ken Atterbury.
a number of years Madison was known for its annual
Street Fairs. The
first one was held here in 1904.
They were real homecoming events.
Having a number of training barns in the
vicinity, excellent hors shows were a usual part of
the program. In
1905, Madison experienced another great boom.
The Farmers & Merchants Bank was organized.
The Bake Addition was added to north Madison.
Many business houses and homes were built.
its history, Madison has had several fires.
The most destructive fire swept away property
valued at $40,000.
About half of those affected carried no
insurance, and the loss meant ruin to more than one of
fire broke out in the J.R. Chowning block and spread
with such speed comparatively nothing was saved on the
building on the opposite block was destroyed except
the Farmers & Merchants Bank and the Arcade
Building, owned by W.T. Willis.
A list of those affected by the fire included
Brown and Davis was the oldest business firm.
Other fires which were minor in comparison, but
nevertheless affected several individuals and the
appearance of the town, included a barber shop, two
grocery stores, two churches, a school building, a
garage and several dwellings.
The garage fire resulted in a loss of $19,000
by the owners, besides 21 patrons lost their
used to be events of considerable importance.
Before the days of radio, this was about the
only opportunity the local people had for hearing good
music and lecturers.
(Transcriber’s note: Tent shows, known as “chautauquas”,
brought popular education and entertainment to small
towns in America from coast to coast.)
Fourth of July, 1895, was celebrated by a reunion and
picnic under the auspices of Bledsoe Camp of
The crowd was the largest ever assembled in or
near Madison. (The
following is a clipping from the Moberly Monitor of
that date, July 1895): “Right in front of the
speaker’s stand was an elegant picture in a massive
frame of the monument erected on the battlefield of
Chickamauga in honor of Bledsoe’s battery.
This battery had the distinguished honor of
firing the opening shot of this terrible battle and
yesterday the whole drift of talk, both public and
private, was of the battery, nearly half of the
gallant captain’s company being from the vicinity of
three oldest houses left are the homes of Mr. and Mrs.
George Hayden, the Walker home, and the brick cottage
near the school building that was the first home of
the J.R. Chowning family.
1906 our present bank was erected with the Odd Fellows
hall above. Doctor
Turner recently purchased this hall and made it into
John Forrest, son of Dr. Forrest, was the
town’s druggist for 50 years.
Dr. E.J. Dunaway has been practicing denistry
here for over fifty years.
people of Madison have always been God-fearing people;
noted for hospitality, kindness and loyalty.
Most of the business men of today are
descendants of the pioneers who built Madison.
Mo. Pop. 481
at one time had two banks - the Madison Bank which was
owned by the Atterbury family
and the Farmers and Merchants Bank. The Farmers
and Merchants Bank has not existed for some 60+ years,
but the Madison Bank is now the Madison Honeywell
Early bank information was revealed to me by my aunt
Willie, who will be 100 years old in
February, 1999. She told me she and her husband used
to bank at the Farmers and Merchants Bank because it
was smaller and her husband knew the president
(Submitted by: Barbara
Lusk Savalick, St. Louis, MO,
formerly of Woodlawn, Monroe County Missouri)
is also a quaint town that at one time not so long ago
had a bank, Rexall Drug, and beauty shop. The
friendliest little restaurant," D&J's.",
have daily specials with catfish noted to be the best
in the area. It is surely one of my very favorites!
Beecher's fine evening dining and cocktails adds to
this list of small town favorite areas for shopping or
business needs. (submitted by Cathlene
town of Madison was named by James Abernathy, who came
to Monroe Co., in 1817. It was named in honor of James
Madison, President of the United States. Mr. Abernathy
entered 40 acres of land where the town was located.
The first house in the place was put up by Henry
Harrison, who came from Madison Co., Ky., and used as
a tavern in 1837. James Eubanks, from Tennessee,
opened the first store in 1838. George Cunningham was
the pioneer blacksmith. The town contained a
population of 500 to 600, and had a public school, 2
churches, 2 general stores, one harness shop, three
drug and grocery stores, 1 grocery and meat market, 1
flouring-mill and a saw-mill, 1 furniture store, and 1
of Towns, Villages, and Hamlets, Past and Present, of
Monroe Co., Mo. , p. 173, 174;
Gazetteer, p. 380
(submitted by Robin
the MADISON TIMES, Madison, MO.
"Recalls Early Days Around Madison"
Blackwell, Okla., July 13, 1931
I notice in your number of July 9th, a write up of
early days of the city of Madison, which was read by
me with much interest. Being an Old Settler
myself, I was born and raised about three miles
northwest of Madison in the year 1843. Am now 88
years old, my name is Monroe DAVIS. My fathers
name was Madison DAVIS, was generally known as Mat
DAVIS, who settled where I was born in 1833.
R. ABERNATHY was an uncle of mine by marriage. I
can recognize the name of all the Old Settlers
mentioned, however, I only find one name that I can
recognize that is living among all of my
acquaintances, that one is John Dunaway.
Probably he would remember me.
the old industries you failed to mention the old grist
mill, that was owned by John DAWSON, that was run by
the power of an incline wheel and was driven by horses
walking on the wheel and the weight of the
horses would revolve and which would also run the
millstone. The parties that brought the grist to
mill had to furnish the horses. The miller that
run the mill was named WYSINGER.
to show the younger boys how milling was done at that
mill, I will explain just how it was done. The
mill was equipped with a set of mill stones that was
used to grind either corn or wheat. If it were corn
the meal was scooped into a sack and if it were wheat
it was scooped into another sack and carried upstairs
and put through a bolt that was run by hand. It took
two men to do it. One man would turn the reel
while the other fed the stock into the reel. The flour
would fall into a chest below. The miller, Mr.
WYSINGER, would take a turkey wing in his hand, open
up the chest and divide the fine flour from the
middlings by drawing a line between the fine flour and
the middlings and shorts also. He then would put
the shorts on the bottom of the sack then tie a string
around the sack, then do likewise with the flour and
middlings. All three then would be in the same
The bran was then put into a separate sack.
by: MONROE DAVIS
This is a letter written by my GG-Grandfather, Monroe
DAVIS who was born in Madison, MO Nov 8, 1843 to James
"Madison" DAVIS and Elizabeth (Evans) DAVIS.
Submitted by: Marla Andrus
Web Site: Marla's Tree House