Samuel La force Led The Way As Sigel Marched Into Battle Of Carthage; His Descendants Prominent Here
Members of a family named La Force, of French descent, played a prominent role in the history of Jasper County before, during & long after the Civil War. Various individuals of the family have been prominent in civic, political, military & educational affairs here since about the time that Carthage was founded. One member of the family still is a highly respected teacher at Carthage Senior HS.
The leading member of the family, around whom centered much of the early governmental organization of Carthage & Jasper County & who was largely responsible for the skill with which Franz Sigel was able to move his small Union army swiftly & effectively through the Battle of Carthage, was Samuel B. La Force.
His great grandfather came to this country from France & his descendants participated in the Revolutionary War. His grandfather moved from VA to TN, where he died in 1834.
Rane La Force, father of Samuel, was born in 1782 in VA & was a farmer. He served in the War of 1812. His wife, Martha McGee La Force, was born in 1783 in Kentucky & died in 1841 in Pike County, Missouri.
Samuel B. La Force was born 5/15/1815 & was reared & educated in Pike County, where he was married 4/13/1837 to Miss Lucy Brown, who had been born in June, 1822, in Greene County Illinois. They were the parents of several children, among whom were Martha V. La Force Jenkyn; John Benton La Force & Jehu Brown La Force, both of whom died during the Civil War.
Jasper County was three years old when, in October of 1843, Mr. & Mrs. La Force settled on a farm overlooking Spring River three miles northeast of Carthage. At that time according to old records, Boonville, on the Missouri River, was the nearest trading point & was reached by ox team.
During the succeeding years, La Force acquired & improved some 680 acres of Jasper County farm land & became one of the most prosperous men in the area. Active in governmental affairs, he was elected in 1847 to the office of sheriff, becoming the second man to serve in that capacity by succeeding John P. Osborn, the county’s first sheriff.
Upon the conclusion of his second consecutive term as sheriff, La Force was elected in 1851 to a 2-year term as Jasper County Representative in the Missouri General Assembly, serving during a part of the administration of Governor Austin A. King & Governor Sterling Price.
went with them & was a participant in many major battles. On Feb. 8, 1865 he was enrolled as a private in Company I (Captain Joseph Brown), 152nd Illinois Infantry. A discharge still retained by his descendants indicates he was discharged Sept. 11, 1865 at Memphis, TN., after having completed his military service in the district of western Tennessee.
During the war, the threat of guerrilla reprisals caused Mrs. La Force to move their family, via ox team & wagon, to Jersey County, Illinois. The family returned to the Jasper county farm near Carthage immediately following the war.
In 1866, serving as the government registrar & receiving oaths of allegiance which were required before a citizen could vote, he was elected clerk of the circuit & county courts & ex-officio recorder of deeds, serving a 4-year term. Retaining possession of his farm holdings, La Force moved to Carthage in 1867 & became proprietor of the La Force House, a popular hotel two blocks south of the square.
He remained a resident of Carthage & during the latter years of his life was revered as an elder statesman whose advice was sought on many important matters relative to the government of both city & county. La Force died in 1888 & was buried in Park Cemetery.
Samuel La Force was joined here in 1849 by his brother, James L. (Jim) La Force.
James La Force had been married 12/7/1843 to Miss Griselda Bethel, a native of Virginia, and came to Jasper County after working as a miner in Lafayette County, Wisconsin. His wife died in Sept 1857 leaving six children – Rhoda B. La Force Cagle, Martha M. La Force Gray, John S. La force, Lewis B. La Force, William M. La Force & Joseph E. La Force.
The family left in 1861 to escape the dangers of war & remained until 1866 in Greene County, Illinois. Upon his return here in 1866, James was married to Miss. Agnes A. Brumet.
Another brother, William (Will) also lived in Jasper County & in Carthage, where he had a law office. During the decade from 1880 to 1890, he served as Carthage City Attorney for a brief time.
Both James & Jenu La Force, sons of Samuel, died while in the Union army. Jehu, a private in Company A, 1st Missouri Cavalry, died 4/26/1865. His grave is in the national cemetery, Little Rock, Ark.
Shortly after the Civil War, Samuel B. La Force contributed one acre of his farm northeast of Carthage for use for school purposes, with the provision that if the need for a school should ever disappear the land would revert to him or his heirs. A log school building, one of the few in this area, was already in use on that plot.
The La Grange school has been a constant educational institution, however, since that time. The original log structure was replaced in 1868 by a handsome stone building, which still stands & is probably the oldest school building still being used for school purposes in Jasper County.
The framing was made of native walnut & the students walked on a floor of native lumber planks. The basic building material however was “cottonwood rock”, a soft stone quarried about one mile northwest of the school site. The builders were Israel & Wash Logsdon & Mr. Campbell.
Hannah Griffith, who later became Mrs. G. D. Stone & lived many years at Webb City, was a student there in 1869, the year she came to Jasper County with her parents. Their farm was one mile west of the school.
