During the summer of 1979, Brigham Young University conducted excavations at the Mormon historical site of Adam-ondi-Ahman near Jameson, MO. The work was to correlate archeological findings with historical references to determine the physical location of the town known as Cravensville.
Pioneer Lyman Wight was the only Mormon living there when Joseph Smith Jr., and his followers, sought sanctuary from troubles with anti-Mormons at Independence, MO. Soon some 200 cabins were erected — a phenomenal growth explosion for this region, prompting more violence and, eventually, another move for the Mormons.
Cravensville competed with Gallatin to be named the county seat. The legislation leading to the establishment of Daviess County provided for a commission to determine the county seats of both Caldwell and Daviess counties. This commission met at the home of Francis McGuire in Caldwell County, and eventually decided upon the location and the name of Gallatin for the Daviess County seat. Gallatin was platted in December, 1837.
Thus, both Cravensville and Millport (two villages north of the Grand River) were established before Gallatin and both made repeated attempts to remove the county seat from Gallatin until the Missouri legislature passed an act in 1841 legalizing the selection of Gallatin. Again, in 1865-66, and after Cravensville had disappeared from the map, another effort was made to remove the county seat from Gallatin but this also failed …eventually what memories of Cravensville became lost as a town, giving way to Jameson.
But in 1840 Cravensville was the largest town in Daviess County with a population of over 100 people. The community was between Gallatin and Pattonsburg.
The land for Cravensville was purchased from the government from the government by a partnership of Dr. John Cravens, Thomas Callaway and Sachel (Sarchel) Woods. The purchase was made at $1.25 per acre in November and December of 1838 after the Mormons had departed the county. Callaway’s name does not show on the original entry records for the SE 1/4 S25 T60 R28; however, it probably should have been shown there. James Cravens purchased the land on the west bank of the Grand River in May, 1939, from the government.
By 1872 the land at Cravensville had passed to Maj. William D. McDonald and his wife, Sara Amanda Cravens Barnhill McDonald. Sara A. was the daughter of Dr. Cravens. Sara had married James H. Barnhill in 1848 and Maj. McDonald in 1858. Dr. Cravens moved to Gallatin in 1850. He and Maj. McDonald died in 1882.
It has been reported that Cravensville consisted of 18 blocks with 8 to 10 lots each. From October, 1839, to January, 1868, some 24 lots were bought and sold. The streets were North, East and South with Grand River Street on the west. The following is a list of the purchasers:
- John Dritt
- John Byrd
- W.B. Johnson
- William Pyles
- G. Green
- Joseph Breeden
- William Stephenson
- Gabriel Byrd
- M.T. Green
- David Terry
- Chris Dritt
- Joseph Speaks
- C.A. Cravens
- Erimus Lewis
- J.B. Stokes
- G.L. Whitt
- W.K. Nations
- James Dickson
- Adam Clendenen
- Harriet Weaver
- Andrew Smith
- W.D. McDonald
The following is a list of licensed merchants:
- Blakely and Sego Dram Shop, June 1839, Charles Blakely, operator (a dram shop sells wines and spirituous liquors at retail)
- Byrd and Cravens Grocery Store, April 1840, John and Nancy Byrd, operators, renewed license Nov. 1840
- Robert O. Cravens, clerk, 1850
- G.M. Peck Grocery, Ben Barstow operator, Nov. 1840
- Porter Grocery and Dram Shop, John S. Porter, operator, May, 1841
- Henderson Dram Shop, James A. Henderson, operator, June, 1841
- Wynne Store, John and William Wynn, operators, election place in June 1856 and reported to be the last operators in “the old stone store
- Clendenen and Ringo Dry Goods & General Merchandise, Ben G. Kimball, operator (who married Sara S. Burton in 1843)
W.S. Brown reported that he sold general merchandise from 1848 to 1851 at which time he worked as a doctor. Other Cravensville doctors were J.K. Kerr from Virginia in 1839. He married Susan Peniston in June 1840 (he may have been at Millport). A.K. Scott came in 1856 and was married to Louisa Troxel. R.H. Robertson from Virginia married in 1857. His wife was Elizabeth Miller, married in 1839. E.M. Breeden came to Cravensville in 1839, but worked sometimes as a school teacher and constable; he was born in Pennsylvania. G.D. Pyles, was also a doctor, but there is no information about him.
