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HISTORY OF FRANKLIN COUNTY—Continued.
As already remarked, the Missouri river forms the northern boundary line of the county, and is one of its important lines of commerce. Fine steamers ply between the different towns located along its margin to and from St. Louis, the great metropolis of the West. The navigable season generally opens in March and lasts till the middle of November, and as there is always a sufficient depth of water from the different points of the county, below, to St. Louis, the county derives great benefit by water transportation. The successful opening of the Mississippi river at its mouth by the jetty system, will eventuate in the increase of the commerce and means of transportation on both the great rivers washing the soil of the state, and the people may confidently expect a revival of the river trade at no distant day.
Though not navigable, the Meramec and the Bourbeuse traversing the central region of the county, afford superb water-power; and being supported largely by springs, their waters may be said to be never-failing, while along their margins crop out several varieties of building stone.
There are several noted caves in the county, the more prominent of which are Fisher’s and Fountain, both on the Meramec. The former is in township 40, range 2, west, and in section 1, as we were informed by a party living near their locality; and the latter is near by, not far from the Crawford county line.
Fisher’s cave has been visited by many notable tourists. Its extent has never yet been fully determined, as only partial explorations have been made. The opening is large and affords easy ingress to its numerous subterranean chambers, most of which are grand in their proportions and beautiful in their formations, though many have been broken and despoiled by careless and covetous adventurers.
Fountain cave, also, has never yet been extensively explored, and being of more difficult entrance, the beauty and variety of its formations are pretty much as nature formed them. Its chambers are also magnificent in their proportions, and its internal beauty amply repays the explorer who braves its muddy entrance.
There is a cave in Boles township in the neighborhood of Charles Wood, that opens near the roadside of one of the main roads leading from Union to the farm of C. S. Jeffries, which has received very little attention by way of exploration.
In the early settlement of the country, a hunter by the name of Labadie, in company with a son—a small lad—trailed a bear which he had wounded into this cave. He entered it for the purpose of finishing the wounded bruin, or under the impression that he was already dead. He never came out alive again. His son, after waiting several hours for his father to come out, became alarmed and went back alone to St Louis. The locality not being then easily identified, nothing was accomplished, by way of recovering his remains, till several years ago, when a gentleman entered the place and solved the mystery of the long absence. The skeletons of man and bear were found together, where they died in an unwritten combat, and were again placed where they were found, as the most appropriate place of sepulture.
There are at present two railroads traversing the county—the Missouri Pacific skirting its northern limits, along the margin of the Missouri river—the St. Louis and San Francisco passing through the southeastern section, forming a junction with the former at Pacific. These are both among the most important lines of the country. The former has Kansas city for its western terminus, where it forms connections with the line extending to the Union Pacific, which connects, in its ramifications, the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. The latter has at present its western terminus in the Indian Territory, but will, in a few years, reach, through its connections, to the Pacific slope, which, when complete, will give the county advantages to be derived from two great transcontinental railway systems.
Another railroad is needed, passing through the central part of the county, in order to open up its hitherto unused resources, and which will, in a short time, be realized. A company has already been organized to build a narrow gauge line, traversing the region alluded to, and passing through those counties now destitute of railroads towards the southwestern part of. the state.
There are several macadam roads already built. That connecting Union and Washington is as fine as any in the state. That leading from Washington westward is also a very fine public highway. The one running from Union and connecting with another traversing St. Louis county to the city of St. Louis, has only a small section properly built, and will require a further outlay of money before it is fit for public use. Sufficient means were expended to render it equal to the road from Union to Washington, but without reflecting personally or otherwise on any of the gentlemen who were responsible for its construction or acceptance by the county court, we must record that it is a public nuisance, and a damage to the country through which it passes.
The system of free schools for the county is on a good basis at present. Most of the districts have good and comfortable houses and the attendance of the pupils is a fair average. Competent teachers are accessible and are now being employed, and the standard of education is gradually being elevated as the country advances in other improvements. There is a good public school in Union, where teachers of ability and experience find employment nine months of the year.
