Holt County, Missouri

Bigelow Township History

Early Settlers of Bigelow Township
William and Harmon Higgins, brothers, from Ray and Platte Counties, Missouri, settled in November 1841. Stephen C. Collins, for twenty years surveyor of Holt County, assisted them in putting up their house. The Iowa and Sac Indians were then numerous in the neighborhood.

Besides those above mentioned, among the earliest settlers of Bigelow Township were Joshua Kelso, (still living) constable in 1855, when it was included in Benton; Joseph Scott and his sons William and John Scott; Daniel David, who came from Switzerland County, Indiana; Jeff Campbell, Wade Whitney and John Stone, from Virginia; Jack Chaney, Joel Chaney and Fields Chaney from Ray County, Missouri; John L. Morris, from Kanawah, Virginia, whose wife was a daughter of John Hinkle, who died in 1853, came from Randolph County, Virginia, to Bigelow Township in 1848. He was an uncle of J. C. Hinkle, now a orominent citizen of West Lewis Township. Nelson Rodney, C. G. Hopkins and A. Galloway were early settlers.

Among the earliest to locate in what is now Bigelow Township was a man by the name of Wagle, who settled just west of the present site of Bigelow, and lived :here till the year 1844, when he was forced to move, in consequence of the flood of that year. Elijah Duncan and William Farmer were also among the earliest settlers of this township.

Thomas and John Duncan, sons of E. Duncan, and James, Elijah and Andrew Farmer, sons of Wm. Farmer; Jacob, James and Alex Fitzwaters from Franklin County, Missouri. A large number of the settlers of the western portion of Bigelow Township were from Franklin County, Missouri.


The first merchants who sold goods in Bigelow Township were Drury T. Easley and R. J. Poindexter. They came from Franklin county, Missouri, in 1849, and opened a stock of goods near the mouth of the Tarkio, in what is now West Lewis Township, just across the line om Bigelow Township. They shortly after went to California. On their return, in 1852, they started a store on the river bank, above Lang??on's place, opposite Rulo, Nebraska. This was the first store ever established within the limits of what is now Bigelow Township. It was destroyed by fire in 1857. Easley & Poindexter, the pioneer merchants, enjoy the distinction of being the first to introduce cockle burrs into Holt County. These they brought in the tails of their horses from Franklin County, Missouri, on their first arrival in the country.


In our report of Lewis Township mention is made of the death, at the advanced age of 104 years, of Mrs. Pope, of Forest City. Bigelow Township also, it appears, had her prodigy of longevity, in the person of the venerable Isaac Hays, who died in October, 1880, at his residence just within the limits of Lewis Township, near the south line of Bigelow Township, on the fractional section 6, township 60, range 39, where the Big Tarkio enters the latter from the former township. From a notice of his life, written by the Rev. W. S. Mahan, of Mound City, Holt County, Missouri, and published in the Kansas Chief, we glean the following facts: "Isaac Hays was born in Greenbriar County, Virginia, July 28, 1778. At the age of two years he moved, with his parents, uncles and grandparents to Kentucky.

They joined Daniel Boone and his pioneers in the fort where Boonsboro' was subsequently built. His father, John Hays, was killed in a fight with the Indians, on Brier Creek, leaving young Isaac and a baby sister to provide for. They remained at the fort about nine years, and Father Hays, as he was familiarly known in this country, retained to the last a very distinct recollection of Boone. On attaining his majority he moved, with his mother and sister, to Garrard County, Kentucky, and, in 1812, was married to Miss Anna Hohimer, whose parents came from North Carolina. In February, 1813, he took the place of one Samuel Davis, who had been drafted, to go with the command of the unfortunate Col. Dudley, to join Gen. W. H. Harrison, at Fort Meigs, receiving for so doing 155 silver dollars. He was subsequently in the disastrous engagement with the British and Indians, at the River Raisin, and was one of the few whose fortune it was to escape that terrible massacre. With his fellow captives he was taken to Maiden, Canada, and there paroled. Furnished with two days rations they tramped through the wilderness to their homes, and arrived on the 5th day of May. August 14, 1814, another draft was made and our hero drew the black bean. He was forthwith enrolled in the company of Capt. William Woods, Col. Stoughton's regiment and Gen. Adair's brigade, which was ordered to join Gen. Jackson, at New Orleans. Just previous to starting from home he united with the M. E. Church, not wishing", as he expressed it, if killed, to die in his sins. Embarking in flatboats the expedition started from the locality where Portland, Kentucky, now stands, bound for New Orleans. At Natchez, and subsequently at Baton Rouge, they were met by couriers, urging them to make all haste. January 4, 1815, they passed the city of New Orleans and encamped three miles below its site. On the 8th was fought the memorable battle which immortalized Jackson. Isaac Hays was one of theseven in the American ranks who were wounded. The scar of this wound, which was on his left arm, he carried to the day of his death. Father Hays, in speaking of that memorable occasion, mentioned that a ball passed through the crown of his hat, just grazing his hair, and another ball cut off part of the rim of his hat and went through the cape of his hunting shirt. He also stated that a light rain fell continually, but ceased in the afternoon, when the sun shone out beautifully. He saw Gen. Packenham's body, lying within one hundred yards of the ditch. He had been shot in the head, the bullet entering the left eye. March 18th he started for home, with $21 loaned him by a deserter whom he had befriended. Arriving April 27 he found his home in ashes and its contents destroyed. His wife and child, however, had escaped the flames. He remained in Kentucky till 1827, and was major of his home regiment of militia elected over three competitors by 250 majority.

After leaving Kentucky he settled in Indiana, but soon after moved to McLean County, where he remained a number of years. His wife dying he returned to Kentucky and married a widow, Mary Renfrow, in the same house where he had married his first wife. In 1854, Major Hays moved to Holt County, Missouri, and settled near the mouth of the Big Tarkio, where he continued to reside up to the period of his death. In March, 1861, his second wife died, and he was left entirely alone, as his two sons had entered the army and his daughters were married and gone. The old major was an uncompromizing Union man, and boldly defied a gang of robbers, who, calling themselves Confederate soldiers, plundered his house during the stormy days of the rebellion. During the war the old man made a third matrimonial venture, espousing, this time, a widow lady residing in Hiawatha, Kansas. He had, by this marriage, four children, the eldest now (1882) nineteen years of age, and the youngest twelve, all hearty, good-looking young people. On Major Hays' one hundredth birthday five hundred people dined with him, and mainly at his expense; and, as he was poor and a Government pensioner, it was resolved that when the one hundred and second anniversary arrived the same should be celebrated at the expense of his friends. Accordingly, on July 28, 1880, several hundred persons again dined with him, in J. C. Hinkle's grove, but, on this occasion, as determined, at their )wn expense, many of them making him, besides, small donations. Appropriate addresses were delivered by the Rev. W. S. Mahan and Gen. Wilkinson, of Mound City. The Rev. Mr. Campbell led in prayer, md the whole affair was a success enjoyed by all present."

Source: The History of Holt and Atchison Counties, Missouri; 1882

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