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Caldwell County
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Narrator: Andrew F. McCray, 91, Cowgill, Missouri

Subscription School Threshing Wheat

Marketing Farm Products

Mr. McCray was born 1843 in Calloway County Missouri. When he was five years old his parents Wm. McCray and Nancy Carroll McCray came into Caldwell County. Wm. McCray had been up here first to look around. He came on a Missouri River Boat as far as Camden and walked over from there to the farm he wanted to look at. He finally traded for it. It was an eighty and lay five miles west of the present site of Braymer in Davis township. His father was a blacksmith and was a bit asset to the new country, the nearest shop being eight miles away.

The first school that Andrew Frank McCray attended was a subscription school (supported by money paid by the parents so much per child and not by taxes). There was not yet any school tax or any organization of districts in that part of the county. He was nine years old when it opened the spring 1852; it was three miles from his father's house but the walk was nothing. The school house was made of sawn logs and was quite large since it cared for children from a large territory. It was called Black Oak School.

His father raised wheat and corn. Wheat was a hard crop to raise those days, because the severe winters often froze it out. It was threshed by hand and a flail on a prepared floor on the ground or might be tramped on a prepared ground floor by horses in the age-old fashion.

Prior to the Building of the Hannibal and St. Joseph railroad through the northern tier of townships in the County 1857 everything had to be freighted to or from Lexington by teams of horses, mules or oxen. Lexington traders sent the stuff east and west. A neighbor woman used to sell chickens in Richmond at $1.25 a dozen. The little surplus - if any - prior to the completion of the railroad was consumed at home by neighborhood shortage or by new settlers who had come in between crops. Since there was no market nearer than Lexington; farmers had little inducement to raise large crops - just something above their year's necessities. Of course after the railroad went through, farmers could ship their produce easily at Hamilton.

While Wm. McCray began his life in Caldwell County with eighty acres, he finally acquired a thousand and twenty acres which shows the size of some of the early farms when land was very cheap.

Interviewed January 1934.


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