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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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