[From Goodspeed 1889]
Houston, thirty-five miles southwest of Salem, on the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad, and fifty-five miles from Rolla, is situated within a few hundred yards of the geographical center of the county, and this fact secures to it the capital of the county forever. It is located on a hill, which terminates on the north in a bluff at Brushy Creek. From beneath this bluff flow numerous springs of beautiful clear water, in quantities sufficient to supply a city of 100,000 population. Two miles and a half north of Houston are located the Blankenship Mineral Springs, noted throughout this section for their curative properties. The climate is very agreeable, in winter particularly, as the hills around the town shut off, as it were, the cold mountain breeze.
John T. Lynch, in his reminiscences
of 1841, says:
When this was Gasconade County, the people here had to go to Pinkney, a small town on the Missouri River, eighty miles above St. Louis, to court; when it was Crawford County, they had to go to Steelville to court; when it was Pulaski County, they had to go to Waynesville to court; when it was Wright County, they had to go to Hartville to court, and when Texas County was made, court was held on the old homestead where I first landed, in Section 7, Township 31, Range 9, on the banks of the Big Piney River. I think Peter O'Miner was the sheriff of the court when first held in Texas County. I don't suppose in that day Texas County had any more population than the town of Houston has today, and public schools were unknown, as were almost any other kind of schools. Houston was located in about the year 1848, with about thirteen families and one store.
The town was destroyed twice during the war, and when peace was proclaimed she had not a single inhabitant, nor was there even a barn standing within her present limits. It took a long time to recover from this blow. For some time the site was occupied by a few people who lived in shanties hastily thrown up between showers, and a store, the proprietors of which handled only a few necessaries of life. But the lands surrounding the town were too valuable to remain idle very long, and those who had been driven away by the troubles of the times came back to their old homes and went to work. Political differences were forgotten, and new houses took the places of the old.
ADDITIONS - The establishment of the town is shown in the pages devoted to the transactions of the county court. Steffens' addition to Houston, on southeast quarter of southeast quarter of Section 6, Township 30, Range 9, was acknowledge by Josephine D. and Henry C. Steffens September 22, 1886. But what may be termed the first addition, Mineral Springs City, was surveyed on the southeast corner of the northwest quarter of southeast quarter Section 30, Township 31, Range 9, for A.B. Blankenship, and acknowledge by him October 2, 1880.
BOARD PROCEEDINGS - The town of Houston was incorporated in 1872, and the first meeting of the board held November 18. Thomas G. White was elected president; W. B. Givens, John W. Kyle, A. G. Bate and G. A. Leavitt, councilmen; John Kay, clerk; T. D. Riggs, marshal, and L. G. Gentry, treasurer. The by-laws were presented by Mr. Leavitt. The arrest of John Edgeman for drunkenness was the first official act of Marshal Riggs, and the arrest of Abe Frederick, charged with boisterous conduct, the second; each was fined $1 and costs. In 1873 J. White, president; L. G. Gentry, John Rutherford, Ben. C. Lowell and William Smith were trustees, but in July James Davis qualified as trustee and John Rutherford presided, vice White, resigned. In 1874 A. G. Bate was appointed marshal; in September John Hubbard took his place, but in December Bate was reappointed. In January, 1875, L. G. Gentry was chairman, and G. A. Leavitt, clerk. In April, 1875, James Beaumont was president; William H. Smith, W. Wallin and R. D. Gobble, councilmen; William Herlinger was appointed marshal. In 1877 J. W. Nichols was the mayor; A. G. Bate, clerk; J. L. Leavitt, treasurer; and L. G. Gentry and H. Manly, councilmen; J. F. Dial was chosen marshal. In March, 1878, A. G. Bate was appointed assessor. In 1878 J. W. Nichols, J. S. Leavitt, R. T. Foard, W. Walling and C. M. Ross formed the board. In January, 1879, Isaac Gobble was appointed marshal, C. M. Ross still being clerk. In April, 1879, G. B. Harlan was chosen chairman; R. D. Gobble, clerk; R. T. Foard, treasurer; W. Wallin, marshal; and W. J. White formed the board. In 1880 R. D. Gobble was elected president; F. P. Rutherford, clerk; A. G. Bate, treasurer and assessor; and W. Herlinger, marshal. The latter's place was occupied in July by D. W. Allsman, and the name of A. E. Leavitt appears as trustee. John T. Lynch was later appointed clerk and assessor. In April, 1887, J. B. Riggs was chosen president; C. M. Ross, clerk; A. E. Leavitt, treasurer; L. G. Nichols, attorney, while W. Herlinger and A. D. Frinks were members of council. The elections of 1882 resulted in the choice of L.G. Gentry, president; John T. Lynch, clerk; John R. Blankenship, C. G. McKenney, councilmen, and N. W. Smith, marshal. In 1883 John T. Lynch, Joseph Dixon, W. B. Guire, James Cox and A. E. Leavitt formed the board, with Dixon presiding. Dr. S. D. Lyles was a member of the council. They with Dr. C. M. Ross formed the first board of health. The council of 1884 comprised James W. Price, J. T. Lynch, Jesse Watson, N.W. Smith and Washington Gobble. In 1885 Messrs. Lynch, Gobble and Smith were re-elected, and John N. Angel and John Schissler elected, with N. Wilson, marshal. In 1886 John Green took Angel's place, Henry Powers was chosen marshal, and Washington Gobble, treasurer.
