John Splawn’s house was used in the first county election, according to the writings of Rep. David L. Kost, a state representative from Daviess County in the 1870s. The beginnings of Millport marked many firsts for Daviess County.
In 1831 Robert P. Penniston, Sr., his wife, Nancy, and their family settled on 80 timbered acres in Union Township on Splawn Ridge (S 1/2 of NW 1/4 Sec. 23). Their neighbors joyfully assisted in raising a cabin for them, which was the custom of the times. These neighbors probably included John and Mulberry Splawn, Thomas Edwards, Thomas Awbery, Leven Brookshear, William Runnels, William Morgan, John Tarwater and others who had preceded them to this area.
John Splawn’s house was used in the first county election; John was on the first county jury and refused the job as first county assessor. William Morgan was to have been one of the first county judges but apparently lost his commission from the governor, and later lost his job as sheriff when he lost some important prisoners.
During the next seven years Robert Peniston’s farm was to become the location of the first town in the county. Robert built a horse mill on his west 40 acres in 1832 and around this mill was developed the Millport community. For several years this was the only place to get freshly ground grain and meal north of Richmond.
Millport was on a well-traveled north/south trail on Splawn Ridge, four miles north of the James Hunter ferry at the mouth of Honey Creek on Grand River. There were two fords to the west on the Grand, Smith ford southwest and Atkinson ford to the northwest.
Millport was laid out as a town in 1836, the same year of the forming of the Daviess County government. By the spring of 1837, the town of Millport had 10 dwelling houses, post office, the mill, six stores and a school.
The second meeting of the county court was at the Millport school. This school was in the dwelling house of Ira Norris, Mr. Norris being the teacher. Students would come from as far as 15 miles away to attend school there.
The court meeting decided to issue grocery licenses for $10 each and merchants licenses at $15 each. Mr. John A. Williams got the first grocery license for his store in Millport.
Mr. Williams later was made the first county treasurer and collected the first county tax levy of $164 in 1837. Forty-nine dollars and 16 cents became delinquent. Mr. Williams became the county’s first state representative, elected in 1838 and again in 1842.
Jesse Adamson got the second grocery license for his store at Millport. Three merchants licenses were issued. The first was to T.W. Jacobs of Millport and the second to Worthington and McKinney Store in Millport.
Next to Ira Norris’ house was the Compton and Morin Store. Josiah Morin of Millport was the area’s first election judge and later became this area’s first state senator. The sixth store was believed to be a blacksmith shop of Milford Deneoko.
— written, researched and prepared by David Stark, Gallatin, MO