Moberly lies in a glacial plains area in a county organized in 1829, and named for John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia in Missouri’s Little Dixie Region. It was first settled by William Holman in 1818. William Fort boiled salt at a spring near Huntsville in the 1820s. The Bee Trace, a pioneer trail, ran along the Grand Divide (the high point in The Grand Prairie) between the Missouri and Mississippi through the county. The Iowa, Sac, and Fox tribes gave up claims to the region, 1824.
Moberly, the “Magic City”, grew from the town platted by the North Missouri Railroad (Wabash) in 1866, it was built to connect to a transportation center with a 6,070 population by 1880. The North Missouri acquired the site when it took over the Chariton and Randolph Railroad after the Civil War. In 1860, the C.& R. had planned to build a road westward to Brunswick from this point on the North Missouri then turning north reaching toward Iowa.
The Chariton and Randolph Railroad named its proposed junction for William Moberly, head of the railroad, and offered free land to residents of once nearby town if Allen to settle here. Patrick Lynch, was the only one to accept this offer, and he was given two lots by the North Missouri after the Civil War for holding the site without “the loss of a life or a house.” On September 27, 1866, the first lots were sold for what would become Moberly. Moberly at this time was a very rough railroad town, considered course with too many taverns and brothels. Moberly in only five years had as many murders as the entire county had in its previous 20 years of history. In light of its mud streets and rough and tumble ways, the St. Louis papers regularly ridiculed the town in light of the more attractive, cultured, and older Huntsville. Despite this, Moberly continued to grow.
Moberly had been a division point since 1867 when the North Missouri (Wabash) reached Brunswick. In 1872 many businesses like the huge railroad repair shops, one of the earliest railroad plants west of the Mississippi, were opened. In 1873 the Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railroad formed a junction here. Transportation facilities brought industrial growth and the development of the soil, fire clay, and coal resources of the area.
My paternal Great Uncle, Greenbury White was born in Moberly in 1844, the youngest of 4 children of Augustine White (1798-1876) and Margaret McClain (1798-1880). He fought for the Union Army, joining when he was 21 years old. He married Mary Jamison on December 31, 1866, they had 9 children, 5 sons and 4 daughters. He owned his own farm and lived in Moberly his entire life. He died on March 15, 1930, at the age of 86.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.