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Lafayette County, Missouri

    A description of Lafayette County, Missouri from 1904:

    "IN CITIZENSHIP; in agriculture; in schools; in coal, Lafayette is one of Missouri's first counties. It has always figured prominently in the history of the State; in agriculture it has been fertile; it is the seat of several leading institutions of learning; its coal output employs two thousand men and brings in a million dollars a year. Lafayette county is located upon the south bank of the Missouri river, thirty miles east of Kansas City. It contains 622 square miles, 398,080 acres, 326,718 acres of which are under cultivation. There are 3,043 farms averaging 120.8 acres each, worth actually $16,071,645. Corn, cattle, horses and mules, hay and wheat afford large agricultural income. In bee raising the county has a distinction. Confederate Home of Missouri is located at Higginsville.

        Population: Families long established. Population one-fifth German and German descent, located at Concordia and Napoleon; some at Wellington and Higginsville. White, 28,002; colored, 3,677; American born, 29,337; foreign born, 2,342; total, 31,679. Farm homes owned, 3,879; rented, 1,007; other homes owned, 1,733; rented, 1,672; total families, 8,291.

        Finance: County tax, 75 cents on one hundred dollars; school tax from 10 cents to $1.20; average, 40 cents; assessed valuation per cent of real valuation, 40; assessed valuation, $11,628,755; county debt, $535,000; township debt, $255,700.

        Timber: Timber primevally embraced a two-mile strip along the Missouri river and less wide strips along other streams—total area, 33 per cent. Species were black oak, burr oak, hackberry, walnut, hard and soft maples, locust, white oak, catalpa, red elm, white elm, coffee bean, box elder, alder, and hickory. Growth was large and heavy; 75 per cent cleared. Few portable mills.

        Coal: Annual output, 539,612 tons, second largest coal county in Missouri. Mines have been operated sixty years. Vein is eighteen inches to two feet in thickness, forty-five to one hundred and twenty feet from surface. Mines operated at Alma, Bates City, Concordia, Corder, Higginsville, Lexington, Mayview, Odessa, Waterloo, Waverly and Wellington. Operating mines, 54. At Waverly vein is four feet thick. Limestone is taken from bluffs for local consumption; not considered commercially important.

        Land: Approximately fifteen sections of rich, black, sandy, alluvial lands along Missouri river, priced at $50 to $60. Subject to overflow, averaging once in seven years. Adjoining these are limestone bluffs, precipitous, rising two hundred feet on the river side but sloping gradually into prairie level upon the south. Soil is limestone, black, fertile. Improvements splendid. Finest farm house in Missouri is located here, at a cost of $50,000, two miles southeast of Lexington. Prices are $60 to $75 an acre. Balance of the county excepting two rough ridges, is prairie, ranging from undulating to a high, rolling surface. The prices of $60 and $75 limit most of it, though there are a few farms as low as $55 and some at $80. Approaching Higginsville, one farm sold recently at $90, and one farm near Lexington brought $105 an acre. Ridges which are located at Chapel Hill and Greenton are rocky and rough. Comparatively this land area is small. Farms are found at $20 to $30. One-third of the average farm in this section is too rough for advantageous cultivation. In majority of cases rock is sixty feet from surface. No surface rock. Top soil is loamy, one to four feet deep; in the bottoms endless. The representative farm is well stocked; farming done with modern machinery; land worth $65 an acre; two-story, six room house, large substantial barns, well-kept fencing, five-acre orchard.

        Furniture and Other Factory Products: Furniture, flour, pressed brick, beer, tile, and cigars are made. There are four canning factories, and four creameries.

        Transportation: Chicago & Alton, 36.70; Missouri Pacific, 42.83; same, Marshall & Boonville branch, 25.55; Higginsville Switch Co., 3.62 miles roadbed. Miles of telephone, 158.20.

        Schools: Six high schools in six leading towns. Wentworth Military Academy, established 23 years; military instructor supplied by United States government; 125 students; twelve instructors; for boys. Central Female College; Methodist Episcopal church, South; 135 students; endowed; eighteen officers and teachers; organized 1869. Lexington College for Young Women; Baptist church; 115 pupils; established 1855. At Concordia: St. Paul's College; German Lutheran church, 120 pupils; 90 boarding pupils. Odessa College, of Odessa; co-educational, non-sectarian.

        Newspapers: Lexington Intelligencer, News; Odessa Ledger, Democrat; Higginsville Thalbotte, Leader, Jeffersonian; Concordia Concordian; Waverly Watchman."  (from: The State of Missouri: An Autobiography,  Walter Williams, 1904, Columbia, Missouri)

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Lafayette County, Missouri History and Genealogy

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