ANDREW F. McCRAY
FARM LIFE IN THE FIFTIES IN DAVIS TOWNSHIP 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
EPIDEMICS IN CALDWELL COUNTY Narrator: Emma Brown of Hamilton and Others Miss Brown is the daughter of
George Brown and Jane Wilkinson who lived in Vinton County Ohio till in 1873 they joined the Ohio immigration to
Caldwell County. They bought a farm in the Lovely Ridge District west of Hamilton. There were several Vinton County
folks there: Dan Booth, Ike Dunkle, Sam Bay, Hi Smith, Block Doddridge, and Henry Clark (father of Mrs. Elwood
Rogers). When George Brown died 1880, the family moved to Hamilton into the home on South Broadway where Miss
Brown still lives. She is a sister of the late Dr. Tinsley Brown who began his practice here 1876, hence she has been
interested in watching and hearing about various epidemics which have gone through this community. One of the
earliest epidemics of which the oldest old timers mentioned by hearing is the typhoid epidemic of 1835. It broke out in
the southern part of Daviess County just over the line, among the McCrary family who had come there about 1830 from
North Carolina. In 1835 about seven or eight of the McCrary family died of what was later found to be typhoid fever; but
before the Doctor gave it a name, the neighbors called it "McCrary fever" because of the large number of sick in that
family. Grandfather McCrary (then the head of the clan) died of it and his burial started the McCrary Cemetery. There
were several severe epidemics in the earlier years of Caldwell County which took a heavy toll of children's lives; the
older cemeteries show a large proportion of children's deaths often belonging to certain years. There was a Small Pox
epidemic in the 1840's reported by the Jones family in which their grandmother died. In 1856-57 there occurred a hard
Scarlet Fever epidemic. In the summer of 1856 the family of Allen Tobban in Davis Township was visited by it and five
children died from July 28 to August 6th. The little graves in White Cemetery tells the story. Mr. Andrew McCray (92)
says that Dr. J.B. Gant of Knoxville was the doctor. Mr. and Mrs. McCray (Andrew's parents) as neighbors helped care
for the children; being careful not to take it home to their own. By January 1857 it had spread up to Hamilton and two of
A.G. Davis' children at Hamilton died of it. All had it. In 1872 came a diphtheria epidemic; there are many 1872
tombstones of children. In 1873 came another Small Pox Epidemic. This run of Small Pox is reported to have started by
some negroes who dug up Small Pox clothes which had been buried. People yet living here lost children the R.D.
Dwight and son, Kenny had it and received resulting pocked faces. Little Ora Hare, son of T.H. Hare died of it and was
buried in the old cemetery. The old story is that he was privately buried at night to prevent spread of the disease. A dog
from a Small Pox home carried the germ to him. In the Fall of 1873, black or virulent measles struck Hamilton and Dan
Booth who had come from Ohio on a prospecting trip almost died of them. In 1874 there was a bad run of typhoid fever
in the late summer. The people those days explained typhoid as due either to the poison that came from newly turned
virgin soil or to the dry prairie grass. Irwin Brown aged twenty two brother of Dr. T. Brown died of typhoid 1874 and
three members of the Watson family at Nettleton. In 1875 Sarah Low and Leon Low were among the victims. In 1875
again Scarlet Fever came and Dr. Stoller's own child was among the many victims. In 1879 Diphtheria came and whole
families were taken off. The Pittman children buried in Highland cemetery are well known examples. Parents hung bags
of asafetida around children's necks to ward off the disease. In 1883 came Measles again, starting mildly but it acquired
such virulence that even grown up people died of it. There must have been a Small Pox scare 1881 for middle aged
people now can recall being vaccinated then as children and also the agony when it "took." There was an epidemic of
Chicken pox about the same time that caused serious illness but no deaths as far as the narrator recalls. In April 1884
there was a epidemic of Seven Years Itch here in town which caused the schools to close without final examinations.
This was not as serious as it was embarrassing to the very respectable people who had it. July 1934.
THE ANDREW McCRAY FAMILY IN THE COWGILL COMMUNITY Narrator: Frank Filson of Okla. Mr. Filson is a life
long friend of Andrew Francis McCray and gave these facts after the recent death of Mr. McCray. Mr. Filson lived in
Caldwell county himself much of his earlier life. A.F. McCray has contributed many interesting facts to our D.A.R.
research on the county and we feel his loss deeply. Mr. McCray was born in Callaway county, Mo. 1843, the eldest of
11 children born to Wm. Martin McCray and Nancy Carroll (gr. daughter of John Carroll of the Revolutionary War). His
parents soon after moved to Caldwell county near the present town of Cowgill where he experienced real pioneer life
among the few pioneers of the county in the early forties. He has written much of this down. He fought as a Union
soldier in the Civil War and lost a leg at the battle of Lone Jack, one of his unceasing hobbies was a dream of a
monument on the Long Jack battlefield for the Union soldiers who fell there. Such appeals often appeared in the K.C.
Star. He was prominent in G.A.R. reunions. The loss of a leg did not daunt him in life for when the stump healed, he re-
entered the army as a recruiting officer. In 1871, at Kingston, he was married to Hortentia Rhoades. She died 4 months
before he did. Two of his children had preceded him in death - Will McCray a millionaire oil man in Okla. who died as a
result of a mysterious beating, and Fran McCray who died 1934 as a result of a car accident. The remaining children
are Merle McCray of Cowgill, Mrs. Alice Denton of Tulsa where the venerable couple died, H.B. McCray of Kansas City.
Mr. McCray was an unswerving Republican and for more than 70 years, he was active in Caldwell county Republican
work, but always clean and wholesome. He was postmaster at Cowgill for 21 years and had been county assessor and
recorder. He was an excellent campaigner both for himself and his party, and his personality and ready laugh were
strong assets to him. The original McCray family was a large one, hence by intermarriage, they were kin to much of
Caldwell county. At his death Jun 15 1935, he was survived by one brother C.C. McCray of Calif. and one sister, Mrs.
G.B. Cowley of that original family. While the early McCray family had their own burial plot, the old McCray graveyard
near Cowgill, Mr. and Mrs. A.F. McCray were buried in the Cowgill city graveyard. Interview 1935.