My Tuesday’s blog will be taking a closer look at the towns my ancestors lived in. Each town is unique in its own way with stories to tell and a diverse blend of people who lived there.
The town of Cole Camp is located in Benton County in the State of Missouri. Many of my ancestors migrated to the area even before it was a State. It was acquired by the US as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It became a State on August 10, 1821. People soon began to flock there because of the fertile farmlands and there were so many Homesteading opportunities.
The first of my ancestors to arrive in Benton County was my 2x Great Grandfather George H. Hughes. He was born on February 22, 1792, in Carolina Co. Virginia. In 1820 he, along with his wife Catherine (Parrott) and 5 children made the arduous journey to the county. They settled outside the town of Fristoe. They went on to have 2 more children. George died on December 2, 1859.
James Monroe Hughes was my Great Grandfather and he was born on August 12, 1829, in Parrotsville, Tennessee. He married Martha Ann Ogan on March 9, 1848, in Calhoon, Henry Co, Missouri. Over the next 23 years, they had 11 children. They moved to the town of Cole Camp in 1871. James was a farmer and a horse breeder, and they took advantage of the 1862 Homestead Act to acquire 120 acres there.
The 9th child born to James and Martha was Charles Hughes, my paternal Grandfather. Born on December 20, 1867, he grew up on the farm and took a special interest in the breeding and training of the many horses that his family owned. Charles was married twice, first to Clara Hester Braden who died giving birth to their 2nd child in 1903 and then he married Virginia Belle Hayes on January 29, 1904. He and Virginia had 9 children. The town of Cole Camp was situated in such a way that 4 major roads ran through the middle of it and it was in this area that one of the first battles of the Civil War was fought on June 19, 1861, The community suffered terribly during the remaining four years of war with the terrorism of the bushwhackers and guerrillas, and the armies marching back and forth through the area. This created tensions and hatred that lasted many years after the war ended in what became a divided town and county.
After the war railroads came through the area and Cole Camp enjoyed a “boom period,” with many new businesses opening and thriving. It was 1880 when the first train came to Cole Camp, a narrow-gauge line that ran from Sedalia to Warsaw, and back. In its hey-day, there were two trains a day. The railroads also brought in an era of rowdyism reminiscent of the Wild West. Stories were told of people riding horses inside saloons. Shootings and fights were common occurrences. One street, where the saloons were located, is still referred to as “Battle Row” by some of the older residents. There were many Bordello’s in town and the women would walk the streets as an advertisement! Around 1900 the city fathers decided something had to be done about the lawlessness and rowdyism, so they took action to clean up the town. It took a few years, but it was to become a clean, well maintained, law-abiding and very conservative little community, a characteristic it has maintained until this day.
I can’t imagine living in and trying to raise children in the midst of this type of chaos. I have been told my Grandfather was a kind and gentle man until he was provoked, then he could definitely hold his own. My Grandmother Virginia was a “proper” lady that seldom raised her voice and was considered “cool” under pressure. It is no wonder that in 1910 the family moved to Hughesville in Pettis Co.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.