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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
The Agee Family
Sometime around 1650, a young man named Anthony Agee was born in Nantes, France. Nantes is a port city in western France, near the mouth of the Loire River. A ship canal connects the city with the port of St.-Nazaire on the Bay of Biscay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean. Shipping and shipbuilding are the major industries of Nantes. The city is the capital of the Loire. Anthony daily walked by a castle, built in the 1400's, and the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, which also dates from the 1400's. Both structures are still there. Perhaps it was on such a walk that he met Judith Chastain. Judith was born around 1654. The two fell in love and were married there in 1675. Little did they know how their descendants would help populate the world.
Their marriage resulted in two issues, Mathieu Age’ and Mary Elizabeth. Mathieu, in turn, married Ann Gandovin. The Age’ family were French Huguenots and were fiercely persecuted by the Catholic majority and ultimately driven from France. Many settled in Germany, the Low Countries and England. Mathieu ended up in the latter. He joined with William of Orange, and helped dethrone the King of England. For his support, he was rewarded with land grants in the new world. The Age' family in France ranked as "lesser Nobility", and a descendant has Mathieu's coat-of-arms. A vestryman in King William’s Parish, he was granted 800 acres of land in Henrico County, Virginia, by two patents, each dated January 13, 1725. In late 1699 and early 1700, four ships crowded with French Huguenots like Mathieu set sail for America. He and his family (and family members of his wife) were aboard the Mary & Ann. The trip across the Atlantic took 13 weeks.
After arriving in the new world, Mathieu and Mary Elizabeth finally settled in/near Five Forks, Manakin, Goochland County, Virginia. They lived there until at least 1741. This village was located on the James River and was about twenty miles from today’s Richmond. They were devoutly religious people and, despite living in the South where slavery was to become common, they held with their belief of freedom for all peoples and owned no slaves. In 1725, Mathieu and Mary Elizabeth had a son and named him James. James grew to maturity to be “a man of fine character and stalwart physique and very successful in business.” He was subsequently wed to Marie Elizabeth Ford, born on September 2, 1730, also from Manakin, Virginia. James and Marie lived together for 74 years and were deeply religious. Their home was a meeting place for preaching services for many years. Bishop Asbury, the first Methodist bishop from England to arrive in the newly formed country, preached in their home. This union resulted in twelve children, including a son John, who was born on June 14, 1764.
John, “like his father and grandfather, was a man of sterling worth and strong character. He was always wise and prudent in his contacts with friends and neighbors.” He met and married Sicily Ann Hall, who was born on May 24, 1766. Her birthplace was Buckingham County, Virginia. Both John and Sicily Ann died in Virginia. Their union, however, begat a son, Pleasant Ford Agee, born on May 27, 1806. Pleasant was married on January 20, 1831, to Mary Elizabeth Thomas while still living in Virginia.
It was Pleasant who, near the middle of the 19th century, migrated to Missouri, first near Independence and then finally to Macon County. They moved to Missouri by wagon train, crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains during the great meteorological display, afterwards referred to as “the time the stars fell.” They settled on the Chariton River, near the place which was later called Agee’s Ford. Here they built their home in which they lived until Pleasant’s death. Mary and Pleasant had ten children: Andrew Elliott, Dorthulia, Sarah, John H., Sophia, Joseph, Martha, Allen, William and Walter. A number of these offspring (shown below) and their descendants lived their lives in or around Elmer.
John H. Agee was born in Sugar Creek, Randolph County, Missouri in 1838, but had moved to Elmer by the age of 20 when he married Martha Lynch. Martha’s family came to Elmer from Tennessee around 1840. John and Martha lived the remainder of their lives in or near Elmer. Both are buried in the Bunce Cemetery. Six children were born to this union: Alice B., Darthulia Virginia, Delitha, Luther, Martha and William Marple. All children were born in or near Elmer. Of the first five, little is known. I believe all five moved away from Elmer. The sixth, William Marple, lived in or near Elmer for his entire live. He was married twice, first to Ora Maude Seney and second to Ethel Francis Shumaker. William and both wives are buried in the Elmer Cemetery.
Joseph Booker Agee was born in Sugar Creek, Randolph County, Missouri in 1841, but had moved to Elmer by the age of 21 when he married Amelia Herrin in 1862. Joseph died in 1910 and Amelia died three years later. Both are buried in the Agee Cemetery near Elmer. Nine children were born to this union: Nora, Celsus, Edward, John L. Rosa, Lillie Mae, Allen Matling, Henry Booker and Chester Charles.
As young adults, Henry and Chester formed Agee Brothers Painting in Elmer and were featured in the 1910 Christmas edition of the Elmer Journal. Both later left Elmer, Henry ultimately settling in Idaho and Chester in Texas. Several other of this clan also removed to Idaho and Oregon. Edward, however, remained in the vicinity of Elmer for his entire life, living about four miles south of town. He married Margaret Griffith in 1895. Margaret died in 1918 of Tuberculosis and Edward was remarried in 1927 to Alta G. Paris at the age of 58. Eight children were born to Edward and Margaret, a number of which moved away from Elmer. One son, Alton Bill Agee, remained in Elmer and married Gertrude Ethel Salyer. To this union were born five children: Glen Darrell, Ray, Deloma, Kay, and Anita, all of whom graduated from Elmer High School.