The officers of the town of Houston in 1887 were J. F. Watson, president; V. Garutz, W. Herlinger and R. D. Gobble, councilmen, and N. B. Sutton, marshal. In April, 1888, G. H. Lupton was chosen president; G. A. Leavitt, clerk; C. M. Ross, treasurer; J. D. Young and V. M. Hines, councilmen, and N. B. Sutton, marshal.
COMMERCIAL INTERESTS - The business circle of 1885 comprised J. R. Blankenship and Dr. C. M. Ross, druggists; Leavitt & Son, Cronin Bros., hardware; G. F. Millard and Schissler & Co., general merchants; D. G. Elliott's foundry; Garwitz & Fry's flouring mill; F. Rutherford's furniture store; Young & Mier's flouring and sawing mills and furniture factory, and the Herald printing office. J. R. Blankenship was postmaster; G. B. Harland and Mr. Overton, Methodist preachers; R. G. Gobble, justice; and G. A. Leavitt, lawyer. The Texas House and other hotels were then in existence. Many changes have been effected within the last four years. In 1888 a number of buildings were erected. Mr. Nichol has taken J. R. Blankenship's place as postmaster. Elliott's foundry was established in 1875, one-half mile west of Houston, by D. G. Elliott, the present owner. The original building was 20 x 40, and the machinery, very primitive, was driven by horse power. This is now changed. A large building 40 x 20 and complete machinery have now taken the place of the pioneer foundry, turning out plows, cane-mills, bells, etc., of excellent quality. His son conducts a similar industry at Hartville.
The Albert Bates Steam, Saw and Grist Mill was erected in 1878, six miles below Houston, near where he purchased the old Fry mill, which he sold to James A. Bates that year.
The Houston Roller Mill Company was organized in January, 1889, with the following named stockholders: J. D. Young, G. T. Millard, J. A. Bradford, A. E. Leavitt, J. Schissler & Co., and D. W. Fitch, with the latter as manager. Work on the new mill building was authorized.
The Houston Bank was a project of January, 1889. The names of the stockholders are T. F. Nicholas, V. M. Hines and L. B. Woodside. At date of writing the company is not organized.
The Southern Hotel, built in 1888 by D. E. Beemer, on the site of the old Gobble House, is undoubtedly one of the best houses in Missouri. There are fifteen rooms furnished at a cost of $1,500, while the building cost $2,500. The hotel is managed by Mr. Beemer, who has a controlling interest in the Blankenship Springs. The house built in 1889 by John T. Lynch, on the south side of the square, on the site of his former home, is an important addition to the buildings of the town, and with the Southern Hotel just west completes the two corners.
The Texas House, on the Cabool road, was built a number of years ago by John H. Steffens, and was for years the leading house of this county.
Duke's livery stables, on the east side of the square, were built in 1888.
SOCIETIES - Texas Lodge No. 177, A. F. & A. M., was chartered in 1867. Among the early members were J. H. Steffens, J. C. White, Alex. Jadwin, Tyre Cooper, Dr. J. A. Steeley, George Horton, P. D. Mitchell, Spencer Mitchell, H. M. Williams, C. H. Latimer, W. F. Trail, Rev. J. C. Hicks, J. B. Murphy, T. N. Bradford and R. Y. Smyley. C. M. Ross became a member of this lodge in 1868. Among the names of Past Masters are C. H. Latimer, Dr. Steeley, James R. Simmons, Dr. John E. Barnes, G. B. Yates, Dr. Mires, Dr. Lyles, T. F. Nicholas, W. H. Forester, and J. W. Green, the present Master. The lodge now numbers sixty members. Latimer Lodge of Licking, and Plato Lodge and Barnes' Lodge are all offshoots of Texas Lodge. The present hall was completed in 1868, but a new building is projected.