The public school building in Washington is a model of convenience and architecture, and will compare very favorably with any other of its kind in any of the towns of the state. It employs the first qualifications in teachers, and it has earned a reputation for thoroughness in the system of instruction imparted creditable both to the county and the city in which it is located. The public schools also in Pacific and New Haven are also efficient and well conducted, and those of the other towns are in keeping with the spirit of enlightened improvement that is everywhere prevalent among the American people.
The citizens of Franklin county are not neglecting the important and puissant element of the Christian religion, as is everywhere evidenced by the superb church property that is distributed over the area of the county. Washington can boast of its church edifices. Union is not behind in its buildings of a similar character. Lyon township claims among its other substantial improvements a number of fine cathedrals. Among the chief ornaments of Beouf are its churches, while Boles can claim also several nice substantial church buildings, whose architecture is indeed creditable. The pastors found connected with the various orders are, as a rule, well supported, and they constitute, as a class, a ministry of the word of life distinguished alike for intelligence and piety.
The first newspaper' The Union Flag, was issued in Union. It was owned and edited by Giddings & Vanover. Its first number appeared August 7th, 1848 It was a Democratic sheet, intensely partisan, and immediately entered into the memorable campaign in which Cass and Taylor figured as candidates for the presidency of the United States. It was ably conducted, and would compare favorably with most of the country papers of the present day. Giddings, who appeared to be the ruling spirit, finally sold out to his partner, who ran it some two years as an independent paper, under the name of The Independent, when it died for the want of support.
The next effort in journalism was put forth in Washington, embodied in the form of The Courier, another Democratic paper. It was owned and conducted by Adelbert Baudissin and Dr. Crumsick.
The Washington Gazette was started in the same town in 1858, by C. M. Buck, as a Democratic paper. Buck was succeeded by J. A. Mathews, who continued its publication until July or August, 1861, when it was suppressed by orders of the military.
The Franklin County Advertiser was started in 1859 by a company, and was edited by J. W. Paramore till 1860, when the paper passed in-to the bands of H. C. Allen, who continued its publication as an exponent of Democratic doctrine till 1862, when it was also suppressed by military orders. Under the management of Mr. Paramore, it was an unconditional Union journal, but his successor, it was thought by the " powers that were," sided a little too strong with “Dixie,” and hence its suppression. Soon after the paper was suppressed under Mr. Allen, Mr. J. G. Megan took possession of the office, and conducted it as a Republican paper. Afterwards, in 1864, it was published by Megan & Crosby, then by Magan & Stafford, then by Pugh & Jamison, then by Jamison, until 1865, when it was sold to D. Murphy, who changed its name to The Observer, and its political principles back to Democracy.
Murphy also started a Democratic German paper called The Washington Free Press, and which was edited by a gentleman bearing the name Pohlmann, who conducted it till 1868, when it was discontinued. Murphy sold out to J. C. S. Foss, who sold an interest to the Menses, and then his entire interest to Mense & Mense, after which the establishment passed into the hands of Thomas P. Diggs & Co , and is conducted by Mr. Diggs as a Democratic sheet, under the name of The Franklin County Observer.
The Franklin County Progress was started in Union in 1865, as an expounder of the tenets of the Republican party. The first editor was Dr. Wm. Moore, who was afterwards succeeded by the following knights of the quill, viz J. W. Crary, J. Schick, A. Ackerman, M. II. Moore, H. Wesnage and J. C. Kiskaddon, after which it was sold to parties in Pacific, where it was run for a time as an Independent sheet by Jesse White, Esq., and then passed into the hands of its present editor, J. H. Combes, who conducts it as a Democratic paper, under the name of The Franklin County Democrat.
Dr. Sicconi commenced to publish a newspaper in the Polish language at Krakow, in this county, called The Polish Eagle, in 1870. After several years it was moved to Union, and flourished under the title of The Pilgrim. The editor became involved, and the concern passed into the hands of. John Barzinski, who conducted it until 1874, when it was sold out under deed of trust, and was removed to Detroit and afterwards to Chicago, where it still flourishes as the chief Polish paper in the United States. It was the only paper published in that language when it was started here.
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