Putnam County Courthouse Putnam County

Unionville, Missouri

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Putnam County Pioneers

This file will include a collection of stories of early settlers in Putnam County. It will grow as you contribute information to the County Coordinator.

Other family links:
John F. Leech descendant's chart.


My research tells me that there were no white men settled in what came to be Putnam County prior to 1837. In that year several pioneers took up residence in the area known as Omaha who were my relatives:
Joseph Guffey; Joshua Guffey; John Guffey; Henry Guffey.

The Guffey clan came to Missouri from Tennessee but primarily had their residences in Clinton County, KY just south of what is now the Tennessee Valley Authority created project called Lake Cumberland. I am sure that the availability of land in this now Indian-free area which was organized in 1851 as Dodge County and then later as Putnam County. The growing Guffey Clan, a Scotch-Irish group, who had been in America probably since the great Scotch-Irish movement from Ulster had grown with many, many children. Even today in Clinton, County, KY, you will find one and a half pages of Guffey's in the phone book!

My Great Great Grandfather Crabtree Guffey fought for the Union Army in the Civil War and was the father of 19 children among which was my great grandmother Emily Ann Guffey.


One of the pioneers of Putnam County were the Crabtree boys, John and Miles, who lived in the area known as Goshen Ridge. They descended from a William Crabtree who settled in Harford County, MD in 1705 and probably came from Yorkshire, England. Some of the Crabtree family moved to Saltville, VA and in later generations moved to Wayne County, KY, and then on to various parts of MO. One of the founders of Wayne County, Ky was Isaac Crabtree who was one of the first to go to KY with Daniel Boone (documented). He also went to boonesborough with Daniel as well.
Submitted by E. Joseph Filipowics


In January 1850, Josiah Harbert married Martha Jane Goul in Champaign County, Ohio. By this time there were 269 families living in Union Township of Champaign County. All the good farm land was developed and the Harbert children including Josiah were interested in finding inexpensive land on which they could establish farms. It is believed that brothers Josiah and Mitchell went to Missouri shortly after Josiah's marriage and found very low priced land in the extreme northern part of the state. Mitchell met Elizabeth Caul in Missouri and they were married in 1852. Mitchell returned to Champaign County and encouraged all the Harberts and their families to move west. Over five years, the Harbert families traveled, one-by-one, first down the Ohio River; then, they went up the Mississippi River to Alexandria, in Clark County, Missouri; and finally, they traveled by wagon 120 miles to their new location in Putnam County, Missouri. Thomas Harbert was sixty two years old in March 1854 and they were raising their grandchildren Issachar (Essie) and Jimmie; but, he and his wife, Elizabeth, decided to join with their children's families in this immigration to a new land. Elizabeth's mother, Eleanor had passed away two years earlier in December, 1852. Paul Huston Harbert, his wife, Sarah A. Gutridge, and four young children: Thomas J., his wife, Mary A. Clark, and their two young children: Josiah and his wife, Martha Jane Goul, and Rebecca Jane and her husband, Henry Smith, and one child; Mary Ellen and her husband, Joseph C. Valentine; Hannah (Susan) and her husband, James Goul; and Mitchell moved from Champaign County, Ohio to northern Missouri.

In 1855, Josiah laid out a town named West Liberty at a location west of where he had built a mill on Locust Creek. West Liberty was the name of the mill town just north of Champaign County, Ohio. The town consisted of three blocks, each containing eight lots, each 80X100 feet in size. Main street ran east and west, and was sixty feet wide. South Street ran south from and formed a T with Main Street, and was eighty feet wide. Josiah was appointed postmaster at West Liberty in 1855. The first store was started by his father, Thomas Harbert. Thomas, Josiah and wife, and Henry Smith and his wife, Rebecca Jane, were the first members of the West Liberty Methodist Episcopal Church organized in about 1856. The first meetings were in their homes and later they met in the schoolhouse. Josiah Harbert is my great great grandfather.
Sumitted by Dick Harbert, 9/97

Harbert Family Home Page


A. D. (Alfred Dwight) THOMAS (son of Alfred Dwight and Lucy (Benjamin) THOMAS), was born 19 March 1822 New London Co., CT.  His parents, Alfred and Lucy, relocated with A.D. and his siblings: Albert, Emily, and Theodore H. to Wayne Co., PA when he was just two years old.

A.D. was raised in Wayne Co. where he learned the wagon trade with his father and also taught school during his early manhood;  relocating to Lowell, Illinois where he taught school and then later became a doctor. He married first to Sarah Hatch Cushing and then to Nancy Eleanor Reed in 1852.

Nancy Reed Thomas would be the woman who give him four children: three sons and a daughter who did not live to womanhood. Their children were:

Dr. Charles C. b. 1854
Dr.Lewis Dow b. 1857 who married Effie Genevieve Francisco in Putnam Co. 1888 ( Dr. L.D. Lewis was a dentist who practiced in Putnam Co. for many years) d. 1936 at the home of his daughter in Hale Center, Tx
Frederick Fremont b. 1861 who married first to Annis Bennett in 1888 at the home of her parents, Silas M. and Susanna A. (Welch) Bennett of Sherman Township.  Annis died of typhoid fever near her thirtieth birthday and left Frederick with four young children to raise (Myrtle, Dwight M., Harlan Earl, and Ora).
Lucy b. ca 1869 d. Feb. 1871 at two years.

A.D. Thomas relocated from La Salle Co., Ill. to Putnam County about 1869 and settled near Terra Haute and then to Lucerne. Dr. A.D. Thomas attended his grandchild's birth (Dwight M.) in 1884 Medicine Township. The Thomas' owned quite a bit of land during these years. Almost 70 acres in two different locations by 1877. A.D. was a proprietor of Thomas House in Lucerne, a "hostelry of merit"as stated in his obit. This hotel (at the corner of Oakley and Johnson) was later the Commercial Hotel and then a service station.

A.D. lost his life in Sept. 1893 in a train accident. From his obit: "A telegram from Lucerne yesterday to L.D.Thomas heralded the announcement of the death of his father, Dr. A.D.Thomas, at an early hour. There were no further particulars, but as old gentleman went up the track nights and mornings to milk, it is supposed he was struck while on a bridge, and being very deft, did not notice the approach of the train". He is buried in Sprigg Cemetery,York Township beside his daughter Lucy and wife Nancy Reed Thomas who outlived him by almost 23 years. Nancy was "stricken with paralysis in March 1917 and another attack in July that left her almost speechless and well neigh helpless and died December of that year."

Nancy was born May 1836 Clermont Co., Ohio, daughter of Conrad and Catherine Weaver Reed. She moved to Unionville after A.D.'s death in 1894 and continued to live there til her death in 1917.

A.D. Thomas' son Frederick Fremont b. 1861 (see above) continued to reside in Putnam County after Annis' death in 1896; attempting to raise four children. He was not of good health and had to depend on relatives to help take care of his family. Ora and Harlan Earl were taken in by their grandmother Nancy who owned the above mentioned hotel. Ora remembers picking up patrons and working at the hotel. Frederick remarried to Eliza Pigg of nearby Sullivan County, daughter of Jackson and Mary G. Pigg in 1898 and then relocated to Boise, Idaho by 1902. Son Harlan Earl also relocated to Idaho where he drove stagecoach into Silver City south of Boise by 1908.
Submitted by Barbara L. Ward, 2/11/01

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