Colfax Township in Daviess County, MO, was settled in 1836 by the Mormons. Little is known about those who settled there between 1839-1840. We know that James, Joseph and Edward Wood settled in 1839 on Smith Creek, becoming the first settlers after the Mormons. Benjamin Rowell came in 1840, settling on Marrowbone Creek, where it had the desired timber.
One of the largest families who settled in Colfax Township, however, was that of John and Elizabeth Beall Castor and their brood who came from Holmes County, Ohio, in May 1841. John, born 1795, and a veteran of the War of 1812, had 10 children, seven sons and three daughters. All of the boys but one became well known and respected citizens of the township. That one, Andrew Jackson Castor, served in the Union Army under General Bradstreet, and was killed in the Civil War. The other Castor boys were Robert, Reason, John, Josephus, William P., and George W. The girls were Sarah, Lorinda, and Hannah.
The first marriage in the township was that of Robert Castor to Sarah Jane Kier, performed by Rev. James Reed, on Oct. 5, 1843, at the preacher’s log cabin. The first child was James Alfred Castor, son of Robert and Sarah, who was born on August 15, 1844.
History of Winston, MO
The first mill was put up by Jeremiah Lenhart, in 1842. It was made of native rock and two or four horses were used as needed, and was one of the oldest landmarks of progress for a number of years. It had the capacity of about 50 bushels a day, and was the mill for the settlers for 10-30 miles around. During the heaviest season, people camped out around the mill, sometimes for a week for their turn. Even for a week of waiting, this was more convenient than traveling 60-80 miles as some had done before.
Schools and churches were organized. It was this same Rev. Jeremiah Lenhart who organized the first church in 1844 in his own cabin and there were 20 members: Lenhart, Lisle, Kelso and Splawn were the families. The first school house was in 1846; the teacher was Elizabeth Morton who received $10 per month.
The town we know really was not established until the Chicago and Southwestern Railroad came into the picture. The railroad, which was completed in Daviess County in 1871, was built from both ends of the line. Coming from Leavenworth, Kan., to northeast to Cameron, they met the working force coming from the northeast and working to the southwest.
These forces met in Colfax Township and on August 17, 1871, the station, located halfway between Gallatin and Cameron, was named “Crofton.” This elevated land prairie was said to be the highest point of land in the county and was owned by Mrs. Susan Ethington, Frederick Croft, Jacob Fleisher and Henry Koons. These owners donated large portions of the town site for railroad and town purposes. The railroad company, known at the time as “Gallatin Company,” pushed for the sale of lots, and the town began to grow. In February 1872, a post office was established and F.B. H. Brown was the first postmaster for the town under the current name.
Joseph Swike had the general store; Henry Koons had the first hotel when Koons hung out a sign at his log cabin that he could entertain both man and beast in the highest style of the art. It didn’t have the ‘curb appeal,’ but it was said that Mr. Koons knew how to feed and give his customers a good bed. Dr. Wilson and Dr. Venable were the first doctors. These were the first for the town named for a War of 1812 veteran, General Joseph W. Winston. We call it “Winston.”
John and Elizabeth Castor are buried at Old Union Cemetery. Their boys, George, Reason, Robert, John, and William P., rest at Winston Cemetery. Reason, whose marker is seen from Highway 6, was my husband’s great-grandfather.
— written by by Lanita Sconce Smith, Daviess County Genealogical Society, 2016