Some insight into events which transpired during the earliest days of the school was noted 10/5/1956 in a letter to the press by L. O. Cagle, Yucaipa, Calif. Cagle wrote:
“My paternal grandparents, Leonard & Elizabeth Cagle, came from Bowling Green, KY., & settled on what is known as the Kellogg farm across Spring River from town in the year 1845. They had a large family, the youngest of whom, Willis, then 15 years of age, became an early day school teacher there & later became
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of Carthage, July 5, 1861, when the Southern forces occupied that country a company of them came to his place & loaded up his feed while the officer in charge went to the house & engaged him in conversation. Something he said evidently angered the officer & he reached for his pistol. His daughter, Rhoda, who afterward married Willis Cagle & became my mother, saw what was about to happen & stepped up beside her father.
The Officer took his hand off his pistol & said, ‘I’ll give you just 48 hours to get out of this country.’
They loaded up what they could & together with Samuel B.’s family drove to Greene County, Illinois.
Now concerning the La Grange schoolhouse:
The site of this building was occupied by a log structure – my mother & her sister (Martha M. Gray) & her brothers went to school there & Willis Cagle, who afterward became my father, taught the school. In 1868 the log building burned, together with all the books. It was then replaced by the old stone structure.
I went to school there to George Frazier in the term of 1884-1885 & 1886-1887 to May Bonsill. Then again in 1889 & 1890 to William Scantlin; in 1890 & 1891 to Agnes McCarthy & in 1891 & 1892 to Silas Rigby.
The stone building was over-hauled in 1938, when members of the board were Roy Underwood, Ed Stricker & William Alson. Miss Loma Sheldon, Carthage, was the teacher that year. The school, with a capacity for 32 pupils, had an enrollment of 10. The building was reported as measuring 20 by 40 feet.
The school structure was expanded in 1956 with a $16,000 concrete block addition. The staff at that time, Mrs. Neva Winter, principal & upper grades, & Mrs. Shirley Evans, lower grades, served 39 pupils. Members of the board of education were Earl Potter, Glen M. Carter & Arthur Standhardt.
Thomas Jenkyn, who had been born in 1833 in Wales, was employed in 1859 as teacher of the LaGrange school. He had come to America in his teens, attended Oberlin college, obtained his citizenship papers in 1854 & studied law in the former office of Andrew Jackson at Nashville, TN. After teaching two terms at the little log school, Jenkyn married his oldest pupil, Martha La Force, daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel B. La Force.
Their only child, Arria Jenkyn, was born during the wartime exile, Dec. 11, 1861, at Jerseyville, Ill. After their return to Jasper County in 1862, Thomas Jenkyn left his wife & daughter here while he went on a fortune-seeking trip to California. He died there in 1863 of an illness contracted during the trip. Arria therefore was reared in the home of her grandparents.
She attended the first public school of Carthage. Previously there had been a log school house, built in 1846 in Carthage & operated as a subscription school. The first public school was held in one room of the frame courthouse building erected in 1867 on the west side of the square, where Andrew J. Shepard & Miss Clemmie Shepard were teachers. In 1868, when Arria Jenkyn was seven years old, the school was moved to a building on the south side of the square. The first building erected exclusively for use as a public school, a 2-story 8-room brick structure, was completed in 1870 at a cost of $30,000 south of the square. The first principal there was W. J. Sieber.
Arria Jenkyn graduated from Carthage high school with the class of 1880, the third graduating class in the history of the school.
The class, according to Livingston’s Jasper County history, included eight girls.
In 1884 Arria Jenkyn took examinations & received teaching certificates in both Barton & Jasper Counties. She began her teaching career in 1880 at the Tower of Light school, three miles northeast of Oronogo.
She taught in 1881-1883 at Webb City, working in Webb City’s first school building, a 4-room frame structure. Webb City was five years old when she began her work there.
In 1884 she was elected principal of the Golden City school in Barton County. The following year a new building was completed there & Miss. Jenkyn headed a staff composed of Miss Ella Frankum, Miss Emma Beggeman, Miss Anna Williamson & Miss Cora Casey. The enrollment totaled 350 in 1885.
After three years at Golden City, Miss Jenkyn taught one year, the 1886-87 term, at Jerseyville, Ill., before returning to this area to wed James Murto of Golden City. Her teaching career ended with their marriage in Sept, 1887. The wedding was held at the La Force farm home there.
The couple lived for a short time at Galena, MO., where he operated a hardware store, spent two years at the La Force farm, lived from 1890 until 1899 at Aurora & moved to Carthage to spend the remainder of their lives. She died 1/21/1933, & her husband passed away in July 1944. They had three sons & one daughter.
Miss Arria Murto, Dwight P. Murto & Samuel La Force Murto, great-grandchildren of Mr. & Mrs. Samuel B. La Force, grandchildren of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Jenkyn & Children of Mr. & Mrs. James Murto, now make their home at 914 Howard. Miss Arria Murto, veteran & beloved mathematics teacher at Carthage Senior High School, has followed closely in the steps of her mother.