Cantrell Creek Angus, the farm along Cantrell Creek in High Prairie township, Webster county, is currently owned and operated by Gary and Kim Cantrell along with their sons Travis and Trever and grandson Hunter (son of Travis). The farm is located within sections seven and eight of township thirty and range sixteen.
The story of Cantrell Creek Angus begins with Gabriel Cantrell, Gary’s great, great, great grandfather. Gabriel married Miss Nancy Smith in 1824 in McMinn county, Tennessee. To this union, fourteen children were born. Nancy (Smith) Cantrell is the daughter of Colonel Larkin and Mary Eleanor (Hill) Smith of King and Queen county, Virginia. Colonel Smith served in the Revolutionary War, was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1784-1803) and was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson as customs collector in 1807. Nancy was described by one of her youngest sons, Joseph, a twin, (Gary’s great, great grandfather) as a red- headed Irish girl.
After the untimely death of her husband (1849), Nancy Cantrell moved her family to Dade county, Missouri in 1853. Later, in 1855, the family relocated to Webster County in the High Prairie township along Cantrell Creek.
Nancy and her children were among the earliest settlers in this area of the county. In fact, a land patent dated 1882 describing the land as “swamp land”, leads one to believe that the Cantrell family could be the first ones to have ever owned the land along Cantrell Creek. (After speaking with the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, it is understood that the gap in dates between the time Nancy and her children moved to Cantrell Creek and the date on the patent is due to a backlog of paperwork at this time. In fact, it was explained that often, families would settle long before the date shown on the patent.)
Charles McGinty “Alexander” Cantrell and Joseph Pealin “Joe” Cantrell were two of Nancy’s sons. Gary Cantrell’s father, Clarence Cantrell, was related to Nancy Cantrell on both his mother and father’s side, through Charles and Joseph. Clarence’s father was a grandson of Charles (Hezekiah Cantrell’s son Osso). While Clarence’s mother, Verdie, was a granddaughter of Joseph Cantrell (John’s daughter). A brother to Charles and Joseph, Felix Gabriel Cantrell, owned a few hundred acres, part of which makes up what Cantrell Creek Angus is today.
Joseph Cantrell, Gary’s great, great grandfather, was known for farming. In fact, it is even said that his name was “synonymous with farming and stock raising interests of Webster county. Even though he was not able to read or write, he became one of the successful farmers and stock traders of the county. He bought and shipped stock to St. Louis. In 1889 he owned 470 acres in the High Prairie township. He was known to be honest and industrious.
Felix Cantrell moved, in 1861, from Webster county to farm in Madison county, Illinois. However, in 1866 he returned to Missouri to purchase the homeplace- 440 acres. He had “a substantial frame residence, commodious barns and other out buildings” as well as an orchard. A map of 1877 shows Felix Cantrell as one of the major landowners in the county at the time.
By 1930, the land along Cantrell Creek was owned by Osso Cantrell. Osso is the grandson of Charles and the grandfather of Gary Cantrell. Felix Gabriel Cantrell passed away in 1912, so it is even more likely that Osso acquired the land several years before 1930. (However, the earliest plat map available is dated 1930.) The land owned by Osso consisted of 205 acres.
Today, Cantrell Creek Angus still owns over 200 acres. The Cantrell family is still tight- knit and hardworking- much like Nancy Cantrell and her children had to be when they were the first settlers to the Cantrell Creek area. While passersby will no longer see orchards, as Felix Cantrell once had, registered black angus can be seen grazing alongside the creek.
Gary Cantrell, the sixth generation Cantrell to farm on this land, along with his wife, Kim Cantrell, have worked hard to build upon what Nancy Cantrell (first generation) started and what his parents, Clarence “Boss” Cantrell and Geneva (fifth generation) left behind. Gary and Kim are passing on their knowledge and the tradition to their sons, Travis and Trever (seventh generation) and their grandson, Hunter (eighth generation- son of Travis).
Today, Cantrell Creek Angus uses leading technology focusing on genetics to deliver exceptional registered black angus bulls and females. All cattle are branded with the Cantrell Creek freeze brand. Birth, weaning, and yearling weights are submitted to provide customers the most accurate EPDs. Additionally, Cantrell Creek Angus is breeding cattle to perform in the pasture and on the rail. No doubt, the animals produced by Cantrell Creek will pay premiums to the customer; fortunately, the bulls and females available can fit any program.
Farming likely looks much different today than it did in 1855 or even when “Boss” and Grandma Neevar (Geneva) were alive. Among those changes, the Cantrell family utilizes the internet to stream live sales and bid on cattle across the country. Social media and other platforms are utilized to list and sell animals as well as advertising quality and availability. No doubt this is certainly an evolution in more recent years.
Gary, Kim, Travis, Trever, and Hunter (sixth, seventh, and eighth generations) are proud to have their roots in Webster county. While much has changed over the last one hundred sixty-four years, the focus of the Cantrell family remains the same- farm as a family.
Written: April 24, 2019
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