Composed by Ann (Jobe) Brown
Southeastern Missouri was a meeting or converging point for many of our Atnip families. Several managed to find their way to Butler, Dade, Dunklin, Ripley, Oregon or Wayne Counties. They came from Pulaski Co., KY and Johnson Co., IL.
By 1830, the first descendants of Jacob Inabnit and Mary Parkerson of Pulaski Co., KY arrived in Missouri. This was Susannah (Atnip) and her husband, Lindley Couch, who first appeared on the 1840 Ripley Co., MO census and later in Dade Co., MO. Though Susannah and Lindley went to Dade Co., MO, most of their children remained in Ripley Co., MO. They lived in the area which became Oregon Co., MO and were very instrumental in the formation of this county. Oregon Co., MO was created in February 1845 and at this time had a population of only 692 residents. Soon after, the population grew very rapidly and by 1850 had 1432 residents and by 1860 had 3009 residents. This growth in population contiued over the next few years until 1890 when the county's population had grown to 10,467.
Between 1848 and 1861, many of the descendants of Joseph Inaebnit and Barbary Parkerson found their way from Johnson Co., IL. The first to arrive in Wayne Co., MO was Jacob Atnip who had married Rachel Reasonover about 1826 in TN and in the 1840's lived in Johnson Co., IL. The land records of Wayne Co., MO show that on April 15, 1857, Jacob Atnip was granted 120 acres of land and in Jan 1859 he sold 195.4 acres. Jacob was soon followed by his brother, William R. Atnip who took quite a tour getting there. From the 1860 Wayne Co., MO census, we know that between 1835 and 1860, William had traveled through Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, back to Tennessee, Illinois and finally to Missouri. The land records of Wayne Co., MO show that William R. Atnip bought 40 acres in Wayne Co., MO Twp. 30N Range 5-E.
One really wonders how our families managed to move about so much in this time frame and yet manage to settle so close to their cousins. About the time of the Civil War, many descendants of another brother, John Atnip, joined the Atnip families that had already settled in this area. These descendants included Stephen Atnip who went to Dunklin and Butler Cos. Other siblings included Hiltbrand Atnip, Mary (Atnip) Rieger and Elizabeth (Atnip) Epley who settled near their uncle Jacob Atnip in St. Francis Twp. in Wayne Co., MO. The Atnip families lived near the towns of Silva, Bounds and Patterson. There is even an Atnip Cemetery located at Patterson. Other closely-related families of this area include the Whites, Twidwells, and Meadors.
During the civil war years, where our Atnips lived in Southeastern Missouri, many families suffered greatly. Both the courthouses in Ripley and Oregon Counties burned. Missouri remained loyal to the government and voted at a state convention in March 1861 against secession. However, the residents of the southern counties of Oregon and Ripley remained sympathetic to the Southern cause. As a result, Union forces were constantly being sent to the area. Also, this area of Missouri was rampant with bushwhackers, guerrilla activities, and lawlessness. These pioneer women had to be strong and very brave. If their men weren't killed in the war, they were brutally attacked on their way home or while trying to tend to their farms. Women were known for hiding their families in underground shelters and having to protect their small children with axes or whatever was available to defend themselves. Very few crops were grown during the civil war period. Also, many prosperous families lost everything during this terrible war. The Couch family was no exception. Even though Ripley and Oregon Counties are amongst the poorest counties in Missouri in terms of dollars, they are both very rich in heritage.
In fact, Couch, originally called Hy and then Webster, a small village in Oregon Co., MO, was named after our Atnip descendants. Two grandsons of Susannah (Inabnit/Atnip), and sons of Simpson Couch, were the first postmasters. Couch officially received its name in August of 1887. Susannah (Atnip) and Lindley Couch had settled on Warm Fork while their son, Simpson Couch, was a huge landowner in the county, owning land along Frederick Creek. Other early settlers of this area included Jenkins, Payne, Rhodes, Jobe, Boze and Warren families. The village was surveyed in August 1890 in SE 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Section 34, Township 23, Range 4 west. Lot size was 50' by 100' with a total of 16 lots. The land was officially deeded in 1893 by George W. Couch, a son of Simpson Couch and Rebecca Roberts and a grandson of Susannah (Atnip). Between the late 1890's and the 1930's the village continued to grow in population. At one time, Couch had four stores, a cotton gin, grain mill, post office, lodge hall, blacksmith shop, boarding house, and barbershop. Most everyone was cousins are related somehow and a trip to Couch was an all day social-event. The first generator was installed in this area in the mid 1930's and the residents finally had their first electric lights. This area in the late 1930's and early 1940's had a thriving cattle buying and selling operation. In fact, in the early 1930's a farm-to-market road was built through Couch. Our ancestors were living in a small but very thriving community. There was also a very good school, called New Salem. Though originally an elementary school, it later became a high school. It was later moved to a new location in 1940. By the early 1940's with improved roads and transportation, the village of Couch was already showing its decline. The start of WWII only hastened the situation. Families were quickly leaving the rural area for the bigger cities. When I visited the area about 1970, there was very little of the once flourishing community that remained. Many of our cousins are buried at the Couch Cemetery, also known as the Hensley Cemetery, which is presently located on the Tucker farm just SE of Couch.
Books and References
Simpson, Lewis A.W.; "Oregon County's Three Flags; Six County Seats, Via the Horse & Buggy", 1971
Staires, Mary K.; "Oregon County, A Historical Review", 1998
Forister, Robert H; "Complete History of Butler County, Missouri"
Cramer, Rose Fulton; "History of Wayne County"
Ponder, Jerry: "History of Ripley County"
Ripley Co., MO - created in 1833 from Wayne Co. The county seat is Doniphan. To subscribe to the Ripley Co., MO newslist, Click here.
Dade Co., MO - created 1841 from Greene Co. In 1845, a 10-mile strip on northern boundary was lost to Cedar Co., and a 9-mile strip on the southern bundary to Lawrence Co. Dade Co., MO became its present size on March 28, 1845. The county seat is Greenfield. To subscribe to the Dade Co., MO newslist, Click here.
Wayne Co., MO - created in 1818 from Cape Giradeau Co. County seat is Greenville. At one time, this was a very huge county that covered all of southern Missouri and stretched across the entire state. To subscribe to the Wayne Co., MO newslist, Click here.
MO GenWeb Project - Entry Page for ALL of MO counties!!! This is a MUST PAGE for anyone researching any MO county!!!
MO Visitor Centre - GenConnect Boards - Click on County Researching!
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