Published in the Skidmore News, November 22, 1917:
An Early Settler of Burr Oak
Maryville, Mo., Nov. 19, 1917
In answer to your request, I will drop you a few lines as one of the first settlers at Burr Oak Grove, 4 miles west and 1/2 mile north of Skidmore. My father, Thomas R. Hays, came out, horseback, from Blandinsville, McDonough county, Illinois, making 3 trips in the years of 1857-58-59 and bought 9 quarters of land around Burr Oak Grove and a 40 of Hughey McDonald, he having a double hewed log house in erection with 3 logs high. He said to Uncle Hugh McDonald, “I have bought and entered all the land around you, will you sell?” He priced at $10 or $12 per acre, so my father bought it.
In the fall of 1859, Captain John Grigsby, Alonzo Caston, my brother, Wm. R. Hays (or Major Hays) and myself came out in a two horse covered wagon, looked at the land and made a selection each of 160 acres. Made a house raising bee and our neighbors came to our relief and raised our log house. We then gave Uncle Reubin Parrish of King Grove the contract to roof, lay floors and chink or batten cracks. He put on the roof and laid loose floor. Had no windows or doors. In the spring of 1859 we moved out getting to Burr Oak on April 4, my 21st birthday. I then began for myself, having one four year old mare and one old buggy.
Capt. Grigsby, brother, Richard and brother Joseph and myself are all I can think of that are left of the first settlers at Burr Oak. Later, in 1865 Wm. Ruddell came out. In 1859 or 1861 Mr. Cole and family came out, having been our close neighbors in Illinois. Later, Billy Fullerton and family came.
About three families of us built the first school house, just south of Burr Oak church. Later on we three or four families built the Burr Oak church. My good old father said: “When that church is finished my work is done.” There were no bridges then, on the Nodaway river. We cut and fell trees across two branches of Grand river when moving here, and swam all our stock (about 30 head) 10 of them, Jennetts, floated down and lodged in some willows, I swam in and fished them out. It was in the latter part of March and was snowing and freezing weather and oh! how cold.
Yes, you may add, in 1864, Jacob Walker came out from Ohio and Marteny Skidmore purchased the land, on which a part of the town of Skidmore is now located on in 1864 and moved here from Ohio in 1865. Also Uncle John Glen came out from Hillsborough Ohio, and in 1866 my father-in-law, Milton M. Young and Uncle Robert and Uncle George Glen came from Hillsborough. Uncle Lewis and James Hedgpeth then lived on the Dr. Hutt farm, Reubin Parrish and the Campbells at King Grove. Lawson Baker sold out to Jacob Walker.
I have often swam, on horseback, the old Nodaway river; once on a very dark night and one time with a wagon and team at Smock’s Ford in April, 1860. It was near bank full and my wagon became uncoupled. I saved all by a strong effort.
Fearing this is too long and too late to publish, I will close.
J. T. Hays