Texas Lodge 372, I.O.O.F., was chartered May 19, 1877, with J. S. Leavitt, A. E. Leavitt, J. Gobble, George Paulding, J. T. Hoffman and A. T. Hoffman, members. The Past Grands are named as follows: J. S. Leavitt, A. E. Leavitt, A. G. Bate, D. Dony, James Killian, C. N. Beaumont, James W. Wilson, Prof. C. W. White, George E. Miller, S. Green, Carnady and George Evans, who is now presiding. There are sixty-five members. In 1888 the hall was erected, at a cost of $1,100, by A. C. Van Slycke, the contractor. The building committee comprised J. F. Watson, A. E. Leavitt, C. W. White, W. M. Herlinger and James Killian.
Houston Camp No. 168, Triple Alliance, is presided over by H. D. Overton, with I. H. Gobble, secretary. A lodge of the A.O.U.W. also exists here.
Houston Post No. 339, G.A.R., was organized August 1, 1887, with the following members: William Herlinger, James Haney; Jacob Wood, John T. Sneed, Lewis Beers, George Dees, Elisha J. Tweed, Absalom McKenney, James Broadwater, Sam Hildebrand, John R. Blankenship, Littleton Padgett, M. E. Duke, John T. Lynch, Samuel Pollard, J. W. McKenney, Daniel W. Bailey, James S. Leavitt, G. A. Leavitt and J. J. Ice. The above named with fifteen new members constitute the present post. G.A. Leavitt was first commander.
HOUSTON ACADEMY - The Houston Academy was incorporated April 22, 1871, on petition of F. M. Geiger, Ben. McFarland, J. R. Blankenship, J. H. Steffens, and J. W. Mires. The stockholders of the Houston Academy Association in April, 1871, were John H. Steffens, Alex. Jadwin, John R. Blankenship, John T. Lynch, Rev. Wesley Nall, Ben. C. Lowell, J. N. Angel, J. W. Kyle and sixty-five others. In 1882 the officers of the association were W. M. Young, R. H. Manley, J. N. Angel, John T. Lynch, D. G. Elliott, J. R. Blankenship and L. G. Gentry.
The Houston Institute was established in 1883 by Prof. C. W. White. The trustees of the old academy, having heard of Mr. White, proposed to convey to him the old buildings and land on condition that he would take charge of the public schools and build up the educational interests of the town. On New Year's Day, 1883, Mr. White arrived and took charge of the schools in the old building, as well as of the academy, which then claimed twenty-six students. In April, 1883, he commenced the present institute building, and in 1884, his residence. The school building was completed in August, that year, at a cost of $3,500 and opened in September, with thirty students in the academical and 120 in the common-school department. His assistants were Hayden Lynch and William Nichol, both residents of the county. In 1884 the number of students increased to 50, in 1885 to 55, in 1886-87 to 60, in 1888 to 86. The highest studies are the mathematics, which claim marked attention, while elementary Latin and Greek, and studies in French and German are pursued. Prof. White's assistants were E. H. Stuart, D. C. McPherson and Ella Burres, in 1884; W. J. Frost, Miss Burres, in 1885; D. C. McPherson, Misses Burres and Gentry, in 1886; J. C. Hughes, Misses Gentry and Angel, in 1887, and in 1888-89, A. B. McPherson and Misses Tweed and Anthony. The school building will be extended in 1889 and the grounds improved. Prior to Prof. White's coming, D. C. McPherson had charge of the schools.
SPRINGS AND CAVES - The Blankenship Springs are located two and one-quarter miles north of Houston, in a beautiful dell near Piney River. There are many springs, with as many different kinds of water, all of which unite and go sweeping over the pebbles, upon which is left a beautiful golden bronze. But few of these springs have been analyzed. They are in a romantic place, and the picturesque scenery cannot be excelled. A fine cave near the hotel, which has been used for keeping fresh meats, milk, butter, etc., is superior to anything ever used for that purpose. The temperature is 59 degrees. There are many other caverns, not only around Houston, but throughout the county.
Debbie Linton and Penny Harrell
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