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THE SPRATTS OF CALDWELL COUNTY, MISSOURI

Narrator: Wm.E. Spratt of St. Joseph, Missouri

John Fulkerson Spratt, son of William H. and Matilda Fulkerson Spratt was born in Lexington Missouri on February 14, 1838. He married Martha Jane Elliott of Estill, Howard County, Missouri on July 29, 1863. His wife died October 1st, 1869, leaving three children. His second wife was Mary Amelia Cochran (pronounced Kaw'hern, not Cock-ran) the daughter of A.C. Cochran of Zanesville, Ohio, whom he married May 21, 1872. They had two children.

Immediately after the Civil War, the territory north of Richmond, extending all the way up to the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad in the vicinity of Hamilton was given considerable state-wide advertisement and publicity on account of the fertile rich farm land. Many acres were purchased for speculation to be held for a rise in price.

William H. Spratt, of Lexington Missouri was one of those to so invest. He purchased two half sections of land, not expecting to reside on the land, but to sell it later as a profit. One of the half sections was sold and became in an early day the south one half of the George Larmor sheep farm, situated a mile east of Hamilton on the Nettleton road. The other half section William H. Spratt made a present to his son, John F. Spratt, who in 1868 moved to Hamilton. This half section was located one mile south of the town on the Kingston road and was in 1885 sold to J.B. Clough who extensively improved the farm by erecting thereon many fine large stock barns and a very costly and beautiful residence.

When John F. Spratt first came to Hamilton, he took his family to the Goodman Hotel, on the west side of Main Street, to live while he was constructing a residence on his farm south of town. For a while they boarded at the Hamilton House, a large frame building south of the railroad tracks facing the depot. The new home was finally completed and he moved into it in the fall of 1868. George H. Lamson was in the lumber business and furnished the material out of which the house was built.

There was very little improved land anywhere in that locality. Colonel J.W. Harper and his family lived on their farm west of town. When the Spratts and the Harpers visited they rode horseback, "cross country" from one house to the other with no fences to bother. Newton G. Spratt was born on this farm and the slats across the windows which kept him as a crawling baby from falling out of the second story windows are there today after 65 years on the old house which was moved across the road to the east side, south of the big barn, to make room for the new Clough home.

John F. Spratt for a while ran a grocery store on Main Street, first door south of the elevator, which Vic Walker operated later in the early eighties. During the time of the Civil War and following it, it was more the custom than otherwise to serve whisky freely, upon all social and friendly occasions. It is said that at the opening of the Spratt Store that one day there was a barrel of Whisky with tin cups handy for all who wished to partake.

A.C. Cochran owned and operated the bank over on North Main Street by the public pump. Water was free, but money cost interest. Mr. Cochran came into that locality a well recommended stranger, without any relatives there, from Ohio. His family consisted of his wife and daughter, Amelia, who on May the 21st 1872, after the death of his first wife married John Spratt. It was soon after this that an agreement was made and the Spratt farm south of town was traded or exchanged for the bank and Mr. Cochran went back to Ohio to reside and it is not known that he ever again returned to Missouri. He later resold the farm to Mr. Spratt who held it and operated it until he sold it to the Cloughs.

For a period the bank was operated under the name of John F. Spratt, Banker. Then later as the town grew, when more capital was needed, Robert B. Houston was

taken into partnership and the firm name was changed to "Houston and Spratt." For many years the bank was the strongest financial institution in the county.

In 1892, the members of the firm decided that they desired to quit business. They called for all customers to come in and get their money. Some declined or neglected to do it. The bank finally made a list of all unpaid depositors, and went across the street, carried the money and placed it in the State Savings Bank, and notified the owners where to go and get their cash. That method of liquidation is in striking contrast to the costly receiverships of later days. All of the members of that banking firm have long since passed on to their reward, but they left a record which would be well to emulate.

The children of John F. Spratt were:

Jemmie Elliott, married first to Herbert H. Taylor, who died, second to Edwin F. Willis, no children.

William E. Spratt married Effie Cowgill, two children.

Newton G. Spratt married in California, no children.

Mae Cochran married Frank Poteet, one child.

Xema L. not married.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998