Cravensville lawyers were B.M. Butler and S.B. Gutherie. Ferry boat operators were licensed as follows:
- East-West Crossing: John Cravens, April 1839, renewed July 1839, Henry Lee, operator (his wife was Perthena Lee from North Carolina)
- William Morgan, licensed May 1840, second sheriff of Daviess County
- Manuel Flenner, licensed October 1840
- William Pyles, licensed June 1842
- Elijah Pyles, licensed June 1846
- Wiburn K. Nations, licensed May 1865
James Brown is reported to have operated a ferry May 1844 and August 1848 “near the ford on Larry Creek.” This road from Gallatin was vacated to Brown’s Ferry in February, 1852. He may have sold fish from his fish trap at this location. This ford was later called the McDonald Ford and shows on the 1898 plat map. In April 1862, B.M. Butler got a ferry license at his mill (Lewis Mill). Grant Ford was about a mile above the Cravensville Ford (Diamond Ford).
William Pyles and Vincent Pyles are shown as carpenters and Vincent conducted many marriages in the area. Joseph R. Breeden reported that he was a shingle maker. He was born in Kentucky in 1820 and his wife, Margaret J. Hight, was born in Virginia in 1827. Joseph D. Feurt, born in Ohio in 1814, was the Cravensville blacksmith from 1840 to 1870. He married Rachel Walls in 1842 and Sara Shuman in 1869. Joe was the oldest son of Mary Bowers Feurt.
It seems that there were no churches nor schools in Cravensville; however, it is reported that there was a church east of Cravensville and a nearby school. Smith’s School was mentioned in November 1846 and later Brown’s School was reported. The school house was reported as a place of election in June, 1841. The Everly Graveyard to the northeast was started where a son of J. N. and Nancy Netherton was placed in 1835. A daughter of William Morgon and a son of John McMahan were placed there in 1840.
Court records show that the first civil government reported was on April 6, 1839, with Calob O’Dell as Justice of the Peace. Roads were constructed by Daviess County in all four directions. For some time, to go from Gallatin to Pattonsburg, one had to pass through Cravensville.
Joseph Breeden was reported the most as road overseer, until 1852. He was Smith School commissioner in 1846.
1840 Census for Cravensville
Population: 102 — 48 white males (all were farmers unless noted otherwise); 44 white females; 2 black males; 4 black females; 4 black children
- William Piles (Pyles) 50-60, wife 30-40, and 10 slaves
- Vincent Piles (Pyles) 20-30, wife Mary 20-30
- Charles R. St. John 20-30
- John Bird (Byrd) 30-40, wife Nancy 20-30, six children under 10
- John E. Wells (Walls) 20-30, wife 20-30, three children under 15
- John Hopkins 40-50, wife Phebe 40-50, seven children under 15
- William H. Breeden 20-30, wife Mary A More (wife not in census), two children under 5
- Joseph Breeden 50-60, wife Frances Copland 40-50, six children under 20
- Thomas Dunkin 30-40, wife 20-30
- Samuel Smelling 40-50, wife 40-50, four children under 5 (1837 voter)
- Nathaniel Venible (Venable) 40-50, wife 40-50, six children under 30
- Richard Johnson 40-50, wife 30-40, five children under 15
- Thomas Lukehart (Luckhart) 30-40, wife Mary 30-40, four children under 15
- John K. Kerr 30-40, wife Susan 20-30
- Manuel Flenner 50-60, six children under 30
- John Craven (Cravens) 40-50, wife Ruhama, seven children under 20; also one male 20-30 and one male 30-40 (John was a county voter in 1837)
- James A. Henderson 40-50, wife 20-30, three children under 15
— research by David Stark, Gallatin, and published in the Oct. 29, 2003, edition of The Gallatin North Missourian; also from the Gallatin Democrat, May, 1936.